Why Michael Flynn Dreams of Theocracy
It's important to take evangelicals' accidental slips seriously.
Well, our presses got well and truly stopped today by yesterday’s story about Michael Flynn. This willfully ignorant liar, confessed criminal, and literal traitor-to-his-country recently opined before a fundagelical crowd that what America really needs to become great again (seewhutIdidthere?) is — wait for it — a single state-sponsored religion. Naturally, Michael Flynn got reamed on Twitter for his comment. But he’s revealed a truth that we dare not ignore. This is the endgame for his entire flavor of Christianity. This is them revealing something very important about what they know about their decline. Today, let me show you the dreadful truth that Michael Flynn let slip about evangelicals.
(Fundagelicals are just fundamentalist evangelicals. At one time, evangelicals prided themselves on NOT being fundamentalists. They looked down on fundamentalists, considering their enemies deranged zealots. For their own part, fundamentalists hated evangelicals right back, considering them weenies who couldn’t handle TRUE CHRISTIANITY™. In their ways, both kinda had a point. Regardless, in the late 1990s the two camps merged. They are now largely indistinguishable. Winning their culture wars mattered more than maintaining those decades-old bickering points.)
Everyone, Meet Michael Flynn.
According to La Wiki, Michael Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general. He served Donald Trump as his National Security Advisor for just the first 22 days of Trump’s presidency. However, reports soon cropped up about him lying about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and maybe colluding with foreign governments. In response, he resigned in a huff.
I just remember the hilarious whiplash of that day. Wikipedia describes it drily but well: Trump’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, insisted that her boss had “full confidence” in Michael Flynn. An hour later, Sean Spicer — Trump’s press secretary — said his boss was actually “evaluating” him. The next day, Flynn resigned. He admitted in his resignation that he’d “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information” about those little chats with the Russian diplomat.
The FBI later criminally charged him for lying to them. He pleaded guilty in 2017, though Trump pardoned him in 2020.
Whoopsiedoodleboodle, am I right? According to that link, Flynn ended by declaring that he felt “honored” to have served Trump “in such a distinguished way.”
In reality, Michael Flynn lied his butt off. Then, he got caught and quit when the heat landed on him. Years later, he tried hard to retract his admission of guilt.
MUCH HONORABLE. SOOOOO DISTINGUISHED.
No wonder fundagelicals embraced this traitorous liar.
The Worldview of Michael Flynn.
Michael Flynn has never held a political position he could actually articulate and stick with.
Shortly before getting his position in Donald Trump’s administration, he hilariously declared that women “have to be able to choose” regarding abortion care. Then, the next day, presumably after his potential Republican masters whipped him left right and sideways, Flynn described himself as “a pro-life Democrat.”
Oh, and there’s some weirdness around him and his brother regarding fundagelicals’ Capitol insurrection attempt on January 6th, 2021. And a few days ago, insurrection investigators issued Michael Flynn himself a subpoena.
But overall, he’s a fundagelical culture warrior. In 2020, the dude recited a hashtag-based pledge of allegiance to QAnon — and he’s flirted with QAnon’s followers for a while now. Around that same time, he also tweeted a request to Trump to institute “limited Martial Law” over fundagelicals’ election-fraud conspiracy theory.
Michael Flynn has one and only one shining principle, one ideology he never abandons: looking out for #1. As Winston Zeddemore once said: if there’s a steady paycheck in it, Michael Flynn will believe anything his employers say.
Now, Let’s Meet ‘Reawaken America.’
It is impressive to see just how frantic Michael Flynn’s new employers are to deceive people about their true level of culture warrior involvement. You have to really work to find out where they stand on anything much.
That said, little prevails against my info-gathering capabilities.
In the video we’re about to enjoy, you’ll notice a banner at its bottom. This banner announces that the video comes from a program called “Reawaken America.” This is a tour show. In it, fundagelicals pander to their fellow fundagelicals by parroting conspiracy theories. Their sign-up webpage is quite a hoot. So is their poster for the show (see image).
Incidentally, I recognize none of the names on the poster — except for Michael Flynn. Indeed, he appears in a prominent place on it. And yes, the poster’s art team tried really, really hard to make their Christ-o-sphere Z-list celebrities’ pictures look like a traditional Declaration of Independence lineup of the Fathers of our Country. Oof.
