The cry of “socialism” is the Christian Right’s new sling blade in its attacks against President Barack Obama, disclosing full-throated anger and repeating the same charge as the political right.

“I predict the Obama Administration will not only give illegal aliens high paying jobs through this federal infrastructure program, but also citizenship. With citizenship comes the right to vote and thereby securing election after election for the Cultural Marxists,” spewed Brannon Howse, president of Worldview Weekend.

“The more I read, hear, and research, the more I am willing to believe this financial crisis, that was birthed in the Clinton Administration, was possibly orchestrated in order to destroy the middle class and implement radical, extreme socialism,” said Howse.

He asserted, “The goals of Cultural Marxism are primarily the destruction of Christianity and the creation of chaos. The ultimate goal is to move from Cultural Marxism to traditional Marxism and that is what is happening to America today.”

Obama “is definitely a Marxist ‘true believer’ who will not deviate from his socialist goals,” wrote Janice Shaw Crouse, director and senior fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, earlier this year.

“Did you sign up for socialism?” asked Janet Porter Folger, founder of Faith2Action, in a column title. She labeled the president’s economic stimulus bill as “The Socialist Stimulus partisan package” which “will take money from you, your children and grandchildren to give” to programs such as global warming research and HIV prevention.

One of the movement’s grandfather’s, Pat Robertson, told his staff at a prayer retreat that God shared with him that Americans will welcome socialism.

“The steps taken will lead to a dramatic increase in the power of government. The people will welcome socialism in order to relieve their pain. Nothing will stand in the way of a plan by Obama to restructure the economy in the same fashion as the New Deal in the ’30s,” said Robertson.

“How many have been duped by Obama’s personality and good looks? Don’t they understand that a socialist economy means the end of prosperity, individual initiative, personal dreams and a complete transformation of America, as we have known it? After the ‘stimulus bill’ will come health care ‘reform.’ Watch Obama declare an emergency in his pursuit of socialized medicine,” charged columnist Cal Thomas, a Moral Majority vice president in the 1980s.

Of course, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land had to smear expansion of the children’s health insurance program, SCHIP, as a step toward “’socialized medicine’ by stealth.”

Why is the word “socialism” becoming such a popular battle cry among Christian Right activists?

Defeated and demoralized in November’s elections, the Christian Right is trying to rally its fragmented base and to recoup its credibility. Given Obama’s widespread popularity within the Christian community, they must generate fear in order to raise money and to command loyalty.

A second reason for the new sling blade is that the Christian Right has run through a host of other fear-mongering words — liberalism, secularism, atheism and feminism. They need a new buzz saw, which sounds unchristian, with which to cut their opponent. If Obama is successful, he may well diminish their political and cultural influence for years to come. They can’t let that happen. A new term is needed for a new day.

A third reason for using the word is the Christian Right’s theological viewpoint about the market place. They believe that God is the “invisible hand” in the market, making the faithful to prosper. If God is in control, then God determines that the poor will be poor and the rich will be rich. Government should not interfere with God’s purposes. Besides, it’s the church’s responsibility to care for widows, orphans, the hungry and those in ill-health, not the government’s duty — so assert fundamentalists and conservative Christians.

People of faith, who want to advance the common good, need to call out those who bear false witness against Obama with the smear of “socialism” and who promote the flawed theology of the invisible hand.

Robert Parham is executive editor of and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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