@ASoulAFire @JaniceOCG The relationship between religion and strongmen is examined by @ruthbenghiat in this article from her Lucid blog on Substack. Join Thurs., 8 pm ET, 1/13 – 4/7/22, “If America Fails?: The Coming Tyranny.”
Excerpts from a Substack article by Ruth Ben-Ghiat are below. I wonder how any kind of religious affiliation could confer legitimacy on “the former guy.” What kind of religion is it? — LMO
“The story repeats over a century. A corrupt and violent leader seeks an alliance with religious institutions. He’s already won over financial and other elites, and has a devoted core of grassroots followers, but he needs the kind of moral legitimacy that religious arbiters, many with their own large followings, can provide. Rich rewards await religious institutions that answer the strongman’s call.
“… Yet not every faith tradition is suitable for serving strongman purposes. The decline or demise of democracy can be paralleled by a realignment of power in the religious realm. Faith traditions with their own authoritarian cultures prosper, while progressive ones are sidelined or suppressed.
“We’re seeing this in our own day as we live through the spread of militantly intolerant brands of Christianity that partner with right-wing authoritarians around the world.
Mussolini created the template. His persecution of the Italian left had gained him the support of political, business, and agricultural elites. Yet he couldn’t wield full power without the aid of the Vatican. And both the Fascists and the Catholic Church needed to neutralize another threat: a progressive Christian movement, embodied in the fast-growing Popular Party, which was led by the revered priest Don Luigi Sturzo…
“Going forward, the Catholic Church often propped up right-wing authoritarianism, with the activities of the far-right sect Opus Dei a point of continuity. Opus Dei-linked technocrats oversaw economic policy under Francisco Franco (who only granted Protestants and Jews freedom of worship in 1966). They performed the same functions for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, implementing his neoliberal ‘shock therapy’ measures. In Chile, Catholic business elites viewed wealth creation as a path to salvation –and learned to rationalize repression against leftists as necessary to the health of Christian civilization.” — Ruth Ben-Ghiat
READ | Religion and Authoritarianism: A Match Made in Heaven | by Ruth Ben-Ghiat | Lucid | 11/2/2021