I’ve often thought that large sections of the US religious right were about as Christian as the fictional “Golden Promise Ministries” in Charles Stross’ recent novel “The Apocalypse Codex“. No spoilers, but given that the novel is set in a world influence by H.P.Lovecraft I think you can fill in the blanks…
This quote from commenter “mds” in a very long post-election thread in Making Light. discussing the meltdowns of so many people on the American right seems to confirm at lot of this:
There are currently large swathes of fundamentalist Christianity who now embrace the Tim LaHaye-esque view that the Sermon on the Mount is only a description of the Millenial Kingdom, not a prescription for current Christian behavior. Most of the Gospels are largely ignored by my own fundamentalist family members, who are almost exclusive concerned with that one infamous verse from Leviticus; a patchwork quilt of prophetic material from Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation; the most odious excerpts from Paul’s epistles; and an utterly unsourced hysteria about abortion, which fundamentalist Protestants didn’t give two shits about until the late seventies at the earliest. Heck, the only part of 1 Corinthians 13 they seem to have taken to heart is a little piece of verse 7: “believeth all things.” The motto of a Fox News viewer.
So to me, the current substantial overlap between Birchers, Objectivists and fundamentalist Christians is explained by the fact that too many fundamentalist “Christians” aren’t actually Christians any more, in any meaningful sense of the term. It’s been reduced purely to a tribal marker.
Ah yes, Tim LaHaye. If you’ve read any of Fred Clark’s extensive dissection of “Left Behind” you’ll realise this best-selling series of terribly-written hack novels not only preaches something far removed from orthodox mainstream Christianity, but has a malign grip on America’s religious and political life. LaHaye and the writers and preachers that influenced him, such as Hal Lindsay, Cyrus Scofield and John Darby have constructed a theology of their own out of the whole cloth that has little or nothing to do with traditional Christian belief at all. As Teresa Neilsen Hayden points out further down the comment thread:
It’s stupendously heretical — a break with almost all previous Christian belief and interpretation — but it does explain a lot.
More liberal Christians are reluctant to use the word “Heresy”. It’s been too often used as a term of abuse by fundamentalists aimed at anyone that disagrees with their sometimes over-literalist reading of scripture. But for any dogma that ignores Christ’s teachings in the Gospels entirely, let alone invents an entirely imaginary Gospel According to Ayn Rand, there’s really no other word to use.