Faith-Based Fascism?

Compassionate Fascism?

John W. Robbins

Faith-Based Foolishness

Some misguided and foolish Christians think that only Christ can change lives, and they therefore preach the false gospel of the changed life. They do not understand either Christianity or false religions. One of the most impressive testimony meetings I have ever attended was in the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Moslems, Mormons, Methodists, and Mariolaters can give similar testimonies: “The Koran, or Holy Mother Church, or the Queen of Heaven, or the Saints have changed lives.” The natural man can believe and does believe many varieties of false religions, some of which may indeed help him curb his drunkenness or his womanizing or his wife beating. But none of these religions is true; none can save his soul; only the finished work of Christ, accepted in simple faith, can do that. And it is precisely this message of the Gospel that all these religions and government policies oppose. When fans of faith-based organizations say they want results, they are demanding results that they can observe, record, quantify, and subject to statistical analysis. They could care less about the souls of those on whom they operate. If Mohammedanism can produce sober citizens from drunks, more tax money and power to it.

Today it is common to hear that faith helps people recover from accidents and illness; faith helps them put their lives and families back together, or, as [former] President Bush put it, “Social scientists have documented the power of religion to protect families and change lives. Studies indicate that religious involvement reduces teen pregnancy, suicide, drug addiction, abuse, alcoholism, and crime.” Ronald Sider, writing in Christianity Today (June 11, 2001), informs us that “a growing body of research demonstrates that religion often goes hand in hand with good citizenship and overall health.” Which religion? It doesn’t seem to matter for faith-based foolishness. Mormonism works as well as Christianity, and the messages of Prophet Mohammed and the Apparition Mary are as effective as the Gospel of Christ. They all work.

Now this exploitation of religion by government for government’s purposes has been the story of humanity, from the Fall of man to the 21st century. Fascism is not a new idea, invented by Mussolini and Hitler in the 20th century. Attila, the man of force, frequently used the Witchdoctor, the man of superstition, or formed a partnership with the Witchdoctor, in order to control the people and maintain power. Faith-based fascism is but the latest example of this religio-political partnership. Ronald Sider, writing in Christianity Today, unwittingly put it this way:

Scholars cite a wide range of studies showing that “religion is strongly associated with good citizenship and improved physical and mental health.” Active participation in a religious group correlates with lower suicide rates, drug use, and criminal behavior; better health; and altruistic behavior. [While] Nonreligious funders [contributors to charitable organization] may overlook a perfunctory prayer to start the day, they often refuse to support holistic social programs run by Christians who think that encouraging the adoption of a specific religious faith is an essential component of their social program.

Sider makes it clear: The adoption of a specific religious faith is a component of a social program. This is theological paganism, a complete reversal of Christian doctrine and priorities, which teach that all social programs (if there are any at all) are secondary at best, and that the proclamation of the Gospel and the whole counsel of God is primary. Christians are to set their minds on things above, not on earthly things. They are to fear him who can destroy both body and soul, not him who can kill only the body. They are to recognize that a person is not what he eats, but what he thinks. They are to teach that God’s kingdom comes, not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit working in the minds of men. They are to warn all men that this earthly life is brief, and the things of this world are passing away; that wrath is coming, and the life (or death) that follows the Judgment is everlasting. They are to warn everyone that what they think of Jesus Christ will result in their everlasting happiness or their never-ending agony.

The Great Commission is not a component of some larger social program; it is the whole program, and it is not social. Whatever charitable works are done by individuals, private organizations, and churches (not governments, whose purpose is the punishment of evildoers, not the ministry of mercy) are to be done in the furtherance of that mission. To reverse ends and means is to deny the Gospel. Christ said, contradicting Ronald Sider and all other proponents of the Social Gospel, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” To make earthly things the goal, and to make the kingdom of God and his righteousness the means, is a damnable perversion of Christianity.

