Acton Institute Powerblog

‘Fascism Carrying a Cross’

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The Drudge Report yesterday featured a screen shot of a new television ad that’s playing currently in Iowa for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Next to the image was this quote from primary opponent Ron Paul: “When fascism comes it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” Paul said the Huckabee ad reminded him of the quote, which he attributed to muckraking novelist Sinclair Lewis.

Huckabee’s television ad steps back from politics, reminding the voters that the birth of Christ is the meaning of Christmas. Some critics and talking heads have attacked Huckabee for pandering too much to evangelical voters. In addition, a mini controversy surrounding the ad has emerged over what some are calling a ‘subliminal cross’ that appears on a bookcase in the background. Huckabee has dismissed the controversy with humor saying, “I was also signaling evangelical voters with Morse code, with all the blinking I was doing.”

Paul addresses the controversy by saying he wasn’t quoted correctly, and linked the comment to the war issue, criticizing super patriotism. He criticized Christians for not following the Just War Theory. He did not seem to adequately address the implied link he made with Christianity and fascism, which of course are polar opposites.

To his credit, Paul did talk about the opposition to free markets in this country, and the danger it imposes. Paul spoke about a kind of economic fascism, which he called “corporatism to the extreme.”

“Also, economically speaking this country is moving rapidly towards fascism,” Paul said. “We’re not going to end up with socialism of the old fashioned type. Like in medicine today, we don’t have free market medicine. We don’t have government medicine, we have corporate medicine. That is fascism in the economic sense.”

Updated: Ron Paul Charges Huck Implies He’s The Only Christian

The two clips are provided below.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.


  • Chris Rhoades

    If you want to call this religion wrapped in a flag in regards to a nationalist agenda – you may.

    And I also find it ironic that Huckabee was the one making a religious test against Romney and Ron Paul stood up for Romney. Ron Paul is a Christian and in fact came out with a Christmas campaign ad first.

    Press Release by the campaign on Romney’s need to make the religious speech.
    Newsweek interview with Ron Paul directly discussing Huckabee’s ads and attack of Romney

  • Darryl Schmitz

    Two things about your references to Ron Paul’s comment.
    You did not give the entire quote. For your convenience, here it is:
    “It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, ‘When fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.’ Now I don’t know whether that’s a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross, like he is the only Christian or implying that subtly. So, I don’t think I would ever use anything like that.”
    Omitting his qualifying comments changes the complexion of the quote. That you also added the word “muckraking” to describe Sinclair Lewis pretty much cinches it that *you* are perhaps engaging in a bit of muckraking. Finally, it might be added that the question was posed during an interview that Ron Paul was led to believe would focus entirely on his $6 million fundraising day. It sure appears to have been an intentional ambush tactic.

  • Mary S

    Re:christianity and fascism are polar opposites. Wikipedia defines fascism as:an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and social interests subordinate to the interests of the state or party. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, and religious attributes. Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, corporatism, populism, collectivism, and opposition to political and economic liberalism.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
    Read carefully, as Christianity is a religious system. When one brings religious analogys into almost *every* single response then they are visibly carrying their cross. When one is doing this when running for a political position they are wrapping themselves in the flag and carrying the cross.
    I am a Christian and think that this was as blatant as the rest of awe shucks Huckabee’s don’t look beyond the surface actions. Apparently this is how politics goes in Arkansas as the Clintons play the same games.
    As for tasteless comments do we really need a guy who makes disgusting suicidal refrences to candidates who have invested hard earned money in their own campaigns, or whose best analogy to this incident is the bizarre “Paul is dead” reference from the Beatles. Which one of his quick witted staff thought of that double entendre?

  • Brett

    This spin that Paul was “equating Christianity to Facism” is pretty sickening and you should be ashamed. Ron Paul came out with the Christmas ad before Huckabee and this quote was warning against people who use Christianity or Patriotism to hide their not so genuine agenda.

  • David

    Huckabee panders Christ. Paul confesses Christ without pandering.

  • Ray

    I added the full exchange of words which I found over at National Review Online.

  • Tannim

    “I added the full exchange of words which I found over at National Review Online.”

    Well, that was your first mistake.

    You would have been much better off finding the YouTube of the interview and transcribing.

  • Angelina

    Talk about taking stuff out of context. The author of this article is the champion of smear! I am now mad I even wasted my time reading it.

  • Andrew

    Uh, Paul hadn’t even seen the commercial when he made the comment. He was referring generally to the use of religion in politics. As a Christian, why would he equate Christianity and Fascism? That’s right, he didn’t. The point is that a fascist wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross is exploiting those symbols not honoring them.

    I’m hoping this was just a hasty post made after reading some other blogs. I would hate to lose respect for a liberty loving, christian org like the Acton Institute. In fact, I would have figured that Acton would be endorsing Paul and very frightened of Huckabee.

  • Jim Jones

    First, Mike Huckabee brought on Chuck Norris as a gimmick. Now we have floating crosses. He wants us to look beside and around him just not directly at him and his record. No can do, Huckster.

