An overlooked danger of fundamentalism is how it can indirectly result in believing absurdities, quite apart from religion. Everybody knows fundamentalists believe unlikely things about God. Less known is their propensity for believing equally implausible things about the world more generally.
Take the surprisingly widespread belief among evangelicals that they are the victims of a vast conspiracy by liberals, New Agers, Satanists, and Freemasons. Great numbers of evangelicals seriously believe in an ancient Illuminati plot to destroy Christianity. Their conversation on the subject sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown novel (and, incredibly, Dan Brown’s books are actually better written than the fundy literature), but there’s no suggestion that it’s fiction.
So, because laughing at fundamentalism is fun, and because you won’t believe the extent of the insanity unless I show you, here’s a condensed guide to Fundamentalist Conspiracy Theory (and I mean condensed. I could write books about this).
Note: This is a longer post, so for those who are pressed for time and/or attention span, I’ve included a bullet-point summary at the end. Everyone else, I do think it’s worth it, or I wouldn’t have bothered writing it.
Pat Robertson’s 1991 book The New World Order: It Will Change the Way You Live is the most direct exposition of this conspiracy theory. Robertson, remember, ran a credible bid for the 1988 Republican Presidential nomination (there’s a cheery alternative reality to imagine). He says that the Order of the Illuminati, who are devil worshippers, aims “to establish a new world order based on the overthrow of civil governments, the church, and private property.” These men have gained positions of power such that world leaders are simply their puppets, he warns:
“Indeed, it may well be that men of goodwill like Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush… are in reality unknowingly and unwittingly carrying out the mission and mouthing the phrases of a tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing less than a new order for the human race under the domination of Lucifer and his followers.”
Masons Through History
Pat explains that Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt infiltrated the Continental Order of Freemasons. He used this as a vehicle to put Illuminati members into key French government positions and trigger the French Revolution. They brought “satanic carnage” to France in a bid to bring about the New World Order.
Freemasons were subsequently responsible for the writing of the Communist Manifesto and funding the Russian Revolution. Not only this, but they were equally behind the rise of Nazism. Adolf Hitler was one of them, we are told, and “a man trained in the occult and surrounded by occultists.”
Since then, the Freemasons have been covertly working to control mankind through untouchable positions of influence.
Puppet Masters of Governments
Of course, we don’t know exactly who these people are, but they are already controlling our destinies.
“Rest assured, there is a behind-the-scenes Establishment in this nation, as in every other. It has enormous power. It has controlled the economic and foreign policy objectives of the United States for the past seventy years, whether the man sitting in the White House is a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, a moderate or an extremist. This power is above elections, but it has been able to control the results of elections. Beyond the control of wealth, its principal goal is the establishment of a one-world government where the control of money is in the hands of one or more privately owned but government-chartered central banks.”
Robertson provides a list of the places these people work and exercise control:
“The visible home of the Establishment is Pratt House… This is the headquarters of the Council on Foreign Relations, and from here the Establishment reaches out to the many powers centers. Here are just a few: the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, the Export-Import Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller family, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, the Chase- Manhattan Bank, First National City Bank, J.P. Morgan and Company, Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times…”
Today, says Robertson, 33rd Degree Freemasons have infiltrated the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, the IMF, and the United Nations. Of course we don’t know about it – they control the media. Robertson neatly anticipates criticism of his book in this way: “If anyone else criticises these people in public, XYZ Publications will polish its Establishment image by branding the critics as ill-informed, right-wing, fundamentalist reactionaries.” How did he know?
Since 1940, he continues, every US Secretary of State has been a member of the CFR, one of the Illuminati elect, working from within to control our destinies. With their attempts at world control in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and Nazi Germany having failed, the Freemasons’ next big project is the United Nations.
One World Religion
Of course, Robertson cannot conceive of a world without religion. For these One Worlders to succeed, there will have to be a state religion. And that will be the New Age, which fundamentalists believe is an amalgamation of all religions except Christianity, with Satan as its true god.
To see why this is such a problem to fundamentalists, you need to understand something. Christian fundamentalists do not believe that gods besides theirs don’t exist. They absolutely believe they do exist, and that they are demons in disguise, plotting to drag you to hell.
Pick your religion from this list:
Sikhism: I can’t actually find any fundamentalist literature on Sikhism, but don’t let that bother you. If fundamentalists don’t know about something, it’s definitely of Satan.
Any form of paganism/ Wicca: All your gods are demons, sorry.
Atheism: This doesn’t actually exist. Sorry. You’re just rejecting the God you really know exists, and therefore aligning yourself with Satan.
