2016 Election

republican vs. democrat cage match boxing ring

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing that we got the Trump crime family out of the Oval Office, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives? How has political polarization gotten this bad?

These are some of the resources that have helped me continue grappling with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is both a personality type and a form of government — it operates at both the interpersonal and the societal level. The words authoritarian and fascist are often used interchangeably, but fascism is a more specific type of authoritarianism, and far more historically recent.

America has had flavors of authoritarianism since its founding, and when fascism came along the right-wing authoritarians ate it up — and deeply wanted the United States to be a part of it. Only after they became social pariahs did they change position to support American involvement in World War II — and some persisted even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Scholars of authoritarianism

  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident Czesล‚aw Miล‚osz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis. He also wrote extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower in his seminal work, Escape from Freedom.
  • Eric Hoffer — his book The True Believers explores the mind of the authoritarian follower, and the appeal of losing oneself in a totalist movement
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants and dictators
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand
    • The Fountainhead (1943)
    • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
    • Objectivism ideology
  • Greatness Thinking; heroic individualism
  • Nietszche — will to power; the Uberman
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • George Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)
  • More authoritarianism books
Continue reading Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today
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The term Christian nationalists brings together a number of radical religious sects seeking to overthrow the democratic republic of the United States and installing a strict theocracy, from dominionists to orthodox Catholics to Evangelicals and many more.

They tend to believe in Strict Father Morality, and desire to establish some sort of Christian fascist state in America, under the backwards idea that the founders never intended to separate church and state — despite religious freedom and the ability to worship as one pleases being precisely one of the founding ideals.

Christian nationalists abstract

Christian nationalists list

Here are some of the people and groups involved in — or foundational to — the modern day movement to establish a Christian theocratic government in America (this is a work in progress!):

