Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell…
Is the best of the free life behind us now…
Are the good times really over for good?
— Merle Haggard
"For thou are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee. The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the Lord abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men."
— David, Psalms 5:4
On Memorial Day, George W. Bush, the world’s most bloodthirsty and deceitful man, strutted to the podium at our National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to once again regurgitate his woefully shallow and inappropriate stump speech: "Across the globe (sly smile), our military is standing directly between our people and the worst dangers in the world (pause, smirk)…the war on terror has brought great costs (no-nonsense head bob)…two terror regimes are gone forever (narrowed eyes darting nervously back and forth across the crowd), freedom is on the march (leaning forward earnestly), and America is more secure."
Unfazed by plummeting poll numbers at home or spiraling fatality numbers abroad, Bush remarked with shudderingly bad taste that all headstones look alike — a Texan’s crude way of saying, "You seen one skull orchard, you seen ’em all," and announced with devilish arrogance that his mission remains unchanged — he has the terrorists on the run and he isn’t going to stop until he has spread God’s gifts of freedom and democracy and liberty and neat stuff like that throughout the world. His will will never be broken. His mission is God’s mission; together, he and God will rid the world of evil. On behalf of God, Bush said he ‘preciates folks dyin’ for the cause. Heck, he even honors ’em.
They applauded him. It was astonishing. They applauded, when they should have been wailing in anguish while collapsing under an unbearable sense of national loss. But no. Grinning like cartoon caricatures, they applauded an in-your-face war criminal — a great deceiver who is openly intent on destroying everything that is, or ever was, good in their lives. Bush’s mission will be over when the good times are over; when they’re over for good — when all that remains is broken. Broken families. Broken bodies. Broken societies. Broken cultures. Broken hearts. Broken world.
Where are the Christians? Where is the revulsion at Bush roaming freely on hallowed ground while belching out lies and deceit that have caused the slaughter of 1,942 coalition troops — 1,752 of them American — more than 18,000 wounded or maimed; 10,000 stricken with lifelong disease? Where is the raw horror that Christians should feel for a charlatan who boasts that he is on a mission from God — a mission to rule over a world of hate and lies and fear and death and disease?
You’d think the souls of true Christians would surely shrivel when a man who claims Jesus Christ as his "philosopher" murders hundreds of thousands of innocents, abuses and tortures hundreds, maybe even thousands, more and then raises blood-stained fists — shakes them in the face of the Almighty, and shouts, "Thou Fool!" You’d think, as a minimum, Christians would remember who in the Bible is known as the "Great Deceiver." You’d think. But alas…
Actually, people who claim to speak to, as well as for, God are everywhere. Most are Republicans, members of the Christian Reconstructionist Movement whose lust for power and obsession with Biblical control extends beyond the wildest fantasies of the most radical evangelical. With flags in one hand and Bibles in the other, they are militant, intolerant, boastful — eaten up with messianic hubris. They proudly call themselves "people of faith," and are brazenly committed to religion, but their religion is politics and vice versa. They’re the God people — George Bush’s voting base. Ironically, followers of Jesus are awakening to find themselves in the midst of religious plenty, yet are literally dying of thirst, much like the lone sailor in Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner who was surrounded by water but dared not drink. They are discovering it is dangerous for Christian love to be surrounded by religious hate.
I wonder if Americans know just how close to the abyss we really are. I hate to sound yet another terror warning, but if we were in theological Vietnam, we’d be in deep, deep spiritual kimche. Bush is the perfect pawn for the Reconstructionists. He owes them, big time, and he’s paying them back at dizzying and destructive speed. Never has a more bloodthirsty and vengeful bully so devoid of reason and sanity been given universal free rein to act out his incorrigible delusions. Bush believes — has been led to believe — that he has been commissioned by God to slay all those whom he fantasizes might someday oppose him — and to justify the slaughter by brandishing the double-edged sword of freedom and liberty.
