One of the more insidious effects of the Christian Right’s takeover of the Republican Party is the twisted theology of “the Rapture” and its influence on the foreign policy thinking of Republican leaders.
Just yesterday I noticed three things online that I thought merited this subject being dusted off for some fresh talk.
On a streaming chat next to a feed of CNN I was watching, the following, or rather my re-enactment of the following occurred:
JoeBob921: Mark my words. The person who replaces Mubarak is the Antichrist. It’s go time.
Super_UserXL: Wow, you may be on to something …
NOoBzRule: JoeBob921 – that’s deep
I sort of chuckled, thought: idiots – and went on with my day. Then, this story from the Associated Press reports that supposed Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Mike Huckabee is being “hosted by The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a group that promotes settlements in an attempt to bolster a Jewish presence in mostly Arab areas” on a days-long trip to Israel where he is riling up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said at one point:
He said any peace agreement has to recognize that “the Jewish people have indigenous rights to the land in which they occupy and live and it goes back not 60 years or 80 years but it goes back 3,500 years.”
This man is ignorant on several levels, let’s just deal with two here. How wise is it for a prominent American politician and TV host to be running around the West Bank undermining U.S. policy while the Egyptian government collapses and the Jordanian King has just dissolved his cabinet? It’s not. It’s stupid. It’s foolish. It’s further proof this bass strummin’ political televangelist has no business in the White House.
Second, by Huckabee’s logic he ought to support the repatriation of Arkansas territory to the Osage Nation. Like to see him cruisin’ the hills and hollers of the Razorback State shilling that message.
The Republican Jewish Coalition announced Tuesday that it is sponsoring Barbour’s trip Israel starting this weekend. Barbour’s trip comes on the heels of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s trip there this week and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney trip to the Middle East last month.
According to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Barbour will meet with senior level Israeli officials. Those include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been meeting with all of the prospective Republican contenders as they tour his country. Netanyahu met with Romney last month and Huckabee earlier this week.
Those meetings are particularly notable because they come as Netanyahu’s relationship with the Obama administration appears to be straining.
All of these Republicans visiting Israel isn’t just about pandering to the Zionist tendencies of some Jewish American voters. It’s about pandering to the historically and theologically ill-informed Christian Coalition types in the Republican Party.
It boils down to this. Many so-called Christian fundamentalists in this country are all about a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible unless not being so suits them. Because a preacher from the U.K. a couple of hundred years ago created from whole cloth concepts known as the Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation, we’ve got a whole legion of wingnuts living in their own private ‘end times’ – and seeing and interacting with the world as if the fantasy could erupt at any moment and just maybe they should push it along.
Barbara Rossing, author of The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, is featured in a short video below. She explains clearly the theology and the public arena danger of the Rapture fiction. I’ll leave most of that to her. She’s a Lutheran theologian and professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Even if you have one of those disdainful attitudes regarding anything “religious” give Rossing a listen, she’s not preaching. She takes a reasoned, clear approach in her study of her subject.
This whole Rapture business has political and foreign policy implications and it’s an embarrassment that such ill-conceived thought could possibly have any sway on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Some evangelicals in America buy into the basic story. They get the idea that not only are we on the cusp of the end, but that they can speed it along. This is where Israel and the Middle East come in. The belief is that modern events in the Middle East are a signal that the end times are nigh. Further, they believe that Israel must be supported and even cajoled because for their narrative to play out, all hell breaks loose and Ground Zero is Israel. There are even Evangelical tour groups who makes pilgrimages to the Holy Land for less than holy reasons.
Unfortunately, these morons form a large bloc in the GOP. All of these GOP candidate visits to Israel are loyalty oaths being given right wing 2012 primary voters.