Christian crusade

Religious Authoritarianism III: Dominionism and the Second Coming

“When Jesus Comes Back, He’ll Be Carrying An AR-15 Assault Rifle.”

– Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin


Data from 2005 showed that over 33 per cent of religious adherents of the world are practicing Christians, followed by Islam at 20 per cent and Hinduism at 13 per cent. That’s a sizable chunk of the planet’s population. Roughly 4.5 million Americans consider themselves Christian and within those mostly law-abiding and benevolent citizens there lies a growing problem. [1]

2012 saw a veritable hysteria of Christian fundamentalists, Jewish Messianics, and Islamists busy gnashing their teeth, wagging fingers and generally frothing at the mouth from various pulpits and podiums that we were all hopelessly lost in decadence and destined for a fiery descent into their respective cultural hells. Now that 2012 has come and gone it seems the anticipation on the part of the religious right has ascended to stratospheric levels. Ordinarily, we can switch channels, avoid barmy internet forums and simply walk on by as the righteous attempt to save our souls with yet another gaudy pamphlet proclaiming a Second Coming.

But there’s a hitch.

Contemporary politics is presently infested with right-wing religious authoritarians (RWAs) determined to save themselves by arranging our collective entry into a large global conflagration. They are also busying themselves with fermenting as much carnage as possible in order to make sure that Christ returns for the Big Judgement. The “End Times” and rapture fever have become entrenched in the United States and they mean to do everything in their power to drag their Christ back from whatever mythical or spiritual reality he has been hiding.

That means creating the potential for World War III in line with biblical prophecy.

It seems the Christian duty has become a little different to Christ’s message of love and compassion. Rather, they have interpreted scripture to not only believe in the objective reality of these End Times of tribulation but to actively have a hand in creating it. And if that isn’t doing the “devil’s work” then I don’t know what is.

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Fundamentalism or the Christian brand of Religious fanaticism made its presence known in the 19 Century and quickly combined with Millennialism and End Times prophecy to create a formidable belief system whereby fear and authority can exert significant control over the mass mind. Charismatic spellbinders usually take on the task of corralling individuals and playing the father figure to those in need of “punishment” and rigorous discipline to ensure the obedient sit at God’s side. If you think it sounds sado-masochistic then you’d be right: the role of domination and submission is rather similar. The Evangelical priests on TV and Church are roaring at his flock about how terminally wicked they are while the flock in return offers up pots of money in the acceptance of the spiritual “bribe” so that they can to continue to cleanse the world of sin and thus make room for more souls. This is probably why so many priests and preachers – especially on the right wing Republican side – have been caught with their pants down, in the most literal sense.

There are several groupings clamouring to be heard as the true word of God. British Dispensationalism was one of the most influential in its sales pitch of judgement day and “End Times” rhetoric. Revelation was revealed in stages or “Dispensations” each of which characterised a period of tribulation and all-round mayhem for those who had strayed from the path of righteousness. Which meant that anything that was not in the Bible was the Devil’s work and those not part of the in-crowd of believers were automatically Satan’s groupies. According to the Book of Revelations the final battle of Armageddon would see the return of Christ descending gently to earth surrounded by a host of angels, bent on saving dutiful Christians and ready to preside over a New Spiritual Order. This could only take place when humanity had been suitably culled so that only the righteous are left to experience the waiting Eden of milk and honey.

Underpinning these visions was the doctrine of inerrancy on the part of the Bible which, as it was the word of God, was therefore beyond error. The fact that human beings were fallible and remain so didn’t seem to feature. As we have discussed, reason plays no part at all in fundamentalism only insofar it can be useful in reaffirming belief and the avoidance of uncomfortable facts. Rather like Zionism which uses the meme of anti-Semitism to avoid criticism, so too the fundamentalists see the Bible as synonymous with God and thus beyond critical analysis or reproach. Thus an empty mind instead of an open mind is mandatory. Similarly, the Catholic Church and the Vatican acting as the All-Seeing Eye of redemption offers its own brand of millennialism, dispensing Papal edicts and declarations as a download from God and therefore beyond contention. Those who do not agree with the magisterium are condemned to a fiery hell by God’s unending compassion.[2]

By the start of the twentieth Century these beliefs had evolved into a broader synthesis of dogma which meant that all the Biblical accounts, the Virgin Birth; feeding of the five thousand, the creation of the earth in Genesis, the bodily resurrection and physical return of Christ etc., were not allegorical or elaborate teaching myths – they were literal truths. The development of what came to be known as Creationism in the 1920s was in direct response to the wildly popular theories of Darwinism which caused a major revival in evangelical preaching and “reaching out” to save souls from Satan’s encroachment.

