Politics is divisive and arouses strong emotions. Religions are divisive and arouse strong emotions. Mix politics with religion, and not surprisingly the worst qualities of each can combine in a toxic combination.
Such is evident in countries around the world where dogmatic religion fuses with narrow-minded nationalism. Iran. India. Saudi Arabia. Israel. There are others, including the United States.
This was personified in the recent midterm election here in the United States by Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.
Fortunately, Mastriano lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro by a large margin: 56% to 42%. But in the runup to the election, Mastriano often was described as the most dangerous Trump-backed far-right candidate running in a swing state.
A big reason for this was that in addition to the usual power of a Governor, in Pennsylvania the Governor appoints the Secretary of State, who oversees elections. And Mastriano thoroughly accepted Trump's Big Lie that the election was stolen from him in 2020.
So the reasonable fear was that if Mastriano was elected Governor of Pennsylvania, he would refuse to accept his state's choice for president in 2024 if Trump ran and lost to the Democrat nominee.
But the pre-election November 7 issue of The New Yorker contains a story about Mastriano that includes descriptions of his Christian Nationalism which makes Mastriano an even scarier candidate, since he not only embraced a political Big Lie but also a religious Big Lie.
Download How Election Subversion Went Mainstream in Pennsylvania | The New Yorker
Here's some excerpts related to his Christian Nationalism.
Mastriano, who is tall and bald, wore a black baseball hat. His wife, Rebbie, a chaplain, stood at his right hand, her jean jacket unzipped. Mastriano reminded the audience that he was running only because, a year earlier, in this very barn, a small group of followers had begged him to. “You urged us, even with tears in your eyes, ‘Please run for governor,’ ” he said. He had also received instructions from Heaven, Rebbie added: “God said go!”
...In the past year, grassroots groups, led by Faddis and others, have come to describe themselves as part of a statewide “patriot movement,” which Borick characterized as a “broadly defined populist and xenophobic movement.”
The movement is fuelled in some quarters by what scholars call Christian Nationalism, which is centered on the notion that America is and should be a Christian country. Few people self-identify as Christian Nationalists; in 2021, Mastriano asked me, “Is this a term you fabricated?”
But social scientists describe it as a belief system characterized by Dominionism: the idea that God has ordained Christians to exercise control over political institutions in order to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. “They don’t believe in one person, one vote,” Philip Gorski, a sociologist at Yale, told me. “They think they’re involved in a battle between good and evil.”
In 2020, this ideology helped drive the moral call to overturn the election. “Some of their most fanatical supernatural beliefs have been mainstreamed into the maga movement, such as the notions that Democrats are demonic or engaged in witchcraft,” Jennifer Cohn, an election-security advocate, told me.
In November, 2020, Abby Abildness, the state director of Pennsylvania’s Prayer Caucus and an “apostle” with the New Apostolic Reformation, a network of pastors, hosted a series of “Jericho marches”—religious precursors to the insurrection. Followers gathered in Harrisburg, likening it to the Biblical city of Jericho, where, according to Scripture, God knocked down the walls.
At similar marches in some states, people wore animal skins and blew rams’ horns, as they imagined the ancient Israelites did on their way into battle. Abildness declared her intent that, with God’s help, Pennsylvania’s electors would “go to the President” rather than to Biden.
...Two years later, Mastriano won a special election for the State Senate. He pushed bills that would mandate prayer in schools and allow adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples. “ ‘Separation of church and state’—anyone who says that, show me in the Constitution where it says it,” Mastriano has said. “It’s never been there.”
In the spring of 2020, when Governor Wolf called for places of worship to suspend in-person services, Mastriano appeared at protests alongside armed men who wore fatigues and Hawaiian shirts, a look associated with a militia called the Boogaloo Bois.
...In December, 2020, Mastriano took part in two Jericho marches. Later, on a conference call, he prayed that God would help protesters “seize the power” on January 6th. He continued, “Bless these letters that President Trump asked me this morning to send to Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy outlining the fraud in Pennsylvania, and this will embolden them to stand firm and disregard what has happened in Pennsylvania until we have an investigation.”
...Mastriano, certainly, has remained steadfast. In September, he announced that, to win God’s favor, he would undertake a forty-day fast, to end on Election Day.