Trump: A Theo-fascist Dictator? Come On, Man…

Trump: A Theo-fascist Dictator? Come On, Man… February 29, 2024

Trump, being so obviously irreligious, may initially seem like an odd choice to turn the U.S. into a Christian version of a country like Iran, where laws are based on far-right interpretations of religious texts. But that’s why he’s so valuable to the Christian right. They know most Americans oppose Christian nationalism, especially the parts where we lose free speech and sexual rights. The only way to seize power and get the theocratic agenda enacted is through trickery. Some percentage of Americans will refuse to accept Trump is the face of Christian theocracy — until, of course, it’s too late and he’s installed himself in power. Plus, Trump’s obvious longer term goal is to make his power permanent, by destroying democracy such that voters can never remove him.

The above comes from an opinion piece at the progressive website Salon (but promoted by Yahoo News for some reason…) titled: Donald Trump may not believe in God, but he still plans to turn America into a Christian theocracy. The author, Amanda Marcotte, truly believes Donald Trump seeks permanent power as a theo-fascist dictator on par with the Ayatollah of Iran.

Another article on the same website by senior writer Chauncey DeVega (and also promoted by Yahoo News), does not identified itself as an “opinion” piece. This article, Apocalypse now: Donald Trump dons the “armor of God” — and pushes for theocracy, an interview with Paul Djupe, a political scientist at Denison University, muses about Trump supports:

Djupe further warns that militant Christianity’s threats and promises of violence are not metaphorical, but present a danger to our democracy and civil society, and cautions that Trump and Christian right take power, the LGBTQ community, racial minorities, non-Christians, women and members of other marginalized groups will find their rights and freedoms under systematic attack.

While the above seems extreme to those who understand Trump and what he truly represents to conservatives, the fact that this appeared and was promoted, on a supposed merely “Left leaning” site like Yahoo, shows the increased extreme rhetoric. And it’s only February.

Why? In my opinion, all the rhetoric boils down to the threat of two main issues (but more on that later….)

A Reader’s Question…

The above “theological” talk about Trump and supposed “Christian Nationalism,” provided an opportunity to explore a question by reader Mike O’Leary. On my Facebook page, Mike asked:

The Church’s position on religious freedom differs than the position it held in the past. Non-believers might chalk this up to necessity after the Church’s loss of worldly power, whereas believers might chalk this up to how God has always wanted people to freely choose but had to take certain steps to maintain Catholic culture. If the Church were to regain some measure of worldly power, do you believe it would maintain its current take on religious freedom?

Mike infers, like the writers at Salon, that if Christians (including Catholic Christians) assume greater power, they will limit the rights and freedoms of others who do not hold to the Christian view of rights and freedoms, especially conservative views on rights and freedoms. Particularly, they fear the limitation of rights to abortions and LGBTQ issues. Progressives who use such rhetoric against conservative Christians (and Trump) may also appeal to “marginalized groups” in their attempt to conceal their ultimate concerns, but these two represent their main concerns.

The Christian View of “Rights”

Moreover, let’s start at the beginning. Christianity (and Catholicism) emerged at the height of Roman Empire. Therefore, at its beginning, Christianity held no political authority. This reality for Christians existed until the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. Given this reality, St. Paul, in Romans chapter 13, made the following statement regarding how Christians ought to relate to the government.

Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore, it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

According to the apostle, Christians must subject themselves to the governing authorities as established by God. Moreover, those who do so shall not fear the government in their good behavior, as God established government to punish evil deeds. Furthermore, Christians must also pay taxes. St. Paul makes no reference to “rights” of Christians, or anyone else. In fact, had the Founding Fathers followed St. Paul’s instructions, United States currency would currently bear the image of King Charles III.

Natural Law, Human Rights, and Privileges

Where do rights come from? Do we possess them inherently as human beings, or do our rights come from chance and the government under which we are born? Moreover, if the latter, by what right do we possess “rights” and not merely privileges granted by a governing authority? This conundrum led the founders of the United States to seek a source for rights beyond the merely human. This source granted rights inherently to human beings. In this formulation, governments only recognized and enforced natural rights; it cannot grant such rights. The Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These rights appeal to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” Therefore, since the government did not grant these rights, the government cannot take these rights away.

However, what happens when some seek to make something traditionally considered a sin or a moral evil into a right? Conflict.

Sins and Moral Evil as Rights…

Historically, the Christian West considered abortion and homosexuality activity, not as rights, but as sins and a moral evils. In Catholicism, “rights” and human dignity are interlocked. If a “right” violates human dignity, and here human dignity also includes sins against oneself or another person, the “right” loses its validity. Moreover, if such a “right” also contradicts the common good, as with abortion, it too loses any validity as a supposed “right.” In the 2012 article by Paolo G. Carozza and Daniel Philpott titled, The Catholic Church, Human Rights, and Democracy: Convergence and Conflict with the Modern State, the authors conclude:

The common thread running through centuries of teaching and practice consists of the Church’s commitment to upholding the transcendent dignity of the human person and affirming that the legitimacy of any political authority lies in its accountability to the common good, understood as a moral order grounded in this human dignity, rather than in state sovereignty or even democracy as such.

Therefore, this tension (or accountability) between what Christians understand as good and what civil governments understand as “rights” persists. Furthermore, this tension causes some on the Left to make the outlandish claims witnessed at Salon (and promoted by Yahoo News).

Final Thoughts…

As I previously stated, let’s stop the extremist rhetoric, it’s unhelpful. Those who see through this game understand this sort of tactic as just another attempt to sway the uninformed through fear. Moreover, those who engage in it seem to lack any awareness that their approach may turn people off. A second Trump term may very well negatively impact the United States. Regardless, I guarantee that it WILL NOT involve him becoming a theo-fascist dictator.

But alas, some people will continue to write such things hoping the fear they generate turns into votes in November.

Thank you!

Read The Latin Right’s other writing here.

I am in the process of writing articles where I answer your questions.

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