The Christian right, the Republican Party and Donald Trump

Issue: 165

John Newsinger

Donald Trump was elected to the United States presidency in 2016 by the votes of the Christian right. Some 81 percent of evangelical Christians, who made up a third of the total electorate, voted for him. Not only did a large majority of evangelical Christians vote for him, but tens of thousands of them actively campaigned for him, and fasted or prayed for his victory, which they welcomed as a veritable miracle. The triumph of their man against all the odds was the result of divine intervention. God had decided to save America!

This raises two questions. First, how did the Christian right come to have such a powerful voice in US politics, more particularly in the Republican Party, and second how was it that they came to support someone like Donald Trump? Certainly, the influence of the Christian right in the Republican Party has been growing since the 1970s so that today anyone seeking office has to conciliate them, to bring them on board. Even John McCain, a warmongering right-wing conservative (at rallies he entertained supporters by singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beachboys “Barbara Ann”), who nevertheless despised the Christian right, felt obliged to placate them during his 2008 presidential campaign, among other things installing Sarah Palin as his running mate. This was the devout evangelical Christian who could casually remark that “waterboarding is how we baptise terrorists”.1 And during the campaign for the Republican presidential ­nomination in 2015, when asked, “not one of the candidates publicly affirmed that he or she believed in evolution” and a number of them urged “that creationism should be taught in public schools”.2 This is in the 21st century in the most scientifically advanced country in the world, but paradoxically, by many measures of religiosity, also “the most religious country in the industrialised world”.3 The political influence of the Christian right is firmly rooted in an evangelical subculture that we need to understand.

As for Trump, not only did he promise the Christian right everything they wanted, in particular control of the federal judiciary up to the Supreme Court, but he also installed one of their number, Mike Pence, a former congressman and Governor of Indiana, as his running mate. Even so, how did they come to support an individual as saturated in sin as Trump—a bullying sexual predator and misogynist, a crook and a conman, a racist and an authoritarian, a compulsive liar, a man without a Christian bone in his body? According to one of his close aides, herself an ordained preacher, Trump “has no knowledge of the Bible at all. It might as well be a paper brick to him”.4 And as one conservative critic put it: “These supposed champions of morality were willing to support a candidate who regarded the sins proscribed in the Ten Commandments as his personal to-do list”, indeed “their devotion to him was so total and unshakeable that Trump might as well have been the Messiah”.5 When the veteran televangelist Pat Robertson interviewed Trump on his “700 Club” show in July 2017, one of his former evangelical employees at the Christian Broadcasting Network commented in disgust that it was less an interview than a “reverential hand job”.6 It is worth remembering, at this point, that the Christian right was the driving force behind the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton over his White House affair with Monica Lewinsky! Someone with his morals was apparently unfit to be president! In sharp contrast, the Christian right overwhelmingly supported Trump through the so-called “Pussy-gate” episode. Indeed, a good case can be made that their support was essential to his campaign even continuing considering that no previous presidential candidate would have survived such a revelation. More recently, when Trump refused to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis taking part in the Unite the Right demonstrations called by the alt-right in Charlottesville in August 2017, demonstrations in which one anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, was killed and many others were seriously injured, many CEOs resigned from his various business advisory boards in disgust. But not one pastor or preacher resigned from his spiritual advisory board. Indeed, as one of their number made clear: “We’re going to stand up for Trump a hundred times more”.7

The continued strength of Christianity in the US is something often ignored by the left. To some extent this is certainly due to “a mistaken belief in the inevitable ‘secularisation’ of modern life”, something that has not occurred in the US.8 The question of why the United States has not secularised is obviously of considerable importance. For the answer it is necessary to go back to the end of the Second World War and to the start of the Cold War.

The spiritual-industrial complex

The years after the Second World War saw a remarkable growth in religious practice in the United States that was unique in the Western world. While religious observance was in decline just about everywhere else, in the US there was an unprecedented religious revival. The dimensions of this revival are tremendous and it is worth putting it in historical perspective. In 1850, only 16 percent of Americans claimed membership of a church. This had risen to 36 percent by 1900, to 43 percent in 1910 and 1920, to 47 percent in 1930 and to 49 percent in 1940. Religious observance actually fell during the war to “a nadir of 35 percent”, but this was only a short-lived decline. There was a sharp post-war recovery and then the upward trajectory accelerated so that by 1950 the number of Americans claiming church membership had risen to 57 percent and by 1960 to 69 percent.9 Not only that, but church revenues rose so that they found themselves “rich beyond their wildest dreams” and one consequence was that the 1950s saw the greatest boom in church-building in American history, a boom “in which three billion dollars was spent on new church construction from the end of the war through the summer of 1955”. Sales of the Bible and of other religious books reached an all-time high and in a 1955 poll no less than 94 percent of Americans declared their belief in the power of prayer to change the world.10

This religious revival did not just happen though. It was not an “organic” phenomenon, something generated from below, but was, as Jonathan Herzog insists, something planned from the top, the work of a powerful “spiritual-industrial complex”, using all the resources at its disposal to mobilise Christianity in defence of American capitalism and imperialism against the threat of atheistic communism.11 The process of mobilising Christianity as an ideological weapon in the Cold War began under President Truman. As early as 1946, he told a meeting of the Federal Council of Churches that without a religious revival “we are lost”.12 A key role in bringing this revival about was played by the president of General Electric, Charles E Wilson, who Truman was to go on to put in charge of the Office of Defence Mobilisation and who can legitimately claim to be one of the architects of the permanent arms economy. Wilson brought together business, the churches and the government to establish the “Religion in American Life” (RIAL) campaign, which launched a sustained, indeed unprecedented, propaganda offensive to propagate Christianity as a way to both sustain morale on the home front and to sanctify US imperialism abroad in 1949. The campaign was financed by big business and endorsed by the government. This was the heart of “the spiritual-industrial complex”. The US advertising industry, in the form of the Advertising Council, was fully on board, telling Americans that returning to God, praying and going to church was their patriotic duty. Truman gave both his blessing and government support to the campaign. As Jonathan Herzog writes:

The RIAL campaign ran for ten consecutive years, from 1949 to 1958, and reached millions of Americans. In its first year, more than two thousand communities participated in holding grassroots religious mobilisations. Three thousand towns and cities joined in 1950. The Outdoor Advertising Agency donated 5,200 billboards across America, and 1,800 daily newspapers published editorials supporting the program or carried RIAL advertisements. In 1956, more than three hundred television programs aired the calls for religious mobilisation. If stacked on one another, the RIAL posters alone would extend twelve miles into the sky.13

As well as billboards alongside the highways, in 1956, for example, RIAL placed “another 9,857 posters…at bus, train and railroad stations and 59,590 ad cards highlighted inside buses, trains, subways and streetcars”. Indeed, the RIAL campaign “permeated every space in the United States—public and private, national and local, sacred and secular”.14 And there were also the celebrity endorsements, from the likes of Bing Crosby, Ronald Reagan, Lionel Barrymore and J Edgar Hoover, urging Americans to prayer. All the techniques of modern advertising were used “to create new demand for religion. In this way the tools of materialism would fuel a revival of spiritualism”.15

And this was just one campaign. The American Legion, the veterans’ organisation which in 1952 claimed more than 2.7 million members, launched its own “Back to God” campaign, helping equip the country to combat the threat of atheistic communism. As Angela Lahr points out, “billboards, prayer cards, radio and television scripts, editorials, films and postcards all carried the theme”. One typical billboard read: “America’s First Line of Defence—God and His Church—Attend every Sunday”.16 Another part of the revival was the establishment in January 1952 of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship by the evangelical preacher and faith healer Oral Roberts and the businessman Demos Shakarian, promoting the “prosperity gospel” and bringing together thousands of small businessmen. It proved “to be an extraordinarily effective tool for spreading the Pentecostal message to the American middle class”, indeed, according to Roberts’s biographer, it was “one of the most powerful parachurch organisations in modern history”.17 By the early 1970s the Fellowship claimed 300,000 members. And Hollywood was not to be left out. Cecil DeMille’s 1956 blockbuster, The Ten Commandments, was very much part of the propaganda offensive. The film, he told the Washington Post, was all about whether people “are to be free souls under God or whether they belong to the state”.18 As Andrew Preston puts it: “The signs of religion were absolutely everywhere in Cold War America”.19

“One Nation Under God”

The Christian propaganda offensive continued, indeed intensified when Dwight Eisenhower became President. Eisenhower was at best a “nominal Christian who had never bothered joining a church”.20 Indeed, in his best-selling memoir, Crusade in Europe, published in 1948, he did not so much as mention “religion, God’s role in the affairs of the world, prayers, morality”.21 Once he determined on a run at the presidency though, he recognised that this had to change, both in order to ensure his nomination and election but also so that he could play his full part in the Christian offensive that was being waged on the American home front. Eisenhower turned to the popular evangelical preacher Billy Graham for spiritual advice. According to Graham, Eisenhower piously told him that he was running for president because the American people had got to “get back to biblical Christianity and I must lead them”.22 Once he had been elected, shortly before his inauguration, Eisenhower told the press that the Cold War was a “war of light against darkness, freedom against slavery, godliness against atheism”.23 Interestingly, he had never thought such sentiments and language necessary in the Hot War against Nazi Germany. At his actual inauguration on 20 January 1953, he became the first president to lead the estimated 125,000 spectators in prayer and only days later became the first president to be baptised in office, joining the National Presbyterian Church. His baptism was very much “a political act” informed by Eisenhower’s belief that “his duty as president required membership and regular attendance at church to set a religious example and moral tone for the nation”.24

He presided at the first annual National Prayer Breakfast, a big public event “attended by senators, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, cabinet officers, ambassadors, military commanders, business and labour leaders, and foreign dignitaries” in February and began the custom of beginning cabinet meetings with a prayer.25 All this received the maximum publicity. And this was only the beginning. In 1954, the words “In God We Trust” were added to postage stamps, the following year to paper money and, in 1956, “it became the nation’s first official motto”.26 Eisenhower also gave his support to a campaign to incorporate a mention of God into the Pledge of Allegiance. Congress rushed to add the words “One Nation Under God” to the Pledge and Eisenhower signed the bill into law on 14 June 1954.27

Two last points about the post-war religious revival: first, the strongholds of Protestant evangelicanism in the South and Midwest were great beneficiaries of the permanent arms economy. As Axel Schaffer puts it, arms expenditure “turned the Sunbelt into a gun belt. In places such as…San Diego at least 20 percent of manufacturing employment came from the military”. He goes on: “Evangelicals thus benefited from the socioeconomic and socio-demographic developments spawned by the largesse of the Cold War” which “engineered the upward mobility, suburbanisation and numerical increase of conservative Protestants”. Indeed, by the 1960s, “evangelicals were no longer more rural, older, poorer or less educated than the average American”.28

Second, the enthusiastic rallying to the cause of American capitalism with all its celebration of big business and of the rich inevitably had an impact on the churches themselves. They increasingly became businesses, sanctifying greed and unashamedly enriching their pastors, so that by the 1990s there were in the US “dozens of fundamentalist and charismatic…multimillionaires” who were, not surprisingly, “ardent supporters of tax cuts and reduced economic regulation”.29 Across the South and the Midwest, preachers became rich, often obscenely rich, through the ruthless exploitation of their congregations and followers, combining all the methods of modern marketing with good old-fashioned superstition, preaching the prosperity gospel to an evangelical suburban middle class.

Billy Graham

One of the key figures in the religious revival of the 1950s and beyond was the evangelical preacher Billy Graham. He first came to national prominence during his Los Angeles crusade in September and October 1949. The event was sponsored by local businessmen, most notably Clifford Smith of Hollywood Togs, a sportswear company. What changed it from just another local evangelical event of no great moment was the decision of William Randolph Hearst to throw his newspaper empire behind Graham, in effect to turn him into a national celebrity. He was, in the words of one historian, “Hearst’s last gift to the American people”.30 And where Hearst led the way other newspapers followed. Most important was the support given to him by Henry Luce, whose media empire included Time magazine.

The context was also important because it had just been announced that the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons and Graham made much of the threat this posed, something that was duly amplified by the media. He warned his audience night after night that there were more “fifth columnists…Communists” in Los Angeles than in any other American city and that Los Angeles was the third target on the Soviet list for nuclear destruction after New York and Chicago. “God”, he preached, “is giving us a desperate choice, a choice of either revival or judgement. There is no alternative! If Sodom and Gomorrah could not get away with sin…neither can Los Angeles. Judgement is coming.” The only reason the United States had escaped the devastation visited upon other countries during the Second World War “was because God’s people prayed”.31 The crusade had to be extended and when it ended 350,000 people had heard Graham preach.

