“The Dark Ages have a certain appeal to some. It was a time when good and evil was white and black. Church over-ruled state. And the word of priests was as law.”– Jamie Seidel, “The ‘Seven Mountains’ Conspiracy“, The Advertiser, Adelaide, 8 January 2019
“The trouble with theocracies is that they generally lead to crusades. And the trouble with crusades is that if you’re not of the right sect or denomination, you’ll end up crucified.”– Mark Harvey, God Help Us All: Fending Off An American Theocracy, 3quarksdaily, 29 August 2022
In my previous post in this series about Christofascism, I wrote about Christofascism in Australia – how the agenda and ‘values’ of Christian nationalists in this country has these “good Christians” walking in lock-step with Nazis and fascists.
In this post I want to really consider what’s at stake; to imagine what society might look like if the 7 Mountains strategy was successful. The leaders of the 7 Mountains Mandate often talk about gaining control, but there isn’t a lot of detail about what this utopian global Christian society would look like.
Dominionists want to see the 7 spheres of government, education, media, arts and entertainment, religion, family and business headed by ‘prophets’ and governed according to fundamentalist Biblical principles. I wondered, what will society look like if these crazy clerics actually manage to pull off this cockamamie Christian coup.
And make no mistake. This is what they’re aiming for.
What if Sean got his wish? What would that look like?
The worrisome thing is we don’t have to guess. We already know what Christian nations look like: both history and contemporary news provide us with graphic examples.
Recently, Richard Fidler interviewed Fintan O’Toole about the evolution of modern Ireland. O’Toole is an author and journalist who writes for various publications, including the Irish Times.
Born in Ireland in 1958 (a very good year!), O’Toole says that by the time he was born, Ireland was practically a failed state. Even though the Irish faced racism and discrimination abroad – especially in the UK – young people were “getting the hell out of there.”
In 1958, Ireland was technically ‘free’, but, in practice, controlled by the Catholic Church. Today, the proponents of the 7 Mountains movement aim to create a beacon of Biblical morality that will shine all the way to heaven to tell Jesus the world is prepared for his Second Coming. Similarly, the Catholic Church aimed to make Ireland a “moral beacon” to the world.
Describing the country he was born into as “Catholic nationalist Ireland”, O’Toole says:
“… because it was a fusion of national identity and religious identity, it screws up both of them, actually. It screws up your nationality because it makes it sectarian, but it also screws up your religious life because it makes it political. It just becomes another form of power.”
Catholicism was not recognised as the state religion, but it was elevated in the Irish constitution as having a “special position.” As a result:
“the church was allowed to control the education system and most of the health care system and every single law that had to do with reproduction, or women’s rights, or sexuality, simply reflected Catholic teaching.”
O’Toole says that, when he was born, Ireland was the least educated country in Europe. The reason is that the Catholic Church had a monopoly on education, and a highly educated working class is no good for religion. In Ireland, high schools were owned and dominated by the Catholic Church and your family had to pay if you wanted a secondary education.
Industrial schools, also under the control of the church, were used to incarcerated young children – sometimes for petty crime, or often just for living in poverty. Here, children were subjected to every kind of sexual and physical abuse.
O’Toole describes Catholic nationalist Ireland as a country of “obsessional puritanism” and recalls the “stultifying sense that you were being watched all the time.”
“It’s hard now to remember just how much Catholic teaching was enforced as law,” he says; noting, “It was always women who had to pay the price.”
O’Toole describes institutions called the Magdalene laundries.
“Quite literally, if you were a young girl, you could be more or less kidnapped if you were judged to be in moral danger, or posing moral danger to others. You could be kidnapped, taken into one of these institutions, incarcerated there, made to do slave labour – these were commercial laundries run by nuns – and so these young girls, young women, very often they were there for a few years; in some cases they never got out.”
Contraception and condoms were banned, so unwed pregnant women were plentiful. These poor women were routinely institutionalised and their babies sold. Girls who complained about sexual abuse at home were blamed for being immoral, and also sent to these religious workhouses.
Known pedophiles were allowed to work in Catholic children’s hospitals. What would happen if a child complained? The parents might go to the police, but the police would go to the Archbishop who would hide it under the carpet to protect the church’s reputation. It was a closed system.
Divorce was banned in the Irish constitution. Abused women had no means of escape. Men in unhappy marriages would simply go abroad, leaving their wives stigmatised, destitute and unable to remarry.
Anyone who did not marry in the church was considered to be living in sin, and their children deemed illegitimate, with all the social stigma that entailed. A woman working in a Catholic institution who married outside the church could lose her job.
Such was the power of the Archbishop of Dublin, that the slightest indication he was ‘displeased’ could have advertising pulled, cultural events cancelled or songs removed from radio playlists.
“He had networks of spies everywhere,” says O’Toole. “He knew everything that was going on.”
Poverty was ubiquitous, but Irish families who lived in slums and, even in the 1960s, often lived in houses without private bathroom facilities or running water, were told they were sinful to carp about their lack of material possessions; poverty was to be prized as a rejection of materialism and a sign of spiritual purity.
Yet, O’Toole describes seeing the Archbishop emerging for the Sunday service from a huge black limousine, and pausing on the sidewalk as his chauffeur got down on his hands and knees to polish the prelate’s shoes.
