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Christian subversion and missionary activities -2
Theocons and theocrats

According to Phillips, the United States faces three major perils in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, reliance on borrowed money and religion getting increasingly radicalised. Americans are slowly moving towards Christian theocracy, writes MV Kamath

American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips, Viking, $26.95

It is fashionable among intellectuals, mostly Hindus, to damn Hindus and Hinduism, the religion of their forefathers, in no uncertain terms. One cannot speak of Hindutva without being called a fascist, communalist and fundamentalist, in stinging terms. The White man - forget the Islamic countries which are beyond the pale of criticism - is secular, free of religious extremism and, therefore, commanding instant respect. The only despicable people for our secularists are Hindus, unless they openly swear by secularism and bid goodbye to their past.

But now we are told that Americans are no better, and that not only are they "recklessly dependent" on a milieu of "radicalised religion" and "religious fundamentalism" but "the rapture, end-times and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shia ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in US history".

Worse, Phillips writes that his book sums up "a potent change... in the country's domestic and foreign policy-making" and "religion's new political prowess and its role in the projection of military power in the Middle Eastern Bible lands".

According to Phillips, the US's pre-occupation with West Asia has two dimensions, in addition to oil and terrorism. He says "The White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny". In what way, then, are Christian fundamentalists of the US different from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and other similar Islamic fundamentalist - and terrorist - outfits?

Phillips asserts that the Bush legacy has "added close ties to evangelical and fundamentalist power brokers of many persuasions". Further, he adds, "For the first time in our history, ideology holds a monopoly of power in Washington."

As Phillips sees it there are three major "perils" to the Union States in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, a reliance on borrowed money and a milieu of radicalised (and such too influential) religion. How does it meet these three 'perils'?

To meet oil needs, efforts are made to seize militarily portions of West Asia expected by 2020 to have two-thirds of the world's remaining oil reserves. By 1950 Americans were consuming more than one-third of the world's energy output and nearly half of its oil. Now, world oil production is expected to peak in only two or three decades. So Ford and General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) are going in not into enhanced production of cars, but in loan services. Says Phillips, "Without that financial backstop, the two firms might have become historical artefacts by the end of the 20th century"

As for radicalised religion, Phillips says that it is as "American as apple pie". According to him, religious extremism has now become common in the US. He notes, "In its recent practice, the radical side of US religion has embraced cultural anti-modernism, war-hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy and, in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for Governments by literal Biblical interpretation."

Indeed, Phillips adds: "Evangelical fundamentalist and Pentecostal demonstration began the new millennium verging on the juggernaut status." It is not that secularism is disappearing in the US. The author says that a "large and growing secular culture" is to be seen and that among northern university graduates and cultural elites, it is dominant. But he also adds, quoting from David Domke's God Willing (2001) that the "Bush Administration's worldview is one grounded in religious fundamentalism - that is, it emphasises absolutes, authority and tradition and a divine hand in history and upon the United States".

Still later he writes, "Since 1980 religious Americans of all faiths - fundamentalist Protestants, observant Catholics, even orthodox Jews - have been moving towards the Republican Party. This is something new in American politics. We have never had a religious party in this country." Now, apparently, it has. To cite examples, the author says that between 1977 and Ronald reagan's first year in office, half-a-dozen national organisations linked to religious conservatives emerged - the National Federation of Decency (1977), evangelist Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority (1979), the Religious Roundtable (1979), the Christian Voice (1979), The National Affairs Briefing (1980), the Council on Revival (1980) and the Council for National Policy (1981). <span style='color:red'>By 2004, Some 43 to 46 per cent of Americans described themselves as born-again in Christian faith. But everything is being kept secret. As Phillips puts it, "The Christian Right usually does not like to acknowledge what it is doing or where."</span>

The point is to minimise public attention to its influence and back-stage power (at least the RSS or the Bajrang Dal does not resort to such tactics). No less than Bill Moyers has been quoted as saying: "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come from the fringe to sit down in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington."

The essential political preconditions fell into place in the late 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of the Republican Party as a powerful vehicle for religiosity and church influence, while State Republican parties, most conspicuously in the south and south-west, endorsed so-called Christian nation platforms.

To read this book is to get a fresh idea of what politics and religion in the United States are all about. America today is a vastly changed nation. Phillips calls the new development as "American Theocracy".

The crusade against Islam is a fact of life. According to national public poll, evangelicals and their leaders far exceed other Americans in their disapproval of Islam. Which may explain the cruelty imposed in Iraq. Antagonism to Islam is fast replacing hatred for the Soviet Union. Today, the enemy is Islam. But India must take precaution. Who knows it could be the next in line for attacks from American fundamentalists.


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