The things I remember about The John Birch Society, founded in 1958 by a candy entrepreneur, Robert Welch, who, in 1961, said the government of the United States was “50-70 percent” Communist-controlled and Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Welch would not reveal his source nor the number of members of the JBS. 

McCarthyism raised its ugly head roughly from 1947 to 1956. It means “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.” It originated in the period in the United States, known as the Second Red Scare. It was characterized by heightened political repression and fear of Communist influence on American politics and of espionage by Soviet agents. The leader was  U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. 

I remember The Southern Strategy was a Republican Party plan to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans. In the 1950s the dismantling of Jim Crow laws existed as part of the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s Republican Richard Nixon exploited the racial tensions in much of the Southern U.S. and developed strategies to realign white, conservative Democratic voters in the South to the Republican Party. Republican leaders consciously appealed to white southerners' racial resentments in order to gain their support.

In 1965, The Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Its purpose was to challenge legal barriers at the state and local levels preventing African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (1870). 

1980 the Year of the Evangelical Right,  “The Christian Right,”  the “Religious Right.”  It was a pivot in modern evangelical politics, with the “electronic church” relabelled “televangelism” with Jerry Falwell, of the Moral Majority and television mogul Pat Robertson, 

All three candidates in 1980—Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter, Republican challenger Ronald Reagan, and independent Republican John Anderson—described themselves as born-again Christians. Joining them were Catholics, Mormons, and some Jewish allies.

During the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan and the evangelical conservatives engaged in a very public courting ritual.

Convention delegates approved the GOP’s most socially conservative platform ever, with an anti-abortion and anti-Equal Rights Amendment stance. On social issues, “It’s right down the line an evangelical platform.” 

Reagan won in a landslide.

Reagan, in his acceptance speech, said, “Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?” Reagan intensified his courtship of the evangelical right. 

Republican President Reagan invited conservative, anti-communist, racist, fundamentalist Christians into the GOP.

“Thus did a Libertarian small government GOP become an authoritarian Big government GOP.

“The Party’s wealthy Libertarian Establishment now had a large pool of not-very-smart voters they could manipulate and exploit.”

~ Tom Sarbeck 

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That's as apt a summation of the history as I've seen. 

I might tend to speculate as to how fucked we are as a result, but I wouldn't want to be accused of committing a random act of pessimism.

For variety, Bert, try random acts of optimism.

The Republicans may be clever by attending to the lowest common denominator and appealing to faith-based power; however, the Progressives have reality firmly in view, we recognize the consequences of unlimited growth, both in population and in polluting the water, air, and soils. The power of our appeal is evidence-based. Mother Nature will be the judge of what she sees and will respond to what humans do.  

I remember a lot of that, too, Joan, though too much of it in retrospect, as I did way too much sleep-walking through the 60s and 70s.  Reagan's rapprochement with the Religious Reich though has been vivid in my mind from its onset, and I wonder if that one spark kicked off my rather circuitous journey into what finally became atheism.

The more I look at it, the more Christian influence and resulting privilege is the elephant (apt animal!) in the room which has yet to be properly dealt with.  So many people are so married to their faith and its ubiquity that I have to wonder what it will take for them to recognize the harm it has done and is doing to what is supposed to be a secular government.  Certainly, Americans United and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have addressed many of these problems and are continuing to do so, but more is needed.  At the risk of bringing up a badly cliched phrase, the US needs some very focused and intense Consciousness Raising on the pervasive and pernicious nature of religion in our society and how it is harming both the government and the people.

Until and unless that is addressed (and possibly even if it IS addressed), the struggle against this malignant social disorder will continue.




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