Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin(below) are linked to the same cult.
This is not a Religion Column: Biblical Capitalism
By Jeff Sharlet
Posted on October 1, 2008, Printed on October 7, 2008
Only months ago, what scant attention the press paid to fundamentalism in American life was dedicated to declaring the Christian Right deceased. Of course, those were the days when Lehman Brothers still looked like a good investment. Now, Christian Right leaders are feeling bullish for the first time in years, ready to bet the farm on Sarah Palin, while the rest of us blink in shock as the clock goes spinning back to the Great Depression. In more ways than one—it was in the 1930s that modern fundamentalism’s strange marriage of laissez-faire economics and heavily-regulated morals was first consummated, in reaction not to abortion or homosexuality, but to economic malaise—“spiritual depression,” as it was called by an early advocate of “biblical capitalism.”
In 1932, James A. Farrell, president of US Steel, tried to persuade then Governor Franklin Roosevelt that economic depression was “caused by disobedience to divine law,” and that the only cure was a mix of spiritual revival and unprecedented powers for corporate leaders. In 1936, Frank Buchman, the founder of the Moral Re-Armament movement—a network of upper crust Christian clubs—announced, “Human problems aren’t economic. They’re moral, and they can’t be solved by immoral measures.” He suggested instead “God-controlled democracy, or perhaps I should say a theocracy.” Bruce Barton, a founder of advertising giant BBDO and the author of one of the 20th century’s bestsellers, The Man Nobody Knows (it was Jesus, whom Barton proposed as the greatest CEO in history), won a seat in Congress in 1938 by proposing to a nation battered by unfettered capitalism that it “Repeal a Law a Day.”
The most influential of these businessmen for God was a Norwegian immigrant named Abraham Vereide, founder of an annual ritual of piety and politics that survives to this day, the National Prayer Breakfast. In 1935, Vereide created a “fellowship” of Christian businessmen bound together by the idea that God hates government regulation because it interferes with a believer’s ability to choose right or wrong. He found receptive audiences in private meetings with Henry Ford and the president of Chevrolet, Thomas Watson of IBM and representatives from J.C. Penney. By 1942, he’d moved to the capital, where the National Association of Manufacturers staked him to a meeting of congressmen who would become students of his spiritual politics, among them Virginia senator Absalom Willis Robertson—Pat Robertson’s father. Vereide returned the manufacturers’ favor by telling his new congressional followers that God wanted them to break the spine of organized labor. They did.