Discussion:
Their Beliefs are Bonkers, but they are at the Heart of Power
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johac
2004-04-21 06:16:58 UTC
Permalink
Good articlw by George Monbiot about Bush, crazy fundies, the 'End
Times', and the Middle East.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0420-03.htm

---

Their Beliefs are Bonkers, but they are at the Heart of Power
US Christian Fundamentalists are Driving Bush's Middle East Policy

by George Monbiot


To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first
understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening
there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican
party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions
made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.

The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters:
homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism
to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns"
should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and
corporation tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred
by electric fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the
affairs of a small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a
participant, that the "screaming and near fist fights" began.

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was
"watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The
motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to
Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to
absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it
wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the
extremists didn't prevail then.

But why should all this be of such pressing interest to the people of a
state which is seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign
affairs? The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still
have some difficulty in taking it seriously.

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an
extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers
cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create
what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth
when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the
establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's
occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle
East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied
by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the
antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead
to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either
burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that
before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (i.e. those who
believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and
wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the
worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to
watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents
being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven
years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means
staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US
Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there),
sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding
ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle
with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France
or whoever the legions of the antichrist turn out to be.

The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their
efforts. The antichrist is apparently walking among us, in the guise of
Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Yasser Arafat or, more plausibly, Silvio
Berlusconi. The Wal-Mart corporation is also a candidate (in my view a
very good one), because it wants to radio-tag its stock, thereby
exposing humankind to the Mark of the Beast.

By clicking on www.raptureready.com, you can discover how close you
might be to flying out of your pajamas. The infidels among us should
take note that the Rapture Index currently stands at 144, just one point
below the critical threshold, beyond which the sky will be filled with
floating nudists. Beast Government, Wild Weather and Israel are all
trading at the maximum five points (the EU is debating its constitution,
there was a freak hurricane in the south Atlantic, Hamas has sworn to
avenge the killing of its leaders), but the second coming is currently
being delayed by an unfortunate decline in drug abuse among teenagers
and a weak showing by the antichrist (both of which score only two).

We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their
beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters
believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which
subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this
figure included 33% of Republicans. The best-selling contemporary books
in the US are the 12 volumes of the Left Behind series, which provide
what is usually described as a "fictionalized" account of the Rapture
(this, apparently, distinguishes it from the other one), with plenty of
dripping details about what will happen to the rest of us. The people
who believe all this don't believe it just a little; for them it is a
matter of life eternal and death.

And among them are some of the most powerful men in America. John
Ashcroft, the attorney general, is a true believer, so are several
prominent senators and the House majority leader, Tom DeLay. Mr DeLay
(who is also the co-author of the marvelously named DeLay-Doolittle
Amendment, postponing campaign finance reforms) traveled to Israel last
year to tell the Knesset that "there is no middle ground, no moderate
position worth taking".

So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of
the current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on
Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members
see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15)
maintains that four angels "which are bound in the great river
Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men". They batter
down the doors of the White House as soon as its support for Israel
wavers: when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in
2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian fundamentalists,
and never mentioned the matter again.

The electoral calculation, crazy as it appears, works like this.
Governments stand or fall on domestic issues. For 85% of the US
electorate, the Middle East is a foreign issue, and therefore of
secondary interest when they enter the polling booth. For 15% of the
electorate, the Middle East is not just a domestic matter, it's a
personal one: if the president fails to start a conflagration there, his
core voters don't get to sit at the right hand of God. Bush, in other
words, stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli aggression than
he stands to lose by restraining it. He would be mad to listen to these
people. He would also be mad not to.
---
--
John Hachmann aa #1782

"Men become civilized not in their willingness to believe, but in

proportion to their readiness to doubt." - H. L. Mencken
Charles R Ward
2004-04-22 03:43:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by johac
Good articlw by George Monbiot about Bush, crazy fundies, the 'End
Times', and the Middle East.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0420-03.htm
---
Their Beliefs are Bonkers, but they are at the Heart of Power
US Christian Fundamentalists are Driving Bush's Middle East Policy
by George Monbiot
It was an excellant article, but I just need this part.
Post by johac
I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was
"watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The
Speaking of watered down. I January, the weekend before
the Iowa Caucus I asked for help writing a proposal to
oppose a constitutional ammendment against same sex marriage.

