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Dear Zell “Christocrat” Miller: Be Careful What You Wish For

(As posted on dailykos.com)

In his latest move to garner support from the Religious Right, Newt Gingrich announced his selection of former Senator Zell Miller as co-chair of his presidential campaign this past week. In response, Sarah Posner wrote an article for Religion Dispatches about Miller titled, “Christocrat Competition.” Posner quoted Miller as advocating the unification of church and state and expressing admiration for other self-designated “Christocrats.”

Dear Zell, I hope you and other Evangelicals realize that if the wall of separation between church and state is eliminated, it will not be your kind of “Christian” America which prevails. 

First, Zell, please consider why there was no Christian Right electorate before the 1980s and why every major denomination, including Baptists, strongly favored the separation of church and state. 

When America emerged from World War II as the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever known, what we now call the “corporatocracy” developed into neoconservatism in the 1960s and 1970s. The neoconservatives then, and the Republicans now, have the same motivation as the moguls who ran monopolies in the late 19th century, fought FDR’s New Deal, continued trading with the Third Reich throughout the Second World War and directed the Cold War CIA and US military to protect their multi-national corporations as the first priority of US foreign policy. The behind-the-scenes titans financing the GOP aren’t patriots but rather men whose wealth is global. 

What distinguished the neocons was a calculated decision to use religion as the means by which a sufficient number of voters could be persuaded to accept economic slavery as a trade-off for living in country where their moral worldview will prevail.

Religion has been a tool to mold a compliant populace for at least as long as recorded history. Pharaohs and caesars claimed to be gods. Religious wars were fought in Europe for 150 years  against the alliance of clergy and aristocracy.  Napoleon finally gave up and accepted that he was better off with the Catholic Church as a friend than as a foe.  Even Vladimir Putin wants the Russian Orthodox Church as “his state’s main ideological arm and a vital foreign policy instrument.”

Moreover, neocon money “donated” to religious leaders provides a valuable bang-for-the-buck. Contributions are tax deductible; money spent promoting “issues” is tax exempt. US religious organizations are free of financial reporting requirements and Federal Election Commission regulation. 

To make what Dick Cheney called the “50 percent plus one” necessary to win national elections, the neoconservatives had to have Protestant and Catholic voters united under a common ideology known as Christian Nationalism. While dogma and doctrine are inconsequential to the “masters of the universe,” the Catholic Church’s worldwide clandestine financial system and global diplomatic network makes it the preferred religion not to mention its centuries of experience of union with civil governments. Since the creation of the Vatican as an independent country in 1929, rightwing factions or governments  willing to protect the Church’s interests had access to its resources. The US intelligence/military/industrial establishment had already forged close ties with the Vatican in defeating the “Reds” in postwar Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia. 

For the neocons, a successful twentieth-century model of how to establish “Christian nationalism” already existed. The Spanish journal, Tempo, outlined the steps taken by Fr. Josemaria Escriva and his fellow oligarchs to achieve a “national Catholicism” in Spain, a unity of church and state controlled by Opus Dei, a transnational group of wealthy Catholic laymen and a small number of clergy. The pattern should be familiar to most Americans:

  • Escriva blamed liberals for the growing secularization of Spain, which he portrayed as damaging to the morals of the nation.
  • Following the Spanish Civil War, Opus Dei university professors controlled newly created research institutes, such as the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).
  • Escriva founded Ediciones Rialp, a publishing house. Escrivá placed special emphasis on Opus Dei’s journalistic endeavors. “We must wrap the world in printed paper,” he wrote.
  • Members of Opus Dei were appointed to the cultural arm of the Franco administration, starting with the Ministry of Propaganda.
  • During the 1950s and 1960s, Franco entrusted Opus Dei members with reversing the faltering Spanish economy. They discarded the model of national self-sufficiency in favor of an economy dependent on international financial interests.
  • Opus Dei created its own primary and secondary schools as well as universities, separate from the state-funded educational system.  

