Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From Iraq to Haiti: Jesus the Terminator

Jesus must no longer recognize himself.

By now the world knows that the Bush administration turned to a militant Christian fundamentalist -- Erik Prince, the son of a major bank-roller of the right-wing Family Research Council and Focus on the Family -- for private security operations in Iraq. Prince viewed his private military firm, Blackwater, as doing the work of Christ in killing Iraqies. These modern Christian crusades must be understood in the context of the fundamentalist belief that Christ will very soon return in military triumph in the Middle East, an Armageddon for which Prince seemingly understood himself as blazing the way.

But there is more. This week another story of militant crusading Christians broke into the mainstream news: a military contractor claims that their mission is "spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ." A Michigan-based company, Trijicon, has long supplied high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. military, sights inscribed with Bible verses. Although Trijicon's actions have been known for years, until now the government has ignored this violation of church and state. The verses about Jesus, describing him as the light of the world and extolling his love, encourage U.S. service members to kill the enemy, transforming warfare into a "spiritual" mission.

For those who wish to understand why some followers of Christ believe they are called to kill and even murder fellow human beings in the name of Christ, the backstory leads (at least in part) to the Council for National Policy, a politically-influential behind-the-scenes organization comprised of well-known and powerful social conservatives, who for years have been trying to maneuver the United States down the road to Armageddon. Members of the CNP are convinced the end of the world is predestined, with a theocratic-America playing a special role in ushering in the world war to end all wars. Founded by Baptist pastor Tim LaHaye (author of the apocalyptic Left Behind book series based on a particular interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation) and bankrolled by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (founder of the Unification Church and self-declared second incarnation of Christ), members include/have included virtually all of the elite of the far right-wing movement in America, such as: James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, Edwin J. Feulner Jr (Heritage Foundation), Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Senator Trent Lott, Senator Don Nickles, former United States Attornies General Ed Meese and John Ashcroft, gun-rights activist Larry Pratt, Col. Oliver North, and philanthropist Else Prince (mother of the afore-mentioned Erik Prince).

Place these militant, crusading fundamentalist agendas against the backdrop of the current tragedy in Haiti. Council for National Policy member Pat Robertson blamed the earthquake-produced humanitarian disaster on Haiti being allied with Satan (a remark that refers to the historical presence of voodoo practices within Haiti, and that is merely the latest in a string of such Jesus-hates-you statements from Robertson and, before his death, Jerry Falwell). This week another Baptist pastor chimed in to echo Robertson.

Despite Robertson's dismissal of Haiti as a land of Satan-worshipers, many Haitians are Christians, and many earthquake survivors are relying on their faith (and here) to sustain them at a time of death, destruction and chaos. Yet amidst the narratives of Robertson's God of hate; the Terminator Jesus of military contractor Trijicon and Erik Prince's Blackwater; the easily-manipulated God of the Council For National Policy; and (conversely) the never-say-die faith of some Haitians on the scale of an Old Testament saga -- is a gaping, haunting, horrendous reminder that we live in a broken world that at any moment is only seconds away from unimaginable human death and suffering on a vast scale, and ever in need of a love and hope that transcends the brokenness.

While a camouflaged, militant 21st century Jesus may roam in the minds, hearts, corporate boardrooms, churches, and foxholes of many Christian fundamentalists who project their Christ's anger and hatred upon their present (ethnic, national, doctrinal, etc.) enemy, the biblical Jesus quietly offers his presence of love, hope and grace to all who suffer and hurt.

NOTE: Donations to the Haiti relief and recovery efforts can be made through the Baptist World Alliance and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, among other organizations.


troutbirder said...

I have no patience for the armed old Testament version of Christianity.


Yeah...the rumor is that when Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper to arm themselves with swords he instructed them to engrave Matthew X:XXXIV on them.