The Wisconsin religious right

Peter W. Woolf:

The New York Times has re-discovered the religious right. In a front-page story, we learn the awful truth that there is a “right-wing political movement powered by divine purpose, whose adherents find spiritual sustenance in political action.” They sing hymns; they pray; they burn candles. They import “their worship of God, with all its intensity, emotion and ambitions, to their political life.” Quite a few support Trump and also protest “against Covid restrictions,” among other unspeakable acts.

Once, long ago, I ventured into this dark territory, not armored by the shield of New York Times-style contempt for the deplorables, but like Marlowe heading up river into the Heart of Darkness. It was a hard-won lesson.

In February 1949, a forty-year-old farmwife in rural Wisconsin had a vision of the Virgin Mary appearing in her bedroom. Mrs. Mary Ann Van Hoof kept this secret for a while, but Mary reappeared to her in her garden in May, and then starting making more frequent visits. Word got around, crowds gathered, and on August 15, 1950, some 100,000 people made their way to the Van Hoof farm near Necedah (Na-SEE-dah), Wisconsin.


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