This is some scary stuff from the New York Times:
They opened with an invocation, summoning God’s “hedge of thorns and fire” to protect each person in the dark Phoenix parking lot.
They called for testimonies, passing the microphone to anyone with “inspirational words that they’d like to say on behalf of our J-6 political prisoners,” referring to people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, whom they were honoring a year later.
Then, holding candles dripping wax, the few dozen who were gathered lifted their voices, a cappella, in a song treasured by millions of believers who sing it on Sundays and know its words by heart:
Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper
Light in the darkness, my God
That is who you are …
This was not a church service. It was worship for a new kind of congregation: a right-wing political movement powered by divine purpose, whose adherents find spiritual sustenance in political action.
The Christian right has been intertwined with American conservatism for decades, culminating in the Trump era. And elements of Christian culture have long been present at political rallies. But worship, a sacred act showing devotion to God expressed through movement, song or prayer, was largely reserved for church. Now, many believers are importing their worship of God, with all its intensity, emotion and ambitions, to their political life.
At events across the United States, it is not unusual for participants to describe encountering the divine and feel they are doing their part to install God’s kingdom on earth. For them, right-wing political activity itself is becoming a holy act.
These Christians are joining secular members of the right wing, including media-savvy opportunists and those touting disinformation. They represent a wide array of discontent, from opposing vaccine mandates to promoting election conspiracy theories. For many, pandemic restrictions that temporarily closed houses of worship accelerated their distrust of government and made churchgoing political.
Aligning political ambition with religious fervor has always ended in body counts, and in this instance you have fascism brewing with throwbacks to Huey Long and Father Coughlin. (Hollywood has already given us previews of coming attractions: “Elmer Gantry,” “A Face in the Crowd” and “All The King’s Men.”) Magnified by social media platforms that only Long and Coughlin could dream of in their day, we have the off-the-rack parallels with Trump and his shouters at Fox News, not to mention the rabble-rousing hucksters who don’t give a flying fuck about geopolitics or economics except to know how to grift and pluck the pigeons who will turn over their life savings to a Jesus-shouter quicker than some e-mail scammer from Nigeria.
Unlike another great film, “The Sting,” where the mark must never know that he’s been conned, the folks taken in by this movement will believe anything that the grifters will tell them and still back them even if they are busted and jailed. The hardest thing to convince them of is that they were made a fool. The con men know this and are relying on their fervent faith in superstition and wild conspiracies to see them through until the checks clear and they can get out of town.