Faith-Based Politics

Among former Republicans of a certain age, “what the hell happened” is a popular topic of conversation. What turned a major political party composed of people with a reasonable range of respectable views into a cult imposing extremist litmus tests? What accounts for the rejection of evidence, disdain for science and rigid refusal to compromise even the most extreme positions?

When did the Grand Old Party go nuts?

In a new book, The Party’s Over: How Republicans Went Crazy ,Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted former GOP strategist Mike Lofgrin blames religion.

Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.

In retrospect, Lofgren sees Pat Robertson’s strong showing as a Presidential candidate in 1988 as the warning sign for what was already underway: the capture of one of the country’s major political parties by religious fundamentalists and fanatics.

The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars.

Lofgren takes aim at a theory that I have held for some time–the theory that the differences between what we used to call the “country club” wing of the GOP and the religious zealot wing would eventually cause a split. It seemed reasonable to assume that the socioeconomic and philosophical gulf separating the party’s business wing from the religious right would make for instability.

I’ve been predicting this split for at least twenty years, and I’m still waiting, so he may be right when he suggests that there really isn’t a basic disagreement between these factions on the direction  the country should go– just a quibble about how far.

The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age; the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. If anything, the two groups are increasingly beginning to resemble each other. Many televangelists have espoused what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel—the health-and- wealth/name-it-and-claim-it gospel of economic entitlement. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! This rationale may explain why some poor voters will defend the prerogatives of billionaires. In any case, at the beginning of the 2012 presidential cycle, those consummate plutocrats the Koch brothers pumped money into Bachmann’s campaign, so one should probably not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

As for the supposedly libertarian Tea Partiers, Lofgren cites academic studies that identify them as authoritarian rather than libertarian. Over half of Tea Party members self-identified as members of the religious right and 55 percent insisted that “America has always been and is currently a Christian nation”—a higher percentage than non-Tea Party  Christian conservatives.

If Lofgren is right, it explains how we got here, and why government is broken. You can reason with someone who holds a political or policy position. You can negotiate a compromise– a “win-win” with someone whose ultimate goal is different from your own.

When a political position is held with religious fervor, however, it becomes immune to logic and evidence.

Did you all hear about the Republican Representative who attributed the ocean’s rise to the fact that rocks fell into it?

I rest my case.

39 thoughts on “Faith-Based Politics

  1. Since the Church Ladies held Ronnie Reagan tightly by his twins, and made him do NOTHING while a generation of Gay man got sick and died, I have not held out any hope that the Republicans would once again regrow a pair. Let that awful party die. Not sure what comes next but I do not have any sadness at its passing.

  2. As long as they can keep our money flowing into their pockets, the country club/business side of the GOP will do nothing to restrain the religious nuts in their party. What neither side seems to grasp is that the destruction of the liberal principles that made the republic great will usher in such ciaos that neither of them will gain a thing. Certainly their children or grandchildren will suffer with the rest of us.

  3. Sheila,

    “It seemed reasonable to assume that the socioeconomic and philosophical gulf separating the party’s business wing from the religious right would make for instability.”

    “I’ve been predicting this split for at least twenty years, and I’m still waiting, so he may be right when he suggests that there really isn’t a basic disagreement between these factions on the direction the country should go– just a quibble about how far.”

    You have to FULLY understand the origin before the split will occur. The split can’t occur from the INSIDE, it has to be directed from the OUTSIDE.

    The two sides were finally glued to together under the COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM of the 2nd George Bush. George Bush the 1st put this all together. He should be labeled PUBLIC ENEMY #1 [He did it: American aristocracy merging with Texas oil billionaires who controlled the strings to the Southern Baptist Convention].

    “In retrospect, Lofgren sees Pat Robertson’s strong showing as a Presidential candidate in 1988 as the warning sign for what was already underway: the capture of one of the country’s major political parties by religious fundamentalists and fanatics.”

    Lofgren needed to go back at least to 1980 when Ronald Reagan accepted the endorsement of Jerry Falwell’s MORAL MAJORITY. That should have been the warning sign as to what would come next.

  4. Lofrgren can certainly make a case for religion, but let’s be real, both political parties are a joke in the grand ole USA.

    The Plutocrats have all the money, but they need votes to get their puppets elected. Do you blame the oppressors or the oppressed? Who to blame…the manipulators or the manipulated?

