Billionaires do Great; Poor people suffer

 

While billionaires like Jeff Bezos have seen their wealth explode (again) during the Covid—19 pandemic, poor people have suffered the most (again). Poor people are feeling the brunt of the ill effects of the pandemic. Funny how that happens.

I recently  heard a very interesting interview with Mariana Mazzucato Professor of Economics at University College in London. She  wrote a book called The Value of Everything. I assume the title is a reference to a famous  quote by Oscar Wilde, that “a cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” I actually have used that line to describe some conservatives I know. With some justification I might add.

 

At the time she was speaking on the television show she said that just as 8 million case of Covid-19 have been experienced in the US, 8 million people have dropped down below the poverty line. At about the same the average wealth of billionaires had gone up by 25%. More than a million people had died and 38 million people infected (at the time of the interview). Many more since then, of course.  According to the Gates Foundation at the time 37 million people around the world had been pushed from poverty into extreme poverty! That means they earned less than $1.90 per day. Meanwhile the rich are getting much richer. Meanwhile conservative politicians think everything is fine and no changes are needed. That is what my own member of Parliament, Ted Falk believes.  with enthusiasm he believes that. In fact any suggested changes must mean the crypto-communists are trying to turn our country into a communist hell.  

Why does it have to work that way? The short answer is that it doesn’t have to work that way, it works that way only because we allow it to work that way.  We keep electing politicians like Ted Falk. That is the system the well to do, together with their political minions, want to conserve. That is the essence of modern conservatism. Everything is fine for us, so everything is fine.

Don’t listen to smug Conservatives

 

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been severely criticized by conservative politicians including even my own Member of Parliament, Ted Falk, for suggesting that we should take advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to reset our economy and make it fairer. To conservatives, who by definition love the status quo because it has allowed them and their cronies to prosper, they ask ‘why change what is perfect?’  Any contrary suggestions are viewed by them with deep suspicion for it can only mean those nasty liberals and socialists want to use Covid-19 as an excuse to take over the economy.

Here is a statement by Trudeau that triggered hysteria from my political representative. It was a statement by our Prime Minster Justin Trudeau as follows:

“This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset…This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems.”

 

Here is the response of my fear filled Member of Parliament to such a suggestion:

“For Justin Trudeau, COVID-19 is an opportunity to impose his radical “reset” agenda. Mr. Trudeau’s speech seemed a clear indication that Canada was on board with whatever the UN was recommending…  Justin Trudeau’s consistent willingness to sell out Canadian sovereignty to unelected UN bureaucrats should be a cause for great concern for all Canadians.   With our economy in tatters, it is almost unfathomable the level of delusion it would take to think that following the UN’s lead into some sort of global eco-socialist utopia is the answer to our economic woes—unless of course, you’re Justin Trudeau.”

 

Falk of course dredges up old tropes that the Conservatives in the US see as dastardly.  We could ignore that, but there is a larger question here that should be addressed. Are the economy and social system  so great that they  cannot be improved upon? Let’s take a look how others besides comfortable white businessmen, like Ted Falk are doing.

First, and most important, is the stunning impact of Covid-19 on seniors in long-term care facilities. For now, I will look at Manitoba, but the issues occur everywhere in Canada. In fact, I want to look at one main facility—the Maples—a privately owned and operated facility in Winnipeg. It was the scene of a horrific outbreak of Covid-19 that shocked our province. In a private long-term care facility of about 200 residents, in November of 2020 the outbreak led to the severely short-staffed facility asking Health Manitoba for help to deal with the critical outbreak. At first that call went unheeded. That led to 56 residents dying before it was adequately dealt with.  That is more than 25% of their residents who lived there! In fact, at one time 8 residents died in 48 hours! 26 died in 28 days! For years in Manitoba the care of senior’s has been outsourced to companies like Revera Inc., the private operator of the Maples, to presumably save on costs so that the province could avoid increases in funding for about a decade. Does that really save money? Is it worth the savings if they are real?

Then there are indigenous people in Manitoba. The indigenous people in Canada are typically the ones hardest hit by any widespread catastrophe. Canadians have come to expect that.

The chief and council of Pauingassi First Nation shut down their band operations, closed schools, prohibited public gatherings and required residents to stay home after they declared an outbreak of COVID-19 earlier last month. The small and remote First Nations community has less than 500 people living on the reserve. Recently almost a quarter of them, 118 people, tested positive for covid-19. After they tested positive many of them had to leave for Winnipeg where they could get treatment unavailable on the reserve.