(Confidential to “Reawaken America’s” art team: Pride’s a sin, kids.)
In turn, “Reawaken America” hails from a media site called American Faith. And when I search for info about American Faith, I learn that it’s run by some guy named Phil Hotsenpiller.
Phil Hotsenpiller also pastors Influence Church in Anaheim, California.
Influence, with its oh-so-Millennial-pandering fundagelical name, contains the usual blahblah we see on church websites. As I said, it’s difficult indeed to read between the lines of their astonishingly-vague statements about themselves.
But it ain’t impossible.
Sidebar: What ‘Reawaken Faith’ Really Believes.
I mention all this stuff because at first, I really wondered if “Reawaken America” was actually criticizing what Michael Flynn said. Their network’s “about” page sure makes them sound like they could be critical of fundagelical overreach.
But then, I found Phil Hotsenpiller’s sermon page, and the deceptive jig was up for him.
Really, he and his followers are just standard-issue QAnon-infested, conspiracy-theorizin’, persecution-fantasizin’, history-revisin’, DARVO-committin’ culture warriors. There’s not a single fundagelical conspiracy theory from the 1980s on that they do not completely embrace. As just one example, Hotsenpiller has done a literal 21-parts-and-counting series about the One World Government (OWG) conspiracy theory. Here’s the latest one of them.
(In the OWG conspiracy theory, evil forces conspire to bring every government on Earth to heel before a leftist fascist regime that will execute TRUE CHRISTIANS™ — fer jus’ bein’ KRISCHIN, y’all!)
Hotsenpiller also buys into “globalism” and thinks the United States is Israel 2.0. He preaches sermons before a giant copy of the Declaration of Independence. And he revels in martyrbation and imaginary persecution.
(In turn, “globalism” is fundagelical code for the evil rich leftist-fascist Jews who totally control the world. These guys use alllllll the Christianese dogwhistles.)
Oh, and check out this news release about the June 2021 launch of American Faith. It informs us that Hotsenpiller styles himself a “Biblical prophecy expert” as well as the stalwart defender of “American values and liberties.”
What Michael Flynn Said on ‘Reawaken America.’
Here is the transcript:
And they’re talking about the United States of America. Talking about the United States of America. Because when Matthew mentioned it in the Bible, he wasn’t talking about the physical ground that he was on. He was talking about something in the distance. So we are gonna have one nation under God, which we must. We have to have one religion, one — one — one nation under God and one religion under God. Right? All of us together. Working together. [Source]
Dude gets an F on speechifying. This was horrible: circular, incoherent, completely failing to establish any line of thought or even support his own premises, and more. I can see why Donald Trump hired Michael Flynn: at least The Former Guy would never feel intimidated by his lackey’s intellectual skills.
How Twitter Reacted to Michael Flynn.
As you can imagine, Twitter reamed Michael Flynn for these comments. That entire Twitter thread (relink) is a hoot. It says the stuff we all want to say:
- Um, the Bill of Rights grants Americans safety from wingnuts’ theocratic desires.
- That whole “under God” thing, which is part of the Pledge of Allegiance being mangled here, didn’t become part of the pledge till 1954.
- Churches do not get to be one of the branches of government, no matter how power-maddened their people get.
- It’s soooo weeeeird, y’all, that fundagelicals always imagine their own particular quirky li’l flavor of this one single religion becoming the one vaunted to dominance.
- Various memes (like this one) about the Founding Fathers absolutely denying that they wanted America to be a “Christian nation.”
- And this quote, just like generally: “Oh cool. And after we mandate a religion, we should inquire into whether people are actually adhering to it. We can call it The Inquisition.” [Source]
But there’s something I’d like to add to these sentiments. It’s something I haven’t seen people talk about.
And I think it’s really important.
What Twitter Might Not Know About Christianity’s Decline.
But it’s not just in decline. It’s in a decline so bad that it will never come back to dominance by itself. It can’t summon back all the people who have rejected its sales pitches. Even its own members cannot be arsed to show up to their churches every Sunday — much less tithe enough to support churches on their own if all their unwarranted tax perks vanish.
Christian leaders have despaired for years over their weakening cultural power over Americans, over their loss of cultural privilege, over the sheer disobedience of their flocks.
