The Neo-Fascist Christian Roots of Rev. Billy Graham

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Rev. Billy Graham's Neo-Fascist Christian roots.

The Cathedral of Light.

"At the head of our program there stand no secret surmisings but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief. But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will - not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord."Adolph Hitler, 1938 Nuremburg Speech

The personal minister of the famous burglar Richard Nixon and giggling murder Bush Jr. was the news tonight. Tonight's NBC news actually broadcasted from an arena where Billy Graham is holding his last public sermon. So I decided to do a little research on old Billy boy especially since he is said to have converted our cocaine-snorting president. Well, you’ll never believe what I found. I don’t remember learning any of this in Sunday school.[QUOTE] The Roaring 20s and the Roots of American Fascism Part 5: Preachers & Klansmen

In 1924, the Hearst papers, the American Legion, and the Ku Klux Klan led the charge for the Americanization" of schoolbooks, loyalty oaths for teachers, and harsher immigration legislation. These three organizations would become deeply tied to fascism in the following decade. Several members of the American Legion were involved in the fascist plot of 1934 against FDR. The Hearst papers would become an open propaganda outlet for the Nazis and fascism. The Klan would go on to form an alliance with the American Bund.

Hearst with Nazi officers

W.J. Simmons, a former Methodist circuit rider from Atlanta, established the second Klan in 1915. The original Klan had died out and disbanded. The second Klan would be disbanded later on, only to be reborn again. In the first four years of rebirth, the Klan was relatively small. Not until 1920 did it grow to mammoth proportions.

Two factors with roots in the late 1800s set the stage for the rebirth of the Klan. The first was massive immigration from Europe. The American Protective Association, formed in 1887, was virulently anti-alien. The group was particularly strong in the Midwest, where the Klan became strong in the 1920s. The other factor was the populist movement of the 1890s which sought to unite blacks and poorer whites against mill owners and the conservative elite of the South.57

The Klan remained relatively small through 1919. It wasn't until Simmons met publicists Edward Young Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler in 1920 that the membership increased, peaking at around 4,500,000. The huge increase in Klan membership was largely a product of the Red Scare. Simmons had a contract with the two, giving them 80 percent of all membership dues. Clarke and Tyler promoted the Klan as rabidly pro-America, anti-black, anti-Jewish, antiunion, and most importantly, anti-Catholic.

The race riots in the summer of 1919 also contributed to the rapid growth of the Klan in 1920. In 1919, race riots occurred in Chicago, Washington DC, Elaine, Arkansas, Charleston, South Carolina, Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee, Longview, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska. Through the first half of the decade, the Klan would be a serious force in both the North and South.

The message from the new Klan was that it meant business. Many people believe the Klan was just a bunch of racist, hooded night-riders. The reality is that the Klan has always been closely associated with religion. Besides blacks, Jews, and immigrants, the Klan attacked bootleggers, dope dealers, nightclubs and roadhouses, violations of the Sabbath, sex, and so-called scandalous behavior.

The early 1920s saw a rash of lynchings, shootings, and whippings; the victims were most often a Black, Jew, Catholic or immigrant. Additionally, women of scandalous behavior, as determined by the Klan, were subject to abuse. In Alabama, a divorcee was flogged for remarrying. In Georgia, the Klan, led by a minister, administered 60 lashes to a woman for the vague charge of immorality and failure to go to church. In Oklahoma, Klansmen whipped girls found riding in automobiles with young men. In the San Joaquin Valley of California, the Klan flogged and tortured women for morality charges.58

In Chicago, Miss Mildred Erick was beaten almost into unconsciousness, and had crosses carved on her arms, legs, and back by Klansmen. The Klansmen's attack was provoked by her conversion to Catholicism.59

In November, 1921, a case in Asheville, North Carolina became the focus of the national media. The Reverend Abernathy, of the First Christian Church, sent a letter to city officials calling for a purity campaign and the arrest of two women, Etyln Maurice and Helen Garlington, and two black men, Louis Sisney and Maurice Garlington. The women were charged with prostitution, fornication, and adultery. Both women received a sentence of one year in the county jail.59 The campaign was similar to an earlier one in Athens, Georgia launched by the Reverend M.B. Miller of the First Christian Church. Miller headed the Klan in Athens.

There are thousands of examples of women receiving much harsher treatment than the Asheville case. What brought Asheville to national attention is that Asheville was the home of William Dudley Pelly and the Silver Shirts. Many of the regions in which the Klan were strong in the 1920s later became centers of pro-fascist groups in the 1930s. Pelly would later move his Silver Shirt organization to Indiana, an area that had a strong Klan in the 1920s.

With its anti-black, anti-union, anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-Jew, and extreme nationalist agenda, the Klan's platform was remarkably like that of the Nazis. By the 1930s, the Klan served as a bridge between nativist groups and fascists. On August 18, 1940, the Klan formalized an alliance with the American Bund at the Nazi encampment of Nordland, at Andover, New Jersey. Before this, a Nazi agent had offered former Klan Grand Wizard Hiram Evans $75,000 to control the Klan's voice. When James Colescott succeeded Evans, the Klan entered into its collaboration with the American Bund.

After the alliance with the Bund was formed, the Klan embarked on a plan to infiltrate unions in an effort to Americanize them. After Pearl Harbor, the Klan intensified these efforts, particularly in the Detroit area. Once inside the unions, Klansmen spread pro-fascist literature, and succeeded in provoking wildcat strikes to hinder the war effort. Their efforts went so far as to organize opposition to purchasing war bonds.

Probably the Klan's most successful effort to disrupt the war effort was the Detroit riot. This Klan-inspired riot was an attempt to prevent blacks from occupying their new homes in the Sojourner Truth Settlement, a housing project. The riot caused several deaths, and an interruption of war production. Amplifying its effect, the riot was of tremendous propaganda value to America's enemies. Germany and Japan seized on the riot, and aired lurid broadcasts of it to demoralize American troops.60

Today, one cannot understand the Detroit area without looking at the influence of fascism in the area. The riot was provoked by the Klan which was closely associated with fascism and the Bund at the time. However, there were many other fascist organizations active at the time within the Detroit are. The Black Legion, the Wolverine Republican League, Father Coughlin, and several other fundamentalist ministers of hate as well be shown later in this chapter. Michigan was one of the hot spots for fascism as several of the strongest supporters of fascism within the halls of congress came from Michigan.

Detroit was not the only riot inspired by the Klan designed to stop war production. Another Klan-inspired race riot occurred on June 15, 1943 in Beaumont, Texas. A mob of over 4,000 attacked the black section of the city, looting stores and burning buildings. Twenty-one people were killed, and production in the area was slowed for months.

Today's modern, or the third Klan formed an alliance with neo-Nazis domestically, and in England, Sweden, Canada, and Australia. An American sergeant stationed in Bitburg served as the Klan's recruiting officer in Germany. Currently, much of the hate and pro-Nazi literature in Germany (where it is illegal) comes from the United States.61

Klan-inspired lynchings and riots were common in the 1920s. Over 450 people were lynched; almost all were black.63 Lynchings became so frequent that Representative L. C. Dyer of Missouri introduced a bill in 1921 to make lynching a federal crime. The bill passed the house but failed in the Senate, due to a filibuster by southern senators. Lynching was not the only method the Klan used to dispose of blacks. On December 9, 1922 a mob in Perry, Florida burnt a black man at the stake after he was accused of murder.64

The most noted act of Klan-inspired violence was in Rosewood, Florida, which was chronicled in a recent film. In January 1923, the tiny town of Rosewood came under attack by a white mob. The mob was incited by a report of a white woman having been assaulted by a black man in the nearby town of Summer. The riot resulted in several residents of Rosewood being murdered, and the black portion of town being burnt to the ground. The black residents, fearing for their lives, fled into the nearby swamps and relocated. No charges were ever filed against the mob, which was reported to have had several Klansmen from outside the area.

Although Rosewood is the most widely known race riot of the 1920s, it was not the bloodiest. The Tulsa, Oklahoma riot of 1920 was far more horrific. A mob of over 10,000, some wielding machine guns, attacked the black section of the city, destroying thirty-five square blocks, and leaving over 300 dead. The mob used at least eight airplanes to spy on the blacks and may have even used the planes to bomb some areas.65

The listing of all the race riots and lynchings of the 1920s would fill several volumes. Many, such as Rosewood, were reported nationally. The Nation reported that the state of Florida was unconcerned about the fate of Negroes. A few northern newspapers decried the massacre, but most adopted a more apologetic view of the Klan and its violence. The Tampa Times justified it by proclaiming that blacks "are anything but a Christian and civilized people." The Gainesville Sun went even further, stating that lynchings would prevail as long as criminal assaults continue on innocent women, and closed the editorial equating the massacre with the death of a dog.

Today, most peoples' image of the Klan is one of a violent gang of racists clothed in bed sheets, and view the Klan as a pariah of some sort. Even with the rise in membership since 1980, the Klan is still a shadow of its former self. However, the real legacy of the Klan is not related to hooded nightriders or cross burnings. Rather, the real legacy is the role the Klan played in developing what now constitutes the religious right.

It was common place in the 1920s for ministers to lead the local Kaverns. The same holds true today. One such example is the Reverend J.M. Drummond, who was the keynote speaker at a Klan rally near Estill Springs, Tennessee on July 7, 1979.66 Drummond is an Identity minister, as is Pete Peters, another minister closely associated with the Klan.

The Identity religion teaches that Aryans are the true Jews of the Bible, and that Jews, Blacks and other minorities are children of Satan. Two of the more influential developers of the Identity religion began their ministries in the 1920s.

The Red Scare of 1919 resulted in the purging of anyone holding even the mildest liberal views, clergy included. With few liberal clergymen remaining, the result was a gigantic chasm into which the Klan and the radical right moved, shifting the spectrum to the far right. The result can still be seen today in the linkage between racism and religion. A study conducted in the 1960s detailed this linkage, and will be presented in a later chapter. Since that study, the linkage has become even more pronounced, with the rise of the Identity religion in recent years.

The evolution of the present religious right from the 1920s Klan can best be shown by the careers of Gerald Winrod and Gerald Smith. In November, 1925 in Salina, Kansas, Winrod established the Defenders of the Christian Faith. The Defenders were extremely conservative, and in April, 1926 Winrod began publishing a monthly magazine, The Defender. Winrod supported prohibition, and was rabidly opposed to the theory of evolution.

The teaching of evolution, as well as the Scopes trial, was one of those issues that become a watershed event in shaping later movements. The teaching of evolution would define what has evolved into the religious right. Although there were fundamentalists before the 1920s, the fundamental religious movement was revitalized and defined by the Scopes trial. In fact, the term "fundamentalist" was coined in the 1920s. Many early fundamentalists, such as John Franklyn Norris, were openly supportive of the Klan. Norris was a Baptist preacher from Texas, and also had a parish in Detroit, flying between the two cities. Norris also ran a seminary, one notable graduate of which was John Birch. Birch's death at the hands of Chinese communist forces in the late 1940s spawned the formation of the John Birch Society in the 1950s.

In 1926, Winrod led a campaign to ban the teaching of evolution locally, as well as in California and Minnesota. He appointed a committee to examine textbooks, and in Minnesota he helped William Bell Riley draft the bill which was introduced in the Minnesota legislator.

Riley was a force in the conservative wing of the Baptist Church during the 1920s. Like Winrod, Riley was rabidly opposed to the teaching of evolution, and was also extremely anti-Semitic. In 1934, he published the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and an article on communism, attempting to show they were part of a conspiracy at work in Roosevelt's New Deal. Riley preached:

"Today in our land many of the biggest trusts, banks and manufacturing interests are controlled by Jews. Most of our department stores they own. The motion pictures, the most vicious of all immoral, educational and communistic influences, is their creation."68

The above quote, from one of Riley's sermons, is indistinguishable from Hitler's propaganda. It is a clue that, if Riley was not outright pro-Nazi, he certainly harbored sympathy for fascism.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm


Riley was not the first clergyman to tout the Protocols. On February 12, 1919, the Reverend George Simons testified in front of the Senate's Overman Committee, shocking listeners with the tale of a secret worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Simons cited the Protocols as evidence. It is generally assumed that Simons obtained his copy of the Protocols from Dr. Harris Houghton of military intelligence. Houghton had obtained his copy from the Czarist immigrant Boris Brasol.17

With his congregation of 3,500, Riley exerted tremendous influence in the upper Midwest. Jewish leaders regarded his church as the center of the area's anti-Semitism. However, Riley's influence extended far beyond his area and time. In 1902, Riley founded Northwestern Bible Training School, which in 1935 became the Northwestern Theological Seminary. He also assisted in the preparation of The Fundamentals, a statement of fundamentalist belief. Just before his death, Riley placed the leadership of Northwestern under the direction of Billy Graham.