This shows what has been happening in northern Manitoba as during the past few weeks regularly more than 50% of the new covid-19 cases were discovered on northern First Nation reserves even though only 10% of Manitoba’s total population is indigenous! As of February 19, 2021, 2/3rds of Manitoba’s total Covid-19 sufferers were indigenous. As well 1/3rd of Manitoba’s Covid-19 patients in Manitoba were indigenous and 1/3rd of Manitoba’s patients with the most severe effects in Intensive Care Units were indigenous.

Why is that?  Probably the cause of this disparity is that so many indigenous people are poor in comparison to average Manitobans. As a result, they have less access to quality care and live in housing that is frequently severely overcrowded. In Manitoba, there is almost a 20-year difference between the average age of people who die from Covid-19 that are indigenous and those who are not. Indigenous people die younger from Covid-19 and in comparison to non-indigenous people, they die in droves.

Yet at the same time 2/3rd of Manitoba First Nation communities were Covid-19 free. Imagine what would happen if more contracted it. In my opinion the reason so many are Covid-19 free is that they are so remote. If they were not so remote more of them would have Covid-19 and then inevitably, the consequences would be disastrous in each of those communities. These are troubling statistics and point to some serious inequities in Canadian society. Inequities that smug politicians like my Parliamentarian Ted Falk are loath to notice. He is worried instead about the UN leading us to eco-socialism thanks to our leftie Prime Minister.

Are we all in this together or is it time time for a platitude adjustment?

 

Bill Maher said on this on  his television show,

“the next person who tells me we’re all in this together must work a shift at Grub Hub. Half the country is home in their comfy clothes ordering take-out and the other half is out in the cold delivering it. So stop it with the ‘in it together bull shit.’ We’re in this together is another ‘Thank you for your service.’ Just something we can say to people doing the dirty work so we can feel better about not doing it ourselves. And even before the pandemic hit, America was well into the ‘gig-economy’ which sounds sort of hip like you’re in a rock band except you’re not in a rock band, you’re delivering hot chicken. And it doesn’t cover your rent.”

 

He is right about one thing. This platitude is getting tired. It would be nice if people actually believed it. But not many do. Our actions speak loudly. All kinds of people have done very well in this pandemic. Most of them are well-to-do.  Lawyers have done very well. It’s hard to figure out why that is the case, but it’s true. I heard from my furniture guy that they have never done better. Why are people spending money of furniture? Jeff Bezos has seen his personal net worth climb astronomically during the pandemic. He recently announced his retirement as CEO of Amazon. If he wanted to, he could give each of his 1 million employees a retiring bonus of $105,000 and still have more wealth than he had before the pandemic!

Some corporations for awhile gave their employees a bonus of 50 cents an hour to compensate them for risking their lives so the business could remain afloat. Then they revoked that as soon as they could.

No, we are not really all in this together.  As usual, the rich are benefiting from the disaster while the common people suck socks. Isn’t that the way it always works?

Does it have to work that way? Is there even a good reason that it works that way? What does it say about us that it does work that way? Is there a better way?

 

Capitalism in the time of Pandemic

 

Scott Galloway is an enthusiast for capitalism, just like Michael Zwaagstra a local counsellor here in Steinbach . But that is where the resemblance ends. Zwaagstra recently wrote an article in our local Carillon News and said capitalism was doing just fine and he could hardly wait to get right back to it without any changes. Why change what’s pretty close to perfect? Zwaagstra dismissed any suggestion that anything should change, he liked it exactly the way it was. Of course, those most comfortable with things as they are, tend to feel that way.

Scott Galloway is different. He is also enthusiastic about capitalism, but he believes changes are needed. Badly.  Galloway wrote a book called Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity. I heard him interviewed on Amanpour and Company.

Hari Sreenivasan interviewed Galloway and pointed out that in the US more than 250,000 people have already died from Covid-19. (Since then the numbers have doubled.) Sreenivasan pointed out that the disease has exposed some serious weaknesses but has also provided an opportunity to fix some of those weaknesses. Someone once said, we should never waste a crisis. Zwaagstra and the other Panglossians want to do exactly that. Why fix something that is not broken?

