“By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).
How many times have you gotten an email or read a news report from a reputable Christian or conservative political organization, even a favorite of yours, a trusted source, that reads something like this:
The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Diane Feinstein are at it again. Now they want to pass a law raising minimum wage and regulations in the U.S. territories. They are showing their true colors, trying to sneak in socialism and anti-Christian values through a back door in U.S. politics.
This law seeks to prevent poor Chinese workers from coming to work on the Marianas Islands, where most of them are for the first time in their lives exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Many are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand.
Radical leftists wish to destroy the work of the Gospel and impose socialism in the U.S. at the same time.
Christians and conservatives need to oppose this liberal insanity. Support a free, local-controlled Marianas Islands now. Call your Senators and Congressmen and tell them to oppose this bill.
While there are select true facts in all of this, it is almost all hooey, and in fact, a huge con-job.
A documentary for the ages
Evangelicals and Christian activists of all types, my generation and younger, stand a good chance of not knowing about this, but they need to know about this. Like me, you may have caught a name or two in the national news a decade or so ago. You may recognize these names. But perhaps, like me, you did not put together the full picture. Now you can, and it coincides with what I and a few others have been teaching for a long time about fake Christian conservatism and the corruption it spreads among many otherwise well-intentioned Christians and conservatives. We need to listen up closely to this.
A great documentary was recommended to me yesterday. I watched it last night. I was blown away, though I should not have been. It is called Casino Jack and the United States of Money. You need to block out two hours of your time, forget everything else, and watch it.
This documentary was made in 2010. I should have known about it already, but as the preacher saith, “Time and chance happen to all” (Eccl. 9:11). The subtext for the documentary is campaign finance reform. For this, its 2010 date makes sense: Citizens United was a 2010 case. Ignore all of that, at least for this purpose.
Instead, watch this for the details of how key players of the Religious Right, as well as their darling conservative politicians, worked together to deceive millions of Christians for nothing but their own gain, and to a large extent it was conscious deception and conscious self-increase.
The documentary charts the rise and fall mainly of Jack Abramoff. Jack was a dynamic young Republican who rose quickly into the ranks of conservative activism. After a stint in Hollywood, Abramoff dedicated himself throughout the 1990s and beyond to lobbying. He was a genius of hustling and corruption, and in no time had built an empire connected to the pulse of conservative political power, money centers, and a powerful network for mobilizing Religious Right grassroots voters.
Among the largest of his schemes, and the one that brought him and many others down and into prison, was a skimming operation run on Indian tribe casinos. According to the documentary, when then-Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, John McCain, launched an investigation into the affair, he had no idea he was pulling on a thread that would unravel a garment covering a large part of the conservative political world.
Throughout his whole career as a scheming lobbyist, Abramoff raised tens of millions of dollars. Through his network of congressmen, aids, and many other connections, a long list of Republican causes and campaigns received millions in contributions. Everyone, even some Democrats, received contributions raised first through Abramoff. Everyone loved Jack. Until he got caught of course. Then suddenly, no one ever knew Jack.
The Religious Right connection
One of the earliest comrades, and one who remained loyal and complicit in large part until the bitter end, was the boyish face of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed.
That email I related up top? While most of it was made up by me (I don’t have all of the original), it was based firmly on real life events and in part upon the actual words of a real email put out by Reed’s organization, apparently in joint effort with Abramoff, in 1999. Here’s the news report when it became important:
In August 1999, political organizer Ralph Reed’s firm sent out a mailer to Alabama conservative Christians asking them to call then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.) and tell him to vote against legislation that would have made the U.S. commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws. . . .
“The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands,” the mailer from Reed’s firm said. The Chinese workers, it added, “are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ” while on the islands, and many “are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand.”
You see, I was not joking. What Reed and all the other conservative talking heads at the time did not disclose was things like this:
A year earlier, the Department of the Interior — which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory — presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.
It also alleged that the garment industry and other businesses set up facilities on the Northern Marianas to produce products labeled “Made in the USA,” while importing workers from China and other Asian countries and paying them less than U.S. minimum wage under conditions not subject to federal safety standards.
Casino Jack shows even more of this. Workers were held in corrupt indebtedness which became a perpetual indentured servitude. Women were forced into prostitution. In some cases, workers were chained to work stations. There were 18-hour days, 7-days a week. And more.
It was modern-day slavery, and it was right under our noses in our own U.S. Territory. Some conservative leaders knew and covered it up; other were deceived, did not investigate thoroughly, and covered it up unwittingly.
All of this was dismissed as liberal, radical leftist propaganda at the time. Evangelicals like Reed, and a thousand pulpits parroting his mass-produced evangelical fodder, could only think of how liberals were blocking these poor people from hearing the Gospel, ergo, we must support our conservative politicians and hate liberal propaganda.