Writing of an earlier proposal to bastardize Christianity and make it a useful contributor to good citizenship and a component of a social program, J. Gresham Machen said,

We find proposed to us today what is called “character education” or “character building.” Character, we are told, is one thing about which men of all faiths are agreed. Let us, therefore, build character in common, as good citizens, and then welcome from the various religious faiths whatever additional aid they can severally bring. What surprises me about this program is not that its advocates propose it, for it is only too well in accord with the spirit of the age. But what really surprises me about it is that the advocates of it seem to think that a Christian can support it without ceasing at that point to be Christian. (4)

Today, the so-called evangelicals are mindlessly parroting the pious bromides of the modernists and Social Gospelers of 75 years ago. To state it more clearly, many of those we now call evangelicals are in fact modernists. They have abandoned Christianity. And what pious fascists call “social justice” are the sins of envy and theft.

Faith-based Fascism

The 16th century Cardinal Tommaso Cajetan, a determined opponent of the Reformation, explained very clearly the Roman Catholic theology behind faith-based fascism:

Now what a ruler can do in virtue of his office, so that justice may be served in the matter of riches, is to take from someone who is unwilling to dispense from what is superfluous for life or state [condition], and to distribute it to the poor. For according to the teaching of the saints, the riches that are superfluous do not belong to the rich man as his own, but rather to the one appointed by God as dispenser, so that he can have the merit of a good dispensation. (5)

The same theological and moral justification of stealing by government has been stated by many popes, councils, and theologians throughout the long and bloody history of the Roman Church-State. Using the principles of the universal destination of goods and subsidiarity, the Roman Church-State concocted the most comprehensive case for economic and political fascism the world has ever seen.

 Amintore Fanfani, Premier of Italy, published a book titled Catholicism, Protestantism and Capitalism in 1934. Fanfani presented the Roman Church-State’s social teaching and concluded that “the essence of capitalism can only meet with the most decided repugnance on the part of Catholicism.” What is that essence? Individualism, the private property order, freedom of enterprise, freedom of association, freedom of religion. Fanfani, like many Protestant-poseurs today, longed for the good old days, the feudalism of the Middle Ages:

The pre-capitalist age is the period in which definite social institutions such as, for instance, the Church, the State, the Guild, act as guardians of an economic order that is not based on criteria of individual economic utility. The Corporation or Guild is typical of the period. It is the guardian of a system of economic activity in which the purely economic interests of the individual are sacrificed either to the moral and religious interests of the individual-the attainment of which is under the control of special public institutions-or to the economic and extra-economic interests of the community. Competition was restricted; the distribution of customers, hence a minimum of work, was assured; a certain system of work was compulsory; trade with various groups [guess whom] might be forbidden for political or religious reasons; certain practices were compulsory, and working hours were limited; there were a number of compulsory feasts; prices and rates of increase were fixed; measures were taken to prevent speculation. (6)

This fascist organization of society was a result of the social teaching of the Roman Church-State, and it has been a result of that teaching wherever the Roman Church-State has been powerful enough to impose its will on a nation.

Roman Catholic historian Christopher Dawson, writing in 1936 in Religion and the Modern State, acknowledged Romanism’s affinity for fascism:

[Roman Catholicism] is by no means hostile to the authoritarian ideal of the State. [T]he [Roman] Church has always maintained the principles of authority and hierarchy and a high conception of the prerogatives of the State. [Roman Catholic social ideas] have far more affinity with those of fascism than with those of either [Classical] Liberalism or Socialism. [They] correspond much more closely, at least in theory, with the fascist conception of the functions of the “leader” and the vocational hierarchy of the Fascist State than they do with the system of parliamentary democratic party government.(7)

