Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa call out the dominionist groups “composed mainly of whites from the deep American South” for their rejection of the “global ecological crisis” and their Armageddon-infused rhetoric, pointedly drawing parallels to Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalism.
They accuse these evangelical fundamentalists of seeking “influence in the political and parliamentary sphere and in the juridical and educational areas so that public norms can be subjected to religious morals.”
“This is the doctrine that feeds political organizations and networks such as the Council for National Policy and the thoughts of their exponents such as Steve Bannon, currently chief strategist at the White House and supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.” The writers said.
Claiming that evangelical fundamentalists who desire “religious influence in the public sphere” are not the only group, they continued:
“Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists. . . . Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. . . . This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.”
More than 15 years after the Catholic bishops helped get George W. Bush elected president and nearly eight after the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, the Vatican has discovered what had become the defining feature of the Christian Right in America: the conservative evangelical-Catholic convergence.
And while Spadaro and Figueroa are critical of the sublimation of gospel values to the goal of right-wing political domination, it’s worth noting that the two issues that drove this convergence in the first place—abortion and same-sex marriage—haven’t exactly been abandoned by Pope Francis.
As for the “glue” that holds this altogether—and formed the underpinning of the Manhattan Declaration coalition—Francis has been a proponent of the idea that the “religious liberty” of Catholics is under attack in western democracies such as the United States, even as Spadaro and Figueroa criticize its use for political ends:
The erosion of religious liberty is clearly a grave threat within a spreading secularism. But we must avoid its defense coming in the fundamentalist terms of a “religion in total freedom,” perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state.
While much of their criticism is justified, Spadaro and Figueroa are silent about the role that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict played in the creation of the “evangelical Catholics” they complain about and about the role that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops played in driving conservative Catholics into the arms of the Republican Party, and, eventually, Trump.
The following article was published in RP Front.