The Talibangelists (aka the Christofascists) like those on the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) or in the anti-abortion movement like to pretend they base their decisions, their politics, their morality, their education, their lives on their bible. But as we’ve seen so many times; they don’t like to follow everything in their bible.
Christofascists only quote very selective passages that confirm their existing beliefs and can be used to promote their totalitarian ideology. There are too many inconvenient biblical commandments that would get in the way of their intended theocratic, misogynist, and racist state.
For example. look at the Trump-appointed Christofascist judges who swore under oath in their public confirmation hearings they respected precedent and would not overturn Roe v. Wade.* Yet as soon as they could, they voted to eliminate women’s rights in the USA, turn women into second-class citizens, and put women’s reproduction health at the whims of regional governments. They lied under oath, yet did so without facing any consequences for their dishonesty.
The bible has a lot to say about oaths. For example, Matthew 5:33-37: “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.” Damned inconvenient when you want that SCOTUS job so badly, and telling the truth would keep you from it. Pseudo-Christians don’t quote that verse for good reason.
And then there is Numbers 30:2″ If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” And James 5:12: “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” And Leviticus 5:4-5: “If anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt, when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.” And Leviticus 19:12: “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” And Deuteronomy 23:23: “Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” And Leviticus 5:15: ” “If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible.”
Psalm 24:3-4 says (emphasis added):
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
Proverbs 12:17: “17 An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies.” Proverbs 14:5: “An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.” Matthew 5:8; “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Proverbs 12:22: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Colossians 3:9: “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” And then there’s that annoying Luke 6:31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Okay, maybe the bible places too much emphasis on truth, honesty, keeping your oaths, integrity, and such pedestrian values for these SCOTUS judges. After all, we’re talking about the Repugnican Party here, and Repugnicans have never been burdened overly by such trivial things as ethics and morality.
And don’t quote them biblical verses about healing the sick, feeding the poor, loving their enemies, welcoming strangers, and showing mercy to those in need. These touchy-feely commandments are anathema to pseudo-Christians (and, of course, Repugnicans). Ever notice they NEVER quote the Beatitudes? These are the actual words of Jesus, yet they clearly ignore) them. But they sure can quite a bunch of “thou shalt not” verses to control the lives of others when it suits their ideology.
It may be argued that, since their idol and former president, Donald Trump, lied consistently throughout his campaign and his term, yet suffered no legal consequences from doing so, the SCOTUS judges were merely following his precedent. The Washington Post documented 30,573 lies or misinformation statements made by Trump as president, “averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.”
Trump continues to lie openly at his rallies across the USA about having the presidential election stolen from him. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t; he lost; his Big Lie was merely his refusal to accept the results, and a pretext to try and hold onto power. Yet millions of his gullible followers continue to believe his lies even when they have been thoroughly and utterly disproven over and over and over.
No one took Trump’s claim to be a Christian seriously: it was merely one of his 30,000-plus lies. It should have been obvious when he put the Talibangelist grifter, Paula White, on his staff as his “spiritual advisor.” She used the position to preach her “prosperity gospel,” a con to build her own wealth and authority by preying on the vulnerable:
In the prosperity gospel’s telling, God is a divine vending machine: You put in your coin of faith (check or credit also accepted) and out pops your health, wealth, and victory, the latter degraded from a cosmic triumph to positive feelings about your personal life. The New Testament speaks often of the necessity of self-denial, the reality of suffering (including suffering because of your faith), and the dangers and temptations of wealth. The prosperity gospel offers “your best life now,” purchasable escape from pain, and wealth as proof of God’s favor. God here is a means, not an end.
The second problem with the prosperity gospel is its utterly inexcusable targeting of vulnerable people. This movement does not flourish among the upper class. Those who make $10,000 or less per year are twice as likely to adhere to the prosperity gospel as those making $35,000 to $50,000 per year. It is but a slight exaggeration to say the only people getting the promised wealth are those making the promises. The reality of poverty is not overcome by opportunistic religious lies.
A grifter on the staff of the Grifter-in-Chief? Perfect alignment. Almost as soon as he won the nomination, Trump created an Evangelical Advisory Board, consisting of “25 right-wing Christian leaders tasked with advising the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on spiritual matters.” Well, not all that spiritual. More like ways to further the grift from the Oval Office:
Many of those listed hail from Trump’s tight circle of wealthy friends who preach the so-called prosperity gospel, an American Christian movement that teaches followers they can become rich through belief and donating to their church and pastor.
