Christian fascism is a far-right political ideology that denotes an intersection between fascism and Christianity. It is sometimes referred to as "Christofascism", a neologism which was coined in 1970 by the liberation theologian Dorothee Sölle.[1][2][3]

Interpretation of Sölle

Tom F. Driver, the Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, expressed concern "that the worship of God in Christ not divide Christian from Jew, man from woman, clergy from laity, white from black, or rich from poor". To him, Christianity is in constant danger of Christofascism. He stated that "[w]e fear christofascism, which we see as the political direction of all attempts to place Christ at the center of social life and history" and that "[m]uch of the churches' teaching about Christ has turned into something that is dictatorial in its heart and is preparing society for an American fascism".[4][5]

Christofascism "disposed or allowed Christians, to impose themselves not only upon other religions but other cultures, and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ" – as Paul F. Knitter describes Sölle's view.[6][7]


Douglas John Hall, Professor of Christian Theology at McGill University, relates Sölle's concept of Christofascism to Christomonism, which inevitably ends in religious triumphalism and exclusivity, noting Sölle's observation of American fundamentalist Christianity which led him to conclude that Christomonism easily leads to Christofascism, and violence is never far away from militant Christomonism. (Christomonism only accepts one divine person, Jesus Christ, rather than the Trinity.) He states that the over-divinized ("high") Christology of Christendom is demonstrated to be wrong by its "almost unrelieved anti-Judaism". He suggests that the best way to guard against this is for Christians not to neglect the humanity of Jesus Christ in favour of his divinity, and remind themselves that Jesus was also a Jewish human being.[2][8][9]

American history and politics

Chris Hedges and David Neiwert contend that the origins of American Christofascism date back to the Great Depression, when Americans first espoused forms of fascism that were "explicitly 'Christian' in nature".[10]: 88  Hedges writes that "fundamentalist preachers such as Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L. K. Smith fused national and Christian symbols to advocate the country's first crude form of Christo-fascism".[11] Smith's Christian Nationalist Crusade stated that a "Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism".[11] Hedges also believes that William Dudley Pelley was another prominent advocate of Christofascism.[10]: 88  Nonetheless, some historians contend the presence of Christian fascism in the Antebellum United States.[12]

In the late 1950s, some adherents of these philosophies founded the John Birch Society, whose policy positions and rhetoric have greatly influenced modern dominionists.[11] Likewise, the Posse Comitatus movement was founded by former associates of Pelley and Smith.[10]: 90  The 1980s saw the founding of the Council for National Policy[11] and Moral Majority,[13][14] two organizations which carried on the tradition, while the patriot and militia movements represented efforts to mainstream the philosophy in the 1990s.[10]: 90 

Incidents of anti-abortion violence, including the Atlanta and Birmingham bombings which were committed by Eric Rudolph and the assassination of George Tiller at his Wichita, Kansas church in 2009, have also been considered acts which were motivated by Christofascism.[10]: 90–91 [15]

Usage of the term caused controversy in 2007 when Melissa McEwan, a campaign blogger for then-presidential candidate John Edwards, referred to religious conservatives as "Christofascists" on her personal blog.[16][17]

Criticism of the use of the term

Anti-war and human rights activist George Hunsinger, director of the Centre for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, regards the very accusation of "fascism" as a sophisticated theological attack on the biblical depiction of Jesus. He believes that the view of Christ which is accused as Christofascist is in fact the real "Jesus Christ as he is depicted in Scripture". Hunsinger contrasts his preferred understanding of Jesus with the "nonnormative Christology" that self-proclaimed anti-Christofascists offer as an alternative, which he criticizes as extreme relativism that reduces Jesus Christ to "an object of mere personal preference and cultural location". Hunsinger believes that this relativism may contribute to the same problems which Karl Barth saw in Germany's Christian church during the previous century.[18] The strife of the medieval Hussite Wars has led some contemporary historians to condemn their methods as fascist.[19]

