Watching while a country falls

Susan K. Smith.2 23
Susan K. Smith

 

By SUSAN K. SMITH

Crazy Faith Ministries

 

It has been brutally disheartening, watching what is going on politically in our country. It feels like non-Republicans are standing on the sidelines, watching what is going on but not believing what they are seeing, and remaining stuck in their belief that “it,” meaning the destruction of our democracy, could not, cannot happen here.

But it is happening – right before our eyes. When the former president took office, he began to dismantle our long-standing American institutions. From the FBI to the Justice Department to the United States Post Office, the former president began, it seems, on day one to get rid of the staples of this government, according to The Atlantic.

He was living out a strategy that was put in place years ago by the Conservative Right. That group of people, notes Katherine Stewart in The Power Worshippers was on a mission. They believed that, from the beginning of Reconstruction to the present, capitalism was under attack and that the country was in dire danger of being overtaken by the Communists. They decried Liberal national defense policies, and domestic policies as well. Writes Stewart: “They were angry at liberals who threatened to undermine national security with their unforgivable softness on Communism; they were angry at establishment conservatives…for siding with the liberals and taking down their hero, Barry Goldwater; they were angry about the rising tide of feminism which they saw as a menace to the social order, and about the Civil Rights Movement and the danger it posed to segregation, especially in education.”

They planned to target America’s institutions, to remake the government in the image of their brand of conservatism. Paul Weyrich, considered the father of modern conservatism, said, “We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken then and eventually destroy them.” Among other promises, Weyrich said that the new Conservatism would “use guerilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime.”

That, it seems, is exactly what is being done, but people do not seem to – or maybe they cannot – believe that they are seeing the destruction that is being wrought right in front of us.

The people who seek to be in power – who are seeking to make minority rule the new normal – are seeking to destroy the two-party system. They are proposing such ideas as there being just one religion for the country (in spite of their cries for “religious freedom), and that religion would be their own brand of Christianity. They have been strategically opposing social justice initiatives as well as “liberal theology,” and they have been consistently working to force liberals out of leadership roles.

Interestingly, though they espouse the name of “Christ,” they seem to have a disdain for the person of Jesus as described in the Christian Bible. In a 1925 book, The Man Nobody Knows, author Bruce Barton explained or expanded upon the belief of many Conservative men that Jesus was “weak and puny, a sad sack(sic) who died on the cross because he could not do better.” said Barton.  “He (Jesus) picked up twelve men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an organization that conquered the world,” according to an excerpt from The Family. Indeed, we are seeing the adoration and respect for a Christ who is a paradigm of “hypermasculinity.” The Rev. Jerry Falwell exclaimed that Jesus was “hypermasculine.” Falwell said, “the man who lived on this earth was a man with muscles…Christ was a he-man!”

The remaking of the Christ of the Bible is troubling on a personal level, but we have to wonder and consider what that perception of Jesus will mean as or if the Conservative Right grabs power. What will that mean for those of us who see the Jesus of the Bible as one who taught the value of relationship, community and a “beloved community” where all whom God created lived and worked together?

Without the guardrails provided by a relatively united view of the Christ, who has been central to the way our country and institutions have been run, it is difficult to see how the calamity which is looming before us will end well. Our institutions are being pulled from their foundations, albeit those foundations have been shaky – like they were only seminally attached and are as disposable as is Velcro. Without those guardrails, this nation will be profoundly different, and unfortunately, too few of us believe that we are in as much danger as we are.

What the believers in the “he-man” they identify as Jesus will do is yet to be seen, but they are giving us clues. The fight before us is and will be about stopping men who intend to seize power and take away the rights so many groups of marginalized people have worked to attain.

The country and the “church” of the Conservative Right will wreak pain, suffering, and havoc on all of us. Would that we could see it coming and do something before it is too late.

 

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at revsuekim@sbcgloba.net.

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