Thomas Jefferson once said, “Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.”
If he were alive today, he might wonder where that ‘wall of separation’ has gone (one might quip back, “To Israel!”. But that is an entirely different kind of wall). The disturbing religious overtones to the Bush administration’s warmongering rhetoric – where his “crusades” speech in the run up to the invasion of Iraq played to the Christian Zionist crowd – may appear to have dissipated under Obama, but a closer look at the political landscape reveals a fundamentalist streak still permeating the discourse.
Charlie Fuqua, Legislative candidate for Arkansas, recently courted controversy for endorsing the death penalty for rebellious children. In his 2012 book God’s Law he refers to the Bible, which he believes points the way to judicial approval allowing for the sentencing of a child to death. He writes, “Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.”
He also calls for the expulsion of Muslims from the Unites States, believing they are conspiring with liberals to foment a “bloody revolution”.
Not to be outdone, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun recently said of evolution and the big bang theory that these are, “lies to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” Speaking at the Sportsman’s Banquet at the Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Broun went on to say, “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
That figures such as these are reaching positions of power is nothing new, but their pervasive influence not only on politics but also on a wider discourse of their influence is evident in their power to impose censorship, for instance the Christian Zionists, who were able to force the Jerusalem Post to remove an Op-Ed critical of their relationship with Judaism and the state of Israel.
The censored Op-Ed, which has been reposted at Information Clearing House, describes in disturbing detail the Christian Zionist movement’s apocalyptic leanings and how this impacts on their relationship with Israel, a country whose current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fast moving the world towards a global conflagration with his repeated threats to attack Iran. Fuqua’s justification for the murder of children and Broun’s rejection of modern scientific thinking are disconcerting to say the least, but the Christian Zionist belief in an End Times manifested with the “fire and brimstone” of nuclear war should raise alarm bells, especially given their influence on some of the key players in global politics.
The Op-Ed states, “Nuclear war between Iran and Israel means they will finally be Saved by their Messiah. They will escape the atrocities by being Raptured into heaven before WWIII, while watching from auditorium seats in Heaven. They will be saved while most everyone else dies (except according to some versions of eschatology, 144,000 Jews who have converted to Christianity). Christian Zionists find vindication in these atrocities.”
Worse still, these extreme, fatalistic views are shared by other key players in positions of power. “Many of the violence-prone fundamentalists in the Muslim and Jewish worlds share this apocalyptic perspective, some within the present Iranian and Israeli regimes. All covet the annihilation of the other assuming a cosmic war playing out on earth will end in their favor by vanquishing the heathens as their Messiah redeems them in the millennium.”
We can only hope that any apocalypse that comes about does so under the definition used originally by the Greeks, as an “un-covering” in which hidden meaning and knowledge is revealed. The alternative espoused by religious fundamentalists today is too dreadful to contemplate.