The End Times (or the Eschaton) describes a period of conflict and global war leading to a redemptive transformation (usually for a select group) which is prophesied in most major religions. For Jews, the End times or “End of Days” refers to a Messianic Age, where the exiled Jewish diaspora will be gathered in to the promised land of Israel to reclaim their spiritual birth right. Under the coming of the Mashiach, olam haba, a resurrection of the Tsadikim or “righteousness” will take place.  Christianity’s take is much the same, with added ingredients of the Anti-Christ emerging just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and his gathering in the righteous faithful during the Great Tribulation. [3] Islamist belief concurs and describes its own version of a “Christ” or the al-Mahdi who will preside over the Day of Judgement or Yawm al-Qiyāmah; to vanquish the Masih ad-Dajjall (Anti-Christ) and send the faithful into paradise.

Christian fundamentalism, along with ultra-orthodox Judaism, is in danger of comprehensively wresting control of the United States military and political processes. Christian Reconstructionism advocates a Calvinist, right-wing, capitalist belief, laden with theocratic overtones. This movement has helped to introduce the concept of “Dominionism” which demands activism within civic society but most importantly, the domination of the political process as mandated by God. it is a belief that characterises Protestant Christian Evangelicals and Right-wing Fundamentalists in the United States and is best summarised by a passage from the Bible, Genesis 1:26:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (King James Version). And further: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (New International Version).

While most of us would interpret this to mean that Christians can choose to live as benign helpers and caretakers of the animal kingdom as well as humanity, the authoritarian personality will read this to mean that they should dominate and control secular institutions in order to suitably prepare the ground for Christ’s return – getting a huge kick out of it in the process. [4]

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The Dominionist’s Version of Peace on Earth

While Dominionists all believe that straying from the literal word of the Bible has meant the rise of immorality and sin best expressed by liberalism of any kind, the real threat within dominionism comes from the hardliners and Social Dominators (psychopaths) who see theocracy as the only way forward. And that means authoritarianism leading to totalitarianism under the name of God which just about characterises every genocide, atrocity and military conquest of the last two thousand years. But because authoritarians have no capacity to understand the relevance of history these basic flaws in their theocratic wet dreams are quickly brushed under the carpet of the sub-conscious. What remains is the constant anticipation of a black and white, dangerously simplistic framework of good and evil. Again, Bush’s “If you’re not with us you’re with the terrorists” drivel was particularly delicious for the Dominionists. Hence, when you read Dominionist literature one may understand why Social Dominators are immediately attracted to the concept as it resonates with their perception of reality, whether they are in the military, preaching from a pulpit or strutting around Congress: the theme of domination – to carve out their own spiritual dominion – is at the core of their actions.

Dominionism easily aligns with the beliefs of Social Darwinism (eugenics) which is why it is so useful to the Conservative Establishment. Such beliefs indicates the amount of inversion which has occurred within fundamentalist Christianity and how it veers towards the ultimate and tragic irony of being more akin to Satanism than any compassionate and inclusive doctrine. That has to be the greatest irony to beat them all, yet it is precisely this kind of deception that the Bible warns about, where the “very elect” will be deceived.

Journalist Katherine Yurica describes it in much the same way. Like the old Levitical priests of Babylon, the Dominionists assign great importance to wealth and power as a sign of God’s blessing.

She notes:

“… out of the masses of people and the multitude of nations – wealth, in and of itself, is thought to indicate God’s approval on men and nations whereas poverty and sickness reflect God’s disapproval. The roots of the idea come from a natural twist of an Old Testament passage, … Essentially there were two elements necessary to establish Dominionism among Christians who previously believed helping the poor was a mandate of Christianity.

First, Old Testament law had to be accepted as an essential part of a Christian’s theology.