  • 700 Club — Airing since 1966, the 700 Club is one of the longest-running Christian TV programs in the U.S. The show is produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by evangelist and one-time presidential candidate (1988) Pat Robertson.
  • Howard Ahmanson Jr. — American businessman, philanthropist, and Christian conservative activist who has donated millions of dollars to right-wing organizations and the GOP. Ahmanson is the son of the late financier and philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Sr., and a supporter of the Intelligent Design movement.
  • Awake 88 — A 2008 initiative sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC) in which J.C. Church visited 2500 churches in all of Ohio’s 88 counties in an effort to turn the state red in the 2008 elections.
  • Alexander AcostaTrump‘s Secretary of Labor from April 2017 to July 2019 who resigned when new details of his unlawful “sweetheart” plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein came to light. He was known to attend the weekly White House Bible study gatherings led by Dominionist Ralph Drollinger.
  • Alex Azar — Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services from January 2018 to January 2021, who was also known to attend the weekly White House Bible study gatherings led by Dominionist Ralph Drollinger.
  • Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — The ADF is a nonprofit founded in 1994 by James Dobson, Bill Bright, and other Christian leaders to provide legal representation and support to people and organizations facing legal challenges based on their religious beliefs. The ADF was involved in the high-profile Masterpiece Cakeshop case, defending the baker who refused to make a gay wedding cake.
gay wedding cake, by Midjourney
  • American College of Pediatricians — ACPeds is a small, socially conservative group of pediatricians founded in 2002 that has been criticized for its support of the discredited “conversion therapy” practice for LGBTQ+ youth and other views that run counter to the group’s stated purpose of promoting healthy and respectful development of children. The group is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — A conservative think tank based in the United States that conducts research and advocacy on a range of public policy issues. Founded in 1938, the AEI is known for its promotion of conservative social values.
  • American Family Association (AFA) — A non-profit conservative Christian organization based in the United States, founded in 1977. The group has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which cites the organization’s history of spreading false and harmful information about LGBTQ+ individuals and promoting intolerance and bigotry.
  • American Family Radio Network (AFR) — A Christian radio network in the U.S.
  • American Heritage Girls (AHG) — The American Heritage Girls (AHG) is a faith-based scouting organization for girls based in the United States. The organization was founded in 1995 and describes itself as “a Christ-centered character and leadership development program for girls 5 to 18 years of age.” It requires all members to agree to a statement of faith that affirms a belief in God and a commitment to Christian values.
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — Along with CNP, one of two primary right-wing groups with deep funding ties over the past half century to Republican lawmakers and donors & covertly driving “local” and state legislative agenda centrally from a nationally-coordinated source that shrinks from public view and carefully shields its operations from scrutiny.
  • Americans of Faith — A massive church-based get-out-the-vote campaign in 2004 led by conservative Christian activist and Salem Radio founder Edward Atsinger III.
  • America Wake Up — “America Wake Up” was a religious movement that emerged in the United States during the early 21st century, primarily gaining momentum in the late 2010s and early 2020s. The group, which combined elements of evangelical Christianity with apocalyptic and nationalist themes, aimed to rally Americans to restore traditional religious values and preserve the nation’s spiritual and cultural heritage. Its followers believed that America was in a state of moral decline and that God’s favor could only be reclaimed through a mass spiritual awakening. Although “America Wake Up” was never a centralized organization, its adherents often united through social media, small-group meetings, and public rallies. Critics accused the group of promoting intolerance and divisiveness, and its influence waned as mainstream religious and political figures distanced themselves from its more extreme rhetoric.
  • Robert Arnakis — Robert Arnakis was a prominent conservative political operative and trainer in the United States during the early 21st century. As the Director of Domestic and International Programs at the Leadership Institute, he played a crucial role in mentoring and training conservative activists, politicians, and future leaders. Although he maintained a relatively low public profile, Arnakis significantly impacted the conservative movement by shaping the careers of numerous political figures and promoting conservative values through education and training initiatives.
  • Arlington Group — The Arlington Group was a coalition of influential conservative Christian leaders and organizations in the United States, formed in 2002 to facilitate cooperation and strategic coordination among various religious and political factions. By focusing on shared goals such as opposition to same-sex marriage and the promotion of traditional family values, the group aimed to advance a socially conservative agenda on a national level. While the Arlington Group’s influence diminished over time, its efforts significantly impacted American politics and contributed to the ongoing debate surrounding social issues in the country.
  • Larry Arnn — Larry Arnn, the long-serving president of Hillsdale College, has been influential in guiding the institution towards a more conservative and Christian nationalist direction. Under his leadership, Hillsdale has emphasized a curriculum rooted in the traditional values of Western civilization and has increasingly associated with conservative religious and political figures. Arnn’s tenure has undeniably made Hillsdale a central hub for promoting and advancing conservative ideology and Christian nationalist delusions in American education and public discourse.
  • Edward Atsinger III — Edward Atsinger III is an American businessman and broadcasting executive, who co-founded and served as the CEO of Salem Media Group, one of the leading conservative and Christian media companies in the United States. Established in 1986, Salem Media Group operates a vast network of radio stations, digital media platforms, and publishing houses, targeting conservative and faith-based audiences. Under Atsinger’s leadership, the company has played a pivotal role in shaping American conservative and Christian media landscapes, with its platforms serving as influential channels for promoting conservative and religious viewpoints.
conservative talk shows and right-wing radio
  • Marcus Bachmann — Marcus Bachmann is an American clinical therapist and entrepreneur who gained national attention due to his marriage to former Republican Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is the founder of Bachmann & Associates, a Christian counseling center in Minnesota that offers therapy services for a wide range of mental health issues. Bachmann has faced criticism for his views on conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals, which he allegedly practiced at his clinic, although he has denied promoting this controversial treatment.
  • Michele Bachmann — Michele Bachmann is an American politician, lawyer, and former Republican Congresswoman who represented Minnesota’s 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2015. A prominent figure in the Tea Party movement, Bachmann was known for her conservative stances on issues such as limited government, pro-life advocacy, and opposition to same-sex marriage. In 2012, she sought the Republican nomination for the presidency but eventually withdrew from the race, returning to the private sector after completing her congressional tenure.
  • Jim Bakker — Jim Bakker is an American televangelist, entrepreneur, and former minister who became a prominent figure in the 1970s and 1980s as the host of the successful Christian television program “The PTL Club,” alongside his then-wife, Tammy Faye Bakker. Bakker’s ministry took a downturn in the late 1980s when he was embroiled in a series of scandals involving financial fraud and extramarital affairs, ultimately resulting in his conviction and imprisonment. After his release in 1994, Bakker returned to televangelism and has continued his ministry, albeit on a smaller scale, focusing on end-time prophecy and the sale of survival products.
Jim Bakker, by Midjourney
  • Steve Bannon — Steve Bannon is an American political strategist, filmmaker, and media executive who gained national prominence as the executive chairman of Breitbart News and later as the chief strategist for President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign and his early White House administration. Through his work at Breitbart and in the Trump campaign, Bannon promoted conservative and nationalist ideologies, often aligning with Christian nationalist values and narratives. Although not solely focused on Christian nationalism and more oriented towards nationalism more broadly, Bannon’s influence in shaping the political landscape and amplifying the voices of the far-right contributed to the resurgence of Christian nationalist sentiments in the United States.
Steve Bannon, by Midjourney
  • Baptist Press — The Baptist Press, established in 1946, is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
  • George Barna — George Barna is a renowned American pollster, researcher, author, and speaker, best known for his extensive research on religion, culture, and public opinion. In 1984, he founded the Barna Group, a market research and polling firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behaviors of Americans, as well as the intersection of faith and culture.
  • Jeff Barke — Dr. Jeff Barke is an American physician, conservative activist, and author, known for his outspoken views on various public health and policy issues. He came out against the majority of the covid-19 public health measures including mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and vaccines along with pushing unproven treatments.
  • Mari Barke — Mari Barke serves on the Orange County Board of Education, having been first elected in 2018. Married to Dr. Jeff Barke, she shares her husband’s conservative political views.
  • Stephen Barney — Stephen Barney is a conservative philanthropist, American businessman and donor to various conservative organizations, political campaigns, and educational initiatives.
  • David Barton — David Barton is an influential American evangelical Christian author, speaker, and political activist, known for his advocacy of conservative Christian values in politics and education. Born on January 28, 1954, in Texas, Barton is the founder and president of WallBuilders, a national organization known for its revisionist historical claims — including the idea that the First Amendment is not meant to establish freedom of religion.
  • Gary Bauer — Gary Bauer is known for his staunch advocacy of social conservatism and his prominent roles in various right-wing organizations. Born in Kentucky, Bauer served in the Reagan administration, first as the Deputy Under Secretary for Planning and Budget in the Department of Education, then as the Under Secretary of Education and Chief Domestic Policy Advisor. He left the White House in 1989 to become the president of the Family Research Council, a position he held until 1999. Bauer is especially known for his conservative views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Since then, he’ has remained active in conservative politics, notably founding’s founded the Campaign for Working Families, a political action committee dedicated to electing conservative candidates to office.
  • Glenn Beck — Glenn Beck is a prominent American conservative political commentator, radio host, television producer, and founder of the news and entertainment network, TheBlaze. He began his career in radio as a DJ, but his career took a turn towards political commentary in the 2000s. Beck hosted the nationally syndicated radio talk show, “The Glenn Beck Program,” and his television show, “Glenn Beck,” which aired on Fox News from 2009 to 2011, was known for its emotionally charged commentary, chalkboard diagrams, and historical analysis. His shows have often been controversial for their provocative content. Beck is recognized for his libertarian-leaning conservatism and his vocal support for the Tea Party movement.
Glenn Beck is shouting on TV, by Midjourney
  • David and Jason Benham — David Benham, along with his twin brother Jason, is a prominent figure in American conservative circles, known for his outspoken views on Christianity and social issues. Prior to his involvement in political and social activism, Benham was a professional baseball player, drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1998. After retiring from baseball, he and his brother co-founded the Benham Companies, a real estate conglomerate. The brothers gained national attention when their planned HGTV show, “Flip It Forward,” was canceled in 2014 due to controversy over their views on homosexuality and abortion. They are known for their strong pro-life stance, their opposition to same-sex marriage, and their misunderstanding of religious freedom.
  • Philip “Flip” Benham — Philip “Flip” Benham is an American evangelical Christian minister and anti-abortion activist, notable for his leadership roles in pro-life organizations. He was born on April 16, 1948, in Hartford, Connecticut. Benham is the father of David and Jason Benham, also known for their conservative activism. Flip Benham was the director of Operation Save America (formerly known as Operation Rescue National), a pro-life group advocating for the criminalization of abortion. The organization has been associated with protests at abortion clinics and other locations. Benham’s activism has often courted controversy, and he has been arrested multiple times during demonstrations. His vocal stances on issues such as abortion and homosexuality reflect his conservative Christian beliefs.
  • Robert J. Billings — Robert J. Billings was a significant figure in the American conservative movement, particularly known for his contributions to the rise of the Christian right in the late 20th century. Born on October 19, 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Billings advocated for Christian education, founding Christian schools and serving as a superintendent in Wisconsin. His involvement in politics began in earnest in the 1970s, when he co-founded the American Association of Christian Schools and later became an influential figure in the Moral Majority, an organization that played a key role in mobilizing conservative Christian voters. Billings served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan and was an instrumental figure in shaping the political landscape of the Christian right. He passed away on November 3, 1997.