The Joy of Fascism

 Dr. John J. DiIulio, the man heading the President Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, explains “compassionate conservatism”:  DiIulio says that Bush rejected the “destructive” idea that “if government would only get out of the way, all our problems would be solved.” Two years later, on January 29, 2001, President Bush asserted, “Government cannot be replaced by charities or volunteers.” President Bush clearly rejected the Biblical view of limited government. Rather than restricting government to its only legitimate role, the punishment of evildoers, as Paul says in Romans 13, President Bush wants to involve government further in society by expanding the “government-by-proxy” fascism that already grips America. DiIulio explained the plan to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) on March 7:

Since the end of World War II, virtually every domestic policy program that Washington has funded in whole or in part has been administered not by federal civil servants alone (there are about 2 million of those today, roughly the same number as in 1960), but by federal workers in conjunction with state and local government employees, for-profit firms, and non-profit organizations. There are, for example, six people who work indirectly for Washington for every one federal bureaucrat who administers social programs. Certain nonprofit organizations, both religious and secular, have long been funded in whole or in part through this federal government-by-proxy system.

Catholic Charities, for example, gets 65 percent of its $2.3 billion annual budget from government. The Jewish Board of Family and Children Services receives 75 percent of its funding from government.

 DiIulio intended to extend this system to include even more organizations and people, specifically religious organizations. He exults in the fact that under federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996, “sacred places that serve civic purposes can seek federal (or federal-state) funding without having to divest themselves of their religious iconography or symbols. [N]uns in habits [can] rub shoulders with Americorps volunteers” and so on.

In his speech to the NAE, DiIulio attempted to answer objections to faith-based fascism. To those who think it would corrupt their organizations if they were to participate, his answer is simple: Don’t participate. Good advice, but worthless. Under fascism, non-participation is not an option. We are compelled to pay taxes to support fascist government-by-proxy. We are compelled to obey the government’s proxies. The freedom not to participate should be extended to the collection of taxes, not just to the distribution of stolen property that DiIulio calls federal funding. One slogan of Italian Fascism was “Everything within the State; nothing outside the State.” Our home-grown fascists operate on the same principle, working to expand a political system that already penalizes those who oppose institutionalized and legalized theft and rewards those who favor legalized theft. Their goal is to politicize what remains of private charity.

In an interesting remark to the NAE, DiIulio disclosed his Antichristian view of the church: “Community helpers and healers need and deserve our individual and collective help. But they would need it less, much less, if the church behaved like the church, unified from city to suburb.”

 These sentiments are Antichristian for at least two reasons. First, the Christian church is not a social welfare organization. Anything it does to care for the physical welfare of people is incidental and subordinate to its overriding purpose, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian Gospel is not the Social Gospel. Paul even gives us instructions on who is not to be helped – those who will not work and widows under age 60 – to name two groups. Second, the church is not supposed to be a centralized institution. The churches in the New Testament are scattered over a wide geographical area; there is no centralized administration, no denominational apparatus, only congregations and an occasional presbytery meeting. The churches’ only visible links to each other are not organizational, but the apostles and evangelists.

When the apostles die, there is no visible, structural, or organizational link between the churches. Their unity lies solely in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”; Paul mentions nothing about one denomination. There is no common organization. Of course, the ambitious founders of DiIulio’s Church-State, the bishops of Rome (not Jesus Christ or Peter), seeking to supplant both the head of the church, Christ, and his apostles, invented and asserted apostolic succession, claimed to be the vicars of Christ walking on Earth, and imposed their control on other churches. Two thousand years after Christ the bishops of Rome are still seeking to impose their control on other churches. It is this bureaucratic and totalitarian view of the church that DiIulio favors, and it is this Antichristian view of the church that compassionate fascism will encourage, support, and if successful, impose. No wonder DiIulio says, “our hearts are joyous and light.”

