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The eve of self-destruction

Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, Paige Patterson, Paul Presslar

Slogging through the news each morning (and afternoon, and evening) is increasingly dangerous to the mental health of rational, morally sane people. Yet I hold my nose and continue to do it. Whether we acknowledge it or not, Americans really are living through a Manichaean period of good versus evil. How this all turns out probably will be the most important inflection point in American history.

Part of what nauseates me is the sheer ugliness and depravity of the people we now have to read about each day in the news. In a post eleven months ago, I floated the idea that conservatism is not just a way of seeing the world, but that conservatism is inherently pathological and is a symptom of moral defect. The farther to the right one goes, the greater the pathology and the greater the defect.

Why do so many morally defective people crave power? Some attain it; most don’t. Why is it that the ever-present flip side of a craving for power is a craving to be submissive to “authority”? Why do morally defective people who are unable to attain power lust to submit to a morally defective big man who will act out their defectiveness for them? When morally defective men do attain power, why do they fail to grasp that power brings scrutiny and resistance, and that scrutiny and resistance will eventually expose their secret crimes, their foibles, and their evil? Why do they fail to grasp that they will never acquire the absolute power and the absolute truth-control that they crave and that eventually they will be exposed and brought down? What is is about morally defective men that causes them to cloak themselves in religion? Why are religious people so easily duped by, and led by, morally defective men? The obvious answer is that these things are just the inherent nature of authoritarian moral defectiveness, which always gets entangled in dominance and dogma.

Some of these thoughts were amplified this morning when I came across a piece in The Atlantic with the headline “Southern Baptists Call Off the Culture War.” I hope that is true, because Southern Baptists have been — I will not mince words, and I must resort to Manichaean language — a powerful force for evil for decades. The Atlantic piece sets the date for when this evil began, and it names two of the evil men who launched it:

“In 1967, at New Orleans’s historic Café du Monde, a young seminary student named Paige Patterson and Texas Judge Paul Pressler met over a plate of beignets to hatch a plan to unite conservative Southern Baptists and take over America’s largest Protestant denomination.

“The two men successfully executed their strategy in the subsequent decades, a movement they labeled the ‘Conservative Resurgence’ and their opponents dubbed the ‘Fundamentalist Takeover.’ Whatever one calls it, the result was a purging of moderates from among denominational ranks, the codifying of literal interpretations of the Bible, and the transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention into a powerful ally of the Republican Party.”

The exposure and the bringing-down took decades, but eventually even Southern Baptists — people of little intellectual or moral achievement — managed it, probably after women and people of color asserted themselves against the old white men. Paige Patterson was recently ruined and disempowered for covering up rape and abuse, among other things. Paul Presslar is in a heap of trouble, accused of molesting children and raping boys. None of this would have gone on for so long if so many people had not looked the other way. As with Catholicism in Ireland, a country that was once so priest-ridden, and where nuns once trafficked in children and pregnant young women, a reckoning and rethinking may be beginning, even among slow-on-the-uptake white people in the American South. I cannot let up on hammering those people who think that the church and its God-besotted people can do no wrong. Religion attracts, and provides cover for, the wicked. The wicked and their enablers are entirely capable of destroying the American democracy while believing that God put these big men here to save us.

I’d have a question for Southern Baptists, who, according to The Atlantic piece, are trying to reconstitute themselves in a better way. That question is: Why were you (as with Trump) unable to see what those men are? It was right under your God-besotted noses for years.

The story about Presslar in the Houston Chronicle contains a quote from a Baptist preacher from around 1978 that is very telling. The reference to high school students seems to have to do with Presslar’s pursuit of boys:

“Are you going to minister to 250 high-school students or 13 million Southern Baptists?”

Reports are that some evangelicals are losing their enthusiasm for Donald Trump. Every little shred of decency helps. Maybe that decency could even grow, with fewer evil men to feed moral defectiveness.

Stephen Miller, by the way, is the moral monster who apparently talked Trump into putting little brown-skinned children into concentration camps. Miller’s destruction will be particularly satisfying to watch.

Between 35 and 40 percent of the people in this country remain in a state of depravity and delusion, cheering the deeds of morally depraved men. Partly because of this army of losers’ steady diet of propaganda — not to mention their need for scapegoats — they still don’t see what Donald Trump is, and they still don’t see what is going to happen. Their propaganda system is potent enough not only to make millions of people believe that Donald Trump was “sent by God.” It’s also potent enough, thanks partly to racism, to demonize, and to blame the bad stuff on, honorable men like Barack Obama. Still need scapegoats? Try billionaires and oligarchs instead of little brown-skinned children.

As for what is going to happen, Donald Trump (and many members of his criminal syndicate) are going to prison (some have already gone) for corruption and treason. The danger — and this is why I can’t turn away from the news — is in how much damage they will do before they are exposed and brought to justice. As for Trump’s God-besotted enablers, it’s up to us to rub their God-besotted noses in the consequences of their moral defects.


  1. Jo wrote:

    I have been watching a couple of documentaries covering the late 1930’s and the run-up to World War 2.

    After viewing those and reading the above, my first thought was the words, “If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.” Scary!

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 1:31 am | Permalink
  2. Henry wrote:

    Holy Mollie, I love this Post! Can I borrow it?

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Henry, go for it!

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  4. Daniel Daves wrote:

    Not on topic but relevant –

    David, not sure if you’re aware of this government reform and reorginization plan, but

    It’s something. We will have a Ministry of Plenty – Bureau of Economic Growth. They will try to have both God and mammon, it seems.

    Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

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