Texas Takeovers to Criminalized Christianity: When Facts No Longer Matter

Texas Takeovers to Criminalized Christianity: When Facts No Longer Matter May 4, 2015

7847131046_a45d5a8ecd_zI had to check my calendar to make sure I wasn’t a month off when I read the headline on NPR’s website that read: “Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover.” Surely it has to be April Fool’s Day all over again.

But it’s real.

As is common practice, the federal government has deployed joint teams of Navy SEALs and Green Berets in several locations around the country – Texas included – for routine training exercises. However this time, according to some living in my beloved state of origin, it’s a secret government plot to disassemble state government and impose martial law.

Why, you ask? Because, as it’s explained in the article, it’s believed that there are ISIS terrorist cells located just over the state border in Mexico preparing to launch choreographed attacks on “soft targets” around the state to foment instability. Thus the only reason the federal forces must be there, then, is to use this as an opportune time to plot some sort of reverse-coup and dismember the government in what is historically known as a fiercely independent state.

Now, to the average reader, this seems absurd. But let’s go a little further down this rabbit hole to see how far it goes. According to an unnamed Texas Ranger (the statewide law enforcement body, not the baseball team) referenced in the article, the plot goes far deeper and has been planned for some time. According to him, there are a number of shuttered Wal Mart buildings around the state, and rather than being closed for remodeling, as claimed by the company, they’ve actually been outfitted as prison/processing stations by the federal government.

And how will said political prisoners get there, you ask? According to him, there are plenty of trains already converted for prisoner transport, complete with shackles. Sounds a little bit like Amtrak already, but I digress… So how does this kind of mentality take hold of a state of nearly 30 million, at least to the point that the Governor himself would take official action?

One word: fear. Actually two words: fear and ignorance (ignore the “and,” because conjunctions don’t count).

Though it comes off as cartoonish and ridiculous to the typical onlooker, it is, in fact, a powerful tool. And using fear based on a broadly shared perception – regardless of actual evidence – is something all too familiar to modern-day Christianity in the United States as well. And the reason it hangs around like heartburn after a double bean burrito is because it works. Here’s how:

  • You establish some platform from which to garner attention. Often this has to do with maintaining a position of power, having a lot of money or both.
  • You cultivate a sense in the group you represent (be it your church, your faith at large or your state or even your nation) that you are part of an actively persecuted minority.
  • You rally people to defend against said persecution by fighting back, even if your’e effectively shadow boxing against an enemy that may not even exist.

It seems like an incredible waste of energy and money, except that it works. Over and over again. We’ve seen this particularly within the present political sphere. Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio sounded the alarm that Christian values are under attack both domestically and worldwide. Mike Huckabee went a step further, arguing that we are edging dangerously close to Christianity becoming criminalized.

Never mind that more than four out of five Americans in the United States still claim to be Christians. Like I said, facts are fairly unimportant in the face of the galvanizing forces of fear. Reality has no chance.

It’s a popular theme in Hollywood too; consider the Wizard of Oz. The fear of outside threats brought the band of protagonist misfits together, while also distracting them from the reality that the thing they were afraid of was a fabrication, with only a stuttering, feeble man shrouded by a curtain running the whole scheme. After all, who listens to a bashful old man? But when he represents everything we’re afraid of, it’s an entirely different story.

We who maintain both spiritual and political convictions have a choice, however. We give this kind of fear our power. We hand it over because it helps us know who we are, both individually and collectively. It helps us feel like we belong to something, and we have a purpose. Even if the purpose ultimately isn’t real.

And lest we think it’s solely a problem on the right, the two big political parties need each other for this very reason. Each makes the other out to be the embodiments of all evil, the source of all of our fears. So we have to pool our resources and band together to fight the good fight, or else suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

It only works if we allow it to. Enough is enough.

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  • I have learned first hand what happens when alcohol stopped working, stopped getting me by, stopped getting me high. I wonder if all addictions and addictive behaviors are progressive diseases like alcohol. If so maybe the fear based will eventually get hip to it. Watching the progress of this disease is painful for the bystander. A future topic for discussion I would like to have is the mind blowing strength of denial, the delusions engendered by same & why one can and must stay ignorant of death dealing addictions when addiction is all one has ever known and has in place of & instead of a reality based identity.

