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Published in: March-April 2015 issue.

True Colors  Theocrats of the religious Right have always hitched their version of God to an “America First” brand of patriotism that was quick to brand others as traitors. That’s what made it so surprising when Larry Jacobs, director of the American World Congress of Families, traveled to his organization’s annual conference last fall, which was held in Moscow, and gave a speech praising Vladimir Putin’s Russia while denouncing the USA. The latter was slammed for its “secular, post-modern, anti-family agenda,” while Russia was described as “the hope for the world right now … [to]the future of the family and to the future of civilization.” The West, he lamented, has been taken over by “cultural Marxists.” Mind you, Jacobs was speaking in Russia, officially Marxist for most of the 20th century, so it would seem the world has come full circle. Clearly what impressed Jacobs about the “new” Russia was Putin’s crackdown on gay rights, which is what the World Congress is all about, after all, as the conference made clear. The panels fumed about the tide of marriage equality in the U.S. and ended by drafting a resolution calling for all countries to ban “gay propaganda.” That’s just what Moscow did a few years ago, having been lobbied hard by U.S. Christian groups for years. So Jacobs’ comments weren’t so surprising, after all. What they demonstrate is that all the God and Country stuff was always an expedient: the goal is to impose a faith-based morality on society, regardless of what kind of regime it takes—indeed, the more authoritarian, the better.

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