The method of funding the neoconservative propaganda machine was the brainchild of Nixon’s former treasury secretary, member of the Knights of Malta (another international group of Catholic laymen) and supporter of Opus Dei, William Simon. In 1976, Simon was appointed head of the John M. Olin Foundation (chemicals and munitions). Along with the Sarah Scaife, Smith Richardson and J.M. foundations, the Olin Foundation established “clearinghouses” for corporate donations.

[The] plan was straightforward and simple. Wealthy conservatives would support foundations that would in turn cultivate conservative voices in universities, in the media and of course, in religious politics. The goal was to change not only the message, but the entire political landscape by disguising the message to make it appear more centrist than it actually is. A unified message on any given subject would descend intact from the think tank, complete with talking points, directly to the pundit whose job is to get that message into the daily discourse and finally to the political candidate who campaigns on it as an issue. Repetition and unity has become the hallmark of their success even if the facts are incorrect. 

Brewery magnate, Joseph Coors, introduced former congressional aide and early neocon mastermind, Paul Weyrich, to the alliances of international business interests and ardent anti-communists. Together, they founded the Heritage Foundation, still the flagship of rightwing think tanks.

The first Evangelical political organization, Christian Voice, was founded in 1978 nominally by Robert Grant. It was an “issues” advocacy group supported by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification network and operated out of the Heritage Foundation headquarters.  In a 1979 news conference, the disillusioned Grant claimed the organization was a “sham…controlled by three Catholics and a Jew” – Paul Weyrich, Terry Dolan, Richard Viguerie and Howard Phillips who had converted to Evangelical Christianity. The four abandoned Christian Voice and approached televangelist Jerry Falwell to establish the Moral Majority.  It was Weyrich who coined the phrase “Moral Majority” and hand-picked Falwell. Falwell announced the goal of his new group: “To defend the free enterprise system, the family, Bible morality, fundamental values.”

In his insightful and valuable book on the formation of the Religious Right, The Theocons: Secular America under Siege, Damon Linker concluded that while Evangelicals played an important role, the vocabulary and construction of the movement derived from the ancien regime model of the Catholic Church as guardian and defender of the authority of the state. 

Dear Zell, if you still think that Protestant pastors and ministers are going to be guiding your American theocracy, you should also consider the following: 

Yes, the DeVos/Amway money and the Koch brothers support the American Christian right, but Peter Sutherland, former chairman of BP Oil, chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the Trilateral Commission, a member of the Bilderberg Group’s steering committee, vice chairman of the European Round Table of Industrialists and adviser to at least one of Opus Dei’s worldwide business management schools, is a financial adviser to the Vatican.  Thomas Donohue,  president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce was speaker at an “annual summit” of Legatus, another group of international Catholic business executives. The Chamber was given carte blanche for political contributions with no disclosure by the conservative Catholic judges on the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. FEC) and the Chamber solicits foreign funding. 

Erik Prince, founder of the private military corporation Blackwater, is Betsy DeVos’ brother.  However – while assuming that the following men are perfectly sincere in their religious beliefs and their love of country – it still bears noting that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Vice Admiral William McRaven and others in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) (the elite force which killed Osama bin Laden) are members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei. They follow in the footsteps of other top intelligence and military officers who were also Knights of Malta, including four-star Army Gen. Alexander Haig, Nixon’s chief of staff, and several CIA directors including William Casey. 

Forbes Magazine, providing “Information for the World’s Business Leaders,” named Pope Benedict XVI fifth on their newest list of the World’s Most Powerful People, ahead of Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, and David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom. No Protestant leaders of any denomination were named and the Koch brothers were near the bottom at numbers 54 and 55. The pope is presently securing even more power by firing the head of the Church’s worldwide charity, Caritas, and making sure all aid is under the direct control of his board of directors, the bishops. He has stated that the primary purpose of Church-controlled largesse is to proselytize; secondarily to help the unfortunate. 

