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Is The Demon In Democracy Resistance To Trump Or KKK And Christian Right?

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Article by WN.com Correspondent Dallas Darling

In a recent interview with author and host Eric Metaxas, many were surprised to have learned that according to Rev. Franklin Graham: “The political turmoil fracturing the country in the wake of impeachment proceedings into President Trump had a supernatural origin,” that it “was almost demonic.” Consequently, the Christian Right leader wasn’t the first to have accused the opposition of being demonic, including the inability to recognize the real source of demonic possession and harm. Neither will he be the last to try and prove his religion and politics is the only “truth,” or the demon in democracy that leads to persecutorial campaigns and culture wars and, in the process, becomes the demon they tried to fight against.

The Rise of the Christian Right and KKK

Right after the Civil War, in a long line of religiously oriented racial persecution movements, which dates as early as the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, the KKK was founded by several confederate soldiers and Christian Right leaders. Along with announcements like, “Unholy blacks, cursed of God, take warning and fly,” their private army whipped and tortured and murdered blacks and burned schools. Black politicians and abolition activists who tried to use their new rights were harassed and killed. Especially offensive were those who offered refuge to blacks. Not only were they beaten and stripped naked but violated. Only in 1871 after President Ulysses S. Grant deployed the U.S. Army did the religious and racial terror subside.

The Rise of the Christian Right and Nativism

The armed suppression of the Christian Right and KKK would be revived, however, in its more familiar form during World War I and Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Along with riding the circuit through Alabama and Florida, Christian Right and KKK leaders were the first to burn crosses. President Wilson’s white, Christian nationalist ideas and American Exceptionalism emboldened thousands to openly march down Pennsylvania Avenue. Another thing that marked this new movement was that the destructive ideals of religionism and racism had become unified with nativism-that is, active opposition to all non-Americans and foreign-born individuals. Unbeknown to many, evil had consequently been created in their image and likeness.

The Rise of the Christian Right and White Nationalism

It was also a time when right-wing demagogues became popular. Indeed, and from Rev. Billy Sunday to Rev. Billy Graham, American patriotism, Christianity, and white nationalism became synonymous terms, just as traitors, hell, and foreigners did. During the Cold War, Rev. Graham gained his status by equating the Christian Right to fighting godless communism and winning a nuclear arms race. He moreover portrayed salvation not as social, political and economic liberation but as an extremely selfish, individualistic act based on white nationalistic tendencies. The Militia Movement, Covenant, Sword, and the Arm of the Lord soon followed, as did the more modern Ted Bundy and Randy Weaver Standoffs or Patriot Movement and Prayer Seekers.

The Demon in Democracy and Christianity

In “The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies,” Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko warned of the danger described above. For Christians, the greatest danger is to slowly move away from the teachings of Jesus and his life and towards a popular demagogue and his/her state sanctioned religion that threatens the very foundations of the democratic norms which got them elected. (For secularists, it was liberalism.) He feared that if this happened, and since no power is as destructive or demonic as perverted sincerity, there would be little to no moral recourse to the continuing dominance of totalitarianism; and that the worst examples of institutionalized racism, persecutorial movements, and genocidal atrocities would occur.

The Demon Within

This, then, may be the real demon in democracy: giving power to harmful ideas and leaders who dehumanize and injure others. It may also be what Mark had in mind when he personified a contest between Jesus and Satan. Along with turning stones into bread, Jesus was tempted to messianic self-anointment, a worldly kingship that could have been won through demagogic appeal and bloodshed. It is clear Jesus was a fully human person and a man wrestling not with the devil but with himself; that this epic, internal, and demonic struggle against assumptions of a venerable status and male privilege have exempted many from the moral complexities of the human condition. It is something the Christian Right still fails to grasp let alone, wrestle with.

Dallas Darling (darling@wn.com)

(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for WN.com. You can read more of Dallas' writings at www.beverlydarling.com and www.WN.com/dallasdarling.)



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