By the time of his New York crusade that lasted from May through to September 1957, Graham’s business sponsors were not local businessmen but the likes of Henry Luce, Roger Hull, the president of Mutual Life, Howard Isham, president of US Steel, and others. They financed a massive campaign with 650 billboards, 40,000 bumper stickers and half a million leaflets advertising the crusade. By the time the crusade ended, Graham had preached 97 times to a total audience of over three million people.

He preached a pro-business, anti-communist message across the country and abroad. Graham had no time for trade unions, which he condemned as selfish and sinful. In 1952, he told one enthusiastic audience that in the Garden of Eden there were “no union dues, no labour leaders, no snakes, no disease”.32 As far as he was concerned American workers should be grateful to live in “the land of free enterprise, business and industry.” Indeed, instead of joining a union they should show themselves to be “a faithful and efficient worker, even if it is screwing a nut on one bolt after another”.33

Graham supported the Vietnam War. He visited the country to preach to the troops at Christmas 1966 and Christmas 1968, coming back after the later visit to tell Johnson that “no question: the war is won militarily”. Graham’s response to US atrocities was to do his best to minimise, indeed, trivialise them. After the news of the My Lai massacre belatedly broke, he wrote in the New York Times: “We have all had our My Lais in one way or another, perhaps not with guns, but we have hurt others with a thoughtless word, an arrogant act or a selfish deed…let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. He dismissed anti-war protests, protests in which many Christians from all denominations were actively involved, as evidence of “a satanic spiritual power of evil that is stirring up all hatred and dissent in this country.”

On one occasion, after protesters threw eggs at Nixon, Graham called for “tough new laws to deal with these incidents”. And after Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the shootings at Kent State University (four students killed) and Jackson State College (two students killed), he came to Nixon’s assistance, inviting him to share the platform at his University of Tennessee crusade in Knoxville. In front of an overwhelmingly pro-Nixon, pro-war 88,000 strong audience (there were scattered chants of “Bullshit!” and 47 protesters were arrested), Graham preached that “the Bible teaches us to obey authority”.34 The following year, when Charlotte in North Carolina held a “Billy Graham Day”, Nixon shared Graham’s car as it drove through the streets lined by cheering crowds and spoke alongside Graham at the later rally. Graham’s commitment to Nixon was total. He wrote to Nixon in 1971, telling him that, “my expectations were high when you took office, but you have exceeded in every way”. You have given “moral and spiritual leadership to the nation at a time when we desperately needed it”.35

Graham was, according to one of his biographers, by this time, “something like an extra officer in Nixon’s cabinet, the administration’s own Pastor-without- Portfolio”.36 Or as the left-wing journalist I F Stone put it, he was Nixon’s “smoother Rasputin, dishing out saccharine religiosity”.37 He was to support Nixon when he recognised Communist China, something that outraged many evangelicals and stuck by him even as Watergate began to engulf his administration. On occasions he even indulged the president’s antisemitism. He agreed with Nixon that the Jewish liberals’ “stranglehold” over the media “has got to be broken or the country’s going to go down the drain”. They were the ones “putting out the pornographic stuff”. He went on to tell Nixon how the Jews “swarm around me, are friendly to me, because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country”.38

The emergence of the Christian right

In the 1940s, the 1950s and into the 1960s, evangelical Christians had been broadly content with the way America was going and content to be part of the anti-communist crusade. An evangelical middle class had been created by the post-war boom across the South and the Midwest, embracing the “prosperity gospel”, living in a closed Christian sub-culture, and only really exercised by the Catholic threat, by the Jews and by often bitter doctrinal disagreements in their own ranks. This all began to change in the 1960s. There were a number of factors that fuelled the emergence of the Christian right: the anti-war movement, abortion, feminism, gay liberation and encroaching secularisation. Evangelical Christians became increasingly concerned first to contain and then to roll back all the evils that they summed up under the rubric of “secular humanism”. The “culture wars” had begun. The initial impetus, however, was provided by the civil rights movement and the assault on segregation.

The Christian right itself was to later identify the issue of abortion as the decisive factor in their decision to become politically organised and active, but this is not true. It was the desegregation of state schools which led to a massive withdrawal of white children from the state sector and to a massive expansion of private whites-only Christian schools across the South and the Midwest. According to one account, in the 1970s, “evangelicals and fundamentalists began constructing new private schools at the rate of two a day”, so that by 1979 there were some 5,000 with “more than 1 million students”.

The founder of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell, a strong supporter of segregation at this time, was part of this movement, setting up his own all-white school to serve his own all-white church congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia. He condemned integration as something that the “true negro does not want”, claiming that he could “see the hand of Moscow in the background” and that it was all the work of the “Devil himself”.39 Indeed, the “Hamites were”, he insisted, “cursed to be servants of the Jews and Gentiles” and if segregation were ended “God will punish us for it”.40 Falwell was himself, on one occasion, confronted by civil rights protesters when a group of white and black Christians staged a “kneel-in” at his church, demanding he integrate, and he had the police evict them.41 There was also a massive rise in Christian home schooling. What politicised this movement though was the 1978 decision of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) to remove tax exemption from private schools that were segregated.

What demonstrated the full potential for a national Christian right mobilisation was the campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged… on account of sex”. This constitutional amendment had overwhelming bipartisan support. It went through Congress in 1971-2, carried by 354 to 23 votes in the House of Representatives and by 84 to 8 votes in the Senate with the full support of president Nixon. To finally pass, however, the Amendment needed to be ratified by 38 states.

The Christian right mobilised to prevent this, led by a hardline ultra right-wing Catholic, Phyllis Schlafly, a longstanding cold war warrior and a strong supporter of Barry Goldwater, the right-wing Republican candidate for president in 1964. On one occasion, she proclaimed the atomic bomb to be “a marvellous gift that was given to our country by a wise God”.42 She launched a Stop ERA campaign in October 1972 that fought to both stop states from ratifying the ERA and to get those states that had already ratified to reverse their decision. Falwell once again threw himself into the struggle. As far as he was concerned, the ERA “strikes at the foundation of our entire social structure”, indeed it was a “satanic attack on the home”.43 The campaign was successful in enough states and the remarkably anodyne ERA was never ratified. One important aspect of the Stop ERA campaign was that it saw evangelical Christians joining together with right-wing Catholics, with Schlafly even speaking at Falwell’s church. This non-sectarian bigotry was a new development.