  • Dr. Henry Blackaby — Dr. Henry Blackaby is an influential Christian pastor, author, and speaker, best known for his work “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God,” a study that has sold millions of copies worldwide. Born on July 11, 1935, in British Columbia, Canada, Blackaby served as a pastor in California and Canada before becoming the president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Conference. In 1976, Blackaby started working for the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. His work in spiritual revival and church leadership has had a profound impact on evangelical Christianity, particularly in the Southern Baptist tradition. His “Experiencing God” study, developed with his son Richard, has been widely used in churches and study groups and is considered a seminal text in contemporary Christian education.
  • Sen Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) — Marsha Blackburn is a prominent figure in American conservative politics, known for her tenure as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Born on June 6, 1952, in Laurel, Mississippi, Blackburn attended Mississippi State University, earning a degree in home economics. Her political career began in the Tennessee State Senate, where she served from 1998 to 2002. In 2002, Blackburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Tennessee’s 7th congressional district, where she developed a reputation as a staunch conservative, particularly on issues such as healthcare, internet privacy, and fiscal responsibility. In 2018, Blackburn was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman from Tennessee to serve in the upper chamber. Known for her support of President Donald Trump and her opposition to big government, Blackburn has remained a significant figure in the Republican Party and American conservative politics.
Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, by Midjourney
  • Morton Blackwell — Morton Blackwell is an influential figure in American conservative politics, best known for his role in the development and training of young conservative activists. Born on November 16, 1939, in LaHarpe, Illinois, Blackwell became involved in conservative activism early in life, working on Barry Goldwater‘s 1964 presidential campaign and serving as executive director of the College Republicans. In 1980, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the position of Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, working on youth outreach. Blackwell is perhaps best known as the founder and president of the Leadership Institute, an organization established in 1979 that provides training for conservative activists, particularly college students.
  • Bob Jones University — Bob Jones University (BJU) is a private, non-denominational evangelical university located in Greenville, South Carolina. It was founded in 1927 by Bob Jones Sr., a prominent evangelist and religious leader, with the aim of creating a training center for Christian workers. Throughout its history, BJU has been known for its conservative cultural and religious views. The university requires students to adhere to a strict code of conduct in line with its religious beliefs. Historically, BJU has been at the center of several controversies, notably regarding its policies on racial segregation, which it maintained until 1971, and its ban on interracial dating, which was not lifted until 2000. Despite these controversies, BJU has had a significant influence on conservative Christian education in the United States.
  • Bolthouse Foundation — The Bolthouse Foundation is a private foundation established by the Bolthouse family, who made their fortune in the farming and food production industry, notably through the Bolthouse Farms brand. The foundation’s mission has been to invest in Christian organizations and causes that align with their commitment to spreading the Christian faith and promoting social good. The foundation’s funding has often focused on supporting Christian education, religious activities, and other nonprofit organizations that align with their values.
  • Dick Bott — Dick Bott was an influential figure in American Christian radio broadcasting, known for founding the Bott Radio Network. Born on March 23, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, Bott launched the Bott Radio Network in 1962, which grew to become one of the nation’s largest Christian radio networks, featuring Bible teaching, Christian news, and music. Bott’s commitment to broadcasting Christian content led to a network that includes over 100 radio stations across the United States. Bott’s influence extended beyond his radio network, as he served on the boards of numerous Christian organizations and was a strong supporter of Christian education. He passed away on November 6, 2019.
Christian radio, by Midjourney
  • Bott Radio Network — A network of 120 Christian radio stations operating in 14 of the United States, broadcasting Christian talk radio programs.
  • Lt. Gen. William Boykin (ret.) — Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin is a retired American Army officer and conservative political commentator known for his Christian views and involvement in special operations. Born on April 19, 1948, in Wilson, North Carolina, Boykin’s military career spanned over 36 years, during which he played key roles in several U.S. military actions, including the Iran hostage rescue attempt and operations in Grenada and Somalia. He was one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and eventually served as its commander. He also served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush. After retiring from the military, Boykin became an outspoken conservative Christian activist, serving as Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think-tank and lobbying organization. He has drawn controversy for his comments on Islam and other topics.
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation — The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is one of the largest and most influential conservative grantmaking foundations in the United States. Established in 1942 by Lynde and Harry Bradley, co-founders of the Allen-Bradley Company, a successful Milwaukee-based electronics and industrial automation manufacturer, the foundation began its significant conservative philanthropic activity in the 1980s, after the sale of Allen-Bradley to Rockwell International. It has provided substantial funding to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, and scholars, with a focus on areas such as limited government, free markets, education, and the traditional family structure. The foundation has had a considerable impact on shaping conservative policy and intellectual discourse in the United States.
  • Bob Branch — Bob Branch is an educator and conservative political figure known for his involvement in Arizona politics. Branch is recognized for his conservative stance on issues such as education, immigration, and the Second Amendment. He ran for the position of Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2018, campaigning on a platform of local control of education, school safety, and curriculum transparency.
gun rights in Arizona and the 2nd Amendment / 2A position
  • Lincoln Brewster — Lincoln Brewster is an American contemporary Christian musician and worship pastor known for his guitar-based songs. Born on July 30, 1971, in Fairbanks, Alaska, Brewster developed a passion for music at a young age, with his mother nurturing his talent. He became a sought-after session guitarist in his early 20s and had the opportunity to work with mainstream artists, including journeyman rocker Steve Perry. However, Brewster felt a spiritual calling to use his musical talents for religious purposes and transitioned to contemporary Christian music. In addition to his music career, Brewster has served as a worship pastor at churches including the Bayside Church in California.
  • Jim Bridenstine — a former U.S. Representative and NASA Administrator. Though not overtly a Christian nationalist, his political stances often align with conservative Christian values. He has advocated for limited government and traditional family structures.
  • Harold O. J. Brown — was a theologian and co-founder of the Christian Action Council. He was instrumental in shaping the Christian right movement, emphasizing the role of Christianity in public life.
  • Brown v. Board of Education — this landmark Supreme Court case isn’t directly related to Christian nationalism but had a profound impact on American society by desegregating schools. Some Christian nationalists have criticized it for undermining local autonomy.
Brown v. Board of Education, by Midjourney
  • Pat Buchanan — a political commentator and former presidential candidate. He has often fused conservative Christian beliefs with his political ideology, advocating for a return to traditional American values.
  • Mark Bucher — a lesser-known figure in the Christian nationalist movement. He is an attorney who has been involved in legal cases that aim to advance conservative Christian principles in public policy.
  • Building a Nation — not a person but a concept often invoked by Christian nationalists to emphasize the role of Christianity in the founding and sustaining of the United States.
  • Jonathan Cain — a musician, best known as a member of the band Journey. His connection to Christian nationalism is tenuous but he has expressed strong Christian beliefs.
  • Capitol Ministries — an organization that aims to evangelize elected officials. It has been criticized for pushing a Christian nationalist agenda by seeking to influence policy through religious teachings.
  • Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation — this foundation is named after a Hungarian Cardinal who opposed communism and has been adopted as a symbol by some Christian nationalists in their fight against secularism.
  • Ben Carson — a retired neurosurgeon and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. While not explicitly a Christian nationalist, his conservative views often align with the movement’s principles.
Ben Carson and Donald Trump, by Midjourney
  • CBN University — now known as Regent University, the institution was founded by Pat Robertson. It aims to provide a Christian education and has been influential in training leaders who align with Christian nationalist ideologies.
  • A Choice Not an Echo — a political pamphlet by Phyllis Schlafly, published in 1964. It has been influential in conservative circles and is often cited by Christian nationalists as a call to action against liberal ideologies.
  • Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) — Founded by Pat Robertson, CBN is a television network with a Christian focus. It has been a significant platform for disseminating Christian nationalist views and influencing American politics.
  • Christian Coalition — a political organization founded by Pat Robertson. It aims to mobilize conservative Christians in the U.S. and has been a driving force in the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Christian homeschooling movement — advocates for homeschooling as a way to instill Christian values in children. It has gained traction among Christian nationalists who view public education as secular and morally corrupt.
  • Christian Satellite Network — a media outlet that broadcasts Christian content. While not overtly nationalist, it serves as a platform for voices that often align with Christian nationalist views.
  • J. C. Church — a pastor and political activist who has been involved in promoting Christian nationalist ideologies. He advocates for the integration of Christian principles into American governance.
  • Church United — an organization that aims to politically mobilize churches. It has been criticized for promoting a Christian nationalist agenda, particularly in local and state politics.
  • Church Voter Lookup — a tool often used by Christian nationalist groups to identify and mobilize Christian voters. It aims to influence elections in favor of candidates who uphold Christian values.
  • Tom Coburn — Tom Coburn was a U.S. Senator known for his conservative stances. While not explicitly a Christian nationalist, his political ideology often aligned with the movement’s principles.
  • Mary Colbert — a Christian author and speaker. She is known for her books that blend Christian teachings with conservative political views, making her a voice in the Christian nationalist sphere.
  • Concerned Women for America — a socially conservative Christian women’s activist group. It focuses on issues like abortion and religious freedom and has been influential in promoting Christian nationalist ideologies.
  • Conscience and Religious Freedom Division — this division within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aims to protect religious freedoms in healthcare. It has been praised by Christian nationalists for upholding Christian values in public policy.
  • Conservative Caucus — a political organization that aims to mobilize grassroots conservatives. While not exclusively Christian nationalist, it often aligns with the movement’s goals.
  • Kellyanne Conway — a political strategist best known for her role as counselor to President Donald Trump. She has often defended policies that resonate with Christian nationalist ideologies.
Kellyanne Conway bloody from the fight, by Midjourney
  • Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation — this alliance focuses on environmental stewardship from a Christian perspective. It often opposes mainstream climate science, aligning more closely with conservative Christian viewpoints.
  • Council for National Policy (CNP) — a secretive organization that brings together influential conservatives, many of whom are Christian nationalists. It aims to shape public policy in line with conservative Christian values.
  • Culture Impact Teams (CITs) — grassroots groups often found in churches. They aim to influence local politics and culture in line with Christian nationalist principles.
  • Jan Crouch — She was a co-founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a major Christian television network. While not overtly nationalist, TBN has been a platform for Christian nationalist voices.
  • Paul Crouch — also a co-founder of TBN and husband to Jan Crouch. Like his wife, he played a significant role in disseminating Christian content that often aligns with nationalist ideologies.
