Millions of Americans believe that Christ will not come again until Israel wipes out its competitors and there is widespread war in the Middle East. Some of these folks want to start a huge fire of war and death and destruction, so that Jesus comes quickly.
According to French President Chirac, Bush told him that the Iraq war was needed to bring on the apocalypse:
In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”…
There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam’s Iraq was the fulfilment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.
And British Prime Minister Tony Blair long-time mentor, advisor and confidante said:
“Tony’s Christian faith is part of him, down to his cotton socks. He believed strongly at the time, that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil, making lives better.”
Mr Burton, who was often described as Mr Blair’s mentor, says that his religion gave him a “total belief in what’s right and what’s wrong”, leading him to see the so-called War on Terror as “a moral cause”…
Anti-war campaigners criticised remarks Mr Blair made in 2006, suggesting that the decision to go to war in Iraq would ultimately be judged by God.
Bill Moyers reports that the organization Christians United for Israel – led by highly-influential Pastor John C. Hagee – is a universal call to all Christians to help factions in Israel fund the Jewish settlements, throw out all the Palestinians and lobby for a pre-emptive invasion of Iran. All to bring Russia into a war against us causing World War III followed by Armageddon, the Second Coming and The Rapture. See this and this.
This all revolves around what is called Dispensationalism. So popular is Dispensationalism that Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series has sold 65 million copies.
Dispensationalists include the following mega-pastors and their churches:
They are supported by politicians such as:
Texas Senator John Cronyn
Former House Minority Whip Roy Blunt
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
As professor emeritus of history Paul S. Boyer notes:
Abundant evidence makes clear that millions of Americans — upwards of 40 percent, according to some widely publicized national polls — do, indeed, believe that Bible prophecies detail a specific sequence of end-times events. According to the most popular prophetic system, premillennial dispensationalism … the Islamic world is allied against God and faces annihilation in the last days. That view is actually a very ancient one in Christian eschatology. Medieval prophecy expounders saw Islam as the demonic force whose doom is foretold in Scripture.
The prophecy magazine Midnight Call warmly endorsed a fierce attack on Islam by Franklin Graham (son of Billy) and summed up Graham’s case in stark terms: “Islam is an evil religion.” In Lindsey’s 1996 prophecy novel, “Blood Moon,” Israel, in retaliation for a planned nuclear attack by an Arab extremist, launches a massive thermonuclear assault on the entire Arab world. Genocide, in short, becomes the ultimate means of prophetic fulfillment.
Dr. Timothy Webber – an evangelical Christian who has served as a teacher of church history and the history of American religion at Denver Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Vice-President at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL, and President of Memphis Theological Seminary in Tennessee – explains:
In a recent Time/CNN poll, more than one-third of Americans said that since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they have been thinking more about how current events might be leading to the end of the world.
While only 36 percent of all Americans believe that the Bible is God’s Word and should be taken literally, 59 percent say they believe that events predicted in the Book of Revelation will come to pass. Almost one out of four Americans believes that 9/11 was predicted in the Bible, and nearly one in five believes that he or she will live long enough to see the end of the world. Even more significant for this study,over one-third of those Americans who support Israel report that they do so because they believe the Bible teaches that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return.
Millions of Americans believe that the Bible predicts the future and that we are living in the last days. Their beliefs are rooted in dispensationalism, a particular way of understanding the Bible’s prophetic passages, especially those in Daniel and Ezekiel in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. They make up about one-third of America’s 40 or 50 million evangelical Christians and believe that the nation of Israel will play a central role in the unfolding of end-times events. In the last part of the 20th century, dispensationalist evangelicals become Israel’s best friends-an alliance that has made a serious geopolitical difference.
Starting in the 1970s, dispensationalists broke into the popular culture with runaway best-sellers, and a well-networked political campaign to promote and protect the interests of Israel. Since the mid-1990s, tens of millions of people who have never seen a prophetic chart or listened to a sermon on the second coming have read one or more novels in the Left Behind series, which has become the most effective disseminator of dispensationalist ideas ever.