  • Jerry Lynch

    Astonishment should have ended by now and sad reality taken hold but I continue to be stunned by the likes of Rubio, Cruz, and Huckabee. Such forthright insanity. Is it this honest madness that is their appeal? For sure they tell a better story, like camp as kids sitting around the fire at night while each adult strains harder than the last to scare us to death. Dark entertainment. Some of us cry and can’t sleep while others giggle. What makes us so different? The willing suspension of disbelief is no longer predicated on opening to good fiction but giving voice to fear as the storyteller.

  • Alan Christensen

    I think part of the problem with that military operation is the name. “Jade Helm 15” sounds a little sinister to me. Of course the idea that it’s part of a federal takeover of Texas is still a paranoid delusion.

  • Austin

    As a born and bred Texan I long for the day when something besides fear-mongering, mediocre football teams, and crazy ass politicians become our claim to fame. If only Kinky Friedman had become governor.

  • Mick

    Well agree that there is a miss use of fear and people being duped . Maybe some playing on a religious based belief that these are the end times , Piatt taking aim at Huckabee and Cruz here is an example though of why some are so gullible , . They had nothing with this , and like most of us would say this is a really a bit silly . This is not a Christian based country obviously if you believe all lives matter and traditional Christian beliefs like marriage is important . Only the protest is much louder from the secularist , makes you wonder why the religious left does not get embarrassed by being their echo chamber.

  • Durin

    As near as I can tell from your online bio, I really am not in the groups you belong to, and in most significant ways am an outsider to them. Would you be open to hearing an observation on your article?

  • Brian Kellogg

    Yeah, talking to those who buy into all these various and intertwined conspiracies is just spitting into the wind. Its really an expected outcome of the engendered evangelical and fundamentalist mindset/worldview.

    I hope that Christian fundamentalism and evangelicalism can grow up into the fold of progressive Christianity but, unfortunately, I doubt it will. Progressive Christianity lacks the illusions that I think evangelicals and fundamentalists unconsciously crave; certitude, black and white delineations, and gross over simplifications.

    Excellent article though.

    • Rust Cohle

      > Progressive Christianity lacks the illusions

      Progressive Christianity is just as illusory. All of Christianity is just a silly conflation of a couple immortality tales people tell themselves to ameliorate their fear of death.


      • Brian Kellogg

        I watched that a while ago. I’m a very weak Atheist Agnostic but that does not mean I do not see truth and/or relevance in Progressive Christian theology. Something can hold truth without being literally true.

        I favor progressive Christianity as I think it is good. When I look around this world I believe it presents solutions that the world needs; enemy love, forgiveness, and compassion. I also think life is far more complex than the picture either extreme paints and we are still in our infancy in our understanding of it.

        I’m not that concerned with the afterlife as we have the here and now to contend with. I do think the more liberal forms of Christianity have relevant and important perspectives to share.

        Who knows I may one day become a progressive Christian, I will not shut the door on that possibility as that would be closed minded of me I think. I know so little and the more I know the smaller my realm of knowledge grows as compared to my growing understanding of how much I yet do not know and understand. I say this to suggest that the same cravings for certitude we see in fundamentalists and evangelicals also exists in some Atheists.

        “I don’t know” is freeing and humbling to wrestle with and come to accept, but it does not rule out hope. They are not mutually exclusive.

        • Rust Cohle

          On progressives, I’m more with Robert Price’s take on their churches:

          So I decided to look into Liberal Protestant theology. Maybe this alternative would prove more satisfactory. So I read scores of books by major Modernist theologians. I never found Liberal churches to my liking. They seemed like social clubs and, though they lacked the fundamentalist taboos against movies, dancing, etc., they had their own wearisome self-righteousness what is these days called political correctness.

          From Fundamentalist to Humanist (1997)
          Robert M. Price

          And, in reality, if you critique the fundamentals of their religion too far, progressives are just as willing to shoot (well, they can’t kill anymore, but they can ban you from ever commenting again) you as an evangelical.

          • Brian Kellogg

            I’ve read many articles on Infidels as well, Mr Price speaks truth to some extent I think. But, I’ve been studying theology for a couple decades so I think he is over simplifying it all; used to be a fundamentalist preparing for ministry at one point in my younger life.

            No one has a corner on the truth and there are always falsities mixed in anywhere we find truth. Life has to be lived subjectively; no way around it. So, personally, I can’t just say because of these false/annoying things then therefore these other things can be ignored.

            I can no doubt understand and appreciate why Mr. Price and you come to the conclusions you do though.

  • Danny

    You know, that makes coming from Utah not so bad.