  • Ted Cruz — a U.S. Senator from Texas known for his staunch conservative views. He has been a vocal advocate for integrating Christian values into American governance, making him a key figure in the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Dr. Kenyn M. Cureton — a Baptist minister and Vice President for Church Ministries at the Family Research Council. He is known for advocating the role of Christianity in American public life, aligning with Christian nationalist ideologies.
  • Robert Lewis Dabney — Robert Lewis Dabney was a 19th-century theologian and Confederate Army chaplain. His writings have been cited by modern Christian nationalists as foundational texts for their movement.
  • The Daily Signal — a news outlet run by The Heritage Foundation. It often publishes articles that resonate with Christian nationalist and conservative viewpoints.
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser — the President of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that focuses on electing pro-life candidates. She is a key figure in the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Jeff Denham — a former U.S. Representative from California. While not overtly a Christian nationalist, his conservative stances often align with the movement’s principles.
  • Betsy DeVos — a former U.S. Secretary of Education known for her advocacy for school choice and Christian education, making her a significant figure in the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Richard DeVos — Richard DeVos was an American entrepreneur and co-founder of Amway. He was a major donor to conservative and Christian causes.
  • James Dobson — the founder of Focus on the Family, an organization that promotes Christian values in American families. He is a key figure in the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Mark Drever — a lesser-known figure in the Christian nationalist movement who has been involved in various Christian organizations.
  • Karen Rudolph Drollinger
  • Ralph Drollinger — the founder of Capitol Ministries, an organization that aims to evangelize elected officials. He has been criticized for pushing a Christian nationalist agenda.
  • Dinesh D’Souza — a conservative author and filmmaker. While not explicitly a Christian nationalist, his works often resonate with the movement, particularly in his critiques of liberal ideologies.
  • Alan P. Dye — a Washington, D.C.-based attorney known for representing conservative and Christian organizations. His legal work often intersects with the goals of the Christian nationalist movement.
  • Eagle Forum — Founded by Phyllis Schlafly, the Eagle Forum is a conservative organization that has been instrumental in opposing feminist and liberal policies, often from a Christian nationalist perspective.
  • Stuart Epperson — the co-founder of Salem Media Group, a Christian and conservative media company. He has been influential in disseminating Christian nationalist views through various media platforms.
  • Equal Rights Amendment — a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution aimed at guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of sex. It has been opposed by some Christian nationalists who argue it undermines traditional family values.
  • Frank Erb — serves as a minister to California State Capitol leaders and is associated with Capitol Ministries. He aims to integrate Christian principles into governance, aligning with Christian nationalist ideologies.
  • Tony Evans — a pastor and author who focuses on building strong Christian families. While not overtly a Christian nationalist, his teachings often align with the movement’s principles.
  • Jerry Falwell — Jerry Falwell was a prominent televangelist and founder of the Moral Majority, an organization that played a key role in the rise of the Christian right and Christian nationalism.
  • Faith & Freedom Coalition — aims to mobilize conservative religious voters and has been a significant force in promoting Christian nationalist ideologies, particularly in electoral politics.
  • The Family — Also known as The Fellowship, this organization is a Christian association that has been criticized for its secretive nature and influence on American politicians. It is often associated with Christian nationalist agendas.
  • Family Christian Academy (FCA) — a private religious academy offering a “Christ-centered” curriculum and the teaching of a “biblical worldview.”
  • Family Life Radio — Family Life Radio is a Christian radio network broadcasting contemporary Christian music and Christian talk radoi programming across the United States.
  • Family Policy Alliance — The Family Policy Alliance is a conservative Christian organization in the United States that advocates for various policy issues from a faith-based perspective. It focuses on issues such as religious freedom, anti-abortion policies, and the promotion of the traditional family structure (aka Strict Father Morality).
  • Family Policy Councils — Family Policy Councils in the United States are typically conservative organizations at the state level that focus on lobbying and advocating for policies they believe support family values. These councils often address issues like gay marriage, parental rights, religious liberty, and anti-abortion initiatives.
  • Family Research Council (FRC) — The FRC is a prominent conservative Christian group that advocates for policies they believe uphold traditional family values. It is influential in right-wing politics, often shaping public debate on social issues.
  • Family Worship Center — Associated with the ministry of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, the organization reflects his blend of evangelical worship and conservative family values.
  • Fellowship Foundation — Also known as “The Fellowship” or “The Family,” this is a religiously-oriented group that operates the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. It is known for its influence on American politics, fostering relationships among political, business, and religious leaders.
  • Reverend Wilber Fisk — An influential 19th-century Methodist educator and theologian, remembered for his strong advocacy for Methodist doctrine and education. His work has inspired many current Christian nationalist groups and ideologies.
  • Tami Fitzgerald — Fitzgerald is a contemporary figure known for her conservative activism, particularly in North Carolina, where she has been a prominent voice on issues like gay marriage and gender, reflecting broader right-wing advocacy trends.
  • Florida Family Action — This is an organization that works at the state level in Florida, engaging in grassroots lobbying and electoral involvement to promote conservative values on social issues.
  • Florida Family Action PAC — The political action committee of the Florida Family Action, this group supports candidates and initiatives in Florida that align with its conservative, family-centered policy goals.
  • Florida Family Policy Council — This council operates in Florida, advocating for conservative social policies. It’s part of a network of state-based conservative policy groups with similar aims.
  • Focus on the Family — A well-known evangelical organization based in Colorado Springs, it promotes conservative policies related to family structure and parenting, and is a major producer of Christian-themed media content.
  • Foster Friess — Friess was a prominent conservative donor and philanthropist, who financially supported various Republican candidates and causes aligned with right-wing politics until his death in 2021.
  • Free Congress Foundation — Founded by Paul Weyrich, this think tank historically has been instrumental in promoting conservative legislative agendas and played a pivotal role in the development of conservative strategies and policies.
  • Lynn Friess — Lynn Friess is the widow of Foster Friess and has continued to be active in philanthropy and conservative causes, supporting various initiatives that align with her and her late husbandโ€™s values, particularly in the realms of education, Christian outreach, and family services.
  • Jim Garlow — A pastor and author, Garlow is a notable figure in conservative Christian circles, known for his advocacy on traditional marriage and anti-abortion issues, and has been a key influence in the intersection of faith and politics.
  • Rosemary Schindler Garlow — A speaker and activist, she is married to Jim Garlow, and is also a distant relative of Oskar Schindler. She is involved in Christian ministry work and advocacy, often in conjunction with her husbandโ€™s activities.
  • W. Barry Garrett
  • Godspeak Calvary Chapel — Non-denominational church in California that gained attention in conservative media for its defiance of public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Barry Goldwater — Known as the “father of modern conservatism,” Goldwater was a five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona and the 1964 Republican nominee for President. His libertarian-leaning conservative philosophy laid the foundation for the conservative resurgence in the following decades.
  • Peggy Goldwater — As the wife of Barry Goldwater, Peggy Goldwater was a supportive figure in his political career. While less politically active herself, she played a role in the personal side of the conservative movement during her husbandโ€™s career.
  • Grace Community Church, Sun Valley — A prominent evangelical church in California, led by Pastor John MacArthur. It is known for its conservative theological stance and has been influential in evangelical Christian circles.
  • Billy Graham — Reverend Billy Graham was one of the most influential Christian evangelists of the 20th century, serving as a spiritual advisor to multiple U.S. presidents and preaching to millions globally, with a message that was generally hard-lined conservative.
  • The Green family — Best known for founding Hobby Lobby, the Green family is prominent in conservative circles for their Christian faith and legal battles over religious freedom and opposition to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Ken Ham — a young-earth creationist and the founder of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter. Ham is a significant figure in promoting a literal interpretation of the Bible and opposing evolutionary theory, which is often referenced in conservative Christian education debates.
  • Abraham Hamilton III — host of American Family Radio‘s “Hamilton Corner” who described the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as “Satan’s work” that was “immune to legislation.” He went on to claim that the Democrats were “exploiting” the victims by calling for hearings on gun control
  • Mark Harris
  • Kristan Hawkins
  • Carl F. H. Henry — a prominent American evangelical theologian and a key figure in the neo-evangelical movement, advocating for evangelical engagement with broader culture while maintaining orthodox Christian theology who played a vital role in shaping evangelical thought in the 20th century. Henry’s influence continues through his foundational role in institutions like Fuller Theological Seminary and Christianity Today magazine.
  • Heritage Academy
  • Heritage Action
  • Heritage Foundation — a prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., established in 1973. It focuses on promoting conservative public policies based on principles like free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values, and strong national defense. The foundation has significantly influenced American politics and policy through research, policy recommendations, and influencing decision-makers, making it a key player in shaping U.S. conservative policy.
  • Eric Heubeck
  • Hugh Hewitt
  • Jack Hibbs
  • Rob Hilarides
  • The Hillsdale Collegian
  • Kay Hiramine
  • A. A. Hodge
  • John Henry Hopkins
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders — currently the sitting governor of Arkansas
  • Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG)
  • Nelson Bunker Hunt
  • Institute on Religion and Democracy
  • Larry Jackson
  • David Jeremiah
  • Bob Jones Sr.
  • Bob Jones Univeristy
  • Kingdom Warriors
  • KMMJ
  • C. Everett Koop
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Beverly LaHaye
  • Tim LaHaye
  • Wayne LaPierre
  • Bill Lee — Governor of Tennessee
  • Leonard Leo
  • Mark Levin
  • Liberty University
  • LifeWay Research
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Elias Loera
  • Nathan Lord
  • Dave Louden
  • Barry Loudermilk
  • John MacArthur
  • Rachel MacNair
  • Danielle Madison
  • March for Life
  • Ed McAteer
  • The Moral Majority
  • Jeanne Mancini
  • Manhattan Declaration
  • Rob McCoy
  • Mark Meadows
  • Mark Meckler — Tea Party activist and co-funder of Convention of States
  • Janet Mefferd
  • Roy Moore
  • Museum of the Bible
  • The Naked Communist
  • Penny Young Nance
  • National Center for Constitutional Studies
  • National Christian Foundation
  • National Conservative Student Conference
  • National Federation of Republican Women
  • National Right to Life Committee
  • Richard John Neuhaus
  • New Christian Right
  • Kristi Noem — Governor of South Dakota
  • Gary North
  • North Carolina Family Policy Council
  • Michael Novak
  • Old Time Gospel Hour
  • John M. Olin
  • Organicgirl
  • Joel Osteen
  • Sarah Palin
  • “Pastors Briefings”
  • Mike Pence
  • Pentecostals
  • Sonny Perdue
  • Tony Perkins
  • Rick Perry
  • Howard Phillips
  • Buddy Pilgrim
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Art Pope
  • Reverend J. C. Postell
  • POTUS Shield
  • The Power of the Positive Woman
  • Dennis Prager
  • Praise Network
  • Tom Price
  • Erik Prince
  • Scott Pruitt
  • Quiverfull movement
  • Oleg Rachkovski
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Ralph Reed
  • Carolyn Richards
  • Road to Majority Conference
  • Pat Robertson
  • Jim Robison
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Rousas Rushdoony
  • Karl Rove
  • John Rustin
  • SAGE Cons
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders
  • Salem Radio Group
  • Richard Mellon Scaife
  • Jeff Sessions
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • Phyllis Schlafly
  • Alan Sears
  • Jay Sekulow
  • Ben Shapiro
  • W. Cleon Skousen
  • SonLife Broadcasting Network (SBN)
  • SonLife Radio Network
  • Springs Community Church
  • Horatio Robinson Storer
  • R.J. Rushdoony
  • Southern Presbyterian Church
  • Southern Strategy
  • Darla St. Martin
  • Stop ERA
  • Students for Life of America
  • Susan B. Anthony List
  • Donnie Swaggart
  • Gabriel Swaggart
  • Jimmy Swaggart
  • Jimmy Swaggart Bible College (JSBC)
  • Jimmy Swaggart Telecast
  • Bruce Taylor
  • Jeff Taylor
  • Steve Taylor
  • Taylor Farms
  • Thomas Road Baptist Church
  • James Henley Thornwell
  • Robert Tilton
  • Unity Project
  • “Values Bus”
  • Values Voters Summit
  • Richard Viguerie
  • Young America’s Foundation
  • C. Peter Wagner
  • Chester Ward
  • Washington Watch
  • The Watchmen
  • Doug Wead
  • Well Versed
  • Paul Weyrich
  • Paula White
  • Donald Wildmon
  • Farris Wilks
  • Dan Wilks
  • World Ag Expo
  • World Congress of Families

