Plenty of figures among the Religious Right are bitter about the state of American culture. Church-state separation, religious pluralism, LGBTQ equality, and reproductive rights serve as constant reminders that the Religious Right doesn't have iron-clad control of American society. Like it or not, fundamentalist Christians have to share America with everyone else.
Unfortunately, some Religious Right figures can't accept this state of affairs. Two recent columns by Dave Daubenmire and Scott Lively showed just how poorly some Religious Right commentators are reacting to progress. Even more worrisome is their vicious demonization of those who disagree with them and their violent rhetoric. Daubenmire's talk of tearing down and penetrating the perceived enemy with "spiritual weapons", as well as Lively's talk of "spiritual revolt" against so-called "occupiers" is indicative of a disturbing mindset.
First, a column by "Coach" Dave Daubenmire caught my attention. Daubenmire was at the center of a controversy in 1998 when he led prayers for an Ohio high school football team. Since then, he's had some trouble finding work as a football coach or a politician, so he's devoted himself to Pass the Salt Ministries in Hebron, Ohio.
In a July 30th column at News with Views entitled "Christianity Needs to Man-Up", Daubenmire wrote that the American people have been "violated" through the use of ungodly laws, indoctrination, and ridicule. Evildoers have supposedly conquered America's schools, churches, and government, he warned. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch and Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)
"Christians are losing the culture war. Every institution in America is now under the control of those who hate God. Our public schools, government, universities, entertainment, legal, media, political parties, and churches are under the control of the kingdom of darkness.Daubenmire described the world in Manichaean terms, claiming that the "kingdom of darkness" and "kingdom of light" are warring for dominance. He complained that many Christians assume that believers should not be aggressive, arguing instead that "spiritually armed, masculine Christians" violently fight evil with "spiritual weaponry" meant to "tear down, penetrate, uproot".
How has this happened? The kingdom of darkness does its work in the dark. They have seized every one of our institutions without firing a shot. They have used their weapons of lies and deceit to violate and destroy all that is good. They have invaded every Godly institution, bombarded us with lies, and stolen the future of our children and grandchildren.
They slaughter unborn babies and force us to pay for it. They sell their little body-parts for personal gain. The command you to bake homo-cakes and demand you violate your conscience."
Okay, all this talk of penetration is creepy, I thought. I don't know which is worse: Daubenmire's testosterone poisoning or his paranoia.
Daubenmire urged Christians to resist the "haters of God" such as Planned Parenthood employees, whom he claims are devoid of mercy or conscience.
"The haters of God have become emboldened. They have no conscience, no mercy, and no remorse. They get caught selling baby parts and become outraged at the one who made the film for doing it “secretly”. Everything our opponents do is rooted in deceit.Daubenmire concluded his column by encouraging Christians to emulate Donald Trump's boorish language. "People are flocking to Donald Trump because he is violent and militant in his language," he explained. "The church needs some militant, violent, Christian Donald Trumps. It is time to man-up."
Christians must become more focused ... more aggressive with our faith if we are to save Western Civilization. The idea that one can win by surrendering is a doctrine of demons that has infiltrated the American Christian mindset.
"Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them." Sadly, for the most part, we are taught to embrace, encourage, and love those who practice such fruitless acts. Abortion is the destruction of fruit. Divorce destroys fruit. Homosexuality is fruitless. God hates them all."
Next, I found a column by Scott Lively equally unsettling. Scott Lively, head of Abiding Truth Ministries and author of The Pink Swastika, has a long history of alarming activism. His participation in a homophobic conference in Uganda shortly before the introduction of a draconian anti-gay bill earned him a lawsuit from Sexual Minorities Uganda. Lively's homophobic activism around the world has earned him a place in Human Rights Watch's Homophobia Hall of Shame and an entry in the 2014 Human Rights Campaign report, Export of Hate.
In a commentary piece at World Net Daily entitled "The Real Reason We Lost the Culture War", anti-LGBTQ activist Scott Lively claimed that the church is "under occupation" by pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ forces. He called for a "political revolt" to overthrow the so-called occupiers, likening them to Nazis. Readers may recall that Lively linked gays and Nazis in his infamous book, The Pink Swastika. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"The brutal truth is the church has lost the so-called culture war and is now under occupation, like the French under the Nazis, with nothing left to do but organize resistance and plot to overthrow the occupiers through a political revolt."Lively claims that advances in reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality are evidence that the U.S. no longer has God's favor. God rejected the U.S. because its people "officially rejected Him as the God of our land" through church-state separation, Lively insisted. He cited the Everson v. Board of Education decision, which applied the Establishment Clause to state law, as an example of America's supposed rejection of God. Everson v. Board of Education "reflects the character and goal of the Antichrist" in that it established the U.S. as a secular humanist nation, Lively wrote.
Lively fumed over the supposed meekness of American Christians, blasting them for accepting religious pluralism and church-state separation. In a particularly chilling passage, he described rejection of the Christian God as the worst possible sin. "The greatest of all possible sins is not rape or murder, or even genocide. It is to break the First Commandment...", Lively asserted.
"What is worse, We the People, including most Christians, have meekly acquiesced to this change. Where we once collectively prided ourselves on having a "God-fearing society," we now boast of our "religious pluralism" and revise the history we teach our children to claim that the first Americans came here to find "religious freedom" rather than to exercise "Christian liberty." Even some of the most stalwart defenders of activist Christians in America (organizations and individuals I greatly admire) today define their mission as a fight for "religious liberty" rather than a fight for "biblical values."Lively warned that an ominous fate awaited America if it did not repent, citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the only way out of America's "death spiral". If one reads the rest of 2 Chronicles 7, it states that God would uproot Israel, destroy the Temple, and inflict devastation on his chosen people if they failed to repent. Lively also referred to Nineveh, a city which narrowly escaped God's wrath because its citizens repented. In other words, Lively's theocratic rant called the U.S. to abandon reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and tolerance for non-Christians so as to avoid a dark fate.
What exactly is "religious liberty" in a nation that has lowered the God of the Bible to equality to Buddha and Muhammad and even Satan as a matter of constitutional law? Isn’t it merely the right to believe what you choose so long as you concede that God is no longer King over the nation?"
Similar themes appeared in both columns: black-and-white thinking that pits "us" versus "them", the U.S. as a conquered and occupied nation, enlightened social developments as evil, and violent rhetoric calling for Christians to overthrow these forces. While their violent rhetoric is metaphorical rather than literal, it still indicates a troubling mindset. In the minds of Daubenmire and Lively, opponents are diabolical monsters who must be vanquished. Such rhetoric is dehumanizing and dangerous. When have we heard this sort of talk before?