And then, of course, there is the sectarian violence. A Christian theocracy is never designed to accommodate all Christians – just the denomination of Christianity that happens to be in power. Come the revolution, it won’t just be Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and atheists who are branded as heretics to be brought under heel, raped, tortured, exiled, imprisoned, shot, gassed or blown up. Non-conforming Christians will be similarly targeted.
“But that’s Catholics!” I hear the Pentecostal and New Apostolic evangelists scoff. “They’re not real Christians.”
And some of you are thinking, “Well, yeah, but that all happened fifty or more years ago. Attitudes are different today. It couldn’t happen now.”
You think? Let’s take a look at America, today, where some of the most religious states are moving, at speed, towards Christofascism.
Charis Bible College in Colorado is headed by 7 Mountains advocate, Andrew Womack. Across America, there are many similar Christian colleges controlled by the evangelists who hope, soon, to control the world. In some, if not all, of these august institutions:
- students are subjected to random drug tests
- premarital and homosexual sex is banned along with public displays of affection
- strict dress codes are imposed – girls may be banned from wearing trousers, and there are rules relating to the length and style of your hair, facial hair, piercings and tattoos
- viewing television shows or movies which feature nudity is banned
- gender segregation on campus is common
- females cannot go out after dark without a chaperone
- church attendance is compulsory.
In some colleges the internet is banned and students must make their electronic devices available for scrutiny on request.
Now, to those of us who attended private schools in Australia, this list of restrictions may sound quite familiar. But imagine if they were imposed on the general population.
In these fundamentalist Bible colleges, advocates of the 7 Mountains mandate are merely test-driving the rules they wish to impose on all of us; and they’re training the next generation how to impose those rules as they help their graduates move into positions of power in government, law, education, etc.
An example of how these networks are built is Project Blitz which writes model legislation bills for state governments; making it easier for them to enact laws that accord with a Biblical world view – for instance, a bill which would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people. In 2019, Project Blitz, which has strong connections to the 7 Mountains leaders, claimed a network of 950 legislators in 38 states. They’re not just talking about imposing Biblical law – they’re doing it.
A religiously stacked Supreme Court has already overturned Roe v Wade. As a result, abortion has been made illegal in the most religious of America’s states. American women have been advised not to share details about their periods or to use period trackers for fear this information may be used to prosecute them if they seek abortions in the more progressive states.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. While this decision was overruled, an appeal will ultimately take the matter to the Supreme Court which may well make it legal for judges (rather than the FDA) to decide what drugs Americans can have access to.
Just a few days ago, nine Republican lawmakers in Michigan voted against repealing a rarely enforced law which bans unmarried couples from living together. Enacted in 1931 the statute imposes a $1000 fine or a year in prison for “any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together.” Fortunately, Democrats hold a majority in Michigan. But, what if they didn’t?
Also this month, in Tallahassee, a school principal was forced to resign after children, enrolled in a class about Renaissance Art, were shown photos of Michelangelo’s art in the Sistine Chapel and his sculpture of David. One parent called Michelangelo’s masterpiece “pornographic.”
In five American states it is now required by law for every public school to display the phrase “In God We Trust”. In those states, “In God We Trust” is also allowed to be displayed in court rooms and other public buildings.
An evangelical group, Moms for Liberty, is agitating to encourage parents to call for the censorship of art, literature and text books in schools.
In Martin County, Florida, this year, over 80 works by authors such as Toni Morrison, James Patterson and Jodi Picoult were removed from elementary school libraries at the insistence of a single evangelical parent. Elsewhere in Florida, schools have banned Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
If these kinds of people gain political power, who can believe that adult libraries and bookshops would not face similar censorship? And this orgy of censorship wouldn’t stop at books – it would extend to censorship of magazines, internet sites, plays, movies and exhibits in galleries and museums and public (and perhaps even private) places.
And what might happen to the authors and artists who create work which is deemed immoral? Read on …
Something I noticed in my work on voluntary assisted dying is that “pro-life” politicians in the United States are also vociferously opposed to gun laws and passionately in favour of capital punishment. They’re pro-life, as long as the ‘life’ is still in the womb. After that – meh, not so much.
With the US currently experiencing a shortage of lethal injection drugs, at least three states – Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah – have authorised firing squads as an acceptable method of execution.
Yes. You read that right. Death row prisoners can now be executed by firing squad in the USA.
It is no coincidence that Mississisippi ties with Alabama as America’s most religious state. Oklahoma is in the top-ten, and Utah is the eleventh most religious of the 50 states.
In real time we are watching the United States of America become a Christofascist state. We can look back at the history of Ireland to see what happens when countries are ruled “in the name of God.” And, we can, and must, look at the history of Germany under Hitler to see how quickly a multicultural, democratic, progressive and tolerant society can be brought under a fascist dictatorship.
When I first began researching dominionism, I thought the 7 Mountains agenda could never succeed, but that they could do a lot of harm trying. Now, as America teeters on the knife-edge between democracy and Christofascism, I’m convinced our hold on a free, progressive, democratic society is not something we should ever take for granted.
Fintan O’Toole, We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958, Head of Zeus GB, 21 January 2021