See also: Christian nationalism terms

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Racists tend to see democracy itself as a conspiracy against white people, thanks in large part to the Lost Cause Religion that sprouted up after the South lost the Civil War and had to live with themselves after destroying their economy and stature for immoral ends. Authoritarians tend to get very agitated by diversity and difference. White nationalism is the Venn diagram between these two groups.

White nationalist ideology gained renewed attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, often manifesting through hate groups, online forums, and political movements. White nationalists argue for policies that would establish or maintain a white majority in the country, often opposing immigration from non-European countries and advocating for policies that they believe would preserve white culture. These views are widely considered to be based on racial prejudices and are often associated with hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

Prominent white nationalists

With the emergence of the alt-right and neoreaction groups espousing flavors of accelerationism during the Trump era, a host of white nationalists have come out of the closet and said the quiet parts out loud. Here are a few figures to watch out for:

Related to white nationalism

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strict father morality

Strict Father Morality is a term coined by cognitive linguist George Lakoff to describe a type of moral worldview that centers on the values of authority, discipline, and individual responsibility. This worldview is often associated with conservative political and social positions, and is often contrasted with a more nurturing and empathetic worldview that Lakoff refers to as the “Nurturant Parent” model — more closely aligned to a liberal and progressive worldview.

At the core of the Strict Father Morality worldview is the belief that the world is a fundamentally dangerous and competitive place, and that individuals must be prepared to compete and succeed in order to survive and thrive. In this worldview, the father is seen as the ultimate authority figure, responsible for providing for and protecting his family, and for instilling the discipline and self-control necessary for success in life.

Strict Father Morality -- a moral philosophy concept by Georg eLakoff

This patriarchal worldview is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles, where men are seen as the primary breadwinners and protectors, while women are seen as nurturing caregivers. This gendered division of labor is seen as necessary for the survival and flourishing of the family unit, and deviations from traditional gender roles are often viewed with suspicion or even hostility.

Christianity and Strict Father Morality

Central to the Strict Father Morality worldview is the idea that success is the result of hard work, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. Those who succeed in life are seen as having earned their success through their own efforts, while those who struggle or fail are seen as having brought it upon themselves through a lack of discipline or effort. This ideology is a derivative of the Protestant work ethic identified by sociologist Max Weber as one of the core animating worldviews behind fervent belief in capitalism.

Emerging out of Calvinism, the Protestant work ethic extends the idea that constant economic activity can show evidence of one’s eternal salvation. The emphasis on self-blame for one’s low economic condition is often used to justify policies that limit government intervention in areas such as healthcare, education, and social welfare.

the Protestant work ethic drove society to justify sending children to work in dangerous factories

Black and white thinking and Strict Father Morality

Another important aspect of Strict Father Morality is the belief in moral absolutes and the importance of maintaining a strong moral code. This includes a belief in the importance of law and order, and the need to punish those who break the law. In this worldview, moral relativism is seen as a dangerous threat to the stability and order of society, and the preservation of traditional values is seen as essential to maintaining social cohesion and stability.

Critics of Strict Father Morality argue that it is overly simplistic and ignores the complexity of human experience. They argue that the overemphasis on blaming individuals for their circumstances is a form of victim blaming, and can encourage a lack of empathy for those who face systemic barriers to success. They note the similarity of the entire ideology to a type of black and white thinking, and also argue that the traditional gender roles and emphasis on hierarchy and authority can lead to authoritarianism and intolerance.

traditional gender roles, by Midjourney

Strict Father Morality is also seen as being aligned with sexism, racism, and bigotry in general. It’s associated with ideas long ago debunked, dispelled, or defeated as poor ways of viewing and interacting with the world — due to basic inaccuracy.

In summary, Strict Father Morality is a moral worldview that emphasizes the values of authority, hierarchy, discipline, and limited government involvement, and is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles and moral absolutes. While this worldview can provide a sense of security and stability, it has been criticized for its oversimplification of human experience and its potential to usher in authoritarianism and glorify intolerance.