    Chris Hedges latest article, “The Coming Collapse” is a must-read. Pollyanna’s will roll up in denial but his brutal honesty across the board is spot on. Too many great quotes to choose one for this post, but as a media person, this one leaps off the page:

    “The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump’s despotism. It chatters endlessly like 18th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America. It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history. The corporate press is a decayed relic that, in exchange for money and access, committed cultural suicide. And when Trump attacks it over “fake news,” he expresses, once again, the deep hatred of all those the press ignores. The press worships the idol of Mammon as slavishly as Trump does. It loves the reality-show presidency. The press, especially the cable news shows, keeps the lights on and the cameras rolling so viewers will be glued to a 21st-century version of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” It is good for ratings. It is good for profits. But it accelerates the decline.”

    His assessment of the democratic party will ruffle a few feathers who still believe their party offers a real alternative or “resistance” to what’s happening in Washington. Read it anyway:

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-coming-collapse/

  5. “FAITH-BASED POLITICS”

    This term used to have a completely different meaning; a positive meaning. I am not denying there have always been those in politics and their supporters who were in the business of politics for their own benefit. We used to have faith in our elected officials and the candidates put before us. I was an Independent voter for decades; fully understanding that nether party is all good or all bad, all right or all wrong, that individuals within both parties deserved a fair hearing. That ended when money became the God of the Republican party; I watched from within Indianapolis City government under one man who was known within the City-County Building as “Little Hitler”. His religious faith – IF he had any – wasn’t part of the equation. Just as any actual religious faith has no part in the Trump administration snake-handlers.

    “Did you all hear about the Republican Representative who attributed the ocean’s rise to the fact that rocks fell into it?”

    That quote is a perfect fit in the Louie Gomert world view.

  6. The prosperity gospel teachings are characterized by the logical fallacy, “post hoc, ergo propter hoc;” that is, if B follows A, B must have been caused by A. It can also be described as assuming that a correlation is causally related (without any attempt to establish statistical significance).

    No one who reads the gospels could possibly believe that that was the message.

  7. A case could be made that this group has always been with us but as fewer and fewer people participated in elections, they rose in prominence within the existing political structures. So it may not be caused by religion at all but rather by the general fecklessness of our average citizen. The mention of Reagan above is interesting to me. I always believed that I could explain him away… but after office was different. That group of ‘zealots’ that arrived after Reagan left office to make sure that he had a monument in all 50 states (like the airport name change) was so extreme in their beliefs about RR it was just bizzarro! No explanation for that… and if religion was a part of that, then they have certainly adopted a few false gods within their efforts.

  8. The prosperity gospel works amazingly well for those preaching it, a group of carnival hucksters whose main religion is the belief that, if you send all of your money to his church, he will prosper. In the words of P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

  9. What percentage of the the voters who identify as members of the GOP voted for Trump?

    I have my doubts when I hear stories about regrets or wonders about what happened to their party when I see how many of them held their noses and voted for him anyway.

    Or maybe some folks consider that a problem, when one party holds faster to their candidate than the other? All it takes is a few percentage difference to show up to the polls. Whether you think it is wise to vote party or not, when one party does repeatedly, it will get and maintain power.

  10. Did the plutocrats identify the religious conservatives as potential spokespersons or were the religious conservatives just naturally attracted to the plutocrats and their money? It seems like a perfect match – both entities working together to achieve their mutual goal of world domination.

  11. The only separation that is viable now is to separate Donald Trump from the main movement, which he and Steve Bannon HIJACKED. The movement still isn’t vulnerable, as Sheila has so well stated, but that’s not the case with Donald Trump.

    The important thing to remember is not to be greedy, and to concentrate only on what is POSSIBLE at this stage of the game.

  12. As one who was asked to run as a member of the Democratic party, nothing discourages me more than the “independents” who decry that party as just as bad as the other simply because we seek money to run a campaign from those who have money. It is as if those who chose this attitude are superior because they can now say they are not part of this filthy system.

    I find it much more effective to operate within my Party and bring about the changes with action rather than standing outside and throwing brick bats. I encourage all to do likewise.

  13. Speaking of Chris Hedges… His book, “The Death of the Liberal Class” showed how we of the Viet Nam War protest generation cut our hair, put on our suits and shut up. We took the money, went to work in the cubicles and let the Reagan-ites begin the ruination of our nation after the war was over. We thought Jimmy Carter would settle us down and bring harmony. We were wrong.