There is no doubt that Schlafly’s campaign against the ERA excited both leading evangelicals, such as Jerry Falwell and Tim Lahaye, and leading activists on the right of the Republican Party. For Falwell’s part, he attempted to project himself nationally. In 1976, he commemorated the Bicentennial of the US by taking his Liberty Baptist College choir on an “I Love America” preaching tour of state capitols, which he later described as “the first offensive we launched to mobilise Christians across America for political action against abortion and the social trends that menaced the nation’s future”.44 He repeated the tour in 1979. That same year, he published his America Can Be Saved, a manifesto of sorts, where he told readers that, “if you would like to know where I am politically, I am to the right of wherever you are. I thought Goldwater was too liberal”.45

He, LaHaye and others had come to recognise the need for some sort of national evangelical political organisation and joined together with a number of hardline Republican Party right-wingers, Paul Weyrich, Howard Phillips, Richard Viguerie and Robert Billings, to found the Moral Majority in June 1979. They were to spearhead a drive to get evangelicals registered to vote (they claimed to have registered 3 million people within a year and to have enlisted in their movement some 7 million people within a couple of years) and then to get them out to vote Republican. What is interesting, however, is that as far as Weyrich was concerned, what finally decided Falwell and the other evangelical leaders to launch the new movement was not any of the great moral issues they preached about, but the inconvenient activities of the Inland Revenue Service.46 The Moral Majority had a dual purpose: to enlist evangelical support behind the Republican Party and to ensure that the Republican Party embraced a Christian right programme.

The way to mobilise and energise evangelical support was by declaring the “culture wars”: Christian America was under attack from “secular humanism” in all its various manifestations. Indeed, it was in mortal peril—abortion, gay rights, secularism in state schools, environmentalism, pornography and feminism were all corrupting America and had to be rolled back. The degree of cynical opportunism involved in all this is really quite staggering. Robert Billings, one of the founders of the Moral Majority and himself an ordained minister was quite open about it: “We need an emotionally charged issue to stir up people and get them mad enough to get them up from watching TV and do something. I believe homosexuality is the issue we should use”.47 As Mel White, himself a gay Christian, puts it, Falwell went on to “launch a full-scale war on homosexuality and homosexuals…Falwell turned gay-bashing into an art form”.

An extract from just one of Falwell’s many fund raising letters sent out to millions of evangelical Christians captures the tone perfectly: “Last Wednesday, I was threatened by a mob of homosexuals. This convinced me that our nation has become a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah… Please send your $35 gift today.” He sustained this homophobic campaign relentlessly over the years. In 1994, he bitterly condemned the Clinton administration for giving visas to athletes participating in the Gay Games in New York. These were “foreigners infected with the lethal, fatal and deadly AIDS virus”. Americans were being put at risk “just so these homosexuals can hold an Olympic Games for gays and lesbians and transvestites and bisexuals and paedophiles and sodomites”. These “deviants” were out to “recruit your children”, and so on and on. And it was Falwell, of course, who identified Tinky Winky as part of the gay conspiracy against Christian America.48 All this helped whip up a wave of homophobia that was to even lead to the demand, in 1998, from various evangelical bodies that the King James Bible be no longer used because it had been commissioned by a homosexual and that anything “that has been commissioned by a homosexual has obviously been tainted in some way”.49

The world of the Christian right

The politics of the Christian right are rooted in an evangelical subculture embracing millions of people that is unique to the United States. This subculture is unknown to many Americans, let alone to people outside the country, and when they do encounter it, its strangeness, its peculiar mix of superstition and commercialism, seems incredible. While there is not the space here for any systematic discussion of the phenomenon, some consideration is necessary for a proper understanding of the significance of the Christian right. First, some perspective: according to the New York Times in 1982 the bestselling book in the US was Jane Fonda’s Workout Book, but this was not true. The New York Times did not count sales in religious bookshops. If they had, the bestselling book would have been Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto, which had sold at least twice as many copies as Fonda’s book. This volume was adopted as “a call to arms” by the Moral Majority.50 Its author was a leading Christian right ideologist who is often credited with identifying “secular humanism” as the new enemy of Christian America replacing communism, and with arguing that opposition to abortion should be a central concern of the movement. The author of 23 books, many of them bestsellers that were taught in Christian schools and universities and in church study groups, Schaeffer is virtually unknown outside of the evangelical subculture. Any discussion of the Christian right necessarily has to go at least some way towards investigating both its dimensions as a cultural phenomenon as well as its peculiar character.

According to Craig Unger, the evangelical churches fill the “real or perceived needs of tens of millions of Americans”. They lived in “an elaborate, fully developed evangelical counterculture that utilised all the marketing tools of the modern world”. Their children went to Christian schools or were home schooled, kept away from sex education and preached abstinence, taught creationism instead of evolution and warned that Christian America was under constant attack from demonically inspired “secular humanism”. America was in imminent danger of God’s wrath unless the tide was turned. There were “Christian summer camps for the kids, and Christian comic books, movies and records… Instead of Disney World, evangelicals took the kids to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage PTL (Praise the Lord), a 2,300 acre Christian theme park…that reportedly drew up to 6 million visitors a year in its heyday. Likewise, the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, features a replica of Herod’s Temple and a re-creation of the Jerusalem street where Jesus walked towards his crucifixion”.51

More recently, in May 2007, the Creation Museum opened on a 47 acre site in Petersburg, Kentucky, providing an alternative to evolution, proving that God created the universe “in six consecutive 24 hour days less than 10 thousand years ago”. It had over 400,000 visitors in its first year and in April 2010 “welcomed its one millionth guest”. As the Trollingers point out in their study of the museum, it might seem “inexplicable and bizarre”, indeed “wacky” to many people, but, in fact, “the Creation Museum lies squarely within the right side of the American cultural, political and religious mainstream…it represents and speaks to the religious and political commitments of a large swath of the American population”.52

