The Christian Embassy.
That name may not seem very foreboding to you, (see the WaPo piece about it here: http://www.truthout.org/... but then again you probably haven’t been paying as much attention to what the extreme right-wing Evangelicals have been up to – apart from the rare admission of crystal meth use, alcoholism, and the odd homosexual happy ending. As embarrassing as these scandals are, however, they merely detract attention from the concerted effort that the Evangelical community has made since the Reagan years to do no less than seize power and establish a military-backed theocracy in America. More below the fold.
Bold words, I know, and as outlandish as Dr. Strangelove’s conspiracy-laden world. It smacks of Illuminati tales and suspicions about Ivy League fraternal organizations who seem fixated on historical skulls. But the Neo-Pagan community in America has been paying close attention to how the Evangelicals comport themselves. And while it might surprise most of you to know that your tax dollars are going to support an office for the Christian Embassy in the literal halls of power – the Pentagon – the idea that a dedicated, fanatical, nihilistic cult might infiltrate and seek to take control of the US military isn’t as implausible as it sounds.
The idea that America is a Christian nation is insidious, and fundamentally at odds with the democratic principals upon which our country was founded. There can be no argument that Christians make up the majority religion in America, or that our nation’s growth occurred in a cultural matrix that was explicitly Christian (and, further, Protestant Christian) in form. Our laws are based in part on our collective Judeo-Christian European heritage, and our national moral code is, of course, informed by a millennium of Christian thought and philosophy. Christianity isn’t going anywhere, nor would I want it to.
But just as al Qaida and Hezbollah and the other Jihadists groups are a very, very tiny extreme minority that has power far in excess of its numbers, the Evangelical movement in America has likewise sought power far beyond what their population merits. To mention that both religious extremes have their fanatical roots in the Old Testament should be unnecessary, but it bears consideration. Both are derivations of ancient Hebrew religion, the one that established Jehovah, the national god of Israel, as the God of History – a history which has always had a climactic and predictably bloody end.
The difference is that the Evangelicals have learned the lessons of history, whereas the Jihadis, despite their fervor, have not. They seek to alter the world to their liking through the old-fashioned methods of insurgency and revolution. It is a lesson they learned from their proximity to the Marxists, who’ve been teaching the science of revolution along with the doctrine of Marxist thought for almost a century. The Jihadis have picked up the former while rejecting the latter. Economics and social welfare are completely secondary when confronted with mystical monotheism.
The Jihadis are not, as so many in the GOP would have you believe, fascists. They are totalitarians, true, but they aren’t particularly good at it. They are bandits and mercenaries. They are provocateurs and opportunists, without any real concrete plan for executing their dream of a pan-Islamic Caliphate, how to incorporate the multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian Muslim world into a coherent political entity. They are empire-builders with great faith, tremendous zeal, and very little hope of an Empire in the current realpolitik. But they serve a purpose for the real Empires of the world, and so they are tolerated even as they are fought.
The Evangelicals, on the other hand, have sought to subvert a great empire, rather than build one from scratch. Jerry Falwell and other prominent Evangelicals have been molding a political faction with an emphasis on orthodoxy, fighting spirit, and financial solvency. It is highly organized and highly disciplined, with concrete goals and a rank-and-file system of decentralized and interlocking religious and commercial organizations that have been quietly building strength for decades. The philosophical impetus for the movement comes out of early 20th Century Texas, and can be called "pre-millennialism" – a literalist doctrine that interprets the Book of Revelations to mean that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will happen soon – and that we’d best look busy.
They are the shock-troops in the Culture War, supplying petition fodder and angry calls to Congress as needed. They have often sent their children to Christian schools, Christian camps, Christian Academies and Christian colleges, for the express purpose of placing them in positions where they can rise to power in business, the government, and the military. And they’ve done a pretty darn good job. Not only were they instrumental in the elections of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, they have used an inside Evangelical "Good Ol’ Boys" network to quietly insinuate their co-religionists into positions of power and authority throughout the bureaucratic world.