On March 2, 2002, the ghost of fascism came home to roost on the head of Riley's chosen successor, Billy Graham. On that day, an additional 500 hours of Nixon tapes were released. In a 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham, the preacher expressed his contempt for, as he saw it, Jewish domination of the media. Graham is heard on tape saying referring to a Jewish owned newspaper:

"his stranglehold has got to be broken or this country is going down the drain."

Later in the conversation, Graham expresses further opinions about Jews:

"They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to control them."74

In response to the new revelations, Graham apologized profusely, claiming a lack of memory of the incident. This latest example of Billy Graham's anti-Semitism should come as no surprise to those that have followed his career. Graham's career has been marked with similar incidents.

In the 1950s, Graham was embroiled in an incident revealing his anti-Semitism. The incident stemmed from his portrait gracing the cover of the January 1957 issue of The American Mercury, and his friendship with the Mercury's owner, Russell Maguire. Maguire had acquired a huge fortune from oil and munitions. Maquire owned the company that made the Thompson submachine gun, and had acquired the Mercury in 1952.

In 1951, Maquire donated $75,000 to Billy Graham to produce a film extolling the virtues of free enterprise and the development of God-given natural resources. The film Graham produced was called Oiltown, USA. Graham continued his friendship with Maguire after producing Oiltown, and wrote several articles for the American Mercury. By the time Graham's portrait graced the Mercury's cover, the magazine had earned a reputation as overtly anti-Semitic and hard right. Maguire and the Mercury were ardently anti-communist, and also called for the abolition of the income tax, the UN, NATO, the ACLU and Zionism. Throughout the 1950s the Mercury, under the guidance of Maguire, supported Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Other writers for the Mercury included J. Edgar Hoover, Ralph de Toledano and George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party. De Toledano's resigned from the OSS after refusing to work with liberals. Maguire was an open backer of fascism and fascist organizations, and was an early supporter of Rockwell. Rockwell often complained about Maguire's miserly donations.

By January 1957, the Mercury was at loggerheads with the Anti-Defamation League over charges of anti-Semitism. Despite their public apologies, the religious right and Billy Graham cannot rid themselves of their past support of fascism and anti-Semitism any more than a leopard can change its spots.

Conservative theological circles today still regard Riley highly, carefully sweeping his collaboration with the Jayhawk Nazi, Winrod and his anti-Semitism, under the rug. Yet, anti-Semitism is still present in the Baptist church. Like many right wing groups, today the Baptist church cloaks its anti-Semitism behind a thin veil. It comes bubbling to the surface in the position the Baptist church has adopted in recent years of reaching out to Jews so they may be converted to Christianity. Jewish leaders describe this program as condescending. It is also manifested in the strong support for Israel due to the misguided beliefs of many of the fundamentalists. The reconstructionists a sub branch of the religious right believe the end of the millennium marks the end times and the approaching battle of Armageddon with the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

Winrod's lingering influence and anti-Semitism were also readily apparent in the 1980s in Kansas. At that time, Kansas became a hotbed of support for the Posse Comitatus, a far right-wing, extremely anti-Semitic group. The Posse Comitatus, which was founded by a former Silver Shirt leader, subscribes to the Identity faith.

Nor is this the end of the Winrod continuing influence. In March 2001, Winrod's son Gordon, now age 74, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping six of his grandchildren. The children had been living in North Dakota. Windrod's two daughters assisted in their kidnapping and were brought to trial separately. The children have received mental health treatment after being returned to their fathers.

The younger Winrod began buying land in Ozark County, Missouri in the 1960s and eventually opened a church he called Our Savior, in which he preached his hate of the Jews. Winrod's congregation consisted mostly of his adult children and a few followers. Two or three times a year he would mail every resident of the county his Winrod Letter, despite numerous complaints. During his trial he repeatedly referred to the proceeding as a "Jewdiciary."76

The Posse's rise to popularity in the Midwest, and in Kansas in particular, provides another example of how, old prejudices, hate and fascist leanings lingers on for generations. Indeed, racism in Kansas can be traced back prior to the Civil War. Further evidence of Winrod's lingering influence on Kansas is seen in the 1999 attempt by the Kansas Board of Education to ban the teaching of evolution.

Although Winrod claimed he was not a member of the Klan, he did nothing to oppose the group.69 During the 1920s an estimated 100,000 residents of Kansas were Klan members. In the 1924 race for governor, both Democratic and Republican candidates sought the Klan's support. There was a solid base of support in Kansas at the time for candidates that attacked Catholics and Jews. Winrod would depend on that base in his later run for senator.

It wasn't until the 1930s that Winrod adopted full-blown fascism as his ideology. After 1934, Winrod accepted the Nazi's justification for their anti-Semitic policies. His view was that the Nazis were only acting to save Germany from Jewish radicalism, economic exploitation and racial lust. In 1935, Winrod called Hitler a devout Catholic.69 Eventually, Winrod was indicted for sedition in the 1940s.

An even more direct link between the 1920s and today's far right groups can be established by tracing the origin of the Identity religion. The Identity religion is based on racial hatred, and has been adopted by many current far right groups including the Aryan Nations, the Posse Comitatus, various Klan klaverns and militias.

Reuben Sawyer, the pastor of Portland, Oregon's East Side Christian Church, was the first to combine the Klan with Identity religion. Sawyer was instrumental in the British Israel Federation, and during the 1920's was a popular speaker in the Pacific Northwest. It was out of the British Israel Federation that the Identity religion emerged. Sawyer was a leader of the Klan in Oregon, and the founder of its women's auxiliary. Besides being the first to combine the Klan and what was to become the Identity religion, Sawyer was the first to combine anti-Semitism with anti-communism, as the following quote illustrates:

"Jews are either Bolshevists, undermining our government, or are shylocks in finance or commerce who gain control and command of Christians as borrowers or employers. It is repugnant to a true American to be bossed by a sheenie. And in some parts of America the Kikes are so thick that a white man can hardly find room to walk on the sidewalk. And where they are so thick, it is Bolshevism they are talking. Bolshevism, and revolution"70

It was from such views that the Identity religion developed. Among those credited with its founding was a young minister, Gerald Smith. Smith began his ministries in Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin, by revitalizing a Disciples of Christ congregation. In 1923, Smith accepted a pulpit at the Seventh Christian Church in Indianapolis. He soon built the congregation to over 1,000. At the time, the Christian Evangelist noted that Smith a prominent figure among the Hoosier Disciples. As the 1920's progressed, he moved to other pulpits in the Indianapolis area. In 1929, he left Indiana for the Kings Road Christian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.

While at the Kings Road church, he worked with the Klan, not against it. Smith's self-promotion and social activism soon alienated many of his wealthy backers. Soon, Smith aligned himself with one of the most notorious fascists of the time, Huey Long. In 1934, he resigned his pulpit at Kings Road to work with Long's Share the Wealth organization. In 1936, Smith endorsed Eugene Talmadge, the racist governor of Georgia, for reelection, and also aligned himself with another well-known fascist, Francis Townsend.

In 1939, Smith met Merwin Hart, head of Utica Mutual Life, and soon received support from the New York Economic Council. No doubt, Smith's campaign against the CIO figured prominently in the decision to support him. Living in Michigan at the time, Smith began broadcasting on WJR, a station owned by an enemy of Roosevelt. There he received further support from such leading industrialists as the Dodge and Olds brothers. In 1938, he supported the campaign of Arthur Vandenberg, a senator with fascist leanings. Smith also cultivated a friendship with Henry Ford.

In 1942, the FBI received a tip that Winrod helped Smith start The Cross and Flag, a notorious fascist publication that continued well into the 1960s. Following WWII, Smith moved to California, and founded what has become the Identity religion. In the 1960s, Smith moved to Arkansas, and started several grandiose projects, one of which, the Christ of the Ozarks, was completed in 1966. It was soon followed by a Bible museum.

Smith's legacy is his founding of the Identity religion, a religion based solely on hate, teaching that Aryans are the true Jews of the Bible, and that Jews and other minorities are children of Satan. The Identity religion has became almost universal among far right groups today. It acts as the glue holding the various factions of the far right together and to justify their hate.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

So let's look more at this William B. Riley, a fascist, anti-Semite, and direct precursor to the Rev. Billy Graham.

Putting Evolution on the Defensive: William B. Riley and the Rise of Fundamentalism in America by Douglas O. Linder (2005)

As Charles Darwin noted in his autobiography, rationalism and skepticism flourished in the latter half of the 1800s among the educated elites. The theory of evolution continued to win new converts, and by the end of the 1800s was accepted dogma at most institutions of higher learning. Natural causes seemed in; supernatural causes seemed out. A showdown over the theory’s validity and place in education seemed unlikely. Evolution appeared destined to triumph without another major battle—at least not as to the fact of evolution, as opposed to the mechanism by which it occurs, which remained a topic of debate. In theological circles, the rage was “higher criticism,” an approach to determining scriptural meaning by looking at the socio-historical setting of its writers. The Bible contained important messages, these theologians said, but no serious person can any longer pretend that the Bible, for example, provided an accurate guide to world history. Literalism seemed headed for virtual extinction.

The anti-evolution campaign of the 1920s might never have happened without the leadership of an austere, upright Baptist minister in Minneapolis, William B. Riley. In a state far north of the Bible Belt and short on Baptists, Kentucky-born Riley built a 3,000-member downtown congregation based and emerged as the dominant figure in American fundamentalism. But before getting to his story, two other prominent ministers who refused to jump on the modern bandwagon, and can be said to have planted the seed that grew into Riley’s fundamentalist movement need to be mentioned.

The first is John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren Movement. Darby insisted biblical prophesies provided “a sure guide to human history—past, present, and future.” (GE, 27) After having founded the movement three decades earlier in England, Darby traveled across the Atlantic six times between 1859 and 1874 to spread his doctrine of biblical inerrancy and the imminent return of Christ to establish the millennial kingdom. Everywhere he went, and in his fifty-three volumes of writings, Darby broadcast his message that the Bible represented the inspired, authoritative, faithfully transmitted, and infallible word of God. If “the word of God alone remained as an invisible thread over the abyss,” Darby declared, “my soul would trust in it.”

Darby’s writings became the primary source of inspiration for the second theologian to figure prominently in the birth of the fundamentalist movement, Dwight L. Moody. Moody is remembered as the first prominent American theologian to raise the banner of biblical inerrancy. Dwight L. Moody said he “would rather part with my entire library, excepting my Bible” than Darby’s works. “They have been to me,” he said, “the very key to the Scriptures.”

To say Moody took the Bible seriously is an understatement. He rose at five o’clock every morning to engage in several hours of prayerful study of the book. He was especially interested in Genesis, offering the advice: “Spend six months studying Genesis; it is the key to the whole book.” Although a careful study of the Bible, no one could call Moody a well-rounded reader. His choice of books followed a simple rule. “I do not read any book,” he said, “unless it helps me understand the Book.”

In the 1870s, Moody began an evangelical crusade on a scale never seen before in American history. “There was a time when I wanted to see my little vineyard blessed, and I could not get out of it,” he declared. “But I could work for the whole world now; I would like to go round the world and tell the perishing millions of a Saviour’s love.” He preached his ardent pre-millennialist message to large crowds in the British Isles for two years beginning in 1873, before re-crossing the Atlantic to launch his religious campaign in the United States. Thousands were turned away at gates and doors as Moody traveled across the North, from Philadelphia to New York to Chicago to Boston. On January 19, 1876, President Grant attended a revival in Philadelphia along with 12,000 others at the unused Pennsylvania freight depot. In New York, about 60,000 people a day filled halls at the Great Roman Hippodrome on Madison Avenue for the three to five rallies a day, held from February 7 to April 19. Over the next years, Moody’s conversion caravan moved on to places such as the West Coast and middle-sized cities across America. His last crusade started in Kansas City in November 1899. Moody fell seriously ill after delivering a sermon on “Excuses” and died a few weeks later.

