Chris Hedges, who served at the Times as a reporter and Middle East bureau chief for a total of 15 years, appeared last Thursday on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report ," hosted by Stephen Colbert, to discuss his new book, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America."
You may remember Hedges for being booed off a college commencement stage in the middle of an anti-war rant in May 2003 .
Here's a selection of the transcript from the second half of the interview with host Stephen Colbert, who kept up his act as conservative Christian straight-man, setting up the dour Hedges to make cracks at Christianity: "What would be the harm if we became a Christian nation that obeyed the laws of God as these quote, unquote, 'American Fascists' want? You haven't made a case for the badness of it."
Chris Hedges, author of "American Fascists": "Well, because what they have done is pervert, destroy, and hollow out the actual heart of the Christian religion. I mean look at the little empires that people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson run. They are despotic, Third World fiefdoms where these guys fly around with bodyguards and Lear Jets and amass hundreds of millions of dollars taken from - people who live on the margins of American society."
Colbert: "Their success is evidenced that they are blessed by God. God wants you to be rich, sir."
Hedges: "-and it sells, to people in despair. And they run that cut line, you know, with the 800 number for the love offering, and tell people to mail in their rent checks."
Colbert: "They are all full of love and you sound very angry, so who's the Christian here?"
Hedges: "I don't think anger's a bad thing. I mean, Augustine said: Hope has two children, anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and courage to make them better. And I look at this movement as a movement that is destroying a faith that I care deeply about. I mean these people don't speak about compassion. They don't speak about the poor. They have turned, they have perverted the religion into this gospel of prosperity where Jesus will make us all rich and powerful and bless us."
Colbert: "Do you think Jesus wants you to be poor? I think Jesus wants me to be rich."
Hedges: "Well then, you are following the right movement because -"
Colbert: "Well good to each his own, you follow your Jesus and I follow mine. We'll see who wins. We should have our Jesuses fight it out."
Hedges: "I think so. I mean the image that they present of Jesus and of the Christian is essentially a warrior cult. I mean, it is that obsession with violence, it's that notion that America can use its imperial power and use its violence to create a Christian society. They condemn other ways of being other religion as satanic, I mean, they're constantly blasting Islam, nominal Christians, liberals, it is a message that's deeply anti-Christian and I think filled with a lot of bigotry and a lot of intolerance."