Galloway pointed out that before the pandemic there were a lot of people who were optimistic to the point of arrogance. The system was working well for many people, but for others it was disastrous. The pandemic made clear to all that many of the governmental institutions had been woefully underfunded. Galloway is a capitalist, but he recognized the importance of government. His eyes are not shut. The crisis has allowed us to spend more time with our families, it has allowed us to look closely at our educational system. Our health care system needs a close examination in the light of what we have learned from the pandemic. It has shown how ecommerce can work. To him, unlike Zwaagstra, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

In health care Galloway believes the greatest shift in stakeholder value is about to occur in the business history of the US. In the US 17% of the GDP is heath care.

As he said,

“It is arguably the largest business in the world clocking in at 3 or 4 trillion dollars a year, but the outcomes have been decreasing. Life expectancy has been going down and mortality is stuck at a certain level. Customer satisfaction is pretty anemic. The medical profession as retail is probably the second worst retail in America behind gas stations. Imagine going to a store for a sunblock and someone sides a plexi-glass gives you a form and says to you ‘Here fill out this paperwork and we’ll see you in 30 minutes! It’s a fairly uninspiring experience. The exciting thing is that 99% of the people who have contracted, endured, and developed anti-bodies for the coronavirus did it without entering a doctor’s office let alone a hospital.”

 

He said that morning he got his Covid-19 test in his kitchen. Things are changing rapidly and sometimes for the better.

“Just as ecommerce took the store to your living room, just as the movie theatre moved into your living room, the doctor’s office, hospitals, and diagnostics moved to your house.”

These things are a sea change. I know I had a doctor’s examination from my cottage at the lake while the doctor was in his office. I had a blemish or spot on my head that worried me. My wife took a photo and emailed it to the doctor who looked at it and said, “I think it’s benign.”  While I wished he could have said that with a little more confidence, the experience with my physician was shockingly good.

As Galloway said,

“This might give us not just an opportunity to reduce costs but to take us off our heels as a nation being reactive and defensive about our health and get on our toes and talk more about primary care. It made people more comfortable with their relationship with their health care provider. Amazon just announced that they would have 24/7 pharmacists available and 2-hour delivery. So, we could see an explosion of innovation in health care. You could arguably say it is the most exciting place to be in our economy post-covid. Regulations have come crashing down. Consumers are now comfortable receiving health care over their hand held instruments in their home.”

 

I admit that describes me. I want to see my doctor from time to time, but often I don’t need to go his or her office. By phone or Ipad often is good enough and saves me a lot of time. My time is valuable too.

In ecommerce it took years for the kind of growth we have seen. I hate what Amazon is doing to small businesses around the world. I hate the thought of giving any more money to the richest man in the world (now he is second). Before the pandemic he was earning $1 million every 50 minutes. All this while he is crushing small business everywhere and while many of his employees wear  diapers because they can’t afford to take a washroom break or they won’t be able to  meet their quotas. Now he is doing much better than that and I have helped him out, as have millions of others. We have done that because we came to realize how convenient it was. For many things we don’t really have to go to a store to look them over. Ordering them from our homes for some is just easier, simpler, and cheaper.  Other businesses will have to learn that we have learned something and if they don’t change, we will change where and how we shop. Not for everything but for many things. Capitalists had better innovate or they will be left on the dust heap.

That does not mean all has been rosy. As Sreenivasan  pointed out,

“It has been a boon for those who could afford it. There has been a blue collar pandemic and a white collar pandemic. For the white collar people it was great. I can get everything from Instacard and Amazon. But if you’re an essential worker that doesn’t really apply to you.”

 

For others not so much. And some of us still care a little bit about fairness. Fairness and competition.

Galloway agreed completely:

“If you’re in the top 10% of income earners there is no change in employment. It means you’re no more vulnerable than you were before the pandemic. There’s a 60% likelihood you can work from home. You can spend  more time with your family. You maybe got 10 hours back a week. If you make less than $40,000 a year, 40% of those people have lost their jobs and less than 10% can work from home. You don’t like to say this out loud, but if you’re in the top 10% and you’re blessed with good health you’re most likely spending more time with Netflix, your kids, and less time commuting, and by the way your stocks are probably up and I would argue that a lot of the stimulus unfortunately hasn’t been about arresting the pandemic, and helping our neediest, it’s been about flattening the curve for rich people. The savings rate in American has never been higher. The Nasdaq has never been higher. If you do a google search for covid and markets you’ll find more articles than if you do covid and mortality. It’s as if as a nation our priorities are reflected in our spending. The velocity of death is unprecedented. More people are dying every day from this than any crisis in history! And that’s meaningful. But what would be profoundly tragic would be if the Nasdaq declines! At least that’s what our spending seems to indicate. We want to save restaurants, but not keep schools open. We seem to want to ensure that the markets are washed in liquidity and people are wanting stimulus, but we aren’t protecting people. We see infection rates rise. And we see our health professionals wanting for PPE equipment. It does definitely seem that we have decided that corporations are people and they are the ones that we have to save.’

