On the day before US mid-term elections, US media is reporting on the Christian nationalist wing of the Republican Party and its role in supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin while opposing military aid to Ukraine. According to a report in The Intercept:
November 7, 2022 The Central Question looming over the 2022 midterm elections is whether the Republican Party is morphing into a fascistic organization that wants to end the messy business of elections, voting, and democracy and create a right-wing autocracy instead. Ever since Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the January 6 insurrection and followed by Republican efforts to downplay the coup attempt, it has become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the Republican mainstream and the party’s extremist fringe.If the Republicans prevail and gain control of Congress, one of the first tests of their true intentions will come when they must decide whether to support continued U.S. military aid to Ukraine in its defense against this year’s brutal Russian invasion. In a Republican-controlled Congress, votes on aid to Ukraine are likely to reveal a sharp divide between traditional, hawkish Republicans who oppose the Russian invasion and have supported the Biden administration’s military aid to Ukraine, and the new and growing faction of the Christian evangelical movement known as Christian nationalists, many of whom admire Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and want to cut off American support for Ukraine. Votes on Ukraine will serve as a barometer of whether traditional Republicans still have any influence, and whether they have the will to stand up to the rise of extremism within their ranks.
The report goes on to characterize Christian Nationalists and their admiration for Putin:
Christian nationalists represent a frightening dynamic within the Republican Party. They are theocrats who don’t believe in the separation of church and state and who argue that the United States was founded as a “Christian” nation and needs to return to those origins. They despise Western secularist culture; fear white demographic decline; and deeply resent feminism, homosexuality, abortion rights, and even individualism, which they see as a modern concept at odds with a more traditional, hierarchal society. Christian nationalists now dominate the extreme right of the Republican Party, and they have come to believe that Putin is a warrior for Christian fundamentalism and that his invasion of Ukraine is one step in his campaign to crush the global woke left. The intra-party fight over aid to Ukraine could be the first battle in a long war for control over the Republican Party’s foreign policy. Christian nationalists see Putin as the leader in a powerful right-wing counterattack against liberal secularism and as a protector of their Christian faith. Putin has encouraged this support from Christian nationalists in the United States and other Western nations by co-opting the Russian Orthodox Church and waging a culture war inside Russia, notably with anti-gay and other supposedly “pro-family” measures. Now, many in the Christian nationalist wing of the Republican Party openly want Putin to crush Ukraine’s pro-Western government and win the war. They willingly accept Russian disinformation and often parrot Moscow’s lies about Ukraine.
Finally, the report identifies some of the prominent Republican Christian Nationalists:
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the loudest voices of Christian nationalism in Congress, and one of the few who doesn’t shy away from the term in public. Earlier this year, she spoke at an event held by a white nationalist group where many in the crowd chanted, “Putin! Putin!” Last week, Greene told a rally in Iowa that Congress would cut off funding for Ukraine if Republicans gain control. “Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.”
- Meanwhile, Wendy Rogers, an Arizona state senator, tweeted in February that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a “globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”
- “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other,” J.D. Vance, a Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio, said earlier this year. (He later dialed that back, saying, “Vladimir Putin is the bad guy in this situation,” while claiming that “we cannot fund a long-term military conflict that I think ultimately has diminishing returns for our own country.”)
- Former President Donald Trump now recognizes the growing power of the Christian nationalist wing of the Republican Party and has been using pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine rhetoric at his rallies and elsewhere. He’s claimed that Putin has been “smart” in his invasion of Ukraine.
“So Putin is now saying it’s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force,” Trump said.
- Along with Trump, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson has also been using pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine talking points, providing a platform for Russian disinformation during the U.S. election campaign. A feedback loop has developed between Carlson and Putin: Carlson will parrot Russian propaganda on Fox News, and then government-controlled Russian television will show that Carlson has repeated those lies.
The Intercept report characterization of Republican Christian Nationalists matches what the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has been calling the Global National Conservative Alliance (GNCA), described in a GIOR report as follows:
Russian President PUTIN has expressed an interest in Russia becoming the ideological center of a new global conservative alliance, and European far-right leaders have taken pro-Russian positions based on a similar ideology. Hungary is at the center of a developing alliance between European far-right nationalists and American conservatives that Russia could potentially exploit for use in information warfare. This alliance operates under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” centered on national sovereignty, cultural identity, and opposition to global institutions and representing a potentially radical change for the US conservative movement away from long-held Reagan-era philosophies.
Read the full report here.
The GIOR report identifies a series of international National Conservative conferences sponsored by the Edmund Burke Foundation, bringing together leading National Conservative figures from around the world. A US media report describes the Christian Nationalist themes that dominated the most recent of these conferences, held in Miami, Florida, from September 11 — September 13:
Repeatedly, speakers here framed the ongoing fight against the American left in biblical terms — a “religious battle” in which Republicans must be unafraid to use state power to thwart progressive goals not just in government, but the private sphere, too. Those at the gathering often argued both the culture wars and a changing economy are a battle of Christian ideals vs. a new age secularism. Again and again throughout the three-day National Conservatism Conference, or NatCon, these right-wing thinkers argued for putting an end to the era of small-government conservatism while promoting religion at the center of public life. Closing the conference, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued the divide in the country was one between Christian theology and a “woke religion that is raising itself up as the official state ideology,” adding that “insofar as conservatism as a movement has a future, it is a future that is going to be increasingly tied to explicit theological claims.
Read the rest here.
In his recent speech marking the annexation of occupied Ukrainian provinces, Putin invoked extremist Christian themes to support the Russian occupation. According to EU media:
September 30, 2022 Using startling rhetoric, Putin portrayed the annexation as a holy war against the West, which is helping Ukraine to defend itself. “They [the West] are moving toward open satanism,” he said in a speech broadcast to millions online. Western elites were teaching “sexual deviation” to children who changed their gender, he said. “We’re fighting for historical Russia, to protect our children and grandchildren from this experiment to change their souls,” he added. Putin invoked Jesus by name to bear witness to his “truth” and portrayed himself in messianic terms.“I believe in the spiritual power of the Russian people and my spirit is its spirit, the suffering of the people is my suffering,” he said.
Read the rest here.
This week, in a message marking Russia’s Day of National Unity, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the task of the fatherland was to “stop the supreme ruler of Hell, whatever name he uses — Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis.”
Read the full The Intercept report here.
[NOTE: GIOR recognizes that The Intercept has had its share of controversy but is currently classed as highly factual by an independent media rating group. We find the article cited in this post to be of high quality.]