From school, evangelical Christians went “on to one of more than a hundred Christian colleges or universities”. And after that there are Christian gyms and golf courses, evangelical skateboarders, a Christian Wrestling Federation, Christian rock festivals, Christian Yellow Pages, Christian garages, Christian trailer parks, Christian diet plans (What Did Jesus Eat?, Ten Commandments for Health and Wellness), Christian lawyers, Christian furniture, Christian fast food outlets, Christian travel agents offering Christian holidays and Christian retailers of every kind from bookshops to grocers to chain stores such as Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart. LifeWay Christian Stores, for example, sold, among other things, Christian pencils and “pro-life T-shirts (‘Mummy, Please Let Me Live’ and ‘Former Embryo’)”. Not forgetting the “Dial-A-Prayer” service that many evangelical ministries offer. There are even Christian sex manuals, a number of them written by leaders of the Christian right, Tim and Beverly LaHaye (The Act of Marriage, The Act of Marriage After 40 and others), and Christian sex toys. Or for the more out-door inclined there was duck hunting with Colonel Oliver North’s Godly Guys with Guns. And, of course, there are Christian radio and TV stations.53 There is even a Christian right alternative to the much-hated American Council for Civil Liberties (ACLU), the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

The Christian right has also been sustained by a huge evangelical literary output, both fiction and non-fiction. Hal Lindsey’s book of apocalyptic prophecy The Late, Great Planet Earth, published in 1970 and in print ever since, was the best-selling book of the 1970s and had sold over 30 million copies by the end of the 20th century. Most important, however, is the Left Behind series of 12 novels written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The first volume was published in 1995 and the last in 2004, although the success was so great that a number of sequels and prequels followed. The Left Behind books chronicle the rapture, when the saved are taken up to heaven and war subsequently breaks out among those left behind, between the adherents of the Antichrist and those prepared to be “born again”. The Antichrist is, of course, the secretary general of the United Nations, who is a test-tube baby fertilised inevitably by the sperm of two homosexual men. When Jesus finally returns after seven years, he comes as a merciless macho genocidal warrior, someone wholly without mercy, defeating the armies of the Antichrist at Megiddo and horrifically killing all those who are not ‘born again’ Christians. They are damned to an eternity of suffering in Hell. Although Israel and support for Israel plays an important role in this Christian ­eschatology, it nevertheless reeks of antisemitism. As LaHaye himself has pointed out, the Jews “had rejected the Son of God, crying ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’”.54 The only Jews who will be saved are those who convert to evangelical Christianity—144,000 of them apparently. Everyone else is damned: liberals, socialists, gays and lesbians, secularists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and most Christians, especially Catholics.

These books are a major cultural phenomenon in the United States. According to Craig Unger, writing in 2007, they had sold “more than 63 million copies”.55 And there is also a massive spin-off industry around the series with a parallel series of 20 novels written for kids, a series of 40 graphic novels, a video game and a number of feature films, one starring Nicholas Cage. The series is virtually unknown outside the US.

The televangelists

One of the most important cornerstones of both contemporary US evangelism and of the Christian right is televangelism. Sara Diamond described televangelism as “the single most important ingredient in the rise of the Christian right”. By 1987, televangelism was “a two billion a year industry, and religious broadcasters controlled more than 1,000 full-time Christian radio stations and more than 200 full-time Christian TV stations”.56 In the 1960s, the televangelists’ TV audience had been some 6 million viewers, but this “ballooned…to 25 million by the mid-1980s”, generating huge profits.57 By 1986, Jerry Falwell’s Sunday morning sermons “were heard weekly in one of every four homes in America”, broadcast by many “secular” TV and radio stations as well as by the Christian ones.58

The staple of the preaching on these channels was the “prosperity gospel”, the doctrine that wealth was a blessing and a reward from God. The way that those either without wealth or with not enough could enrich themselves was through donations to the televangelists, thereby helping spread God’s word and, of course, enriching the televangelists in the process. There was nothing wrong with their pastors being extravagantly wealthy, indeed, it merely validated the “prosperity gospel”. One of the most successful of the prosperity preachers, Jim Bakker, actually argued that “a pastor should live at least as good as the wealthiest member of the congregation. When you bless the man in the pulpit, you will be blessed”.59

One of the architects and great popularisers of the “prosperity gospel” was Oral Roberts. He was a faith healer who claimed to have raised dozens from the dead, including a baby in the middle of a service, so that when he promised that donations to his ministry would be repaid sevenfold by God, he was believed by hundreds of thousands of people. His 1975 Thanksgiving TV Special was watched by an audience of 25 million.60 Nevertheless, even by televangelist standards, Roberts was regarded by many as somewhat vulgar, as a huckster. He sold pieces of cloth “bearing the imprint of his healing hand” and plastic bags of holy water “advising the viewers to anoint their wallets with it for a quick return on their investment”.61 His most famous scam, however, was unveiled on 4 January 1987, when a tearful Roberts told his viewers that God was going to call him home to Heaven unless they raised $8 million before the end of March. Donations poured in at the rate of $160,000 a day at one point and just before the deadline there was a single donation of $1.3 million that saved his life. As a sceptical James Randi subsequently pointed out, if his ministry was so desperately in need of money, then he could have sold “any one of his homes in Beverley Hills, Tulsa or Palm Springs”.62

Pat Robertson, whose Christian Broadcasting Network in many ways led the field and who was to establish the Christian Coalition, found faith healing an extremely useful way to generate donations (all tax free). He regularly cured disabilities, both health and financial, on the TV:

There is a woman in Kansas City who has sinus. The Lord is drying that up right now. Thank you, Jesus! There is a man with a financial need—I think a hundred thousand dollars. That need is being met right now, and within three days, the money will be supplied through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Jesus! There is a woman in Cincinnatti with cancer of the lymph nodes, I don’t know whether it’s been diagnosed yet, but you haven’t been feeling well, and the Lord is dissolving the cancer right now.63

Robertson successfully turned himself into a very wealthy businessman on the back of donations to his ministry from “small donors…most of whom were elderly”, eventually going into partnership with the Bank of Scotland and with Laura Ashley, although both these relationships were ended after protests against his homophobia. More successful was his deal with Rupert Murdoch (“Robertson’s and Murdoch’s politics were similar”) whereby Robertson sold his Family Channel to Fox for $1.9 billion in 1997. It became the Fox Family Channel with Robertson and Murdoch as co-chairmen and still carried Robertson’s daily 700 Club show. In 2001 Disney bought the channel for $2 billion once again agreeing to keep the 700 Club programme as part of the deal. This was despite Robertson once having warned on the programme that Disney’s Orlando resort was in danger of the wrath of God, in the form of “terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor”, for allowing “Gay Days”. Robertson also courted the Mobutu regime in Zaire, securing diamond mines from the dictator. He then used planes supposedly carrying relief supplies to ship diamond mining equipment. One pilot later went public to reveal that of the forty flights he made over a six month period, only one was humanitarian, while the remainder were carrying mining equipment.64

