Political Animal


September 24, 2012 4:40 PM Satan’s Designs

By Ed Kilgore

Slate’s Kerry Howley mulls Rick Perry’s recent discussion of the need for spiritual warfare against Satan in the context of Campaign 2012 (she wonder if Ol’ Scratch was responsible for the sleep apnea that is now being blamed for the Texas Governor’s terrible debate performances during the primaries), and makes a point that sometimes seems to be lost on secular observers who hear such Christian Right talk and figure it makes sense if you believe in supernatural beings to begin with:

If I were the Father of Lies and looking for a good, decent country to strike down, I’m certain I’d pick Canada. But that’s the great thing about Satan—he’s a scam artist, a trickster. You can only guess at his long-term strategy. What’s ultimately disturbing about Perry is not his belief in darkness personified but the belief that he knows precisely on which side of any question Satan sits. To characterize a policy as satanic is not to make oneself open to empirical evidence about the efficacy of that policy.

No kidding. As I’ve often observed, one of the things about Barack Obama that makes the Christian Right crazy is his insistence that doubt is an essential element of genuine religious faith. Blind fidelity to a secular political agenda divinized by religious leaders—or what I’d call idolatry—is the essence of their peculiar ideology. So of course they believe they know Satan’s intentions, and are arrogant enough to think the entire metaphysical scheme of the universe revolves around their partisan politics.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Josef K on September 24, 2012 5:04 PM:

    Such certaintude is ever the providence of those who are so committed to their cause that they are wholly and earnestly willing to do truly blasphemous actions in the name of their transcendental mission.

    Like hijack airliners and fly them directly into skyscrapers in the late morning.

    Food for thought.

  • SadOldVet on September 24, 2012 5:05 PM:

    So of course they believe they know Satanís intentions... because Pat Robertson told them so.

  • Peter C on September 24, 2012 5:27 PM:

    If you were worried about the power of a single evil entity gaining pre-eminent power in American Politics and elections, you'd think you'd worry about the side that was championing unlimited campaign donations; Satan (like Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove) would have no cash-flow worries, afterall (as opposed to someone like Van Jones).

    Similarly, I was always astounded that those who worried about a new rise in Nazism would look for it among Democrats (who were against the Iraq war and torture and illegal wiretapping) and not Republicans who said all three were vital to keeping us safe.

  • T2 on September 24, 2012 5:31 PM:

    Rick Perry said God told him to run for president. And I assume God told him to drop out of the race. Apparently God didn't tell him how to count to three.

  • Mitch on September 24, 2012 5:50 PM:

    And people say I am paranoid about the rise of American Theocracy. Well, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

    These people cannot be negotiated with (shades of Goldwater), and they are unaffected by logic, reason, or facts. Moreover, they are totally willing to dispense with democracy, when the majority do not favor their theocratic regime. They already believe that the entire world is against them, and that they alone are on the side of what is right and good. Onward, Christian soldiers.

    Just remember that it does not take a majority for theocrats to take over a nation, and it never has. Just remember that theocrats have no limits on their behavior, when they feel that they are doing the will of God. Just remember that, once upon a time, ancient Rome was very much a secular, multi-cultural society. And it gave birth to a dynasty of theocracies that lasted fifteen centuries.

    Just remember that they have been corrupting the military for decades. If that does not make you afraid, then I have to worry about your ability to contemplate cause and effect.

    (Yes, I realize that last statement may offend some people, so read this, then deny my statement if you wish:
    http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~dml1/Evangelical%20Elites%20in%20the%20US%20Military.pdf )

    Just remember that, when push comes to shove, theocrats will do ANYTHING to force their dogma upon other people.

    Theocracy is the greatest enemy of human rights, because all rights are less important than submission to their belief system. Turning a blind eye to this is just plain dangerous. So call me paranoid, if you want. That's your right. Never say I did not warn you.

  • thebewilderness on September 24, 2012 6:25 PM:

    The way the story goes, the first war of rebellion in heaven was between Lucifer's authoritarian forces who wanted to force people to follow God's law and the free will forces of God who wanted people to choose to follow God's law.

    You would think that the Theocrats would be horrified to discover whose side of the war they are fighting on.

  • Rose on September 24, 2012 6:46 PM:

    Oddly enough, I am now listening to Metallica...

  • Dave on September 24, 2012 7:33 PM:

    As Jesus was the son of God, we know his actions to be god like and the opposet of Satan. Jesus gave food to the masses, healed the sick, told people to pay their taxes and give money to the needy.

  • pjcamp on September 24, 2012 11:11 PM:

    Sleepy and stupid is a lethal combination

  • Doug on September 24, 2012 11:44 PM:

    I don't whether it's laziness or whatever, but that lack of doubt is a plus to members of the religious right. They, for whatever reason, want certainty, demand certainty and, by God they'll HAVE certainty. Even if they have to kill everyone to get it!
    Free will? We don't need no stinkin' free will!

  • Martin on September 25, 2012 9:41 AM:

    When I think about faith without doubt I am reminded of what Anne Lamott said, "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."

  • boatboy_srq on September 25, 2012 9:43 AM:


    Don't forget that he especially challenged the rich to care more for their fellows, sniped at the comfortably-established religious hierarchy, railed against the scam-artists-cum-money-changers in the temple, and slammed the noisy faith-shouters of his day for hypocri.

    One wonders how Perry, Robertson, Falwell, Bakker, Reed, Dobson, Perkins et al sleep/slept at night unless they are/were completely conscience-free.

    Captcha: nelsoso disciples,. How does it always know?