As Moody’s crusading career neared its end, the career of William B. Riley—inevitably labeled in the press as “a second Dwight L. Moody”—was just taking off. (GE, 24) Riley called Moody his “hero” and adopted much of his evangelical predecessor’s message. In revival meetings around the Midwest and Northwest from 1897 to the 1910s, Riley told crowds to follow the Bible. “God is the one and only author,” he declared, adding that human writers “played the part of becoming mediums of divine communication.” (GE, 27, 25) Stressing his fundamental premise of Biblical inerrancy, the young Baptist preacher insisted that “every book, chapter, sentence, and even word” came straight from God and was absolute authority. The Bible’s integrity, he declared, “extends to history as well as to morals and religion, and involves expression as well as thought.” (GE, 26) His simple and forceful message, delivered without rants or raves or Billy Sunday-style showmanship, resonated especially with persons on the bottom rungs of the middle class who filled his rallies.

Riley’s distinctive brand of fundamentalism combined social activism, puritanical moralism, and a literalist premillennialist theology. In his 1906 book urging Christians to serve the urban poor, Riley defined the mission of the Church as he saw it: “When the Church is regarded as the body of God-fearing, righteous-living men, then, it ought to be in politics, and as a powerful influence.” (EL, 35-36)

Riley threw himself into politics. Seeing liquor as the source of most urban problems, he became an outspoken advocate for prohibition. Following the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, Riley devoted full attention to another threat to Christian life: “the new infidelity, known as modernism.” Opposition to modernism, both in the form of liberal theology and trends in modern culture, became the core of his new movement. The cultural clashes of World War II had intensified tensions between theological liberals and conservatives, and the time seemed right for a national anti-modernist crusade. Riley deeply resented the frequent suggestion that only modernists were “men who really think,” and his bitterness left him itching for a fight. (GE, 35)

Riley invented the label “fundamentalist” and became the prime mover in the movement that took that name. Riley, in May 1919, brought together in Philadelphia 6,000 conservative Christians for the first conference of an organization he founded, the World Christian Fundamentals Association (WCFA). In his opening speech to delegates, Riley called the gathering of like-minded Biblical literalists “an event of more historic moment than the nailing up, at Wittenberg, of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses.” Riley warned delegates that mainline Protestant denominations were coming increasingly under the sway of modernism and what Riley called its “awful harvest of skepticism.” (EL, 36) (GE, 31) The only true path to salvation, he insisted, was to follow his hyperliteral approach to the Bible and accept that supernatural forces have shaped history. Riley urged delegates to stand by their traditional faith in the face of the modernist threat: “God forbid that we should fail him in the hour when the battle is heavy.”

For his part, Riley led the effort to purge the Northern Baptist denomination of liberals and headed out on an eighteen-city crusade financed, in large part, by wealthy donors such as J. C. Penney. (PC, 67-68) Everywhere, it seemed, ministers heaped praise the restrained and dignified crusader. An Indiana pastor, for example, announced, “I regard Dr. William B. Riley as the Apostle Paul of our American ministry.” (GE, 40)

Although his Fundamentalist movement began as a reaction to the growing popularity of “higher criticism” (the view that the Bible is best understood in the distinct historical and cultural context which produced it), Riley soon identified the growing acceptance by modernist religious leaders of evolution as the infidelity most threatening to Christian values. Riley made the teaching of evolution in the public schools his number one target. Evolution, he declared, was the “propaganda of infidelity, palmed off in the name of science.” (GMT, 52-53) He believed the theory lacked substantiating evidence and said so repeatedly: “Do no violence to the splendid attainments of human speech by calling [proofs of evolution] ‘scientific.’” Science, for Riley, consisted of observable facts and demonstrable laws; it allowed for no speculation. Beyond its threat to the faith and its questionable veracity, Riley had another objection to evolution: he worried, as did many progressives of his day, that Darwinism with its notion of “survival of the fittest” offered support for self-centered economic policies and insensitive treatment of the disabled and mentally infirm. If the theory of evolution triumphs, Riley warned, the foundations of civilizations will “be swept out their places, gnarled, twisted, torn, and finally flung on the banks of time’s tide.” (GE, 46) He demanded to know, “Is there any longer any doubt as to the relation between Evolution and Anarchy?” (GE, 46)

The focus on evolution allowed Riley to go after his modernist enemies in the halls of academia. In his 1917 book, Menace of Modernism, Riley lashed out more at academic experts—whose authority had largely supplanted that of ministers—than liberal theologians. “Conservative ministers have about as good a chance to be heard in a Turkish harem,” he declared in the book, “as to be invited to speak within the precincts of a modern state university.” (GE, 35) Some historians prefer to see the rise of fundamentalism primarily as a reaction by conservative ministers to their loss of prestige at the hands of intellectuals, and Riley’s Menace of Modernism might be seen as Exhibit A for that position.

So confident was Riley is the rightness of his views that he offered “to travel any reasonable distance” to debate an evolutionist—so long as his opponent had credentials sufficiently worthy to justify the trip and the audience—not judges—was allowed to determine the winner. I’m unafraid, he said, to go on college campuses and “meet our opponent on his own ground.” More than two dozen evolutionists did indeed take Riley up on his offer, including Maynard Shipley, president of the Science League of America, and high officials of the American Civil Liberties Union. Radio, in its infancy, carried some of the debates live. Riley later claimed to have compiled a 28–0 record in his debates (with the help of active recruitment of fundamentalists to fill seats), but newspaper reports indicate that he narrowly lost one debate in Chicago.

By 1922, the WFCA was actively promoting its anti-evolution agenda around the country. Riley sounded the battle cry: “We increasingly realize that the whole menace in modernism exists in its having accepted Darwinism against Moses, and the evolutionary hypothesis against the inspired word of God.” (GE, 48) He suggested targeting public education, where evolution had gained a foothold in biology classes around the country. “There are hundreds of teachers,” he complained, pushing evolution on students and their “teachings take root in the garden of the Lord.” (GE, 48) It was high time, he said, for Christian taxpayers to stand up and object.

The debates moved into legislative halls. In Kentucky, Baptists pushed an anti-evolution law that lost by only a single vote in the House of Representatives. The WFCA began lobbying for similar legislation in several other states. Using the four months each year his congregation granted his to devote to evangelism, William Riley continued to roam the country campaigning against evolution in public speeches and debating evolutionists wherever he could find them. By the beginning of 1923, Riley could report in a letter to William Jennings Bryan, “The whole country is seething on the evolution question.” (EL, 43) Riley debated a science writer Maynard Shipley before large crowds up and down the West Coast. Bryan cheered his efforts, observing in a letter, “He seemed to have the audience overwhelmingly with him in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Portland. This is very encouraging; it shows that the ape-man hypothesis is not very strong outside the colleges and [modernist] pulpits.” (EL, 123)

The WFCA--in editorials probably written by Riley--attacked evolution in vituperative terms. The editorials denounced evolution as inconsistent with the Bible, bad science, and as a threat to peace and morality. Teachers who pushed this theory on “the rising generation” were called evil. By 1923, Riley in an article linked evolution to “anarchistic socialistic propaganda” and labeled those who would teach it “atheists.” (By the 1930s, Riley’s attacks became even more over-the-top, as when he warned of an “international Jewish-Bolshevik-Darwinist conspiracy” and congratulated Adolph Hitler on his attempts to confront such a conspiracy in Germany.) (EL, 44-45)...

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

In the period 1923 to 1924, Riley spent a great deal of time crusading against evolution in Tennessee, which he viewed as especially fertile ground for anti-evolution legislation. Memphis was a hotbed of Fundamentalism and a Baptist “stronghold.” The leading paper was stridently anti-evolutionist. Across the state, Baptists accounted for half of the population. (EL, 48) Riley’s efforts made evolution one of the hot issues of the 1924 state election.

When the fate of Tennessee’s anti-evolution bill hung in doubt, William Riley and his major allies, Billy Sunday, Frank Norris, and William Jennings Bryan, roused the faithful to write letters and send telegrams to undecided legislators. Without them, the fundamentalist victory would never have happened. (EL, 53-55)

When evolution proponents orchestrated their challenge to the new Tennessee law in the spring of 1925, Riley plotted the law’s defense. By chance, the WFCA held its 1925 annual meeting in Memphis and its featured speaker was Bryan. Bryan commented on the upcoming trial in his address: “I notice that a case is on the docket for trial involving the evolution statute of your state. I certainly hope it will be upheld.” (EL, 98-99) Staying on in Memphis after the conference, Riley and other WFCA leaders decided to invite William Jennings Bryan, thirty years removed from courtroom action but widely perceived as the fundamentalist movement’s greatest orator, to join the prosecution team on the association’s behalf. “We name as our attorney for this trial William Jennings Bryan and pledge him whatever support is needful to secure equity and justice and to conserve the righteous law of the Commonwealth of Tennessee,” read the resolution. (GE, 49) On May 13, Riley telegrammed Bryan asking him to go to Dayton (WJB, 98-100) Bryan, on a speaking tour, wired his acceptance back from Pittsburgh. (GMT, 72)

FN: The prosecution originally slated Riley to testify at Dayton as a witness for the prosecution. As the case developed, however, the prosecution recognized that a theological battle royal was not in its interests. (EL, 131) If the prosecution could convince Judge Raulston to exclude scientific experts, they would be more than happy to leave Riley and other fundamentalist leaders on the sidelines. Riley never took the stand.

Riley reported on the trial in the WFCA newsletter. Both reporters and defense lawyers earned Riley’s wrath. In his attacks, he referred to “blood-sucking journalists” and called Clarence Darrow’s methods “unfair” and his questioning of Bryan “conscienceless.” (GE, 50) Nonetheless, when the battle in Dayton ended, Riley proclaimed it a “significant conquest.” Byan, he wrote, “not only won his cause in the judgment of the Judge; in the judgment of the jurors; in the judgment of the Tennessee populace attending; he won it in the judgment of an intelligent world.” (GE, 50)(EL, 205) He confidently predicted that “every state in the Union” would join a growing anti-evolution bandwagon. (GMT, 459)

Time proved Riley wrong, and the WFCA’s obsession with the evolution eventually doomed the organization. In 1927, despite a furious effort by Riley and his followers, the legislature of his home state of Minnesota rejected a bill to ban the teaching of evolution by an eight-to-one margin. The blow devastated Riley and “signaled the end of William Bell Riley’s efforts to secure anti-evolution legislation.” (EL, 230)

By 1928, Riley became a fringe figure within his own denomination. In early 1930s, he preached a virulent form of anti-Semitism and became a fascist sympathizer. World War II finally softened his anti-Semitism. In his last years, Riley persuaded evangelist Billy Graham to replace him as head of three educational institutions—a seminary, a Bible institute, and a college—he had established in Minneapolis. (PC, 68-71) Graham, in his ministry, chose to ignore the Scopes trial. (EL, 261)

Riley listens on July 13, 1925 as the enemy, in the person of defense attorney Clarence Darrow, defends modernism and argues that evolution and religion can stand together.

Darrow tells the courtroom crowd that the Constitution protects “even the despised modernist, who dares to be intelligent.” (T, 83) Roaming the courtroom in his white shirt and suspenders, he paints a picture of a blissful Tennessee happily doing what it knew to be best—until Riley and his fundamentalist followers made the state a target of their anti-evolution agenda.

“Here is the state of Tennessee going along in its own business, teaching evolution for years, state boards handing out books on evolution, professors in colleges, teachers in schools, lawyers at the bar, physicians, ministers, a great percentage of the intelligent citizens of the state of Tennessee [are] evolutionists. [They] have not even thought it was necessary to leave their church. They believed that they could appreciate and understand their own simple doctrine of the Nazarine, to love thy neighbor, be kindly to them, not to place a fine on and not try to send to jail some man who did not believe at they believed—and got along all right with it too, until something happened….”