See also

Christian fascist movements in Europe and the United States dating back to World War II


  1. ^ Sölle, Dorothee (1970). Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.
  2. ^ a b Hall, Douglas John (November 6, 1999). "Confessing Christ in a Post-Christendom Context". 1999 Covenant Conference, Network of Presbyterians. Atlanta, Georgia: Religion Online. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2007. ...shall we say this, represent this, live this, without seeming to endorse the kind of christomonism (Dorothee Sölle called it 'Christofascism'!...
  3. ^ Pinnock, Sarah K. (2003). The Theology of Dorothee Soelle. Trinity Press International. ISBN 1-56338-404-3. ...of establishing a dubious moral superiority to justify organized violence on a massive scale, a perversion of Christianity she called Christofascism....
  4. ^ Driver, Tom Faw (1981). Christ in a Changing World: Toward an Ethical Christology. Crossroad. pp. 19. ISBN 0-8245-0105-5. We fear Christofascism ...
  5. ^ Wildman, Wesley J. (1998). Fidelity with Plausibility: Modest Christologies in the Twentieth Century. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3595-3. Driver argues that traditional Christology fosters what he calls 'Christofascism.' He means by this, first, the absolutizing of the past in order to…
  6. ^ Knitter, Paul F. (July 1983). "Theocentric Christology". Theology Today. 40 (2): 130–149. doi:10.1177/004057368304000204. S2CID 220984907. Dorothee Soelle can even describe much of Christology as 'Christofascism' in the way it has disposed or allowed Christians to impose themselves upon not only other religions but other cultures and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ
  7. ^ Hoffman, John Charles (1986). Law, Freedom, and Story: The Role of Narrative in Therapy, Society, and Faith. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 127–28. ISBN 0-88920-185-4.
  8. ^ Rhee, Helen (2005). "Superiority of Christian Monotheism". Early Christian Literature: Christ and Culture in the Second and Third Centuries. Routledge. p. 80. ISBN 0-415-35487-0.
  9. ^ Hall, Douglas John. "The Identity of Jesus in a Pluralistic World". Archived from the original (Microsoft Word) on February 28, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d e Neiwert, David A. (May 1, 2009). The eliminationists: how hate talk radicalized the American right. PoliPoint Press. pp. 88–90. ISBN 978-0-9815769-8-5.
  11. ^ a b c d Hedges, Chris (2008). American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Simon & Schuster. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-7432-8446-2.
  12. ^ Roel Reyes, Stefan (24 November 2021). "'Christian Patriots': The Intersection Between Proto-fascism and Clerical Fascism in the Antebellum South". International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity. 9 (1–4): 82–110. doi:10.1163/22130624-00219121. S2CID 244746966.
  13. ^ Welch, Sharon (2007). "Dangerous Memory and Alternate Knowledges". In Lawrence, Bruce B.; Karim, Aisha (eds.). On violence: a reader. Duke University Press. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-8223-3756-0.
  14. ^ Sölle, Dorothee (1990). The window of vulnerability: a political spirituality. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-2432-3.
  15. ^ Zerbisias, Antonia (June 2, 2009). "Doctor's killing is domestic terrorism". The Star.
  16. ^ Broder, John M. (February 9, 2007). "Edwards gets lesson in reconciling Internet culture with presidential campaign". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Cooperman, Alan (June 2, 2007). "Obama Web Site Seeks to Rally The Faithful". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ Hunsinger, George (2001). "Where the Battle Rages: Confessing Christ in America Today". Disruptive Grace: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth. Wm B Eerdmans Publishing. p. 99. ISBN 0-8028-4940-7.
  19. ^ Edwards, I. (2014). Praguewalks: Five Intimate Walking Tours of Prague's Most Historic and Enchanting Quarters. Henry Holt and Company. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-4668-6589-1. Retrieved June 2, 2023.

Further reading