The suggestion that a fringe religious fanatic in the United States could pressure the White House into war, even a nuclear war, is laughable. It’s not worth taking seriously until we get some insight into the influence of Christian Zionism on Capitol Hill.

Religious lunacy is nothing new. We’ve all heard those people in the city centre with their boom boxes and pamphlets roaring at passers-by about their sinfulness and need for redemption. Sadly many of these people are sincere and well-meaning, but the fanaticism of their message often betrays their real lack of critical thought and perspective. Ordinary Christians find this behaviour a deep source of embarrassment in a world where this psychotic rhetoric and appalling theology is increasingly used as a weapon against the mainstream of religious ethical and moral debate in the public arena. As much as this is embarrassing for many Christians and a perfect nuisance to everyone else, this is the harmless face of Christianity’s lunatic fringe.

Our lunatic fringe – supposing we do indeed count them as fellow Christians – has a far more disturbing and dangerous face; that of politicised Christian Zionism. According to the Pew Research Centre some 52.8 million US white Evangelical Christians identify themselves as Christian Zionists, the most politically influential voter bloc in the United States. Central to their faith and their political practice is their uncritical and unconditional support for the State of Israel. What this means in terms of pure demographics is that there are almost four times as many Christian Zionists in the US than there are Jews in the world, and over eight times as many as there are Jews in Israel.

Well-connected and politically influential Christian Zionist leaders like John Hagee routinely advocate that the United States launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran in order to “defend” Israel. It’s craziness, for sure, but their ability to force the White House to act has an impressive proven track record. Accounting for over ten percent of the US electorate, the largest single constituency of the Republican Party, and with significant influence on a further thirty-five percent of the electorate (of mainstream Christian denominations), Christian Zionists have had remarkable success in shaping US foreign policy towards Israel and in the Middle East.

That no small number of presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, and junior, have identified as Christian Zionists does little to put our minds at peace. This is a religious and political ideology that espouses injustice and war over justice and peace, and it has gone largely under the radar when it comes to the media’s discussion on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the politics of the Middle East. Why aren’t we talking about it more? Two reasons: Considering the influence of Christian Zionists at the highest levels of US politics it is no shock that wheels turning within wheels keep it from the news cycles, and, secondly, talking about it would mean talking about “religion.” Secular news media does not waste much time on Christianity.

Hagee on Iran Deal: Final Blood Moon a Divine Warning

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