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by Chip Berlet - Political Research Associates

1 This paper is adapted from the forthcoming book, Too Close for Comfort: Repressive Populism, Conspiracist Scapegoating, Apocalyptic Millennialism, and Fascism, by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons.

2 Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); David Brion Davis, ed., The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un-American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1971); Richard O. Curry and Thomas M. Brown, eds., "Introduction," Conspiracy: The Fear of Subversion in American History, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972); George Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics (Los Angeles: Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1983); and Frank P. Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1985); Chip Berlet, "Three Models for Analyzing Conspiracist Mass Movements of the Right," in Eric Ward, ed., Conspiracies: Real Grievances, Paranoia, and Mass Movements, (Seattle, Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment [Peanut Butter Publishing], 1996.); Kathleen M. Blee, "Engendering Conspiracy: Women in Rightist Theories and Movements," in Ward, Conspiracies.

3 On Christian right fears of a liberal secular humanist conspiracy, see Chip Berlet and Margaret Quigley, "Theocracy & White Supremacy: Behind the Culture War to Restore Traditional Values," chapter in Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, Chip Berlet, ed. (Boston, South End Press, 1995) p. 60-61. On growing right/left conspiracism, see Michael Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60-70. For radio conspiracism, see Leslie Jorgensen, "AM Armies," pp. 20-22 and Larry Smith, "Hate Talk," p. 23, Extra! March/April 1995; Marc Cooper, "The Paranoid Style," The Nation, April 10, 1995, pp. 486-492; William H. Freivogel, "Talking Tough On 300 Radio Stations, Chuck Harder's Show Airs Conspiracy Theories," St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 10, 1995, p. 5B; David McHugh and Nancy Costello, "Radio host off the air; militia chief may be out," Detroit Free Press, 4/29/95, p. 6A.

4 Chip Berlet, "Who's Mediating the Storm? Right-wing Alternative Information Networks," in Linda Kintz & Julia Lesage, Culture, Media, and the Religious Right (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).

5 Kevin Phillips, "The Politics of Frustration" The New York Times Magazine, April 12, 1992, pp. 38-42.

6 For criticism of the original academic idea that a conspiracist "radical right" is somehow far outside the electoral system (called centrist/extremist theory or the pluralist school), see Michael Rogin, The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The Radical Specter, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1967), pp. 261-282; Curry and Brown, eds., "Introduction," Conspiracy,, pp. vii-xi; Leo P. Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983), pp. 237-257; Margaret Canovan, Populism (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981), pp. 46-51 179-190; Jerome L. Himmelstein, To The Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism, (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990), pp. 1-5, 72-76, 152-164. Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, (New York: Guilford, 1995), pp. 5-6, 40-41; Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An American History. (New York: Basic Books, 1995). pp. 190-193 See Schoenberger, ed., The American Right Wing; William B. Hixson, Jr., Search for the American Right Wing: An Analysis of the Social Science Record, 1955-1987, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 10-48, 77-123, 273-292. For statistical data that refutes some of the claims made by centrist/extremist theory about the social base of the "radical right." This thesis is developed at length in the forthcoming Too Close for Comfort.

7 Michael Lind, "On Pat Robertson: His Defenders", The New York Review of Books, April 20, 1995, pp. 67-68; Jacob Heilbrunn, "On Pat Robertson: His Anti-Semitic Sources", pp. 68-71; Frank Rich, "The New World Order," New York Times, Op-Ed, Journal, 4/27/97.

8 See generally Himmelstein, To The Right; Diamond, Roads; Diamond, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (Boston: South End Press, 1989); Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1997); Berlet and Quigley, "Theocracy & White Supremacy," in Eyes Right!

9 Fred W. Grupp, Jr., "The Political Perspectives of Birch Society Members;" and James McEvoy, III, "Conservatism or Extremism: Goldwater Supporters in the 1964 Presidential Election;" both in Robert A. Schoenberger, ed., The American Right Wing: Readings in Political Behavior, (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969). Charles Jeffrey Kraft, A Preliminary Socio-Economic & State Demographic Profile of the John Birch Society, (Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates (PRA), 1992).

