by Stan Moody* for JewsOnFirst.org, March 7, 2007
I believe that history will mark September 11, 2001, as the date that America lost its spirit, but for reasons that have little to do with terrorism. That was the date that galvanized a vocal segment of American Evangelicals to forsake their God and look to politics to implement their agenda – America as a theocracy and the Middle East as its final battleground.
The 2006 national election was a small victory for the voice of reason, but objective reason is no worthy warrior in the battle against ideas and ideologies. Whether in religion or politics, unless you appeal with the passion of belief, you cannot speak to the hearts of people longing for deliverance.
Chris Hedges, the former Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent for the NYT, was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now regarding his new book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.
Christian reconstructionist movement
Hedges, who has a masters degree in Theology from Harvard University and is the son of a Presbyterian minister, singles out such public figures as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson. He sees them as leaders in a Christian reconstructionist movement with a lust for attaining secular power by forming alliances with powerful right wing interests bent on creating a nationalist America with Christian iconography.
He points to two main factors – the war on working class Americans through globalization, and a cult of masculinity within Christian demagoguery that elevates dominant male authority figures in megachurches and within the family structure.
Here is his profile of evangelist Pat Robertson:
When we look at the sort of empires that people like Pat Robertson run, you know, this man is worth hundreds of millions, some people say up to $1 billion, surrounded by bodyguards, flying around on private jets, investing in blood diamonds in Sierra Leone. He has rock star status. I mean, if you’ve ever been to an event where he appears, people are weeping and want to be touched by him. There is no question. He essentially runs a despotic little fiefdom.
As the Christian Right exerts more and more influence on national and international politics, according to Hedges, they become bold in their conviction that not only do they speak for God, but they have been anointed to carry out His will. “There are only two options for people who fail to submit to their authority – either convert or be exterminated.”
This movement, that has in recent years resulted in the unholy merger between "McChurch" and the Republican Party, has given rise to debate over which faction is in control. Because of the recent contortions by John McCain to court those he previously accused of being “agents of intolerance,” Hedges is convinced that it is the Christian Right that has taken over the Republican Party – not the other way around.
If he is correct, the objective will be to focus American hegemony on the Middle East to orchestrate the return of Christ. Already, we see Messianic Jews and Messianic Christians joining forces in their mutual belief that the Jews have a divine right to control the region of Palestine. This reaches way beyond support for a Jewish state of Israel growing out of the tragedy of the Holocaust.
For the Christian Zionist, Jewish control of Palestine is just one more step toward Armageddon, where it is prophesied that the blood of Jews and others who fail to convert to Christianity will “...flow to the horses' bridle.”
History will dictate whether or not such extreme scenarios are tenable. Of deeper concern for the church and America, however, is that in the event the Divine Plan deviates from that of Christian Zionism, faith as a moderating influence in public life will be increasingly under attack from desperate demagogues.
Armageddon illustrations are from the website of R. B. Thieme Jr., Bible Ministries of Houston, which says it was "incorporated in 1982 as a nonprofit organization to preserve, perpetuate, and disseminate the doctrinal and theological Bible teachings of R. B. Thieme, Jr. Our purpose is to make available his publications and recordings worldwide without charge or obligation." To see the original, which juxtaposed the battles of Armageddon and the Bulge, please click here.
Somewhere on the way to the forum
As it is, many right wing American Christians no longer believe the Gospel. Salvation has become an insurance policy paid in full at the altar but left there in a rush toward the final but “glorious” crisis. God is no longer sovereign; He is “away,” rendering Him nearly impotent. Somewhere on the way to the Forum, Amazing Grace stopped being amazing.
The strength of America was never its pseudo-Christian beginnings. The strength of America has been its people living in freedom to make individual choices for good or for not-so-good, learning from and living with the results of those choices.
The strength of the Evangelical Church was its unique voice and ability to offer hope and reconciliation to those who have fallen through the moral, economic and ethical cracks of life. The reasoning was once simple and straightforward:
“If love were possible without the Gospel, we would need no Gospel;
If love is not possible by the Gospel, we have no Gospel;
That love is possible by the Gospel is what the way of discipleship is all about.”
*Dr. Stan Moody, an evangelical Baptist minister and founder of the Christian Policy Institute, has served in the Maine House of Representatives as both a Republican and a Democrat. Dr. Moody is the author of several provocative books, including, Crisis in Evangelical Scholarship and McChurched: 300 Million Served and Still Hungry. (See our review here. Pastor of a rural country church in Central Maine, Moody has enjoyed a long and productive career in small business development and management.