Related:

Black and White Thinking โ†—

Black and white thinking is the tendency to see things in extremes, and to view the world through a very polarized lens.

Christian Nationalism โ†—

Christian nationalism is the belief in, and attempt to bring about, Christianity as the state religion in America — including the imposition of Biblical Law.

Bob Altemeyer The Authoritarians, a Summary โ†—

Professor Altemeyer has studied authoritarianism and the authoritarian personality since 1966.

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phobia indoctrination, illustrated

Phobia indoctrination is one of the principle ways a charismatic leader will lull potential followers into his thrall, by putting them into a state of perpetual fear and anxiety. They know, either instinctively or through training (or both), that people can be induced into a prolonged state of confusion easily, and that many people in states of confusion act quite irrationally. Abusers, cult leaders, and other controllers use demagoguery and other tricks to hide in plain sight and continue to accrue power while passing themselves off as harmless or extremely patriotic.

These chaos agents use emotional manipulation and other tactics of emotional predators as a tool of control. They whip followers up into a fear frenzy frequently enough to instill a set of phobia-like instinctual reactions to chosen stimuli. In addition to stoking fears of the enemies at the gates, they also inculcate irrational fears of the consequences of questioning their authority — invoking authoritarianism. Any doubts expressed about the leadership or its doctrine are subject to terrifying negative results. Cults use this formula to wield undue influence over followers, and prevent them from questioning or leaving the group.

Phobia indoctrination is a tool of cults

As part of a larger overall program of brainwashing or mind control, cults and destructive organizations use imaginary extremes (going to hell, being possessed by demons, failing miserably at life, race war, Leftist apocalypse, etc.) to shock followers into refusing to examine any evidence whatsoever. A form of unethical hypnosis, phobia indoctrination can now be carried out on a mass scale thanks to the internet and our massive media apparatus. Be sure to be on the lookout for any cult warning signs in groups and messaging all around you.

Sociopaths and other types of emotional predators are taking ample advantage of their advantage in time and distance over the slow pace of justice. The wielding of fear as a cudgel in American politics has reached a fever pitch, with anti-Critical Race Theory hysteria, anti-vaxxers, anti-government types, anti-science, Lost Cause-revival zombie MAGA footsoldiers screeching about the “freedom!!!” they wish the government to provide them for persecuting their enemies, and other social horrors are merely the tip of the climate changing iceberg.

phobia indoctrination, illustrated

Phobia indoctrination tactics

Strategies of phobia indoctrination include Repetition and Conditioning, where fears are built through constant exposure; Misinformation and Propaganda, using false information to paint something as dangerous; Utilizing Existing Fears, exaggerating known fears or anxieties; and Social Pressure and Group Dynamics, leveraging social influences to convince others that irrational fears are common.

Other tactics include Authority and Expert Manipulation, where false credentials are used to lend legitimacy; Emotional Manipulation, appealing directly to emotions; Isolation and Control, where a person’s environment is manipulated; and Media Manipulation, using media to provoke fear.

Phobia indoctrination and cults book list:

Cult Dictionary โ†—

We had better get familiar with the lexicon and vocabulary of the coming era, so we can fight the creeping scourge of thought control roiling the land.

Proteanism vs. cultism: The battle between open and closed societies โ†—

Cultism as a kind of collective personality disorder; the enemy at the gates is us.

Cult Warning Signs: How to recognize cultish groups โ†—

Recognizing cult warning signs can be vital in identifying and understanding the risk before getting involved with a group who may not have your best interests in mind.

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cult warning signs

Cults, in general, refer to organizations or groups that often manipulate and exploit members, typically by using unorthodox beliefs and practices. Recognizing cult warning signs can be vital in identifying and understanding the risk before getting involved with a group who may not have your best interests in mind.

  1. Excessive Devotion to a Leader: Cults usually revolve around charismatic leaders who demand absolute loyalty and obedience. A disproportionate reverence for these figures may serve as a red flag.
  2. Us vs. Them Mentality: Cults often draw clear lines between insiders and outsiders, emphasizing that only they possess the truth. This divisive mindset encourages isolation from family, friends, and society, leading to further control over the members.
  3. Coercive Persuasion and Manipulation: High-pressure tactics are common in recruiting and retaining members. This may include controlling information, employing guilt or fear, manipulating emotions to maintain allegiance, and other tactics of emotional predators.
  4. Excessive Financial Demands: Many cults require significant financial contributions, sometimes even requiring members to relinquish personal assets. This financial control reinforces dependence on the group.
  5. Rigidity of Beliefs and Practices: A cult’s ideology is often absolute, with no room for questioning or dissent. Those who challenge the beliefs are typically met with hostility, punishment, or expulsion. This fundamentalist mentality permeates the entire group’s thinking and behavior.
  6. Unrealistic Promises: Cults may lure individuals with promises of spiritual enlightenment, exclusive knowledge, or personal success, often unrealistic or unattainable. These promises can entice individuals seeking meaning or connection in their lives.
  7. Control Over Personal Lives: Intense control over members’ personal lives, including relationships, employment, and living arrangements, can be a clear warning sign. Such control can erode personal autonomy and self-identity.
  8. Emotional Abuse and Fear Tactics: Cults frequently use fear, shame, and guilt to control members, creating an environment where members feel constant anxiety about meeting the group’s standards or displeasing the leader.
  9. A Focus on Recruitment: Many cults prioritize recruitment above all else, viewing every interaction as an opportunity to bring others into the fold. The pressure to recruit can be relentless and is often a central component of the group’s activities.
  10. Impacts on Health and Wellbeing: The demanding nature of cult involvement can lead to negative effects on mental, emotional, and physical health. This can manifest as anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other health issues, often ignored or downplayed by the group.
  11. Use of hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) techniques

Recognizing these warning signs is crucial for individuals, families, and communities to understand the potential dangers and take appropriate steps to protect themselves. The subject of cults is sensitive, often tied to deeply personal and societal fears, and it requires careful consideration and empathy.

Resources on cults

  1. Cult Education Institute (CEI)Website
    • Overview: Operated by Rick Alan Ross, an internationally known expert on cults, CEI offers extensive resources, including a database of information on specific groups, techniques for intervention, and guidelines to recognize coercive persuasion.
    • Target Audience: Anyone looking to educate themselves about cults, from concerned family members to academic researchers.
  2. International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)Website
    • Overview: ICSA is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups. They offer conferences, publications, and support networks.
    • Target Audience: Researchers, professionals, former cult members, and concerned family and friends.
  3. Freedom of Mind Resource CenterWebsite
    • Overview: Created by Steven Hassan, a mental health counselor and former cult member, this site offers resources on combating mind control in various settings, including cults, terrorism, and human trafficking.
    • Target Audience: General public, mental health professionals, and individuals directly affected by cults.
  4. Cult Information Centre (CIC)Website
    • Overview: Based in the UK, the CIC provides information, advice, and support to those concerned about cults. They offer educational programs and direct help to those affected.
    • Target Audience: UK residents, though the information is applicable globally.
  5. Redditโ€™s Cults CommunitySubreddit
    • Overview: This online community allows individuals to discuss personal experiences, share research, and ask questions related to cults. Moderated for respectful dialogue, it offers a more informal but still informative perspective.
    • Target Audience: Those looking for community interaction, shared experiences, and casual information on the subject.
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Legal statute requiring those persons lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or other entity to register such with the U.S. government.

Folks like Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner ran afoul of this law during their time in the US government.

History of FARA

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, often abbreviated as FARA, is a United States law passed in 1938. The purpose of FARA is to ensure that the U.S. government and the people of the United States are informed about the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of people trying to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws on behalf of foreign principals.

The Act requires every person who acts as an agent of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal. This includes activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons.

The Act is administered and enforced by the FARA Unit of the National Security Division (NSD) of the United States Department of Justice.

FARA does not restrict publishing of materials or viewpoints; rather, it requires agents representing the interests of foreign powers to disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances.

Originally, FARA was passed in 1938 in response to concerns about German propaganda agents in the United States in the years leading up to World War II, but its usage has evolved over time. The Act has been amended several times, most significantly in 1966 when its scope was narrowed to focus more specifically on agents working in a political context.

