Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bush & the Apocalyptic Coalition

Tens of millions of Americans have been reading the Left Behind fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The stories are set in the turmoil after "real" Christians have been Raptured by God who pulls them away from earth in the End Times while those who have been "left behind" face the Tribulations. This includes those Christians who didn't make the A team who ascended.

Hugh Urban explains there is a symbiosis between the worldview of the neoconservatives who have engineered the Bush Administration's foreign policy, and the plotline of the Left Behind series.

In an online essay titled "Bush, the Neocons and Evangelical Christian Fiction: America, `Left Behind,'" Urban observes that:

"...the Neocon's aggressive foreign policy, centered around the Middle East, and the Christian evangelical story of the immanent return of Christ in the Holy Land-- struck me as weirdly similar and disturbingly parallel. The former openly advocates a "New American Century" and a "benevolent hegemony" of the globe by U.S. power, inaugurated by the invasion of Iraq, while the latter predicts a New Millennium of divine rule ushered in by apocalyptic war, first in Babylon and then in Jerusalem."

The Christian Right is composed of many different conservative tendencies and theological viewpoints, but a significant number have adopted this particular version of the apocalyptic End Times script, which is called premillennial dispensationalism. Some of them even belong to Protestant denominations that are not premillennial, and don't believe in the Rapture. Pop culture trumps theology.

The focus on the Middle East has led some premillennialist Christians to become Christian Zionists. They uncritically support every policy and action by the Israeli government so that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem remains in the control of Jews who the Christian premillennialists believe will displace Islamic shrines and rebuild Solomon's Temple--which they see as a prerequisite for the return of Jesus Christ. This has also resulted in increasing antipathy towards Muslims and Islam, who some weave into the biblical script as agents of Satan who assist the Antichrist in the End Times.

Neoconservatives have a secular approach to the Middle East that lines up along similar lines, with some advocating the idea of Samuel Huntington that there is a "clash of civilizations" pitting the good Judeo-Christian West against the evil Islamic East. In this worldview, the American brand of "Free Market" capitalism is a prerequisite for democracy; and the United States has an obligation to export both--using tanks and missiles if necessary.

In his book An Angel Directs the Storm, Michael Northcott argues that the neoconservative:

"conception of political economy is as apocalyptic as more openly religious forms of millennialism precisely because it sets up an ideology of human redemption which its advocates believe they are charged to follow regardless of the destruction and violence it may entail."

Apocalyptic violence is justified from a religious perspective by the Christian Right and from a secular perspective by the neoconservatives. Both want to "take dominion" over the earth.

This is the apocalyptic coalition crafted by the Bush Administration.

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

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