New Age: Satanic. The ascended masters are demons, Robertson warns. This includes Yoga.
Secular humanism: This is somehow a form of Satanism.
Anything else: The devil. Especially if it’s from the East.
Christianity: Congratulations, you have hit the religion jackpot. Only this one is true.
At the top are the Freemasons, who know exactly what’s going on, and, at the highest levels, worship the devil directly.
“To my mind, there is no more monstrous evil than to bring public-spirited, often churchgoing, men into an organization that looks like a praternal lodge, then deliberately mislead them until they are solid members. Then move them up thirty degrees to the place where they are ready to learn that Satan is the good god waiting to liberate mankind, and the Creator of the Universe (Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai) is, in their theology, the malicious prince of darkness.”
It’s not just Pat
Frank Peretti’s bestselling novel Piercing the Darkness tells exactly the same story, except novelised. The Freemasons are called The Royal and Sacred Order of the Nation, but the salient points are the same. Although it’s a fictionalised account, readers are encouraged to see it as truthful. The dustjacket reads: If you think spiritual warfare is mere fiction, think again… With contemporary settings, up-to-date religious issues, and believable characters, these unforgettably powerful novels are more than just wholesome entertainment. They’ll challenge you to open your eyes to the spiritual battle that’s raging in your world right now.
The Freemasons’ main agency for destroying Christianity, in the fundamentalist mind, is the ACLU, in Peretti’s book called the ACFA (American Citizens’ Freedom Association). This, we learn, exists to destroy freedom of religion, and to protect the interests of child molesters (You might want to read that sentence twice).
The New Age/ Freemason conspiracy is working to control the future by taking over schools, indoctrinating children, and to get them to practice meditation, which leads to demon possession.
The TBN programme Time 2 (aired in the UK/ Europe on the Christian Channel Europe, which is now the God Network) made the same claims, and this was broadcast not as fiction but documentary. Some of the talking heads from their special, New Age: The Deadly Delusion:
Eric Buehrer, author, The New Age Masquerade: “I was originally asked when I was a teacher to work on a committee to bring in global education to our schools. As I began to research that more I saw that there was an agenda, a very liberal agenda, that really wanted to mould the way kids saw the world, not just teach them about the world. These kids were being taught… to make contact with a Spirit Being and ask that spiritual being for wisdom and guidance in life. We have a number of groups breeding together in a common cause to, number one, do away with the idea that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Johanna Michaelsen: “They understand something that every would-be One World ruler and despot has understood from the beginning of time. It’s one thing to convert the adults. It’s quite another thing, however, to raise an entire generation of children who are programmed, if you will, to totally, unquestioningly accept every basic premise of the New Age.”
Yes, incredibly, fundamentalists see public schools as centres of indoctrination, which is how they justify their own propaganda factories.
“I myself have been a forty-five year student of the satanically-inspired, centuries-old conspiracy to use government, education, and media to destroy every vestige of Christianity within our society and establish a new world order. Having read at least fifty books on the Illuminati, I am convinced that it exists and can be blamed for many of man’s inhumane actions against his fellow man during the past two hundred years.”
You are by now probably feeling disorientated and somewhat like you are in a parallel universe, but these people are living in the same world as the rest of us.
Fundamentalism works by disabling the individual’s powers of rational inquiry. It has to, because fundamentalism can’t survive even a moment’s rigorous scrutiny. And by circumventing logical reasoning and the ability to evaluate evidence, it leaves its subjects vulnerable to believing absurdities. Sometimes these absurdities are that giving money to televangelists will make you rich, sometimes they’re about the age of the earth, and, sometimes, they’re just stupid.
That promised bullet point summary
- Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, and Frank Peretti are a few of the fundamentalist authors who have promoted this widespread conspiracy theory.
- Robertson argues that all through history, the Illuminati, controlling the Freemasons, have been infiltrating positions of power.
- These Illuminati/Freemasons caused the French Revolution, and bankrolled the Bolshevik Revolution, Communism globally, and Nazism.
- Illuminati/ Freemasons control the establishment, the unelectable forces of power in the world who really control what’s going on, regardless of who’s in government.
- Their aim is to destroy Christianity and countries, and bring about a One World Government.
- The New Age Religion will be the new One World Religion, and Satan will be God.
- This is bad because Satan literally exists, and he wants to spend eternity making you quite uncomfy.
- The United Nations is the Illuminati/Freemasons latest and greatest project to make this happen.
- This has nothing to do with the Bible, but Fundamentalists are super-gullible, because their religion teaches them not to question, and not to demand proper evidence.
- Fear unquestioning faith, therefore.