During the early 1980s the Israeli Ministry of Tourism recruited evangelical religious leaders for free “familiarization” tours. In time, hundreds of evangelical pastors got free trips to the Holy Land. The purpose of such promotional tours was to enable people of even limited influence to experience Israel for themselves and be shown how they might bring their own tour group to Israel. The Ministry of Tourism was interested in more than tourist dollars: here was a way of building a solid corps of non-Jewish supporters for Israel in the United States by bringing large numbers of evangelicals to hear and see Israel’s story for themselves. The strategy caught on.
Shortly after the Six-Day War, elements within the Israeli government saw the potential power of the evangelical subculture and began to mobilize it as a base of support that could influence American foreign policy. The Israeli government sent Yona Malachy of its Department of Religious Affairs to the United States to study American fundamentalismand its potential as an ally of Israel. Malachy was warmly received by fundamentalistsand was able to influence some of them to issue strong pro-Israeli manifestos. By the mid-1980s, there was a discernible shift in the Israeli political strategy. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish state’s major lobbying group in Washington, D.C., started re-aligning itself with the American political right-wing, including Christian conservatives. Israel’s timing was perfect. It began working seriously with American dispensationalists at the precise moment that American fundamentalists and evangelicals were discovering their political voice.
Probably the largest pro-Israel organization of its kind is the National Unity Coalition for Israel, which was founded by a Jewish woman who learned how to get dispensationalist support. NUCI opposes “the establishment of a Palestinian state within the borders of Israel.”
In their commitment to keep Israel strong and moving in directions prophesied by the Bible, dispensationalists are supporting some of the most dangerous elements in Israeli society. They do so because such political and religious elements seem to conform to dispensationalist beliefs about what is coming next for Israel. By lending their support-both financial and spiritual-to such groups, dispensationalists are helping the future they envision come to pass.
Dispensationalists believe that the Temple is coming too; and their convictions have led them to support the aims and actions of what most Israelis believe are the most dangerous right-wing elements in their society, people whose views make any compromise necessary for lasting peace impossible. Such sentiments do not matter to the believers in Bible prophecy, for whom the outcome of the quarrelsome issue of the Temple Mount has already been determined by God.
Since the end of the Six-Day War, then, dispensationalists have increasingly moved from observers to participant-observers. They have acted consistently with their convictions about the coming Last Days in ways that make their prophecies appear to be self-fulfilling.
As Paul Boyer has pointed out, dispensationalism has effectively conditioned millions of Americans to be somewhat passive about the future and provided them with lenses through which to understand world events. Thanks to the sometimes changing perspectives of their Bible teachers, dispensationalists are certain that trouble in the Middle East is inevitable, that nations will war against nations, and that the time is coming when millions of people will die as a result of nuclear war, the persecution of Antichrist, or as a result of divine judgment. Striving for peace in the Middle East is a hopeless pursuit with no chance of success.
For the dispensational community, the future is determined. The Bible’s prophecies are being fulfilled with amazing accuracy and rapidity. They do not believe that the Road Map will-or should-succeed. According to the prophetic texts, partitioning is not in Israel’s future, even if the creation of a Palestinian state is the best chance for peace in the region. Peace is nowhere prophesied for the Middle East, until Jesus comes and brings it himself. The worse thing that the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations can do is force Israel to give up land for a peace that will never materialize this side of the second coming. Anyone who pushes for peace in such a manner is ignoring or defying God’s plan for the end of the age.
It seems clear that dispensationalism is on a roll, that its followers feel they are riding the wave of history into the shore of God’s final plan. Why should they climb back into the stands when being on the field of play is so much more fun and apparently so beneficial to the game’s outcome? As [one dispensationalist group’s] advertisement read, “Don’t just read about prophecy when you can be part of it.”
Atheist War Hawks Manipulate Believers to Beat the Drums of War
Leo Strauss is the father of the Neo-Conservative movement, including many leaders of the current administration.
Indeed, many of the main neocon players – including Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Stephen Cambone, Elliot Abrams, and Adam Shulsky – were students of Strauss at the University of Chicago, where he taught for many years.