Surprisingly, the advisory committee didn’t include the uber-grifter, prosperity-preacher and multi-millionaire Joel Osteen. Osteen bragged to CNN in 2012:
I don’t think it’s God’s best to be poor. Some people have this poverty mindset, and I’m a Christian, and I’m supposed to suffer. That’s just not how I see it.
But what about all those biblical verses about greed? It seems they’re just more biblical material to ignore while you fleece your flock. And not just the classic quote from Jesus himself, “… a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” To which, he reiterated, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-26 , with parallel passages in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 18:18-27).
The bible has a LOT of verses condemning greed and lust for money. Maybe more than about oaths or adultery. All ignored by the grifters of their prosperity gospel.
For example, Proverbs 28:20: “A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” Proverbs 14:31 “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.” Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Luke 12:15 “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 1 Peter 5:2-3 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 “But people who want to get rich keep toppling into temptation and are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires that plunge them into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
Acts 20:35 “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Proverbs 21:6 “Those who gather wealth by lying are wasting time. They are looking for death.” Proverbs 28:20 “The faithful man will prosper with blessings, but whoever is in a hurry to get rich will not escape punishment.” Proverbs 15:27 “Those who are greedy for unjust gain bring trouble into their homes, but the person who hates bribes will live.”
And who can forget Jeremiah 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds.” Or Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
And what about the Beatitudes? In Luke 6:24–26, we read Jesus himself saying, “woe to you who are rich” and “Woe to you who are well fed now.” Not the best words to use when conning the vulnerable out of their money.
There are still more, but you get the point by now. The “prosperity” gospel is a get-rich-quick con game that twists some biblical verses and ignores others to the benefit of the greedy. It has been described on the Church and State website as
…arguably the most predatory form of mainstream religion in practice today, and it benefits from the US tax code, which enables churches to accept donations without paying taxes on them, like nonprofits do, but unlike nonprofits, the preachers who exhort their followers to send them their millions never have to account for the money they raise, nor disclose how much of it lands in their own pockets and the pockets of their inner circles.
Basically what preachers in the prosperity gospel grift do is gaslight their flock into believing that by making their preachers rich, helping them buy private jets, mansions, and yachts, their god will then reward the givers by making them rich in return. And if you don’t donate, you are trash and headed to hell. Note that the preachers never donate to anything charitable, not even emergency relief programs to help their own flocks because why should they? That’s for suckers.
The Talibangelists and Christofascists pretended Trump was one of them so they could use him for their political or financial gain even while he used their support for his own gain. Trump pretended to be Christian and the pretend-Christians pretended to believe him. It was all wink-wink, nudge-nudge with a bible in the photo-op. If there’s one thing Talibangelists excel at, it’s hypocrisy, and in Trump they found a master hypocrite to lead their parade. As Rolling Stone noted:
Trump is the culmination of the Republican Party’s long love affair with the prosperity gospel. Other Republican politicians have courted prosperity gospel preachers for their huge audiences and influence; Trump is the embodiment of this particular marriage of politics and a religion. When Trump proclaims, “the evangelicals love me, and I love them,” though, he’s talking about a particular evangelical subculture in evangelicalism, one that is closer to Trump than it is to Jesus.
Not surprisingly, when pressed, Trump couldn’t name a single biblical verse in his “favourite book.” I’m sure it wouldn’t have been Leviticus 20:10, which says that the punishment for sleeping with another man’s wife is for both to be put to death. Deuteronomy 22:22 says it, too. Both Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18 command, “You shall not commit adultery.” This command is reiterated in Matthew 5:27, Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9, and James 2:11. Proverbs 6:32 says adulterers are fools who destroy themselves. Hebrews 13:4 demands marriage be “undefiled” by adultery. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality.” Luke 16:18 says “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” 1 Corinthians 6:9 says adulterers are unrighteous and will not “inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 5:11 and that, “…you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
Little wonder Trump couldn’t quote any biblical verses as his favourite, especially with so many that condemn his acts and behaviour. But, again, no one, not even the Christofascists who supported him, ever took Trump’s claim to have actually read anything as serious, much less the Bible. It was just one more of his many lies. He was barely literate (remember covfefe?) and the Bible has a lot of words.
What is important, however, is that the Talibangelists who rode his coattails also ignored the dozens of biblical commands and exhortations against adultery because pseudo-Christians cherry-pick from the bible what suits their ideology at the moment. And they weren’t about to criticize their path to power with something as trivial as biblical commandments.
