1. If you refer to the NIV translation of the Bible as “the Not Inspired Version“…

2. If you refuse to allow people to stamp your hand at amusement parks…

3. If you think women who wear short-sleeve t-shirts are “scantily-clad”…

4. If you believe donating money to bring Jews back to Israel is missionary work…

5. If you ever found yourself alone in the house as a child and feared you had missed the Rapture…

6. If you both know who Patch the Pirate is and like him

7. If you boycott Disney theme parks and movies but still watch ABC or ESPN…

8. If you consider Christians who don’t believe in a 7-year Tribulation to be liberals…

9. If you consider John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey, and C. I. Scofield the top three theologians of the 20th century…

10. If you fear that mixed bathing may lead to dancing…

Then you might be a Christian Fundamentalist.

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“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. `What do you mean?’ the media challenged me. `You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, `Yes, they are.'” –from Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order,” page 218.

“You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don’t have to be nice to them.”–Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Pat Robertson, fundraising letter, 1992

“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.”–Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club,” 1/8/92

“There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore.” –Pat Robertson, November 1993 during an address to the American Center for Law and Justice

“Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals–the two things seem to go together.”–Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club,” 1/21/93

This statement is grossly incorrect. Suffice to say, it is a historical fact that the Nazis killed homosexuals as ruthlessly as they did Jews.

From Jerry Falwell’s website www.falwell.com

Falwell Confidential: America Still Trusts in God

This Sunday, February 25, I will preach a very unusual sermon.  My topic: global warming.

This may seem a strange, possibly even unnecessary, subject to some.  But I believe the Church must quickly get serious about denouncing the accelerating effort to promote the alleged catastrophic human-caused global warming.

This is especially true since some members of the evangelical community have recently aligned themselves with radical voices within the global warming movement.  I see this as unnecessary and, worse, dangerous.

Now, I’m certainly not a scientist.  But if one looks past the superficial reporting of the mainstream media and examines the many alternative scientific views on global warming, it is apparent that the earth frequently experiences warming and cooling trends.  It appears to me — and I have been intently studying this subject — that we are now in a warming trend.

But many world scientists are preaching sermons that adamantly insist that man is the cause of recent warming trends.  They urge that America sign on to the Kyoto Treaty, which would compel America to self-impose exorbitant policies for cutting back on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The treaty, which many are urging America to sign, would immediately cost America an estimated $325 billion, according to Yale University ’s William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer.  That’s a lot of money to spend on halting an unproven theory.

Meanwhile, Russia , India , China and Third World nations will not be required to sign on the dotted line.

Jack Langer, journalist and book editor for Regnery Publishing, recently wrote, “The real motives behind the entire global-warming hysteria are equally opaque. It surely isn’t science — Timothy Ball, the first Canadian Ph.D. in climatology, recently called global warming ‘the greatest deception in the history of science.’  Plenty of scientific research bears this out, from Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ to the newly released ‘Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years’ by physicist Fred Singer and economist Dennis Avery.”

The problem is that global warming has become a trendy issue of limousine liberals and
Hollywood elitists, and the media is promoting it as virtual, if not substantive, fact.

Never mind that in November, for the second consecutive month, temperatures across the continental U.S. were cooler-than-average, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center .  We wouldn’t want facts like that to get in the way of a global warming political movement, would we!

The media frequently notes that the Union of Concerned Scientists is leading the charge to confront the out-of-control global warming advance.  These scientists were recently described by writer Dennis Byrne as the “inexhaustibly liberal and self-appointed guardians of scientific purity [who] try to corrupt science for its own ends.”

But in today’s media, the Union is depicted as heroes of a just cause, tellers of truth in a war against evil American companies who want to destroy the world.

National Review Editor Rich Lowry recently reported: “Shock tactics inevitably mean simplifying in an area of unimaginable complexity.  No one knows how to create a reliable model of the planet’s climate, and inconvenient anomalies muddy the story line of the warming zealots.  From 1940 to 1975, the global temperature fell even as CO2 emissions rose.  Since 2001, global temperatures have only gone up a statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees Celsius.  And in recent years, the oceans have actually gotten cooler.”

In other words, there’s no need to panic.

Further, there’s no need for the Church of Jesus Christ to be wasting its time gullibly falling for all of this global warming hocus pocus.  We need to give our total focus to the business of reaching this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and stop running down meaningless rabbit trails that get our focus off of our heavenly purpose.