Non-compliance with FARA has become a more prominent issue in recent times, with several high-profile investigations and prosecutions related to the Act. The Act received significant media attention during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, when it was invoked in investigations related to foreign interference in the election — particularly Russian election interference.

More on FARA

Learn more about FARA from the Department of Justice.

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Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, bigotries, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

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A growing body of psychological and cognitive research is showing that the conservative mind has a few things in common. Some research suggests that conservatives may be more attuned to potential threats and have a stronger emotional response to them compared to liberals. For example, studies have found that conservatives tend to have greater physiological responses to images and sounds that evoke fear or disgust.

Other studies have found that conservatives tend to score higher on measures of cognitive closure, which refers to the tendency to seek closure and avoid ambiguity and uncertainty. This may manifest as a preference for traditional values and a resistance to change. Additionally, conservatives may be more likely to rely on heuristics (mental shortcuts) when making decisions, whereas liberals may be more likely to engage in deliberative thinking.

It’s possible these traits at growing scale could present a profound challenge for American democracy in years to come:

More on conservatives:

Fairness vs. Hierarchy โ†—

Liberals believe in fairness; conservatives believe in hierarchy.

Rule of Law vs. Cult of Personality โ†—

Democracy is built on the rule of law, but the right-wing tends to prefer a cult of personality.

Artists vs. Fundamentalists โ†—

Artists are famously left-wing, and fundamentalists are classically right-wing..

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Cancel culture refers to the practice of publicly calling out or boycotting individuals, companies, or institutions for behavior that is perceived to be offensive, controversial, or problematic. The goal is to hold these entities accountable for their actions and to pressure them to change their behavior.

This can manifest in various ways, such as social media campaigns, petitions, or protests. The aim of cancel culture is often to create social consequences for the perceived wrongdoing, such as loss of employment, loss of social status, or loss of financial support.

History of cancel culture

The term cancel culture emerged out of the earlier concept of political correctness, and gained popularity in the 2010s alongside the rise of social media. Some scholars and media theorists trace the concept of cancel culture back to even earlier phenomena, such as the boycotts and blacklists of the McCarthyism era in the United States on the right, or the call-out culture of feminist and anti-racist movements on the left.

Cancel culture and political correctness are related in that they both involve social and cultural pressure to conform to certain norms of language and behavior. Political correctness refers to the avoidance of language or actions that may be considered discriminatory, offensive, or insensitive, often with the aim of promoting inclusivity and social justice. Both tend to concern themselves with highlighting language, stereotypes, and assumptions rooted in racism, sexism, and other common forms of bigotry throughout history.

Cancel culture vs. political correctness

In some ways cancel culture can be seen as an extension of political correctness, in that it goes a step further by seeking to hold individuals and entities accountable for violating norms of respect and social justice. The collective power of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets has helped activists organize around ethical, moral, and political issues, and provided new tools for achieving accountability goals, through activities such as public shaming, boycotts, or other forms of social and economic pressure.

In my opinion, the right-wing critique of so-called cancel culture is grounded in an erroneous conflation between governmental action and collective organizing by groups of individuals who are themselves often associated with political activism. Cancel culture is often mentioned in the same breath with censorship, whose definition connotes government tyranny and overreach.

Cancel culture vs. censorship

Typically, however, the government is not involved in actual instances of cancel culture — it is merely people exercising collective powers provided by private social media companies. In fact, it seems to me that right-wing policy tends to involve actual censorship — such as Florida governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or (also in FL) the Republican bill introduced which would require political bloggers to register with the state.

I think it’s important to be discerning, in these instances, about who is exercising power and why — is it really a case of the government overreaching (censorship), or is it simply a group of people reacting appropriately to the continued presence of structural racism, sexism, and many other -isms in modern society: and stubbornly so, after decades and centuries of collective social justice work?

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Political psychology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the psychological processes underlying political behavior, attitudes, and decision-making. It seeks to understand how people’s beliefs, emotions, and motivations influence their political preferences, and how these preferences shape their behavior within the political system.

Political psychology draws on theories and methods from psychology, political science, sociology, and other social sciences to study topics such as political ideology, voting behavior, political attitudes, public opinion, intergroup relations, political leadership, and conflict resolution.

The field also examines how political events and institutions affect individuals’ psychological well-being and how psychological factors contribute to the formation of political identity and collective action. Political psychology has practical applications in areas such as political communication, campaign strategy, policymaking, and international relations.

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Dark money refers to political spending by organizations that are not required to disclose their donors or how much money they spend. This allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to secretly fund political campaigns and influence elections without transparency or accountability.

The term “dark money” gained prominence after the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the Court ruled that corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, as long as the spending was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

This decision opened the floodgates for massive amounts of dark money to flow into political campaigns, often with no way for the public to know who was behind it. Dark money can come from a variety of sources, including wealthy individuals, corporations, trade associations, and non-profit organizations.

Hidden donors

Non-profit organizations, in particular, have become a popular way for donors to hide their political contributions. These organizations can operate under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which allows them to engage in some political activity as long as it is not their primary purpose. These groups are not required to disclose their donors, which means that wealthy individuals and corporations can funnel unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns without anyone knowing where the money came from.

Another way that dark money is used in politics is through “shell corporations.” These are companies that exist solely to make political donations and are often set up specifically to hide the identity of the true donor. For example, a wealthy individual could set up a shell corporation and then use that corporation to donate to a political campaign. Because the corporation is listed as the donor, the individual’s name does not appear on any public disclosure forms.

The money can be used to run ads, create content and propaganda, fund opposition research, pay armadas of PR people, send direct mail, lobby Congress, hire social media influencers, and many other powerful marketing strategies to reach and court voters.

These practices erode at the foundations of representative democracy, and the kind of government the Founders had in mind. One is free to vote for who one wishes, and to advocate for who ones wishes to hold power, but one has no Constitutional right to anonymity when doing so. It infringes on others peoples’ rights as well — the right to representative and transparent government.

Dark money impact

Dark money can have a significant impact on elections and public policy. Because the source of the money is not known, candidates and elected officials may be influenced by the interests of the donors rather than the needs of their constituents. This can lead to policies that benefit wealthy donors and special interest groups rather than the broader public.

There have been some efforts to increase transparency around dark money. For example, the DISCLOSE Act, which has been introduced in Congress several times since 2010, would require organizations that spend money on political campaigns to disclose their donors (the acronym stands for “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”). However, these efforts have been met with resistance from groups that benefit from the lack of transparency — who, somewhat ironically, have been using their influence with the Republican Party to make sure the GOP opposes the bill and prevents it from passing, or even coming up for a vote at all.

In addition to the impact on elections and policy, dark money can also undermine public trust in government. When voters feel that their voices are being drowned out by the interests of wealthy donors and special interest groups, they may become disillusioned with the political process and less likely to participate.

Overall, dark money is a significant problem in American politics. The lack of transparency and accountability around political spending allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to wield undue influence over elections and policy. To address this problem, it will be important to increase transparency around political spending and reduce the influence of money in politics.

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conspiracy theories, disinformation, and fake news

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary: From QAnon to Gnostics

In half a decade we’ve gone from Jeb Bush making a serious run for president to Marjorie Taylor Greene running unopposed and winning a House seat in Georgia. QAnon came seemingly out of nowhere, but taps into a much deeper and older series of conspiracy theories that have surfaced, resurfaced, and been remixed throughout time.

Essentially, QAnon is a recycling of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy theory that drove the Nazi ideology and led to the genocide of over 6 million Jews, gypsies, gays, and others who made Hitler mad. It’s riddled with the kind of conspiratorial paranoia that led to the deaths of over 75 million people in World War II.

The spread of the QAnon conspiracy theory greatly benefits from historical memory, getting a generous marketing boost from sheer familiarity. It also benefits from an authoritarian mentality growing louder in America, with a predilection for magical thinking and a susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking.

Tales as old as time

Conspiracy theories have been around much longer even than the Protocols — stretching back about as long as recorded history itself. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? In an increasingly complex world brimming with real-time communication capabilities, the cognitive appeal of easy answers may simply be stronger than ever before.

