Obama Like Hitler, Suggests TX Pastor at Florida Pastors Rally, But Mormonism Still a "Cult"
Prominent Southern Baptist Convention Pastor Robert Jeffress is at it again. At an October 30, 2012 pastors rally in Tampa, Jeffress suggested that failing to stop President Barack Obama from gaining a 2nd term in office would be like failing to stop Hitler. Though Jeffress did not directly endorse Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency in the 2012 election, Jeffress stated that while Mormonism is a "cult", at least Mitt Rommey holds "biblical" values - an issue that has been recently contested
by pastors and community leaders under the mantle of the North Carolina NAACP, who have criticized Billy Graham's recent controversial
support for Mitt Romney and suggested that the religious right's insistence on fighting same-sex marriage and legal abortion misses the Bible's focus on taking care of the poor.
And yes, Jeffress did invoke the Holocaust, according to
the Tampa Tribune
, which characterized Jeffress' speech thus:
"Jeffress urged the capacity crowd at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa to use their pulpit time this Sunday to stress the importance of voting for the candidate who supports the "biblical values" of the sanctity of marriage, sanctity of life and religious freedom.
Stay silent, he warned them, and you're no different than German Lutheran pastors who didn't speak out against Hitler's growing influence in the late 1930s. That lack of action led to the Holocaust, he said.
Jeffress, who has a national radio and television show, stopped short of endorsing Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but he said in an interview afterward that "people can connect the dots. It's clear which candidate shares our views."
That doesn't mean Jeffress has changed his public stand on Romney's Mormon religion.
"It's absolutely a cult," he said. "Mormonism is not part of Christianity. We clearly differ on theology, but we embrace the same values." "
Jeffress is far from the only prominent figure on the religious right to have recently suggested that conservative Christians are in a life-or-death struggle with a political force as malevolent as Hitler and Nazi movement.
In March 2012, details journalist Frederick Clarkson in a story at Religion Dispatches, book author Eric Metaxas, who appears to have been groomed to succeed the late Charles Colson, was giving a bookstore presentation on his new, bestselling biography of the Anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
During the talk, Metaxas suggested to his audience that the Obama Administration's Health and Human Services mandate concerning contraception coverage under employer-provided health insurance packages was a religious freedom issue of the same magnitude as issues confronted by Christian churches during the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s.
Things have become so bad, Metaxas told his audience, that,
"If we don't fight now, if we don't really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It'll be over. This it. We've got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn't serious enough. Its just this little issue. But it's the millimeter... its that line that we cross. I'm sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn't."
Metaxas seems strangely unaware or unconcerned about government funding, under George W. Bush's Faith Based Initiative, that goes to sectarian religious entities which can practice religious discrimination against their employees.
What's especially notable is the case of the Salvation Army, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding and has conducted purges of gay, Jewish, and non-Christian employees. As I wrote in a December 2008 story,
"With an operating budget, in 2004, of 2.6 billion dollars, the Salvation Army is one of the largest providers of social services in the world. There's been some previous indication, during the last decade, that the religious culture of the Salvation Army, has been changing; as described in Michelle Goldberg's book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and also discussed here at Talk To Action, in 2003 the New York City social services division of the Salvation Army began a purge of gay, and Jewish and all other non-Christian employees. The religious purge triggered a New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that was eventually dismissed in a victory for religious nonprofits receiving public funds which practice religious discrimination in their hiring practices."
IN contrast to such claims from Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas, other conservative Christians, such as noted Baptist scholar David P. Gushee, have warned of potentially ominous tendencies on the conservative evangelical right. As a wrote in a June 2011 story,
At the September 2006 conference Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Our Times: Jewish and Christian Perspectives, cosponsored by the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hebrew College, and Andover-Newton Theological School, David P. Gushee told his audience,
"Like all Germans, and many all around the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was deeply troubled by World War I and the cultural and political crisis that afflicted his nation after the war. And yet he never demonstrated any susceptibility to what Fritz Stern called "the politics of cultural despair." I think it was because he believed in the interpretation of history offered by biblical revelation, which though realistic about human nature and history is never a counsel of despair.
It was this cultural despair--a toxic brew of reaction against secularism, anger related to the loss of World War I, distress over cultural disorientation and confusion, fears about the future of Germany, hatred of the victorious powers and of those who supposedly stabbed Germany in the back, and of course the search for scapegoats (mainly the Jews)--that motivated many Germans to adopt a reactionary, authoritarian, and nationalistic ethic that fueled their support for Hitler's rise to power. A broadly appealing narrative of national decline (or conspiratorial betrayal) was met by Hitler's narrative of national revenge leading to utopian unity in the Fuhrer-State.
Conservative American evangelicals in recent decades have been deeply attracted to a parallel narrative of cultural despair. Normally the story begins with the rise of secularism in the 1960s, the abandonment of prayer in schools, and the Roe decision, all leading to an apocalyptic decline of American culture that must be arrested soon, before it is too late and "God withdraws his blessing" from America. While very few conservative evangelicals come into the vicinity of Hitler in hatefulness, elements similar to that kind of conservative-reactionary-nationalist narrative can be found in some Christian right-rhetoric: anger at those who are causing American moral decline, fear about the future, hatred of the "secularists" now preeminent in American life, and the search for scapegoats. The solution on offer--a return to a strong Christian America through determined political action--also has its parallels with the era under consideration.
It is in part my own loyalty to Bonhoeffer's example that has led me to a rejection of the toxic politics of cultural despair and commitment to a hopeful vision of Christian cultural engagement in light of the sure advance of God's kingdom."
The "Dolchstoßlegende," the "stab in the back" myth, blamed the German loss in World War One on a Jewish conspiracy and related narratives blamed Jews as well for crime, economic hardship and alleged immorality. In October 2010 David Barton spoke at the San Antonio, Texas megachurch of pastor John Hagee, who has claimed that Jewish bankers control the U.S. economy and are scheming to bankrupt the American people.
David Barton's falsified version American history, exposed in the now-free book Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, is not the only form of history revisionism to be found on the evangelical right; The Pink Swastika, by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, purports to show that Hitler and key Nazi leaders were gay, and that Nazism can be understood as a homosexual phenomenon. The book is debunked in this series by conservative evangelical scholar Warren Throckmorton