The Nominally Reformed

Marvin Olasky, an adviser to President Bush pushing compassionate fascism, is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and a member of the board of Covenant College. Dr. Amy Sherman, who started the Abundant Life Family Center at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia, is now Urban Ministries Advisor there. That church already receives government funding for its social programs, and it apparently desires more. Dr. Sherman uses her position with The Hudson Institute to propagandize for faith-based fascism. Russ Pulliam, editor of the Indianapolis Star and a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, published an essay in that denomination’s magazine, Covenanter Witness, saying,

Bush should stand his ground in response to any legal threats to drag his proposals into court. He has the First Amendment on his side, based on a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson approved federal grants to Roman Catholic missions to the Indians. Congress approved its own government-paid chaplain. There is nothing unconstitutional about a government grant for a rescue mission that helps the homeless.

Not only does President Bush have the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, and Congress on his side, according to Pulliam, he has Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the Apostle Paul as well:

In Romans 13, Paul explains how civil government is designed to be a “minister of God to thee for good.” The king of civil government, after all, is Jesus Christ; so it should not be surprising that he can use that government to help in the resolution of social problems, through cooperation with ministries like Prison Fellowship.

Pulliam is not alone; the Christian Statesman, a periodical published by the National Reform Association, whose members are supposed to be conservative Presbyterians with Reconstructionist proclivities, has expressed similar views.

It may come as a surprise to Pulliam and his friends that there is no constitutional warrant whatsoever for federal subsidies to rescue missions. The arguments he uses – what Jefferson and Congress may or may not have done – beg the question: He ought to show that what they did was constitutional, rather than assume that the actions of Jefferson and Congress are ipso facto constitutional. Pulliam, for example, should have quoted James Madison’s February 27, 1811, veto message to Congress:

The appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies [is] contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.

Furthermore, there is no warrant in the Constitution for any federal welfare program, let alone a welfare program for religious societies.

Pulliam’s understanding of Scripture is no better, and perhaps worse, than his understanding of the Constitution: If Jesus Christ is king of civil government, and if it is therefore proper to use civil government to “help in the resolution of social problems,” then it also follows that it is proper to use government to help in the resolution of religious problems. One good non sequitur deserves another. That is how totalitarianism comes, step by illogical step.

The separation of church and state – is what has afforded and still affords us some religious freedom in this country. The Roman Church-State – indeed all pagan religions – has always been opposed to the separation of church and state, and it remains so today. Now it has millions of conservative dupes singing its siren song of partnership between church and state.*


Faith-based fascism will increase the size and scope of the federal government, extending it to organizations that have hitherto been outside the state. That is the explicit goal of the policy, as expressed by the President himself. “Everything within the State; nothing outside the State.”

Faith-based fascism will increase, not decrease, the constituencies of the welfare state, creating new special interest groups– government-funded religious organizations— that will pressure officials to grant them more money.

Faith-based fascism is based on a political delusion. John DiIulio and President Bush tell us that federal grants will be awarded and withdrawn on the basis of results. DiIulio asserts: “Opening competition for federal funds to all, including tiny local faith-based organizations, could usher in a new era of results-driven public administration. Scores of federal welfare programs could be cured or killed.” For someone who has co-authored a textbook on American government, DiIulio shows little understanding of how government actually works. Government-grant awards and denials are decided by political clout, political cronyism, and political biases. With the addition of government grants to faith-based organizations, we must add religious clout, religious cronyism, and religious biases. Tax funds will flow to political and religious friends and be withheld from political and religious foes.

Faith-based fascism, therefore, will affect which religious societies will grow and which will not. Those with federally funded programs will attract members; those who obey the Bible and the Constitution will be pushed from the public square, marginalized, criticized, and persecuted by the “armies of compassion.” Richard John Neuhaus’ “naked public square” will once again be filled with praying, autodafeing fascists, just like in the good old days.

Medicaid and Medicare money currently goes to religious hospitals. Should this practice be ended? Child care vouchers for low income families are redeemed every day at houses of worship across America. Should this be prevented? Government loans send countless students to religious colleges. Should that be banned?”  Yes, and the sooner the better.

