“Just Say No” to Theocracy

Posted on January 25, 2021


Here’s what QAnon-ers expected to happen, according to NBC News reporter Ben Collins: Trump would use the Emergency Broadcasting System to announce the The Storm had arrived; Democrats would be rounded up and arrested; and Trump would be declared president.–Kerry Eleveld

Now that we’ve seen the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by extremist white supremacists and Christian nationalists, I hope that more of my family, friends, and neighbors will educate themselves about these movements, how they’re related, and the extremely negative impacts they’ve had on us all, including threatening to overturn an election.

It’s not enough to share snarky memes on social media. As we can see, the folks that stormed the Capitol are committed to their position: they have invested vast amounts of time, energy, and money to try to replace secular democracy with Christian theocracy.

If Americans of good conscience hope to salvage secular democracy, we need to learn about the ideas that threaten our way of life and remove their influence from the secular institutions where they have been allowed to take root, such as public schools, military bases, and police stations, most often through bullying and religious harassment that has been renamed “religious freedom.”

Fortunately, there are many excellent content creators out here who, like me, know about evangelical Christian nationalist teachings from the inside. Many of us have fought to regain the integrity of our own minds by dismantling the indoctrination we received at evangelical churches, camps, retreats, and in media.

One voice I want to amplify as an expert on the subject is Chrissy Stroop, author of “Where Were They Radicalized? No Answer is Complete Without Addressing Evangelical Churches and Schooling,”who writes:

I asked Dr. Julie Ingersoll, a religious studies professor and the author of Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, to weigh in both on what’s wrong with the 1776 Report, and on why the report, issued in the final days of the Trump administration, matters at all. In response to the first question, Ingersoll observed, “It’s hard to get past the very beginning, with its complete whitewashing of native Americans and then its unfathomable treatment of slavery,” adding, “The report is permeated by a theological version of American history that has dominated Christian School and Christian homeschool curriculum for half a century.”

According to Ingersoll, that connection is highly significant. As she notes, the report provides “a concise framing of the version of American history that gives us the Proud Boys.” And the ideology it represents isn’t a dead letter to America’s Christian nationalists. By now, we should all have seen the footage of members of that white supremacist group bowing in a typical evangelical prayer before engaging in insurrection on January 6, and we should be aware of how they raised money for the effort via the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo. Conservative Christianity has long been the elephant in the room (pun intended) when it comes to discussion of politics in America’s elite public sphere. But if we fail to recognize conservative Christian institutions as sources of radicalization, we will never be able to craft effective policies to counter its toxic influence. Here’s hoping that the incoming Biden administration will be willing to face the problem. 

The tent of the theocrats does not belong to evangelicals alone, however. White supremacist ideas appeal to Catholics and other mainstream Christian denominations, as Fran Ferder and John Heagle explain in “How Catholics got conned by Donald Trump”:

But what about Catholics? How do we explain the fact that nearly 57% of white Catholics voted for Trump in this last election? Or that many Catholic bishops likely cast their ballots for him as well? How did the leaders of the Catholic Church and so many of its members get pulled into this quicksand of resentment, this hijacking of the Gospel? The answer to these questions is complex, but we offer four major reasons: The complicity of Catholic leaders with right-wing politics, the assault on truth, the failure of prophetic imagination, and resistance to the pastoral vision of Pope Francis…

Jews, too, have embraced theocracy over democracy, as evidenced by the “Son of Jewish Judge Who Led a National Synagogue Group Was Among Mob That Entered The Capitol”:

Aaron Mostofsky was among the many Orthodox Jews who came to the Capitol to protest, telling the Post that he wanted “to express my opinion as a free American that this election was stolen” from President Donald Trump. Mostofsky is one of dozens of “persons of interest” sought by Washington police for unlawful entry to the building.

People who are indoctrinated in authoritarian, patriarchal religious groups embrace extremist, anti-democratic ideas, because the god of the Bible is an authoritarian god who expects obedience and worship. Many who claim to have a relationship with this god feel entitled to destroy democracy and install authoritarian, theocratic leaders, because that is the Biblical model.

At no place in the Bible, OT or NT, is there ever an instance of the kind of dedication to collaboration, compromise, and compassion that secular democracy requires of Americans. The ship has sailed. We have been warned. Kelly Hayes spells out what lies ahead, in “Bent on Revenge, the Far Right Will Rage Against Reality in the Biden Era

We can see what needs to be done. Let’s do it. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. The first step is to inform ourselves about the type of threats we face.

Please join me in learning about these threats, identifying how they manifest in our local communities, doing the work to insure that our public institutions stop perpetuating religious ideas on the tax payers’ dime, and re-establishing SECULAR government at every level. America is a secular democracy where Christians live among atheists, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Wiccans, and people with a wide array of religions, but the laws and policies of a democracy should apply equally to all of us. That is the heart of a secular democracy: rule of LAW, not rule by religious leaders. No matter what one believes about the supernatural, I call upon Americans of conscience to join with me to commit time, energy, and resources to make America a secular democracy again, at local, state, and national levels of government.

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com