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Literature / Christian Nation

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It could happen here.
Christian Nation: A Novel by Frederic C. Rich is a 2013 Alternate History Dystopia set in a theocratic United States. In this world, Sarah Palin and John McCain won the 2008 election, with Palin becoming President shortly after McCain dies. The novel itself takes place in 2029. An Audience Surrogate, a former lawyer named Greg, relates these events after being released from a POW camp for his part in the attempted secession of New York and subsequently obtaining a job at the New York Library where his job is destroying books. Homosexuality is outlawed, a Purity Web has replaced the Internet, Jews are given five years to convert to Christianity or be deported to Israel, and so on.

Compare Victoria, a similar speculative political novel featuring an oppressive, near-future American government with its own La Résistance valiantly fighting back ... but from a politically opposite standpoint; and The Handmaid's Tale. where the USA also becomes a dystopian theocracy for different reasons.

This novel provides examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Theocratic America has virtually no friends on the global front. Only Israel maintains relations with them and even they think they're nutters.
  • Activist-Fundamentalist Antics: Of the horrifying variety. You will convert, or die a heathen.
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles: A leaked memo from the White House revealed a stealth plan by Sarah Palin's consultant Steve Jordan to recriminalize homosexuality by having all gays in the media portrayed as being pedophiles.
  • Alliterative Title: Fox Faith & Freedom, the rebranding of Fox News Channel, which is mostly referred to as "F3".
  • The Alternet: The Purity Web which is a sanitized version of the Internet, and everyone's activities are monitored (which sites they visited, which search terms they entered, and how long they spent on each site).
  • The Antichrist: Sanjay is viewed as this according to the interpretations of certain evangelical Christians suggesting that the Antichrist must be gay.note  However, he doesn't live up to the trope and is ultimately killed after the Civil War.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • President Evil Steve Jordan would be considered The Heretic by any theologically orthodox Christian. In Christianity, Jesus arranged the New Covenant, which was God's final agreement with humanity which superseded the Old Covenant(s). But when President Jordan announces The Fifty Blessings he declares it a second Covenant. In other words, he's claiming to be on the same level as Jesus.
    • Also you have to belong to a certain group of Christianity to believe that Dominion Theology is what the Bible teaches, and that all Christians even believe in this.
    • That said, this is not entirely unrealistic. Several modern day American minority denominations, namely offshoots of fundamentalist groups, actually do have these exact kinds of Covenant(s).
  • As the Good Book Says...: Various parts of Scripture are used at the beginning of two chapters to explain and even justify the actions that President Steve Jordan takes to enforce the Fifty Blessings to be the law of the land over all of America.
  • Author Tract: This is one against Christian evangelicals, conservatives, and those who support Dominion Theology.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The American Christian theocrats are seen as the bad guys in this scenario, and they pretty much win as all America ends up subject to them and their President.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Particularly the evangelical Christian brand that espouses Dominion Theology.
  • Big Applesauce: Much of the story takes place in New York.
  • Big Bad: President Steve Jordan is the ruler of the titular Christian America who doles our punishment to all those who oppose him.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Purity Web, a heavily surveilled Internet over which the government has near total control. As part of the Purity Web system, every keystroke on every computer and phone is monitored, and all publishing must be electronic so that it can be screened for "satanic" content. This leads to the protagonist's use of an old electric typewriter to write his memoirs with, since it's one of the few pieces of technology left that's not being electronically monitored.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Ironically, President Steve Jordan does this when announcing The Blessing. He claims that The Blessing is nothing less than a second covenant with God, implying it is equally as important as the Gospels. Given the heavy use of straw by the author, this trope was probably not intentional.
  • Book Burning: Books that are deemed to promote "satanic" agendas are sorted out and burned by the new Fundamentalist Christian American government. The lead character's job at the present time of the story is to help in the destruction of said books.
