Ever wonder why the Republican Party's foreign "policy" got so off the wall and bellicose? Want to know why we're in two wars? Want to know why so many evangelicals hate Obama for saying he'll negotiate with Muslims? Want to know why President Obama should not try to work with Republicans?
All you need to know is that the Republican/Sara/Palin base of evangelical support is rooting for war, death and killing as a longed for -- even prayed for -- conclusion to human existence. No kidding! Understand what I'm going to tell you here, and you'll understand what went so wrong with America with W. Bush and why we are the most dangerous country on earth. Shorthand: we have nukes and risk being run by kooks. And, until the election of 2008, an evangelical born-again kook was running our country.
Disclosure: I'm the son of one of the evangelical's foremost thinkers, the late Francis Schaeffer. And until I left the fold in the mid 1980s I was intimately involved with the Religious Right and have been (until quite recently) a life-long Republican. I knew Jerry Jenkins' and Tim LaHaye personally and both are followers of my father.
The wild financial success of Jerry Jenkins' and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series of sixteen novels is about belonging to the winning side. The books have made hundreds of millions of dollars while spawning an "End Times" industry, inclusive of Left Behind wall paper, screen savers, children's books and video games. The evangelicals -- and hence, from the early 1980s until the election of President Obama in 2008, the Religious Right as it informed US policy through the then dominant Republican Party -- are in the grip of an apocalyptic "Rapture" cult centered on revenge and vindication.
This End Times cult is built on a literalistic interpretation of the book of Revelation. The book was the last to be included in the canon of the New Testament. It was only recognized gradually as canonical late in the process -- after the year 400 AD -- of collecting the gospels and various letters included into the New Testament. The historic Church remained so suspicious of the book Revelation that to this day in the Orthodox Church it has never been included as part of the cyclical public readings of scripture. In other words the book of the Bible that the historic Church found (and finds) most problematic and dangerous is the one that American evangelicals have latched on to like flies on spilled jam.
According to Jenkins and LaHaye the "chosen" (in other words born-again evangelicals) will be airlifted to safety in the "Rapture" when the "End" comes. At last evangelical Americans will know "we" were right about everything and "they" were wrong. We'll know that because Spaceship Jesus will come back and take us away leaving everyone else to ponder just how very lost they are because they failed to say the words: "I accept Jesus as my personal savior."
Evangelicals not only wish to be proved right they also want revenge on all other religions and peoples. Not unlike Islamic terrorists who behead their enemies, the evangelicals relish the prospect of God doing the messy killing for them as they watch from on high. It isn't enough for them to cast the individual "apostate" out of their midst, or to denounce the Roman Catholics as the "whore of Babylon," they want revenge on all people not like them. The Left Behind novels provides access to vicarious revenge . No need to wait for the End Times, you can get your violent jollies now!
Jenkins and LaHaye describe various deadly scenarios proceeding and following believers being "snatched away" to safety leaving the infidels to their punishment. The authors cash in on years of evangelical paranoia and imagined victimhood. (A strange belief imbued with losers' self pity by people who have run Congress and the White House until this election!)
Jenkins and LaHaye provide an entertaining book version of a cosmic I-told-you-so from the backward earthly losers (as evangelicals perceive themselves in this the age of science and secularism) to the earthly winners (as evangelicals think of all those clever big city, over-educated progressive secular "elites"). Glory be! As God kills them, including those "secular Jews" running the New York Times who will have to admit we were right all along just before Jesus blasts them!
The promotional copy for one of the books -- Shadowed -- promises plenty of we-told-you-so entertainment; "After God intervenes with a miracle of global proportions, the tide is turned on international atheism!"
God Is Great! Kill them God! Kill those "international atheists!" They made fun of us because we refused to believe in evolution and built a creationist theme park! They laughed at us for opening our Friday night football games with prayer! They even laughed at Billy Graham, our one and only saint, when his son Franklin raised 28 million dollars to build the Graham theme park! Strike them Lord!
Jenkins and LaHaye are End Times revenge pornographers. Reading about violence against unbelievers is the evangelical Viagra. Take this passage from Glorious Appearing in which Jesus slaughters unbelievers;
The riders not thrown leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated... the soldiers stood briefly as skeletons in now-baggy uniforms, then dropped in heaps of bones as the blinded horses continued to fume and rant and rave. Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they too rattled to the pavement.
Evangelicals can't get enough of this trash. The video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces was developed by a publicly traded company, Left Behind Games. The player controls a "Tribulation Forces" team and allows the player to "use the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world." The game blesses and encourages religious violence.
Guided by a literal reading of the prophetic sections of the Bible the expanding Left Behind entertainment empire also feeds the delusions of Christian Zionists who are convinced that the world is heading to a final Battle of Armageddon. Christian Zionists led by the likes of John McCain's Jabba the Hutt lookalike and big fan -- the Reverend John Hagee -- believe that war in the Middle East is God's will. Hagee predicts in his book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, that Russia and the Arabs will invade Israel and then will be destroyed by God. This will cause the Antichrist -- the head of the European Union -- to stir up a confrontation over Israel between China and the West. Armageddon will ensue and the Second Coming of Christ.
This would all be a joke except for the fact that sixty million Americans identify themselves as evangelicals. That's a lot of crazy voters -- as McCain proved he recognized when he nominated the religious Right's pet evangelical goof Sara Palin to be his running mate to re-energize the army of goofs who gave us the 8 years of W that brought us to war and economic ruin.
Note to Jews: the evangelicals say they are the State of Israel's friend, love Jews etc., etc. Wake up! In the evangelical "game" Jews are just apocalyptic Jesus fodder! With friends like these you don't need enemies. Friends of Israel -- and I am one -- don't see Israel as nothing more than a pawn in the End Times. Dig under the surface and you'll find Hagee, Jenkins, LaHaye are profoundly and fatally anti-Semitic. Follow their uncompromising "Rapture logic" and Israel will be destroyed. These people will always push the US government to take the hardest line against the Arabs. That is no long term favor to Israel. Eternal war is no answer. Check out the area's demographics. Make peace while there is time!
Christian Zionists support all violent actions by Israel for any reason because in the fevered evangelical mind the nation of Israel is presently standing in for Jesus-the-avenger-on-evildoers everywhere, i.e. Arabs, all of whom (according to the born-again porn peddlers) are soon destined to burn anyway! So, who cares if 10 Israeli deaths from Hamas' rockets fired into southern Israel are avenged by the killing of 1,300 men women and children in Gaza?USA! USA! Go Jesus! Time for another godly session on my Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game! Hurry Jesus come back and kill em' all.
And that is the Republican's base. Good luck to President Obama trying to find bipartisan solutions to our world wide problems with these folks.
Frank Schaeffer is author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back Now in paperback.