Fantasyland 8. Religion the main factor in America’s descent into the darkness of superstition

[ This is the 8th of nine posts about Fantasyland.  Andersen believes all of the madness and superstition in America originally springs from our history of religiosity.

The scariest part of the insanity is that there are Christians trying  to make Armageddon happen ASAP so that they can be raptured into the sky and bring Jesus back, as depicted in the fictional Left Behind series (75 million sold). Now millions of Pentecostals, fundamentalists, evangelists, and charismatics (PEFC) believe the Antichrist is an actual person, who will unite the entire world under a satanic religion. So many of thought Obama was the antichrist that felt compelled to state that this was false, and why it was false (for starters, Revelations never mentions an anti-Christ).  

It is also appalling is that religious leaders like Billy Graham and political leaders like President Reagan spoke many times about the end times being near. And the media was silent.

Links to the 9 parts of this book review:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Kurt Andersen. 2017. Fantasyland. How America Went Haywire.  A 500-Year History. Random House.

Mainline Catholics and Protestants, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and so on are now outnumbered 3 to 1 by, as Tom Wolfe put it, “a little Hallelujah!…Praise God!..ululation, visions, holy rolling, and other non and anti-rational practices”.  Nearly all evangelical denominations are suffused with holy-roller, speaking in tongues, and faith healing.

By the 1980s, 40% of Americans were watching evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and charismatic religious shows on TV. The audience for Pat Robertson’s show “the 700 club” was 7 million, three times larger than Fox today.

Christians make a huge deal about atheism, but only 7% of people were in 2014. Americans are more religious than any other developed nation with 80% saying they NEVER DOUBT the existence of god, and about 90% who believe in some sort of “universal spirit”.

The reason the Roman Catholic Church is far more sane than the Protestant churches is because “tenured grown-ups, from the Vatican on down, have consistently been in command, tamping down and pinching off undesirable offshoots.  Only 25% of Catholics consider the Bible to be the Actual Word of God, versus 50% of Protestants.  The Catholic church declared evolution to be true in 1996.

Most rational of all are the Jews, perhaps because they are more educated; 6 in 10 have college educations vs 1.5 in 10 of Christian Pentecostals, evangelicals, fundamentalists, and charismatics (PEFC from now on).


In the 1960s Billy Graham made this off the charts nutcase belief respectable, saying that the signs indicate these are the last days spoken of on the Scriptures, and that Armageddon and Jesus’s return were at hand.  By the 1980s, when President Reagan and some in his administration said the same thing, the news media was silent.

Basically in a single generation, belief in apocalypse and return of Jesus because the faith of a large fraction of Americans who viewed every new war in the Middle East as potential fulfillment of The Prophecies.  Each event was yet one more foreshock leading to the end, Armageddon.

Even before the madness began, Armageddon had already been fictionalized in the Left Behind series and the rapturing off of Christians to leave everyone else on Earth in Hell.  These books sold 75 million copies.  Many EFC believe that the Antichrist is a real person who will unite the entire world under a satanic religion, and 7 years after that the Christians will be raptured into the sky before the Messiah returns to beat the antichrist up, followed by 1,000 years of paradisiacal perfection under King Jesus.

58% of the PEFC believe Jesus will return by 2050. Only 17% of Americans said he definitely wasn’t coming back by then.

By the 1990s, Christian colleges that rejected evolution in favor of Creationism were able to get accredited, thanks to the 1991 Bush administration.

When it comes to evolution, 33% believe in a God-free evolution, 33% think that God took his time and maybe used evolution to create living creatures, and a third that God created humans.  Since the 1990s, the fraction not sure about evolution has TRIPLED.

Andersen splits Christians into the 2 camps.  The Horror-Story Christians see natural disasters as God’s punishment for our sins.  Here are some of Pat Robertson’s sinner stories: Stock prices dropped 3% because the government funded Planned Parenthood, Hurricane Katrina due to laws permitting abortion, tornadoes in the Midwest because he wasn’t hearing enough prayers, the Haitian earthquake deaths because their ancestors’ had made a pact with the devil, 9-11 was God angry about feminism, homosexuality, free speech, and paganism.

Happy Christians, especially charismatics, tell believers that prayer will bring them wealth now, on Earth, not a work ethic.  You can persuade God to make you rich!  You will never hear sermons or writings from the prosperity gospel about Mark 10:21 (Go sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heave), Matthew 6:24 (No man can serve 2 masters…Ye cannot serve God and mammon), Matthew 19:24 (it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God), or James 5 (Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you).

Ever wondered if you’re blessed with the ability to cast demons out of afflicted people?  Take the Wagner-modified Houts Questionnaire.  There are about 100 questions, such as: can you recover sight to the blind, tell whether person speaking in tongues is genuine, have heard demons speaking in a loud voice, or spoken to evil spirits who obeyed me.

Interestingly, the Catholic church believes that speaking in tongues are signs of satanic possession…

There are Christians who have spiritually mapped their region so that demons can be cast out of Satanic places like Planned Parenthood clinics, Mormon temples, Catholic churches, Masonic lodges, meditation centers, LGBTQ gathering spots, strip clubs, and shops selling tarot cards or dreamcatchers.  Spiritual warfare expert Wagner said on NPR’s Fresh Air that Satan has enlisted Emperor Akihito in exchange for the sun goddess visiting him and having sexual intercourse. Wagner also believes that many U.S. politicians are possessed.

Why, why, why are Americans so irrational across the board, from believing in astrology to angels and the Rapture?

The bottom line is that PEFC DOESN’T SELL outside of America.  In all other nations, prosperity and a sense of security correlate with less religious belief.

Here are some stats comparing the U.S. with other developed nations.

  • In 1968, only 5-14% of Scandinavians attended church once a week, versus 43% of Americans then.  In 2012, half of the U.K. said they had no religion.
  • A majority of Americans pray every day, but in the developed world it ranges from 10 to 20%.
  • In the U.S. 10% never pray, in the developed world 50%.
  • We believe more in Heaven and Hell than 20 other developed nations, only three match or believe in this more.
  • In nearly every developed country devil believers are tiny minorities.
  • 25% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, 4-10% elsewhere.
  • As far as belief in evolution, 32 developed countries believed in evolution more than the U.S., which ranked only ahead of Turkey.
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