THE BLOG
05/08/2008 09:21 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Jesus Says "Bomb Iran"

Not really, but it seems that a number of preachers who call themselves Christians are demanding that the US attack Iran. The best known of the Iran bashers is John Hagee, pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church, which has a reported congregation of 18,000. Hagee appears weekly on 150 TV stations worldwide and heads Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which lobbies on behalf of the State of Israel in the US Congress. He is also reported to be close to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whom he has endorsed, while President Bush has publicly praised Hagee's CUFI for "spreading the hope of God's love and the universal gift of freedom." Senator Joe Lieberman is also on board, likening Hagee to Moses, "a man of God... leading a mighty multitude."

As is frequently the case, neither Bush nor McCain nor Lieberman appears to know what exactly the good preacher has advocated. Or maybe they do, which is even more frightening to contemplate. Hagee, whose insights into foreign policy are derived from his own unique reading of the Bible, believes that God's plan for mankind culminates in a battle between Israel and the US against an alliance of the Islamic states and Russia. Iran would be the focus of the American-Israeli onslaught. He has written that "The United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West, a biblically prophesized End Time confrontation... which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation and the Second Coming."

Hagee's other foreign policy positions are unsurprising, including uncritical support of the Iraq fiasco and opposition to any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, arguing that the Bible has promised all of Palestine to the Israelis. The Hagee version of end time theology turns Christianity into a death cult in which the State of Israel is a central feature because Israel must first be reborn and then destroyed, leading to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the Rapture of all believers to heaven. The end time theology is ironically not dissimilar to the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Eleventh Imam beliefs, which have been widely ridiculed.

If Hagee were the only wingnut out there it would be bad enough, but he is far from alone. Other men of God are concerned about the more generic threat coming from Islam. Martin Mawyer of the Virginia-based Christian Action Network claims that there are more than 35 Muslim terrorist camps operating inside the United States. He comes up with that figure by assuming that any and all Muslim religious centers are actually terrorist training facilities. He has dedicated himself to a battle "between God and Satan" to eliminate the Muslim presence before something terrible happens. His pamphlet "Terror in Our Schools: the Jihadist Threat to Our Schoolchildren" explains that "Muslim literature states clearly that the killing of children is not only permitted in Islam but is approved by Mohammed." The Jihadis are reportedly planning a mass attack on America's schools, producing rivers of blood, in which they "will probably pick middle schools... where the girls are old enough to rape but the students are not big enough to fight back effectively."

That Hagee and Mawyer are taken seriously by many Americans is unfortunate, particularly when politicians endorse their views. There are undeniably many reasons to mistrust Iranian intentions and it is certainly true that there are many aspects of Islam as it is practiced that give one pause, but the designation of entire countries and peoples as enemies slated for "obliteration" (yes, Hillary) is the unfortunate shorthand that has come out of our political system and the fear-mongering of the past seven years. The danger that there will be a war against Iran in the very near future is all too real and it is being encouraged by "men of God" like Hagee. It's time to marginalize the views of the purveyors of hate, even if they call themselves Christians. It is past time for the adults to return and take over US foreign policy. Hopefully that will come with President Obama.