An American Theocracy?
“He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.”– Coleridge
During my recent travels I read two books, American Theocracy and The Fall of the House of Bush, manifestos of the non-interventionist foreign policy wing of American politics that is detested by the Christian Right.
Nightmarish reading at best.
How is that we have allowed the Christian Right to be defined by delusional idealism and religious zeal? How is it that American evangelicals not only approved but actually glamorized the war as a form of Christian “mission”?
The gulag of Guantanamo, the torture of Abu Ghraib, the secret renditions! Had it not been for the alliance forged between the neoconservatives and the Christian Right we may well have avoided the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history. And now, marching to the same tune, the Christian Right is falling in step with the neocons in demonizing the Iranians.
That America, rather than Saddam, is known today universally for torture and abuse and the killing of thousands of innocents should be decried by every evangelical Christian who believes in truth and justice. “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world,” said the president in his 2005 State of the Union address, invoking the Godhead. “Freedom is God Almighty’s gift to each man and woman in the world.” To confuse national pride with redemption and the cross is blasphemic. The popular arguments against the Iranians consist merely in nicknames, much like the Germans were called Huns in the 1940s. If anyone dares to suggest that there may be some way of ascertaining the truth other than by calling names that merely appeal to the passions, he is instantly stamped as a supporter of the enemy.
This sentimental nuptial has gone on long enough. It is time we settled down to thinking reasonably about conflict.
It is obvious that unless there is a change of policy in Washington, a war with Iran is sure to occur sooner or later. It takes no great imagination to foresee this. “Unless we fight them over there we will have to fight them over here” is the unchallenged and unchallengeable mantra of the day.
Some politicians – Ron Paul notably – have given good reasons why America should never start a war unless it is already necessary for self-defense. I think this is sound political advice, not to mention the fact that this is the historical American position.
It is easy to understand why Americans might object to it. They have been taught, and have accepted, a Manichean view of the world: America is good, Islamic states are evil. I myself disagree with this prevalent viewpoint, and have made my disagreement vocal on several occasions both in writing and speeches. The usual criticism is that I am pacifist, a person who objects to war in toto. It seems to do no good to reiterate ad nauseum that I am not a pacifist, that I believe that some wars are justified, perhaps even necessary. If I can be persuaded that Iran poses a mortal threat to the security of the United States, I shall be prepared to support a defensive war. But until that time comes, I shall do no such thing.
Meanwhile McCain, Clinton, and Obama play their silly games. I feel the attitude of the establishment toward the Middle East to be incredibly foolish. They imagine a peaceful cooperation between Sunnis and Shias, but they ought to have foreseen that this was not a likely outcome. The stage is set for a real catastrophe, which will be the result of the utter folly of governments.
It is more than an embarrassment for the evangelical church in America that we have gone forth into the world with gun and Bible, flag and cross. By the grace of God, I desire that my faith extend toward everything – my family, my country, my church, and all that has to do with the spiritual kingdom that Christ is building on this dreadful planet. Moment by moment, I am learning to be utterly dependent upon Him and committed to His “Gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15), not the idol of Americanism. If I were left to my own wisdom, my faith would utterly fail.
March 5, 2008
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.