Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Abortion, the Christian right, and antifascism

Matthew Lyons, a leading “antifascist” intellectual, actually has a pretty good definition of fascism.

a revolutionary form of right-wing populism, inspired by a totalitarian vision of collective rebirth, that challenges capitalist political and cultural power while promoting economic and social hierarchy. ” See the Lyons article here.

This is fairly consistent with the definition used by Stan Payne, who IMO is the best scholar of historic fascism: “Payne uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including the creation of an authoritarian state; a regulated, state-integrated economic sector; fascist symbolism; anti-liberalism; anti-communism, and anti-conservatism. He sees the elimination of the autonomy or, in some cases, complete existence of large-scale capitalism as the common aim of all fascist movements.”

Most of the “Christian right” is not “fascist” in any intelligible sense.  Extremists like Christian Reconstructionists who want a Saudi-like theocracy are on the margins. Most “conservative evangelical” types are adherents of the traditional American civil religion identified by Robert Bellah with pre-Sexual Revolution views on abortion, gender roles, gay rights, etc. (although many of them are more liberal than that, at least in practice). America of the 1950s was never Saudi Arabia.

Although I am mostly on the “pro-choice” side, I regard abortion as a separate issue from other issues the Christian right is concerned with and criticized for by the left. Abortion involves basic existential questions concerning the definition of life and when life begins and the point at which life is protected by the law. Hard-core pro-lifers are only about 20% of the US population but another 30% are moderately pro-life. It’s always been that way ever since Roe.  Meanwhile, gay marriage now has a 70% support level.  Interracial marriage is supported by something like 95%. Contraception is almost universally practiced. A lot of churches, including evangelical ones, have female pastors and church leaders. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see unmarried cohabitating couples, divorced and/or remarried people, or folks with children from multiple partners in evangelical churches. Many evangelicals are also moving leftward on issues like race or environmentalism. Most critics assess the entirety of evangelicalism on the basis of the sub-categories of extremists in evangelical ranks.

As a whole, US society is become less religious and more liberal about an infinite number of things, although some conservative subcultures have responded by becoming more extreme. But even groups like the Oathkeepers and Proud Boys are largely conservative constitutionalists, not European-style fascists. Many, many people around the world believe in an elected government in the context of a parliamentary, constitutional system but prefer conservative policies on abortion, homosexuality, gender roles, and many other things. “Social conservatism” is normal in most countries. Whether that is good or bad is a separate question, but that’s how things work.


1 reply »

  1. LOL – whining about the “Christian Right” like it is 1992 and Tipper Gore is making you put a Parental Sticker on your 2 Live Crew cassette tape. That’s like, censorship man, Rollins is rad!

    “Fascist” = “what Jewish Democrats call people who aren’t Jewish Democrats.”

    Donald Trump is like HITLER! HITLER I tell you!

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