American Christian Fundamentalist Leader Calls For Global War
By Yoginder Sikand
If Christian fundamentalists are to be believed, America's invasion of Iraq and the consequent brutal slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in that country are all part of a grand divine plan that will finally culminate in the 'second coming' of Jesus Christ. Establishing an empire that will extend all over the globe, Christ will rule like a powerful monarch, saving those who believe in him and dispatching non-believers, all non-Christians and non-conformist Christians, to everlasting perdition in hell. This is no childish nonsense for millions of Christian fundamentalists, who sincerely believe this to be predicted in the Bible. Not surprisingly, American Christian fundamentalists are today among the most fanatic supporters of Bush's global imperialist wars, in Iraq and elsewhere, which they see as in keeping with the divine mandate. They are no eccentric or lunatic fringe elements, for today Christian fundamentalists exercise a powerful influence in American politics. Among them is George Bush himself, who insists that the American invasion of Iraq has been sanctioned by God, with whom he claims to be in personal communication.
While the Western press is awash with stories, real and exaggerated, about 'Islamic fundamentalists', rarely is mention made about Christian fundamentalists, who, with their vast resources and close links with the current American administration, are a potentially more menacing threat than their Muslim counterparts. According to newspaper reports more than a third of Americans are associated with one or the other Christian fundamentalist outfit, most of which are fiercely anti-Muslim and are passionate advocates of free-market capitalism, global American hegemony and the myth of the civilizing mission of white America. In recent years, these fundamentalist groups have been engaged in aggressive missionary work in other countries as well, including in the so-called 'Third World'. Fired by a passionate hatred for other religions, which they dismiss as 'false' and even 'Satanic', they are today among the most well-funded missionary groups in large parts of Asia and Africa. Crusading for Christ, these fundamentalist groups are not simply out fishing for souls. Rather, for them Christianity is only part of the agenda, which also includes aggressively promoting American and Zionist interests. Today, these groups preach not only Christ but also Pax Americana and even American-led imperialist wars, which they bless as holy causes to usher in the final arrival of Jesus.
Texas-based author and preacher Michael Evans is one of the most notorious American Christian fundamentalist preachers today, a passionate advocate of war in the name of Christ. In a recently published book, titled 'Beyond Iraq: The Next Move-Ancient Prophecy and Modern-Day Conspiracy Collide' (Whitestone Books, Florida, 2003), he spells out a grand design for American global hegemony, blessed in the guise of a holy global war. Key players in this 'divine' plot include the CIA, the American government and army, and Israel, besides various Christian fundamentalist outfits. The book is dedicated, among others, to what Evans describes as 'two old friends', Ehud Olmert, former Israeli Vice President, and the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Equally revealingly, the book begins with a quotation which graces the lobby of the original headquarters of the CIA.
Evans is no petty crank who claims to be God-possessed, although his writings might seem to suggest that. The jacket of the book describes him as a 'TIME magazine best-selling author', who has appeared on the BBC and on American television channels and who has written for such papers as the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post. He hobnobs with the highest of American and Israeli politicians and religious leaders, and is evidently taken very seriously in Christian fundamentalist circles. That Evans is also a passionate Bush-backer is amply evident in his clam that, 'I know, from a first hand, personal interview with him that Bush is a man of faith who believes in the Bible'.
Evans is the founder of the 'Jerusalem Prayer Team', which, he says, he established after having been visited by God in a vision. Among those who participated in the inauguration of his outfit were such names as Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, all notorious American Christian fundamentalist leaders, Governor Dick Perry and Representative Dick Armey, and Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister. Thousands of others in America and elsewhere, so he claims, have joined his movement in the aftermath of 11 September, 2001. His ultimate aim, he writes, is to have one million 'intercessors praying daily for the peace of Jesus and God's protection for Israel' so that 'demonic powers will be defeated by holy angels in a battle that cannot be seen with the natural eye'.
A fierce Christian Zionist, Evans has close links with the Israeli establishment. The book's jacket states that he received the 'Ambassador Award' from the government of Israel and relates that he has been 'a confidante to most of Israel's prime ministers and to both of Jerusalem's mayors'. The jacket quotes Benjamin Netanyahu as praising Evans for having 'consistently demonstrated the moral clarity that is necessary to defend Israel from the lies and distortions of its enemies'. This is no empty boast: the book contains pictures of Evans with Menachem Begin endorsing his first book, 'Israel: America's Key To Survival', praying with Shimon Peres, comforting Jewish victims of a bomb blast in Israel, launching the 'Jerusalem Prayer Team' along with Jerusalem's mayor, pledging support to Israel before Yitzhak Shamir along with half a million signatures of fellow Christians, championing Israel's cause at the royal palace in Madrid and keeping company with American soldiers in Lebanon and Somalia. *
Christianity, War and the 'Defence' of Israel
For Evans, and numerous other rabid Christian fundamentalist preachers of hate like him, one of the most crucial purposes of America's invasion of Iraq is the 'defence' of Israel, which he regards as a solemn Christian duty. If till recently Jews were routinely reviled by the Church as 'Christ-killers', and, accordingly, hounded by Christian authorities, many of today's Christian fundamentalists, like Evans, are passionate advocates of the state of Israel. This does not, however, represent any shift in their fervent belief, intrinsic to mainstream Christianity, that non-Christians, Jews included, are destined for Hell. Rather, it is part of a wider conversion agenda. Jesus, they believe, will return to the world to rule only once the Jews have 'returned' to Palestine and have rebuilt the temple of David that was destroyed almost two thousand years ago. After this momentous event, many Jews will convert to Christianity and those who refuse to will be sent to hell. Till then, Christian fundamentalists argue, the Jews and their state must be passionately defended from their 'enemies', who are invariably identified as Arabs and Muslims.
The 'defence' of Israel, a central point in the Christian fundamentalist agenda, is typically argued in racist terms. Israel, Christian fundamentalists believe, are God's 'chosen people', and they quote the Bible as making this claim, suggesting, therefore, that non-Jewish peoples are somehow lesser beings. Evans, too, makes this point and argues that according to the Bible 'God will bless those who bless Israel' and will 'curse those who curse it'. 'History records', he says, 'that God deals with nations in accordance with how those nations deal with Israel'. Hence, in the 'defence' of Israel, Christians, Evans argues, have no choice. If they are true to their faith, he says, they must join hands with America in its war for 'defending' Israel, and must 'support Israel in every possible way'. 'We must either choose Mount Zion [Jerusalem] and be among those who obey the voice of the Spirit of the Lord', he writes, 'or we will be left to the passions of our flesh, drinking the wine of her [Bablyon's or Iraq's] fornication'.
The invasion of Iraq, and the broader American 'war on terror', is, Evans says, is akin to 'divine light [.] proclaiming like a trumpet a spiritual battle of monumental proportions', pitting Babylon, the Biblical Iraq, the 'spiritual centre of darkness', against Jerusalem or contemporary Israel, the 'spiritual centre of light'. But so that this 'divine light' should spread beyond the confines of Babylon, Evans pleads for America to extend its war all over the globe, to every country that dares to challenge American supremacy and the state of Israel. This war, he says, should aim at the elimination of all 'terrorists', defined as those who refuse to support Israeli and American interests. In this, the invasion and occupation of Iraq is of vital importance, Evans says, because it will 'become a US base' to destroy 'terrorist' networks elsewhere in the Middle East and eventually to usher in what he calls 'the apocalyptic battle' of Armageddon, 'the final battles of the ages' as allegedly 'prophesied in Daniel, Jeremiah and Revelations', chapters of the Bible.
America, as Evans sees it, must be ready to sacrifice itself to protect Israel, because that, he says, is precisely what the Christian God wants. Hence, Palestinians resisting the illegal occupation of their land and all those who opposed to Israel and its imperialist and expansionist policies must be crushed with the might of American arms, he insists. The Christian God does not brook any peace with such people, he argues. The Bible, he announces, says that those who fight against Israel, God's supposedly chosen people and recipients of His 'special blessing', would be destroyed by God Himself. He quotes the Bible as declaring: 'And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet. Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets. And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths'.
Given this supposed divine backing, Evans exhorts America to invade and subjugate all countries opposed to Israel, specifically naming Lebanon, Syria and Iran. The ultimate agenda, he says, is to destroy these countries and establish what Zionists call Eretz or Greater Israel, extending to and including Iraq. This is because, Evans quotes the Bible as saying, God allegedly gave this vast stretch of land, from the Nile to the Euphrates, to Abraham and his son Isaac and his descendants, ancestors of the Jews, as a covenant and as their 'everlasting possession'. Echoing hardliner Zionists, Evans insists that there can be no peace with the Palestinians at any cost, because, he claims, the Christian God is opposed to this. If Israel and America are to faithfully abide by the Christian God's will, he says, they must not let anything get in the way of the establishment of Eretz Israel. Thus, various peace proposals that involve any territorial concessions on the part of Israel are ruled out. This is because, as Evans alleges, God has given the entire territory to the Jews till eternity.
Christianity and the New Anti-Muslim Crusade
As for the Arabs and Muslims more generally, Evans seems to suggest that the Christian God desires that they be humiliated, subjugated and crushed. Thus, he quotes the Bible as saying that while God specially blessed Isaac and his descendants, the Jews, he had a different plan in mind for the Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's other son. Referring to Ishmael Evans quotes the Bible as saying, 'He will be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man and every man's hand against him'. This racist stereotype, so deeply rooted in traditional Christian discourse about Muslims, is held by Evans to be what he calls 'a fitting description of the Arab terrorist' and, presumably, as justifying the annihilation of the Arab people, as well as other Muslims. Evans goes so far in vilifying Arabs and Muslims as to call Muhammad a proto-terrorist, alleging that he had banished and killed Jews for not believing in him. 'Terrorism', he claims, is a logical consequence of Islam, and he argues that 'Muhammad set a sordid example for his present-day disciples, the Qadafis, Khomeinis, Arafats and bin Ladens and Husseins of this world'. Claiming knowledge of the unseen, he even announces that Islam is 'a malevolent manifestation of a religion conceived in the pit of hell'.
Evans thus equates Islam with the forces of the 'Anti-Christ', against whom he appeals to Christians to marshal all the resources at their command. Ironically, while spewing hatred and calling for a global war, he presents Christianity as peace-loving, contrasting it with Islam, which he equates with 'terrorism'. 'Christianity differs from Islam as day differs from night', he claims, completely unmindful of the sordid and blood-soaked history of the faith he claims to champion. In the same breath as he issues a general summons to Christians to wage war in the name of their faith he refers to the Bible as instructing Christians to 'turn the other cheek' when slapped, in order to argue that, unlike Christianity, Islam is an inherently vile religion, equating it with what he terms 'the law of the bullet, militancy, treachery, terrorism and violence'.
Christianity, America and Oil
Christian fundamentalists are ardent advocates of free-market capitalism, having played a key role in America's war against communism during the Cold War. Christ, capitalism and American supremacy go together, Evans believes, and so, while announcing that an American-spearheaded global war is precisely what Christ mandates, he approvingly quotes Isser Harel, founder of the Israeli secret services' organization Mossad, who speaks of the 'terror' threat to America's 'freedom', 'capitalism' and 'power', and exhorts America to take appropriate defence measures. Evans goes so far as to advise the America to capture all the oil wealth in Arab lands in order to prevent 'terrorists' from using oil wealth to target Israel, home to God's supposedly 'special people'. A more ingenuous excuse to justify American greed could hardly be devised!
Since Muslims, especially the Arabs, are branded virtually as agents of the Devil, Evans argues that America, as self-appointed agent of Christ, should have no qualms about invading oil-rich Arab lands. This would, he says, break America's dependence on Muslim countries for oil which. If America seizes all Arab oil-fields, it would, he says, sharply reduce oil prices, forcing Muslim countries 'to their knees', giving them only two options: 'cooperate with the war on terror or go bankrupt'. At the same time as he exhorts America to invade and occupy all the countries, no matter what the human cost, Evans warns that it should not be serious about its rhetoric of exporting 'democracy' to the Middle East, for, he argues, it would lead to anti-American and anti-Israeli Islamists taking over.