Not one single survey I have seen in the past ten-ish years has found that Christianity has a single chance of regaining its onetime dominance. Not one.
A while ago, I saw one that said Christianity’s decline might have bottomed out at last. Others don’t agree. They think the decline will continue for a few more years yet.
How That Decline Came About.
I have theorized that this loss of dominance occurred as Christian leaders and groups lost their power to force others to play along with them.
With every single passing year, Christianity becomes more and more optional for more people. And every year, more people opt out of the religion. By now, the swiftest-growing religious group in America are Nones (in other words, they’re none of the above in terms of religious groups).
This swift decline has made one fact very clear:
Christianity only retained dominance for so long because its leaders gained tangible coercive power over vast numbers of people. The moment they gained that power, they stopped caring about how appealing their groups were on their own merits. Well, now the quality of their groups really matters — and right-wing Christians in particular have no clue how to deal with this breathtaking cultural development. They hate this development, hate it desperately, but mostly they just try to pretend it hasn’t come about at all.
However, their Dear Leaders do have an idea about how to deal with their religion’s decline in cultural power.
They have decided to seek a return of those coercive powers. That is what this whole “one religion under God” blahblah is all about.
Michael Flynn Reveals the Tribe’s Game Plan.
When authoritarians start losing influence-based power, they start seeking tangible coercive power.
In this case, that power looks like Christianity ensconced safely in the government, its leaders considered indispensable advisors to Presidents and Congresspeople, and its bizarre, nonsensical rules (which evangelicals themselves happily ignore) forced upon everyone in the land.
That is why evangelicals got the Pledge of Allegiance altered in 1954. It’s also why they started the National Day of Prayer in 1952. And it’s why evangelical leaders like Billy Graham deliberately, knowingly helped government leaders gin up a culture war against imaginary Communists around that same time.
After World War II, evangelical leaders got really upset over a perceived downtick in their cultural power. They thought Americans attended church less often. Obeyed evangelicals’ silly rules less strictly. Offered evangelical leaders less automatic deference. Most alarmingly, they thought people got annoyed at evangelicals’ meddling in politics a bit more.
These efforts I name — and others besides, like their attempt to fuse evangelical membership to patriotism — were meant to re-enshrine evangelicals in power. And it worked for a few more decades. It wasn’t till I myself was evangelical (in the late 1980s to mid 1990s) that Christianity started being feasibly optional for some people. A number of cultural developments — like people moving cities often for work — made sufficient retaliation against apostates a lot harder for evangelical groups to manage.
Right-wing Christians in general tend to be really fixated on the past — but they hide away in an imaginary revised past that makes them feel good. Thus, they think everything was great back in the 1950s. That’s when they got a big boost in power from cuddling up with right-wing government figures.
So why not do that again?
Michael Flynn and His Followers Are In It to Win It.
Today, we find ourselves in the most dangerous position of all: victims of overreach about to achieve freedom from our oppressors. Expect those oppressors to double down harder than they ever have to regain their victims’ compliance and obedience. They won’t stop till it is long, long past obvious that they’ve failed.
(At that time, we can expect to see them put their heads in the sand for a while. After that, they’ll move some goalposts around to try to make themselves feel like they totally really won after all.)
Michael Flynn and his pals ain’t even being subtle about how they plan to deal with their religion’s decline. They tried to ignore the decline, yes. They tried to spin-doctor it and move goalposts too. But their decline continued to refuse to reverse. It still refuses.
They can’t sell the religion to enough people to make enough paying customers. They’ve seen that. Marketers still sell their pathetic substitutes for good salesmanship to the flocks, but the Good Ship Great-Re-Re-Re-Awakening has already sailed. People do not want what Christian groups are willing to offer, especially not at the price those groups demand.
So if Christianity is to return to dominance over America, then it will only happen through the regaining of coercive power.
The Takeaways From This Michael Flynn Thing.
Y’all, if a li’l blogger-cat like me could figure this out, you can bet Michael Flynn’s new masters can too. And if someone like me could realize that the next few years will be absolutely critical from a human-rights standpoint, they can as well.
Do not give any right-wing Christians benefit of the doubt, nor a single inch that does not belong to them.
We already know what Christians do with coercive power, and we already know how far they’ll go to get it. Don’t let it happen.