Friday, July 27, 2007

Christianity, Iraq and Iran

A controversial and, in my opinion, under-reported component of the war in Iraq and what seems the almost inevitable war with Iran is the support of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity for both of these wars. While it's arguable that one cannot "hasten" God's will, their extremist views certainly do not impel these people to actively support peace in the Middle East.

As controversial as it is, the relationship between extremist Christianity and the war in Iraq is explicit and direct, and Max Blumenthal of the Huffington Post documents the connections between the war and one influential organization, Christians United for Israel. CUFI founder John Hagee has "forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain.

In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC and elements of the Israeli government.

But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil.

I don't want to tar all Christians with the same brush. I know that most Americans and most Christians do not support the war in Iraq.

I personally am an atheist, so I have to ask: To what degree do moderate, anti-war Christians try to downplay or ignore the extremist Christian elements underlying this insane, ludicrous—and what seems to me profoundly unChristian—war? To what degree do moderate Christians target a message of true peace and tolerance directly to their extremist co-religionists?

Same book, same savior, vastly different messages. Very puzzling.

[Update: It appears that some progressive and moderate Christians are taking the right-wing extremists seriously and mounting a substantial challenge. 28 Jul 07]