By Werner Lange
In his classic text on religion and society, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, German sociologist Max Weber forcefully argues that the Protestant Reformation and laissez-faire capitalism share an ideological commonality as well as a geographical and historical one. The work ethic, inherent to all variations of Protestantism, formed a rational moral code which envisions idleness as sinful and industriousness as a categorical duty, even divine calling, for labor and capital alike; time, for both, is money, one in the form of wages and the other in the form of profit. Unlike Marx, Weber myopically failed to see any contradiction, or even conflict, between these two, at least not in the early stages of capitalism. Nevertheless, at the very end of his analysis, Weber gives voice to the possibility of a “mechanized petrification” of both Christianity and capitalism in the future, particularly within the United States. That possibility has become reality.
There is nothing left of the Protestant ethic in the petrified Christian Right of today. In fact, there is nothing ethical about this ossified body of right-wing zealots hell-bent on replacing what’s left of American democracy with a totalitarian theocracy within a Christian iron cage. In both ends and means, the Christian Right manifests a uncanny symmetry with the spirit of fascism marked by an obsession deeply embedded in both to thoroughly cleanse society of perceived filth by any means necessary, and return a contaminated culture to its mythological purity and glory.
“The Return” was even the official name of a massive Christian Right rally on the Mall in Washington D.C. strategically held 40 days before the presidential election of 2020, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing. This marathon 11-hour event was attended by over 200,000 devotees of the Christian Right, viewed by millions more and addressed by nearly 100 leading Christian fascists and Zionists, including Vice President Mike Pence. Though officially identified as “A National Day of Prayer and Reconciliation”, this marathon 11-hour “sacred assembly” was in reality a religious extension of the 2017 fascist “Unite the Right” rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia. The overriding message at both events was a strident call for America to cleanse itself of decadence and change its destined trajectory from tragedy to triumph. Setting the ominous tone at this Christian Right rally in late September was the featured speaker “prophet” Jonathan Cahn:
“We are standing at a most critical hour. The hour is late. A great nation is hanging in the balance, and a civilization begun thousands of years ago is hanging in the balance. We’ve witnessed the falling away of that which was founded on the Word of God; we have watched the advancing of darkness, the progression of an agenda that increasingly wars against the ways of God and increasingly threatens the Gospel itself…We’ve come here in repentance for our sins, the sins of the Church, for our nation and then for our world; and for the end-time revival of which the Scriptures speak. We’ve come here because we’ve been called to come here. And we gather because we’ve been appointed to do so. For this is an appointed gathering at the appointed place, at the appointed time by the hand of God.” (The Return USA, the return.org)
The passionate calls for repentance at this Unite the Christian Right assembly were not directed at the many participants and viewers, all of whom likely smugly believed they belong to the saved and sanctified. The demands to repent of social sin (especially emphasized by nearly every speaker, were the “sins” of abortion and socialism) were directed against the infidels, that mass of unsaved liberals infesting society with their secular humanism and ungodly actions. Should voluntary repentance and return to godly ways not be their choice, then the only alternative for the godly and patriotic is to forcibly cleanse society of the ungodly traitors. That is precisely what several terrorists in the January 6 fascist putsch called for:
“Everyone in there [the US Capitol] is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building” (terrorist Peter Stager,case 1:21-my-57, document 1-1).
“We’re not putting up with this tyrannical rule; if we got to come back and start a revolution and take all of these traitors out, which is what should be done, then we will” (terrorist Damon Beckly, case1:21-mj-60, Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint, p.5)
“We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system; it will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me” (terrorist Jon Schaffer, case 1:21-mj-94, Statement of Facts, p. 3)
Among the 75 arrested terrorists identifiable as Christian was Micheal Lopatic of Pennsylvania, a very devout Catholic and former Marine, who also repeatedly called for the execution of key Democratic leaders on a series of social media posts prior to January 6. On the day after the 2020 presidential election, Lopatic posted a “CALL TO ARMS” on his Facebook account which depicted two dead birds identified by him as “Joe and Kamala”. This was followed by more posts depicting dead birds he had killed and named their dead bodies after several prominent elected liberals. On New Year’s Day, he issued another call to arms: ASSEMBLE ON THE CAPITOL JANUARY 6TH, 2021, UNITED WE STAND, GO FORTH AND WE FIGHT” (Motion for Pretrial Detention, case 1:21-cr-35). And fight he did. Among the 7 counts of federal law violations charged against Lopatic were two serious felony offenses. He continually punched an officer of the Metropolitan Police Departments; ripped off the body-worn camera of another; and engaged in other acts of physical violence in and around the US Capitol. So egregious was his behavior that US attorneys concluded “the defendant was involved in some of the most violent assaults on law enforcement officers that occurred on January 6, 2021”, and that he “has demonstrated a tendency toward violence and willingness to impede and obstruct the right and lawful function of government” (Memorandum in Support of Pretrial Detention”, case 1:21-cr-35)
In stark contrast to these charges, members of his parish, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lancaster, presented an entirely different portrait of Lopatic in their 19 letters of support pleading for his pretrial release (Response by Michael Lopatic re Motion for Pretrial Release, case 1:21-cr-35): “He is a man whose heart is ablaze with the love of God”, wrote one parishioner, “A man of character, of deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of life (the supreme issue in our world today), he has not a violent bone in his body”. Another also claimed to “have never known him to be violent our hurtful to anyone”, but does know him “to speak his mind”, especially about defending “life-in-the-womb”. Other parishioners called attention to his service as a church usher, a religious educator for children, and a chaperone for Catholic youth attending annual summer retreats at the highly conservative Franciscan University in Ohio. One physician and fellow parishioner states that Lopatic “loves God very much and wants to do the right thing in God’s eyes”; another flatly states of this terrorist that “He has a strong faith in God and uses Jesus and the Bible as his compass”. If so, then that compass for this pro-life Christian fascist was surely broken on January 6 and obviously well before. His pretrial release was denied, and he remains incarcerated.
