The author, Chris Hedges, was a speaker at the Wilmington College Peace Symposium in 2005. In that presentation he spoke primarily about his nearly 20 years of experience as a war correspondent for the New York Times. As I remember, he recounted the devastation that war brings in the context of his theological orientation.

Years earlier he had graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School. I can remember thinking that his approach was quite pessimistic and that he had been influenced too much by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr whose writings were formed during the devastation that World War II brought to the world. “American Fascists” is clearly related to Hedges’ talk at Wilmington College and the book he had published some years ago, “War Is a Force That Gives Life Meaning.”

Ideas for this book grew out of a class in ethics he had taken at Harvard taught by a professor who had left Nazi Germany in the mid 1930s. The professor, Dr. James Luther Adams, at age 80 told his students that by the time they are his age they would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.” He saw back then disturbing parallels between the Christian Church and the Nazi Party in Germany and today’s Christian Right in the U.S.

He explained that a prolonged period of social instability, catastrophe or national crisis could see a movement under the guise of Christianity emerge and attempt to dismantle our open society. He felt that liberal democracies were vulnerable to such movements and did not comprehend the “allure of evil or the cold reality of how the world worked.”

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