Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006)

“Reckless dependency on shrinking oil supplies, a milieu of radicalized (and much too influential) religion, and a reliance on borrowed money – debt, in its ballooning size and multiple domestic and international deficits – now constitute the three major perils to the United States of the twenty-first century.” p. vii

“The excesses of fundamentalism, in turn, are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollas, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.” page vii

“A leading world power such as the United States, with almost three hundred million people and huge international responsibilities, goes about as far in a theocratic direction as it can when it satisfies the unfortunate criteria on display in Washington circa 2005: an elected leader who believes himself in some way to speak for God, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers and seeks to mobilize the churches, the conviction of many voters in that Republican party that government should be guided by religion, and on top of it all, White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews.” pages viii-ix

“But the U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has two dimensions. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits, oil and biblical expectations, require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate.” page ix

“The Republican national coalition’s unusual outlook must be underscored by an additional energy-related point. Some 30 to 40 percent of the Bush electorate, many of whom might otherwise resent their employment conditions, credit-card debt, heating bills, or escalating costs of automobile upkeep (from insurance to gas prices), often subordinate these economic concerns to a broader religious preoccupation with biblical prophecy and the second coming of Jesus Christ.” p. 63

“At the same time, biblically attuned pro-war constituencies would have been alienated by any emphasis on oil or any oil-related peril to the U.S. dollar.” 69

“As the drumbeat for war in Iraq sounded in 2002 and early 2003, part of the existing confusion arose because practically none of the true stakes or political motivations were acknowledged: oil, the oil-linked value of the dollar, and religious expectations alike. But one hundred years of petro-imperialism in the Persian Gulf were about to come to a head.” page 70

“… There is something about oil that makes high officials lie.” p. 71

“Then the world changed. Besides intensifying existing oil and Middle Eastern pressures, on September 11, the attack on the World Trade Center gave Washington policies a convenient new all-inclusive justification: fighting terror was about everything, and everything was about fighting terror. Oil motivations, rarely a popular or easy foreign-policy justification, could now be submerged within a primal response to a deep-seated national combination of fear, loathing, and outrage. Petroleum strategy could now become only a minor facet of an antiterrorist mobilization. In the wake of September 11, hardly anyone made the argument, which would be widespread by 2004, that America’s oil quest and tactics had been provocative in the Middle East. This was especially true of the placement since 1990 of (nonbeliever) U.S. troops on the holy Saudi Arabian soil to which devout Muslims have made centuries of pilgrimages.” p. 83

“… Oil-premised military commitments … were being conflated with the war on terror: ‘anti-terrorism and the protection of oil supplies are closely related in administration thinking.” p. 84

“Such redeployments … lead to an inescapable conclusion: that the American military ‘is being used more and more for the protection of overseas oil fields and the supply routes that connect them to the United States and its allies. Such endeavors, once largely confined to the Gulf area, are now being extended to unstable oil regions in other parts of the world. Slowly but surely, the U.S. military is being converted into a global oil protection service.” pp. 85-86

“The true-believer endgame has been accelerating for many decades, especially since the creation of Israel satisfied the biblical prophecy of the Jewish return to Palestine. … Saddam Hussein was rebuilding Babylon, the citadel of evil. … While these beliefs were surely a factor in Republican invasion planning, they are difficult for politicians to acknowledge – and they are especially tricky to discuss publicly, so they are instead quietly promoted in clandestine briefings or loosely signaled by phrases and citations that reassure the attentive faithful.” page 96

“In its recent practice, the radical side of U.S. religion has embraced cultural antimodernism, war hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy, and in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for governments by literal biblical interpretation. … The evangelical, fundamentalist, sectarian, and radical threads of American religion are being proclaimed openly and analyzed widely, even though bluntness is frequently muted by a pseudo-tolerance, the polite reluctance to criticize another’s religion. However, given the wider thrust of religion’s claims on public life, this hesitance falls somewhere between unfortunate and dangerous.” page 100

“"In contrast to the secular and often agnostic Christianity dominant in Europe, Canada, and Australia, the American view encompasses a very different outlook -- one in which a large minority is in key ways closer to the intensity of seventeenth-century Puritans, Presbyterian Covenanters, and earlier Dutch or Swiss Calvinists. ... these are not comforting analogies. The world’s leading economic and military power is also – no one can misread the data – the world’s leading Bible-reading crusader state, immersed in an Old Testament of stern prophets and bloody Middle Eastern battlefields.” pages 101- 103