  • Totally agree. Ron Paul is a Christian who doesn’t try to use it to get votes. He was able to use the Sinclair Lewis quote in a very meaningful way. Establishment people think he made a gaffe, when in reality, he’s getting the message out: what is fascism today (not the jackboots and goosestep), but corporate America and the government taking away liberty and freedom. GWBush has been guilty of the same thing (cross & flag). Kudos to Ron Paul, and thanks to the silly media for spreading the word about freedom and how freedom today is being taken awy.

  • Daniel Morin

    Big Government IS fascism because it is impossible to have Big Government without suppressing the individual. Huckabee is a big spender and supports Big Government – same as Bush. Ron Paul is for individual liberty.

  • Kevin Caldwell

    Ray Nothstine’s comments are pure MSM spin without a shred of coherence to serve as a fig leaf. His only excuse is that he didn’t hear Ron Paul’s entire quote. But if one tentatively accepts this, it only then points up Nothstine’s near-TOTAL ignorance of who Ron Paul is. Ron Paul is a lifelong Christian who clearly couldn’t possibly equate Christianity with Fascism! And if Nothstine really is knowledgeable enough to write for the Acton Blog, yet so aberrantly ignorant about just this one solitary presidential candidate, why is he writing articles about Ron Paul at all?

  • PaddyFatHands

    Look at the ad from a production standpoint:

    First, you don’t spend thousands of dollars to produce an ad without every aspect of the imagery in the ad being placed under tight scrutiny. From a production standpoint, look at the soft lighting of Huckabee’s face in relation to the brighter lighting in the background. These two lighting choices mean that a specific individual set the tone and location of the lighting source. The director of the ad placed Huckabee in a very specific location in relation to these two specific lighting choices.

    A few questions come to mind: First, why would they intentionally focus the brighter light in the background on a bookshelf with NO books on it? Also, why would they specifically place Christmas ornaments on the empty bookshelf? Finally,why would the director of the ad specifically place Huckabee in a position that made the book shelf resemble a cross?

    With so few images in the ad, I find it extremely hard to believe that it was “accidental.” Huckabee was pandering, and his campaign’s response that it was “accidental” is a flat out lie. I don’t have a problem with being Christian, but haven’t we had enough of the lying sort?

  • Ray N

    I agree on the Huckabee ad being intentional. Although, it’s hard to prove 100%. I remember reading a book by Ed Rollins who said every ad detail was heavily scrutinized. That’s simply how politics is played these days.

    In addition, still confused why everybody thought the post was anti-Ron Paul. It wasn’t meant to be pro Huckabee or pro Paul, or vice versa. I just discussed some of the controversy going on with both campaigns. I felt Paul could have addressed his remarks a little sharper. He gets credit for some stuff and he can improve in other areas.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  • Kevin Caldwell

    Ray, don’t give us this BS. You’re not fooling anyone. You know perfectly well why everyone construed your commentary as an extraordinary attack on Ron Paul.

    “Every detail is heavily scrutinized. That’s simply how politics is played these days.” A H E M.

    You were trying to accomplish through insinuation what you could not honestly accomplish through direct argument. In every way it was as scurrilous as what Ghouliani tried to pull in the first Republican debate, by claiming that Ron Paul said the US invited the 911 attacks.

    Let’s forget Huckabee’s ad, and start concentrating on your commentary; it’s a lot more serious.

    Quit trying to tell everybody Merry Christmas. You just got busted trying to create this nasty little deception, and now you are trying to slide out of the muck with warm fuzzies and by changing the subject. It’s not going to work.

  • If this was just about the ad, I would agree Ron Paul overreacted. However, Huckabee has presented himself as the “Christian” candidate, and his surge in the polls is exactly because of that, despite questions about Huckabee’s ethical record. (If you think his surge is due to something else, please tell me.) Ron Paul was talking about how politicians can get away with anything as long as they call themselves Christians or patriots.

    The idea that our consciences can be overruled by a leader who claims to speak for God and country is the same philosophy fascist dictators used to gain control. My conscience is between me and God, and I respect divine power too much to trust a politician when he claims to represent God’s will. Christians should judge a candidate’s ethical record and decide whether the candidate is exhibiting the “fruits of the Spirit.” (Galations 5:22-23)

    I believe Ron Paul shows these fruits, and I invite you to examine his record.

    I don’t want to take up too much space here, but I comment more on Huckabee’s questionable ethics on my blog at

  • will

    “He did not seem to adequately address the implied link he made with Christianity and fascism, which of course are polar opposites.”
    I think this was the line that really let off the anti-Paul vibe. Paul wasn’t linking Christianity to fascism except to say that fascists or other unpalatable systems use Christianity (or patriotism) to distract the people and mask their unpalatable core. I really don’t think the comment should have required much explanation, A) because it was obvious what the point was (namely that when politicians make vague statments about God and apple pie beware) and B) because Paul is himself a Christian who clearly is not a fascist, so he obviously was not implying a link between Xtianity and fascism in any but the tangential sense already noted.

  • Your story is simply false.
    “Paul said the Huckabee ad reminded him of the quote…”
    He said no such thing. He wasn’t asked about the ad, which he had never seen, but about using religion in a political campaign.
    He said he wouldn’t do that, but he never said Huckabee was a “fascist”, or even that the ad was inappropriate.

  • Kevin

    Given Dr. Paul’s statement of faith, it’s quite a stretch to suggest that he’s trying to link Christianity with Fascism.