  • Bury Your Gays: Sanjay, who is portrayed as gay, is killed in a televised stoning. Also a gay Buddhist monk immolates himself during a public protest, and a gay married couple is executed during a wedding. The bombing of the Castro (a gay neighborhood in San Francisco) during the Civil War, which "the F3" and evangelical leaders celebrated as being "divine justice", ended up turning America into a pariah in the eyes of the world.
  • The Commandments: The Constitution has been superseded by the "Fifty Blessings," a series of commandments, many of which are vague and unenforceable. Also counts as Dystopian Edicts.
  • Corrupt Church: Evangelical Christianity going so far as to abolish the separation of church and state and declaring a "holy war" on the last holdouts of American democracy and freedom, eventually calling themselves Church Of God in America. The corruption extends to the point where they will use surveillance technology to monitor the activities of all American citizens.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Surprisingly the New York that exists post-Civil War in the new American theocratic society appears as this.
  • Cure Your Gays: Reorientation camps spring up throughout the country to cure gays of their sexual attraction.
  • Designated Villain: In-Universe example. Sanjay is deemed a criminal, with the theocratic regime going so far as to accuse him of being the antichrist, solely for the "crime" of seeking to protect people's individual rights from religiously motivated collectivist tyranny.
  • Determinator: President Steve Jordan. If he wants all of America to follow the Fifty Blessings, then by God, he's going to have it that way no matter what!
  • Divided States of America: With President Steve Jordan enforcing The Blessings as law of the land instead of the Constitution, several states rebel and form the Secular Bloc States. Unfortunately, the President through his military forces recapture the rebel states and force them back into the Union, with New York City being the last holdout.
  • Downer Ending: With the Christian fundamentalists in America having their "perfect society" where everybody is under the watchful eye of the government. However, there is still hope for the return of democracy and freedom.
  • Dystopian Edict: The Fifty Blessings act as one of these. It's an unusual example; as the name implies, it is a set of fifty separate edicts, themselves grouped into ten categories. However, it's still technically one law.
  • Fake Defector: The protagonist convincingly fakes being "born again" so he could escape being executed.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: America increasingly becomes this amongst its allies as the Palin and then Jordan government moves towards theocracy, eventually fully cutting ties with it after the country massacres a gay district of San Francisco and calls it "divine justice". The only country that maintains friendly ties with it even after this is Israel, and even then the Israelis look askance at them because Jordan's government admits thay they only support Israel's existence as a key trigger to the Second Coming.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Christian ones in government are the main antagonists of the story, particularly President Steve Jordan.
  • Gold Digger: Greg's girlfriend Emilie, who's only interested in him as long as he's a successful lawyer. As soon as he quits his job to work for Sanjay's Theocracy Watch, Emilie dumps him.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Most of the POWs in the Purity Camp, although the protagonist's conversion was faked.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: The Evangelical Christian theocratic government of America made it legal to kill gays, going so far as to bombing a gay community in San Francisco and calling it "divine justice", and also having Sanjay, a gay person whom they see as The Antichrist, publicly stoned in prison on national television.
  • How We Got Here: The protagonist's writing of his memoirs provides the Framing Device for what happened that led to the current situation.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Zigzagged — the person in charge of the POW camp wants those who are "born again" to prove their status by stoning Sanjay without any reluctance. Those who refuse are immediately shot dead.
  • Illegal Religion: All religions except for Christianity as defined by the regime.
  • Join or Die: The option given to the POWs that survived the Civil War — become a believer in Christ within three years or die.
  • The Moral Substitute: To Left Behind, only from a secularist POV and with the roles reversed. The main character even shouts out to the book series as being one of the things he thinks that Dominion Theology believers think about.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Purposely averted. The author uses real people in this story and isn't afraid to show what he thinks they might do in this Alternate History.
  • The Oathbreaker: Jordan's government announces that as part of the Fifty Blessings America shall no longer support any international treaties and agreements, including both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the NATO treaty which it was a major signatory of.
  • Oppressive States of America: The entire story is about this under a particular Christian faith.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Universities and schools are forced to promote creationism and teachers who refuse to toe the party line are fired, arrested and even killed.