Anthropologists believe that conspiracy theory has been around for about as long as human beings have been able to communicate. Historians describe one of the earliest conspiracy theories as originating in ancient Mesopotamia, involving a god named Marduk and a goddess called Tiamat — both figures in Babylonian creation mythology.

According to the myth, Marduk defeated Tiamat in battle and created the world from her body — but some ancient Mesopotamians at the time thought that the story was not actually a mere myth, but a political cover-up of a real-life conspiracy in which the followers of Marduk secretly plotted to overthrow Tiamat to seize power.

This “original conspiracy theory” was likely driven by political tensions between city-states in ancient Mesopotamia, although there are very few written records still around to corroborate the origin of the theory or perception of the story at the time. Nevertheless, the Marduk-Tiamat myth is regarded as one of the earliest known examples of widespread belief in conspiracy theories, and it points to the relative commonality and frequency of false narratives throughout history.

Whether deployed purposefully to deceive a population for political advantage, created to exploit people economically, or invented “naturally” as a simple yet satisfying explanation for otherwise complicated and overwhelming phenomena, conspiracy theories are undoubtedly here to stay in culture more broadly for some time to come. We had best get the lay of the land, and understand the language we might use to describe and talk about them.

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary

TermDefinitionNotes
4chanA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.alt-Right
8chanIf 4chan wasn't raw and lawless enough for you, you could try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan while it still stood (now 8kun). Described by its founder Frederick Bennan as "if 4chan and reddit had a baby," the site is notorious for incubating Gamergate, which morphed into PizzaGate, which morphed into QAnon -- and for generally being a cesspool of humanity's worst stuff.alt-Right
9/11 truthersPeople who believe the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001 were either known about ahead of time and allowed to happen, or were intentionally planned by the US government.
alien abductionPeople who claim to have been captured by intelligent life from another planet, taken to a spaceship or other plane of existence, and brought back -- as well as the folks who believe them.UFOs now real, nbd
American carnageEvocative of "immense loss" in the Nazi mythology
AntifaAntifa is anti-fascism, so the anti-anti-fascists are just fascists wrapped in a double negative. The real cancel culture -- and a dangerous one.
Anti-SemitismOne of history's oldest hatreds, stretching back to early biblical timesReferred to as "the oldest hate," anti-Semitism is also inherently anti-feminist, because Jewish societies wereย once matrilineal.
Biblical inerrancy
birtherismOne of Donald Trump's original Big Lies -- that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and therefore, wasn't a "legitimate" president.
Black Lives Matter
blood libel
child trafficking
Christian Identity
climate change denial
The Confederacy
contamination
cosmopolitanismAnother term for globalist or internationalist, which are all dog whistles for Jewish people
Crossing the Rubicon
cultural MarxismAnti-semitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jewish intellectuals who fled the Hitler regime were responsible for infecting American culture with their communist takeover plans and that this holy war is the war the right-wing fights each day.
deep state
DVEdomestic violent extremism
fake news
GamerGate
George Soros
Hollywood
Illuminati
InfoWars
JFK assassination
John Birch SocietyThe QAnon of its day (circa 1960s), this extreme right-wing group was theoretically about anti-communist ideals but espoused a host of conspiracy theories and outlandish beliefs
lamestream mediaDerogatory term for any media that isn't right-wing media.
leftist apocalypse
Makers and Takers
micro-propaganda machineMPMthe โ€œmicro-propaganda machineโ€ โ€” an influence network that can tailor peopleโ€™s opinions, emotional reactions, and create โ€œviralโ€ sharing (๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝLOL/haha/๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝRAGE) episodes around what should be serious or contemplative issues
motivated reasoning
New World Order
nullificationA constitutional "theory" put forth by southern states before the Civil War that they have the power to invalidate any federal laws or judicial decisions they consider unconstitutional. It's never been upheld by the federal courts.
One World Government
PizzaGate
post-truth
PRpublic relations
propaganda
Protocols of the Elders of ZionForged anti-semitic document alleging a secret Jewish child murder conspiracy used by Hitler to gin up support for his regime.
PsyOpsPsychological operations
QAnon
Q Drops
reactionary modernism
Reichstag fire
Rothschilds
sock puppets
"Stand back and stand by"
The Storm
WikiLeaks
ZOGZionist ---- Government
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The GOP is 3 cults in a trench coat

One of two major parties in our American first-past-the-post voting system of dual-party reality, the Republican Party, has evolved (or devolved…) into a full-throated authoritarian movement seeking to overthrow our democracy, The Constitution, and the rule of law in order to establish a fascist regime in the United States. It’s been a not-so-secret fever dream on the right for decades and even centuries — and the old guard reflexively senses their time is coming to an end.

The demographic changes underway in America are inexorable — by the 2024 election cycle 8 million new young voters who have turned 18 since the 2022 mid-terms, and 5 million seniors aged 65 and up will have died. The first group will vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while the second group represents the ever-dwindling base of the Republican Party. Although historically older voters have participated at much higher rates than the youth voting percentage, the rate of increase for the 18-24 group is much higher.

Faced with these realities and the census projection of a majority minority population in the United States by the year 2045, the Republican right-wing is struggling to keep piecing together a voting base that can achieve victories in electoral politics. The GOP is now 3 cults in a trenchcoat, having been hollowed out and twisted to the point of trying desperately to hold increasingly extreme factions together for another election cycle in which they can try to capture power forever through gerrymandering and other anti-democratic election engineering — or at least long enough to erase the evidence of their criminal behavior during the Trump years culminating in a coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

The 3 Republican cults

  1. The Wealth Cult — led by Charles Koch and a collection of dark money groups including Leonard Leo’s Federalist Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  2. The Christian Nationalist Cult — led by Mike Pence, Mike Flynn, and others under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP), the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and other religious organizations involved in politics
  3. The White Nationalist Cult — led by Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, with a parallel intertwined branch led by Peter Thiel and the Dark Enlightenment neo-Reactionaries of Silicon Valley. This group includes dominant private militia groups involved in the January 6 insurrection including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (both of whose leaders have been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the coup attempt — with the Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for his actions).

The Wealth Cult

Led by Charles Koch et al, the mostly aging, Boomer crowd who controls much of the US government either directly or indirectly as a donor or operative is starting to panic for one reason or another: the fear of death looming, existential worries about thwarted or unmet ambition, economic turn of the wheel starting to leave their fortunes in decline (with inflation as a common boogie man since the Wall Street Putsch of the 1930s). Much of this crowd inherited the free market ideological zeal of the Austrian School of economics (later, trickle down economics) from their fathers along with their trust fund fortunes that some have squandered (Trump), tread water with (Coors, Scaife), or grown (Koch, DeVos).

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The American Founders, by me and Midjourney

The Founders meant for the republic to be agile in philosophy — always changing to meet the new demands of the next generations. They meant for us to be self-governing, and empowered to create policy for problem-solving in new eras they themselves could not even conceive of. Thomas Jefferson wrote forewarningly of the Dead Hand of the Past and how critical it would be to not remain trapped by it. The Founders were agile not in the sense of software development (obviously!), but in the same spirit: they embraced responding to change over following a plan, and in continuously uncovering ways to develop a more perfect union.

Conservative ideology on the other hand — and in particular, Originalism — flouts the actual intentions of the Framers while cloaking itself in nationalist symbology. It tries to claim that our modern hands are tied by the dead ones of the past. The Originalist doctrine currently holding sway at The Supreme Court, The Federalist Society, and the majority of right-wing judiciary maintains that the best we can do is peer feebly into the distant past and try our best to squeeze ourselves into the minds of the men who inked our Constitution some 235 years ago.

The Founders wrote things. A lot of things.

Leaving aside for a moment the impracticality of that theory as an actual practice of interpreting the law, some consideration of materials on hand shows us that we needn’t go to all that trouble in the first place — why? Because the Founders left a lot of writings behind about exactly what they meant, and the principles they were thinking about, at the time of the nation’s founding and the drafting of our Constitution.

Continue reading The Founders were agile
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