Secondly, the Christian had to undergo a second conversion-like experience that went beyond being born again and demanded not only a commitment to reestablishing the Old Testament legal structure but required the implementation of that law in the nations of the world (including the U.S.) based upon a different understanding of the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20).[50] Under this concept Dominionists are to go into all the world to take dominion and ‘make disciples’ teaching the disciples to ‘observe all’ that Jesus ‘commanded.’ All nations under Dominionist’s teaching are to convert to biblical laws, which are ranked superior to secular laws that were not God given or God directed and are found wanting. The Christian therefore must be willing to overthrow all laws that are secular. In other words, a measure of one’s spirituality rested upon the individual’s willingness to accept the concept of taking dominion over not only the people of America, but taking dominion over the people of the entire world.” [5]

And this leads to yet another reprise for Pathocracy where the religious “elect” preside over mere mortals inadequate to the task of transposing God’s Kingdom on earth. As Yurica reminds us: “A Christian who raises his voice against the ‘elect’ could be labeled a ‘false prophet or a dreamer of dreams,’ and therefore, according to the Deuteronomic law ‘shall be put to death.’ ”

This belief in a sort of Divine blessing to wipe out undesirables is the stuff of authoritarian ecstasy and the basis upon which many serious abuses of power are now taking place in the United States. And if you happen to be in the US military then be prepared to be inaugurated into a New Christian Crusade against America’s enemies, which of course, means all Muslims, which are all te’rusts and heathens, so too anyone who claims otherwise …

Former Air Force Judge Advocate General Mikey Weinstein believes there is a Fundamentalist Christian tsunami sweeping through the US military.  He is the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organisation set up to offer support for victims of fundamentalist Christians within the military, seeking to defend against their influence in the Federal Courts and the news media. According to Weinstein, there are four main types of fundamentalist Christians currently making a bad situation much worse:

“The first is virulent anti-Semitism and virulent Islamaphobia. Then you’ve got virulent misogyny, the belief that women should be consigned to preparing food, selecting food, serving food, cleaning up after a meals, spreading their legs, getting pregnant. That’s pretty much it. Then there’s this virulent homophobia. And then, last is a great desire to subordinate what they view as flawed man’s law to this pristine, weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ that they propagate.” [6]

The West’s Middle Eastern Gladio creation that is ISIS has served to stimulate the resurgence of fundamentalism still further. One such example from many jumping on the New Crusade came from U.S. Air Force Colonel Mark H. Slocum, the Commander of Seymour Johnson AFB’s 4th Fighter Wing, who, according to Weinstein, was: “… busy marshaling his officers, enlisted troops and AF civilians stationed at the North Carolina F-15 fighter base to fight the good fight … against ISIS, under the banner of his “Lord’s” heaven.” Soldiers were either none too pleased or whipped up into a bloodlust to rival ISIS itself. If you care to visit Weinstein website you will find many other examples.

In the same vain you have influential individuals like Former Lt. General Boykin who shouldn’t be let anywhere near a blunt object let alone a whole army. A passionate advocate of Dominionism, he advocated a “weaponised gospel of Jesus Christ” with a decidedly aggressive form of attack to be levelled against the non-Christian world with the Second Coming of Jesus delivering the seal of approval for such blood-letting. Such thinking is essentially a form of religious fascism and its taking the Us military by storm.

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Christian Dominionist and former Lt. General Boykin: Dominionist General Preaches: “Weaponized Gospel of Jesus Christ”  A classic Double High or just your garden variety Religious Authoritarian? (wikipedia, public domain)

James D. Parco PhD. writing for Center for Inquiry (CFI) Office of Public Inquiry Washington D.C., wrote a 2013 paper titled:  ‘For God and Country’ introducing some disturbing conclusions regarding the Christian Evangelisation of the U.S. military.

These key findings included:

  • Institutional support for fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity in the military has spread and entrenched since September 11, 2001, beginning in haste during the Bush administration and remaining unchallenged by the Obama administration.

  • Many of the military’s civilian overseers, along with many in the military’s commissioned leadership—to include flag officers, speaking on duty and in uniform—have repeatedly couched the American military’s civic and global role, and American military operations themselves, in the language of Christian religious crusades.

  • Through explicit leadership messaging, senior officers have created cultures and atmospheres of religious sectarianism in their commands and institutions, including the various service academies, even instructing subordinates to partake in actions for the express purpose of Christian evangelizing and proselytizing.

  • Officers who raise concerns about fundamentalist Christian proselytizing … when not ignored completely—have facedreassignment and other punitive actions.

  • Air Force training programs for Nuclear Missile Launch Officers featured Christian ethical justifications for the use of nuclear weapons and quotes from historical figures lauding morality guided specifically by the Bible.

