Thursday, June 02, 2005

James Luther Adams mention in Harpers

On TerranceDC's Diary on Dailykos I found out about an article by Chris Hedges (whose War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning I sometimes argue against) in Harpers entitled "Soldiers of Christ II: Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters" Hedges closes with a recollection of JLA's teaching at Harvard Divity School:

I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity.

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right’s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute’s library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.


At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever read Robert Heinlein's story "If This Goes On..."? Written in 1940, it's a story of a future United States ruled by a theocracy, and headed by a "Prophet" with certain unpleasant sexual predelictions. I first read this story maybe 30 years ago, when it sounded like science fiction. Now it sounds all too possible....
-- Dan Harper

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Brian Spolarich said...

I just finished reading this recent set of articles in Harpers ("The Christian Paradox" [Aug 2005], "Soldiers of Christ" [May 2005], and "Let There Be Markets" [May 2005]) and it scares the hell out of me.

This movement of "Christian Reconstructionists" or "Dominionists" reads a lot like facism, and the political movements we're seeing today are the result of groundwork that has been laid over the past thirty years.

I'm a bit frightened by this -- how can one oppose a movement that seems so vitalized, so certain of its claim on absolute truth, and so confident of its hold on power. We lefties are often deserving of the mockery that the right gives us, with our milquetoast and vague affirmations of "tolerance" and "inclusion".

I pray that God will show us constructive and effective ways to counter this dangerous and destructive ideology.


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