Not too long ago, the religious right hated Russia. The ultra-conservative Catholic circle I grew up in believed that Russia was part of a Fatima prophecy in which a great evil would dominate the world, disappear for a little while, then return again stronger than ever.
Until the fall of communist Russia, conservatives and the religious right saw the Soviet Union and communism as the greatest threat to the world. Nuclear war, propaganda and spies were all things we were supposed to be afraid of.
Once Vladimir Putin seized power and moved Russia from a post-communist nation in disarray to an ultra-nationalist country that began meddling in foreign affairs again, the religious right fell silent.
So why is our greatest rival on the world stage that meddled in the 2016 elections and is trying to dismantle NATO now loved by conservatives? It’s simple. Russia is now an authoritarian regime that promotes Christian dominionism and nationalism – and there is nothing the religious right loves more than the thought of a society forced to conform to their insane ideology.
It didn’t matter that Russia was a threat to world peace or that Putin was killing off political opponents either, because Russia has laws against gay rights and persecutes the LGBT community. It is anti-liberal, anti-science, and even the Green Party darling Jill Stein is in their pocket. Moscow’s propaganda machine ramped up the attacks on President Obama during his tenure in office, much to their delight.
It’s no surprise that given their hatred for President Obama and a secular government that the religious right would overlook Trump’s un-Christian behavior and vote for him. They didn’t care that Russia was trying to influence the election. In fact, they embraced it – because the ends justified the means.
Trump was their key to installing a Christian theocracy in the United States, and if Russia was willing to help, so much the better. To religious conservatives, Hillary Clinton was the evil incarnate as drilled into their heads after decades of attacks by the far-right conspiracy media, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh.
Nationalism and theocratic ideologies are scary on their own. When you combine Trump, Putin and Mike Pence, it becomes the wet dream of religious fanatics, racists, and authoritarians across the United States.
The religious right has been playing the long game ever since the Clinton years back in the 1990s. While Democrats mostly played defense and tried to hang on to safe seats in Congress, Republicans have taken over state legislatures, redrew state and congressional districts, and seized governorships across the country.
They’re well on their way to complete control, and Christian Dominionists couldn’t be happier that Russia stepped in to lend them a hand.