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The United States has experienced religious and cult hucksters throughout its history, from Cotton Mather and his Salem witch burners to Billy Sunday, Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, and others. But none have ever achieved the kind of power now possessed by a powerful and secretive group of conservative politicians and wealthy businessmen in the United States and abroad who are known among their adherents and friends as The Fellowship or The Family. The Fellowship and its predecessor organizations have used Jesus in the same way that McDonald’s uses golden arches and Coca Cola uses its stylized script lettering. Jesus is a logo and a slogan for the Fellowship. Jesus is used to justify the Fellowship’s access to the highest levels of government and business in the same way Santa Claus entices children into department stores and malls during the Christmas shopping season.
Journalist, columnist, and television commentator Bill Moyers recently wrote that “for the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.” Ever since Abraham Vereide, a misguided immigrant to this country who brought very un-American ideas of Nazism and Fascism with him in his steamer trunk, the so-called “Christian” Right has long waited to take the biggest prize of all – the White House. Moyers correctly sees the Dominionists or “End Timers” as being behind the invasion of Iraq. He cites the Book of Revelation that states, “four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man.” Such words may have their place in Sunday School and in church halls but using such thinking to launch wars of convenience or religious prophecy have no place in our federal and democratic republic. Moyers also rightly sees fundamentalist thought behind Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” and the rolling back of environmental regulations.