  • To gauge the mental health of Soldiers, the U.S. Army developed and has relied upon a “Spiritual Fitness” evaluation system that leans heavily on theistic religious concepts, and marks as “spiritually” deficient any non-religious or religiously unorthodox Soldier who answers honestly.

  • Fundamentalist evangelical Christian organizations are given preferential access to numerous military installations, including the Pentagon and the various service academies, and have had their activities sanctioned and even promoted—in uniform and on duty—by religiously aligned military leadership.

  • Fundamentalist evangelical Christian organizations have attempted to use the deployed U.S. military as international missionaries, providing units in Afghanistan with Bibles printed in the native Pashto and Dari languages, the distribution of which is in direct violation of standing general orders.

If that doesn’t send chills down the spine I don’t know what would.  In the next post we will dig a little deeper behind the attraction to so many to Fundamentalism and why it has risen to the top of the present American brand of ponerology.

 


Notes

[1] World Religious Adherents data 2005, http://www.wikipedia.com
[2] p.328; Faith, Religion & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction By Brennan Hill, Paul F. Knitter, William Madges. Published by Twenty-Third Publications, 1997. “Catholic fundamentalists, like Protestant fundamentalists, stress the need for an absolute external authority to guid the thinking and decision making of the individual. They do so because of the sinfulness of the human person. Left to his or her own devices, the individual, they feel, will generally make bad judgements. Consequently, individual freedom must be directed by the right authority. In the case of Catholic fundamentlaism, this means literal adherance fully to past tradition, or who have difficulty assenting to every official statement of the hierarchial magisterium, are judged harshly. Such sinners, say fundamentalists, are condemned by God.”
[3] “The Great Tribulation (Greek: θλιψις μεγαλη, thlipsis megalē) refers to tumultuous events that are described during the ‘signs of the times’, first mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet discourse. The Great Tribulation is also referenced in the Book of Revelation.” (Wikipedia)
[4] For more information on Dominionism and its relationship to Christian Reconstructivism please read the excellent Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right By Sara Diamond. Published by Black Rose Books, 1993 | ISBN-10: 0921689640.

[5] ‘The Dominionism Apostasy: The Despoiling of America by Christianity turned Evil’ By Katherine Yurica, The Yurica Report, 11 Feb 2004.

[6] “The Weaponized Gospel of Jesus Christ”: Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on fascists in the US military, By Nick Holt, January 18, 2010. |http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/2010/tgr_weaponized.html

Religious Authoritarians II: The Dominators

“I’m a fundamentalist in the true sense. That is to say, I follow the fundamentals of religion … But for over 1,400 years people have been interpreting and re-interpreting the religion to suit their own purpose! … These [extremist and terrorist acts] are not Islamic fundamentals any more than the Christians who burned people at the stake are fundamentalist. They are actually deviating from the teachings of the religion.”

― Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia 1981 – 2003


At this stage you will not be surprised to learn that religious fundamentalists of various denominations sink into authoritarianism like one would a hot bath.

Fundamentalism arose out of 19th century protestant evangelism in the United Kingdom and the United States. It militantly supports the literal interpretation of the Bible as “the Word of God” – thanks in part to the presence of Billy Graham in the 1960s – seeks to evangelise or “spread the word” to as many folks as possible in order to save their souls from hell-fire. Belief in the “End times” and the Second Coming of Christ is also very much part of the vision through which, due to their adherence to Bible rules, they will achieve salvation and be saved, looking on and nodding sagely as the rest of us slowly turn on the devil’s spit for all eternity. Which is why they true believers often see the protection of the environment, human rights issues and anything remotely humane as an irritating irrelevance when they believe the end of the world is nigh. What is much more worrying is the fact that many fundamentalists see a big chunk of their Christian duty is facilitate this apocalyptic conflagration as best they can. This of course, means that the Second Coming of Christ will arrive and therefore their promised salvation.

That is analogous to camping outside a high street store all night in order to get the best sale items and when the doors open they will drop kick babies and trample over their own grandmothers to obtain what they consider to be their spiritual goodies.  The glaring irony that these beliefs are the antithesis of Christian values doesn’t seem to occur to them because unfortunately for them – and it appears, everyone else – authoritarian followers tend to lack even a modicum of self-awareness and perspicacity which makes them easy prey for any spellbinding psychopath on a mission from “heaven.”