 

And remember all of this is not coming from some crazy leftwing extremist. This is coming from a self-described enthusiast for capitalism. He is an insider. He likes the system. Perhaps not as much as Zwaagstra, but he is no bleeding socialist.

Once again Wall Street is doing much better than Main Street. This is always an interesting phenomenon. In my view this will always happen in a system that permits plutocracy, and even worse in a system that encourages plutocracy. If we let the rich rule, they will do what is in their best interests. It really is that simple.

As Galloway said,

“As a nation we suffer from an idolatry of innovators. And we personify companies and believe that it all starts with the shareholders. The shareholder class is the premier class and as long as the economy is strong everything will fall into place. And we measure the economy’s health by these dangerous indices called the Nasdaq where 90% of the stock are owned by the top 10%. The Nasdaq and the Dow are not indicators of the health of our economy they are proxies for how well the wealthy are doing. And–spoiler alert–they’re killing it.”

No one should be surprised by this. We have a system that is designed by the wealthy for the wealthy and inevitably such a system will deliver the goods to the wealthy as our system does so well. It just sucks to be poor.

 

A History of Christian Violence

 

The insurrection at Capitol Hill in January of 2021 was by no means the first act of Christian violence in the United States. According to Thomas Edsall, Samuel P. Perry, a professor at Baylor University and no relation to Samuel L. Perry who I quoted in early posts,  pointed out to Thomas Edsall that the invasion of the Capitol by insurrectionists reminded him of “past acts of Christian violence.” American history, he said, is crammed full with such acts but he mentioned one, the confrontation between federal law enforcement officials at Waco Texas in 1993 with a group of white supremacists that were part of an extremist Christian sect. Perry believes that was a seminal moment in which the hard Christian right were united with white supremacist militias. Many see that time  as the crucial moment  when militias in America “grew up.”  But they grew up to be monsters. From that moment they became dangerous. According to Perry, both groups saw themselves “as targeted by the government in the aftermath of the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco.” Christian fundamentalists and white supremacist militia groups both figured themselves “as targeted by the government in the aftermath of the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco.” Numerous other similar incidents occurred in the US since then, including of course the occupying of the State Capitol in Michigan last year followed by the Trump insurrection.

 

The scholar of religion, Ann Burlein, concluded “Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality.”

Samuel Perry told Edsall this in an email to him:

“The insurrection or assault on the Capitol involved unlikely coalitions of people in one way. You do not necessarily think of religious evangelicals and fundamentalists being in line with Three Percenters or Proud Boys,” but, he continued, the narrative of chosenness and superiority made for broader group of support. I would not attribute Jan. 6 to Christian Nationalism alone, but I would not underestimate the involvement of the contingent of Christian Nationalists and the way the rhetoric of Christian Nationalism became a standard trope for Trump.”

The conjoining of Christian nationalism and politics in the US has produced a particularly nasty concoction. I think it is far from over. That is the real point. Where is this headed and when will it end?

 

Christian Tribal Power

 

I am still trying to make sense of all those prayers and Christian symbols I saw at the Capitol the day of the insurrection. What do they mean and what do they tell us about the matrimony of politics and religion?

Paul D. Miller, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, made these  claims in an email to Thomas Edsall of the New York Times:

“Christian nationalism is the pursuit of tribal power, not the common good; it is identity politics for right-wing (mostly white) Christians; it is the attempt to ‘own and operate the American brand,’ as someone else wrote; it is an attitude of entitlement among Christians that we have a presumptive right to define what America is. I oppose identity politics of all kinds, including the identity politics of my tribe.”

 

According to Benjamin Lynerd, a professor of Political Science at Christopher Newport University and the author of Republican Theology: The Civil Religion of American Evangelicals,” Christian Nationalism involves

“the tragedy of evangelical politics, a tragedy that the unrestrained loyalty to President Trump lays bare, but which stretches well beyond this moment in American history,” when “political theology serves merely as cover for the more pragmatic agenda of social empowerment.”