    Republicanism (different from the Republican Party) emerged on the backs of the billionaires. I agree that they bought and paid for the churches too, as another tool to fulfill the perverted ideals of Lewis Powell.

    No, we cannot ask people to reject their religion, but we can urge them to think. We also MUST urge them to reject the politicization of those churches who are doing the most harm.

  14. Charlie,

    “……nothing discourages me more than the “independents” who decry that party as just as bad as the other simply because we seek money to run a campaign from those who have money.”

    I’m afraid the growing criticism is much more comprehensive than the one included in your above statement. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember any criticism on this blog along the line you have just pointed out. But I might have missed it.

  15. “important thing to remember is not to be greedy, and to concentrate only on what is POSSIBLE at this stage of the game.”

    This question is can the US recover starting this November?

    Of course nobody knows the answer to that but one thing seems clear to me and that is we absolutely have to attempt the first step regardless of the level of the completeness of our diagnosis of all of the cultural contributors to the current and surprising mess we find ourselves in.

    No more R’s. Deprive Agent Orange and the states from turning their mad ideas into law. Then we’ll take the second step.

    I feel that hopelessness at this stage in democracy’s journey is easy but unproductive. Amidst the political rack and ruin we find ourselves immersed in there are many signs of renewal, of Spring. One is that the media is fired up to report the shanigans in Washington exactly as they are; demonstrable evidence of a terrible mix of greed, ignorance, incompetence, collusion with our enemies and lying the like of which has never been experienced here.

    We are having a hard time accepting the reality we couldn’t even imagine previously. But that doesn’t make recovery impossible. It does make it urgent and absolutely necessary.

  16. Pete,

    This question is can the US recover starting this November?

    “Of course nobody knows the answer to that but one thing seems clear to me and that is we absolutely have to attempt the first step regardless of the level of the completeness of our diagnosis of all of the cultural contributors to the current and surprising mess we find ourselves in.”

    The STRONG differences, on this point, that we have is based on what it takes to make that FIRST STEP.

  17. daleb @ 8:55 am >>Did the plutocrats identify the religious conservatives as potential spokespersons or were the religious conservatives just naturally attracted to the plutocrats and their money? <<

    The unification of church and state has a long history, back to the Pharaohs. A mosaic from Basilica of San Vitale, 6th century shows the Emperor Justinian and his wife the Empress Theodora pictured with halos around their heads. They are with the exception of angels, Jesus, etc., the only humans with halos. The implication is clear.

    Todd @ 6:46 am – I read the link and would agree with Chris Hedges analysis. It does not take any effort at all to realize CNN, MSDNC and FOX are the modern versions of the old Soviet Pravda. They are all about The Trumpet (aka Agent Orange) one way or another 24/7.

  18. “…we of the Viet Nam War protest generation cut our hair, put on our suits and shut up.”

    Vernon; I believe the majority on this blog were among that Viet Nam protest generation and obviously we have not shut up. My late ex-husband Earl Kennedy, once a commenter here, and I found our names on an FBI list of possible subversives. We were never sure if it was our many deep connections to very active Viet Nam war protesters, supporters of the American Indiana Movement (AIM), our Russian friend or our reading material. Our friends were among those visiting Canada (a dog whistle for those who understand this reference), the ministers who were arrested and convicted for holding a prayer service at the draft induction center downtown (we had their “coming out” party when they completed their sentences by the Indiana Supreme Court to Work Release) our Russian friend whose father had been a Russian political prisoner and her family imprisoned then in concentration camps by the Nazis. One of these friends knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone and found his name on the list; xeroxed it for him, he in turn found our names and showed us his copy. Earl worked for the U.S. Postal Service and I worded in Indianapolis City government at the time…during those Nixon years. Our jobs probably part of the reason for whoever was suspicious.

    A little unnerving to be on that list but proud of our connections to and support for those wonderful activists at a very dangerous time to be activists in this country.

  19. Vernon,

    “We thought Jimmy Carter would settle us down and bring harmony.”

    Unfortunately, he set the stage for more and more religion to be introduced into the political campaigns. He needed to that in order to garner as much of the southern vote that he could.

  20. One thing that makes politics always interesting is human diversity and the fact that our journeys are so completely and elegantly different.

