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Religious Right Leaders Warn: Vote Republican, Or We'll Have Another Holocaust

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Obama is like Hitler ; his healthcare reform legislation includes a provision to create an army of Marxist brownshirt thugs ; the hour is late, the church now faces what German churches faced, with the rise of the Nazis, in the 1930s - we must fight now, or never ; taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's ovens ; stop Obama, or face another Holocaust.

At an October 30, 2012 pastors rally in Tampa, Florida, with the election only days away, prominent Texas Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who in 2011 attacked Mormonism (Mitt Romney's faith) as a cult, informed his audience that failing to stop President Barack Obama from gaining a 2nd term in office would be like failing to stop Hitler and could lead to another Holocaust.

The 2012 election may pivot on evangelical turnout, and now that the IRS has ceased enforcing its rule that prohibits tax deductible religious nonprofits such as churches from making political endorsements, evangelical leaders are free to openly warn their flocks that a horrific fate awaits unless they vote for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Typically dismissed by the left as mere lunatic hyperbole, there's a vast, dark ideological underside to such warnings.

From the far-right fever swamps of the Internet, to the leadership of the potentially revolutionary Christian right, to the heights of elite evangelicalism, at the Fellowship-sponsored yearly National Prayer Breakfast (attended by U.S. presidents since Eisenhower), conservative evangelicals paint a picture of America on the verge of full-blown, left-wing fascism.

Their evidence ? - the Obama Administration's health care reform efforts, including an HHS rule that some religious charities must offer birth control in their healthcare plans. Plus the existence of legalized abortion, and the spread of legal same-sex marriage.

While that might sound insane to American unfamiliar with such culture war tropes, these claims make eminent sense to millions of conservative evangelicals.

Pastor Jeffress' warning, of a looming 2nd Holocaust, was not an aberration - he was merely reinforcing a narrative that has been told to millions of evangelical Christians: from megachurch pulpits, from the pulpit of the Glenn Beck Show, via evangelical broadcast networks, through secular rightwing books and magazine articles, by Internet conspiracy theories.

As I wrote in an early 2010 article published by Zeek, an imprint of the Jewish Daily Forward,

"Who killed Europe's Jews? Millions on the American evangelical right have grown up believing the culprits were liberals and leftists, homosexuals, evolutionists and atheists, occult worshipers and even Jews themselves. "

While many observers have noted that American culture has split into culturally antagonistic factions, few have noted the extent to which these factions hold wildly conflicting views of reality.

This goes beyond the mere fact that more registered Republicans believe in the possibility of demon possession ( 68%) than believe that the Earth's climate is warming ( 48%).

Books like Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, pseudo-documentaries like MAAFA 21, and of course inflammatory TV and radio monologs Glenn Beck fit into a preexisting uber-narrative in which Hitler and the Brownshirts never cracked the skulls of communists and leftists in Germany's streets because the Nazis were communists, or socialists at least, and gay as well; and all the horrors of World War Two, especially the Holocaust, were natural outgrowths of secular, Darwin-inspired eugenicist thinking. This grand narrative also presents both legal abortion and civil rights for homosexuals as signs of incipient fascism.  

Here are some examples of how these themes are deployed :

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