FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The False Prophets Cometh

A church was burned in Massachusetts; historically black churches were burned to the ground in Louisiana; a church in Georgia was the scene of a horrific mass shooting; worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh were gunned down; a gunman attacked worshippers at a synagogue near San Diego. Readers aren’t being catapulted back in some sort of time machine to the U.S. of the 1950s or 1960s when four girls lost their lives while at a morning religious service in Birmingham, Alabama, and three civil rights workers were tortured and murdered in rural Mississippi during Freedom Summer when they returned from investigating a church burning in a nearby Mississippi town. No, this is the contemporary U.S. with the melding of hate, violence, religious fundamentalism, and political populism. Recall that the nefarious Ku Klux Klan wears and wore white robes and hoods reminiscent of  a medieval and extremist religious order.

Religious fundamentalism has been on the rise since the 1970s, even though church affiliation in the U.S. has steadily declined during the same period. Fundamentalists found a home within the Great Communicator’s (Reagan’s) America and they have never left. As the U.S. is battered by the effects of economic globalism and social displacement, many have turned to religious populism as a safe haven in a world of uncertainty. Who, other than Donald Trump and his acolytes, could be further from religious ethical values with his payoffs to sexual liaisons, his violent rhetoric toward opponents, his dyed-in-the-wool misogyny; his tax giveaway to the extremely wealthy, his anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions, his modernization of doomsday weapons and abrogation of nuclear weapons’ treaties, and his push to close off the U.S. economically in a global market with tariffs and economic sanctions against opponents such as those in place in Iran and Venezuela?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a populist as “a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people.” And some of those common people are waking up to the fact that Trump, et al., are treating them in the same way he treated many workers and contractors who were shortchanged in the construction of his real estate empire. Environmental destruction and the use of economic sanctions are a practical tutorial for those in the farming industry who thought Trump was in their corner. If Trump has his way, his followers won’t even be able to afford those plentiful, cheap consumer goods from Asia and then where will they turn for solace?

The Guardian sheds light on the joining of populism and religion in “The populist right is forging an unholy alliance with religion,” (June 11, 2019). The melding of religion, the political system, the social system, and the economy is a dangerous phenomenon taking place across the globe, with resulting hate of the other undergoing a resurgence and metamorphosis in places like Hungary, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and of course in the United States. How could the so-called lessons of World War II be learned when masses of people are poorly educated and simple answers are all they seem to want for complex global issues and problems that affect their lives. Great Britain at least has some sense to limit their disastrous view of populism in the economic and social spheres and keep religion and religious intolerance out of the debate for leaving the European Union. But the effects of British populism may be the same as religious fundamentalism in the long term vis-a-vis immigration.

Much of religion on the right today is not marked by participation in a church or other religious meeting place with social connections, but rather a bizarre nod to religion that comes from the likes of Trump, which is religion without redeeming values: It’s not a hand up, but a push down. Both the New Deal and the Great Society were somewhat successful attempts to raise most economic prospects in a secular environment. Those programs brought people together, but the erosion of democratic traditions and values about the worth of people and groups are eroding faster than the soil of the rain-drenched Midwest. It can be seen outside of the U.S. in India, in Brazil, in Russia, and elsewhere.

Religious populism is not the religion that bound people toward the common good, but rather a populist way to attempt to deal with globalization and its myriad displacements of communities and individuals.

We on the left need to respond to the morphing of global capitalism that is leaving so many unmoored and adrift and ready to support the next authoritarian who comes along with the false promises of false prophets. This isn’t that old-time religion, it’s blasphemy!

 

More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 23, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Why Boris Johnson is Even More Dangerous Than Trump
Christopher Ketcham
The American West as Judeo-Christian Artifact
Jack Heyman
Whitewashing American History: the WPA Mural Controversy in San Francisco
David Mattson
Through the Climate Looking Glass into Grizzly Wonderland
David Macaray
Paul Krassner and Me
Thomas Knapp
Peckerwood Populism is About Political Strategy, Not Personal Belief
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange and His Wiki Wicked leaks
Howard Lisnoff
What Has Happened to the U.S. Since the Kids Left Woodstock?
Victor Grossman
“How Could They?” Why Some Americans Were Drawn to the Communist Party in the 1940s
Gary Leupp
Minnesota, White People, Lutherans and Ilhan Omar
Binoy Kampmark
Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War
Richard Ward
Free La Donalda!
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail