Friday, September 5, 2008

Do You Really Want Palin a Heartbeat from Launch Code?

For those like RWR (my faithful if somewhat confused Rightwing Reader) who embrace the fantasy that Palin is "awesome" and simultaneously claim to hate lying, let me recommend this thorough fact-check of her RNC sermon and her actual record. It's awesome and it doesn't lie.

And on this basis alone (there being many others) I would say this to Republicans out there: If you're going to vote for McSame and Palin expecting an honest, conservative, small-government, no spending, no-lobbyists, pro-America administration, my friends, you're going to be had. Again.

For anyone who hopes that McCain will bring some sanity to US foreign policy, let me share this perspective from Ottawa, our neighbor to the north.

Please keep in mind that, now that McCain has put Palin a heartbeat from launch code, this is the Armageddon mentality that you'll be putting into the White House. It's worth the read.

From today's Ottawa Citizen
5 Sep 2008 By: DAN GARDNER

God help us if political pandering to religious zealots with apocalyptic fantasies puts someone who wants the world to end with a finger on the button.

Well, God bless America. And here’s hoping the rest of us get a little of that divine pixie dust because we’ll need it if the American political class continues its descent into flaky, Bible-waving irrationality.

It is a truism that only a devout Christian who prays for miracles, believes that God’s will is done on earth, and gabbles about the wonders of his faith to anyone who will listen can become president of the United States of America and, as Americans like to say, leader of the free world. In today’s America, Thomas Jefferson — the greatest of the Founding Fathers and a man who viewed the supernatural claims of religion as nothing more than primitive superstition — would be utterly unelectable.

But someone who believes that every word of the Bible is literally true, someone who believes all who disagree will be cast into fire to be tortured forever, someone who believes the actions of the United States must be guided by scripture and prophecy, someone who believes the end of the world could come any day now and who hopes and dreams and prays it does — someone like that can be president of the United States of America, commander-in-chief of the mightiest military in human history, and the person on whose judgment the fate of the world most depends.

Oh, and someone like that can have the launch codes. God bless us, indeed. Now, whenever I write one of these little missives about the dangerous malignancy of religion, I hear from decent and rational Christians who say that they personally don’t believe the world is 6,000 years old, or that angels guide footballs into the hands of wide receivers, or that the loving Jesus will return to smite infidels and launch a thousand-year Reich. This is a caricature of my faith, they say. And they are right.

But I am not responsible for that caricature. I am merely describing what tens of millions of Americans — hundreds of millions worldwide — have made of Christianity. It is they who are responsible for embracing and promoting a system of belief that increasingly resembles a primitive, irrational, millennial death cult.

A 2002 CNN/Time poll found that 59 per cent of all Christians and 77 per cent of those described as born-again, fundamentalist or evangelical agreed that the events portrayed in the Book of Revelation would happen at some time in the future. A 1999 Newsweek poll that asked a more specific question — “Will the world end in an Armageddon battle between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist?” — found that almost half of all Christians and three-quarters of evangelicals believe human history was nothing but a round or two of midget wrestling before Jesus puts the smackdown on Satan. (That image of Jesus is actually common in much of devout America: One popular illustration portrays the Son of God as a professional wrestler.)

And what a smackdown it will be.

Jesus returned to the world with “conviction like a flame of fire” in his eyes, write Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in the Left Behind series of Christian novels. The very words of the Lord caused the blood of infidels to boil and “burst through their veins and skin. ... Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated.

Forget the hippy Jesus. This is Jesus as totalitarian maniac. The carnage of the final battle will be so awesome, LaHaye and Jenkins write, that Christians will have to drive carefully to avoid “hitting splayed and filleted bodies of men and women and horses.”

More than 60 million copies of the Left Behind books have been sold. Although it’s technically fiction, LaHaye is widely respected as a biblical scholar by evangelicals, and the authors insist their books are a literal rendering of the Revelation prophecies that will inevitably come true. And that’s how their audience reads them. “Many people have asked me,” a Christian bookstore owner told the New York Times before the final installment in the series had been published, “do you think they’ll finish the series before Christ comes?’” (Happily, they did.)

All infidels should be nervous about this stuff, but Jews have a more immediate reason to be concerned. The Armageddonists believe a mass conversion of Jews is a critical event in the chronology. Not all will see the light, of course, and Jews who insist on remaining Jewish will be filleted and splayed with the rest of us. But get enough Jews to turn in their menorahs and the End Times are on — which helps explain why so many evangelicals have a creepy interest in all things Jewish.

And that, in turn, leads to scenes like this one: A couple of Sundays ago, David Brickner, the executive director of “Jews for Jesus” — a group that proselytizes among Jews — told Pentecostals at the Wasilla Bible Church that bad things happen to people because God is punishing them.

“Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television,” Brickner said. Just look at the terrorism that plagues Israel. That’s God’s judgment. And Jews will continue to suffer it until they see the light."

As religious flakiness goes, this was modest stuff. It only came to light because, sitting in the pews that Sunday morning, was one Sarah Palin — long-time member of the Wasilla Bible Church, governor of Alaska, and Republican nominee for vice-president of the United States.