The people pushing for war against Iran are the same neocons who pushed for war against Iraq. See thisand this. (They planned both wars at least 20 years ago.) For example, Shulsky was the director of the Office of Special Plans – the Pentagon unit responsible for selling false intelligence regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass. He is now a member of the equivalent organization targeting Iran: the Iranian Directorate.
Strauss, born in Germany, was an admirer of Nazi philosophers and of Machiavelli. Strauss believed that a stable political order required an external threat and that if an external threat did not exist, one should be manufactured. Specifically, Strauss thought that:
A political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat . . . . Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured
(the quote is by one of Strauss’ main biographers).
Indeed, Stauss used the analogy of Gulliver’s Travels to show what a Neocon-run society would look like:
“When Lilliput [the town] was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect.” (this quote also from the same biographer)
Moreover, Strauss said:
Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic . . . Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.
So Strauss seems to have advocated governments letting terrorizing catastrophes happen on one’s own soil to one’s own people — of “pissing” on one’s own people, to use his Gulliver’s travel analogy. And he advocates that government’s should pretend that they did not know about such acts of mayhem: to intentionally “not know” that Rome is burning. He advocates messing with one’s own people in order to save them from some “catastophe” (perhaps to justify military efforts to monopolize middle eastern oil to keep it away from our real threat — an increasingly-powerful China?).
What does this have to do with religion?
Strauss taught that religion should be used as a way to manipulate people to achieve the aims of the leaders. But that the leaders themselves need not believe in religion.
As Wikipedia notes:
In the late 1990s Irving Kristol and other writers in neoconservative magazines began touting anti-Darwinist views, in support of intelligent design. Since these neoconservatives were largely of secular backgrounds, a few commentators have speculated that this – along with support for religion generally – may have been a case of a “noble lie”, intended to protect public morality, or even tactical politics, to attract religious supporters.
So is it any surprise that the folks who planned war against Iraq and Iran at least 20 years ago are pushing religious disinformation to stir up the evangelical community?
Conservative Christians were the biggest backers of the Iraq war. And the Neocons are catering to them to try to talk them into supporting war with Iran, as well.
I’ve recently seen a swarm of spam claiming that all Muslims are evil, that they want to take over the world and establish a Muslim caliphate, and that they want to nuke Iran. They misquote Muslims and use false statements to try to stir up religious hatred.
They are simply using the Straussian playbook: stir up religious sentiment – even if you are personally an atheist – to create and demonize an “enemy”, to promote the war that you want to launch.
Not a Problem with a Particular Religion … But of Immaturity
Most Americans confuse Zionism and Judaism. But many devout Jews are against Zionism, and Zionists can be Christian.
And as I’ve repeatedly noted, fundamentalist Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus are all very much alike, and often willing to use violence to spread their ideology … while more spiritually mature Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus are all much more tolerant and peaceful than their evangelical brothers:
As Christian writer and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explained, there are different stages of spiritual maturity. Fundamentalism – whether it be Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu fundamentalism – is an immature stage of development. There are peaceful, contemplative Muslim sects – think the poet Rumi the poet and Sufis – and violent sects, just as there are contemplative Christian orders and violent Christian groups (and peaceful and violent atheists).
While there are certainly some Arab terrorists, Islam cannot be blamed for their barbaric murderous actions, just as Christianity cannot be blamed for the Norwegian Christian terrorist – Anders Behring Breivik’s actions.
University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – points out:
Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.
The 9/11 hijackers used cocaine and drank alcohol, slept with prostitutes and attended strip clubs … but they did not worship at any mosque. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. So they were not really Muslims.
And even atheists like Stalin can be terrorists, or at least genocidal maniacs.
Indeed, all religions teach compassion, love and the Golden Rule. Likewise, atheism teaches respect for the individual, the most good for the most people, and helping everyone reach their human potential.
Some within each philosophy follow these teachings, and others want to kill everyone who doesn’t agree with them. The issue is not really the label of this religion or that, but of maturity and true spirituality and compassion.
Postscript 1: Neoliberals and Neoconservatives are very similar in many ways. And because Neocons are not conservative, nothing in this post is meant to criticize conservatism.
Postscript 2: Most evangelicals are not dispensationalists, and so do not want to bring on armageddon.