Hagee's Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 04:15:04 PM EST
It really has been shocking to watch how apologists for pastor John Hagee assert that since Hagee supports the state of Israel and hardline Zionism, he cannot be an antisemite. This is either political pragmatism or religious ignorance or both. Hagee promotes a conspiracy theory about a sinister plot to establish global control that incorporates both generic and antisemitic versions of the tired old conspiracist allegations.

In the U.S. Political Right conspiracy theories about a global one world government and New World Order are rampant, and have been for many decades. Various conspiracist movements in the US, from the 1800s on, have derived their specific narratives from two historic roots: false allegations about a Freemason/Illuminati alliance, and false allegations about Jews.
Implicit in both narratives, as they were modified for US consumption, is the theme that America is essentially a Christian nation threatened with subversion by anti-Christian secret elites with allies in high places. The secular version of US conspiracism omits the overtly religious references and simply looks for betrayal by political and religious leaders.

Where do these ideas come from? Paul Boyer, Michael Barkun, Michelle Goldberg, Sara Diamond, Russ Bellant, Matthew N. Lyons and I have all written about this for many years. So have other authors.

A central clearinghouse for the generic version of the global conspiracy theory is the John Birch Society, founded in the 1960s. These conspiracy theories are still current in today's Christian Right. This is clearly the case with Christian Right leaders Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye. No surprise, then, to find out that in the 1960s and 1970s, LaHaye lectured at John Birch Society seminars.

These themes within Christianity in the U.S. trace back to the early settlers and their view of being Godly warriors in a literal struggle with Satan. The Salem witch trials sought to expose witches and their allies as conspiring with the Devil. Modern scholarship has shown that persons accused of being witches were disproportionately women who did not conform to societal expectations, and that there was frequently an economic dimension to the charge, such as a disputed inheritance. This is evidence of how demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism--elements of every witch hunt--arrived on our shores with the overwhelmingly Protestant early settlers.

These ideas were influenced by the apocalyptic narrative of the Bible's book of Revelation, but were not always linked to a specific widespread period of millennial expectation. They did set the stage, however, for the generalized paradigm of conspiracism in the US, which revolves around narratives of subversion by evil forces doing the work of the Devil.

According to a mix of some history and much myth, in 1776 intellectual Adam Weishaupt set up a secretive philosophical and political society in Bavaria, the Illuminati, that then sent members into various Masonic lodges across Europe to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment. The Illuminati didn't last long, but in the late 1790s a series of books were published claiming that it was the Freemasons and their Illuminati allies who launched the French Revolution and unseated church-state oligarchies across the continent.

A century later, the infamous hoax document, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, was cobbled together (and plagiarized) from various prior texts including the books and tracts about the alleged Illuminati conspiracy. In the Protocols, however, the secret group at the center of the conspiracy is a council of senior rabbis.

Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson are among the leaders of the Christian Right to pick up on this generic idea of a global conspiracy theory involving the Freemason/Illuminati alliance.

In his book Rapture (Under Attack), LaHaye takes a moment to explain his views on the vast conspiracy. According to LaHaye, "It was satanically-inspired in the brain of Dr. Adam Weishaupt...who launched the Illuminati...." (p. 138).
I myself have been a forty-five year student of the satanically-inspired, centuries-old conspiracy to use government, education, and media to destroy every vestige of Christianity within our society and establish a new world order. Having read at least fifty books on the Illuminati, I am convinced that it exists and can be blamed for many of man's inhumane actions against his fellow man during the past two hundred years (p. 138).
Pat Robertson's 1991 book, The New World Order also supports the idea of a Freemason conspiracy "revealed in the great seal adopted at the founding of the United States." Robertson links Freemasonry to End Times predictions of a "mystery religion designed to replace the old Christian world order of Europe and America" (p. 36).
Robertson goes on to state:
In earlier chapters, we have traced the infiltration of Continental Freemasonry by the new world philosophy of the order of the Illuminati, and its subsequent role in the French revolution. We then were able to find clear documentation that the occultic-oriented secret societies claiming descent from Illuminism and the French Revolution played a seminal role in the thinking of Marx and Lenin. (pp. 261-62).
Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind went after Robertson's conspiracy theories in The New York Review of Books, pointing out that Robertson took some of the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy allegations from sources that included antisemitic claims about the role of Jews in the vast plot that echoed the Protocols. Robertson later distanced himself from these claims.