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Presently, Christian fundamentalists permeate both the US Congress and the US military rising in numbers annually. In America, the religious right was largely responsible for supporting the likes of George W. Bush and his apparent Christian crusade and all that followed. [1] They are also to be found supporting such luminaries of compassion and sound judgement as Sarah Palin, the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; (investigated for corruption) Senate Minority Whip Mitch McConnell; Senate Republican and presidential candidate Rick Santorum; former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and not forgetting former US House of Representatives member and former House Majority leader Tom DeLay before he was removed on money laundering charges and subsequently sentenced to three years in jail.

Nothing describes quite as well the spiritual and social exploitation at which the fundamentalist mind-set seems to excel and has turned the freedom and liberty of the US into the “American Psycho” we are familiar with today. According to Bob Altemeyer’s survey results based on key questions, fundamentalists and evangelicals are essentially cut from the same rag: “… most evangelicals are fundamentalists according to our measure, and most Christian fundamentalists are evangelicals. Whether you are talking about Evangelicals or talking about Christian Fundamentalists, you are largely talking about the same people.” [2]  And the highest scores on the authoritarian scale repeatedly come from Conservative, Protestant, Christian Fundamentalists.

Indeed, everything mentioned about Right-Wing authoritarian personalities can be applied to Christian Fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism first or authoritarianism?

Chicken and Egg?

Altemeyer explains:

The evidence indicates authoritarianism is more basic. The RWA scale correlates better than the Religious Fundamentalism scale does with acceptance of government injustices, hostility toward homosexuals, willingness to persecute whomever the government targets, and most other things. …. So the problem’s not so much that some people are fundamentalists, but that fundamentalists so definitely tend to be authoritarian followers. But as I just said, religious fundamentalism does promote authoritarianism in some ways. And you can certainly see the influence of right-wing authoritarianism in many things that religious fundamentalists do. [3]

In Altemeyer’s surveys and scales Christian Fundies show what amounts to religious brain-washing when young and a constant religious presence in their lives. By emphasising this affiliation and distinction in religious terms:

“… you instantly create the category of people who are not that, who are different. You’re laying down an in-group versus out-group distinction. Even if you never say a nasty word about other religions, the enormous human tendency to think in ethnocentric terms will create a preference for ‘people like me.’” This plants the seeds of prejudice and bigotry with the fundies employing self-righteous indignation when called on it. However, “…fundamentalists still hold more racial prejudices than most people – a fact known to social scientists for over fifty years.” [4]

Interestingly, the professor also found a high sprinkling of authoritarian types attracted to feminism which should come as no surprise after our brief foray into that realm and the high incidence of narcissism within the movement itself.  The instances of authoritarianism was still far lower than religiously inclined RWAs however, who regularly and persistently trounce all other authoritarianism categories for sheer aggression, zealotry and dogmatism. [5]

Tom-DeLay

The Disgraced (but God-fearing) Tom DeLay who was brought up on corruption charges whilst an avowed authoritarian Christian

As with the basic authoritarian mind, fundies are not noted for their intellectual prowess.

Altemeyer’s research confirms the findings from Mark Noll, an evangelical history professor at Wheaton College, who wrote The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, where he states in a somewhat exasperated tone: “In the United States … it is simply impossible to be, with integrity, both evangelical and intellectual.” And further: “Modern American evangelicals have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life.” [6] This is best represented by the refusal to question belief and the rejection of evolution – despite its fundamental flaws – in favour of creationism or “intelligent design” with periodically successful attempts to place the teaching and Bible dogma in the school curricula in America. This equates to “selective ignorance” and is always present when spending vast amounts of energy shoring up fear-based beliefs and the accompanying inability to think critically about anything.

When the mind is compartmentalised is very difficult to follow open-minded and creative discussions because for the RWA fundamentalist, everything must be obsessively scanned for psychological “malware” and suitably virus-checked for information that doesn’t conform to the already prescribed categories that rigidly define his mind. As Altemeyer observes: “They’re not really interested in coming to grips with what’s actually in the Bible so much as mounting a defence of what they want to believe about the Bible – come Hell or Noah’s high water.” [7]

Many fundies haven’t even read the good book like many of us heathens:

“Since fundamentalists insist the Bible is the revealed word of God and without error, you would think they’d have read it. But you’d often be wrong. I gave a listing of the sixty-six books in the King James Bible to a large sample of parents and asked them, ‘How many of these have you read, from beginning to end? (Example, if you have read parts of the Book of Genesis, but not all of it that does not count.) Nineteen per cent of the Christian High fundamentalists said they had never read any of the books from beginning to end …” [8]

Considering their wish to be seen as following God and Jesus while feeling obliged to expend enormous amount of time and energy proselytizing (its larger reflection present in the 21st century crusades gripping much of the Middle East) it is more than disturbing that even the Bible itself becomes irrelevant to the maintenance of belief.

