One of the great struggles that the Christian Church has faced for as long as it has existed as a major religion is the unholy marriage of religion and State authority. In the Middle Ages, Popes crowned kings and queens, pitting political powers against each other; the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Russian Empire stood by as pogroms killed and demolished Jewish communities. During the Second World War, the Vatican held a neutral stance on Nazi Germany despite aiding Jewish folks escape the regime in secret. In the United States, white Christians have often lashed out at black Christians, most notably the bombing of the MOVE organization (a radical black Christian commune who blended some Pan-African principles with a desire to return to hunter-gatherer society) in 1985, and our own Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina was brutally attacked by a Confederate-worshipping White supremacist.
What do all of these events have in common? One might suppose that Christianity is intrinsically reactionary, but the existence of liberation theologists, loving but fierce critics of our church (no matter the sect or particular line of doctrine), show that the oft-repeated anti-religion stance is a nebulous criticism at best. Christianity is predicated on the idea that the Palestinian Jew Yeshua of Nazareth was Divine, and as such, His teachings guide our lives, which center serving the poor and the marginalized, challenging, not catering to, empire. From this basic premise, some Christians have looked to political figures like Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau, and see only false prophets who hold no hope of a better tomorrow for the marginalized under empire. Thus, our predecessors in the faith came to name the rot infecting our religion - Christofascism. The term was first coined by Dorothee Steffensky-Sölle, a leftist Christian theologian who used this portmanteau to describe her opposition to Christian fundamentalists of the variety with which we associate the Westboro Baptist Church here in the States. While her ideas on God are heterodox in most theological circles, her political naming of those Christians who have wed themselves to the image of an angry, vengeful God who despises black folk, immigrants, LGBT peoples, and aspires for the United States to be His instrument on Earth is a useful distinction.
Increasingly, many churches despair at the lack of Millennial attendance, but do not ask why their congregations are dwindling when the homeless in their community waste away, when Nazis claim public platforms, when black people are suffocated in their very existence, when they elected a President who serves the rich first and foremost. The Christian in America sees their neighbor suffering, and vainly thinks that such is not their business, that they are not responsible for growing fascism. In fact, the opposite is true – the majority of we Christians have allowed our faith to parlay with Nazi ideas and we have allied with White supremacy, imperialism, and capitalism. For a religion that claims to have come from a brown-skinned Man that owned little more than the clothes on his back and preached communal life where all that one owns should be available to both the stranger and the neighbor, we have fallen far indeed. Deny Christofascism. Deny it and speak its name, lest we be judged for what we failed to do.