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Title: Christofascism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Fascism, 1934 Montreux Fascist conference, Anti-fascism, Fascism in Europe, Proletarian nation
Collection: Christian Radicalism, Christian Theology, Christian Theology and Politics, Fascism
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In this image, Nazi stormtroopers spread propaganda linking themselves with Christianity on July 23, 1933 at St. Mary's Church in Berlin, Germany.

Christofascism (the name being a portmanteau of Christian and fascism) is a concept in Christian theology first mentioned by Dorothee Sölle, a Christian theologian and writer, in her book Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future in 1970.[1][2][3] To Sölle, Christofascism was caused by the embracing of authoritarian theology by the Christian church. According to Sölle, it is an arrogant, totalitarian, imperialistic attitude, characteristic of the church in Germany under Nazism, that she believed to be alive and well in the theological scene of the late 20th and turn of the 21st century.[4][5] Usage of the term became much more prominent in 2006–08,[6] as a backlash against increasing usage of the word Islamofascism by conservatives in the U.S., for example David Horowitz.[7]


  • Interpretation of Soelle 1
  • Christomonism 2
  • American history and politics 3
  • Policy 4
  • Judeo-Christofascism 5
  • Miscellaneous usage 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Interpretation of Soelle

Tom Faw Driver, Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in New York, expressed concern "that the worship of God in Christ not divide Christian from Jew, man from woman, clergy from laity, white from black, or rich from poor". To him, Christianity is in constant danger of Christofascism, stating that "[w]e fear christofascism, which we see as the political direction of all attempts to place Christ at the center of social life and history" and that "[m]uch of the churches' teaching about Christ has turned into something that is dictatorial in its heart and is preparing society for an American fascism".

Christofascism "disposed or allowed Christians, to impose themselves not only upon other religions but other cultures, and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ" - as Knitter describes Sölle's view.[5][8][9][10]

George Hunsinger, director of the Centre for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, regards the conception of Christofascism as being an attack, at a very sophisticated level of theological discourse, on the biblical depiction of Jesus Christ. He equates what is viewed as Christofascism with "Jesus Christ as depicted in Scripture" and contrasts it with the "nonnormative Christology" that is offered as an alternative by some theologians, which he characterizes as extreme relativism that reduces Jesus Christ to "an object of mere personal preference and cultural location" and that he finds difficult to see as not contributing to the same problems encountered by the Christian church in Germany that were noted by theologian Karl Barth.[11]


Douglas John Hall, Professor of Christian Theology at McGill University, relates Sölle's concept of Christofascism to Christomonism, that inevitably ends in religious triumphalism and exclusivity, noting Sölle's observation of American fundamentalist Christianity that Christomonism easily leads to Christofascism, and that violence is never far away from militant Christomonism. (Christomonism, accepts only one divine person, Jesus Christ.) He states that the over-divinized ("high") Christology of Christendom is demonstrated to be wrong by its "almost unrelieved anti-Judaism". He suggests that the best way to guard against this is for Christians not to neglect the humanity of Jesus Christ in favour of his divinity, and to remind themselves that Jesus was a Jewish human being.[12][13][14]

American history and politics

American historians and political commentators have also used the term to refer to politico-religious tendencies in American society.

Chris Hedges and David Neiwert contend that the beginnings of American Christofascism was during the Great Depression, when Americans espoused forms of fascism that were "explicitly 'Christian' in nature."[15]:88 Hedges writes that "fundamentalist preachers such as Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L.K. Smith fused national and Christian symbols to advocate the country's first crude form of Christo-fascism."[16] Smith's Christian Nationalist Crusade said that "Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism."[16] Hedges also considers another prominent advocate of Christofascism was William Dudley Pelley.[15]:88

By the late 1950s, followers of these philosophies became the Posse Comitatus movement began with former associates of Pelley and Smith.[15]:90 The 1980s saw the Council for National Policy[16] and the Moral Majority[17][18] carry on the tradition, while the patriot movement and militia movement represented efforts to mainstream the philosophy in the 1990s.[15]:90


Episcopal priest Carter Heyward, professor of theology at Episcopal Divinity School, uses the term to describe political and social policies that exclude nontraditional families in the name of Christianity, a practice she described as "arrogant and blasphemous."[19]