Invasion of Iraq and the Ushering in of Global Christendom and Pax-Americana
Evans sees America's invasion and occupation of Iraq as the unfolding of a divine plan for the world. It is not nothing less than what he calls a grand 'spiritual battle', between Christianity and Satanic forces and 'demons', as represented by Muslims and other non-Christians. Accordingly, he fervently welcomes America's invasion of Iraq and pleads that America should expand the theatre of war by invading various other, mostly Muslim, countries.
The murder and destruction that America has wrought in Iraq is nothing to grieve about, Evans seems to suggest. It is a price, he argues, that God is supposedly exacting from Muslims for having been 'coerced' by Satan to 'loathe' the Jews, 'God's Chosen People'. It is also a divine punishment, he says, for Iraq having allegedly possessing 'deadly chemical, biological or nuclear weapons', echoing the bogus claim made by Bush, Blair and their henchmen which they used to justify their invasion of that country. Weak-hearted Christians who might disagree are advised to all in line, for, Evans says, this is precisely what the Bible predicts and what God mandates. 'I will raise against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, for she has sinned against God', the Jewish prophet Jeremiah is said to have announced, and Evans takes this as evidence of his claim that the American invasion of Iraq is demanded by God and that all America is doing is to faithfully follow God's will.
Iraq, the Biblical Babylon, Evans insists, represents the forces of Satan, and hence deserves to be crushed by America, God's agent, through invasion and war. 'Babylon is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication', he quotes the Bible as saying. 'I will rise up against them [.] I will cut off from Babylon her name and survivors, her offspring and descendants [.] I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland. I will sweep her with the broom of destruction', Evans quotes the Biblical God as having declared. He marshals other Biblical verses to press the argument about Iraq being allegedly inherently 'evil' and hence deserving harsh repression at American hands. Eve and Adam are said to have committed the 'first sin' there; it was in Iraq that occult and astrology were invented; Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conquered Israel and enslaved the Jews; the Babylonians built the Tower of Babel, thereby defying God by trying to reach heaven without His permission; and the Bible describes Babylon as the 'seat' of the Anti-Christ and the 'Beast', the 'seat of Satan's evil', in contrast to Jerusalem, the 'seat of God's righteousness', against whom it is destined to be pitted in the final battle that will usher in Jesus' 'second coming'.
In all, then, Evan argues, America is simply acting as the Christian God's handmaiden in wreaking destruction and death in Iraq. Instead of being blamed or castigated for this, he argues, it should be praised. This destruction is Biblically mandated, he repeats, for the Bible has announced that, 'Babylon, the great, has fallen and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird [.] Therefore, her plague will come in one day-death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire [.] Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down and shall not be found anymore'.
But this terrible destruction in Iraq is only the beginning of a bloody trail of events mandated by a supposedly blood-thirsty and vengeful God. According to Evans' reading of the Bible, the American invasion of Iraq is what he calls 'the dress-rehearsal' for the grand global battle of Armageddon between the forces of Christ and Satan. Prior to this battle, he quotes the Bible as saying, 'demons and spirits' bound up in the Euphrates in Iraq will be released, and, with an army of 200 million, will kill off a third of the world's total inhabitants through nuclear war. This grand battle, Evans writes, is not far off. Hence, he appeals to Christians to 'put on the armour of God' and 'engage in spiritual battle'. Now, is the time, he says, to prepare for the impending return of Christ. Presumably, after Iraq is destroyed through the agency of the Americans, Christ will suddenly appear in Jerusalem and establish his global empire, ushering in the end of the world as we know it.
Horrendous as Evans' views are, they do find a powerful echo in Christian fundamentalist circles today, more so given their growing influence in policy-making circles in the West, particularly in America. If the world is to be saved from the Armageddon that Evans and his ilk are bent on calling down from the heavens it is imperative that Western imperialism and Christian fundamentalism be interrogated, challenged and opposed, particularly by sincere Christians themselves.