Religion and Politics

A quick post– no time to write today.

I don’t believe that there are no coincidences, but I do believe that politicians don’t pull out unusual turns of speech randomly. If they didn’t choose their words carefully they wouldn’t get the votes. Everything they do or say in public life either has an agenda or is consistent with who they are.

I attended Apponaug Pentecostal Church in the 1970’s, and absorbed the teachings for three years. This article from Huffington Post might seem like an extreme take, but it’s consistent with what I heard preached and how they connected with preachers and evangelists nationally and internationally in the mission fields.

Sarah Palin’s Jewish Problem.

She is just one of the more visible and ambitious politicians with an End-Times following.

We are free to believe as our conscience dictates. But it’s one thing to believe in prophecy as a citizen, and another when you have the power to help events along.

Don’t look for politicians to come clean about their real beliefs and their supporters. We are so divided right now that it’s hard to blame them for being cagy. Whatever they say, some constituency will accuse them of singing from the wrong hymnal. But don’t discount religion as a motivation, and thank the gods for a free press.

Playing With Fire

Via Buzzflash comes this article on the relationship of end-times Christians and Israel. The longed-for fulfillment of prophecy that is preached in churches and on the radio and TV by such as John Hagee is Armageddon.

If that translates into Israel as a glass-bottomed radioactive parking lot, don’t blame them for enthusiastically promoting conflict. It’s God’s will.

Rachel Tabachnik, of The Zeek, gripped my attention with this post…

A few minutes into his State of the Union address in January 2003, President George W. Bush said with a slow and deliberate cadence, “there’s power, wonder-working power–in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people.” For some watching this speech, the phrase evoked a particular sensory response. For me, it was a memory of the sights, sounds, and even smells of the hardwood floors and old pews of a small Southern church, and the echoing of the slightly off-key refrain of the much beloved gospel hymn, “There is power, power, wonder-working power, in the blood of the Lamb.”

That brought me back to my teen years, when I too clapped and sang about the bloody sacrifice that God required. And people who were generally in their daily lives very kind and sane were enthusiastically hoping for that final war, that Armageddon, that would bring about the Second Coming.

Again, the Pentecostals were as individuals not much different from any other random group of people. But they followed preachers who led them to rejoice in the prospect of the deaths of millions. In this world, war is peace, and anyone who promotes reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is working against God’s plan.

In 2006 I heard the smug radio voice of political player/evangelist John Hagee bragging about his access to world leaders. He’s just one who profits from war and suffering…

In 2003 John Hagee Ministries, Inc. marketed a three-sermon series titled “Iraq the Final War,” in which Hagee promoted the war with a blend of both earthly and prophecy-based reasoning. The back cover of the audio cassette case states, “The war between American [sic] and Iraq is the gateway to the apocalypse.” Hagee warned his audience that they should be prepared to be raptured from the earth, leaving behind everyone else to suffer through the wars of the end times.

The apocalyptic scenarios that Hagee promised in 2003 did not come to pass. Since then, Hagee has refocused on Iran, repeatedly promoting a preemptive strike on the nation, including in the pages of his new book released this summer, Can America Survive: Ten Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation.

In Part One of his new book, “A Nuclear Iran,” Hagee focuses on temporal geopolitical issues, claiming to have inside information from world leaders, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, on Iran’s capabilities to launch various weapons of mass destruction. Then Hagee transitions into prophecy mode, stating on page 56, “Russia and Iran will be committed partners until the end of time. According to the prophet Ezekiel, they will unite their forces and invade Israel at some time in the future.”

It almost seems quaint now to reflect that when I was a Pentecostal our enemy was Vietnam. You don’t have to search far in Providence to meet someone whose life was devastated by that war, either as a draftee or refugee.

Christianity is a diverse religion with countless denominations and sects. One particular expression of the faith has declared itself the only true one and entwined itself with conservative politics.

This is all the more reason to follow the example of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, respecting all religions and favoring none. And when preachers say one thing and do another, well there’s plenty in the Bible about that too.

Rachel Tabachnik’s article is here–it’s good, it’s scary, it’s true.