Jonathan Turley referred to conservatives who wished to make Representative Keith Ellison, a Muslim, swear in on a Bible as "Judeo-Christofascists", in response to the use of "Islamofascists."[20]

Miscellaneous usage

Incidents of

  • The dictionary definition of christofascism at Wiktionary

External links

  • Carter Heyward (1999). Saving Jesus from Those who are Right: Rethinking what it Means to be Christian. Fortress Press. p. 11.  
  • Ann Loades (2007). "Christian Focus: Radical Christocentrism in Christian Theology — By Clive Marsh". International Journal of Systematic Theology 9 (3): 365–368.  
  • Mary Grey (2005). "Diversity, Harmony and in the End, Justice: Remembering Dorothee Soelle". Feminist Theology (SAGE Publications) 13 (3): 343–357.  
  • Daniel Webster (2006-11-16). "Pre-emptive War and False Security — Remarks to the Hudson-Mohawk, N.Y. chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship".  

Further reading

  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Confessing Christ in a Post-Christendom Context.". The Ecumenical Review. July 1, 2000. Retrieved 2007-12-23. ...shall we say this, represent this, live this, without seeming to endorse the kind of christomonism (Dorothee Sölle called it ‘Christofascism’!... 
  3. ^ Pinnock, Sarah K. (2003). The Theology of Dorothee Soelle. Trinity Press International.  
  4. ^ Beverly Wildung Harrison (2004). Justice in the Making: Feminist Social Ethics. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 136.  
  5. ^ a b John Charles Hoffman (1986). Law, Freedom, and Story: The Role of Narrative in Therapy, Society, and Faith. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 127–28.  
  6. ^ Rabbi Arthur Waskow (2007-10-21). "Judeo-Christo-Fascism Awareness Week Comes to American Campuses!". The American Muslim. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  7. ^ Nicole Belle (2007-10-21). "It's "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week"!". Crooks and Liars. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  8. ^ Tom Faw Driver (1981). Christ in a Changing World: Toward an Ethical Christology. Crossroad. p. 19.  
  9. ^ Paul F. Knitter (July 1983). "Theocentric Christology". Theology Today 40 (2): 142.  
  10. ^ Wildman, Wesley J (1998). Fidelity With Plausibility: Modest Christologies in the Twentieth Century. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.  
  11. ^ George Hunsinger (2001). "Where the Battle Rages: Confessing Christ in America Today". Disruptive Grace: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth. Wm B Eerdmans Publishing. p. 99.  
  12. ^ Douglas John Hall (November 6, 1999). "1999 Covenant Conference, Network of Presbyterians". Atlanta, GA: Religion Online. 
  13. ^ Helen Rhee (2005). "Superiority of Christian Monotheism". Early Christian Literature: Christ and Culture in the Second and Third Centuries. Routledge. p. 80.  
  14. ^ Douglas John Hall. "The Identity of Jesus in a Pluralistic World" (Microsoft Word). 
  15. ^ a b c d e Neiwert, David A (2009-05-01). The eliminationists: how hate talk radicalized the American right. pp. 88–90.  
  16. ^ a b c d Hedges, Chris (2008).  
  17. ^ Welch, Sharon (2007). "Dangerous Memory and Alternate Knowledges". In Lawrence, Bruce B; Karim, Aisha. On violence: a reader. Duke University Press. p. 364.  
  18. ^ Sölle, Dorothee (1990). The window of vulnerability: a political spirituality. Fortress Press.  
  19. ^ Walker, Laurel (October 8, 1992). "'"A different take on family values — Priest blasts 'Christo-fascism. Milwaukee Journal. 
  20. ^ Jonathan Turley (December 7, 2007). "The truth about oaths.".  
  21. ^  
  22. ^ Broder, John M. (February 9, 2007). "Edwards gets lesson in reconciling Internet culture with presidential campaign". The New York Times/IHT. 
  23. ^ Cooperman, Alan (June 2, 2007). "Obama Web Site Seeks to Rally The Faithful". Washington Post. 


See also

The term caused controversy in 2007, when Melissa McEwan, a campaign blogger for then-presidential candidate John Edwards, referred to religious conservatives as "Christofascists" on her personal blog.[22][23]


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