 

Professor Lynerd asserts, that there is a difference,

“between searching out the implications of the Christian gospel for politics and leveraging this gospel to advance the social position of American Christians. When evangelicals disguise the latter in the robes of the former, not only do they engage in dishonesty, but they also give fuel to the cynical view that there really is no difference — that the theological is nothing more than a cloak for the political.”

 

When theology is used to cloak a grab for political power the religion is far from pure. Then it has jumped into the fray and got soiled by it.

As Robert Jones said in an email to Edsall:

“While many media outlets focused on decoding the myriad white supremacist signs and symbols, they too easily screened out the other most prominent displays: the numerous crosses, Bibles, and signs and flags with Christian symbols, such as the Jesus 2020 flag that was modeled on the Trump campaign flag.”

 

Jones also said, those religious symbols used on Capitol hill by the insurrectionists:

“reveal an unsettling reality that has been with us throughout our history: The power of White supremacy in America has always been its ability to flourish within and be baptized by white Christianity.”

Like I said before, the deep connections between anti-black racism in the United States are deeply disturbing. No mild words of religious comfort can gloss them over. The same is true of the religious trappings of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Samuel Perry in his email to Edsall said that when white Americans are asked about taking the country back they mean that the Christian character of the country should be restored, and by that they mean “they want to take the country back to the days when they (white, native-born, conservatives) were in power.” But if you asked blacks the same question they would mean, a return to a ““civil religion” where there was a sacred obligation to be a “just” nation, characterized by fairness, equality, and liberty.

That mixture of religion and white supremacist politics is incredibly toxic and dangerous. That is what Trump tried to bring about and in that battle his greatest allies were Evangelical Christians. To the extent that this is true, the Evangelicals have been besmirched with their leader’s slime. By leader of course, I mean Donald Trump, not Jesus Christ. This is my conclusion: Those Evangelical Christians that followed Trump to the bitter end, gave up on Jesus a long time ago, in favour of their own bully in the White House. Trump became their Savior supplanting the one on the cross.

Gross Negligence

 

This past year, while he was president, Donald Trump on national TV, with Dr. Fauci beside him, said this about Hydroxychloroquine a drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but not for Covid-19 patients except for experimental studies: “It may work; it may not work. I feel good about it. That’s all it is just a feeling.” Coming from the president of the country with a legion of fanatically loyal followers this is an extremely dangerous thing to say. I would go so far as to say it was gross negligence. People believed him and risked their lives. Perhaps some died as a result.

 

Much later, Dr. Fauci said, “the partisanship has been poisonous.” Health issues should not become political footballs. Health issues should be determined by the best science available not feelings. Important societal; issues should be determined by science, data, reasoning and evidence. Not feelings, or hunches, or faith. That is why the United States is in such a difficult position now.

 

 

Conflicting Stories; Colliding Freedoms

 

We are hearing a lot of conflicting stories about Covid-19 and its variants and the vaccines. In Europe it seems like the pandemic has fresh legs that make it spread widely again, with more raging force than ever before. Yet in Manitoba we are “cautiously” opening up according to our Chief Medical Officer Brent Roussin. Is this really cautious? Why does he not think the same thing that is happening now in Europe won’t happen here too? I hope he is right, but I fear he is wrong. I hope he is not feeling the pressure from religious people like those in the Church of God Restoration outside of Steinbach, and others, that want to open up faster.

Yet the Winnipeg Free Press today reported,

“CANADA’S chief public health officer said Sunday that the collective efforts to fight COVID-19 are paying off, even as the country sits at a “critical juncture” in the fight against fast spreading variants.

Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter that COVID-19 disease activity continues to decline and vaccination is heading in the right direction.

“Our collective effort has begun to tip the balance in our favour,” she wrote. But she said Canadians need to maintain COVID-19 precautions to protect each other, especially as cases of more contagious variants are mounting across the country.”

On the other hand, the same article reported that “The faster-spreading COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom has made its way into some schools in British Columbia, health officials announced late Saturday.”

 

Is that not concerning, considering what we know about the new variants of Covid-19?  I know vaccines help, but frankly not many Canadian arms have received it. I would feel a lot better if they did.