10 Michael Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60-70.

11 Kelly, in his New Yorker article, writes of this seepage phenomenon from alternative to mainstream in terms of conspiracist anti-government allegations.

12 Philip Weiss, "Clinton Crazy," New York Times Magazine, Feb. 23, 1997.

13 Informational sheets and reports from The Maldon Institute, on file at Political Research Associates, (PRA). The Maldon Institute in 1993 claimed financial support from "public-spirited foundations including the Allegheny Foundation, The Carthage Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith...." In 1993 Maldon Institute board members included three noted conspiracists: Dr. D. James Kennedy, a leading Christian right activist and founder of the Moral Majority. Kennedy endorsed a book that alleged the Illuminati Freemasons and Jewish bankers were behind US liberalism's attack on morality; [see Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, p. 60. On endorsement, see back cover of William T. Still, New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies, (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1990).]; Raymond Wannall, past president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and a former assistant director of the FBI. Wannall led a campaign to justify the acts of government agents charged with illegally spying on the left based on the FBI's conspiracist view of countersubversion; [W. Raymond Wannall, "KGB Into the Breach," Nightwatch: Special Report, Security and Intelligence Foundation, 1987, on file at PRA. M. Wesley Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agent's Exposé, (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1995), pp. 101-102; Donner, Age, pp. 70-71.]; Robert Moss, a journalist who gained fame suggesting that Soviet agents secretly controlled a network of left and liberal groups in the US; [See footnotes to Moss articles in Broken Seals, Western Goals Foundation, no date: note 77, Robert Moss, Daily Telegraph (London), December 4, 1978, p. 6; note 100, Ibid. June 18, 1979, p. 6.].

14 A good short summary of the Illuminati/Freemason and Protocols conspiracies and their role in the contemporary racist right can be found in James Ridgeway, Blood in the Face (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1990).

15 Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 169-173; Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 84-87, 233.

16 George M. Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, pp. 109; see also: Diamond, Roads, pp. 246-248; William Martin, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, (New York: Broadway Books, 1996), pp. 194-198, 331-333, 344-347.

17 John Stormer, None Dare Call it Treason...25 Years Later, paperback, (Flourissant, MO: Liberty Bell Press, 1992 (hardcover, 1990)).

18 Martin, With God on Our Side, pp. 194-197; Dallas A. Blanchard, The Anti-Abortion Movment and the Rise of the Religious Right, (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994), p. 97. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, revised, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982 (1981)), pp. 117-130; Franky Schaeffer, A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), pp. 15-25, 76-78; John W. Whitehead, The Stealing of America, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1987), pp. 31-59; Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1980), pp. 141-179.

19 Neil A. Lewis, "Group Behind Paula Jones Gains Critics as Well as Fame," New York Times, 1/18/98, p. 18.

20 Fundraising letter from Rutherford Institute, received in 1997, on file at PRA.

21 John W. Whitehead, "God's Love Through Christ," tract, no date, on file at PRA.

22 "The Rutherford Institute: Responding to a Need," no date, on file at PRA.

23 Bob Chuvala, "A Nation on the Edge?," Rutherford magazine, August 1995, p. 9.

24 "Corrupt and Criminal: Linda Thompson's views of our government leaders," Rutherford magazine, August 1995, pp. 14-17.

25 John W. Whitehead, "Violence: The Spirit of Our Age," Straight Talk column, Rutherford magazine, August 1995, p. 13.

26 Paul Weyrich, "Fear & Appression: American Birthright?" perspective, Rutherford magazine, August 1995, p. 16.

27 John W. Whitehead, The Stealing of America, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1987), pp. 31-59.

28 Ibid., p. 31.

29 Ibid., p. 31.

30 Ibid., pp. 30-31.

31 Ibid., p. 96.

32 Ibid., p. 100.

33 Ibid., pp. 106-127. The Rutherford Institute published a pamphlet based on a 1993 speech by Whitehead where he urges Christians to confront the enemy behind the "illegitimate acts of the state," by using tactics ranging from education to civil disobedience. John W. Whitehead, "Engaging the Culture," pamphlet, The Rutherford Institute, circa 1993.

