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As white-identity evangelicals circulate rumors that these are the End Times and Donald Trump is a holy messiah, people are asking for another go-round on exactly how we got to this point.

What I found researching my new book AMERICAN RULE is wild.

A personal note. I grew up in the white-identity, evangelical world. I had no idea it was a scam and a political/economic manipulation. I just thought it was reality.

Now, knowing what I know, I call it the Cult of the Shining City. Because that's what it is. A cult.

What you need to understand is that plenty of people like me haven't escaped the Cult of the Shining City. They live their lives in total ignorance that what they've been taught has been politically motivated and is a retelling of Confederate ideology and occultism.

These people, the Cult of the Shining City members, and there are millions of them, are taught to believe that white supremacy is God's chosen plan and that America is his chosen vehicle. They believe they are beset by satanic forces determined to destroy America.

We have to start in the Confederacy. We aren't taught much about it, and that's because so much of it is steeped in American tradition and so much has lived on. The Confederacy functioned much like evangelical America functions, with the same ideology and faith.

In the Confederacy, political and religious leaders intertwined white supremacy, toxic myth and nationalism, and religion to promote social control. The religion of the Confederacy was that of a racist god who ordained racial division.

That powered national myth and identity

Flash forward to the 1950's/1960's. The Civil Rights Movement, powered by individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr. begins to grow more and more powerful.

The engine? Christianity.

MLK and other leaders touted the social justice aspect and progressivism of Christ.

By basing much of Civil Rights in the Christian religion, MLK and other leaders appealed to Americans in their spiritual lives and morality. It took a strong hold and emphasized Christ as a reformer and social justice warrior.

This, obviously, could not stand in America.

Jerry Falwell led a swift and jarring change in the Christian Church. As a southern preacher, he was an inheritor of the Confederacy religion. From his pulpit he preached racial segregation as God's will, claiming desegregationists were wicked and evil.

The God of Jerry Falwell and the modern white-identity evangelical movement is the same God of the Confederacy.

A racist deity who ordained whites to be powerful and lord over literally everyone else. I never knew this growing up, but it makes so much sense now.

Falwell had a problem.

If MLK had successfully moved Christianity to left in favor of social and racial justice, what could be done?

The answer was to make Christianity explicitly a white supremacist ideology while destroying the social and racial justice aspects.

White-identity evangelicalism became an ideology of maintaining white supremacy through means of power and profit.

Efforts to desegregate, efforts to achieve progress, efforts to change the social and financial structure became tools of the Devil.

As Falwell gained power, America gained an evangelical president in Jimmy Carter. Carter was quiet and modest and from a tradition of humble, social justice Christianity.

It was enough for the moment, but Falwell wanted someone to uphold the white supremacy faith.

Heading into the 1980's, white supremacy knew no better warrior than Ronald Reagan, who had fought the culture battles of the 1960's as governor of California.

He is remembered as the smiling president, but as governor Reagan was cruel and angry. Just what the Right wanted.

So. Here's where it gets weird.

Ronald Reagan wasn't actually religious. As a member of the California new age environment, he was spiritual. He attended lectures on occult symbols and the like. Practiced astrology. He was steeped in it.


Reagan had been a public figure for decades by the 1980's. The one thing he kept bringing to the table, from his earliest speeches. Was a belief that America had been ordained by God to be his chosen nation and that God had personally intervened in American affairs.

The Shining City belief, borrowed from America's past, was Reagan's total belief that America had been helped along by God to be a haven for freedom and his holy plan. Reagan told one crowd after another that God had even sent an angel to help America's birth.

All right. Let's get weird.

Reagan believed the Founders were unwilling to sign the Declaration of Independence until God sent an angel to give an inspiring speech.

Truly. Reagan believed that. An angel. At the Declaration of Independence.

The myth of an angel inspiring the Declaration of Independence was actually the work of a popular writer who was best friends with Edgar Allen Poe.

It wasn't hidden that this was a myth written for entertainment, yet Reagan based his political philosophy on it.

Reagan was introduced to the myth that America was god's chosen country and the Declaration of Independence myth by a guru named Manley P. Hall, who was an extremely popular figure in New Age California.

He lectured to huge crowds, sold a ton of books.

Manley P. Hall is a complete trip.

His work was obsessed with Atlantis and conspiracies among the ancients to raise up America as a new continent of reason and power. It is white supremacy personified, but also just as bizarre as you can imagine.

Reagan bought it.


Reagan's first CPAC speech actually mentioned Manley P. Hall!

He said he'd been told by an expert about an angel give an inspiring speech to save the Revolution.

He tied Manley P. Hall directly to the Shining City rhetoric. At CPAC!

Anyway. Back to Carter. Jimmy Carter was a humble, quiet Christian who believed the problems of America required self-reflection and personal accountability.

Reagan blew him out of the water saying there was no need for reflection. Just American exceptionalism.

Falwell and company recognized in Reagan a useful ally who could help with their march to power while also shoring up the white supremacist ideology of the new Christian/American/white-identity religion.

Reagan used them and they used Reagan.

But there were consequences.