As early as 1994, Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Democracy and Theocracy, warned Americans about the fundie-fascist danger in a critical, in depth article on Christian Reconstructionists.
If they need proof, Bush’s "freedom-loving Americans" would do well to listen to the mad ravings of Gary North, one of the more frightening Reconstructionist shepherds, who is determined to place people of faith in every political office, in every schoolroom, every church, and in every societal nook and cranny in order to "gain exclusive control over the American franchise." North, from Tyler, Texas, says, "Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant — baptism and holy communion — must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel."
It is not by chance that Reconstructionists are Republicans or that their crusade against Democrats and all things liberal mirrors that of Bush’s jihad against the Muslim world. Clarkson cites Reconstructionist theologian David Chilton, who very succinctly describes the movement’s mission — "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God’s law."
Nobody has worked harder nor longer to bring this madness to fruition than Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson. For him, the "rule of God’s law" does not extend to Liberals and there’s no place for gays to hide in a Robertson world. He believes that homosexuals have nothing better to do than to "come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."
And, if you’re a Democrat, chances are if Robertson and the Reconstructionists have their way, you’re going to get your ass kicked. "The strategy against the American Radical Left should be the same as General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific," Robertson said. "…Bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate them, bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with hand-to-hand combat…"
Sound like a plan?
Well, listen up, because it gets better. Christian Reconstructionists soar into a divine frenzy at the mere thought of capital punishment. Those of us who do not see things their way will very quickly turn into collateral damage. Clarkson says Reconstructionists "call for the death penalty for a wide range of crimes in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder. Death is also the punishment for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."
Like Bush, who stolidly refuses to accept blame for his actions, the Reconstructionists believe that both men and nations must obey God’s laws or God must invoke the death penalty against them. According to North, women who have abortions should be publicly executed, "along with those who advised them to abort their children." But, not to worry. Theocracies, according to theologian Rev. Ray Sutton, are "happy" places to which people flock because "capital punishment is one of the best evangelistic tools of a society."
Clarkson said the Biblically approved methods of execution include burning at the stake, stoning, hanging, and "the sword." So, if you slap your mama or do the "wild thang" before the wedding, a "person of faith" will be happy to behead you… But North says not to worry. He prefers stoning because, among other things, stones are cheap, plentiful, and convenient. Punishments for non-capital crimes generally involve whipping, restitution in the form of indentured servitude, or slavery. Prisons would likely be only temporary holding tanks, prior to imposition of the actual sentence.
In April, Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine addresed this problem at a Lewisville rally. Wallis said, "Those on the Religious Right are declaring a religious war to give their version of faith religious supremacy in America. And some members of the Republican Party seem ready almost to declare a Christian theocracy in America. It is time," Wallis said firmly, "to take back both our faith and our Constitution."
I agree, but how do we do this? Many of us are weary of feeling like we’re the last person standing — sloshing around in a Stepford world of hate and fear and blood — where every man, woman and child we meet has "9-11" tattooed on their foreheads, and they don’t even know it.
What can we tell them that is more horrible than what Christians have already accepted without question — lies, treason, deceit, abuse and torture, body parts of innocents littering the landscape, the slaughter of their own children, and freedom ebbing away? If we tell them what the Great Deceiver and his Christian Reconstructionist God have in store for them, will they continue to stare at us vacantly while waving their flags? Or, when they see that our foreheads do not proclaim the patriotic "9-11," will they skitter fearfully into the shadows?
We have a choice. We can either take our places in line at the tattoo parlor or we can grab a taser in each hand and start walking cross-country, kicking doors down and jolting folks awake. It may already be too late, but before this vast herd of comatose sheep goes plodding blindly over the edge of the cliff; before they pull the rest of us into the morass with them, we have earned the right to see one last collective shock of recognition — a final terrified realization that they know the good times are over — really over for good.
And they will know, at long last, it didn’t have to be this way.