34 Sara Diamond, Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1996).

35 Diamond, Facing the Wrath, pp.110-11. Extensive quote used by permission of the author. Copyright 1996, Sara Diamond.

36 Clarkson, Eternal Hostility, pp. 92-93.

37 In Clarkson, citing: John Whitehead, "The Separation of Church and State: Myth or Fact?" speech at Third Annual Conference on Christian Reconstruction, May 13, 1983.

38 In Clarkson, citing: Whitehead, Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 In Clarkson, citing: Jerry Sloan and Tracy Jefferys-Renault, Without Justice For All: A Report On The Christian Right In Sacramento and Beyond, Planned Parenthood of the Sacramento Valley, 1993, p. 70.

41 In Clarkson, citing: Chuck & Donna McIlhenny, When the wicked Seized a City: A Grim Look at the Future and a Warning to the Church. Huntington House Publishers, 1993, pp. 49-50.

42 Ibid.

43 In Clarkson, citing: John Whitehead in Gary DeMar, Ruler of the Nations: Biblical principles for Government, 1987, Dominion Press, Ft. Worth, Texas, p. xix.

44 In Clarkson, citing: Skipp Porteous, "Special profile: The Rutherford Institute," The Freedom Writer, June 1994.

45 Skipp Porteous, "Special profile: The Rutherford Institute," The Freedom Writer, June 1994.

46 Franky Schaeffer, The Second American Revolution, videotape, [based on the book of the same name by John W. Whitehead], Franky Schaeffer V Productions, Word Lifeware Video, (Word, Inc. Waco, Texas, 1986).

47 Triumphalism is the idea that since Christianity is the one true religion of God, that when push comes to shove, Christianity is destined to replace all other religions. John W. Whitehead, "God's Love Through Christ," tract, no date, on file at PRA.

48 "Manifesto for the Christian Church," The Coalition on Revival, Crosswinds, Winter 1992, pp. 111-122.

49 Ibid. p. 117.

50 Interview with author, Feb. 1998.

51 The Freedom Enterprise, Free Enterprise Development Association, Inc. Vol. 1, Issue 1, no date, distributed October 4, 1997.

52 The Freedom Enterprise, p. 1.

53 Ibid., p. 2. See: Citizens Intelligence Digest, 4809 Phoenix Drive, Chesapeake, VA, 23321.

54 The author briefly attended part of the rally, but did not hear every speech.

55 Some of my research into right wing conspiracism online was to prepare for an interview by Grant Kester that appeared as "Net Profits: Chip Berlet Tracks Computer Networks of the Religious Right," in Afterimage, Feb./March 1995, pp. 8-10.

56 Memo with attachments, "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce," obtained from the White House Press Office.

57 Conservative: Kevin Phillips, "The Politics of Frustration" The New York Times Magazine, April 12, 1992. Mainstream: Michael Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June 19, 1995. Progressive: Chip Berlet, "Big Stories, Spooky Sources," Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 1993.

58 Michael Albert, "CONSPIRACY?...NOT AGAIN," Venting Spleen Column, Z Magazine, May 1992; Chip Berlet "Friendly Fascists: The Far Right Tries to Move in on the Left," The Progressive, June 1992; Reports by Sara Diamond and Richard Hatch circulated on the Internet.

59 Daniel Pipes, Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes, and Where It Comes From (New York: Free Press, 1997).

60 Gregory S. Camp, Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997).

61 Find charges and response at URL: <>.

62 According to a spokesperson for Jeremiah Films, they made the video and distribute it, but the opening sequence announces the video is from Citizens United for the Preservation of Civil Rights, and the closing sequence refers viewers to the Traditional Values Coalition, while critics claim the video was actually made for and distributed free to Congress by the Springs of Life Ministries, a close ally of the TVC. See: "Traditional Values Coalition," People for the American Way, URL: <>; Frederick Clarkson, "More Bigotry on the Ballot," Freedom Writer, Institute for First Amendment Studies, URL: <>; Deb Price, "As Dole's Likely Successor in Senate, Lott is a Real Worry for Gay Americans," The Detroit News, March 22, 1996, URL: <>; David Deitcher, "The Gay Agenda," Art in America, Issues & commentary, April, 1994, pp. 27-35; additional information from Renée DeLapp, Western States Center.

