You ask a very interesting question in your last paragraph. In response, here's an interesting point for you: I think the emerging Chinese middle class' interest in the past glory of communist China is a STRONG parallel to the American middle class' interest in the past glory of the 'conservative' 'Christian' United States.
In both cases, people are infatuated with the idea of gaining power over their fellows by a kind of divine right, or absolute moral authority, embodied in the rigid structure of an all-powerful government. When they fantasize about a fantastic, prosperous, totalitarian empire they never believe that they'd be crushed under the heel of that empire, but instead, they'd be elevated within its ranks, recognized for their (supposed) moral superiority, ... and therefore happy to work for "the state".
Also, in both cases (Chinese and American) the ascending middle-class is attracted to these ideas because they are struggling with a great fear of change and diversity. They feel lost in a sea of change, and helpless to control or correct the actions of influential people around them. They obsess over the future of "their" country, so they secretly wish for a coup, and a "cleansing" of whatever trends they personally dislike.
I think this obsession is unique to the middle class, wherever a middle class can be found. The lower class are too busy trying to avoid starvation, and the upper class are too comfortable with power to bother obsessing over what their neighbors think or do. Instead, they simply destroy their neighbors ... or employ them ... and fanciful notions of "empire" are nothing more than a convenient excuse. (was re: Hong Kong, Iraq invasion, etc.)
. . .
I wonder how those poor lower-class North Dakotans depicted in "Jesus Camp" will deal with this ... converting their children into Christian "soldiers" for some impending religious struggle. In the end, won't they be yanked around by their ideology as sure as a dog is yanked on a leash, by the bankers who own their land, and the pastors who clothe and feed themselves off a cut from the collection plate? Where could their "soldiers" march, that doesn't lead them back to the miserable place they started? (Hopefully they'll at least join the actual US military, so they can travel around a bit and get some perspective.)