Evangelicals Über Alles?
Whose church would Jesus burn down?
Earlier today I read an interview with a former Air Force officer, Mikey Weinstein, who has founded and led an organization called the "Military Religious Freedom Foundation." The interview, These people should be court-martialed appears in Salon.com (subscription required, or you may have to view an ad).
I hope I sound paranoid and delusional when I say that I can imagine a time when I live to see a 20-something kid in a uniform pointing an automatic rifle in my face and begging me to accept Jesus as my personal savior so he doesn't have to pull the trigger. I did not imagine anything like that before today. Thanks for that image, Mr. Weinstein.
Last week (Dec. 2006) evangelicals released a video filmed "... inside the Pentagon that featured uniformed senior military officers talking about their evangelical faith ... " And on Monday Weinstein held a press conference to denounce it. Alex Koppelman of Salon interviewed him on Tuesday. The interview is worth a read in its entirety, even if you have to view an advertisement in Salon.com. In it Weinstein does not mince words, describing the evangelicals who now make up about 40% of the military as "virulently dominionist" and compares the present situation with the plot of the movie Three days of the Condor in which there existed "A CIA within the CIA." I found the following passage particularly disturbing:
These are the people who, when I talk to senior members of the military at the flag-level rank -- I don't know if you're familiar with what that means, that means admiral or general -- that have looked at me and said, "Come on, Mikey, what's your problem? We have the cure to cancer. If you had the cure to cancer, wouldn't you want to spread the word?" They don't realize when they say it, they don't have the mental wherewithal to understand that to a person who isn't an evangelical Christian, you're calling our faith a cancer.
Among the cancerous faiths the evangelicals wish to cure you will find "Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians [and] Roman Catholics." And look whose burning in hell: "Mikey, OK, Anne Frank, Dr. Seuss, Jack Benny, Gandhi," evangelical Christians tell Weinstein, "they're all burning eternally in the fires of hell." Charming.
Aside from the obnoxiousness of some annoying person trying to "save" you, what's the problem? Where is the danger? Weinstein explains:
The U.S. military, which I [Weinstein] consider a noble and honorable institution, is technologically the most lethal organization ever created by Homo sapiens. When you have the leadership believing that to be a good soldier, good Marine, good airman or sailor you have to be not just a Christian but the right type of Christian, we're no better than al-Qaida. And it's hideous, beyond belief. My kids were called "fucking Jews" and accused of total complicity, they and their people, in the execution of Jesus Christ, by superiors up and down the chain of command at the Air Force Academy. [Emphasis added].
Oh, and it gets worse.
...after the press conference in the morning, I've had nine death threats since about 10 o'clock last night. I usually get about two or three a week. They're very grotesque, everything from wanting to gas all the Jews in America and send the corpses back to Israel * to threatening to blow me up, threatening my house will be blown up, raping my wife, blowing up my house. We've had our tires slashed, we've had feces and beer bottles thrown at the house, we've had dead animals placed on the front door of the house.
I was in Topeka, on a book tour, and the local Episcopal priest came out to support me and five hours later his church was burned down. And the local synagogue in Topeka, where I was to speak that night, was desecrated with spray paint saying, "Fuck you, Jews" and "KKK," all that stuff.
And whose church would Jesus blow up? Peace, love and happiness ... unless you're not one of us in which case the evangelicals can hack you into pieces and feed you to the dogs with righteous impunity. Does my whacko fantasy of conversion at gunpoint still look paranoid and far-fetched? I hope so.
Blatant partisan bias: Vote for democrats. Yes, even if they are a bunch of spineless gits who have to read three days of opinion poll results before they figure it's safe to flush their toilets. I know they're useless and I know they're every bit a bunch of corporate lackeys like any Republican. But vote for them anyway. My pagan/wiccan/tool-of-the-devil crystal ball is showing me some seriously weird and disturbing images lately. If you're not even a little nervous then you're just not paying attention.
* Update December 20, 2006: Only today did I realize the significance of the threat "to gas all the Jews in America and send the corpses back to Israel." The evangelicals believe that in order to provoke the apocalypse all Jews must return to an Isreal that has been restored to its biblical borders. The bible does not specify whether the Jews are alive when they return. That's the evangelical part of the threat: the sending the corpses "back" to Israel .
For more information about evangelicals, their influence in U.S. politics and the religious beliefs which lead them to support Israel see Is Death too good for us? and follow the links to the articles cited.