Praying For Armageddon

in:



As the religious right gains ground in the US,

accompanied by politicians evoking the god-fearing

values of good and evil, a culture honoring diversity

is replaced by calls for apocalyptic war.



As always, the schoolyard has become a major political

battleground. Hysteria over removing "under God" from

the Pledge of Allegiance aside, the latest educational

minefield lies in the origins of life: namely a return

to the 1925 Scopes Trial debate of evolution vs.

creationism. For example, to promote Christianity, Cobb

County, Georgia is putting disclaimers on its science

textbooks, saying that evolution is "a theory, not a

fact," and school districts from Kansas to Ohio are

enmeshed in battles royale over an issue that should be

settled in a country separating church and state.



Not that bible-banging US attorney general John

Ashcroft is troubled by the far right's assault on the

First Amendment; claiming "I think all we should

legislate is morality," the man charged with upholding

the Constitution has instead slowly dissected it to fit

his far-right Assemblies of God ideals.



And then there's Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's

insisting "the religious viewpoint should have a role

in the legislative and political process." Speaking at

the University of Chicago earlier this year, Scalia

cited the New Testament to assert government, "derives

its moral authority from God ... to execute wrath,

including even wrath by the sword," adding, "the more

Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard

the death penalty as immoral ... for the believing

Christian, death is no big deal."



Good thing he cleared that up because for many of us

death seems like a pretty big deal indeed.



The upshot of all this is that by promoting fear and

blind arrogance, "leaders" charged with protecting the

tolerance and diversity that make our country strong,

chisel away at the base instead. Their approach boils

down to: "If you are one of us, religious freedom and

life itself are all-important; if you are one of them,

your beliefs are wrong and your death is no big deal."



This attitude would be creepy enough if many of those

marching us into a Middle Eastern blowout didn't

believe in a literal Armageddon. Not helpful either

that a full 59% of Americans polled say they believe in

the apocalyptic events predicted in the Bible's Book of

Revelations: when the Messiah returns on judgement day,

believers will be lifted to glorious heaven while

sinful non-believers will be "left behind" to do battle

with the anti-Christ. All of this is complicated by the

belief that the Messiah can return only if a new temple

is built on Temple Mount, one of the holiest - and most

contentious - sites for Islam, Judaism and Christianity

combined.



So we're left with US arsenals of mass destruction in

the hands of politicians with a simplistic good/evil,

us/them approach to the globe - among whom are those

seeking salvation in a fiery Middle Eastern apocalypse.



Not the most comforting reality as the potentially

nuclear Palestine-Israel conflict implodes, and Iraq is

backed into more dangerous corner every day.



While longing for deeper meaning is natural in times

like these, divisiveness and fiery death aren't the

correct goals. And who said our lawmakers should be in

the business of legislating morality and defining life

and death according to their own religious beliefs?



Ultimately, rather than glorifying in the sinners "left

behind" to face torturous battles with the anti-Christ,

we should focus on helping those left behind by today's

unbalanced social and economic systems. Through

diversity and tolerance we all are lifted up; through

small-minded arrogance and greed we all lose.



Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer. She can be

contacted via her web site at http://www.heatherwokusch.com