Solus Jesus
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Solus Jesus

A Christian Response to Fascism: Part 9 of 16

If you’re new to this series, I’m a pastor countering aspects of fascism with Christian theological critique.

The fascist feature we’ll look at today is the tendency of fascist leaders to obsess over perceived plots by various “enemies.” Often racism, xenophobia, and/or homophobia underscore the obsession, with the imagined conspiracy suggesting disloyalty by minority groups within (or entering) a society.

Guatemalan woman with child taking shelter in Mexico City on their way north — Shutterstock.com

Hitler became preoccupied with thoughts of an international Jewish conspiracy infiltrating banking and government institutions to dominate Europe (then, the entire globe). He then used his irrational fears to channel anti-Semitic energy in his country toward Jewish people. In this way, the group presumed to be “behind” the conspiracy became a scapegoat — an innocent group carried the projected fears and sins of the majority population who did feel entitled to dominate Europe with dreams of a 1000 year Aryan empire. Jewish bankers didn’t want to take over Europe; Hitler did. Hitler projected his personal egomania and ravenous desire for power onto Jewish people — convincing others to also misplace their sins and fears. They should’ve been afraid of Hitler, and of themselves.

The ability to channel a group’s worst tendencies onto innocent people is innate to fascist leaders, and absolutely contrary to Christian values.

The Christian path should lead us to an awareness of our own sin, and the sins of our communities and nations. In denying our own tendencies to power and greed and excess, preferring to accuse others of such ugliness, we place ourselves above the rest of humanity. Humility, an ancient but oft-neglected Christian value, tells us that we are no better than anyone else — no more exempt from temptation.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Humility means we value ourselves as equal with others. We don’t consider ourselves too highly, and we don’t consider ourselves too lowly. It’s an empowering acceptance of the self, both with and in spite of, all our limitations and weaknesses. No matter my status in life, no matter my education level, no matter my salary — I have equal worth and value as every other human on this planet. Taking communion together each week is meant to drill this into each and every one of us — we are all welcome at the table of Jesus on equal terms, all of us in need of grace and mercy, welcome and belonging.

With a humble posture, we can’t possibly view an entire people group as an enemy.

Also, projecting our own tendencies onto an innocent means conjuring and buying into lies about a marginalized group. Christians are called to a high standard of honesty and integrity — checking facts before gossiping and passing along ill-gotten information. A little bit of reserach often goes a long way toward restraining the dehumanization of others.

It’s worth noting the various ways our current president utilizes fictitious plots to cover his own transgressions, shifting blame onto innocent people and rallying others to his cause.

Consider:

  1. Trump’s constant accusation that various media outlets are “fake news” and “out to get” him, as if he alone holds the truth and is a truth-teller (projection at its finest and most easily fact-checked)
  2. Trump’s insistance that Central American migrants are an existential threat to the United States, including his accusation that there are ISIS infiltrators sitting along the Mexican border waiting to enter the country. There is zero evidence to back this claim. Note that he made similar statements to justify the “Muslim ban” of 2017.
  3. Trump’s assertion that there was an internal FBI plot to overthrow him from the presidency. When, in fact, he overthrew the FBI head.
  4. Trump backing various assertions that George Soros, the progressive billionaire philanthropist (who also happens to be Jewish), is funding vast liberal conspiracies. As the Washington Post points out, these accusations have more than a whiff of the old “international Jewish conspiracy” and are pointedly anti-Semitic.
  5. The various and sundry “they”s who are out go get Trump … too many to name

When vulnerable people (migrants walking hundreds of miles seeking refuge) and historically oppressed groups (Jewish people, the press), are called enemies, we Christians should be wary. We are meant to follow a Jewish rabbi, Jesus, who was himself a refugee, a migrant, a “rabble-rouser” who was crucified bearing our projected sins — a man who called us to honestly assess ourselves and speak plainly in the world (let your yes be yes, your no be no) — not to follow a proven racist billionaire who is dishonest in, well, all the ways humans show themselves to be.

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