22 November 2006


Last month, Gary Wills had a long article in The New York Review of Books which outlines the way that the Bush administration caters to its evangelical base.
It is common knowledge that the Republican White House an Congress let “K Street” lobbyists have a say in the drafting o economic legislation, and on the personnel assigned to carry it out, in matters like oil production, pharmaceutical regulation medical insurance, and corporate taxes. It is less known that fo social services, evangelical organizations were given the sam right to draft bills and install the officials who implement them Karl Rove had cultivated the extensive network of religious righ organizations, and they were consulted at every step of the wa as the administration set up its policies on gays, AIDS, condoms, abstinence programs, creationism, and other matter that concerned the evangelicals. All the evangelicals resentments under previous presidents, including Republican like Reagan and the first Bush, were now being addressed
Wills provides examples in several key areas of policy.
  1. Faith-Based Justice
  2. Faith-Based Social Services
  3. Faith-Based Science
  4. Faith-Based Health
  5. Faith-Based War
Of these, the last is most chilling. Wills points to the example of deputy undersecretary for defense intelligence, General William (Jerry) Boykin.
He showed slides of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, and Taliban leaders, asking of each, “Is this man the enemy?” He gave a resounding no to each question, and then revealed the foe's true identity:
The battle this nation is in is a spiritual battle, it's a battle for our soul. And the enemy is a guy called Satan.... Satan wants to destroy this nation. He wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.
Wills talks about Boykin at some length, and then describes how this is a common point of view among many other evangelicals, including examples like these ...
Charles Stanley, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote: “We should offer to serve the war effort in any way possible.... God battles with people who oppose him, who fight against him and his followers.” Jerry Falwell put it succinctly in 2004: “God is pro-war.” For some evangelicals, this was a war against the enemies of Israel, who are by definition anti-God. The evangelical writer Tim LaHaye called it, therefore, “a focal point of end-time events.”
Wills describes how evangelical appointments to administer the occupation have created problems, and then goes on to explain the remaining support for the Iraq war.
There is a particular danger with a war that God commands. What if God should lose? That is unthinkable to the evangelicals. They cannot accept the idea of second-guessing God, and he was the one who led them into war. Thus, in 2006, when two thirds of the American people told pollsters that the war in Iraq was a mistake, the third of those still standing behind it were mainly evangelicals (who make up about on third of the population).
To those folks—and to Jerry “God is pro-war” Fallwell in particular—I'd like to observe that last I checked, Jesus said that blessed were the peacemakers, “for they shall be called children of God.” You guys might want to look that one up.

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