  • Police State: What the United States turns into during President Sarah Palin's second term in office following 7/22.
  • POW Camp: The protagonist spends time in one after he's captured during the siege of New York, where Rule #1 is no masturbation.
  • President Evil: President Steve Jordan. Once he gets into office and enforces the Fifty Blessings, things really go downhill.
  • Product Placement: Apple is the maker of the Device which is used to monitor people in the new theocratic America. Of course, it's hardly a positive depiction of their product.
  • Propaganda Machine: Fox News Channel, which in this story becomes Fox Faith & Freedom News, or F3.
  • Public Execution: Sanjay is given a televised stoning.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Although true Constitutional democracy and freedom in America has died with the installation of the Christian theocratic government, there is still hope for future generations that it will flourish again, as the protagonist works with an underground cell of people that belong to the Free Minds movement to make sure history never forgets.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Political opponents are made to "quietly disappear".
  • La Résistance: The Secular Bloc States were this right up to the Civil War. After that, it's the Free Minds movement, the only hope left for the return of democracy and freedom.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Various "Christian" militia groups spring up and are used by the government to cause trouble toward groups of people who are opposed to the changes in the government.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Everyone who can see which way the wind is blowing and have the means to do so begin to flee America in the hundreds. LGBT+ people in particular begin a mass exodus from the country
  • Second American Civil War: Happens when New York and several other states—the Secular Bloc—attempt to secede from the Union after it becomes clear that the Fifty Blessings came to stay.
  • Self-Abuse: One of the Fifty Blessings is no sex acts outside of marriage, including masturbation. The guards at the POW camp enforce this.
  • Self-Immolation: The gay Buddhist monk who immolates himself in a public protest.
  • The Siege: The American theocratic government under the leadership of President Steve Jordan laid siege against the last holdouts of Constitutional democracy and freedom by cutting off all aid to Manhattan Island, where they were all located. The President even goes so far as to declare Deuteronomy 20:10-12 as "justifiable grounds" for it. The New York governor tries to counter this by also stating Deuteronomy 20:13-14.
  • Space-Filling Empire: With the dissolving of all international treaties, China has grown to engulf much of Asia and Australia, the Muslims take over Africa, and Russia has done the same with Europe.
  • Straw Character: Evangelical Christians in this series are seen as power-hungry, God's-wrath-driven, gay-hating people who want to take control over the country in the name of their religion, who only want "born again" males to be in control of everything, with Sarah Palin and Steve Jordan being the prime targets, demonizing those who would dare to oppose them.
  • A Taste of the Lash: How the POWs are treated when one of their own commits an offense worthy of flogging. If one person commits an offense worthy of that punishment, then the whole camp is subject to the same punishment.
  • The Theocracy: The United States fully becomes this after the establishment of the Fifty Blessings and the civil war that follows. Later we learn that Israel has followed suit, and become a Jewish theocracy.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The firebombing of the historic Castro district of San Francisco the night after the city falls to the new regime, killing approximately 12,000 people (mostly gay men) in their sleep, is treated as this by the rest of the world. The brutality of the act, as well as the flippant justification of it by the new regime as an act of "divine justice", utterly horrifies the other nations and America becomes a pariah state as most of its former allies sever all diplomatic and economic ties with the country.
  • Un-person: Steve Duncan, who helped the people of Manhattan survive during the siege through a smuggling operation, had been removed from all public records on the Purity Web.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The motivation behind the eventual creation of the American theocracy by the Palin and Jordan administrations, to prepare the United States for the Lord's Second Coming.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Sanjay's Theocracy Watch website.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Craig and Sanjay both note this is the worst part of Jordan: that the man truly and honestly believes doing away with scores of freedoms and turning the United States into a theocracy is not only good for the country but exactly what the Founding Fathers would have wanted.
  • With Us or Against Us: You're either for promoting the new American theocracy or you're an enemy of God.