Yet his case is illustrative of the extent to which rabid opponents of abortion rights within the Catholic community have joined their evangelical Protestant counterparts in a fascist crusade. In a revealing January 6 interview broadcast on LifeSiteNews, part of the growing fascist propaganda internet news services, evangelical terrorist Leo Kelly of Iowa, openly admits to violating the law that day, but repeatedly and rhetorically asks “What are you supposed to do?” when the people have been betrayed and the election stolen: “At some point there’s enough illegal behavior and there’s enough crimes against the Constitution being committed by elected officials, so what are you supposed to do? Nobody in the courts will listen or take a look at the evidence”. Kelly was among the gang which invaded the US Senate Chambers and joined in a bizarre prayer which “consecrated it to Jesus” and made “an appeal to heaven”, which for him, was “the ultimate statement of where we are with this movement”. He concluded this 7-minute interview by declaring, in true evangelical form: “I’m redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ; there’s no judgement that stands against me. God will judge us” (man who entered Capitol tells his story, LifeSiteNews, January 6, 2021).
The “blood of Jesus” figured prominently in the mindset of other Christian terrorists arrested for their assaults on January 6. Joshua Blanks of Alabama said he was led by the “Spirit of God” to invade the US Capitol and that he “wanted to get inside the building so I could plead he blood of Jesus over it”. Once inside the Senate Chamber, he praised the name of Jesus on the Senate floor, adding that was “God’s goal ( al.com, 1/24/21; 1/28/21). Another Christian fascist, Michael Sparks of Kentucky, claims to be the first one to enter the US Capitol through a broken window. At his booking, he wore a T-shirt prominently displaying the word “Armor of God” and citing Ephesians 6:11 (Statement of Facts, case 1:21-cr-87). Sparks is a member of the Franklin Crossroads Baptist Church in Cecila, a Southern Baptist congregation, which states as its mission a commitment “to reaching people through the blood of Christ”.
One of the more popular hymns within evangelical circles is “What Can Wash Away My Sin” with the repeated refrain of “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”. As such, this hymn and host of biblical passages (e.g. 1 John 1:7) upon which it relies for authority, simply echo a plea for purity, a cleansing. However, when that refrain is weaponized into a prayer of “pleading the blood of Jesus”, there is a qualitative shift in meaning and purpose, one in full harmony with the fascist obsession for power. As one megachurch evangelical pastor (Pleading the Blood, jackhayford.org) expressed it: “Pleading the blood of Jesus is a heaven-given response that grants us a license to stand in dominion over the works of hell.” For Christian fascists “works of hell” is synonymous with all forms and expressions of liberalism or any other descendant of The Enlightenment. On January 6, pleading the blood of Jesus in and over the US Capitol was the functional equivalent of pleading for the blood of all there and beyond whom the Christian fascists label traitors.
None other than the most grotesquely dressed miscreant in that fascist mob, the fake shaman Jacob Angeli, gave voice to this function in his evocative evangelical prayer delivered by a bullhorn from the Senate Chamber dais after he had bellowed out some animalistic cries from the gallery. In one of the most bizarre scenes in Congressional history, this heavily tattooed self-described QAnon shaman, fervently led his fellow fascists in the Senate Chamber in a weaponized prayer of thanksgiving while Congressional members themselves were held in protective captivity in floors below.:
“Jesus Christ! We invoke your name! Amen! Thank you, Heavenly Father for bringing us this opportunity…[paused to take off his horns and skull cap as others removed their caps and reverently bowed heads; closed eyes; or raised both arms]
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for this opportunity to stand up for our God-given unalienable rights. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for granting the inspiration needed to allow us in this building; to allow us to exercise our rights; to allow us to send a message to all the tyrants, communists, and globalists that this is not their nation; that we will not allow America, the American way, the United States of America to go down.
Thank you, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator God for filling the chamber with your white light of harmony. Thank you for filling this chamber with patriots that love you and that love Christ. Thank you, divine omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator God for blessing each and everyone of us here and now. Thank you for surrounding us with the divine white light of love, protection, peace and harmony.
Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists and the traitors in our government. We love you! In Christ’s holy name we pray! Amen!
There is, of course, nothing shamanistic about this prayer. It comes straight out of the evangelical playbook, and there is nothing authentic about the acclaimed shamanism of its deliverer. Angeli is a fraud. In fact, the entire MAGA mob was marked by pervasive fraud. All were faux patriots; many were faux Christians; and at least two were faux Jews affiliated with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. No Muslims or members of Eastern faith traditions are known to have participated in the domestic terrorism of January 6, or even stood among the tens of thousands who attended Trump’s Save America Rally on the ellipse.
Christian fascists and fascists without any religious affiliation, exclusively white and mostly male, monopolized this utter disgrace. Fortunately, they do not constitute anywhere near a majority in our increasingly diversified society. Nevertheless, the Christian Right and the Spirit of Fascism, a marriage forged in hell, remains a potent force with a divorce nowhere in sight. Given the largely anemic status of the American Left, the most we can currently hope for is that this diabolical union is childless in the short run, and then rendered totally impotent culturally and politically in the fullness of time.
 Weber, Max The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, Dover Publications, 2003,p.182
 “A Reporter’s Footage from Inside the Capitol Siege”, The New Yorker, Jan. 17, 2021