To compensate for what might be misconstrued by the rest of us as abject hypocrisy, double standards and aggressive, vindictive behaviour, a flicker of guilt may surface in moments of weakness and it is this that constitutes a conscience for an RWA fundie. This would be put down to Satan’s influence (which is anything that sits outside the demarcation line of Fundamentalist belief) and suitably purged from awareness by asking God for forgiveness. This is drawn from the related get-out clause of the Roman Catholic ritual of having your sins absolved by the local priest and confession box, always on hand with three “Hail Mary’s” to relinquish all and every responsibility for your actions.

The late Jerry Falwell

The late TV Evangelist Jerry Falwell not one to mince his words in condemning virtually anyone who isn’t like him.

Yet while doing their level best to make the rest of us miserable, fundamentalists claim exquisite joy and contentment from having a “personal relationship” with God and his only son Jesus as their saviour who bestows an exclusive love upon them as a result of their diligent efforts to keep Satan at bay. Provided they continue to do so, they will be offered a place in heaven brimming over with eternal happiness. Which begs the question why it is that their own children leave this particular belief system in droves?

Perhaps because the only thing that Fundamentalism ultimately creates is chaos under cover of short-term gain.

Fundamentalist thinking is both ontologically and epistemologically absolutist and therefore bereft of any real imagination. An inability to be creative and open to other alternative modalities is a defining quality. Openness, curiosity and a non-judgmental attitude about life are components of creativity. The act of imagination must also relate to empathy and tolerance, neither of which authoritarian fundamentalists possess in any great measure. Those who embrace narcissistic and psychopathological attributes for domination naturally repulse those who do not. The latter demographic often suffers a breakdown due to their core nature being forced to embody what is essentially alien behaviour and against the individual’s conscience. What started off as an escape from trauma and life’s hardships rapidly becomes crystallized into negative traits seen as not only normal but superior.

Finally, from authoritarian followers, (High and Low types) and authoritarian Fundamentalists, we come to “social dominators”. These are the individuals who repeatedly attain high scores on all of the authoritarian scales with a clear penchant for power. Reading through Altemeyer’s research data it is clear that at minimum, he is talking about pathological narcissists reaching up toward psychopathy..

Social dominators (SDs) are inclined to be:

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Media mogul and Evangelist Pat Robertson whose Christian values regularly include pouring scorn on all and everyone who thinks differently to him (and God).

…. intimidating, ruthless, and vengeful. They scorn such noble acts as helping others, and being kind, charitable, and forgiving. Instead they would rather be feared than loved, and be viewed as mean, pitiless, and vengeful. They love power, including the power to hurt in their drive to the top. Authoritarian followers do not feel this way because they seldom have such a drive to start with. But social dominators do not. Oh sure, they want their followers to be super loyal to the group they lead. But they themselves are not really in it so much for the group or its cause, but more for themselves. It’s all about them, not about a higher purpose. If trouble arises, don’t be surprised if they start playing “Every man for himself” and even sell out the group to save their own skin. [9]

Social dominators are your average wannabe-dictators in waiting. Unlike authoritarian fundies for whom empathy is residual at best, the social dominator’s empathy levels are non-existent, where manipulation, deceit, prejudice, hostility, one-upmanship and the “thrill of the chase” are all normal modes of behaviour. They revel in the law of the jungle and enthusiastically embrace it. Anything goes with the SD if it gets them to where they want to be, which is usually in positions of power. Indeed, for the SD – power is the overriding goal.

The real fireworks start when authoritarian followers, leaders, social dominators and what Altemeyer calls “Double Highs” (DHs) – a combination of high authoritarian personality types and social dominator psychological traits – meet for a barn-dance and begin to formulate plans for a New World Order of their own. These are broad personality types which typically make up the ponerological categories of “humanoids” such as narcissists (and its sub-variants) psychopaths (asthenic, skirtoidal) and characteropaths.