“They believed that all that was here was not made on the first six days of creation, [but that] it had come by a slow process…extending over the ages, that one thing grew out another. There are people who believed that organic life and the plants and the animals and man and the mind of man, and the religion of man, are the subjects of evolution….[T]hey believed [that God]…is still working to make something better and higher still out of human beings,…and that evolution had been working forever and will work forever—they believe it.”

“And along comes somebody who says we all have got to believe it as I believe it. It is a crime to know more than I know.”

The story gets even better. The Rev. William B. Riley is not the only fascist in Billy Boy's background. No, there is yet another fascist, a heavy weight fascist, in this Evangelical's past. This pattern is seen throughout all of Billy's career.

Biography of Famous Preacher and Evangelical Billy Graham Part 1

But he was restless. He became a barnstorming evangelist with the Youth for Christ organization and got his big break in Los Angeles in 1949. Shortly after opening an 8-week tent revival he found newspaper reporters teeming through his canvas cathedral. Billy was told he had been "kissed" by William Randolph Hearst and that the autocratic newspaper baron had ordered his editors across the country to "puff Graham."

Warmed by the glow of the mass media, Billy outdid himself. In 8 weeks the wavy-haired blue-eyed country crusader claimed 3,000 converts including a local gangster, a war hero, a down-and-out former Olympics champion, and an alcoholic radio cowboy. It made terrific copy.

The Luce publications on the East Coast picked up the refrain, saying Graham heralded "a great spiritual awakening" in mid-century America. Billy's rallies became huge successes, swelled by thousands aching for a glimpse of evangelism's new rising star.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Now who is Henry Luce?

Henry Luce's Empire of Fascism

The founder of Time Inc. was an American promoter of synarchism

-- by Steven Meyer & Jeffrey Steinberg, 2004-06-25

In the Feb. 7, 1941 issue of Life magazine, founder and publisher Henry Luce authored and signed an editorial, "The American Century," announcing that the American Synarchists intended to rule the world at the close of the war and impose their own jaded version of "American values" on the world, through "any means necessary." Luce's thesis was reproduced and mass-circulated throughout the United States.

The populations of the world, exhausted from the destruction of war and the bestiality of Hitler, Stalin, and Hiroshima, naturally hoped for something better. [b]But the universal glimmer of optimism, of being able to rebuild, was further shattered when Allen Dulles, John J. McCloy, and their associates, including Luce, deployed to create the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), whose explicit purpose was to launch a fascist assault on truth as science and on Classical culture.

Time magazine was created in 1923 as a mouthpiece for the American Synarchists, grouped around the banking interests of J.P. Morgan. It is hardly a coincidence that, simultaneous to the launching of Time, in Europe, Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, another leading Synarchist, was launching his Pan-European Union, which would be a leading propaganda vehicle for the winning of support among Europe's financial oligarchy for the "Hitler-Mussolini" universal fascism project.

Henry Luce was just out of Yale University, where he was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones (class of 1920). Morgan funnelled Luce start-up cash, and Luce tapped numbers of his friends from his secret brotherhood to create and run what would become a propaganda empire. In 1930, for example, Luce chose Russell Davenport, an intimate Bonesman, to become Fortune magazine's first editor-in-chief.

Initial members of the board of directors of Time included Henry P. Davison, Jr., a fellow classmate and Bonesman, whose father was a senior partner at J.P. Morgan. Davison brought in Dwight Morrow, another Morgan partner, to finance the start-up. Morgan interests were further strengthened, when in 1927, John Wesley Hanes was placed on the board. Start-up funding also came from William Hale Harkness, a board member, who was related to Rockefeller partner Edward S. Harkness.

Luce's personal lawyer, who would come to represent his entire media empire, was his brother-in-law Tex Moore, of Cravath, deGersdorff, Swaine and Wood, the same firm which deployed both Allen and John Foster Dulles to facilitate bringing Hitler to power in the early 1930s.

Luce was an intimate of Britain's Lord Beaverbrook and the Prince of Wales, who were notoriously pro-Hitler and members of the Cliveden set. He also formed an extremely close relationship with Winston Churchill, himself a promoter of Hitler in the early 1930s.

Americans were introduced to Benito Mussolini and Fascism in one of Time's first issues when the Synarchists decided to celebrate Il Duce's 40th birthday, and have Americans join them, by placing his portrait on the cover of the Aug. 6, 1923 issue of Time. This would be the first of five cover appearances.

Luce was America's fascist "Elmer Gantry." He toured the country selling fascism to America's business elite and upper class on the one hand, and using his mass propaganda outlets to "sell it to the mickeys" [common folks] on the other.

Luce unabashedly promoted Synarchy. Appearing before business groups, he promulgated the idea that America's corporate and banking elites were more powerful and important than the U.S. government, stating:

"It is not a seat in Congress but on the directorate of the greatest corporations which our countrymen regard as the greater post of honor and responsibility."

Likening America's financial tycoons to Europe's aristocracy, he featured both in the pages of Fortune magazine.

In an article in 1928,[b] Luce declared the U.S. Constitution obsolete and called for "a new form of government." [/b]What was this new form of government? In March of the same year, in a speech to businessmen in Rochester, N.Y., he stated:

"America needs at this moment a moral leader, a national moral leader. The outstanding national moral leader of the world today is Mussolini."

On Nov. 28, 1930, he stated to a Chicago audience that Mussolini's Italy was a success story: "A state reborn by virtue of Fascist symbols, Fascist rank and hence Fascist enterprise." Luce further declared, on April 19, 1934 in a speech to the Scranton, Pa. Chamber of Commerce

"The moral force of Fascism, appearing in totally different forms in different nations, may be the inspiration for the next general march of mankind."

While Luce organized the upper crust through Fortune, he fed the general population a carefully crafted diet of stories about Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco through the writings of his foreign news editor, Laird Goldsborough, a publicly avowed fascist, anti-Semite, and pro-Nazi who in 1933 interviewed both Hitler and Mussolini.

Luce had a visceral hatred of [Franklin Roosevelt] and the New Deal. He attacked them both on his speaking tours and in print. Intimates reported that he became apoplectic with violent rage at the mere mention of FDR's name.

Luce's role in the Morgan-organized "Smedley Butler" coup plot against Roosevelt was significant. Luce prepared the entire July 1934 issue of Fortune as a detailed study of the political, cultural, and economic experiments of Italian fascism. This was unheard of. The issue was timed to appear as the coup went into its final month, and it was undoubtedly intended to rally upper-class support for the coup and the transition to an American form of fascism.

Although Luce later promoted the turn away from fascism, when it was necessary to defeat Hitler, he heralded the postwar policy of the Anglo-American Synarchists with his famous 1941 Life magazine editorial, "The American Century," which announced the Synarchist goal of Anglo-American world domination at the close of the war. Luce wrote:

"We must accept whole-heartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

The editorial was mass-produced and circulated widely; it appeared in full in the Washington Post and Reader's Digest. Although he did not include the point in this editorial, Luce would soon argue, also in the pages of Life, for preventive nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

The outlook of today's Beast-Men, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, is a continuation of the policies represented by Luce and the fascists of the 1930s and 1940s. Cheney's inner core of neocons are all signers of the founding principles of William Kristol's "Project for a New American Century", explicitly modelled on Luce's theme. The "Children of Satan", as Lyndon LaRouche has determined they rightly be called, had Henry Luce as one of their godfathers. Luce's brothers at Skull and Bones gave him the secret name of "Baal."

The Congress for Cultural Freedom was created to implement Luce's "American Century." Luce helped finance its operations, and his trusted vice president at Time-Life, C.D. Jackson, oversaw much of its policy as special advisor to the President for psychological warfare. [See U.S. Office of War Information --ed]

More background on Luce from another sources.

Luce bought out the business magazine Fortune in 1930 and the pictorial Life magazine in 1936, and launched House & Home in 1952 and Sports Illustrated in 1954. He also produced The March of Time for radio and cinema.

Luce, who remained editor-in-chief of all his publications until 1964, was an influential member of the Republican Party. Holding anti-communist sentiments and an interest in his land of birth, he was an instrumental figure behind the so-called "China Lobby," and played a large role in steering American foreign policy and popular sentiment in favor of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong May-ling.

Luce was an enthusiastic promoter of fascism during the 1920s and 1930s. Time ran five cover stories on Benito Mussolini, and in a speech given to the Scranton, Pennsylvania Chamber of Congress on April 19, 1934, Luce said: "The moral force of Fascism, appearing in totally different forms in different nations, may be the inspiration for the next general march of mankind."

Despite his conservative political profile, Luce was an early promoter of the counterculture and an avid experimenter with LSD. He took the drug numerous times during the late 1950s and early 60s, under the supervision of Dr. Sidney Cohen, who was attached to UCLA and the Veterans Hospital in Los Angeles. Cohen also introduced the drug to Luce's wife, Clare Boothe Luce, who was considered to be the grande dame of postwar American politics.
Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

And don't forget H.R. Haldmann's comments about Graham. It seems that parts of the Nixon tape recording Graham were edited and Haldmann fills in the blanks in his diaries. Graham also mentions Henry Luce. You think Graham knew Luce as an anti-semite? Graham's Luce reference was deleted because it is dyn-o-mite! It would have brought up too much history pointing at the media and 1930s American Fascism. They're not stupid. ""Graham notes that he's just been invited to lunch with editors of Time magazine. "I was quite amazed since this is the first time I've heard from Time since (Time founder) Henry Luce died.""

Excuse me while I laugh me ass off!

Lawyers negotiated this deletion and others. Remember these tapes were recorded in a 90-minute session after a prayer breakfast the men attended on Feb. 1, 1972.

Haldeman's own diaries briefly noted the unseemly conversation. He wrote that there was discussion "of the terrible problem arising from the total Jewish domination of the media, and agreement that this was something that would have to be dealt with."

He continues, "Graham has the strong feeling that the Bible says there are satanic Jews and there's where our problem arises." No such comments about the Bible are found on the tape released Thursday but, since it contains several long deletions, it's believed such remarks were excised.

The lengthy chat opens with Graham praising Nixon's prayer breakfast remarks. "There were a lot of people in tears when you finished this morning and it's very moving. That's the best I've heard you at one of those breakfast things."

After offering Nixon tips on preparing himself for big speeches, as well as strategy for his re-election campaign, Graham notes that he's just been invited to lunch with editors of Time magazine. "I was quite amazed since this is the first time I've heard from Time since (Time founder) Henry Luce died."

"You meet with all their editors, you better take your Jewish beanie," says Haldeman.

Graham laughs. "Is that right? I don't know any of them now."

Nixon then broaches a subject about which "we can't talk about it publicly," namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media. He cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who is executive producer of the NBC hit, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," as telling him that "11 of the 12 writers are Jewish."

"That right?" says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are "totally dominated by the Jews." He calls network TV anchors, Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite "front men who may not be of that persuasion," but that their writers are "95 percent Jewish."

He demurs that this does not mean "that all the Jews are bad" but that most are left-wing radicals who want "peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews."

"That's right," agrees Graham, who later concurs with a Nixon assertion that a "powerful bloc" of Jews confronts Nixon in the media. "And they're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff," Graham adds.

Nixon contends that "every Democratic candidate will owe his election to Jewish people," but he won't.

Haldeman turns the subject to the White House press corps and the Gridiron Club, a bastion of the media establishment, both of which they say were mostly WASP once, but no more.

"It was the Merriman Smiths, the Dick Wilsons, the Kilpatricks, all that kind of people. But you look at what covers the president today and it's really kind of scary," Haldeman says. Haldeman and Nixon both cite by name reporters from the Los Angeles Times (David Kraslow), New York Times (Max Frankel), Washington Post (Stanley Karnow) and NBC (Herb Kaplow) but stumble on getting to CBS.

"From CBS, Rather, Dan Rather, is Rather? . . ." says Haldeman. A deletion then follows with the next voice heard being that of Graham, who alludes to A.M. Rosenthal, managing editor of the New York Times.

"But I have to lean a little bit, you know. I go and see friend of Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times, and people of that sort. And all, I don't mean all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country. And I have no power and no way to handle them."

Nixon says, "You must not let them know."

The conversation turns to religious magazines, postal rates and Nixon's uncharitable thoughts on certain Cabinet members. Graham then leaves and, a few minutes later, Nixon tells Haldeman, "You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across."