This appalling multi-millionaire charlatan and conman, who claimed to have cured children of leukaemia, to have deflected hurricanes through prayer, and who routinely blamed floods and earthquakes on the toleration of homosexuality, was to become a major force within the Republican Party. And more recently there is John Hagee, the founder of the influential Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Zionist organisation in the US with a claimed membership of over 4 million. His weekly sermons were broadcast by

the hundreds of stations owned by the mega-network, Salem Communications…Hagee routinely assures members of his flock that their terminal diseases, credit card debts and interpersonal troubles will all be wiped away if only they lavish generous cash donations upon him, donations that he calls “love gifts”…making him one of the world’s wealthiest preachers.65

From Reagan to Bush

Ronald Reagan was not an evangelical Christian. He was not religious in any meaningful sense of the word, was never a church-goer, had liberal opinions on issues such as abortion, and was not a homophobe. He was to be America’s first divorced president. Moreover, Nancy, his second wife, a believer in astrology, was a pagan as far as evangelicals were concerned. And he was running in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, who was an evangelical, born again Christian who had actually taught Sunday school while in the White House. But Carter was a liberal who made clear he did not endorse the culture wars agenda of the Christian right.

Reagan, however, went out of his way to win their support. In July 1980, Reagan’s platform committee met with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority leadership to ensure that “the platform included endorsements of constitutional amendments to restore prayer in schools and prohibit abortion, as well as a denunciation of the Equal Rights Amendment”.66 Moreover, as Kenneth Woodward puts it, “the former actor could mimic the choked-up hush of the truly pious and deliver evangelistic chestnuts like ‘America’s hunger for spiritual renewal’”.67 With his skilful blending of “apocalyptic rhetoric with criticism of the New Deal state”, Reagan was the Christian right’s “dream candidate”.68

The Moral Majority played a crucial part in mobilising evangelicals behind Reagan’s campaign, giving him a religious credibility he would otherwise have lacked. In return, they were promised that his presidency would take their side in the culture wars, and, of course, they were wholly committed to both his right-wing economic policies and his hardline Cold War stance. Reagan cultivated their support by means of symbolic gestures, but gestures never backed by action that risked alienating those Americans who were not evangelicals. Of his 31 cabinet appointments, only four were members of the Christian right. He gave the Christian right “photo opportunities, kind words and little else”.69 When it came to abortion for example, the administration paid lip service to supporting the evangelical position, but never actually threw its weight behind it, aware that a majority of Americans did not want abortion banned.

As early as 1982, there were evangelicals who thought they were being treated like “the savages of the new world”, bought off with “beads and mirrors” because while they might “gripe and bellyache…they have no choice but to support the Reagan administration”.70 Their hopes were briefly raised during the 1984 presidential election but by the end of his two terms, the Christian right had not really achieved any of its objectives. The United States had certainly been transformed by a massive historic aggrandisement of corporate America and of the rich, all supported by the Christian right, but Reagan never delivered on his culture wars promises. Nevertheless, one important consequence of his electoral reliance on the Christian right was their increasing involvement in the Republican Party at a state and local level, starting to take it over in many parts of the South and Midwest.

One area of policy that the Christian right did get heavily involved in, however, was the administration’s covert wars in Central America. Reagan was not prepared to deploy US troops to the region for fear of another Vietnam, and instead resorted to proxy wars, illegally attempting to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and assisting brutal murderous regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala. Reagan, it has been argued, “offered enough symbolic gestures to keep the movement hopeful” regarding the culture wars, but it was “the Christian right’s enlistment in the administration’s foreign policy operations [that] kept the movement in the Reagan camp”.71

Pat Robertson toured Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in 1983, praising the Contras, who were waging a brutal war of terror and massacre in Nicaragua, as “God’s Army” and describing the leader of the right-wing death squads in El Salvador, Roberto D’Aubuisson, as a “very nice fellow”. Robertson actually held a telethon on his Christian Broadcasting Network to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras, eventually donating $7 million to their cause. Other evangelical organisations also contributed millions of dollars to the Contras. When the Reagan administration’s illegality was eventually exposed in the Iran-Contra scandal, the Christian right rallied around the fall-guy Colonel Oliver North, himself a born again Christian, with Falwell actually comparing him to Jesus Christ and helping to raise the funds for his legal defence.72

By the end of his two terms there was considerable dismay on the Christian right, both at the failure of the Reagan administration to deliver on their culture wars concerns and by the politics of his likely successor, the vice president, George H W Bush. The Moral Majority had collapsed, formally disbanding in 1989. In these circumstances, Pat Robertson determined to run for the Republican nomination himself in 1988 (inevitably God told him to!), combining the culture wars issues of the Christian right with a fierce small state fiscal conservatism, but the result was a disaster. The media revealed that his first child had been conceived out of wedlock (for years he had lied about the date of his marriage to conceal the fact) and that far from Robertson being a Korean War combat veteran, his father, a Democratic senator, had used his influence to ensure he was actually stationed in Japan during the conflict.

Robertson only won four states and 9 percent of the popular vote, but there were two important successes. First, Bush was forced to make at least some effort to placate the Christian right and his campaign for the nomination bought together the evangelicals inside the Republican Party under his leadership, something he was to build on in the course of the 1990s. Bush had to court the Christian right, even making a generally derided claim to have been “born again” himself. More important, in September 1989, Robertson established his Christian Coalition as the new torch bearer for the Christian right. It began with some 2,000 members and $82,000 in the bank, rising by 1997 to a claimed membership of 1.9 million with a budget of $27 million. It was solidly rooted in the evangelical middle class. By this time, its strength was such that “it exercised virtual veto power over mainstream Republicans”.73

The Christian right built up its power at state and local level while George H W Bush was president. As far as Robertson was concerned, Bush was quite possibly, “unknowingly and unwittingly carrying out the mission and mouthing the phrases of a tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing more than a new world order for the human race under the domination of Lucifer”.74 And if that was not bad enough, he completely ignored the culture wars concerns of the Christian right, even inviting gay couples to the White House. The Christian Coalition still supported him against Bill Clinton in 1992, however, but without any enthusiasm.