But to what end? Certainly, the Culture Wars themselves seem an important enough issue to mobilize the masses of God-fearin’ folk. Abortion, Gay Marriage, Contraception and the like are fair-game, mainstream issues that the Evangelicals tackle with vigor and canniness. In this they have adopted grass-roots techniques pioneered by the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements of the 60s and 70s. But they have also backed it through innovative funding through commercial sources, something that the Left of the 60s would have blanched at. But the pattern of their movements isn’t just about "Daddy’s Roommate" and Roe v. Wade. There is a master plan at work here.
Consider the large number of Evangelicals to join the military. My Pagan friends in Iraq have told me time and time again how the "God Squad" of Evangelical non-coms and officers has routinely (and sometimes forcibly) prosetheltized, assisted in promotions and plumb assignments for their fellows, and controlled the advancement of non-believers without ever leaving enough evidence to prosecute.
The Chaplain Corps of the military has a disproportionately large number of Evangelicals, while very few Jews and Muslims and not a single Pagan. The smoldering scandal of hard-edged evangelism taking place in the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs (coincidently enough, the same town that houses a couple of the country’s biggest mega-churches and some of the most prominent Evangelical organizations in the world) is indicative.
Now patriotism and evangelical belief go hand-in-hand, so it’s logical that the Evangelicals would be well-represented in the military. Evangelicals are often well-disciplined, exemplary soldiers, and our country is safer for their willingness to sacrifice. But it isn’t just their fervor for freedom that drives them. There is a deep-seated belief that the AntiChrist, Jesus, and Armageddon will come within our lifetime. Many Evangelicals see what we are doing in Iraq, their support for this Administration, and our blank-check support for Israel as part of God’s Plan for the Final Act.
And they want to be in the right place at the right time to make sure that it happens on schedule.
The partnership between the current Administration and the Evangelicals in both the military and in business couldn’t be clearer. There is a core of fanaticism that surrounds them all, and they move to support each other all the time. They’ve been fairly successful, too. Evangelicals now account for a disproportionate number of officers, administrators, and business leaders in our country. With the tacit support of the Administration they helped elect the Evangelicals have been reaping big profits, both spiritually and financially (if not always legislatively) The Office of Faith Based Initiatives (almost 100% Christian beneficiaries, and mostly Evangelical) is one prime example. The halt to stem-cell research is another. The gutting of the EPA and the unprecedented pressure on NASA scientists on the global warming issue is another. For six years, now, the Evangelicals have had a free ride.
A major point for them has been our relationship with Israel. One could argue that the Evangelicals intervened with Bush during the recent Hezbollah/Israeli war, keeping the matter tied up in the UN Security Council long enough for Israel to have a chance to wipe out Hezbollah for good – except they didn’t have to. Bush is a man of faith, and he’s had the doctrine of a sacrosanct Israel pitched to him from birth. Not because of any particular strategic importance, but because it is the Holy Land, and it needs to be intact for the End Times. You can’t very well convert the Jews to Christianity if the Jews don’t have possession of the Holy Land. Don’t laugh – this fact has made many an Orthodox Jew nervous whenever an Evangelical shows up with a bag of money and a promise of support.
Look at how power has been concentrated since the coronation of George II: the State Department has been gutted, the foreign policy reigns handed to the Pentagon, where neo-cons and Evangelicals conspire to keep the Iraq Occupation going for as long as possible. All that Iraqi oil that isn’t being pumped and exported has kept the price up nicely, a boon to the petroleum industry that backs the Evangelicals. And it sets the stage for the next act in the Armageddon script, giving us a convenient base from which to smite the evil empire of Iran in a few months. That the oil price hike has enriched America’s foes as well as its friends isn’t a bad thing, in Evangelical eyes – what kind of struggle between good and evil would it be without a robust Evil Empire to struggle against?
As good military officers speak their minds, motivated by conscience, they have exposed themselves as enemies of the Evangelical movement and are shuffled out of power or into retirement. If they are poorly treated enough they resign altogether. That’s fine by the Evangelicals. That means they can promote more of their own into those positions and consolidate their power base. As conscientious government scientists speak out against Administration policies that seek to censor their life’s work, they, too, are forced out of their agencies. That’s not the power grab that the military has seen, but it does weaken the institutional strength of our intellectual base at a critical time – and removes them from positions where they might bureaucratically counter future Evangelical operations.