But back to the SCOTUS judges who lied during their confirmations. They pretend to be religious Christians, yet each one of them deliberately broke the biblical commandments to be honest and to honour their oaths. They swore in public and private that they would respect Roe v. Wade in their confirmation hearings. Then they blatantly revoked it. Would real Christians do that? What about Deuteronomy 16:19: “Do not pervert justice or show partiality”?
Talibangelists are, and always have been, pseudo-Christians masquerading as the faithful to gull the Fox “news” and QAnon audiences because these people are already primed to believe in whatever conspiracy nonsense they spew, including wackadoodle pseudo-religious piffle.
The Talibangelists are also winning the culture wars because people who have actual faith are afraid to challenge them: should they do so, they are accused of being heretics or worse, atheists, which would ostracize them in the highly-religious American society. The Talibangelists use the argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) by claiming that everything they do comes directly from their god, and, having no higher authority, any challenge, even modest dissent is a direct attack on god himself.**
Paula White claimed that “opposition to Trump is akin to being anti-God… [Trump was] raised up by God because God says that He raises up and places all people in places of authority. It is God that raises up a king, it is God that sets one down and so when you fight against the plan of God, you’re fighting against the hand of God.” Obey, agree, and shut up, or be condemned to hell. The Talibangelists channel their inner Big Brother quite effectively.
In America, everyone has to have a religion to have any authority or credibility, just like everyone has to own a gun. Pew Research reported:
…two-thirds of Americans have said it’s important for the president of the United States to have strong religious convictions, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Talibangelists have already taken control of the US Supreme Court and the Repugnican Party. It’s only a matter of time before they take all of that nation, and that time is rapidly dwindling as the Talibangelists become more open in their intentions, empowered by the recent SCOTUS decisions. Only last week, far-right, low-IQ, uber-wingnut Lauren Boebert openly expressed a core belief that Talibangelists have always held: “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk — that’s not in the Constitution.” (actually, it’s the First Amendment, but to know that requires reading the document she swore to uphold). She added:
The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our founding fathers intended it.
If that doesn’t scare you, you’re not paying attention. This is the Christofascist agenda being forced on the nation: a totalitarian theocracy based on a narrowly selective, and deeply repressive interpretation of a handful of biblical verses, while ignoring those that are inconvenient to the movement. When their takeover is complete, the new USA will make Iran and Afghanistan look like the most liberal, even hedonistic democracies.
Canada will be in their gunsights when they finish their coup, if it’s not already (they came to Ottawa in the alt-right protest trucker convoys twice this year). And, I suspect, Pierre Poilievre will be marching with them.
* The five Christofascists who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. They also voted that week to allow people to carry concealed handguns (doing the NRA’s work to encourage murder) dismissing state laws to the contrary. They voted to allow public servants to hold Christian (or pseudo-Christian) prayer in public places, violating the Constitutional separation of state and church. And then they voted to rescind public protection for the environment necessary to fight climate change. May they all rot in whatever hell they believe in. They are doing Putin’s work to destroy the USA.
** Similarly, there is an argumentum ad absurdum (or reductio ad absurdum: reduction to absurdity”) argument which Wikipedia describes as “the form of argument that attempts to establish a claim by showing that the opposite scenario would lead to absurdity or contradiction.” The arguments that gun control deprives people of a means of self-defence, or that it takes a good gun owner to stop a bad gun owner are both reductio ad absurdum.
And then there is the argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument from ignorance), which Wikipedia says “asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true.” For example: because a phenomenon is unexplained, it must be due to god. Similarly, since we can’t explain what a UFO is, they must alien spacecraft.
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Americans who stand outside the movement have consistently underestimated its radicalism. But this movement has been explicitly antidemocratic and anti-American for a long time.
It is also a mistake to imagine that Christian nationalism is a social movement arising from the grassroots and aiming to satisfy the real needs of its base. It isn’t. This is a leader-driven movement. The leaders set the agenda, and their main goals are power and access to public money. They aren’t serving the interests of their base; they are exploiting their base as a means of exploiting the rest of us.
Christian nationalism isn’t a route to the future. Its purpose is to hollow out democracy until nothing is left but a thin cover for rule by a supposedly right-thinking elite, bubble-wrapped in sanctimony and insulated from any real democratic check on its power.
As a personal note, I would call this movement “pseudo-Christian” of Christofascist nationalism.