Americans have always believed that the devil likes to play politics. Colonial leader Henry Hugh Brackenridge claimed in 1778 that Satan inspired George IIIâs allegedly ruthless policy toward the colonies. Two decades later, Federalists claimed that the nascent Democratic Party had put forward the antichrist as a presidential candidate in the form of Thomas Jefferson. Later Jedidiah Morse, inventor of Morse code and end-times enthusiast, explained to audiences the Devilâs role in Jeffersonianism. He even claimed to have a list of Democrats who belonged to the Illuminati (though like Joe McCarthy, Morse never showed anyone his proof).The History Channel miniseries The Bible has been alleged to continue this trend.
The white Jesus confronting the swarthy other on the desert sands of the Middle East more or less conforms to what many Christian conservatives believe about the war on terror. But they are not alone in their mania. In fact, at every moment in American history, demonological obsessions have taken the place of social analysis and deep cultural self-criticism.
Perhaps Americans should stop seeing devils everywhere and instead become more sensitive to the social and political evils embedded in the structures of their society.
And maybe those social and political evils, powers and principalities, that are truly demonic.