A National Disaster: The Scope of the Republican Voter’s Demonic Obsessions

Democrats know by now that cray-cray has gone mainstream in the Republican Party. The more “out there” it is, the more “in” it is. So it is no surprise that, as Right Wing Watch put it, that Gordon Klingenschmitt, “the demon-obsessed anti-gay exorcist,” ran in the GOP Primary In Colorado – This is the same Klingenschmitt who claims that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to “molest and visually rape your children.”

Because, you know, demons do that stuff and a whole lot more. And it’s apparently important to Republican voters in Colorado that these demons be stopped, because as RWW also reported at the end of June,

Klingenschmitt won that primary race by several hundred votes, becoming the official Republican nominee for House District 15 in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Yes, a Republican candidate was nominated on a demon platform. People voted for that. Not in 1314, but in 2014. In America.

And don’t forget Sarah Palin’s personal witch hunter.

Or that a 2012 poll revealed that a majority of Republicans – 68 percent! – believe in demonic possession.

In an effort to highlight this problem, I have written here before about the Religious Right’s obsession with demons. First in 2012 with Demonize It! The Fundamentalist Obsession with Demons, and Satan Ate my Government! The Fundamentalist Addiction to Satan; following this up in 2013 with Fundamentalists Drool at Thought of Miley Cyrus Having Sex with Demons and Festival of Lights Invites Demons into White House Says Bryan Fischer, and, of course, my own favorite, Pat Robertson Says You Have Demons in Your Underpants.

For Republicans, even something as benign as Yoga is demonic.

The titles may be a bit tongue in cheek but they are also quite serious. The Religious Right actually seems to believe these things, absurd as they may seem in a 21st century milieu. The thirteenth century would clearly be more fitting, but don’t get up – the Religious Right is bringing the 13th century to you!

The problem is not just Republicans who subscribe to demons as an explanation for society’s apparent ills. The problem is liberal and progressive voters who don’t take this obsession with demons seriously. Laughing at them won’t make demons go away any more than will exorcisms, and rational arguments are about as much use as holy water.

Klingenschmitt has previously “revealed” that President Obama is “ruled by gay demons” and is “worthy of death.” He even wrote a book about it, “The Demons of Barack H. Obama” in which, according to RWW, the President is ruled by,

the “demonic sprits” of “death,” “murder,” “child-murder,” “sexual abuse,” “genocide,” “paganism,” “witchcraft,” “homosexual lust” and “anti-Christian oppression”… to name just a few.

And we thought Ann Coulter was being extreme when she treated liberalism like a mental disorder. This goes a bit beyond psychiatry. Even bad psychiatry.

It scarce needs be said that this is not a healthy approach to government. There is “demonizing” an opponent and then there is demonizing an opponent. It is one thing to argue that your opponent’s methods or ideology are mistaken; it is quite another to argue that his methods and ideology derive from Satan and that therefore not only must his arguments be dismissed, but he himself must be killed for having advanced them.

This goes far beyond the usual Republican approach, namely the almost benign-by-comparison “nobody has a right to disagree with us,” or, in Klingenschmitt’s case, “you don’t have a right to accurately report what I said.”

This is the stuff of the Inquisition.

And there goes the First Amendment, what is left of it after the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling.

American democracy cannot long survive the introduction of this demonic paradigm. But then, theocrats like Klingenschmitt don’t want democracy to survive. You cannot have a national dialogue if one side is being metaphorically – or worse, actually – burned at the stake or stoned to death for opening their mouths.

Democracy is about debate and compromise. Those go out the window if one side is believed to be speaking for Satan.

And it’s not just Klingenschmitt who talks this way, but numerous Religious Right figures. Ted Cruz (R-TX) publicly ties the political left to Satan and his father is a dangerous religious fanatic. Televangelist Rodney Howard-Boone told his flock last weekend that America “has become demon possessed.”

Actually, it has become demon obsessed, which is not quite the same thing. Belief in demons does not equal demons.

But Howard-Boone insists that “We have allowed the Devil (you know, the guy the Old Testament says isn’t the ultimate agent of evil) to come in and take over every realm of society.”

He claims that our government, “like our nation has become demon possessed in every realm.”

No surprise then he thinks – in contradiction of the views of the Founding Fathers, notably Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – that church-state separation is “a bunch of garbage.”

If you think this doesn’t concern you, you’re wrong. It may seem like small potatoes when Warren Throckmorton reveals that Mars Hill megachurch equates mental illness with demonic possession and that to be “treated” church members must undergo “demon trials” of all things. Yes, in the 21st century.

But it’s not. Here is what Throckmorton has to say:

First, Mars Hill and [Seattle megachurch pastor Mark] Driscoll apparently consider depression and mental illness to be manifestations of the demonic. Consider the following aspects of the spiritual inventory a person who might go through a demon trial should consider:

  • Please consider the following list and list each thing that has been besetting and/or habitual for you: bestiality, habitual lying, physically unhealthy, masturbation, lying, pornography, ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, drug use, anger, blasphemy, violence, self-inflicted injury, rape, incest, eating disorders, mental illness, pedophilia, and anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please consider the following list of sins that may have been committed against you or by you: rape, incest, molestation, other forms of abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, mental, emotional), as well as anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please briefly explain any involvement you may have had with the occult, witchcraft, or anything spiritual other than orthodox biblical Christianity.
  • Please briefly list any of your ancestors and any activity they may have been involved in with the occult, witchcraft, other religions, drug use, alcohol abuse, sexual deviancy, rape, incest, mental illness, and anything else listed above or that comes to mind.

To the degree that Mars Hill pushes this teaching, they are part of the problem identified in 2013 via research by Lifeway. Ed Stetzer at Lifeway reported that 48% of evangelicals believe prayer and Bible study alone can cure serious mental illness. In the case of Mars Hill, apparently prayer, Bible study and a demon trial can work.

It doesn’t take much to imagine, should the Religious Right become ascendant, that such trials will not be limited to churches in which congregations subscribe to this medieval nonsense.

What happens when the Supreme Court says you can’t get therapy for mental illness because your employer believes demons are responsible? It’s not only NOT far fetched, it’s probably just around the corner. Will Americans take the GOP’s demon obsession seriously then?

It is not difficult to envision the Religious Right’s longed-for impeachment of President Obama devolving into a “demon trial” – since his “problem” after all, is that he is possessed by Satan, or at the very least, Klingenschmitt’s “gay demons.” Probably the Obama family’s Portuguese Water Dogs “Sunny” and “Bo” will also be tried, because “gay animal demons” are attested too.

And look, these are the people you deal with on a daily basis, from family members, immediate or extended, to co-workers to friends or friends of friends. These people, who are mental-inhabitants of the 13th century, are among us in the 21st.

Like you, perhaps more often than you, THEY VOTE. They run corporations you may work for. They ELECT lunatics like themselves, some who then, like George W. Bush, appoint other lunatics to important non-elective positions. Lunatics like Supreme Court justices, who then make decisions about YOUR life based on SOMEBODY ELSE’S religion.

Naturally, if that somebody else believes in demons and Satan and possession, you can see where the outcome might be problematic. You could quickly find yourself living a nightmare. It is a mistake to think this is a problem only Beyoncé has to deal with.

Not demonic possession, but demonic obsession, is a national nightmare. It is a national tragedy the scope of which has scarce been recognized.

It is time for liberals and progressives to take this problem seriously, unless they want to find themselves also living in the 13th century, which, I can guarantee you, won’t be fun for any of us.

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