WASHINGTON – In a stunning rebuke of U.S. conservative Christians, two close aides to Pope Francis have drawn comparisons between Islamic terrorists and American evangelicals, accusing the latter of advancing “a theocratic type of state.”
Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian pastor and editor-in-chief of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano, and Antonio Spadoro, editor-in-chief of the Vatican’s La Civilta Cattolica, teamed up to write the blistering attack on U.S. Christians – including Catholics who embrace the conservative values of evangelicals – in the latter periodical.
The authors characterize Francis as “courageous” for giving “no theological-political legitimacy to terrorists, avoiding any reduction of Islam to Islamic terrorism. Nor does he give it to those who postulate and want a ‘holy war’ or to build barrier-fences crowned with barbed wire.”
They say “fear” is what characterizes “fundamentalism.”
“It is fear of the breakup of a constructed order and the fear of chaos,” they write. “Indeed, it functions that way thanks to the chaos perceived. The political strategy for success becomes that of raising the tones of the conflictual, exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism. Religion at this point becomes a guarantor of order and a political part would incarnate its needs. The appeal to the apocalypse justifies the power desired by a god or colluded in with a god. And fundamentalism thereby shows itself not to be the product of a religious experience but a poor and abusive perversion of it.”
In fact, the pope’s proxies assign harsh and impure motives to their theological and political adversaries on the right side of the political spectrum that they do not assign to defenders of radical Islam.
“To maintain conflict levels, their (American Christian conservatives) biblical exegeses have evolved toward a decontextualized reading of the Old Testament texts about the conquering and defense of the ‘promised land,’ rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels,” they write.
In addition, the called out – by name – President Donald Trump’s senior strategist Stephen K. Bannon, as one of those identified as having “apocalyptic” views of geopolitics.
They say Bannon, a Catholic himself, is part of a “fringe group” of U.S. Christians who seek to bring about a theocratic state and that his views are fueled from the “Christian reconstructionism” views of Calvinist John Rushdoony.