Many variants exist between low-scoring RWA, high-scoring RWA and SD types. For example, the professor found that: “persons who scored highly on the social dominance test were seldom High RWAs, and High RWAs were almost never social dominators.” DHs accrue the high scores for prejudice and domination from the SD and high RWAs and plummet to new depths. As the tests investigated both scales of submissive and dominating tendencies regarding authority one may question how could the DHs score highly on both?

The professor accounts for this seeming contradiction in this way:

Simply put, they are “religious” social dominators. They usually had much more religious upbringings than social dominators typically had, or they may have “got religion” as adults. As a group their fervor does not quite reach the levels found among ordinary right-wing authoritarians. But they go to church much more than most people in my samples do. Ditto for being religious fundamentalists. Ditto for being religiously ethnocentric. They thus respond to the religious content on the RWA scale, which ordinary social dominators do not, and that helps make them Double Highs. But how are they going to answer the Exploitive-MAD scale? It would seem difficult for a religious person who goes to church fairly regularly to rack up a high score on this measure, wouldn’t it? Indeed, ordinary high RWAs score rather low on this test. But not the Double Highs, who score way way up there when it comes to exploitation, manipulation, and so on. […]  They’ve usually combined the worst aspects of being a social dominator with the worst aspects of being a high RWA. Thus we saw that when it comes to prejudice, they pack an extra load of hostility toward their many targets. And they’re just as power hungry as the rest of the social dominators are, rather than being uninterested in personal power as ordinary RWAs are. But when they land in between ordinary dominators and ordinary high RWAs, they usually land closer to the worse outcome. [10]

What Bob Altemeyer found towards the conclusion of his studies is that the DH’s during George Bush’s reign scored highly in the US legislator of the 1990s. The statistical probability and consequent actions have since confirmed that DHs, using an authoritarian religious platform, have taken over not only the legislator, but the Republican party, the US military. and to a lesser extent the Democrats.

In what he calls the “Global Change Game” where students were set geo-political problems to solve, unmitigated nuclear disaster was the inevitable result when DHs were given the reins of power. What this means in the real world is that an American theocracy is in danger of becoming a reality a scenario that these simulations predicted with alarming accuracy based on detailed psychological tests over thirty years. What is more, the professor found that overtly “Nazi” sentiments, while laughed at in the 1990s by most people, are embraced by authoritarian personalities, though under cover of more modern ideological labels and rationalisations.

“The End justifies the means” is the maxim that becomes more and more applicable to today’s International politics dominated by the authoritarian-religious mind-set. If Altemeyer is right when he concludes that: “… the vast majority of us have had practically no training in our lifetimes in openly defying authority,” [11] it merely confirms Andrew Lobaczewski’s studies and explains why so many of us are continually duped by psychopaths in power.

It paints a bleak picture when covert or overt authoritarianism begins to increasingly interfere in our lives, not for reasons of belief, but at its primal core, for reasons of psychological domination by a minority. That is the hardest one to swallow for most people, yet it remains the most viable conclusion. As the great anarchist pioneer Peter Kropotkin stated quite simply: “Where there is authority, there is no freedom.” Mix that with religion and allow it to simmer and you have a recipe for doors wide open for immovable totalitarianism, as much of history has shown us.

Authoritarianism is the channel by which a gradual decay to take place on the inside of institutions and governments while the outside appears structurally sound, where original values and ethics appear to operate. It is the personality framework by which a slow but sure process of ponerogenesis can be allowed to come to fruition. Keeping in mind the propensity for authoritarian followers’ submission to leaders, whatever their pathological make-up, as well as the blindness to social dominators’ preference for amoral activities, what does this mean for the inner workings of the American government and its federal agencies? How is this religious fundamentalism reflected in foreign policy?

We’ll try to answer that question in the next post.

 


Notes

[1] ‘Fundamentalist bigotry reigns at US Air Force Academy’ By Patrick Martin, World Socialist Website http://www.wsws.org, 30 April 2005.
[2] Ibid. (p.76)
[3] Ibid. (p.34)
[4] op. cit. Altemeyer (p.111)
[5] Ibid. (p.112)
[6] The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Knoll, Published by B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., pages ix, 3.1994.Ibid.
[7] op. cit. Altemeyer (p.112)
[8] op. cit. Altemeyer (p.136)
[9] Ibid.   (pp.165-166)
[10] Ibid. (p.161)
[11] Ibid. (pp.179-180)