Tuesday, August 28, 2007

God's Warriors - Part 3: Christian Warriors

Here are the YouTube vids of Christiane Amanpour's third instalment of God's Warriors, this one on Christian Warriors: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

First up was 'Dr' Jerry Falwell, the now deceased leader of the US fundamentalist Christian Right and mobiliser of his own God's Warriors. Falwell didn't just manage to mobilise US Christian fundies politically, but also created (amongst other things) Liberty University (a slight misnomer I feel) where 'science and religion' are studied as parallel texts. Presumably at that great centre of learning, the US's humongous codex of law is also studied alongside with the Ten Commandments...

Then, Jimmy Carter, whose own presidency fell victim to Muslim fundamentalism during the Tehran US embassy hostage crisis of 444 days, deploring the sharp turn to the right of the Baptist faith (to which he belongs). This has led to a reduced role for women in the Baptist faith including exclusion of women 'to instruct men'. As Carter put it (paraphrasing from memory): '[men accepting female instruction] could lead to men having to admit that they were wrong and therefore that God was wrong'. Carter believes nonetheless that in terms of American political power, the evangelical movement has peaked. Personally, I'm not so sure.

Then that other slightly odd (and in my view self-contradictory) creed: Christian Zionists. In... Texas, of all places! Cowboys (Stetsons and all) line dancing to ersatz Jewish tunes, that sort of thing. Leading Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee believes there are two ways: "the Torah way and the wrong way!" He also believes that God has a foreign policy statement and Israel is at the heart of it. Hagee's Texas congregation is about 20,000 strong.

Hagee's account shrewdly mixes current events with biblical prophecy, the coming of the anti-Christ, the second coming of Jesus and of course Armageddon (always good for sending a few chills down the spines of the gullible). Needless to say, Jews that want to be saved will have to accept that every word of Jesus II is true. Nuff said already...

Next up: taking America back for God. Rick Scarborough, a Baptist preacher, believes that there are 50 - 80 million evangelical Christians (the largest voting bloc in America, according to Scarborough) and that every vote counts. Scarborough is an ally of the late Falwell, they're fellow 'Culture Warriors'.

Then, inevitably 'evolution' (or Evolutionary Biology), is up: Ohio's Russell Johnson believes that 'Evolutionism' and 'Social Darwinism' are societal ills that have much to answer for ("what to expect from children that have been led to believe they descend from animals" - personally I always feel that animals are better behaved than God's Children but that's just my take on it). But to Johnson, gay marriage really is the big one. And this is one of America's major political fracture lines where rightwing politics are married to the Christian Evangelical worldview.

One believer however, Greg Boyd ('the Heretic' as he's known as) believes this collusion between faith and politics has gone too far. That he's considered a heretic should come as no surprise: he's actually compared the Christian Evangelical movement to the Taliban, an analogy that works only at one fairly basic level. But Boyd's message seems a lot more innocent to me: he basically wants to emphasise the personal character of faith and reduce its politization.

Funny what you can read (or not read) into the Bible: next up was 'Evangelical Environmentalism' (a more benign form of evangelism, I feel). Being 'steward of the Earth' I guess can also be seen as a form of Christian fundamentalism. One of their leaders (his name escaped me) called it "Creation Care".

Then, the Christian home-schooling movement. One couple featured claims they'll teach Creationism and Evolution side by side, but needless to say, the latter will be taught as an 'incorrect hypothesis' and rather more to prove that Biblical Creation is the true word of God.

Finally, the teen Evangelist movement, led by Ron Luce and his Battlecry organisation, recruiting Christ's warriors against what he calls 'virtue terrorists': American popular culture. Luce's army of Warriors, called Teen Mania, are seriously inspired by his mixture of Evangelical messages, heavy borrowing from popular culture in terms of choice of icons, the use of fake 'Christian rock music' and rallies choreographed with Nuremberg precision.

Phew, that's me done with religious fundamentalism for a few days, after having watched this Christian segment, as well as the
Muslims and Jewish segments. Tiresome people, these extremists...


At 7:44 PM, Blogger Ed said...

Can you believe that Falwell was not extreme enough for Westboro Church and Phelps? See here! I like the first comment underneath the article.

There are a lot of very strange people in the churches over the Atlantic. A glance onto Ian Paisley's website suggests that he is trying to import some of the wacky ideas to here. I shall be prepared to fight if it comes.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Gert said...


The Phelps family clearly want to make sure that when they go to heaven that place is empty and reserved for them and them only. Hence their condemnation of everybody else, including potential allies. That's my theorette anyway...

At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intersting post!

From a happy homeschooling family :)



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