Dear Zell, what do you think the editors of Forbes know that you don’t?

Rarely is there even a hint as to how much money is controlled by the bishops and/or the Vatican. Last week, supporters of a Philippine reproductive health bill which would make contraception available and denounced by the bishops, “challenged the Catholic Church to release to the poor” some of the $381 million in stocks owned by just the Archdiocese of Manila.  “If the [Roman Catholic Church] truly cares for life, why isn’t it at the forefront of fighting infant and neonatal mortality? Why isn’t it taking care of children of parents who are so poor that their children’s education, health and well-being are sacrificed? What is the Roman Catholic Church doing with its billions? Why does it continue to ask for donations from the poor? Isn’t this selfish?’’ asked Elizabeth Angsioco, national chairwoman of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines.

That $381 million is just stocks owned by only one Philippine diocese and does not include all the assets owned by the Church in the entire country whose GDP is only 2% of the US GDP.  In addition to the bishops, there are hundreds of religious orders of priests, brothers and nuns with their own investment portfolios. Also obedient to the pope are lay associations like the American Knights of Columbus (not to be confused with the ancient Knights of Malta whose membership was restricted to European nobility until American moguls became rich enough) which, as of 2007, claimed assets of over $14 billion.

Does it not boggle the mind to think what all the Catholic Church assets must be in this country, or in Italy where the Church is entrenched in all finance, industry and real estate, or the rest of Western Europe and around the world?

Finally,  dear Zell, don’t think that Newt’s recent conversion to Catholicism gives him any more access to all this power and money than any other candidate. Funding flows to whichever candidate has the best chance of preserving and strengthening the corporatocracy’s stranglehold on US banking and production.

 If there ever is an American theocracy, Zell, it will not be the one you envision

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6 Responses

  1. I think it’s important to stress that Pope Benedict would never have escalated the back to the future campaign he now has Roman Catholicism on if he didn’t know for a fact he didn’t have to worry about a financial back lash.

    I feel like weeping every time I read a comment which implies laity refusing to donate will have any effect on Vatican policy. All it will do is effect local diocesan and parish social programs. It doesn’t seem to me that too many Catholics of any persuasion really want to look at how things really operate, much less why’s behind the operation.

    • Thanks, Colleen. You are so right. The laity refusing to donate has zero effect. Even the social programs are relatively unaffected since most of the money to Catholic Charities comes from the gov’t and grants. The bishops’ money is spent on vocations and training for priests, anti-abortion and anti-gay “apostolates”, and for “building up” the Church. Even what is designated as “charity” goes first to maintaining and improving the Church’s infrastructure.

      • Betty, I wonder how much of the money dumped into anti abortion and gay politics are mostly because single individual donors give them the money to engage in those ‘apostolates’ as part of the over all strategy of duping people into accepting economic slavery in exchange for unenforceable moral laws.

        • There’s no way of knowing. But most US bishops are only too happy to pay for “pro-life” and “pro-family” politics. It keeps their donors happy and keeps the people who are left in the pews engaged with “authentic” Catholic activities. When I used to be actively engaged in parish activities the orthodox would flock to these sorts of things so they could assuage their consciences about doing “church work” without having to bother helping the needy.

  2. Christ is Risen!

    I am writing you to thank you for all articles/posts that you have written over the years, as well as your book! I literally just became aware of them. I bought your book at a Half-Price bookstore and it was like finding gold! I have deeply enjoyed reading your book and long history of articles/posts. In fact I am still working through them all, but it’s a real joy to do so. Thank you so much… You are amazing!

    your friend,
    D.L. Jones

    P.S. If you have a private email that you wish to share with me please do so. I would love to chat with you some more privately…

  3. [...] go the bishops, so goes the Religious Right. If you doubt that the Catholic Church has been directing the quest for “Christian nationalism,” then think how many times you’ve heard non-Catholic [...]

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