Abortion, Apocalypse, and "Killing for Life"
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 10:53:02 PM EST
Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates (author info)
Those of us who have tracked clinic violence over the past two decades have long known of the militant anti-abortion subculture that ebbs and flows with the political moment. There are two factors that are central to this movement.

One is that many of them believe in a vast conspiracy to destroy the country and defame God led by liberal secular humanists and other subversive swine like those of us who read Talk to Action.

The other is the role of aggressive apocalyptic belief among certain Christians on the Political Right. These folks read the Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins Left Behind series of novels as if it were a roadmap to future history. More than 70 million sold. Christian bookstores, especially on the Internet, are well stocked with Christian conspiracist literature as well as Christian apocalyptic literature. Sometimes they are the same book.

When you combine conspiracy theories that demonize a scapegoat with an aggressive form of apocalypticism, you have a volatile mix--one that throughout history has generated violence and murder.
When you add in an intersection with the right-wing populist "Patriot" movement, more heat is added to the cauldron of rage. It appears that Scott Roeder came out of this Patriot movement, as did Eric Robert Rudolph and John C. Salvi, III, who killed and maimed clinic workers not that many years ago.

Apocalypticism is a package of the following beliefs:

- There is an approaching confrontation between good and evil. - During this struggle, hidden truths will be revealed. - The outcome will change history in a significant way.

Constructive apocalypticism can produce social movements that seek peace and equality, such as the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Aggressive apocalypticism can produce violence, murder, and genocide.

Scholar Carol Mason is the author of Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-life Politics. She has written and essay that makes some important points:

Sunday's murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas raises again the question of what it means to defend life through killing.

When militant antiabortionists began bombing clinics and shooting doctors in the 1980s and 1990s, law enforcement officials looked for some conspiracy among the perpetrators.

They did not find one. What they needed to look for was a cultural explanation for how members of a movement dedicated to defending life began to kill for life. Dr. Tiller's assassination signals the return of an apocalyptic zeal that has lately been directed elsewhere.
So it is important to understand the power of apocalyptic thinking when it is grafted on top of anger, bigotry, and conspiracy theories that portray named scapegoats. The militant anti-abortion movement sees itself as defending God and country. While less militant anti-abortion activists express their horror at the assassination of Dr. Tiller, others express their delight and consider Tiller's death an act of justice and an offering to God.

According to Mason:
The late twentieth century rise of antiabortion violence grew out of a sense that America was severing its ties to God and all things good. To prolifers, abortion was a sign of national inhumanity and increasing antichristian barbarism. Racist prolifers argued that abortion was a bourgeoning Jewish-engineered industry geared toward a white Christian genocide and praised those who killed abortion providers.
The right-wing media demagogues and pious national anti-abortion leaders can continue to claim they play no role in this deadly dynamic. We can pretend that these aggressive apocalyptic movements don't exist, or are so marginal as to be insignificant. We can continue to pretend anti-abortion violence is carried out by deranged people acting alone.

And if that is how this story gets spun by the commercial media, there will be more phone calls reporting that a bullet has finally found its mark...and there is another funeral to plan by the family of another doctor, or nurse, or clinic worker.

= = =

You can read the full essay by Carol Mason here Ported from Huffington Post
Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

If NWO conspiricists such as Paul McGuire and Gary Kah are going out over GodTV - which claims a global broadcast reach of several hundred million globally, are we dealing with a subculture ? Hagee has been globally broadcasting such themes for about a decade. This is no longer fringe.

The subculture is rapidly surfacing, it would seem.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 11:51:41 PM EST

...but at least in sociology the self-aware regular audience and participants would still be called a subculture.  Not quite the majority culture...yet.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 06:02:09 PM EST
Such ideas are going out over newly emergent global Christian broadcast media, and NWO conspiricism is being taught, in the guise of Biblical "prophecy" at Jack Hayford's Kings' College. Jack Van Impe has begun broadcast international banking/NWO conspiracies but he's decidedly old-school.

A new style of conspiracy theory, building off the old NWO/international banking conspiracy genre has arisen, which is designed to appeal to the left. This new genre is dramatically more sophisticated than the old style.