Together with Rich Goranson and Craig Chilton I submitted,
and the Caucus passed this.

Since the founding of this nation and the ratification of
the Constitution several amendments have been made to
emphasize that the words of the Declaration of Independence,
"All men are created equal" means all men, and women and
minorities, now some would change it to say that some men
are created less equal.

I propose that we oppose amending the Constitution to
define marriage as the union of one man and one women.
Same-sex marriage would in no way diminish marriage. To the
contrary, just as we saw when all bans of interracial marriage
were
removed, it's being more inclusive would almost certainly enhance
marriage, as well as society's interpersonal relationships.

Such an Amendment would directly contradict the spirit and
tradition of the Constitution that goes back more than 200 years.

In all that time, Amendments have been passed that expanded
the human rights that are guaranteed in America, and no Amend-
ments have curtailed personal liberties, save one. Prohibition.

And that one was repealed, 20 years later. This is no time to
start
changing America into a repressive nation.

A quote from the most important Supreme Court ruling
in marriage...Loving v. Virginia.

37 years ago the Supreme Court, in a landmark unanimous decision,
declared that, "Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or
not marry, resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by
the State." Today there are those who would overturn that
decision...imposing the will of the state over that of the rights
of the people. It is long time that we leave the concept of
government regulation of consensual marriage in the trash-heap of
history along with all the other failed experiments of
state-mandated relationships. This is a fundamental right of the
individual, not a power of an authoritarian government to be
stripped at a whim. Government does not need this power.
Government should not have this power. We, as a free people, are
the only ones who can decide who we should marry...and not to
have that decision imposed on us from above.

That passed 11 to 4, and by a good margin at the county
convention. In the packet for the 1st district convention
it is rewritten like this.

We affirm our commitment to equality for all Americans,
regardless of social grouping or personal differences,
and call for the expansion of cultural diversity by
strongly supporting the civil rights of all.

OK, what I submitted was to long but this doesn't say
anything. I doubt if anyone pushing the ammendment
woud admit to differing with this. I'm disappointed.
In the past I've seen that national platform is mild
compared to state platforms. I hate to see it so early.