When Hagee adds into the generic conspiracy theory mentions of the international bankers and financiers, the Federal Reserve System, and the Rothschilds, he is adding antisemitism to the generic Freemason/Illuminati conspiracy theory.


See, for more background:

Chip Berlet, Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism

Chip Berlet & Nikhil Aziz, Behind Hagee's Vision of God's End Game

See also these print publications for background:

Chip Berlet, "Anti-Masonic Conspiracy Theories: A Narrative Form of Demonization and Scapegoating." In Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris, eds., Freemasonry in Context: History, Ritual, Controversy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004

Chip Berlet. 2005. “Protocols to the Left, Protocols to the Right: Conspiracism in American Political Discourse at the Turn of the Second Millennium.” Paper presented at the conference: Reconsidering “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: 100 Years After the Forgery, The Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University, October 30-31, 2005.

Brenda E. Brasher and Chip Berlet. 2004. “Imagining Satan: Modern Christian Right Print Culture as an Apocalyptic Master Frame. Paper presented at the Conference on Religion and the Culture of Print in America, Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison, September 10-11, 2004.



Display:
Thanks for the article, I was not aware that LaHaye bought into the Weishaupt theory.  YOu might view donwilkey.blogspot.com for another article about the strange link between these folks and anti- semitism.

by wilkyjr on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 08:46:01 AM EST

There is still a lot we all don't know.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 11:34:23 AM EST

One of the biggies that led me to walking away was the discovery of a book on antisemitism by the Simon Wiesenthal Society--and seeing some of the same conspiracy theories noted (including the stuff about the Illuminati and the Bildebergers et al) by racist and anti-Semitic groups used by dominionists.

My note to my mother that these terms tended to be used as code-phrases for "Jew" in racist groups ended up with me being targeted for one of the several impromptu "exorcisms" she tried to perform on me... :P

Of note, Lyndon LaRouche promotes a lot of this too, only using the euphemism "British". :P

by dogemperor on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 12:05:59 PM EST


It would be very nice if you, or someone else, could post online, somewhere, a thorough and systematic historical refutation of various grand-conspiracy theories, especially the "Illuminati" and Federal Reserve conspiratorial claims, which have become very popular these days and not just in religious right wing circles.

Some good refutations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are listed here.  Other refutations of the Protocols are listed in my blog post on Refutations of some classic libels against Jews.

I have not been able to find nearly as much about the "Illuminati" and Federal Reserve claims.  A few partial refutations are listed in the above-mentioned blog post of mine.  And, regarding the "Illuminati," a few more are listed here.

It would be very nice if someone could put together a more complete online resource.


by Diane Vera on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 11:24:20 AM EST

Conspiracism: An Overview
http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/index.html

The Illuminati Freemason Conspiracy
http://www.publiceye.org/tooclose/masons.html

The recent spate of conspiracism that are analogs of the Protocols.

"Protocols to the Left, Protocols to the Right: Conspiracism in American Political Discourse at the Turn of the Second Millennium"
http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/paradigm/protocols-2005.html

Conspiracism Post 9/11
http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/conspiracism-911.html

Supplement to New Internationalist Articles on Conspiracism with emphasis on antisemitism
http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/newint.html

Conspiracy Theory Generator
http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/generator.html

_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 11:32:51 PM EST
Parent
Thanks for the links.

These pages are interesting.  However, except for a few externally linked pages, they don't actually refute the claims themselves in any detail.  They just give a historical overview and show common patterns.  That's a good start, but much more is needed in order to have a resource that could actually sway people away from grand-conspiracy claims about the Illuminati, Freemasons, etc.


by Diane Vera on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 08:45:09 AM EST
Parent

Please see my replies to you in this thread.

by Diane Vera on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 08:21:28 PM EST
Parent





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