It is interesting to note that the worst of the Evangelicals in the military have been in the Air Force. The smallest of the branches, the Air Force has lots of toys and very few people, compared to the Army or Navy. It is the easiest branch to infiltrate and take control of. But the Air Force wasn’t the Evangelical choice because of the snappy uniforms. The Evangelicals want their people in blue so that, when the time comes, there will be a god-fearing Christian at the board when the call comes to launch the missile.
We are heading into a lame-duck presidency that feels (with some justification) that it a) needs to escape prosecution b) needs to sustain the Iraqi war upon which it has staked it’s political legacy and c) everyone hates it anyway so what does it have to lose? As the subpoenas start to fly in January and the Administration feels increasingly abandoned and backed into a corner, the likelihood that Bush and Cheney might consider sparking a constitutional crisis grows increasingly bigger. Should the impeachment issue arise (one can hope!) so will the capacity of this president to do something illegal, immoral, and radical to defend his way of life. With his back against the wall, and Israel starting something with Syria or Iran, Bush wants to be certain that the guy in the bottom of the silo in Utah is wearing cross next to his dog tags.
That’s why the Evangelicals have targeted the Air Force specifically. They want to get their hands on some nukes, and the USAF has more access to nukes than any other branch. When the time comes for some righteous hand-of-god stuff in the Middle East, you can bet that those birds will fly on command – no matter what the public or Congress has to say. The ability to subvert our government and the democratic process through threats of nuclear hellfire rests squarely with the USAF. When the day of judgment comes (presumably the day Bush is impeached for . . . well, take your pick) the Evangelicals want the biggest hole-card they can get. ICBMs trump a congressional subpoena any day.
And that’s why a seemingly harmless organization like the Christian Embassy should scare the hell out of you. The Christian Embassy – and organizations like it – serve as a means for the Evangelical community to continue to grow its institutional grip. The CE isn’t there for the weekly prayer breakfast ("Your tax dollars at work!") its there to keep the "inner circle" of Evangelical policy makers happy . . . and watched. Because when the time comes, you will be either with them (and the establishment of a theocratic state) or against them. CE and other groups keep track of who is on which side of the line.
Don’t think it can happen? You aren’t just dealing with a political party, here, folks. You are dealing with people who earnestly believe, with every fiber of their being, that they and they alone can rescue humanity from an eternity of hellfire and damnation. Like the Jihadis in their caves and hide-outs, they suffer from the belief that they alone have the right answers. And anyone who gets in their way deserves what they get. When it is the glory of God Almighty at stake, you can’t risk equivocations. It’s the same attitude that suicide bombers and terrorists cultivate as they prepare to die. Religious fanaticism is a heady fuel to run an organization on, as it excuses and justifies anything from torture to fudging the environmental factors, to blowing up an Iranian city with an ICBM.
As the days go by and you see Bush’s hair getting grayer and his expression more grim over Iraq, subpoenas, and increasingly loud calls to alter course, look to the Evangelicals to have his back – no matter what. He is their Chosen One, the one to lead them to victory over the anti-Christ in the final days. Or so they tell him. Which puts some unenviable pressure on George II, and we all know the man isn’t terribly good under pressure to begin with. He thinks best in terms of black and white, good and evil – which is why he’s so comfortable abandoning the realpolitik that every non-Evangelical conservative, from Kissinger to Baker, has been screaming at him. Realpolitik is just too hard. Good v. Evil is easy, and easily quotable.
Come the day when he orders fighters over New York City as a "precautionary measure", you can be sure that he Evangelicals will make sure those birds are in the air on time, well-armed, and to hell with the liberal faggots in Congress.
If George II wants to stage a coup, he’s got all the Strangelovian talent he could ask for in position to do just that. They won’t care about the rule of law or any of that bullshit. They will be loyal to the president, no matter what the Congress says – and the more the Dems attack, the more the Evangelicals feel justified to take extreme measures. They see the struggle against the Jihadists (and the entire Moslem world) as a sacred mission, one they won’t lay aside for the niceties of legislative debate and political compromise. They are, after all, saving humanity’s immortal soul from eternal damnation. This is beyond life-or-death, it’s afterlife and death. Jesus is Coming!