    Applied to emerging from the present swamp of our government that means that we individually will pick different actions some of which will reinforce the collective solution and some of which will reinforce our collection problem.

    The approach that I personally will take is to recruit between now and November anyone who I can influence to follow a simple rule of thumb….vote only D’s. Based on how that goes we can then position ourselves for the next step.

    Single issue voting will be brand new to me, it just never made sense before, but now the possibility of more of what we have seen makes it crystal clear that the country cannot be successful in the hands of the GOP. They have followed a path to a cultural abyss and simply have nothing useful to offer the country any more.

    I think the time is right to end our agony the democratic way through the simple act of voting our tormentors away from power but have to accept that voting is only capable of positive influence. We can only vote for, never against.

    I will vote for only D’s this time as the most powerful revolution available to me.

  21. I find myself in agreement with Todd in his assertion that both political parties are now a joke. I think what we’re dealing with if is akin to being a polyglot where it’s the conversion of several factors all conspiring to derail the efficacy of our political system. One of them is so basic that were not really focused on it and that is the overwhelming impact of mass communications in all areas of our lives which may have relegated our view of the importance of our electoral process to being an also ran competing with everything else that vies for our attention, every day and all day.

    The 24/7 news cycle has given every one in everything access to us with each doing its very best to top the other in competing for attention. Whether it be rampaging evangelicals, crazed tea partiers, and even well intentioned, psychologically well balanced commentators that are trying to get our attention to the things that we really need to be thinking about. This latter group is drowned out by everything else.
    A good example of this that has nothing to do with politics, I think, is how Americans view sports and what gets our attention now as opposed to several decades ago. Our sports viewing habits have changed because we have so much more to look at and, as a result, some sporting events that were preeminent for pond decade are not so much anymore. The gravity of the Indianapolis 500 as an annual sporting event has even been at risk in terms of attendance and media market share as a result with if viewers tending to focus more on NASCAR events although that now is changing somewhat.

    We have a Republican Party that is totally off the rails and fighting with itself and split as it is between what are referred to as the country club Republicans, which I grew up being fairly familiar with, the evangelical crazies that should know better than to do what they’re doing as well as what appear to be Know Nothings. We have a Democratic Party on the other side that is essentially rudderless, lacking any semblance of a coherent message other than attacking the other side. I know a lot of people that, as a result of all this chaos, tune it all out and these are people that care but there they’re sick of the fighting, they’re sick of all the name calling and vitriol, they’re just sick of it, period, so they tune it out.

    Years ago, 1980 to be exact, I took a political science course called” Politics and the News” which the time seemed important that now seems very quaint and very narrow in its scope. There’ve been concerns about the influence of mass media, particularly the calling of elections before the polls of even closed, such as the 1980 presidential election where the election was called in favor of Ronald Reagan before the polls had closed in California. This would all before the advent of cable and cable news which seems like a media version of the Cretaceous Period in the earth’s history. We are now so far beyond that but those same concerns are still there.

    Can a modern participatory elect oral system remained viable as it has been in the face of so much competition for attention? Can the American people and its views regarding our political system reinvigorate themselves so that its importance overrides the latest doings of the Kardashians and the other in inane but obviously important media programming that competes for our attention every day? Will that help us see the charlatans from those who are responsible enough to actually believe this country and do our business in Washington, DC? Are we capable, as a people, of being able to do that and restore the importance and, yes, the sanctity of this extremely important duty as citizens to where it should be in the face of all this? We had better find a way to do so and soon.

  22. At the most basic level this all has to do with the enthronement of ignorance. Reagan saw the possibilities, the Koch brothers provided the cash, and the Republican Party planned, sponsored, and implemented the program. Trump, the apotheosis of their striving, has led his followers into a Slough of Despond (known today as a “swamp”) that has seduced all but a couple of mavericks into thinking that the power they enjoy is a form of Nirvana. They are so thoroughly captured by the populist marketing ploy that they seem to have surrendered whatever concern they may have once held for their country.

    But at a slightly higher level, it has long been known that if you could successfully market the basic tenets of the world’s religions (“…on the third day he arose from the dead…” Really?) to billions of willing believers, you could fabricate and market your own version of truth. The broad success of evangelical snake oil salesmen encouraged the Republican Party to emulate their approach. In the process, truth may have suffered a mortal blow.