63 David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times: The Story of the Biblical Christian, Marxist/Leninist and Secular Humanist Worldviews (Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Ministries Press, 1992). See also: David A. Noebel, Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Christian Crusade Publications, 1965); David A. Noebel, Rhythm, Riots and Revolution (Tulsa, OK: Christian Crusade Publications, 1966); David A. Noebel, Marxist Minstrels: A Handbook on Communist Subversion of Music, (Tulsa, Oklahoma: American Christian College Press, 1974).

64 Larry Burkett, The Illuminati: A Novel, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1991). Larry Burkett, The Thor Conspiracy; The Seventy-Hour Countdown to Disaster," (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996).

65 The Clinton Chronicles Book, pp. 141-142.

66 Steve Askin, A New Rite: Conservative Catholic Organizations and Their Allies, (Washington, DC: Catholics for Free Choice, 1994), p 19.

67 Church on the Web, Video List.

68 See generally Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1992); Charles B. Strozier, Apocalypse: On the Psychology of Fundamentalism in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994); Stephen O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Robert Fuller, Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). Philip Lamy, Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy, (New York: Plenum, 1996). For a Christian critique of conspiracist apocalyptics, see Gregory S. Camp, Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997). For a progressive challenge to apocalyptic thinking, see Lee Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse: Exercise in Geneological Criticism, (Minneapolis: Univ. of MN Press, 1994). Useful introductory anthologies are Thomas Robbins and Susan J. Palmer, eds., Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements, (New York: Routledge, 1997); and Charles B. Strozier and Michael Flynn, The Year 2000: Esssays on the End, (New York: NYU Press, 1997).

69 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 20-22. Lamy, Millennium Rage, p. 36.

70 The Christian millennium is not necessarily tied to a specific date, much less a specific millennial calendar date such as the year 2000, but the significance of the millennial date changeover raises expectations. Millennial fervor, however, has flourished at a variety of random dates throughout Western history. Any date in any calendar system (Judaic or Islamic for example) can be understood as significant given the creativity of those using numerological equations to find justification.

71 Robert Fuller, Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.165-190; Philip Lamy, Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy, (New York: Plenum, 1996), pp. 57-59, 81-86.

72 Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, 23-25, 130-141; 231-232; Diamond, Roads to Dominion, 161-177, 228-256; David Cantor, The Religious Right, New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1994), pp. 22-24, 71-73, 119-129, 151-153. Clarkson, Eternal Hostility, 125-138; Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 40-190; Lamy, Millennium Rage, 26-30, 63-157, 193-252.

73 Lamy, Millennium Rage, pp. 86-88.

74 Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse, pp. 155-162.

75 O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, pp. 20-60.

76 Leonard Zeskind, "Some Ideas on Conspiracy Theories for a New Historical Period," in Ward, Conspiracies, pp. 13-14.

77 Zeskind, "Some Ideas on Conspiracy Theories," p. 16; see also, pp. 11, 13-15, 16-17.

78 Stephen O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 6.

79 Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah, (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997), p. 171.

80 Seminars hosted by professor Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, helped me frame this discussion, as did periodic discussions with Sara Diamond, Fred Clarkson, Philip Lamy, Lee Quinby, and Aaron Katz. There has been a tendency among social scientists to overlook the influence of sincere and devout religious belief on political action. Frequently people of faith are described in patronizing caricature or dismissed as ignorant, irrational, or even mentally ill. The almost careless bigotry and stereotyping of many liberal and left commentators is objectionable on both moral and practical grounds. In recent years, a number of researchers have attempted to seriously analyze religiously-motivated social movements, and I have tended to emphasize their work in this section.

81 Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, pp. 9-61. Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 108-133.

82 Ribuffo, Old Christian Right, pp. 2-24, 58-72, 83-116, 175-177.

83 Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right, pp. 47-49, 60-70, 106-107, 116-118, 205.

84 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, p. 5.

85 Texe Marrs, Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary Clinton And The White House Feminists Who Now Control America-And Tell The President What To Do, (Austin, TX: Living Truth Publishers, 1993.)

86 The Blue Mountain Working Group, "A Call To Defend Democracy And Pluralism," November, 1994. Available from Political Research Associates.

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