End the student loans; they are funded by money stolen from taxpayers; they have driven the cost of a college education out of sight; and they are used to put young people deeply into debt at the start of their lives.

End the child care vouchers; they are funded by money stolen from taxpayers, and they are used to put children into 9-to-5 orphanages.

End the subsidies for medical care; they are funded with money stolen from taxpayers; they have raised the price of medical care to exorbitant levels; they have encouraged people not to provide for their own; and they have made government an idol.

End the subsidies to Catholic Charities and World Vision; they are funded with money stolen from taxpayers. If those charities were half as wonderful as they tell us, their efforts would attract adequate voluntary contributions. The fact that these charities must rely on funds obtained by force suggests that their programs are less than worthwhile, less than efficient, or less than beneficial.

And let’s be clear about charity. Charity is not compelling someone else to give his money to the poor. It is giving one’s own money away; it is freely contributing one’s own time. Government charity is a contradiction in terms, for government has no money except what it collects by force from others. Aggravated theft and increased compulsion is a violation of the Ten Commandments. There is nothing Christian or charitable about it.

 By choosing which Biblical doctrines they would believe and teach, and which they would ignore many have abandoned the whole counsel of God. They have abandoned the Gospel of the substitutionary death of Christ for his people and justification by faith alone. They have also denied what the Scriptures teach on private property, the role of government, and the social order.


Recommended Reading

Fanfani, Amintore. Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism.

University of Notre Dame Press [1934] 1984.

Flynn, John T. As We Go Marching. Free Life Editions [1944] 1973.

Laquer, Walter. Fascism: Past, Present, Future. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Robbins, John W. Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church. The Trinity Foundation, 1999.

Rummel, R. J. Death by Government. Transaction Publishers, 1995.

1 For a more accurate view of the Roman Catholic treatment of marriage and the family, see Sheila Rauch Kennedy, Shattered Faith: A Woman’s Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage. It is outrageous that two institutions that have sinful views of marriage and the family – the Roman Church-State and the Mormon Church – now enjoy reputations as defenders of the family.

2President Bush is not the first convert, but he seems to be more enthusiastic about the religion than some others. Last year, under pressure from the Vatican, Republican Congressional leaders dropped their opposition to a Clinton administration proposal to forgive the debts of 30 poor countries. President Clinton made the proposal a week after John Paul II called for government forgiveness of debts during 2000, a ìJubilee Year.î

3 Relativist tolerance is always disguised intolerance. When asked during the campaign if he would support federal funding of the Nation of Islam, Bush replied, ìI don’t see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs where spite and hate is the core of the message.î But the Nation of Islam had produced results: It is reputed to be very effective at dealing with drug abuse and crime problems; in fact, in the early 1990s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had contracted with the Nation of Islam to provide security in public housing projects. Under pluralism, all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.

4 ìThe Necessity of the Christian School,î in Education, Christianity and the State, John W. Robbins, editor, 76.

5 Cited in John W. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania, 36.

6 Cited in Ecclesiastical Megalomania, 74.

7 Cited in Ecclesiastical Megalomania, 161.

In my view the author, Mr Robbins, does not discern clearly the American version of the separation of church and state. The phrase, “separation of church and state” does not appear in any of America’s founding documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. The American Constitution declares; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…Contrary to this, The Russian (a pagan nation) Constitution did include the separation of church and state. This is, in my view an important distinction in regards to examples such as Jefferson’s funding for Catholic missions to the Indians. Jefferson’s funding only initiated the project, in that the funding lasted only one year. After that, the Catholic missions to the Indians had to fund themselves. It was not an ongoing funding of the project, nor was the government establishing a national church. I do however think Mr. Robbins makes a valid point with churches becoming involved with ongoing government programs. It is an argument churches and individual citizens should take seriously and confront themselves with. (GospelBBQ)

This is an edited version of the article, edited by Pete Coker. To view in article in its entirety see

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