Reagan was used as a puppet by radical economists to completely upend the economy, making conspicuous consumption and obscene profit part of the national character. Falwell and company made capitalism Godly as it was a marker of God' will.…
In America, poverty became a marker of sin. If you were failing to get ahead in the new Reagan economy it meant that you weren't godly enough. And yet, the entire system was set up to prioritize existing wealth and power. White wealth and power.

In Reagan's America, the poor and the suffering were weak and ungodly. They didn't deserve help, because to help them would be to help the cause of evil and, by proxy, the Devil.

Crime was about moral bankruptcy.

Disease was about moral bankruptcy.

All right.

For anyone who grew up in the 1980's, you remember how inundated culture was with satanic panic and fear of the supernatural. This was a side-effect of the symbiosis between Reagan and white-identity evangelicalism.

Suddenly, the world was at spiritual war.

Here's what the Satanic Panic was:

Economics made spiritual.

Because of vast inequality, there was crime. Evangelical leaders and Republicans framed this as the work of a devil on the world. It wasn't THEIR POLITICAL FAULT, it was the work of the Devil.

You have to understand something: the history of the GOP is a history of creating cultural problems and then scapegoating conspiracies for those problems and promising to fix them.

This is essential to understanding who Republicans are and what they've done.

Evangelicals were pointing to the dysfunction of America that was caused by Reagan's policies and cruelty and claiming it was proof that there was a spiritual war underway that was actually being guided by Satan, a supernatural being.

Satan. Was. Everywhere.

Satan was in childcare facilities because they didn't want women to work.

Satan was in rock music because it threatened their cultural hegemony.

Satan was on TV, Satan was in the movies, Satan was in the videogames.


There grew to be a belief in a giant conspiracy against the United States. Remember, in Manley P. Hall's teachings and Reagan's belief, America was an empire grown by God himself to be a champion of justice.

In this world, surely Satan was attacking America.

Because the poor were wicked, because minorities were wicked, because progressivism was wicked and women were wicked, they were all in league with Satan against America.

It was a satanic conspiracy attacking the white patriarchal order.

This is how you get the New World Order. The Deep State. All of it. It's a belief that the poor and the minorities are being guided by Satan to attack the holy foundation of a white supremacist, male-dominated America in order to bring God's chosen empire to ruin.

This is why they think the UN will takeover. Why there are traitors in our midst. Any American fault has to be the result of someone deliberately undermining America instead of the Republican policies themselves.

It's fear of emasculation and destruction of white supremacy.

What about Donald Trump, you ask?

I'm glad you asked that, because Trump has belonged to one faith his entire life. This faith. The Cult of the Shining City, a faith built on Neo-Confederate, white supremacist, nationalist myth.

Donald Trump's personal preacher was Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Positive Thinking, the idea that white-identity Christians could attract power and wealth by focusing on it and being rewarded by God.

Peale officiated Donald Trump's first wedding and has been cited by Trump as his spiritual guide. He opposed any progressivism, painted it as ungodly and against the natural order. It was a strain of the Cult of the Shining City and it has guided Trump since the very start.

When Trump arrived, he was this Neo-Confederate, white-identity religion personified. People misunderstood this because they always thought evangelicals were serious about their espoused principles.

They weren't. They consistently were exposed as hypocrites.

For anyone like myself who grew up in white-identity evangelicalism, you know of the hypocrisy. You've seen the lying, the cheating, the stealing, the cults of personality.

You know this is a faith based on personal empowerment and profit.

Of course they were going to accept Trump. He was the literal embodiment of the Cult of the Shining City's myth.

Power and wealth as symbols of God's will.

The threat of minorities in undermining God's white supremacist plan.

Trump was their dream.

It didn't hurt, of course, that evangelical leaders and Fox News and Republicans activated the paranoia during Obama's presidency, likening him to a literal antichrist.

For anyone who grew up in this, you know what follows the antichrist. The Christ.

Trump is their warrior. In every way. A faulty messiah dedicated to defending white-identity, Neo-Confederate ideology and the system of wealth and power that serves and protects white supremacy.

We were always going to end up here.

The Cult of the Shining City is a literal cult. They support Trump no matter what he does, how he fails, how he lies. In every cult there is only blind obedience, an instant realignment to every hypocrisy and every new explanation.

They are in and they are in for life.

And this is how we became a country of different countries. While the rest of us are trying to make our way forward, to combat something like this pandemic, we are held back and quietly destroyed by an apocalyptic death cult obsessed with a mythical past that never existed.

The pandemic has activated the Cult of the Shining City members, all the millions of them. They see this as an End Time, the destruction and death the result of wickedness and evil.

They'll believe every scapegoat Trump throws at them and hate them with righteous anger.

Again, this is part of the research I found in writing my new book AMERICAN RULE: HOW A NATION CONQUERED THE WORLD BUT FAILED ITS PEOPLE.

We are in strange, strange times, and we have to understand how we got here if we ever hope to get out.…
For people who want to read more. My blog The Muckrake has articles distilling the Cult of the Shining City, the damage and conspiracy of Reaganomics, and how the Republican Party sacrificed our future by merging with this doomsday cult.
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