The report continues,
Lisa Baron, a spokeswoman for Reed’s campaign, said Millennium Marketing “was hired as a direct-mail subcontractor to assist in encouraging grass-roots citizens to promote the propagation of the gospel.” . . .
Reed’s close friend and political ally, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, represented the commonwealth as a partner of Greenberg Traurig. The islands’ government paid Abramoff $4.04 million from 1998 to 2002. Greenberg Traurig hired Millennium Marketing to print the mailing.
Baron later defected, left politics, and wrote an X-rated tell-all about her Washington DC career.
Reed’s relationship with Abramoff also included the Indian Gaming scandal. Abramoff played one casino against another, and used anti-gambling legislation to get rich off their fears of being, or already having been, shuttered. In order to get key congressmen in line, Abramoff needed to leverage the anti-gambling sentiments of Christian conservatives to pressure them. For this, he turned to Reed’s custom-built, Evangelical grass roots leverage machine.
This is now a widely-known fact, but Baron and others also spilled the beans on just how openly Reed bragged what he could do at the time. Wikipedia summarizes, with quotations from his own draft letter, how he boasted he “could access ‘3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative households’ in Alabama, as well as ‘the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, [and] the Christian Family Association,” as well as prominent pastors like Frank Barker of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. And, “Reed wanted a $20,000 per month retainer for his services.”
Just look at all those “grass roots” conservative groups lined up like a pyramid scheme to take preplanned info from above, send it down, and watch the funds flow back up.
Another $4 Million+ in payments for services went from Casinos to Abramoff’s firm and sham organizations. Probably hundreds of thousands went to Reed’s. These funds, however, had to be funneled through a plain-vanilla-looking corporation first, because, obviously, I couldn’t be public knowledge that Ralph Reed and the great Evangelical Christian Coalition, Conservative Right, Moral Majority, etc., would ever do something so hypocritical and corrupt as take money from casinos in order to pretend to fight casinos. Not just “take money,” but win the jackpot themselves.
What really happened, mind you, is that in the name of fighting casinos, the architects of this operation were really supporting favored casinos. The Christian voters were merely pawns and dupes in the process of corrupt leaders getting filthy rich.
Getting caught and going free
And now for something else eye-opening: it just so happens that these leaders simply happened to be the ones that got caught. Genius as he was, Abramoff was also dumb enough to tell all his insiders virtually everything he was doing, why he was doing it, and bragging with effervescent vulgarity all the way. That is, he confessed all his crimes over his whole tenure via a barrage of thousands of emails.
Yes, dumb, but pride does that to a man. The big thing for us is to image what would have been had he guarded his mouth and emails more carefully. Nothing. He would still be doing it. That’s a big thing, because most people in those types of activities I would think know to keep their emails subdued, use code language, and keep their mouths shut.
After seeing just this one expose of one group of slime balls, I shudder to think how many other facets of the Evangelical-Industrial-Political Complex are just as corrupt, just as hypocritical, and yet buttoned-up and getting away with it.
I have now for many years watched the nature of conservative news reports, emails blasts, email list rentals, campaigns, click bait, rage porn, conservative red meat, political junk for sale, etc., not to mention the big movement orgs like pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-religious liberty, pro-police, anti-drug, and many others. I don’t think that I buy very much of it anymore, let alone get impressed or riled up. I think it is virtually all fake. At the bottom of most of it is someone personally lining their nest, building an empire, enjoying power, fame, and illicit sex. Payoffs and abortions follow this sort of life. There are a few who are motivated by ideological reasons, usually with fringe elements at the root. Most are not.
Jesus said we will know the true sheep from the ravening wolves “by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15–20). For all of their well-written ad copy, all of the appeals to fear about what “radical leftists” are threatening and how they will destroy this country if we don’t act now, all baptized in fine veneer and Bible language, there is not one single major accomplishment on behalf of conservative or Christianity that any of them can point to in the living memory of anyone who reads this.
The only major advancement on any major issue that conservatives have seen since WWII was the reduction of corporate taxes from the insane heights of the FDR era. That’s it.
By their fruits you shall know them—and they don’t have any fruit.
What needs to be done? We can start by ignoring these people who have raised billions collectively all with great swelling promises of major fruit, but never produce the fruit. Con-men cannot prosper when you do not fall for the con and don’t send the check, don’t follow their instructions.
Beyond that, I have written my basic ten-step action plan. If we don’t start with public education and the welfare state, the rest is hopeless. So far, Christians either simply don’t know or are deceived, and they have chosen to remain hopeless. And there are a whole host of leaders willing to exploit that fact. These Christians are on their mailing lists.
We need to heed these words. Block out two hours of your day, lock the doors, and watch this documentary for you own good. Don’t pay so much attention to its message about campaign finance reform. Just watch how the conservative and Christians leaders played Christians for the conscious purpose of getting rich, when they could care less about the cause, let alone principle. The politicians went along with it, smiling for the camera, and the pulpits and pews followed right along, too.