[kj] OT: Christian twats
gasw30 at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 29 04:40:51 EDT 2004
>>>To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site,
>>>go to http://www.guardian.co.uk
Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power
US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy
Tuesday April 20 2004
To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first
understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening
there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican
party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions
made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.
The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters:
homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism to
process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should
be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation
tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric
fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a
small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that
the "screaming and near fist fights" began.
I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered
down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they
adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West
Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from
Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to
eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.
But why should all this be of such pressing interest to the people of a
state which is seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign affairs?
The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still have some
difficulty in taking it seriously.
In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an
extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled
together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what
appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when
certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the
establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of
the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the
rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the
Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be
deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the
valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity,
and the Messiah will return to Earth.
What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that
before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (ie those who believe
what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to
heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit
at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best
seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils,
sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which
The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means
staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians
were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish
settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for
Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of
Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France or whoever the legions of the
antichrist turn out to be.
The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their
efforts. The antichrist is apparently walking among us, in the guise of Kofi
Annan, Javier Solana, Yasser Arafat or, more plausibly, Silvio Berlusconi.
The Wal-Mart corporation is also a candidate (in my view a very good one),
because it wants to radio-tag its stock, thereby exposing humankind to the
Mark of the Beast.
By clicking on www.raptureready.com, you can discover how close you might be
to flying out of your pyjamas. The infidels among us should take note that
the Rapture Index currently stands at 144, just one point below the critical
threshold, beyond which the sky will be filled with floating nudists. Beast
Government, Wild Weather and Israel are all trading at the maximum five
points (the EU is debat ing its constitution, there was a freak hurricane in
the south Atlantic, Hamas has sworn to avenge the killing of its leaders),
but the second coming is currently being delayed by an unfortunate decline
in drug abuse among teenagers and a weak showing by the antichrist (both of
which score only two).
We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their
beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters
believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which
subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure
included 33% of Republicans. The best-selling contemporary books in the US
are the 12 volumes of the Left Behind series, which provide what is usually
described as a "fictionalised" account of the Rapture (this, apparently,
distinguishes it from the other one), with plenty of dripping details about
what will happen to the rest of us. The people who believe all this don't
believe it just a little; for them it is a matter of life eternal and death.
And among them are some of the most powerful men in America. John Ashcroft,
the attorney general, is a true believer, so are several prominent senators
and the House majority leader, Tom DeLay. Mr DeLay (who is also the
co-author of the marvellously named DeLay-Doolittle Amendment, postponing
campaign finance reforms) travelled to Israel last year to tell the Knesset
that "there is no middle ground, no moderate position worth taking".
So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of the
current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on Earth, which
is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion
of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels
"which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the
third part of men". They batter down the doors of the White House as soon as
its support for Israel wavers: when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his
tanks out of Jenin in 2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian
fundamentalists, and never mentioned the matter again.
The electoral calculation, crazy as it appears, works like this. Governments
stand or fall on domestic issues. For 85% of the US electorate, the Middle
East is a foreign issue, and therefore of secondary interest when they enter
the polling booth. For 15% of the electorate, the Middle East is not just a
domestic matter, it's a personal one: if the president fails to start a
conflagration there, his core voters don't get to sit at the right hand of
God. Bush, in other words, stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli
aggression than he stands to lose by restraining it. He would be mad to
listen to these people. He would also be mad not to.
· George Monbiot's book The Age of Consent: a Manifesto for a New World
Order is now published in paperback
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
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