Christofascism is a combination of Christian and fascism coined by Dorothee Sölle in 1970. Sölle, a liberation theology proponent, used the term to describe the Christian church which she characterized as totalitarian and imperialistic.
Tom Faw Driver, the Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, expressed concern "that the worship of God in Christ not divide Christian from Jew, man from woman, clergy from laity, white from black, or rich from poor". To him, Christianity is in constant danger of Christofascism, stating that "[w]e fear christofascism, which we see as the political direction of all attempts to place Christ at the center of social life and history" and that "[m]uch of the churches' teaching about Christ has turned into something that is dictatorial in its heart and is preparing society for an American fascism".
Christofascism "disposed or allowed Christians, to impose themselves not only upon other religions but other cultures, and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ" – as Knitter describes Sölle's view.
George Hunsinger, director of the Centre for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, regards the conception of Christofascism as being an attack, at a very sophisticated level of theological discourse, on the biblical depiction of Jesus. He equates what is viewed as Christofascism with "Jesus Christ as depicted in Scripture" and contrasts it with the "nonnormative Christology" that is offered as an alternative by some theologians, which he characterizes as extreme relativism that reduces Jesus Christ to "an object of mere personal preference and cultural location" and that he finds difficult to see as not contributing to the same problems encountered by the Christian church in Germany that were noted by theologian Karl Barth.
Douglas John Hall, Professor of Christian Theology at McGill University, relates Sölle's concept of Christofascism to Christomonism, that inevitably ends in religious triumphalism and exclusivity, noting Sölle's observation of American fundamentalist Christianity that Christomonism easily leads to Christofascism, and that violence is never far away from militant Christomonism. (Christomonism accepts only one divine person, Jesus Christ, rather than the Trinity.) He states that the over-divinized ("high") Christology of Christendom is demonstrated to be wrong by its "almost unrelieved anti-Judaism". He suggests that the best way to guard against this is for Christians not to neglect the humanity of Jesus Christ in favour of his divinity, and to remind themselves that Jesus was also a Jewish human being.
American historians and political commentators have also used the term to refer to politico-religious tendencies in American society.
Chris Hedges and David Neiwert contend that the beginning of American Christofascism was during the Great Depression, when Americans espoused forms of fascism that were "explicitly 'Christian' in nature".:88 Hedges writes that "fundamentalist preachers such as Gerald B. Winrod and Gerald L. K. Smith fused national and Christian symbols to advocate the country's first crude form of Christo-fascism". Smith's Christian Nationalist Crusade said that "Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism". Hedges also considers another prominent advocate of Christofascism was William Dudley Pelley.:88
By the late 1950s, followers of these philosophies became the John Birch Society, whose policy positions and rhetoric have greatly impacted modern dominionists. Likewise, the Posse Comitatus movement began with former associates of Pelley and Smith.:90 The 1980s saw the Council for National Policy and the Moral Majority carry on the tradition, while the patriot movement and militia movement represented efforts to mainstream the philosophy in the 1990s.:90
Incidents of anti-abortion violence, including the Atlanta and Birmingham bombings committed by Eric Robert Rudolph and the assassination of George Tiller at his Wichita, Kansas church in 2009, have also been called Christofascism.:90–91
The term caused controversy in 2007, when Melissa McEwan, a campaign blogger for then-presidential candidate John Edwards, referred to religious conservatives as "Christofascists" on her personal blog.
In the 2010s, the movement became linked to objectivism, particularly in the economic sphere, in direct contravention to such Biblical passages as Luke 16:19-31 and (especially) Matthew 25:31-46, prompting allegations of hypocrisy from progressive critics. Ayn Rand's name came up frequently during the 2012 U.S. Presidential election as the inspiration for the economic policies of the Republican Party.
Christian fascist movements in Europe dating to World War II:
...shall we say this, represent this, live this, without seeming to endorse the kind of christomonism (Dorothee Sölle called it ‘Christofascism’!...
...of establishing a dubious moral superiority to justify organized violence on a massive scale, a perversion of Christianity she called Christofascism....
We fear Christofascism ...
Dorothee Soelle can even describe much of Christology as "Christofascism" in the way it has disposed or allowed Christians to impose themselves upon not only other religions but other cultures and political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ
Driver argues that traditional Christology fosters what he calls ‘Christofascism.’ He means by this, first, the absolutizing of the past in order to...