Of course, as we all know Covid-19 is amplifying existing inequities. That same article reported on this issue as follows:

” In a message published Sunday, Tam noted that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on racialized communities. She said cases are 1.5 to 5 times higher in racialized communities in Toronto and Ottawa, while people living on First Nations reserves have a 69 per cent higher rate of infection compared to the general population.

“These disproportionate impacts among racialized and Indigenous communities are not due to biological differences between groups or populations,” she wrote.

“Rather, they reflect existing health inequities that are strongly influenced by a specific set of social and economic factors — things like income, education, employment and housing that shape an individual’s place in society.”

She said it’s imperative to work to fight racism in workplaces, education and health and social services systems, which she said has contributed to vaccine hesitancy in some communities and helped to create the inequitable living and working conditions that make some groups more susceptible to COVID-19.”

 

Often, I think William Faulkner was right: “We can never catch up with injustice.” But, I wish our religious people would not divert the attention of our health officials from fighting Covid-19 to dealing with their demands that they deal instead with their dubious claims of infringement on their religious freedom. I wish those religious zealots instead spent more time working to eradicate social injustice. Would that not make God happier?

Blood and Apocalypse: Christian White Nationalism

 

Philip Gorski, a professor of sociology at Yale and the author of the book American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion From the Puritans to the Present, also noted that many of the insurrectionists at the Washington Capitol on January 6, 2021 made it clear by their actions and signs that they supported Christian nationalism. This is what he told Thomas Edsall of the New York Times in a personal email to him:

“Many observers commented on the jarring mixture of Christian, nationalist and racist symbolism amongst the insurrectionists: there were Christian crosses and Jesus Saves banners, Trump flags and American flags, fascist insignia and a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ hoodie. Some saw apples and oranges. But it was really a fruit cocktail: White Christian Nationalism.”

You put them all together and you get Christian Nationalism.

Professor Gorski did not claim that he could tell by watching that a majority of the insurrectionists were Christian nationalists. That would be very difficult to discern from a distance. Yet, there is no denying that they were a substantial presence. Professor Gorski told Edsall in his email that the Christian nationalist movement was a loose confederation of people and institutions that shared,

“a certain narrative about American history. In rough outline: America was founded as a Christian nation; the Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians; the Nation’s laws and founding documents were indirectly based on “biblical” principles, or even directly inspired by God, Himself. America’s power and prosperity are due to its piety and obedience.”

 

Professor Gorski had some disturbing things to say about Christian Nationalists. He distinguished them from more traditional Christians. As he said in his email to Edsall,

“Christian nationalists use a language of blood and apocalypse. They talk about blood conquest, blood sacrifice, and blood belonging, and also about cosmic battles between good and evil. The blood talk comes from the Old Testament; the apocalyptic talk from the Book of Revelation.”

Anyone who watched and listened to the Christians on the hill during the insurrection would, I think, find the above description apt. And disturbing. That sounds more like Christian Nationalists than Sunday school at the local Baptist Church.

Is that your kind of Christianity? I don’t know about you, but I find it disturbing.

Authoritarian Christianity

Evangelical Christians rightly complain when their religious freedom is attacked. But trying to impose their religious is not freedom. That is authoritarianism.

Gerardo Marti, a professor of sociology at Davidson College, in an email to Edsall of the New York Times, said that modern American evangelicals have shifted to a more militant approach to imposing their religious views:

“the accumulated frustrations of not being able to ease their sense of religious decline, their continued legal struggles against abortion and gay marriage, and the overwhelming shifts in popular culture promoting much less religiously restrictive understandings of personal identity have prompted politically active religious actors to take a far more pragmatic stance.”

 

For that reason, Marti said revivalism has largely

“been abandoned as a solution to changing society. Their goal is no longer to persuade the public of their religious and moral convictions; rather, their goal has become to authoritatively enforce behavioral guidelines through elected and nonelected officials who will shape policies and interpret laws such that they cannot be so easily altered or dismissed through the vagaries of popular elections. It is not piety but policy that matters most. The real triumph is when evangelical convictions become encoded into law.”

In other words, many Christian Nationalists have moved towards authoritarianism. They want their religious views to be enshrined in laws. This is not freedom of religion. This is freedom to impose religion on others.

No better example could be found than the recent insurrectionists on Capitol Hill. What better example could one think of than rioting at the Capitol in a country that is still (to some extent) democratic? That is certainly not a case of trying to persuade; that is trying to impose. That is what authoritarianism is all about.