"It's a shocking point," says Haldeman, a frequent cheerleader during Nixon's negative diatribes.

"Well," says Nixon, "it's also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards."

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Thanks Anti for this meticulous account of what most Americans and nearly all Liberals do not know about our history. Because I study the history of American Religion and our "exceptionalism" myths, and because I grew up in Southern California where anti-communist 'Christianity' was all the rage, I know the broad scope of this material and am not at all surprised by the details. I happened to have a different slant, and between my grandfather, father and uncle, saw a far more enlightened and progressive side of the religious picture. But I ran into a whole lot of this cultic, racist religion and had to find my way around and through it.

In addition to the sordid Klan story, we need to appreciate how broadly the anti-Semitic and racist culture extended and still remains barely under the surface of our modernism. We know that the Religious Right loves Israel because their story needs it to bring on the end. Jon Stewart jokes about how they love the Jews until they consign them to hell if they don't convert. You also see Black faces on the Religious Right, but they are all the bastard children of Uncle Tom who the blind would hear as White. Post-racialists only recruit those who will give up culture and ethnic identity to join the now-inclusive White Klan. The narrative barely changes.

We know that Nixon was an anti-Semite, but also a Cold Warrior. His support for Israel did not go into the End Times myth, just to the world power calculations. The people involved in going Empire instead of UN after WWII become the Neocon PNAC wing of the modern GOP. IMF, World Bank and MIC have a form of American Exceptionalism that does not need a religious wrapper. As a secular ideology of power, however, it operates as 'religion' instead of political realism. Realists would never have invaded Iraq.

The Banksters are often accused of being the "Jewish Bankers," but they are solidly Ivy League White Country Club elitists with rich Jews allowed to play. Not to "join" in the deeper sense, but to be part of the club's dues paying membership and even to use the golf course. Philadelphia Story continues. Contrast with the Bush Crime Family and the Intelligence Services.

The "Reagan Revolution" brings together the WASP Country Club and the Southern Strategy as more than electoral strategy. Now the Myth of Morning in America can be both Cold War Continues and the South Shall Rise Again in the Culture War and its Moral Majority. But, paving the way, we have the illustrious Billy Graham, the responsible and moderate alternative to the Fred Schwarz and the Anti-Communist Crusade and the legacy of the Klan and Coughlin. Now it became Catholic, Protestant and Jew and the happy face of Moderate Republicanism as the alternative to the working class tinged New Deal Democrats. But, the latter have also found JFK to replace Al Smith, and while he and Bobby had to die, along with the real threat, MLK, the Kennedy's were conservatives, not Vatican II Liberation Theology Catholics. Camelot is hardly a vision of the New Deal.

Billy always made me puke, but he was beloved in churches of the Mainline as well as among those evangelicals who were not holding the line at orthodoxy. Becoming respectable was what mattered, as long as respect did not include becoming Liberal. The John Birch Society was extreme and did not bring respectability, but Billy did. His Crusades domesticated the revivalists and tv preachers, allowing Pat Robertson and Falwell to become tv voices while the National Council of Churches and Mainline leaders fade from view.

What we Mainline Liberals never got was that the Fundamentalists and Pentacostals had been chafing against the Mainline as 'second-class' and would take their revenge. They had some right to put down the triumphalism of the North, but their indictments were never correct. It was not the secularism or the "new morality" that made the American Century come apart in Vietnam. It was the myth itself that failed; but the new players just baptized that myth in their own Southern juices and blamed the North for faithlessness. Playing off war protesters and dope-smoking hippies, the combined forces of the Reagan Revolution could make a "generation gap" turn workers into Reagan flag wavers. Melding the anti-union corporate agenda with Southern populism was easy. Piety and Patriotism, and unleashing the Private Sector all made music in this new symphony on the Right.

I think even Dubya and Cheney felt a bit alien with Nascar and Bible thumpers, but at least they didn't choke on the pork rinds like Pappy Bush. The smell of napalm in the morning blended with the gasoline and pommade. The best propagandists in history had tv to add to the Big Lie, and a picture turned out to make the wordsmithing like adding the dialogue to the film. Speaking power to truth was never done more effectively, and those who believed in the naked truth were exposed and impotent.

In the New American Century, the Southern Story is the Myth that binds together Wall St., the MIC and Theocracy. Liberal Democracy is condemned and replaced with Empire and Libertarian hatred of the State. How is this possible? Disdain for government and the messiness of democracy is the common theme for Big Money and threatened individuals. God, or History, or Money provide the authority and order "we, the people" had claimed as our collective activity. Following, believing and taking "personal responsibility" replace critical thinking, personal conscience and social justice as the measure of what makes us "great."

Billy Graham's Crusades were all about "Decision." One made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior. Then came moral endeavor and living out the decision. And, of course, repentence for being imperfect and needing the Atonement Blood of the Lord to wash away the sins. Revivalism was the vehicle for the Arminian shift of theology in America away from Calvin and the Sovereignty of God and Salvation by Grace. Free Will Religion appeals to Liberals too, making the Age of Reason able to trump the Awesome Mystery of Election and Predestination. But, where Liberal humanism could retain a social responsibility and vision of "liberty and justice for all" in a secular civil community and find companions from the Social Gospel and its "secular meaning" in the Mainline, Revivalism made it all about the Self in a cultic dependency on "God."

Modern Conservative religion is not theologically conservative other than in its reliance upon revealed truth v. human knowledge. Neither science nor history is allowed to counter the narrative. The "decision, moral endeavor" theology is a religion of 'reason' and 'the will.' Lacking grace, there is no compassion, just pity for the poor. We will pray for them, but never pay for them. If they did what I did, Jesus would save them too. Or, if they worked hard and made money, they could be rich too. The American Cult, reinforced by reassuring messages from the media, keeps 'belief" alive and makes dissent heretical and anti-patriotic. Unless one is complaining about the unbelievers in power, of course.

Billy Graham is a big symbolic figure and frontman for this Conservative Myth. He is the Religious Reagan, a moderate and 'sane' version of the nutcases who gives the latter entry and the image of respectability. Scratch his story and the Klan and Coughlin is not hard to find. As the Kochs and the rest of these Rightwing nutcases emerge from the shadows and we see behind the curtain, what we find is an old American story Liberals had wanted to believe we had left behind with Civil Rights, the Women's Movement and even Marriage Equality for gays and lesbians. For all the value of these progressive gains, they are the sideshow to Empire and the Triumph of Greed in our American Century Hell.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

That is a good history DRC of how Fundamentalist Christianity morphed and insinuated itself into the political sphere as somehow respectable and Christian instead of being the NeoNazi fascist racists that they are. The history still continues even today.

Gingrich is betting that Oklahoma Republicans, who also vote on Super Tuesday, are culturally similar to their Georgia counterparts -- and the 3,000-strong crowd at Oral Roberts University that roared its approval Monday indicated that guns and gas resonate here, too.

This is really sick. Oral Roberts the elder was a huckster and parasite on the crystal meth and heroine saturated city of Tulsa for decades. The son, Richard Roberts, was kicked out of ORU for living the high life from the offering plate supposedly to help the poor, and is currently out on bail for drunk driving last month, but they are the first to tell you how to live your life. I mean it's enough to make you want to puke all over the alter!

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Makes you want to believe that Jesus is really coming back to straighten things out. It was always the religious who got in the way of God. Then there is the problem of false gods for those who think they have solved the problem with secularism. Keep the faith, anti.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Great source of info Anti. When you read of the transition from the OSS to the CIA it's a fascist who's who. The only name that comes up more than Prescott and GHW Bush is Allen Dulles and possibly John Foster Dulles, Wild Bill Donovan et al. Consider the policies of the GW Bush administration and how eerily similar they are to Nazi Germany's SS. Racism, torture, preemptive war, etc. I am not joking when I suggest that the exodus of Nazi scientists and psychologists to the US at the conclusion of WWII revitalized the American/German Bund movement and elements of this group are at the nucleus of the GOP. "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Author of that line is unknown to me but I think it is true.

Choco's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I agree Choco, the Nazi ratlines from Germany to South America was managed by the Catholic Church, and many other Nazis were absorded into the OSS to help wage cold war propaganda since they showed a talent and had experience in herding the Germany electorate to war. And speaking of war:

When Billy Graham Planned To Kill One Million People By Alexander Cockburn

American Journal, March 12, 2002

There's a piquant contrast in the press coverage across the decades of Billy Graham's various private dealings with Nixon, as displayed on the tapes gradually released from the National Archive or disclosed from Nixon's papers. I'll come shortly to the recent flap over Graham and Nixon's closet palaverings about the Jews, but first let's visit another interaction between the great evangelist and his commander in chief Back in April, l989 a Graham memo to Nixon was made public. It took the form of a secret letter from Graham, dated April 15, 1969, drafted after Graham met in Bangkok with missionaries from Vietnam. These men of God said that if the peace talks in Paris were to fail, Nixon should step up the war and bomb the dikes. Such an act, Graham wrote excitedly, "could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam".

Graham lent his imprimatur to this recommendation. Thus the preacher was advocating a policy to the US Commander in Chief that on Nixon's own estimate would have killed a million people. The German high commissioner in occupied Holland, Seyss-Inquart, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg for breaching dikes in Holland in World War Two. (His execution did not deter the USAF from destroying the Toksan dam in North Korea, in 1953, thus deliberately wrecking the system that irrigated 75 per cent of North Korea's rice farms.)

This disclosure of Graham as an aspirant war criminal did not excite any commotion when it became public in 1989, twenty years after it was written. I recall finding a small story in the Syracuse Herald-Journal. No one thought to chide Graham or even question him on the matter. Very different has been the reception of a new tape revealing Graham, Nixon and Haldeman palavering about Jewish domination of the media and Graham invoking the "stranglehold" Jews have on the media.

On the account of James Warren in the Chicago Tribune, who has filed excellent stories down the years in Nixon's tapes, media, in this 1972 Oval Office session between Nixon, Haldeman and Graham, the President raises a topic about which "we can't talk about it publicly," namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media.

Nixon cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who is executive producer of the NBC hit, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," as telling him that "11 of the 12 writers are Jewish." "That right?" says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are "totally dominated by the Jews." Nixon says network TV anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite "front men who may not be of that persuasion," but that their writers are "95 percent Jewish."

"This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain," the nation's best-known preacher declares "You believe that?" Nixon says. "Yes, sir," Graham says. "Oh, boy," replies Nixon. "So do I. I can't ever say that but I believe it." "No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something," Graham replies.

Magnanimously Nixon concedes that this does not mean "that all the Jews are bad" but that most are left-wing radicals who want "peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews." "That's right," agrees Graham, who later concurs with a Nixon assertion that a "powerful bloc" of Jews confronts Nixon in the media. "And they're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff," Graham adds.

Later Graham says that "a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country." After Graham's departure Nixon says Haldeman, "You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across." "It's a shocking point," Haldeman replies, "Well," says Nixon, "it's also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards."

Within days of these exchanges becoming public the 83-year old Graham was hauled from his semi-dotage, and impelled to express public contrition. "Experts" on Graham were duly cited as expressing their "shock" at Graham's White House table talk.

Why the shock? Don't they know that this sort of stuff is consonant with the standard conversational bill of fare at 75 per cent of the country clubs in America, not to mention many a Baptist soiree. Nixon thought American Jews were lefty peaceniks who dominated the Democratic Party and were behind the attacks on him. Graham reckoned it was Hollywood Jews who had sunk the nation in porn. Haldeman agreed with both of them. At whatever level of fantasy they were all acknowledging power. But they didn't say they wanted to kill a million Jews. That's what Graham said about the Vietnamese and no one raised a bleat.

It's supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much the Jews do control the media. Since three of the prime founders of Hollywood, were Polish Jews who grew up within fifty miles of each other in Galicia, it's reckoned as not so utterly beyond the bounds of propriety to talk about Jewish power in Hollywood, though people still stir uneasily. The economic and political commentator Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his web newsletter that even if the Jews don't control the media overall, it iscertainly true to say that they control discussion of Israel in the media here.

Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish, with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, and with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts, they were trailing Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing about it, or were simply spying on US facilities. Some, posing as art students have been expelled, according to AP. Finally, there's Sharon's bloody repression of the Palestinians, and Israel's apparently powerful role in Bush's foreign policy, urging him into action against at least two of the axes of evil, Iraq and Iran.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
The Dark Side of Rev. Billy Graham: A Prince of War Exposed

By WILLIAM HUGHES September 27, 2007

"The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same." - Stendhal

The propaganda machine of the Evangelical Christian Right will soon be in counter attack mode. One of its darling preachers is about to take it on the proverbial chin. The Rev. Billy Graham, who has created a multimillion dollar media empire, that a Rupert Murdock would envy, is the subject of a shocking expose' due out on Nov. 15, 2007. It's entitled, "The Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire." The author is Cecil Bothwell. He hails from Asheville, North Carolina and is an award winning investigative reporter. Bothwell's unflattering portrait of Rev. Graham shows him as a wily warmonger and a lackey for the Establishment. He describes Rev. Graham as a public figure who: "Undermined the Founders' skeptical Deism and sought to rebrand the U.S. as a Christian nation, [and] its armies [as] the rightful instruments of [a] Christian crusade and empire."

Bothwell documents that there wasn't a war the U.S. was involved in that Rev. Graham couldn't bless. In fact, he reveals that during the horrific Vietnam conflict, (1959-75), he had urged the then-President, Richard M. Nixon, to bomb North Vietnam! In a 13-page letter, that Rev. Graham had forwarded to the White House in April, 1969, it was stated: "There are tens of thousands of North Vietnamese defectors to bomb and invade the North. Why should all the fighting be in the South?...Especially let them bomb the dikes which could over night destroy the economy of North Vietnam." Mr. Bothwell underscored that such a military action against the dikes, a huge complex of earthworks, would probably "kill a million people and wipe out an already poor nation's agricultural system" He added that the advice in Graham's transmittal "fell on receptive ears. Not longer after, Nixon moved the air war north and west."

There is more. After the deadly Kent State U. affair, (May 4, 1970), where four students, who were protesting the Nixon-Henry Kissinger-inspired bombing of Cambodia, were killed by Ohio's National Guard troops, Rev. Graham invited the mostly unbalanced Nixon to address his crusade. It was held in Knoxville, TN. While parents of the students were still grieving and burying their dead, Rev. Graham shamelessly shilled: "All Americans may not agree with the decision a president makes--but he is our president..."

Also, every chance Rev. Graham got he ripped into antiwar protesters in this country, while the Vietnam inferno was raging. After a large pro peace demonstration in late 1969, he railed in a letter to then President Lyndon B. Johnson, that the protesters were "radicals and those seeking to overthrow the American way of life." When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, in 1967 against the war in a sermon at the Riverside Church in NYC, Rev. Graham, jumped right in and tagged his criticism as "an affront to the thousands of loyal Negro troops who are in Vietnam." When Dr. King marched for Civil Rights in Selma, Alabama, Rev. Graham was no where to be found. And, after Dr. King was gunned down in Memphis, TN, he couldn't be bothered to attend his funeral either.

Rev. Graham made a career out of sucking up to U.S. presidents. Mr. Bothwell wrote how he loved those "endless photo-ops" at the White House, and how he was always, "so eager to shake the hands of...despots, movie stars and industrial kingpins, and to offer grandiose approval of their greatness. Obsequy, more than money, seemed to drive the man--though his pockets were never empty." Fortunately, not all the presidents bought into Rev. Graham's bogus act. One of my favorites, President Harry S. Truman, who was born in Lamar, MO, knew a wide variety of people from political bosses to political hacks. He had a built in b... s... detector. This is what President Truman had to say about the war-loving, camera-mugging preacher: "Graham has gone off the beam. He's...well, I hadn't ought to say this, but he's one of those 'counterfeits' I was telling you about. He claims he's a friend of all the presidents, but he was never a friend of mine when I was president. I just don't go for people like that. All he's interested in is getting his name in the paper."

Just before Bush 1 (George H.W. Bush) launched the Persian Gulf War, he invited Rev. Graham to the White House. On Jan. 16, 1991, they both watched the "air war against Iraq on CNN." Later that same evening, he prayed "three times" with the president before he delivered a "televised address to the nation." In a phone call to Bush 1, prior to that White House invite, Rev. Graham had supposedly referred to Saddam Hussein as the "Antichrist." This conversation reportedly helped Bush 1 to resolve "all the moral issues in my mind. It's black and white, good versus evil." Can anyone imagine Jesus watching a war on TV, without weeping aloud for its innocent victims, and demanding that it be stopped immediately?

As for the ongoing Iraq War, started by Bush 2 (George W. Bush Jr.), and based on a pack of rotten lies, not one word of criticism has been heard from Rev. Graham. Even after the notorious torture scandal at Abu Ghraib was revealed, the preacher maintained his vow of silence on this country's worst president, a man who deserves impeachment and jail time for violating his oath of office. (1) The country has lost 3,801 of its finest sons and daughters in Iraq and wasted $455 billion there. Another 27,000 U.S. troops have been seriously injured. An estimated one million Iraqis are now dead and about 3.7 million have become refugees. Yet, Rev. Graham, a supposed follower of the "Prince of Peace," has remained mute in his criticism of the outrageous conduct of this president and his insane policies. Why have we rarely heard Rev. Graham preach about Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount?" Why have we rarely, if ever, heard him repeat these words that came directly from the mouth of Christ: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God?"

Mr. Bothwell suggests a possible reason why Rev. Graham has failed to speak out about the unjust Iraq War and Bush 2's responsibility for it. At p. 164, he relates how the preacher, in 1985, had supposedly "saved" Bush 2 from perdition. It was at the family compound at Kennebunkport. Bush 2 was drunk and had allegedly "insulted a friend of his mother." It was around the time of Bush 2's 39th birthday. Mr. Bothwell writes: "George senior and Barbara blew up. Words were exchanged along the lines of something having to be done. George senior, then the vice-president, dialed up his friend, Billy Graham, who came to the compound and spent several days with George W. in probing exchanges and walks on the beach. George W. was soon 'born again.' He stopped drinking, attended Bible study and wrestle with issues of fervent faith. A man who was lost was saved."

We now know that Bush 2, although he may have stopped hitting the bottle, never did anything in the realm of therapy about his alcoholism problem. He's known by the experts in the field as a "dry drunk," a potential danger to himself and to others. (2) As for Bush 2 being "born again," the question must be asked: "Born again for what?" To kill Iraqis? Invade Iran? Bankrupt our Republic? "Brother" Elliott Nesch, an Evangelical and Peace advocate, believes that pro-War Christians "should repent." (3) I agree with him. The bottom line is clerics, like Rev. Graham, dominate today much of the Religious Right in America. Bothwell's tome deals, however, with a lot more relevant issues than just the preacher's disgusting war addiction. It's an insightful book that I am highly recommending. It's well documented, too, with 274 footnotes.

Finally, I wrote last year that "Rev. Graham wasn't a Phil Berrigan." The latter, an ex-priest, was a true apostle of peace, who spent 11 of his 79 years behind bars in the cause of justice. Unlike Rev. Graham, who skipped out of WWII, Berrigan was involved in the Normandy invasion and the "Battle of the Bulge" as a member of the U.S. Army. (4) I'm convinced that unless the Christian community in this country, Protestant and Catholic alike, opens its eyes to what Rev. Graham and his Establishment-serving ilk have been doing "in Christ's name," this nation is headed for a fall that will make the collapse of Rome look like a Sunday picnic.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Don't ya just love the smell of pommade in the morning? I try not to let the hatred I have for these creeps poison my soul, but God Damn them to Hell! I think I am being redundant to Divine Judgement, but the Commandment is not to use the name of God in vain. I mean it with all my being.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The Holy Hatred of the Protestant Pope:Stuck in Mobile with the Rev. Graham Blues Again


It was ironic that last month's news told of U. S. troops patrolling and planes bombing Iraq in the name of democracy for resistant natives, while someone in Mobile, Alabama was being denied the right to speak to his representatives at a meeting of his city council. The irony sharpens when you were the one squelched.

And it deepens when you were attempting to speak on behalf of a local group, Citizens for Peace, which opposed this war even before it began. We considered the chatter about bestowing democracy on Iraq as a cover for less savory impulses to attack and as an imaginary outcome of the war.

But whatever the results might be over there, visions of spreading that American ideal were a handy sales pitch for promoters of the war here. So were any demeaning depictions that help to justify the fate of those who would be gutted and filleted when the war machinery trampled into their country.

Evil and Wicked Islam

That's what propelled us to the city council with a resolution about a visitor coming to town soon, the Rev. Franklin Graham. After the attacks of 9/11/2001 many people said things in haste or anger which they later retracted or moderated.

Not Graham. He attributed 9/11 to the chief faith of the region where the plotters were born and declared that Islam is "a very evil and wicked religion."

Not that some version of Islam adopted by some of the attackers contributed to the motives for their fiery suicide raid, but that the religion itself is inherently evil and wicked. That's his story and he's sticking to it, which aids those avid to wage and expand wars against Muslim nations. Most of those killed will be adherents of this vile religion, and their departure seems to cleanse the world of a grave mistake.

Graham has spurned opportunities to remove the barbs from his statement and salve the wounds it continues to cause. He reaffirmed it most recently in a front page story of the March 8 USA Today, granting that he'd said this about Islam and adding that "I haven't backed down."

Protestant Pope

That article, with a picture of him in resolute pose before a gleaming cross, amounted to his investiture as his father's successor. Franklin had long been the heir apparent of ailing Billy Graham's worldwide evangelical organization. He has already taken Billy's place as spiritual guide to presidents. He was God's representative at the ceremonies re-inaugurating president Bush in January, 2005. The USA Today article announced his official rise to his father's role at the ministry's headquarters in North Carolina.

Franklin Graham is the Protestant pope-or the nearest thing the splayed-out Protestants have to that eminence. And he's rented the civic center in downtown Mobile for three days of preaching and soul saving late this month.

So our proposed resolution asked the members of the city council to consider the implications of this. They not only have some legal authority over use of municipal facilities like the civic center; they are also custodians of the city's values and character.

Holy Hatred

The most potent preacher in the country is bringing a doctrine of holy hatred to Mobile, which includes Muslims among its citizens. This isn't a prominent part of his routine message, but neither will he repudiate it. Would Graham's type of pious bias be acceptable here from anybody equally lofty who had said anything similar about Jews or any brand of Christians? Certainly not.

Our resolution didn't ask the council to cancel Graham's rental of the civic center. Instead it affirmed his right to use the building and to preach whatever he believes. It merely said that city officials should not welcome him to Mobile in any manner "until and unless the Rev. Graham publicly retracts and apologizes for his slander of Islam."

Regardless of these officials' opinions about wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the looming one in Iran, surely they would welcome an occasion to defend their Muslim constituents against Graham's consigning them en masse to hell. Or if the council members didn't give a damn about that, surely they would want to orate and then to formally affirm by this resolution their city's dedication to respect and civility among all its varied parts.

Hush or Go Directly to Jail

Surely not. We were fortunate to get away from the council meeting without being arrested.

We had not followed all the rules for addressing the council, or so we were told. But we had meticulously done that and brought copious documentation to prove it.

Anyhow, our resolution was not pertinent, or so we were told. But we knew of many matters brought before the council that have little or no direct bearing on municipal functions. These included a resolution adopted last fall upon Rosa Parks' death. It commended her refusal to move to the back of a bus in another city half a century ago. But a resolution about the use of a Mobile city facility now by a major public figure for public meetings attracting thousands is not pertinent? No, it's not. Instead it's "preposterous," the council president said.

Anyhow, you're not Christians. What else could the councilman could have meant who called himself a Christian while calling our resolution "trash"?

He must be one of those who believe there was a secret eighth day of creation when God founded the Republican party, and Moses brought Newt Gingrich's Contract With America and George Bush's DNA down from Mt. Sinai.

Among the dozen or so who attended to support Citizens for Peace's resolution, I've never heard any proclaim their faith like that councilman did. But I've seen them all live it.

Anyhow, if you don't shut up, you'll be arrested. That was the implication of the repeated warnings by the council president that our resolution was not to be discussed, that any attempt to do so was out of order, that this had already been decided, and that the whole council agreed about it.