As for president Clinton, who many evangelicals came to regard as the Antichrist, with him in office the secular humanists were in power and Christian America was in greater danger than ever before. Clinton was subjected to unprecedented abuse and slander while in office, including an attempted impeachment, much of it at the instigation of the Christian right. And all the while their power and influence within the Republican Party grew stronger and stronger, so that by 2000 they were able to secure the nomination of one of their own for the presidency, the born again George W Bush. His election was to be celebrated as a miracle because although he had actually lost to his Democrat rival, Al Gore, God had still installed him in the White House regardless. Bush was the man God had chosen to respond to 9/11, which, of course, He knew was coming.

The younger Bush appeared to be the ideal Christian right candidate, a genuine born again Christian, able to mouth the sentiments and phrases with genuine sincerity, but once again he promised more than he delivered in the culture wars, wars exacerbated by the issue of gay marriage. While he was the Christian face of the administration, the politics were actually handled by the agnostic Karl Rove, who regarded the Christian right as just another constituency, certainly a powerful one, to be managed, bought off, but certainly not as important as corporate America. He regarded “religion as a political tool” and homosexuals as “the perfect enemy” against whom to mobilise the Christian right.75

The key, however, was an evangelical version of “Tammany Hall” whereby the Christian right was to be kept on board by the administration throwing billions of dollars at it. Bush championed “compassionate conservatism” which in practice involved handing secular social service provision over to Christian churches and charities. In effect, it was “a spoils system for evangelical ministries which are now involved in everything from prison programmes and job training to teenage pregnancy protection”. One consequence of this was that more and more social provision was put in the hands of organisations that refused to hire gays, Jews and others from among the damned. In 2003, the administration distributed $1.17 billion as part of its faith-based programme and Bush boasted that the amount was over $2 billion the following year. By the end of his first term, Bush had given nearly a billion dollars to “chastity programs” and more and more schools (a third) had abstinence only sex education provision.76 However, none of this was what was regarded as the main business of the administration. The most important issues were managing the economy for the benefit of big business and the rich and extending the power and influence of US imperialism.

The Christian right rallied even more wholeheartedly behind Bush after the 9/11 attack in 2001. Jerry Falwell inevitably seized upon it as an opportunity to strike a blow in the culture wars. As he told Pat Robertson’s 700 Club two days after the attack: “the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians…all of them have tried to secularise America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘you helped this happen’.” Robertson expressed his agreement. As far as the administration was concerned, however, the attack presented them with the opportunity to consolidate US domination over the Middle East and to seize Iraq’s oil. While elements within the Christian right saw invasion as a chance to proselytise the Middle East, to convert Muslims to Christianity, the administration was more concerned to keep Saudi Arabia, a country that prohibited Christian worship, on board.

What George W Bush gave the Christian right was “the three S’s—symbolism, sympathy and selective concessions”. What they gave him was the opportunity to restore the level of inequality in the US to pre-1929 levels.77 His second term, which they hoped would see him winning their culture wars for them, was a disaster, however, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continuing with no end in sight and with the crash of 2008 seriously damaging the economy. The consequence of this was Republican defeat in 2008 and the election to the presidency of Barack Obama. He made some attempts to conciliate the Christian right, but as far as they were concerned secular humanism had triumphed and Christian America was, once again, on the road to destruction. Obama’s presidency was, for the Christian right, a period of “unrelenting war on religion”. He had declared “war on Americans of faith”, had “never heard of an abortion he didn’t like”, was “the first US president to speak at a Planned Parenthood convention”, and supported gay rights, even having “the White House lit up in the colours of the rainbow, symbol of the Gay Pride movement”.78 Indeed, many evangelical Christians believed he was a Muslim only pretending to be a Christian.

Sticking with Trump

Whoever was going to become the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016 was going to have to be acceptable to the Christian right. While there was no longer any dominant organisation like the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition, the Republican Party was, in much of the country, in the hands of various Christian right organisations, organisations that had millions of members between them. What is amazing is that their chosen candidate was Donald Trump, the most unchristian candidate in US history, chosen over other candidates with genuine evangelical credentials. Two factors seem to have been decisive: first they became convinced that he could win the presidency and second, as we have seen, he promised them everything they wanted. He would hand over control of the federal judiciary up to the Supreme Court, would give them the vice presidency, and promised to fill his administration with their people and move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Christian right believed that control of the courts was the key to victory in the culture wars, to rolling back gay rights, banning abortion, curbing environmentalism and so on. In return, they agreed to ignore everything about Trump, his pathological inability to tell the truth about anything, his corruption and criminality, his misogyny and racism, his authoritarian bullying and thuggery, his astonishing ignorance, his flirting with fascists and neo-Nazis. And they have stuck with him faithfully so far. How did they justify this deal to themselves?

Some tried to claim that he had been born again and was now a sincere Christian. He did, after all, occasionally claim that God had told him to run. All this was, of course, totally implausible. Instead, the justification that came to the fore was that even though he was clearly a pagan and a sinner, God had often chosen to work his will through the agency of pagans and sinners. First, he was compared to Balaam’s ass on the grounds that if God had once chosen to speak through the mouth of an ass, then why not Trump’s mouth. This was not a comparison likely to appeal to Trump, of course. Instead, the preferred comparison became Cyrus the Great. God told Lance Wallnau to seek understanding for why the Christian right should support Trump in Isaiah 45, where he found Cyrus described as “his anointed” and God charging him with restoring Jerusalem to the Jews. And just in case there was any doubt, God provided another clue: Isaiah 45 had additional significance because the 2016 campaign was to elect the 45th president! This crazed sophistry was seized on with Wallnau actually having the opportunity to try and explain it all to Trump himself at one of his meetings with evangelical pastors. Trump “nodded…trying to understand what he could”.79