But what really makes this incident interesting is that so few Americans found it interesting. No one seems to much care that Ms. Palin belongs to the sort of church that wants to hear from “Jews for Jesus.” And the fact that her church declares the Bible “the inspired, inerrant word of God” — a conclusion presumably shared by the woman who may be the next vice-president — was apparently of no interest at all. Even the revelation that Palin herself had described both the invasion of Iraq and the construction of an oil pipeline as part of “God’s plan” garnered only a fraction of the attention lavished on the irrelevant story of her pregnant daughter and the dazed boyfriend-cum-fiancĂ© who stood on the stage of the Republican convention Wednesday night.

In a sense, it’s understandable. So someone with a good shot at the White House sat quietly and listened to a religious nut spout flaming nonsense. It’s hardly news, at least not in the sense of being novel. Quite literally everyone with a shot at the White House does the same. Routinely.

John McCain — who began his second attempt at the presidential nomination by kissing the ring of Jerry Falwell — attends a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Among its doctrines, the SBC declares the Bible “has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

All scripture. No exceptions. God’s sanction for slavery and genocide. The subordination of women? The ringing declaration in Leviticus that all homosexuals must be put to death? The eternal waterboarding that awaits anyone who disagrees? Word for word, it’s all “true and trustworthy.” The demonstrably false description of the universe and its origins in Genesis? Bang on. The technicolour lunacy in the Book of Revelation? More factual than On The Origin of Species.

The SBC is by far the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and, not surprisingly, a whole lot of Americans see things its way. One-third of respondents told Gallup they believe the Bible “is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word.” Almost two thirds said the Bible’s account of Noah’s ark is literally true. The same proportion said it is true that God created the world in six days and Moses parted the Red Sea.

And don’t think this is only a Republican thing. In 2000, it was Al Gore, not George W. Bush, who said he decides policy by asking “what would Jesus do?” and today every leading Democrat is only too happy to blather on about his very special relationship with Jesus. How much is sincere and how much calculation is impossible to say but it is astonishing that Barack Obama agreed to make his first joint appearance with John McCain a few weeks ago at the cavernous Southern Baptist church of Rick Warren — a superstar evangelical whose message is more positive than many of his kind but whose substitution of fantasy for reason is every bit as total.

Or rather, it should be astonishing. But it doesn’t seem that many of us are astonished.

And even fewer are prepared to call these beliefs what they are. Or to do whatever they can to ensure that the most powerful office on the planet is not handed to anyone who eagerly awaits the destruction of that planet.

As certainly as Thomas Jefferson would be unelectable today, he would be disgusted.

[Reprinted courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen. Emphases added throughout.]


Right Wing Reader said...

Oh how I love to hear form our Canadian friends. Nice people, but clueless on most subjects. Diamonds though - they're on to something there.

As for the McCain administration, I honestly don't expect much. As I've said before, I'm not a fan. I respect him, but we disagree on many issues. I'm more excited about the Palin years after the McCain era is done. Those will be the years where we get something meaningful done. In the mean time, I'm just focusing on the Supreme Court.

As far as religion, this is always an interesting question. I have serious reservations about Obama attending a madrasah, and his reverand Wright connection, since Wright was a former radical Muslim. But fundamentalist Christians also are of concern. Pretty much anyone who blindly follows anyone or anything absent of reason scares me. And those people are found on both sides of the aisle.

PICO said...

You might want to do some more homework, RWW, on Wright and on Obama. You're drinking the Kool-Aid.

Glad to hear you're worried about fundamentalist Christians, though.
Now, look into Palin's religious history. . . and her record in office. It'll break your heart.

messianicmatt said...

I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus. Most blogs and news services have quoted the same one paragraph of the six-page transcript of David Brickner’s message, giving the false impression that he is saying that a bulldozer attack by a deranged Palestinian is God’s judgment on the Jewish people. Please read the entire message for yourself at so that you can see Brickner’s remarks in context.

Among other things, Brickner says, “My mother always told me, ‘Be careful when you point a finger at somebody else, because there’s some pointing back at you.’ And really, Israel has not cornered the market on unbelief. Israel is an example of what all humanity has been saying to God since the beginning of time, shaking its fists at the heavens and saying, ‘You’ll not rule over us.’ And so all of the controversy that we see swirling in Jerusalem is really a mirror that the world looks in to see the controversy within . . . . It’s the dilemma of the human heart.”

Brickner is saying that without forgiveness of sins, which he (and I) believe only comes through Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, there will be judgment – not just for Jews, but for all mankind.

Please take a look at the discussion concerning Mr. Brickner’s message at the Jews for Jesus website,

PICO said...

Hello, MessianicMatt: I'm glad to post your comment, but this will not become a venue for Jews for Jesus or any other proselytizing.

Although Jews for Jesus and other Rightwingers do not offer me the same courtesy, I grant that you're free to believe whatever you like.

Your claim that salvation only comes through Jesus is offensive to me and to countless billions of God's children over time and space.

As for me, I can't fathom worshipping a God who requires the sacrifice of his son (or anyone else's child) and who creates yet ignores the "salvation" of 98% of his human creatures. I worship a bigger God who created us all in Original Blessing and who is in process with each of us at all times, and who also learns from that dialog.

Brickner's comment is the least of my concerns about Sarah Palin.