Over the past few posts, I have been writing about the Christian fascism at the heart of America’s Providential History, a textbook used in homeschooling and private schools. Today, I want to wrap up my examination of the textbook by looking at the authors’ calls for Christians to become actively involved in politics at the local, state, and national level. Along with calling for Christian involvement in politics, Mark Beliles and Stephen McDowell call upon candidates, always refereed to as “man” or “men,” to have “Christian character” and engage in the work of politics from a “character-oriented” not an “issue-oriented” perspective. So, the individual must base their decisions and actions on “Biblical” principles, not matter if their constituents disagree with that position.
The textbook states that, based on scripture (Exodus 18:19–23 and other verses), political candidates should meet certain criteria: they should be experienced, fear God, have a “Biblical” worldview, and they “must ‘hate dishonest gain,” which for the authors “means that beyond a correct worldview, they must have Christian character, a godly home, and pure motives.” On the latter point, one’s “hate for dishonest gain,” the textbook pivots, ignoring that this phrase in Exodus where Jethro tells Moses that he needs to choose men who do not take bribes or take the position to increase their wealth. Rather, the textbook leaves this phrase hanging and directly pivots to summarizing the characteristics of a Christian politician.
In this same section, the authors claim that a lot of candidates “claim to be ‘Christians’ but do not hold to a Biblical worldview.” The example they provide, as I wrote about previously, is Jimmy Carter whom they say “was an example of a Christian whose mind was unrenewed by Scripture and thus reasoned and governed from a ‘humanistic’ worldview.” Its no wonder that the textbook claims Carter “governed from a ‘humanistic’ worldview” because his positions, even during his time as president, went against the patriarchal, racist, sexist, and xenophobic tendrils of the Moral Majority and Christian fascism. We can see this during his post-presidency with his views on LGBTQ individuals and the role of women within the church, issues that led Carter to sever his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.
To make sure that Christian candidates who adhere to a “Biblical” worldview achieve office, Christians must engage in local politics because when a vacancy pops up in a political decision, the new candidate comes from the party system. So, in order to even have an inroad into the office, one must be involved locally. This involvement, as well, allows individuals to “generally gain a feel for each person’s worldview and character” and to determine if someone fits the criteria the textbook lists earlier. “If none is available to meet those qualifications,” the textbook states, “then you should be willing to run yourself.” Getting involved in the local party system, as well, provides voters with insight into the candidates and assists in determining who upholds the “Biblical” values.
Ultimately, this participation would lead to a seismic, spiritual change in the United States, paving the way for Christian nationalist state. Democracy is not the goal here; rather, they seek to reshape the nation in their own image, an image they claim stems from on high. “Even if Christians manage to outnumber others on an issue,” they write, “and we sway our Congressman by sheer numbers, we end up in the dangerous promotion of democracy.” The “dangerous promotion of democracy” comes when elected officials govern from a “humanistic” worldview and become swayed by issues, not “moral” character. This statement lays bare that they perceive democracy, the ability of the citizenry, as a whole, to have a voice in the construction of laws and life in society, as a threat to themselves. The code here, of course, is that it is a threat to white supremacy, as I’ve shown over the course of these past few posts. They “do not want representatives who are swayed by majorities”; instead, they want representatives swayed “by correct principles.”
The chapter concludes with a section entitled “‘We The People’ — The Power for Changing America.” Here, the authors break down, with numbers, what it would take for Christians to change the course of the United States, moving it from “secularism” to a “scriptural” focus on “Christian” character. They argue that very few people actually participate in local party politics and vote. This “apathy of other Americans” of citizens to not be involved in the electoral process “can become,” they state, “a blessing and advantage to Christians who choose to get involved and fill the void of leadership.” Like the “dangerous promotion of democracy” phrase, the claim that apathetic constituents can be an “advantage to Christians” drips with white supremacy because it echoes Jim Crow voting restrictions and voter suppression tactics that we see today in various states. Again, the foundations are not coded; they are explicit within the textbook that parents and schools use to educate students.
Making a difference, according to Belilee and McDowell wouldn’t take very long; in fact, it would only take about ten years. The example they posit is that to overturn Roe v. Wade one must start locally then work up to the national level, over the course of four to six years. These positions must be held at both the state and the national level because even if the Supreme Court overruled Roe, which it did last year, it would require the states to pass “new pro-life laws,” essentially what we have seen over the past year. The textbook continues, “If a Human Life Amendment was passed by Congress today, it would have to be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures,” and they ask, “So why wait?” Congress could be bypassed, they state, if Christians focus on state legislatures because “more godly representatives in 2/3 of the state legislatures . . . can bypass Congress and call a new Constitutional Convention to clean up the mess we have made of it in the past 200 years!”
Again, the plan has been there all along. America’s Providential History originally appeared in the late 1980s, and today we see the playbook, in numerous ways, coming to fruition. No matter what the majority wants, the minority does its own thing citing a “Biblical” worldview as its impetus for decision making. It focuses on “individual piety,” as Chris Hedges puts it, over collective action and consensus. The individualism, both through American individualism and the personal salvation (i.e. individual) relationship with Jesus, meld together to squash collective equity and progress. As Hedges writes, “When there is no other place to turn for help other than the world of miracles and magic, mediated by those who grow rich off those who suffer, when fealty to an ideology becomes a litmus test for individual worth, tyranny follows.”
America’s Providential History covers a lot of ground, and it promotes, under the guise of teaching history serves to create a mythological, false narrative that seeks power and control. It’s rewriting the history of the United States in order to justify white supremacy, patriarchy, xenophobia, and much, much more. It comes down to power, plain and simple. For the authors of the the textbook, God and a “Biblical” worldview trump everything elese. As I’ve shown here and elsewhere, and as Anthea Butler, Chris Hedges, Bradley Onishi, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Robert Jones, Jemar Tisby, and countless others have shown, the goal of Christian fascism is not to bring about a God-centered world; it’s to bring about a world where white men are in control and hold the fates of others in their hands.
The persecution myth underlies Christian fascism, and as Anthea Butler writes, “Evangelicals are not being persecuted in America. They are being called to account. Evangelicals are being judged for not keeping to the very morality they asked others to adhere to. They have been found wanting. Evangelicals comfort themselves in the arms of power, in symbols that Jesus disdained. They are the Pharisees.”
What are your thoughts? As usual, let me know in the comments below, and make sure to follow me on Twitter at @silaslapham.