    Until religion and every false and deceptive technique for duping plain people has been thoroughly extirpated, we will have to use our limited tools of logic and truth to fight against the emotional appeal of a group selling eternal life, a sense of superiority, and an excuse for not thinking. We are, in short, outgunned.

  23. Terry,

    “…we will have to use our limited tools of LOGIC and TRUTH….”

    ” We are, in short, outgunned.”

    That combo is called political reality.

  24. There are mentally flawed folks who believe their self worth is proven by their net worth. Their are folks who follow the ethos of the Puritan oligarchs and believe in predestined salvation evidenced by earthly wealth and status. Their are folks who are insecure with equality of race, gender or social status and can only not feel inferior if they feel superior. These folks have always been Federalists, Whigs or Republicans. They only deviate when it serves temporary expediency. The cult of capitalism and white nationalism will kill the Republic or be killed by it. There is no middle ground.

  25. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction has an application beyond physics and we are beginning to see it at work as millennials are tuning out of religion and turning left in order to see and feel some meaning as citizens inasmuch as both parties are in a race to raise money to win elections without offering platforms that address the real lives of the polity. The unholy mesh of money with religion has come to the point where the Republican Party is headed back to Whigdom and the Democratic Party is treading political water while complaining of what their opponents do and don’t do. What we need to do is (1) agitate for public financing of elections, and (2) come up with a platform that addresses the real needs of ordinary Americans in re wages, education, health care, and other everyday needs, and do so without apology in the face of a likely barrage of right wing tut-tuts.

    The millennials are, I think, likely to take our party to a place we elders have failed to take it, assuming the present constitutional crisis is surmounted and we have enough democratic institutions in place for a newly constituted Democratic Party to take hold irrespective of money and religion. Can’t be done? Look at history; we have had religious surges and gilded ages come and go.

    Now is not the time to abandon the only political party that has a substantial and increasing number of members who are interested in providing real change to our currently sick system and, in such connection, I agree with Charlie Belch’s offering today. Let’s first win; then reform ourselves.

  26. “We have a Democratic Party on the other side that is essentially rudderless, lacking any semblance of a coherent message other than attacking the other side.”

    It’s seems to me that when you discover your house is on fire everything but calling the fire department pales in importance.

  27. Terry,

    The answer lies, as you have suggested, in a PINCER MOVEMENT OF LOGIC AND TRUTH.

    The pincer movement, or double envelopment, is a military maneuver in which forces simultaneously attack both flanks (sides) of an enemy formation.

  28. JoAnn,
    “Vernon; I believe the majority on this blog were among that Viet Nam protest generation and obviously we have not shut up. ”

    Actually, we did between 1980 and 1992, and slowly, ever-so-slowly came back with the eventual election of Barack Obama. Meanwhile WE let the Republicans flourish and descend into their current pit of hell one election at a time, one state at a time. That’s called the long game, and WE let the Republicans do this. Now we are waking up because the piper we have to pay demands a very large sum.

    If religion is the opiate of the masses, the Republican Party is face down in some gutter with a needle stuck in its arm.

  29. Religion IS the opiate of the masses no doubt; keep them poor, dumb and pregnant.
    The “church” was created by men for men. How dare women stand up to men and their
    “church” especially the S.B. If you want religion; in your life, go to church, do not try to
    cram YOUR religion down MY throat! I was a republican when there were moderates in the party. For the most part, they have become greedy, money grabbers, not caring about this nation. As for the moral majority; they are neither!

  30. I’m beginning to think that religion is incidental and not the essence of the shift. I’d be happy to reconsider if I’m wrong, but were the religious groups in question, by chance, predominantly southern & white? If I’m correct in that guess, then I’d argue that religion is mostly just wall paper. The structural problem is the one we’ve had for a long time — We saw it cause the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. There was maybe a cease fire as Democrats managed to become a national party, but the same problems resumed as Republicans, more and more, usurped the Democrats as the party of the perpetually aggrieved southern white conservative.

  31. The aforementioned politician blaming the rise of oceans on falling rocks is Mo Brooks,a Republican.

    He was educated via the University of Alabama, J.D. Duke University, B.A.

    It’s easy to lambaste those with no pedigree and blame them for the ills. The truth is the ills are the fault of the educated wealthy political class. Either the schools are failing,or the political class has a lot of willfully ignorant schmucks. It does say something about us as a society. If Trump is an idiot,what does that say about the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania?

