Here we go again!
In 2003, shortly after my having been elected to the Maine State Legislature by a single vote, there was a vote on a nonbinding resolution asking the president of the United States to exhaust all means of diplomacy before going into Iraq. After long debate, mine was the only “Yes” out of 86 Republicans.
The most offending responses were from Christian brothers and sisters on the right. One prominent pol wrote, “Shut up and get behind the President!” and later wrote a letter to the editor stating that she doubted that the people in the little congregation I served as pastor had ever heard the Gospel.
Two years later, in a race I won handily as a Democrat, one Baptist church in my district was holding prayer meetings that God would see to my defeat. They had their 15 minutes of victory when the newspaper incorrectly projected my opponent the winner from the early results of the town in which that church was located.
Most of us can fully understand when a person of the stature of Colin Powell is bullied into being a good soldier and fudging the intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We can fully understand Secretary of State John Kerry being a good soldier and asking us to trust that he and our legislators have sufficient classified information to make an informed decision to attack Syria. But what is it with these Christians?
It seems that the Christian right can hardly wait for Armageddon, to which the annihilation of Damascus, Syria, is projected to be a biblical precursor (Isaiah 17). How ironic it is that Barack Obama, loathed by the right in antichrist proportions, may be the unwitting agent of such a sacred event?
Joel Rosenberg, author of the bestselling novel “Damascus Countdown” calls for strengthening “our Christian brothers and sisters in Damascus so they can share the Gospel with everyone around because this judgment is coming.” Reasonable though he may be, Rosenberg is now on the list of advisers to theocrats in high places.
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas will host Rosenberg to discuss Middle East policy during the week of Sept. 8. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum waded in with this: “The external threat to our country is a nuclear Iran, and there is nobody [who] is more prescient in his fictional novels … about what’s going to happen in the Middle East than Joel Rosenberg.”
Rosenberg has met and talked policy with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Glenn Beck has keyed off Rosenberg to push his own apocalyptic political agenda. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, purchased a copy of Rosenberg’s novel and presented it clumsily to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
End times scholar Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries writes that, “If one Israeli dies from chemicals coming from Syria, Israel is going to take matters into her own hands.” Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., warns that the destruction of Damascus may be close at hand. Bestselling end times novelist Hal Lindsey wrote, “Should Syria use chemical weapons against Israel, there is little doubt Israel will respond with tactical nukes. That is precisely the way Isaiah describes it.”
More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians having been killed in the American hysteria over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, and we now are being treated to the spectacle of information too secret for virgin citizen ears in support of military action in Syria. Reinforced by the seventh-century B.C. prophecy of Isaiah as interpreted by bestselling fictional novelists, leaders entrusted with the welfare and safety of the free world are tripping over themselves for a front row seat at Armageddon.
Our prayers, I suspect, may be directed against the wrong enemy. Better that devout American Christians should petition God for judgment on a church that finds its hope in elevating the likes of Hal Lindsey and Joel Rosenberg to fame and fortune through royalties on fictional novels.
Truth being touted as stranger than fiction, it appears to be in alarmingly short supply in this reality-TV world from which we await news from above.
The Rev. Stan Moody is senior pastor of Columbia Street Baptist Church in Bangor. He has served in the Maine Legislature and as a chaplain at the Maine State Prison in Warren.