Not enough has been written about the toxic strain of religious fundamentalism that links ministers like the late Ian Paisley to ministers like Pat Roberson (who died on Thursday) and the late minister Jerry Falwell.
Each of them wielded the Bible like a shotgun, using holy writ to inspire unholy war.
As I have written elsewhere, it took Paisley over 80 years to learn the lesson himself, first leading his followers into a desert of sectarian strife and political extremism that would blight the lives of all who followed him and all who beheld it.
It was a desert of chauvinistic hostility and paranoia from which for decades it was safe to assume he and they would never emerge.
Pat Robertson was slightly different. He tried to hide his religious extremism behind a gosh darn-it avuncular screen persona, posing as a kinder, gentler fundamentalist, but his far-right prejudices always revealed him.
During the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, Robertson thought of that fierce human tragedy not as a crisis but as a solution. At the time, he called it God “weeding his garden.” How Christian was that, exactly? Would Jesus have stood by him as he approvingly read the death notices of tens of thousands of young gay men often dying alone in hospital wards with no one to mourn their passing?
In New York City, more than 19,000 people died with AIDS in the 1980s. It was a generational cataclysm that American arts, culture, and politics have not yet fully recovered from. Robertson thought it a cause for near celebration.
On television, he claimed that gay men often wore secret rings that transmitted HIV to unsuspecting heterosexuals. But HIV cannot live outside the body so this was always just conspiracy theory nonsense calculated to inspire fear and loathing of the minority he most feared and loathed himself.
He also bizarrely agreed with Falwell, on camera, that God has allowed 9/11 to happen to punish the feminists, the gays and lesbians, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.)
Pat Robertson has died at 93. Never forget what Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell Sr. said after 9/11. pic.twitter.com/PSu3ynGSBO— Christian Nightmares (@ChristnNitemare) June 8, 2023
The strain of not-an-inch fundamentalism that blighted peace and political stability of the North runs in a rich vein from Belfast all the way to the southern states of America.
The outlooks, which protect and project the interests of Christian fundamentalism and ultra-conservative politics, are in many ways interchangeable. And they have done almost insuperable damage to the national fabric in America and Ireland, casting shadows that we are still only slowly emerging from.
For four decades, the Reverend Ian Paisley led unionists in Northern Ireland like a latter-day Moses. But he only led them - and himself - into a stalemate and a dead end.
What did we learn about Paisley in Ireland? We learned that when you follow or vote for an Ian Paisley-like candidate, you will get the Troubles that come along with him. Robertson and Falwell were political arsonists cut from the same cloth.
You may greatly enjoy watching men like this sticking it to all of your own political opponents in their thunderous give-no-quarter sermons, but that enjoyment will come at a steep cost, and that cost will be your national peace and prosperity.
Right now, Republican voters are standing behind a Paisley-like brow-beater like Donald Trump to lead them to their Promised Land: a mythical place without progressive input or philosophies. They can't quite see that it's a dead-end yet.
Even the insurrection and the multiple law-breaking charges haven't changed their minds yet, so here's a friendly hint: There are no red states without blue states, there is no America without all Americans.
You either make peace with your neighbor and mind your own plot or you lose it all. Choose wisely.