It's both appropriate and also quite easy, in the case of a November 15, 2008 column by Newsweek's new religion writer Lisa Miller, to lambaste Newsweek's editors for Miller's journalistic catastrophe which suggests that calling Barack Obama the "Antichrist" might be rational.
But, having fired off our letters to the editor (well worth the time) let's try and turn from legitimate outrage towards the logs that might be caught in our own eyes, obscuring our own perspective.
Lisa Miller appears to have been trying to make the point, however clumsily, that apocalyptic Premillennial Dispensationalist Christians waiting for the coming of the Antichrist and the "Rapture" aren't "nuts".
Well, if functionality is any indication of rationality, then the Christian right is arguable more "sane" than most on the American left, for the simple reason that the right has for decades effectively used politicized religion to bash the American left and so gain an improbable electoral edge.
With unprecedented mobilization of the pro-Obama coalition the hard religious right has been set back for the moment but they'll soon be back in force, in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The reason is simple:
The American left still doesn't fully understand how the American religious right has used used politicized religion to power the American political right and by recent indications the problem is getting worse.
Lisa Miller is, it would seem, living back in the 1970's or 1980's, when a spate of books, fronted by Hal Lindsey's global bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, inspired a glut of pulp apocalypse potboilers from authors looking to cash in on the trend.
Now, with the year 2000 behind us, the avante-garde of the Christian right aren't hunkered down in caves eating Tribulation food, just scraping by and glumly waiting for the "Rapture". No way.
They're advancing the "Kingdom", moving in to seize the "Seven Mountains" of society. They want Dominion.
Lisa Miller's noxious Obama-"Antichrist" gaffe is inexcusable, but my take is that it may have been accidental and, in any case, the American left has much to reflect on concerning the past election.
It was a victory yes. But amidst the victory, the political left flubbed a chance to slam Sarah Palin as having confirmed ties to two prominent religious leaders who claim to have successfully fought witches. In 2000, according to AP, Palin herself even borrowed an inspirational video about how to reduce crime, alcoholism and traffic accidents by driving out witches and demon spirits. Again, those were confirmed facts.
What was going on there ?
The left is, still, largely clueless and, as with Lisa Miller, still under the assumption that tens of millions of Christian fundamentalists thumb though, perhaps daily, their Hal Lindsey paperbacks and their Scofield Reference Bibles.
Apocalyptic Premillennial Dispensationalism, AKA "Rapture" Christianity, has been dying for several decades (at least). What's replacing it is almost certainly worse, and it's unlikely you'll read about that replacement ideology in Newsweek but by the same token you won't likely read about it on the blogs, however big, of the political left.
You can, however, read about it here:
And, you can read about Sarah Palin's ties to the new Christian right here:
Knowledge is power. In early 2008 I used specific knowledge on the Christian right, John Hagee specifically, to shift the 2008 election. McCain's renunciation of John Hagee's political endorsement probably dampened GOP enthusiasm for attacking on Barack Obama because of his association with Pastor Jeremiah Wright. And, McCain's rupture with Hagee arguably helped propel McCain towards his rash decision to select Sarah Palin as a running mate, in an ill-considered ploy to shore up McCain's voting support among Christian conservatives. The rest is history.
To those who might claim the American Christian right is on the way out, I'll note this:
In the mid to late 1980's, following scandals that toppled the careers of prominent televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, US mainstream media asked, in all earnestness, if the Christian right was dead or dying. Less than a decade after, Newt Gingrich and the new Christian right, powered by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and other new Christian right political organizing groups, rolled in to take control of Congress and the Senate. To dismal results.
That may well happen again if the American left is as clueless now as it was prior to the 1994 election.
Knowledge is power. Meet the new, global, Christian right :
The new Christian right that you'll likely soon be contending with, in the political sphere, the cultural sphere, in your business or in your church, looks nothing like what your mental pictures might be, on what people on the fundamentalist Christian right look like.
The New Christian right looks and talks almost as if it just walked out of Woodstalk. Many of its members dress as hippies of the 1960's might have dressed, and they can play African drums: expertly even.
Plus, they cast out demons, chase purported 'witches' out of town, claim to be able to raise the dead, and map out local Freemason, Catholic, Mormon and Scientology influence.