I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve always loved Church, the Scriptures, hymns, a faith family, and my identity in Christian ministry. It’s why I eventually converted to Catholicism and came into full communion with Rome as a former Anglican seven years ago. I started out in traditionalist circles and realized that my family cannot spiritually survive there although the music and liturgy are beautiful in Anglo-Catholic settings like the Ordinariate.
Believe it or not, after everything that has happened through Trumpism, almost losing a child to the threats of fascism, how other Christians can purge and treat families with LGBTQ+ children, including attempts to harm them, and attempts to coercively prevent others from obtaining a life-saving vaccine, I have actually struggled with agnosticism. Someone like me who has spent a lifetime in the Church and Christian ministry has actually struggled with agnosticism because of so many traumatic events which have occurred over the last five years. The combination of the above has been so spiritually traumatizing that I almost haven’t survived it. But I’m not the only one. According to an article today from the Washinton Post, Millions of Christians have left the Church. The Great Dechurching looks at why people are leaving churches – The Washington Post In an article from Microsoft Start, “In America, Christianity Is Primarily Driven by Profit” — Pope Criticizes American Catholics for Transforming Faith into a Profit-Driven Venture and Ideological Spectacle (msn.com) When a great deal of predominately white American Christianity is used for profit to usher in fascism rather than serving the poor and the vulnerable, it’s going to have catastrophic consequences. Of course there are exceptions through Catholic Charities and many others, but an overwhelming drive to make American Christianity about profit and life-threatening politicized control doesn’t fair well for the witness of the faith.
Some people may not understand why this grieving process has been so difficult for people like me. I will put it this way. When someone’s entire identity, life, ministry, and service are rooted in Christ and His Church, and then something gravely evil manifests within the Church which is supposed to be Christ’s bride, it’s not only upsetting, it’s soul-shaking. When we also take into account many lost relationships and knowing this evil has always laid incognito rooted in racism and bigotry within predominately Anglo-American Churches for decades, it’s almost too much to bear.
What really awakened me was moving to an urban Catholic Cathedral during COVID where most of the laity and clergy are Hispanic and Democrats. When I discovered that this predominantly Hispanic congregation, the laity, and most of the clergy voted for Joe Biden and why, I nearly collapsed. Most of them voted for Joe Biden because they saw the threat of fascism rising through the immigration crisis. One cannot tell me that a steadily declining abortion rate over five decades is more evil than increasing fascism. Then when we add the abortion rate plummeting under Democratic presidents and increasing under Trump, the anger and betrayal I felt was indescribable. As an Anglo-Christian, I was told all of my life that being a Democrat is evil, that voting Democrat is a mortal sin, and that I would be participating in abortions if I voted Democrat. Not only is this not true, it has been an abuse tactic to obtain votes and usher in fascism. Yet most of our Hispanic Catholic clergy is Democrat, the holiest and most humble men I have ever known.
One major way I see spiritually surviving the above is making progressive theological and political shifts. It’s why I joined the social justice wing of the Catholic Church which is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. Fascism happened during World War II, and it’s happening again right now. New supportive friends of all types, an amazing and supportive husband, safe spaces like the downtown Cathedral, and an app called Hallow have recently transformed my spiritual life through all of this trauma. Hallow – The #1 Catholic Meditation, Prayer & Sleep App I strongly suggest it for those who are struggling with current events and their faith like me.
I’m going to list the traits of fascism again as I have many times now.
Once a political power turns to genocide, which is exactly what they are doing right now to trans children, implementing policies which increase gun violence, attempting to plant deadly traps in the Rio Grande River, and trying to implement the death penalty to mothers who seek abortions in certain states, we have stepped into the beginning stages of fascism. I believe that the current legislative actions of some far-right Republican politicians (not all) are now falling in fuller alignment with fascism, especially in Texas, Ohio, and Florida. According to Encyclopedia Britannica and The Washington Monthly, I list the primary traits of fascism once again, but this time I am expanding them further. I believe we moving closer to a variation of the Holocaust, into a fuller manifestation, with each passing day, at least in Texas.
1. Sources and capitalizes on economic woes and anxieties–Currently in Texas, instead of expanding programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and other programs which help people who are destitute, the state of Texas is squeezing and reducing these types of programs. According to the Texas Tribune, Greg Abbott is redirecting funds from Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border, leaving those in great need with less access to social services. Greg Abbott redirects $500 million from other agencies for border mission | The Texas Tribune
2. Shifts political blame on to scapegoat groups like minority groups, the Democrats,
immigrants, and other groups while taking away blame from where it belongs, on the leadership–The treatment of migrants at our Texas border is downright criminal. President Biden had to end razors on buoys in the Rio Grande recently by suing our governor, Governor Abbott. Biden administration sues Texas governor over Rio Grande buoy barrier that’s meant to stop migrants – ABC News
3. Propagates extreme nationalism going hand-in-hand with racism and militarism–The United Nations is even concerned and published an article about it.—-Victims mount as extreme nationalism fuels racism | OHCHR
4. A melding of church and state when there should be a separation–According the Texas Tribune, opponents of church-state separation have been emboldened by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the growing acceptance of Christian nationalism on the right. Conservative Christians push Texas Legislature on church-state separation | The Texas Tribune
5. Subjugation of women and sexism–The Austin-American Statemen wrote an article a year ago stating that Texas has always been tough on women, and now it’s worse. Commentary: Texas has always been tough on women. It’s worse now. (statesman.com)
6. A disdain for human rights except those of the elite, especially a disdain for those who identify as LGBTQIA+–The number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills which strip away basic human rights are skyrocketing in the United States and have over the last two years. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gives further details. Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org)
7. Obsession with crime and punishment–You can review the statistics of crime and arrests in Texas here through the Texas Department of Public Safety. Crime Records Reports and Statistical Information | Department of Public Safety (texas.gov)
8. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause for political action–According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the list of enemies in the Republican Party rises. Opinion | Republicans’ list of enemies keeps growing – The Washington Post
9. Disdain for intellectualism, science, history, and the arts–According the Texas Tribune, book banning is at an all-time high. Texas has banned more books than any other state | The Texas Tribune
10. Control of different types of media, including books–see #9
11. Rampant cronyism and government corruption–According to an article from the Texas Observer in 2021, Texas politicians face very little to no accountability for their actions. In Texas, Corrupt Politicians Face Little Accountability (texasobserver.org)
12. Attempt to control elections, like through voter suppression–Last, the Brennan Center for Justice gives account for the multiple attempts Texas Republican politicians make to suppress voter rights, particularly those who are of minority groups. Texas’s Voter Suppression Law Is On Trial | Brennan Center for Justice
After reviewing these articles, I don’t think we are in the outer rim of a fascist state anymore. We are closer to a variation of the Holocaust.
How does someone’s faith survive this? I believe the gates of hell will not prevail over Christ and His Church. But the hell isn’t coming from the libs, the poor, and the marginalized. It’s coming from the Religious elite, the Pharisaical types who Jesus admonished. I just need to remain in safe spaces so my own faith and my family’s faith will survive and flourish. Finding a safe community, new friends of all types, the support of my husband, and the Hallow app are spiritual life-lines. When spirituality is about abusive compliance and not forming a real conscience as the Church teaches, the consequences above are inevitable.