Fascism is a political ideology that exalts the nation, race, or group identity above the individual. It originated in the early 20th century in Europe and gained prominence in Italy under Benito Mussolini and in Germany under Adolf Hitler. Some key features of fascism include:
- Extreme nationalism and loyalty to the state above all else
- Suppression of opposition and criticism
- Strict regimentation of society and the economy
- Centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader
- Militarism and aggression in foreign policy
- Exaltation of a particular group identity (e.g. based on race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) as superior
Fascism has rightly been condemned in modern times for its extreme authoritarianism, violence, and connection to the horrors of World War II. However, some of its themes around loyalty, order, and national identity can seem appealing in certain contexts. This leads some to wonder whether certain aspects of fascism could be compatible with Christianity.
Overall, fascism is fundamentally incompatible with core Christian beliefs and values. Here are some key reasons why:
1. Fascism elevates the state above all else
One of the core tenets of fascism is complete loyalty to and exaltation of the state. The role of the individual is subsumed into the identity and needs of the nation or group. This stands in direct conflict with Christianity, which teaches that complete allegiance belongs to God alone (Exodus 20:3). The state is temporal, but God is eternal. When forced to choose, Christians must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
2. Fascism suppresses dissent and uses force to impose its ideology
Fascist regimes control the population through oppressive tactics like censorship, secret police, and violent crackdowns on any opposition. This violates Christian principles of justice, human dignity, and free will. The Bible condemns arrogance and wickedness by leaders who abuse their authority and harm the innocent (Proverbs 16:12, Micah 3:1-3). Christians have a duty to speak truth to power and stand against injustice, even at personal risk (Proverbs 31:8-9, Acts 5:29).
3. Fascism promotes pride, militarism and a lack of mercy
Fascism feeds on pride in one’s own nation or group as superior, coupled with disdain and lack of compassion for outsiders. However, the Bible condemns pride and teaches that all people are equally sinful before God (Romans 3:23). Christians are called to show grace and love even to enemies and outsiders (Luke 6:27-36). Militarism and violence may be necessary at times, but should always be an absolute last resort (Ecclesiastes 3:8, Matthew 5:9).
4. Fascism can lead to idolatry of the state
In fascism, loyalty to the state and devotion to its ideological goals reaches a fanatical peak. The Christian’s highest devotion and worship belongs to God alone – anything less is idolatry (Exodus 20:3). No government or worldly system deserves our full allegiance or undivided heart. Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth (Philippians 3:20).
5. Fascism scapegoats or dehumanizes vulnerable groups
Fascists often marginalize minorities, immigrants, political opponents and other outgroups. They incite fear and hatred against these groups. The Bible commands care and compassion for the vulnerable (Matthew 25:31-46). Bigotry and vilification of others based on race, ethnicity, etc. is against Christian values (Acts 10:34-35).
In conclusion, while order, national identity, and controlled change have some benefits, the core tenets and methods of fascism are fundamentally incompatible with Christian teachings. Fascist regimes historically have violently persecuted religious groups, including Christians. Although Christians should thoughtfully engage ideas across the political spectrum, fascism’s exaltation of state power and devaluation of individuals cannot be supported.
Christians can and should promote what is good in their nations without falling into fascism’s traps. Biblical Christianity provides alternative ways of fostering healthy pride, unity, order and belonging without coercion or authoritarianism. Christian citizens can work to build inclusive societies that protect human dignity, encourage moral virtue, and allow well-ordered freedom – under God’s authority, not totalitarian rule by man.
The Bible is relatively silent on governmental systems. Scripture neither endorses nor prohibits democracy, republicanism, monarchy, or other specific structures. However, biblical principles such as justice, human dignity, care for the vulnerable, moderation of power, and ultimate allegiance reserved for God can help Christians evaluate the merits and dangers of various political ideologies – both fascist and anti-fascist. Christians should thoughtfully balance Scripture’s teachings on government’s legitimate, but limited, God-given authority (Romans 13:1-7) with warnings against abuse of power (Revelation 13:11-18).
Above all, Christians live ultimately for God’s kingdom, not any earthly nation or regime (Philippians 3:20). Regardless of context or political systems, believers’ mission is unchanged: bringing hope, justice, and redemption through Christ to all people, until His return.
Fascism’s emphasis on order and security can seem superficially appealing in times of crisis and change. However, Christians must remember that coercive state power cannot achieve true unity or social renewal. Lasting change comes through personal transformation by God’s grace. Scripture calls believers to honor governing authorities where possible, while boldly resisting any law or regime requiring them to disobey God (Acts 5:29). Regardless of circumstances, Christians live by faith in God’s sovereignty, not fear of human power (Matthew 10:28).
In conclusion, fascism’s totalitarian control, violence, coerced conformity, exaltation of state power, and marginalization of outsiders fundamentally conflicts with Christianity. Although imperfect, democratic societies allowing ordered freedom and respect for human dignity better align with biblical values. Within any political context, Christians can model creative alternatives of justice, mercy and social renewal under God’s authority. Through Christ-like sacrifice and courageous yet gracious witness, believers can overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21).