Heretics Banished

Rather than go to jail the Citizens for Peace contingent retreated to the atrium of Government Plaza and held an impromptu press conference, which is still allowed.

Suspicious that my memory was playing tricks, I asked the other exiles: Did the council president really invite me to speak about topics other than our resolution, any other topics? Yes, they said, he did.

I didn't need to ask what had happened to one council member who'd pledged to prevent a muzzling. I'd seen him shrivel silently in his seat as his colleagues assailed us. A couple weeks earlier I asked him to intervene, if necessary, for our right to speak and he readily agreed. But he behaved during the public meeting like a voodoo spell of mute paralysis had been cast upon him.

Something similar had apparently happened to local Muslims. Among the mostly foreign-born ones clustered around the University of South Alabama, none displayed any desire to uphold their faith before the city council. Members of an innercity mosque had at least met with us, declared their support, and indicated they would attend to bolster the resolution. But if they were present, their brand of Islam has the magical property of rendering them invisible.

A couple candidates for local office had also signaled their support and their intention to attend. But when the moment arrived, they too became transparent.

One councilman acknowledged in a later email to a Citizens for Peace member that "based on past practices of the Council" we should not have been choked. And the daily newspaper's account of our gagging noted, accurately, that the council president "generally gives generous leeway to people who wish to speak."

An exception was enforced against us not because we'd botched some procedure, and not because our resolution wasn't germane, but because we are heretics. We refused to genuflect before the almighty Rev. Graham. We dared to propose a resolution asserting that he was capable of error, in need of repentance, and should be shunned until he had done so. We insisted that the city's elected leaders vindicate their Muslim fellow citizens against Graham's assault. And we declined the offer to prattle about anything else instead.

Theocratic Convergence

The council could easily have allowed us the typical five minutes to present our odious resolution. Then they could just have said nothing and done nothing-ignore us. And continue the meeting as if we'd never come.

But doing this would concede not only that the infidels had breached the walls and entered the inner sanctum but also that they had some right to be there. They had to be attacked-not ignored-because they'd challenged the sanctity and infallibility of the anointed one, Rev. Graham.

Not all seven of the council members joined the chorus. But silence signaled assent. I wondered especially what had occurred out of our sight to paralyze the one who'd assured us of access to the agenda. And what accounted for the missing Muslims? Or the vanished local candidates?

For answers you needn't have the power to sign executive orders instructing spy agencies to skirt the law and snoop on emails and phone calls.

You merely need to have absorbed from experience and folklore the lessons about what befalls the sheep that stray from orthodoxy.

The word spreads: Stay away from those folks who say they're going downtown with that fool resolution about Rev. Graham. He will come, and he will go, but his followers will still be here. And you will too. Do you want to fit in with this community? Do you want to keep your connections and your reputation? Do you care about that promotion you've been working toward all these years? Do you want to do business? Stay away from those folks.

And if you are one of those folks, friends-genuine ones-will ask if you're sure you want to pursue this. And when they see that you really intend to, they will ask if you have a paid up life insurance policy. And they are not joking.

A democracy isn't simply a place that has elections now and then. Among other things, it must also have unfettered, unafraid exchanges of information and opinions between officials, civic groups, and citizens.

Nor is a theocracy simply a place with an official religion. It could be a place without any formal merger of church and state-but some religion and some of its leaders are so weighty and sacrosanct that nobody is supposed to question or discomfit them. And if anybody does get uppity, their own elected representatives will rear up in unison to smite and silence them on behalf of the religious potentates.

So Citizens for Peace's recent experience at the Mobile city council is in keeping with the era and the presiding political forces of America. Over there they impose regime change by invasions while trumpeting democracy, but they actually install systems closer to theocracy. And here they retain some of the outward forms of democracy, while edging toward the methods of theocracy.

You might call these converging trends globalization.

David Underhill is a member of Citizens for Peace in Mobile, Alabama. He can be reached at

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

“It is an ugly thing when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”

~Pope Francis

How Rev. Billy Graham Taught the Republican Party to Sacrifice the Poor on the Altar of Big-Business Graham turned biblical Jesus into a supply-side economist.

...Graham was a skillful orator, and he adeptly infused the teachings of Ayn Rand with those of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus says, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” and urges his followers, “To sell what you have and give to the poor.” But Graham, with the biggest Christian following in America during the '80s, helped turn the biblical Jesus into a supply side economist who wants us to be anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-healthcare, and anti-assistance for the poor Christians.

Where Bible Jesus feeds the masses with two loaves of bread, Ayn Randian Jesus says, “Bugger off, this bread is mine, you lazy moochers.” While Graham removed Southern Christians’ guilt over segregation, Ayn Rand removed the Christian Right’s guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Bruce E. Levine, author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite, wrote on AlterNet, “Not only did Rand make it 'moral' for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she 'liberated' millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.”

With the explosion of cable television, Graham turned his church into a mega money-making empire for himself. The self-proclaimed political non-partisan also turned his massive flock into a loyal legion of storm troopers for the Republican Party. Today, Graham’s son, Franklin, is the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has continued his father’s legacy of being a shill and supporter of far-right pro-corporate causes while pulling down a $600,000 salary.

On the eve of the 2012 election, the younger Graham bragged that it was his father’s appearance with George W. Bush at a rally in Florida which won the Texas governor the presidency in 2000.

In endorsing Mitt Romney, Billy Graham said, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

While "kinder and gentler" than the Falwell, Robertson ilk, Graham peddled a very convenient message of anti-democracy and pious nonsense. I hate his Angels crapola, and he is the media Elmer Gantry in the "cool" medium of tv.

He is the kind of guy who makes we want to believe in a literal heaven with St. Pete up there as bouncer in chief. I would love the UTube loops on the pious relegated to the fiery pit. These are the guys who made we want to go to seminary to take them down.

Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am

"Michigan was one of the hot spots for fascism." Apparently Michigan has come ful circle after 90 odd years.

leontrollski's picture
Jul. 16, 2011 12:07 pm
Quote Antifascist:

“It is an ugly thing when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”

~Pope Francis

For so many years, my pride as a Lutheran, has allowed me to be look upon the Baptists and the Catholics as being out of synch with the "true" Jesus, but I have come to realize that pride has no place with Jesus. For so long I have looked at my Lutheran brand or team to be the superior, yet it is quite clear that singling out your team or your brand over others is not at all what Jesus would do, but what fascists, racists and bigots do quite well. God Bless this new Pope for really driving that point home. Godspeed to Pope Francis on the epic battle ahead of him in not only saving our world from fascism and economic injustice, but flushing out all the rats who have been aiding and abetting the fascists in the name of Jesus.

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Laborisgood, let me share one of the great blessings of an ecumenical and interfaith theological education. This third generation Presbyterian clergyperson, came to appreciate how badly screwed up a Presbyterian run world would be in the context of an ecumencial history where the whole tradition was ours, not just our parochial version. My Franciscan trained "brother" and I found ourselves on the same side against both the Opus Dei Catholics and the rightie Calvinists. I was celebrating the contribution made by the Jesuits against the Ultramontane Papists. He was for the Protestants for the same opposition to Rome.

When I worked to coordinate the religious activities of the campus religious organizations, part of what made me good at it was recognizing how what did not appeal to me worked for some other people; and when I got the pluralism dialed up to symbiosis, it was healthy.

Religious warfare tends to bring out the worst in us all. When we engage together, we find a sharing of gifts. Lutherans played a niche role between WASPs and non-Protestants. The range between the ALC, the Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod crosses a great sociology of religion by itself. It gets the ethnic distance from WASP while sharing the Protestant Reformation, albeit with Luther and Germany as opposed to Geneva and the English Civil War.

The great principle I operate on is that none of us is equipped to run the world. We have to share all this stuff. When we share, we come out very well. When we fight, we lose.

Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am

Ecumenism is a hard sell for those beholden to their brand of Christianity (or other religions and dogmas as well), yet Jesus was as ecumenical as they come. If you keep a Christian focused on everything except the core teachings of Jesus that contradict fascism and economic injustice, then you have a perfect marketing platform with many willing customers with which to more easily foment those very un-Christian cancers. As Sinclair Lewis said, “Fascism will come to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross”. I believe I first heard that one courtesy of Antifascist here in Thomville.

If I so choose, the narrow perspective within my Lutheran Synod, allows me to wag one finger at the overly conservative synod to my right and my other finger at the overly liberal synod to my left as if I’m some morally superior Goldilocks napping so smugly on the most comfortable of the Three Bear’s beds. I can extend that childish metaphor out to any religion or lack thereof if it suits me, but that is not what Jesus taught. I see Jesus mixing the too-cold porridge in with the too-hot porridge and making a just-right porridge for all.

When I was a more judgmental man, I clung tightly to my “reasons” for looking skeptically upon the Billy Grahams and conservative Cardinals in America. I deluded myself that my “reasons” were purely based upon religious details such as when you get baptized, if you celebrate the days leading up to Easter, how many sacraments there are or how you view the Lord’s Supper. The more I’ve let the scales fall from my eyes, the more I realize my skepticism of those types has nothing to do with religious trifles and everything to do with words and actions that contradict Jesus.

I have to wonder (in the fresh wake of Nelson Mandela’s death) will Billy Graham’s memorial service and media coverage be treated in a similar fashion? Do you suppose FoxNews might drudge up Graham’s fascist-racist past to offer a “fair and balanced” assessment of Graham’s life such as they did when they offered up “equitable” labels of “terrorist and communist” for Mandela? I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

At the risk of being redundant and sounding like a religious zealot, I again say, “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, thank you Jesus and God bless Pope Francis for having the strength and courage to choose that narrow gate ..... Amen!”

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Billy Graham was interviewed in 2011 and expressed regret that in his 91 years of life that he had spent too much time with politics and not enough with his family. The article infers that he has made such claims in the past, but keeps going back to that political well:

However, in 2012 he just couldn’t help himself steer clear of the presidential election and thus strongly endorsed Mitt Romney while reversing his previous statements about Mormonism being a cult:

If you go to Graham’s website and look up his version of his involvement with 11 presidents going back to Harry Truman, it reads like a list of bi-partisan love for Graham, while whitewashing many of his very partisan antics against the presidents on the left side of the aisle:

I have nothing against a man like Graham taking a strong and consistent political stance based upon his principles. Of course, there are legal issues that come into play if he chooses to use his tax-exempt pulpit and organizations to do so. However, to so consistently support right-wing politics that blatantly cuts across the grain of your lifelong vocation of Christianity while just as consistently turning your back on the least-of-these through a lack of support for anyone to the left of Richard Nixon is at the very least hypocritical.

To traverse the chasm between fanning the flames of fear of a papist-cult President and a no fear whatsoever of a Mormon-cult President (upon retraction of his previous stated beliefs) while cold-heartedly shunning the first Born-Again Southern Baptist President along the way takes a lot of agile maneuvering of both politics and religion. Although I did not look it up, I'm fairly certain Graham must have reversed his position on papist-cults along the way as well in supporting some right-wing Catholic extremists. Perhaps in some more recent local elections near his home turf.

For his sake, I pray that Mr. Graham will have his true come-to-Jesus moment (reconciling his politics and his religion) before he meets his maker, but even if he doesn’t let’s hope that the many that have blindly put their faith in Mr. Graham’s politics over the years will see the error of his ways.

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Anti #15, thanks for post. The Pope almost make me want to become "religious", but belief is already part of humanity DNA. The Pope is speaking "universal beliefs", one would have to be dead not to hear him.

tayl44's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Thank you Antifascist for such a thorough telling of the first few chapters the horror story of this particularly successful strain of fascism coming to America as we are living through the next chapter. Perhaps there’s hope to change the final chapter. I’m surprised I did not catch this when you first posted it, as I tend to gravitate towards threads with a religious bent. The abuse of religion as a powerful weapon is as old as religion itself, but this modern era version is truly a weapon of mass destruction that is well beyond the planning stages.

