Juan José Tamayo, Secretary of the Asociación de Teólogas y Teólogos Juan XXIII, published this article in the EL PAÍS daily newspaper on 29th December 2019
The John XXIII Association of Female and Male Theologians is a member group of Redes Cristianas, itself a member group of EN-RE. The Association has organized the annual Madrid Theology Congress every year since 1988
"In Latin America, the United States and Europe we are witnessing the advance of extreme right wing organizations and political parties, that form a perfectly structured and globally coordinated network, organically connected with religious fundamentalist groups, especially evangelicals, to constitute what Nazaret Castro calles "the Neofascist International" and which I qualify as the "Christian Neofascist International". This occurs in the different religions and churches, including the Catholic Church, during the reforming pontificate of Pope Francis, who has his adversaries within the Roman Curia and in an important sector of the worldwide episcopate.
One of the most emblematic examples of this International in Spain is the complicity and total harmony between HazteOír (Make yourself heard), the Spanish catholic organization of ultraconservative ideology, and VOX, the Spanish political party, that the Osservatore Romano - the official organ of the Vatican - qualifies as "an extreme right wing political formation" whilst Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares defines it as right wing and totally constitutional. HazteOír served as a platform to promote and popularise Vox in the media in its beginnings as a political party and has awarded prizes to Santiago Abascal and other leaders of the same party. Correspondingly, Vox has incorporated members affiliated to HazteOír in Spanish Autonomous Parliaments, Municipalities and the Congress of Deputies (the Spanish Parliament).
In Colombia the Peace Agreements failed because
the evangelical fundamentalists and the diehard catholics campaigned against them alleging that they defended egalitarian marriage, abortion and homosexuality. In the first round of the recent Costa Rita elections, the winner was the evangelical pastor with a discourse in favour of "christian values" and neoliberalism, against abortion and the judgment of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights favourable to marriage between persons of the same sex.
In Brazil the evangelical fundamentalists were decisive in the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and in the election of the former soldier Jair Messias Bolsonaro as president of the country. It is they who really inspire and legitimise his avowedly homophobic, sexist, xenophobic and anti-ecological policies.
The government of El Salvador appears to be following a similar trajectory. When the president of the Republic, Nayib Bukele, took possession he invited the argentinian evangelical pastor Dante Gebel, known for his links with ultraconservative pastors like Cash Luna, to recite a prayer. The member of the Conciliación Nacional Party Eileen Romero has presented a motion to decree the obligatory reading of the Bible in schools.
In Bolivia the army and fundamentalist religious groups have organized a coup d'état against Evo Morales, the legitimate president of the Plurinational Republic, who placed the indian communities in the centre of his social, cultural and economic policies and on world maps. They have done this with the Bible and the Crucifix to legitimise their putsch, wash away the deaths produced as a consequence of the coup, confessionally christianise their policies, deny the identity of the indian comunities, justify the repression against them and discredit their religious cults, qualifying them as "satanical".
Following these phenomena which have taken place in different countries we need to speak of a christian-biblical-military-neoliberal-patriarchal fascist alliance que that coordinates actions in all continents and specially in Latin America and which irreverently uses the name of Christ. And it does so with excellent results: it strengthens authoritarian governments, overthows presidents elected democratically, carries out coup d'états, imprisons its political opponents, legitimises neoliberalism as the market monotheist religion and opposes the approval of laws that defend the sexual and reproductive rights of women.
We are facing a crass manipulation of religion and a perversion of the sacred to support the hate speech and practices of extreme right wing parties all over the world, which bear no resemblance with the liberating and egalitarian orientation of the origins of christianity.
Christian neofascism feeds on hatred, grows and enjoys it and promotes hatred amongst its followers and pretends to extend it to all citizens. In his book, The Obsolence of Hatred, the pacifist intellectual, Günther Anders defines it as "Self-assertion and self-constitution by means of the negation and annihilation of others". This modus operandi is in direct contradiction with the majority of religions, especially christianity, with its forgiveness and love for one's neighour and also for one's enemies, and the renunciation of vengeance as in "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".
This hatred is translated in a series of dogmatic and aggressive statements against: "gender theory" which they contemptuously call "gender ideology"; feminism, defined as "feminine nazism", "the work of the devil"; school programmes about affection and sex education are banned with the label "Don't mess with my children"; gender violence, by denying the evidence of the thousands of feminicides that take place all over the world; LGBTIQs; egalitarian marriage and homosexuality; the voluntary interruption of pregnancy and the denunciation of those who practice it; migrant individuals and groups, refugees and displaced persons.
The Christian Neofascist International demands, in its turn, the strengthening of the patriarchal family, insists on female submission, dogmatically denies climate change and opposes measures to combat it, practices epistemicide, which consists in despising knowledge and wisdom that does not comply with the western cultural model, demonstrates a visceral hatred of moslem, jewish and coloured people, based on stereotypes and prejudices, is opposed to secularism and favours political theism and the christian confessionalization of politics, education and culture, is contrary to evolution and defends the creationist theory.
It has changed the political and religious map of the United States, is changing that of Latin America and is proceeding to do the same in Europe. The leap into politics of the fundamentalist religious movement allied with the extreme right presents a serious threat to the autonomy of politics and culture, to the secularization of society, to the separation between State and religion and in the autonomy of science. Meanwhile it demonstrates a total insensibility to the phenomena of poverty and structural injustice, military dictatorships, the growing inequalities based on reasons of ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, social class, sexual identity, etc.
Will we have to live with this International of hatred and its violent manifestations? Certainly not. I coincide with the intellectual Carolin Emcke in the need of making a commitment to praise what is different and "impure", to recognise other types of men and women, to watch out for hatred before its outbreak to prevent its deadly consequences, have the courage to fight it as a prerequisite for defending democracy, to adopt an open vision of society and to excercise a capacity of irony and doubt, which the generators of hatred are completely lacking, sheathed in their absolute convictions."
Juan José Tamayo is director of the Chair of Theology and Sciences of Religions, of the Carlos III University of Madrid. His latest books are: Teologías del Sur. El giro descolonizador (Southern Theologies, The Decolonization Turnaround) (Trotta, 2017); ¿Ha muerto la utopía? ¿Triunfan las distopías? (Has Utopia died? Have the Dystopias triumphed) (Biblioteca Nueva, 2019, 3ª edición); Brother Islam (Trotta, 2019).
Traducido por Hugo Castelli Eyre