Jaco: Is it about Christianity or control in Jefferson City?

After 9/11, a new word crept into the American lexicon, thanks to neo-conservatives who were pushing an Iraq invasion and President George W. Bush’s speechwriters: Islamofascism. Bush himself first used it in a 2005 speech, when he groused about “Islamic fascists” seeking global jihad.

Since the vast majority of terrorist attacks in America in the last decade have been committed by white nationalists, Islamofascism has been tossed on the scrap heap of history, replaced by an extremist white evangelical threat: Christofascism.

The hot, pulsing center of Islamic extremism has always been among the isolated Pashto hill tribes in the Kakar, Chagai, and Safed Koh mountain ranges between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And among the isolated exurban and rural white tribes in Missouri, the center of Christofascism has become the state capitol building in Jefferson City.

That became clear last week when the same extremist lawmakers who refuse to regulate deadly weapons, calling gun laws “government interference,” placed the state government almost literally inside a woman’s womb by outlawing abortion after eight weeks, at which point a human embryo is less than an inch long, and refusing to make any exceptions for rape or incest.

The contempt that the (mostly) white male GOP radicals have for women was nicely summed up by St. Charles County state Rep. Nicholas Schroer, a Republican who helped write Missouri’s extreme anti-abortion law.

Responding to a tweet attacking the new law, Schroer wrote, “So you’re fine with a child being kept to term and then killed moments before delivery if it was claimed to be a result of rape?”

Even by the Christofascist standards of the Missouri GOP, the O’Fallon lawmaker’s claim that a woman would falsely claim she was raped just so she could abort her fetus a few days before the due date reached new depths.  Schroer’s “hold my beer” moment demeaning rape victims came one day after a Southeast Missouri lawmaker, Rep. Barry Hovis, called most rapes “consensual.” Hovis, retired after 30 years as a Cape Girardeau cop, presumably investigated at least a few rape cases in his three decades in law enforcement. You have to wonder what he wrote in his investigative reports.

Like a large number of the Missouri Republican lawmakers who think “The Handmaid’s Tale” is reality TV, both Hovis and Schroer make a big deal on their social media pages about being a “Christian” and a “Christ-follower.” In my cursory reading of the New Testament, I find a good deal about Jesus comforting the afflicted, and nothing about him condemning abortion or calling rape victims liars.

That’s because their diseased Christofascist interpretation of Scripture is merely a cover, just like Mullah Omar and Osama bin Ladin’s embrace of violent Islamic extremism was only using Islam as a smokescreen. Their real object was power, and control.

Likewise, abortion opponents historically used religion as a head-fake. As commentator Jamil Smith writes in the new issue of “Rolling Stone,” the anti-abortion movement was born from white supremacy.

In 1970, federal courts ruled that all-white “segregation academies” set up to dodge school integration could no longer dodge paying taxes by pretending to be legitimate educational institutions. Jerry Falwell Sr. and GOP operative Paul Weyrich, who founded the Moral Majority, wanted to mobilize angry white evangelicals, but didn’t want to build it around support for segregation since that, you know, made them look like the racists they were.

The white, male, evangelical group leaders, the prototype for today’s Christofascism, needed another issue, and in 1973, got in when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. Segregation wouldn’t work as an issue, but abortion worked just fine. The so-called “pro life” movement is the fruit of that poisoned tree.

Take Samuel Lee, an anti-gay, anti-abortion operative for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and chief lobbyist for Campaign Life Missouri.  Lee guided the extreme anti-abortion law through the halls of the Missouri General Assembly under the guise of morality, while actually pushing for control by a theocratic government over the most private decision a woman and her doctor can make. Lee was ousted as head of a group for Missouri Citizens for Life in 1990 because he wanted to write exceptions for rape and incest into anti-abortion laws. Thirty years later, Lee’s come around to wanting all abortion outlawed, period.

Thanks to Christofascists like Lee, Schroer, and Hovis, women in St. Louis who want abortions after eight weeks will either have to travel to Illinois, or use drugs such as misoprostol to induce as “self-managed” do-it-yourself abortion. A St. Louis-based pro-choice group, ReProAction, has been holding seminars for women for months on how to perform a “medication abortion” using new categories of pharmaceuticals.

Under the guise of religion, Christofascists want to jail women and their doctors for abortion. But their laws won’t reduce abortions. They’ll just drive them underground.

Charles Jaco

Charles Jaco is a journalist and author. He has worked for NBC News, CNN, KMOX, KTRS, and Fox 2. He is best known for his coverage of the first Gulf War, and for his "legitimate rape" interview with Senate candidate Todd Akin. He is the winner of three George Foster Peabody Awards, and the author of four books.

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