In Michigan, Republican Ryan Kelley, who is running for governor, has openly attacked the idea of democracy. “Socialism—it starts with democracy,” he said. “That’s the ticket for the left. They want to push this idea of democracy, which turns into socialism, which turns into communism in every instance.” Kelley’s distinction between “democracy” and a “constitutional republic” is drawn from the John Birch Society in the 1960s, which used that distinction to oppose the idea of one person, one vote, that supported Black voting.
How did the historians of Weimar Germany and Nazism, the professors of Holocaust studies, the sociologists and the religious scholars manage to miss the rise of our homegrown Christian fascism? Immersed in the writings of Hannah Arendt, Raul Hilberg, Saul Friedländer, Joachim Fest, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Theodor Adorno, they never connected the dots. Why didn’t church leaders thunder in denunciation at the grotesque perversion of the Gospel by the Christian fascists as they sacralized the get-rich-with-Jesus schemes of the prosperity gospel, imperialism, militarism, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry? Why didn’t reporters see the flashing red lights that lit up decades ago?
Here’s how you know Jesus has left your church: When only the powerful are allowed to speak and preach the word of God. When forgiveness is offered without repentance. When there is no cross, only a theology of glory of the powerful. When the oppressed are silenced. When the sin of the oppressed is condemned, while the sin of the powerful is covered up and forgiven without repentance. When the Bible is twisted to glorify white, wealthy male-dominated culture. When piety becomes a show, and true acts of discipleship are called sinful, embarrassing, or un-Christian. When Jesus has left your church building, you ignore his words: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven … whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.” – Matthew 6:1,5-