One of the bravest attempts at justifying the Christian right’s stand is David Brody and Scott Lamb’s spiritual biography of Trump, The Faith of Donald Trump. For them, “clearly God is using this man in ways millions of people could never imagine. But God knows and that is good enough”. Trump endorsed “the most pro-life platform the party has ever produced. It was solidly pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious liberty”. Trump was their “dream candidate”. There were “more prayers read during Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony than at any other presidential inaugural in American history” and he has appointed a “faith-filled cabinet”, indeed, his cabinet looked like “a believers in politics all-star team”. His complete lack of knowledge of Christianity and of the Bible was of no consequence in comparison.80

How long will this unholy alliance last? For the moment it seems secure with vice president Mike Pence, a committed evangelical, effectively functioning as the so-called “shadow president”, while Trump plays the role of the “celebrity president”.81 The White House Bible Study Group has ten cabinet secretaries among its regular attendees along with the vice president. Pence and his supporters are confident that he will be the next Republican candidate for the presidency. And as one recent defector from Trump’s entourage has put it: “As bad as you think Trump is, you should be worried about Mike Pence… We would be begging for the days of Trump if Pence became president”.82 All this could change, however. Impeachment, a disputed 2020 election result, a new economic crash, war, any of these developments or a combination of them, could see elements of the Christian right manifest themselves as an American fascism.83

John Newsinger is a member of Brighton SWP. His most recent book is Hope Lies in the Proles: George Orwell and the Left (Pluto, 2018).


Notes

1 Unger, 2007, p364; Boot, 2018, p178.

2 Trollinger and Trollinger, 2016 pp6-7.

3 Gunn, 2009, p37.

4 Newman, 2018, p196.

5 Boot, 2018, pp87-88. To be fair to Boot, in his devastating indictment of Trump and the Republican Party, he makes clear that he has broken with conservatism altogether in disgust at the way people he once admired and even considered friends rallied to Trump.

6 Heaton, 2019, p190.

7 Brody and Lamb, 2018, p305.

8 Wald and Calhoun-Brown, 2011, p3.

9 Kruse, 2015, p68; Herzog, 2011, p170.

10 Hudnut-Beumler, 1994, p37.

11 Herzog, 2011, p5.

12 Wuthnow, 1988, p66.

13 Herzog, 2011, p151.

14 Kruse, 2015, p138.

15 Herzog, 2011, p149.

16 Lahr, 2007, p67.

17 Harrell 1985, pp153 and 288.

18 Kruse, 2015, p142.

19 Preston, 2012, p440.

20 Woodward, 2016, p45.

21 Gunn, 2009, p57. Interestingly, God and godliness make no appearance in Eisenhower’s two volumes of presidential memoirs either and in his authorised 1,500 page biography of Eisenhower, Stephen Ambrose devoted only half a page to his religious beliefs.

22 Herzog, 2011, p95.

23 Williams, 2010, p26.

24 Hall, 2018, p144.

25 Lichtman, 2008, p193.

26 Kruse, 2015, pxii.

27 The original pledge had, of course, been written by a socialist clergyman, Francis Bellamy, back in the 1890s. By the 1950s, ministers and pastors with his beliefs were being witch-hunted as part of the McCarthyite crackdown, with right-wing evangelicals pointing the finger and urging the persecution on.

28 Schaffer, 2012, pp73-74.

29 Phillips, 2006, p217.

30 Silk, 1988, p55.

31 Frady, 2006, p198.

32 Kruse, 2015, p37.

33 Grem, 2016, p58.

34 Gibbs and Duffy, 2007, pp185 and 191; Frady, 2006, pp428-429 and 452.

35 Aikman, 2007, p338.

36 Frady, 2006, p453.

37 Stone, 1970, p468.

38 Gibbs and Duffy, 2007, pp202-203.

39 Williams, 2010, pp33 and 85.

40 Trollinger and Trollinger, 2016, p187.

41 The “kneel-ins” are a neglected aspect of the civil rights movement, but Christian protesters were jailed for challenging segregated churches, including one white pastor, Ashton Jones, who served six months in Atlanta, Georgia. See Jones, 2016, p165.

42 Haberski, 2012, p120.

43 Blaker, 2003, p81.

44 Sutton, 2013, p18.

45 Fitzgerald, 1986, p173.

46 Jones, 2016, p171. The IRS was taking steps to deprive Christian schools and colleges that were still segregated of their tax exempt status.

47 Lichtman, 2008, p321.

48 Winters, 2012, pp375-376.

49 White, 2006, pp57 and 137.

50 Young, 2015, p179.

51 Unger, 2007, p87.

52 Trollinger and Trollinger, 2016, pp1-2 and 13.

53 Unger, 2007, pp88 and 151-152. For Godly Guys with Guns see Sharlet, 2011, p87.

54 Lienesch, 1993, p232.

55 Unger, 2007, p15.

56 Diamond, 1990, pp1-2.

57 Bowler, 2013, p104.

58 White, 2006, p51.

59 Bruce, 1990, p76.

60 Hinn and Wood, 2018, p37; Bowler, 2013, pp48-49 and 74-75.

61 Martz, 1988, p54.

62 Randi, 1989, pp63 and 66.

63 Randi, 1989, p199. It is worth noticing here that the repertoire of the American faith healing scam artist fraternity also includes faith dentistry (the miraculous filling or replacement of teeth) and faith dieting (the miraculous loss of large amounts of weight).

64 Marley, 2007, pp187-188 and 190.

65 Blumenthal, 2009, pp267-268.

66 Williams, 2010, p1.

67 Woodward, 2016, p344.

68 Sutton, 2014, p355.

69 Marley, 2007, p69.

70 Diamond, 1995, pp234-235.

71 Diamond, 1995, p228.

72 Lienesch, 1993, p217.

73 Hardisty, 1999, p56.

74 Williams, 2010, p221.

75 Moore and Slater, 2006, p32.

76 Goldberg, 2006, pp107, 108 and 137.

77 Lichtman, 2008, pp444 and 446.

78 Mansfield, 2017, pp110, 112 and 113. For the ferocity of Republican attacks on Obama see Press, 2012.

79 Wallnau, 2016, pp22, 73 and 78.

80 Brody and Lamb, 2018, pp220, 261 and 300.

81 For Pence see D’Antonio and Eisner, 2018.

82 Newman, 2018, p325.

83 Chris Hedges first argued the case for the Christian right as a fascist threat in his 2006 book, American Fascists, and he returns to this theme in his more recent 2018 response to Trump, America: The Farewell Tour.


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