And, we see considerable evidence of diffusion into mainstream culture. The Venn Diagram sets that sociology might draw have become dramatically less distinct, I would suggest. I  know sociological theory can provide helpful perspectives but we may be dealing with emergent phenomenon that has no direct immediate historical precedent.

There are reasons why I say that - ideas/practice promoted from Ted Haggard's church from the late 1990's into the next decade were invented. They did not evolve. Sociology looks toward the gradual evolution of cultural ideas but often fails to account for ideas created to drive political movements. And, it's my experience that sociology fails abysmally when it tries to account for politicized religion.

To give you an idea of how very different the ideas I'm talking about are, see this new book from Brill, Spiritual Mapping in the United States and Argentina, 1989-2005: A Geography of Fear. I don't necessarily agree with everything Holvast writes, but he's done superb work, in my opinion, nonetheless. Here's a PDF of his 300-plus page dissertation the Brill book was based on, Spiritual Mapping: The Turbulent Career of a Contested American Paradigm.

This highly timely - Lou Engle, who is in the mainstream of the movement that's been advanced through the "Spiritual Mapping"/Spiritual Warfare" paradigm Holvast details has just done a high-profile endorsement (with laying on of hands, but this is not Pentecostalism) of Mike Huckabee, in an event that also featured Newt Gingrich. Michael Farris, Oliver North, Ron Luce, and other notables.

The old line Christian right and its politicians - Dobson, Perkins, Colson, Huckabee, Gingrich, etc. are aggressively courting the burgeoning Charismatic movement and adopting the movement's linguistic and theological idiom.  

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 12:18:12 PM EST

anti-life-plan Are the NWO and Communist conspiracy theories part of one big conspiracy theory? Or do different theocratic believers have different ones? Conspiracy? "This highly timely - Lou Engle, who is in the mainstream of the movement that's been advanced through the "Spiritual Mapping"/Spiritual Warfare" paradigm Holvast details has just done a high-profile endorsement (with laying on of hands, but this is not Pentecostalism) of Mike Huckabee, in an event that also featured Newt Gingrich. Michael Farris, Oliver North, Ron Luce, and other notables." Where was Ted Haggard? Did they send him to rehab camp or something?

by Heretic on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 03:52:18 PM EST

It may not just be people involved with the clinics- but anyone who spoke out against their attempts to force their religion on others, or insisted that truth rather than dogma be spoken!!  The comparison of these people to the Taliban isn't made lightly, and it is made with good reason.

It may even get to where NOT being dominionist is dangerous.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 11:57:44 PM EST

and probably is, at least one criminal conspiracy to kill abortion providers and bomb and/or vandalize clinics. Ever heard of the Army of God?, Carol Mason?

by nogodsnomasters on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:45:51 PM EST
Seriously, Ms. Mason has done her homework on this topic and is a leading expert in the field.  AOG is covered in her book.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 06:04:28 PM EST

I thought this book might have some ideas on defusing the violence: terror Of course, my answer to a lot of things is to read another book. Last summer, it was Jeff Sharlet's The Family. Maybe one of you could go on bloggingheadstv? I guess it's not "commericial media," but . . .

by Heretic on Sat Jun 06, 2009 at 08:42:39 PM EST

Chip, you ought to check out Jack Van Impe, who appears to be the leading new man in the Christian Crystal Ball Camp. He is laced full  of conspiracy theories often mentioning the groups that conspiracy buffs claim really rule the world. He is freequently on TBN and worth your while, (all of you) to view.

by wilkyjr on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:36:54 AM EST

Your name was mentioned in the local paper today.  Unfortunately, the article was titled "Shootings show threat of 'lone wolf' terrorists" - and implies that these terrorists are largely working on their own, without connections to the Religious Right (or whatever you want to call them) and militant organizations/hate groups.

I look forward to the day when the mainstream press (and not just a journalist here and there) starts reporting on those connections AND what those people believe and advocate.

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Jun 13, 2009 at 12:51:52 PM EST

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