America is becoming a theocracy, says Kevin Philips, and this religious fanaticism will be a major contributing factor to its irreversible and catastrophic decline:
[D]anger lurks in the responsiveness of the new GOP coalition to Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists and Pentecostals, who muster some 40 percent of the party electorate. Many millions believe that the Armageddon described in the Bible is coming soon. Chaos in the explosive Middle East, far from being a threat, actually heralds the second coming of Jesus Christ. Oil price spikes, murderous hurricanes, deadly tsunamis and melting polar ice caps lend further credence.
These developments have warped the Republican Party and its electoral coalition, muted Democratic voices and become a gathering threat to America's future. No leading world power in modern memory has become a captive of the sort of biblical inerrancy that dismisses modern knowledge and science. The last parallel was in the early 17th century, when the papacy, with the agreement of inquisitional Spain, disciplined the astronomer Galileo for saying that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of our solar system.
. . . three of the preeminent weaknesses displayed in these past declines [of world powers] have been religious excess, a declining energy and industrial base, and debt often linked to foreign and military overstretch. Politics in the United States -- and especially the evolution of the governing Republican coalition -- deserves much of the blame for the fatal convergence of these forces in America today.
Kevin Phillips is the author of "American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" (Viking).