Not for a moment do I accept that religion is the cause of all wars, but only an imbecile would imagine that religious groups do not have the power to ignite one. Religious faith in all its forms throughout human history has manifested itself, as it does even today, as a mighty cultural and political force. The activism of religious people, in their tens of thousands, ended slavery in the United States, put the British out of India, and tore down the structures of Apartheid in South Africa. Misguided, and driven by hatred, religious ideologies have led to the most atrocious oppression, repression, and war. Unlike any other social, political, or economic movement, religious movements have continually shaped history; forming and dismantling kingdoms, peoples, and nations.

As the most influential voting bloc in the most powerful and most aggressive democracy in the world, Christian Zionism is a movement to watch. Its preachers are firebrands matched only by the most fearsome Islamic extremists who advance a prophetic vision of the future – predicted by a distorted and literalistic reading of the Bible – where their ‘saviour’ comes again only after the Jews have returned to Israel and they and every other unbeliever on earth has been obliterated in a nuclear holocaust. Many Jewish people and Zionists, in Israel and around the world, have found in this Christian movement an uncomfortable political expedience – “Israel’s most hate friend.” Jews and Zionists who reject it call it a new form Christian antisemitism, and it is. In August 2006 the leaders of the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches in Jerusalem said:

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
~ Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

Re-presenting apocalyptic biblical texts as a blue print of the future would be a benign expression of obscurantism were it not for the reach and connections of Christian Zionism at the heart of the United States’ political system. Listen to this, admittedly captivating, sermon by Pastor John Hagee, a figure who boasts an audience of some ten million people. His is not a faith in a humiliated messiah, or in the Jesus who taught love, forgiveness, and peace. Instead he preaches a counter-Christ, perhaps an anti-Christ – a superman Jesus of war and vengeance.

In the full version of this address Hagee launches into a tirade against Islam, the Islamic World, and Iran in particular. Not only does he read the modern State of Israel in the Bible, he also reads in it the Islamic Republic of Iran. His hearers are left under no illusions that both Iran and the religion of Islam are agents of hell and the devil in his revenge fantasy theology. What is most frightening is the fact that Hagee and others like him have the ear of Washington foreign policy makers, and numerous Israeli Prime Ministers have courted their favour. With 26% of the US electorate behind them there are few people who would run for public office without seeking their blessing. Nuclear weapons may be fired again in the future, and if they are the nightmare may well be a self-fulfilled prophecy.

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