As I’m sure you guys already know, there was a book written a few years ago by Jeff Sharlet entitled The Family which was an expose on the fascist organization with an evangelical veneer called The Fellowship which is currently lead by Doug Coe and founded by Abraham Vereide. I assume none of this info is new material to you guys, but it is fairly new to me. I was startled by the basic concept in that book which DRC echoed in his statement related to Billy Graham:

Quote DRC:

Billy Graham's Crusades were all about "Decision." One made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior. Then came moral endeavor and living out the decision.

The concept that at one point in your life you make “the decision” and from that point on you are obligated to blindly follow is at face value not so disturbing, assuming a person is honestly following their conscience with a trustworthy source of credible information that helps guide their path. This information need not be restricted to just religious sources either. God gave us a brain as well as eyes and ears.

That book really disturbed me when I read it and Billy Graham has always kind of creeped me out for some reason. I think I now better understand the reason. The book did not so much disturb me by altering my religious faith, but it altered my faith in the human race (particularly the humans capable of such evil through religious means).

The Billy Grahams and Doug Coes of the world have created a very successful system to efficiently bring people into the fold of their causes. I do believe a majority of the rank and file people who get tangled into their webs have no ill intent, but there are many people who work higher up that have ill intent beyond most people wildest dreams. Maybe Graham, somehow has been doing this version of “The Lord’s Work” for so long with these people that he doesn’t even see the fascism and racism that may seem very obvious to others. Maybe he sees the fascism and racism just fine, but can rationalize it from the proper perspective of blindly following what has been presented as “The Lord’s Work”. Either way, I appreciate you guys shining your light on these matters.

I find myself often defending religion here at this site. My goal is not necessarily to convert people to religion so much as to be a good witness and show that not all religion leads like a gateway drug to the really destructive hard stuff that the fascists are selling. I feel compelled to save religion from these fascists. I’m not so much trying to shepherd in liberals to religion as much as I’m concerned with the alarming number of sheep that are getting lost to those fascist wolves. Their strategy seems to have a built in mechanism that makes it stronger every time somebody points out how bad religion can be (at least their kind). To blame all of religion on where these people have taken it does a great disservice to all of the people who dare to try to do religion right. When any finger gets pointed at them for their evil ways, they just hide behind Jesus and make sure the rank and file followers have a scapegoat that once again “proves” how the finger pointers are out to destroy Jesus and they cannot give up the fight.

I’d like to think that many of these rank and file followers of the fascists in the name of Jesus will one day wake up, but sometimes I’m not so sure. I do believe that fighting this battle from within Christianity has a far better chance than from the outside due to that built in mechanism I referred to earlier. Perhaps surprisingly to some, I am not compelled to bail out on religion altogether, but emboldened by these fascists storming the walls. I think we can change the final chapter of our Fascists in America book with a continuous shedding of light on their ways and means from both the inside and outside.

Thanks again Anti and DRC for the generous sharing of your wisdom on this critical part of this complicated puzzle that I'm still trying to figure out.

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Activist Publishes Book of Hate Mail From Bible Believing Christians, Bible Believers Respond by - You Guessed It

Wednesday, 04 February 2015

  • Mr. M Weinstein I am a spirit-filled ordained pastor of The Gospel from the great state of Nebraska. Stop your attack on God Almighty and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Stop your attack on His holy Christian wariors in our armed military forces! My congregation includes many military from the nearby air force base. We pray as one for you to die tonight in your sleep leaving a bloody mess for your family to find at daybreak.
  • To the enimy of Jesus The Christ – Let's all watch how Jesus makes you pay for taking Him out of the Army. Your hellbound 'religious freedom FROM religion" followers too. You all try to fool everybody and hide behind the contitution. Your afraid of the Gospel. Why is it you give a jew a chance to recrusify our Savior and he'll do it ever time. And your the worse of jews in the world. Blood thrifty for inocent Christians bringing The Word to the Army. damn you and die. And burn for youre sins against Christ Jesus. For all time.
  • For god and country and in god we trust. Maybe if the Jews fought in the revolution and wrote the constitution he would have a right too speak. Other wise shut the f up.
  • When We see a jew like mikey wienstien we know that Hitler was right. Leave US soldiers alone mickey. Get you a nosejob hebe. And why not swindle someone in business? While eating a bagle and showing off your jew diamonds.
  • This country was founded on the belief of God, if you and your people do not believe in the Christian God maybe you should move to Iran or Syria where your shallow thoughts will last but minutes since you will be but an infidel, soon to be stoned for your beliefs.
  • Athiest jews are servents of satan. They do not deserve America. Mikey weinsteen does not deserve life any place but espcialy in the USA. He is THE leader of all which is wrong in America and all who fight Jesus Christ which is the only true God in the universe. Weinsteen will destroy our military and the whole country if he is not deported. Send him to Cuba which niger Obummer loves so much. Or send him and all the other athiests to North Korea to rot and starve.
  • Eat shit and don't die. Just keep eating shit Michael Loser Weinstein. Fun to watch you eat shit. For all time. Since you and your little family of mfrr shit eaters are nothing but shit anyway. Your only hope is to surrender to Jesus Christ. Your a stiff necked jew so you will not (Exodus 32 and verse 9). Thus you have no hope. Keep your shitty self out of Christ's military and Christ's nation you dirty shit bag.
  • Fuck your crybaby slut ass wife and fuck your crybaby spoiled children. Who got their fancy air force academy educations all paid for by the GRACE of Amercan CHRISTIAN taxpayers. And just look what we got for our tax money. The family Whiningsteen jew traitors from HELL. Cry cry cry cause you have it so bad in a CHRISTIAN made country. You know what you all happier in North koria or back in Jewsrael. get OUT of our country! Here Jesus is KING and if you dont like it than fuck you.
  • Your day will come when you have to face Our God Almighty and would not want to be in your shoes. You and your ilk think you are so intelligent and stand above the rest but you are sickening and nothing but a joke and a huge one at that. By the way, where is your stand against the muslims? you either are one like your golden idol charlatan closet muslim obama or you are afraid of them.
  • Thankfully, judgment is a certainty and Mr. Weinstein's future – and the rest of your staff – is secure. And eternity is forever.
  • Our Spirit-Filled Church prays to Christ Jesus thru Psalm 109 for His Hand to curse Judas Weinstein (Matthew 27: 3-5) down as per Scripture in 2015 for sins against His Church and His armed forces and His America: We Pray Thee Lord Jesus To Lay Thy Avenging Hands (Revelation 19:11-16) on unbaptized (Mark 16:16) Michael Weinstein his evil wife and evil children (john 8:44) and all of the evil doers who work at MFRR (Revelation 21:8);
  • Christ will slay Mikey Weinstein with The Sword of Righteousness. Your serpant husband will be cut down by Jesus and mutilated for his evil doings. Then him and they all will be cast wiggling and screaming into the Lake of Fire to burn for all time. See John 3:36 and Revelations 20:14. You still have time Bonnie and so do your kids. This is 'Truth' mail from those Christians who love you so much and your kids and grandkids too.
Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

and the golden boy's son says the nasty stuff he doesn't have to....

lifesize's picture
Sep. 22, 2014 9:35 am

i should add, DRC, that your writing deserves praise; if i were hiring columnists, you'd have a job offer.

lifesize's picture
Sep. 22, 2014 9:35 am

Dr. Kevin Kruse, professor of History at Princeton University penned an interesting article on the history of American Christian and its merger with big business. Kruse’s history reinforces my first posted article in this thread. This was a deliberate propaganda effort by American Business in the 1930s to use Christianity to protect their positions of privilege and power. They were not interested in saving their soul, but saving their pocketbook. There was another political push in the early 1950s, and yet another in 1971 after the famous Powell Memo to infiltrate all institutions of society, including the Churches, will Free Market Fundamentalism, and Libertarian anti-State doctrine.

I can’t think of a more obscene plan than for wealthy businessmen and the flunky manager class invading Christian Churches to corrupt altruistic Christian fundamentalism with anti-altruistic Ayn Rand nihilism. I didn’t think it was possible, but they were wildly successful. I remember after 1971 suddenly there was a new group of church member, mainly white professional men showing up with their wife, and in some case wives, with a know-it-all attitude wanting to immediately teach and take other leadership positions in the church like treasury secretary, and Deacon. Around this time was the first I heard of the “Christian Business Men’s Association.” Of course, my church welcomed new members with open arms. They viewed the church as a business and approached all church issues as business issues. They were not the kind of people you would go to with a problem because they were defensive, judgmental, dogmatic, and authoritarian. Also, the type of minister changed also; these were professional ministers that were looking for big churches, high pay, and career advancement—the not the missionary minded pastors we knew before. It was not long after the shift in church culture that I was out of there! I remember being somewhat puzzled by the change, but didn’t understand what was happening until decades later and then it all made sense. It was a great plan for a coup to turn the churches into political agents for the business class: the Church of the Apostles literally became the Church of the Assholes.

Billy Graham really pulled it over on us this time by misrepresenting himself as just a Evangelical Christian concealing the fact he was really a right-wing extremist with roots going back to White Supremacist Groups in the American South. When newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst first heard of Billy Graham in 1949, he told his newspaper editors to, “Puff Graham.”Soon afterwards, fascist admirer of Mussolini and magazine magnate, Henry Luce used his publications empire, which included his own Time Magazine to popularize the lowly tent revival preacher, Billy Graham. None of this could have happened if their purpose and plan was out in the open, but most Christians fell for the ruse and it forever changed them, the churches and what religion means in America.

A Christian Nation? Since When?


AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

The Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause. Preaching to pews of millionaires at the elite First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, Mr. Fifield said reading the Bible was “like eating fish — we take the bones out to enjoy the meat. All parts are not of equal value.” He dismissed New Testament warnings about the corrupting nature of wealth. Instead, he paired Christianity and capitalism against the New Deal’s “pagan statism.”

Through his national organization, Spiritual Mobilization, founded in 1935, Mr. Fifield promoted “freedom under God.” By the late 1940s, his group was spreading the gospel of faith and free enterprise in a mass-circulated monthly magazine and a weekly radio program that eventually aired on more than 800 stations nationwide. It even encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes. Liberals howled at the group’s conflation of God and greed; in 1948, the radical journalist Carey McWilliams denounced it in a withering exposé. But Mr. Fifield exploited such criticism to raise more funds and redouble his efforts.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups. After ministering to industrialists facing huge labor strikes in Seattle and San Francisco in the mid-1930s, Mr. Vereide began building prayer breakfast groups in cities across America to bring business and political elites together in common cause. “The big men and the real leaders in New York and Chicago,” he wrote his wife, “look up to me in an embarrassing way.” In Manhattan alone, James Cash Penney, I.B.M.’s Thomas Watson, Norman Vincent Peale and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia all sought audiences with him.

In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation.” Mr. Vereide opened headquarters in Washington — “God’s Embassy,” he called it — and became a powerful force in its previously secular institutions. Among other activities, he held “dedication ceremonies” for several justices of the Supreme Court. “No country or civilization can last,” Justice Tom C. Clark announced at his 1949 consecration, “unless it is founded on Christian values.”

The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees, was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.”

In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”

Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself.

Uncoupling the language of “freedom under God” from its Christian libertarian roots, Eisenhower erected a bigger revival tent, welcoming Jews and Catholics alongside Protestants, and Democrats as well as Republicans. Rallying the country, he advanced a revolutionary array of new religious ceremonies and slogans.

The first week of February 1953 set the dizzying pace: On Sunday morning, he was baptized; that night, he broadcast an Oval Office address for the American Legion’s “Back to God” campaign; on Thursday, he appeared with Mr. Vereide at the inaugural National Prayer Breakfast; on Friday, he instituted the first opening prayers at a cabinet meeting.

The rest of Washington consecrated itself, too. The Pentagon, State Department and other executive agencies quickly instituted prayer services of their own. In 1954, Congress added “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. It placed a similar slogan, “In God We Trust,” on postage that year and voted the following year to add it to paper money; in 1956, it became the nation’s official motto.

During these years, Americans were told, time and time again, not just that the country should be a Christian nation, but that it always had been one. They soon came to think of the United States as “one nation under God.” They’ve believed it ever since.

Kevin M. Kruse is a professor of history at Princeton and the author, most recently, of “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.”

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

How I spent 16 years in an abusive, conservative Christian cult — and finally escaped

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Great article on Right-wing corporatism invading American churches to secure power and profits.

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy?

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