Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"American Rapture"

The number of Evangelical Christians in the US stands at somewhere between 70 and 80 million.

Yesterday I read an article called “American Rapture” by Craig Unger in the December issue of Vanity Fair. In the article, I found this statistic: “According to a Time/CNN poll from 2002, 59 percent of Americans believe the events in the book of Revelation will take place.” 59%?!! What ever happened to the Enlightenment? Reason? It is outrageous that 59% of Americans, including many highly educated people, actually believe they will be raptured so that they can witness the apocalypse from the safety of heaven. As part of the apocalypse, merely as a point of interest, the rest of us will be crushed to death in “the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

I am generally respectful of religion, but I do fall short of understanding this kind of blind belief in a myth. It has the makings of a larger scale Jonestown or Waco. I would like to be able to ignore the whole phenomenon but I cannot because this belief in Revelation is actually dangerous for the world.

The first part of the problem is that Evangelical Christians have too much influence in our government. In his article, Unger describes the Council for National Policy, a secret society of rich and powerful right-wing Christians that has some control over the federal government. Jerry Falwell has confirmed that he is a member of the CNP.

“Within the council is a smaller group called the Arlington Group,” says Falwell. “We talk to each other daily and meet in Washington probably twice a month. We often call the White House and talk to Karl Rove while we are meeting. Everyone takes our calls.”

The second part of the problem is that Evangelical Christians do not support peace in the Middle East. They have, in fact, aligned themselves with the Israeli right, and a great number of them agree with the Israeli religious far right that Israel should expand its borders because God gave the Jews all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates. The Israeli government began allying itself with American Evangelicals in 1977 when Menachem Begin called on Jerry Falwell. Benjamin Netanyahu continues the tradition today.

It is an unholy alliance. Evangelical Christians only want a “greater” Israel because they think that it will hasten the Rapture. The pragmatic Israelis welcome the political and financial support, and the tourism, but they must think the Evangelicals are mad as a box of frogs. On the other hand, the Evangelicals must be sure that their Israeli friends are all going to suffer horrible deaths when Armageddon comes.

What it boils down to is that we are advancing the world along a dangerous path because we are allowing Evangelical Christians and their biblical myths to influence our foreign policy in the most volatile region on the planet. At the same time, of course, we have extremist Muslims happily playing the part of the other side.

Yitzhak Fhantich, an Israeli intelligence and security consultant, as quoted in Unger’s article:

“…And Jerusalem, of course, is the home of the Jerusalem syndrome,” he says, referring to the phenomenon whereby obsessive religious ideas can trigger violent behaviour. “If someone believes God told him to do something, you cannot stop him. …After all, religion is the most powerful gun in the world.”

12 comments:

Skeeter said...

Interesting stats, but consider this....

When this country was founded, 100% of the people that moved here on their own volition were Christian and all of them believed implicitly in the Holy Bible and the Book of Revelation...so it's down to 59% after 200 + years.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you about blind faith, I just don't understand why people find it so shocking that this is a Christian nation. I've seen other polls where it says 80 - 85% of Americans are christian. Well OK, that makes sense, look at the history of our culture.
It's like going to India and saying "I can't believe there are so many Hindu's here!" or "Why are there so many cows in the road?"

Max said...

Skeeter, John Adams would disagree with you:

"The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." -- Treaty of Tripoli, signed on June 10, 1797, by President John Adams

Anyway, just because people are Christian does not mean that they believe in a literal interpretation of the book of Revelation.

And don't be so sure that everyone that went to America was Christian, because they were not. The first Jew, for example, went to America with Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585. He didn't stay for long, which was because the entire expedition got homesick and went back to England. I don't have time right now to research when the second Jew went over, but I do know that there were plenty there by the time of the Revolutionary War.

Check your facts, my friend.

Skeeter said...

The 2nd Jew came over when he found out the colonists could make a great Whitefish. :)

Seriously though, I didn't say America was founded on the Christian religion, I said "100% of the people that moved here on their own volition were Christian..."

You say the first Jew was in 1585, well, OK so 99.985% of the people were Christian. My point was that it shouldn't be so shocking to you so many Americans are Christian given our history.

And yes you are right, it doesn't mean all Christians have a literal interpretation of Revelation, but that would explain the differences in the percentages of people that say they're Christian and the percentages that say they believe the events in Revelation will happen.

If you get cornered by an Evangelical, do what I do...say "Look, man I just did a whole lot of drugs a little while ago and they are starting to kick in right now, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't talk to me"
Just open your eyes really wide and stumble around a little, then turn around and walk away without acknowledging them, they won't come back, trust me.

Max said...

Skeeter, just to clarify, I am not surprised that lots of Americans are Christian, and I figured out when I was 15 (upon moving out of a Jewish ghetto) that America is a Christian country.

I have my own ways of dealing with Christians trying to spread the good word - they vary depending on my mood. Perhaps one day we can share stories. One of my favourites involves me, Little Sister and Anonymous A-hole confronting someone who was protesting the film Last Temptation of Christ in front of the cinema in a shopping mall in The OC.

Anyway, I am very happy that I now live in the most atheistic country on earth and don't have to deal with anyone's religion, including my own, on a daily basis.

Sinister Steve said...

MM,

Did your ghetto have a basketball team like the Harlem Globetrotters?

Max said...

SS, no.

Sinister Steve said...

Come on MM, you've never lived in a ghetto. and yes i know the technical definition of a ghetto.

Max said...

ghetto an area of a city esp a slum area, in which a minority group live because of social, legal or economic pressures.

90210 an area of a city, not a slum area, in which a minority group live because of the availability of higher quality public education.

SS, the definitions don't quite match - it looks like you are right.

Anonymous said...

MM,

I was just bustin your balls. Our people need to stick together.

Sinister Steve said...

See Above. Dont know why it posted as anonymous

Max said...

SS, I don't actually have any balls.

"Our people"? Please define.

Secret Rapture said...

My Inaugural Address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!

My Inaugural Address (PDF File)
Main site: My Inaugural Address
Also: My Inaugural Address
Your jaw will drop!