Periodic revivalism or “Great Awakening” [my terms: "Recurrent Reactionary Recrudescence" or "Cyclical Solipsistic Somnambulism"

“Economic conservatives often warm to sects in which a preoccupation with personal salvation turns lower-income persons away from distracting visions of economic and social reform.” page 117

“The point here is .. to sketch the revival-prone sectarian and radical side of American religion. Its increasing presence is breeding a politics of cultural narrowness, moral and biblical bickering, revivalism in the White House, and international warfare to spread the gospel, fulfill the Book of Revelation, or both. …” 121

“… with religion also playing so much of a role in the 2002-22003 buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in which George W. Bush proclaimed American’s commitment to upholding liberty and freedom, it is well to note important antecedents: among Anglo-American Protestants these twin threads of justification for wars hark back to the Reformation. … these themes can be traced from the English Civil War through the American Revolution to the American Civil War, but they always applied to internal freedoms and jeopardies. That U.S. Protestant theology has now refocused itself on the biblical holy lands as a battleground is just another of the extraordinary transformations taking place on account of the influence of religion on American politics and war.” page 124

Family Values™

Christianity in the United States

In recent practice, the radical side of U.S. religion has embraced cultural antimodernism, war hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy, and in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for governments by literal biblical interpretation

While most religious-right leaders have given lip service to church-state separation, many have periodically let the mask slip -- and sometimes slip badly. Jerry Falwell has said, "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of this country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again, and Christians will be running them. Bob Jones III, president of the politically attuned university bearing that name, opined that "the so-called 'wall of separation' between church and state is a liberal fabrication to try to put churches out of a place of influence in political life." In 2004 he congratulated George W. Bush on his reelection, urging him to press pro-family legislation in keeping with scripture." 215

As political operators like Georgia's Ralph Reed acknowledged years back regarding the tactics of the Christian Coalition, stealth is a major premise, furtiveness a byword. The Christian right usually does not like to acknowledge what it is doing or where. The point is to minimize public attention to its influence and back-stairs power." 215

Economic conservatives often warm to sects in which a preoccupation with personal salvation turns lower-income persons away from distracting visions of economic and social reform." Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: the peril and politics of radical religion, oil, and borrowed money in the 21st century.

Family values tied to long commutes to exurbia . a 444-horsepower engine .. a lot of engine just to hit a sale at a suburban shopping mall. page 61

“angered conservative family-values advocates” page 179

“the simplistic ‘values’ label left over from prior culture wars.’ 182

“In such a milieu, not only would the major parties group around religious attendance or secularism, but they would emphasize issues with theological importance. Public schools and textbooks would be pressured toward prayer and theological correctness on matters ranging from science and evolution to sex education, family life, and foreign policy. Governments would be urged to restrain public morality at odds with interpretations of the Bible, shifting their regulatory preoccupation away from business, the economy, or the environment to issues of life and death, sex, and family.” page 209

“Major business lobbies, all too aware of the GOP’s religious blocks, harness their biases where possible and avoid trespassing on matters of theology. However, governing conservatives in Washington look foolish because of their inability to discuss problems such as global warming and the probability that global oil production is not far from its peak, a silence that goes against the national interest.” page 237

“The last arena of theological influence, almost as important as sex, birth, and mortality, involves American foreign policy, bringing us to the connections among the war on terror, the end times, Armageddon, and the thinly disguised U.S. crusade against radical Islam. Here the forty-third president has often coded his remarks to heighten biblical resonance for believers listening for it. A related and important practice – at least an apparent one – is the blurring or avoiding of positions that might contradict the worldview promoted by fundamentalist preachers, inasmuch as senior officials cannot explicitly endorse it.” page 239

“In communications terms the White House has depended on what Bruce Lincoln, David Domke, the other experts have called double coding – the biblical allusions that cluster so the faithful among his listeners respond warmly. With so many liberty-and-freedom, good-versus-evil speeches year after year, Bush made himself a bridge between politics and religion for a large percentage of his electorate, cementing fidelity. page 252

Meanwhile, portions of the Christian-right message – too radical and divisive to be voiced directly from the Oval Office – went out through a network of preachers with whom Bush and his advisers kept in touch, could not endorse, but conspicuously never disavowed. These, of course, are stalwarts of the rapture, end times, and Armageddon such as Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, and Jack Van Impe, whose books and television ministries reached half of the Bush electorate. page 252

“As the nation debates a march toward war in the Middle East, all of us would do well to pay attention to the beliefs of the vast company of Americans who read the headlines and watch the news through a filter of prophetic belief.” page 253