Friday, December 17, 2004

Spare us your rapture, please

In accepting the Harvard Medical School's fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award on December 1st, journalist Bill Moyers gave a speech. When I came across it on the web, it sent chills down my spine. It also clarified a lot for me.

An excerpt: "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality."

Examples of theologians and ideologues in power abound. Moyers reminds us of James Watt, head of the EPA under Reagan, who testified to Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. He testified publicly, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

A recent Gallup poll found that one third of the American electorate believe the Bible is literally true. Moyers suggests that several million good and decent citizens went to the polls in the last election believing in the rapture index. "Google it and you'll find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theory concoted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans."

These people believe that once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands" legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. They think they will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where they'll sit at the right hand of God. Their opponents, political and religious, will suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the years of tribulation that follow. Is it coincidence that the Bush administration is the first in modern times that has not tried to create peace in Israel? Or that it went to war in Iraq? Those awaiting the rapture believe war with Islam is not to be feared, but to be welcomed. Moyers calls the Iraq war "an essential conflagration on the road to redemption."

And as for the environment, Moyers says, "millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed--even hastened--as a sign of the coming apocalypse." He details our president's environmental policies: a relaxation of pollution limits for ozone; elimination of vehicle tailpipe inspections; easing pollution standards for cars, sports utility vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment; a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public; dropping review suits against polluting coal-fired power plants and weakening consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies; opening the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and increasing drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America. It's easy to see that Bushco is doing more than lining the pockets of oil companies; they're actually working to hasten the rapture.

So, all you Republicans--those of you who are fiscal conservatives and not religious wing-nuts--I guess you'd better do what they suggest on, where the index is at an all-time high: "fasten your seatbelts."


At 4:12 AM, Blogger Alvin Miller said...

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!


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