    Btw,it seems the majority here today are much more saddened by the demise of the Republican Party than the weakened abilities of the Democratic Party and the diminishing prosperity of the middle-class. That doesn’t surprise me as the majority here seem to be former Republicans. How many years ago was the Southern Strategy? Decades ago? And some act as if the party of bigotry was just conceived within a handful of years ago.

    Pete:”It’s seems to me that when you discover your house is on fire everything but calling the fire department pales in importance.”

    Metaphorically speaking wrt The Democratic Party..

    Unfortunately,the phone has been disconnected for lack of attention and the fire department now only accepts cash and particular credit cards.

  32. William,

    “If Trump is an idiot,what does that say about the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania?”

    I’m also a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and most people don’t consider me an idiot. The University of Pennsylvania’s founder was Benjamin Franklin. No one has ever considered him an idiot. I was the top sociology student in my class and my mentor was Professor Baltzell and no one has ever considered him an idiot. Penn was know at the time I was a student in the 50’s as the most tolerant major university. The fact that it still held on to its QUAKER ROOTS had much to do with its reputation.

    Donald Trump transferred to Penn. For what ever reason, he wasn’t accepted as a freshman. The university has distanced itself from him, the moment he was elected. More than likely, $$$$ played a big part in his acceptance as a transfer student.

    What was the name of the college he attended his freshman year?

  33. Talking about books, E. Digby Baltzell’s book “The Protestant Establishment” (Random House, New York, 1964) has taken on new importance.

    From Amazon:

    This classic account of the traditional upper class in America traces its origins, lifestyles, and political and social attitudes from the time of Theodore Roosevelt to that of John F. Kennedy. Sociologist E. Digby Baltzell describes the problems of exclusion and prejudice within the community of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (or WASPs, an acronym he coined) and predicts with amazing accuracy what will happen when this inbred group is forced to share privilege and power with talented members of minority groups.

    “The book may actually hold more interest today than when it was first published. New generations of readers can resonate all the more to this masterly and beautifully written work that provides sociological understanding of its engrossing subject.”―Robert K. Merton, Columbia University

    “The documentation and illustration in the book make it valuable as social history, quite apart from any theoretical hypothesis. As such, it sketches the rise of the WASP penchant for country clubs, patriotic societies and genealogy. It traces the history of anti-Semitism in America. It describes the intellectual conflict between Social Darwinism and the environmental social science founded half a century ago by men like John Dewey, Charles A. Beard, Thorstein Veblen, Franz Boas and Frederick Jackson Turner. In short, The Protestant Establishment is a wide-ranging, intelligent and provocative book.”―Alvin Toffler, New York Times Book Review

    “The Protestant Establishment has many virtues that lift it above the level we have come to expect in works of contemporary social and cultural analysis. It is clearly and convincingly written.”―H. Stuart Hughes, New York Review of Books

    “What makes Baltzell’s analysis of the evolution of the American elite superior to the accounts of earlier writers . . . is that he exposes the connections between high social status and political and economic power.”―Dennis H. Wrong, Commentary

    No doubt, I had the right mentoring.

  34. You can understand the Koch brothers and the Bush family in a much DEEPER LIGHT by reading Professor Baltzell’s book. It’s much more than $$$$$ that have created their immense power.

  35. Let’s not forget a fundamental pillar of fundamentalism is that women should be subject to their husbands. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, with their constant braying about “FemiNazis”, found a natural ally with the Christian right, particularly the Baptists, in their quest to maintain a patriarchal society. The women’s movement was always considered some form of witchcraft by many of the fundamentalists. God intended for men, particularly white men, to be in charge and women were supposed to bear children and obey their husbands. This philosophy fits in pretty well with the old boy network. So an unholy alliance was gradually formed over the years, fueled in part by TV evangelists preaching about wealth being the deserved reward for the righteous, a theory that also justified the fleecing of the flock by these so-called ministries. The typical con game that Republicans could understand and appreciate. Sell the public on some phony product or ideal while taking their money. It’s interesting that Republicans feared a papist form of government with a Catholic Democrat in office, but welcome a Christian right form of Sharia in which they whole-heartedly embrace religious beliefs taking precedence over the law. What we used to think was pandering has become a partnership in which the shared goals are wealth and power and religion is just a means to that end.

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