Charles R Ward
--
"I do live among my fellow atheists. I also happen to live
among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Pagans, Satanists
and followers of various other religions -- all of which
have a perfect right to live in the United States without
interference because of their religion or lack thereof no
matter how much it irks you." Liz
johac
2004-04-22 06:03:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charles R Ward
Post by johac
Good articlw by George Monbiot about Bush, crazy fundies, the 'End
Times', and the Middle East.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0420-03.htm
---
Their Beliefs are Bonkers, but they are at the Heart of Power
US Christian Fundamentalists are Driving Bush's Middle East Policy
by George Monbiot
It was an excellant article, but I just need this part.
Post by johac
I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was
"watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The
Speaking of watered down. I January, the weekend before
the Iowa Caucus I asked for help writing a proposal to
oppose a constitutional ammendment against same sex marriage.
Together with Rich Goranson and Craig Chilton I submitted,
and the Caucus passed this.
Since the founding of this nation and the ratification of
the Constitution several amendments have been made to
emphasize that the words of the Declaration of Independence,
"All men are created equal" means all men, and women and
minorities, now some would change it to say that some men
are created less equal.
I propose that we oppose amending the Constitution to
define marriage as the union of one man and one women.
Same-sex marriage would in no way diminish marriage. To the
contrary, just as we saw when all bans of interracial marriage
were
removed, it's being more inclusive would almost certainly enhance
marriage, as well as society's interpersonal relationships.
I still would like to have someone explain to me, who is harmed if a man
marries a man, or a woman marries a woman. Where is the injury?
Post by Charles R Ward
Such an Amendment would directly contradict the spirit and
tradition of the Constitution that goes back more than 200 years.
In all that time, Amendments have been passed that expanded
the human rights that are guaranteed in America, and no Amend-
ments have curtailed personal liberties, save one. Prohibition.
And that one was repealed, 20 years later. This is no time to
start
changing America into a repressive nation.
A quote from the most important Supreme Court ruling
in marriage...Loving v. Virginia.
37 years ago the Supreme Court, in a landmark unanimous decision,
declared that, "Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or
not marry, resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by
the State." Today there are those who would overturn that
decision...imposing the will of the state over that of the rights
of the people. It is long time that we leave the concept of
government regulation of consensual marriage in the trash-heap of
history along with all the other failed experiments of
state-mandated relationships. This is a fundamental right of the
individual, not a power of an authoritarian government to be
stripped at a whim. Government does not need this power.
Government should not have this power. We, as a free people, are
the only ones who can decide who we should marry...and not to
have that decision imposed on us from above.
That passed 11 to 4, and by a good margin at the county
convention. In the packet for the 1st district convention
it is rewritten like this.
We affirm our commitment to equality for all Americans,
regardless of social grouping or personal differences,
and call for the expansion of cultural diversity by
strongly supporting the civil rights of all.
OK, what I submitted was to long but this doesn't say
anything. I doubt if anyone pushing the ammendment
woud admit to differing with this. I'm disappointed.
In the past I've seen that national platform is mild
compared to state platforms. I hate to see it so early.
Charles R Ward
I agree. I notice Kerry driftng more and more to the right. Whatever
happened to the progressive wing of the party? Are they so afraid of
being called the "L" word? We need someone who will stand up for what
they believe in. We need another Paul Wellstone. In fact, we could use a
lot of Paul Wellstones.
--
John Hachmann aa #1782

"Men become civilized not in their willingness to believe, but in

proportion to their readiness to doubt." - H. L. Mencken
Charles R Ward
2004-04-26 02:03:15 UTC
Permalink
snip
Post by johac
Post by Charles R Ward
Post by johac
I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was
"watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The
Speaking of watered down. I January, the weekend before
the Iowa Caucus I asked for help writing a proposal to
oppose a constitutional ammendment against same sex marriage.
Together with Rich Goranson and Craig Chilton I submitted,
and the Caucus passed this.
Since the founding of this nation and the ratification of
the Constitution several amendments have been made to
emphasize that the words of the Declaration of Independence,
"All men are created equal" means all men, and women and
minorities, now some would change it to say that some men
are created less equal.
I propose that we oppose amending the Constitution to
define marriage as the union of one man and one women.
Same-sex marriage would in no way diminish marriage. To the
contrary, just as we saw when all bans of interracial marriage
were
removed, it's being more inclusive would almost certainly enhance
marriage, as well as society's interpersonal relationships.
I still would like to have someone explain to me, who is harmed if a man
marries a man, or a woman marries a woman. Where is the injury?
I really can't imagine any way it would affect anyone.
In the 32 years since marriage first entered my mind
the only person I could ever imagine marrying is the
woman I was married to from 1973 til 1980. Our failure
was entirely between us.

snip again
Post by johac
I agree. I notice Kerry driftng more and more to the right. Whatever
happened to the progressive wing of the party? Are they so afraid of
being called the "L" word? We need someone who will stand up for what
they believe in. We need another Paul Wellstone. In fact, we could use a
lot of Paul Wellstones.
Well, Clinton's "New Democrat" thing was about moving the
party to the right. I may not be as liberal as I would
like to believe, but he was to much to the right for my
liking. It has become normal for the partys to play to
their base during primary season, then move towards the
other side as the election approaches. It just upset me
to see that happen so early this year. I decided yesterday
that in the future I'll borrow a phrase a friend used
when he ran for student council president in high school.
"Because we give a damn."
--
Charles R Ward
--
"I do live among my fellow atheists. I also happen to live
among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Pagans, Satanists
and followers of various other religions -- all of which
have a perfect right to live in the United States without
interference because of their religion or lack thereof no
matter how much it irks you." Liz
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