FundamentalistWatch note:

Want Global Warming Info from scientists? See: www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

What are mainstrean Christians saying about the environment and Christian stewardship of creation? See: www.nccecojustice.org

by Chip Berlet

In a September 1994 plenary speech to the Christian Coalition national convention, Rev. D. James Kennedy said that “true Christian citizenship” involves an active engagement in society to “take dominion over all things as vice-regents of God.” Kennedy’s remarks were reported in February 1995 by sociologist and journalist Sara Diamond, who wrote that Kennedy had “echoed the Reconstructionist line.”

More than anyone else, it was Sara Diamond who popularized the use of the term “dominionism” to describe a growing political tendency in the Christian Right. It is a useful term that has, unfortunately, been used in a variety of ways that are neither accurate nor useful. Diamond was careful to discuss how the small Christian Reconstructionist theological movement had helped introduce “dominionism” as a concept into the larger and more diverse social/political movements called the Christian Right.

Dominionism is therefore a tendency among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that encourages them to not only be active political participants in civic society, but also seek to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from God.

This highly politicized concept of dominionism is based on the Bible’s text in Genesis 1:26:

• “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (King James Version).

• “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” (New International Version).

The vast majority of Christians read this text and conclude that God has appointed them stewards and caretakers of Earth. As Sara Diamond explains, however, some Christian read the text and believe, “that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns–and there is no consensus on when that might be.” That, in a nutshell, is the idea of “dominionism.”

Just because some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point does not mean we should abandon the term. And while it is true that few participants in the Christian Right Culture War want a theocracy as proposed by the Christian Reconstructionists, many of their battlefield Earth commanders are leading them in that direction. And a number of these leaders have been influenced by Christian Reconstructionism, which is a variant of theocracy called theonomy.

William Martin is the author of the 1996 tome With God on Our Side, a companion volume to the PBS series. Martin is a sociologist and professor of religion at Rice University, and he has been critical of the way some critics of the Christian Right have tossed around the terms “dominionism” and “theocracy.” Martin has offered some careful writing on the subject. According to Martin:

“It is difficult to assess the influence of Reconstructionist thought with any accuracy. Because it is so genuinely radical, most leaders of the Religious Right are careful to distance themselves from it. At the same time, it clearly holds some appeal for many of them. One undoubtedly spoke for others when he confessed, ‘Though we hide their books under the bed, we read them just the same.’ ”

According to Martin, “several key leaders have acknowledged an intellectual debt to the theonomists. Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy have endorsed Reconstructionist books.”

Before he died in 2001, the founder of Christian Reconstuctionism, R. J. Rushdoony, appeared several times on Christian Right televangelist programs such as Pat Robertson’s 700 Club and the program hosted by D. James Kennedy, writes Martin.

“Pat Robertson makes frequent use of ‘dominion’ language” says Martin, “his book, The Secret Kingdom, has often been cited for its theonomy elements; and pluralists were made uncomfortable when, during his presidential campaign, he said he ‘would only bring Christians and Jews into the government,’ as well as when he later wrote, ‘There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world.’ “

Martin also points out that “Jay Grimstead, who leads the Coalition on Revival, which brings Reconstructionists together with more mainstream evangelicals, has said, ‘I don’t call myself [a Reconstructionist],’ but ‘A lot of us are coming to realize that the Bible is God’s standard of morality . . . in all points of history . . . and for all societies, Christian and non-Christian alike. . . . It so happens that Rushdoony, Bahnsen, and North understood that sooner.’ He added, ‘There are a lot of us floating around in Christian leadership James Kennedy is one of them-who don’t go all the way with the theonomy thing, but who want to rebuild America based on the Bible.'”

So let’s choose our language carefully, but let’s recognize that terms such as “dominionism” and “theocracy,” when used cautiously and carefully, are appropriate when describing anti-democratic tendencies in the Christian Right.

“Dominionism” as a Term or Description

The term “dominionism” is used different ways by different people. When new terms are developed, that is to be expected. If we are to use words and phrases to discuss ideas, however, it pays to be on the same page concerning how we define those terms. This is especially true in public debates.

In her 1989 book Spiritual Warfare, sociologist Sara Diamond discussed how dominionism as an ideological tendency in the Christian Right had been significantly influenced by Christian Reconstructionism. Over the past 20 years the leading proponents of Christian Reconstructionism and dominion theology have included Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, Gary DeMar, and Andrew Sandlin.

Diamond explained that “the primary importance of the [Christian Reconstructionist] ideology is its role as a catalyst for what is loosely called ‘dominion theology.'” According to Diamond, “Largely through the impact of Rushdoony’s and North’s writings, the concept that Christians are Biblically mandated to ‘occupy’ all secular institutions has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right.” (italics in the original).

In a series of articles and book chapters Diamond expanded on her thesis. She called Reconstructionism “the most intellectually grounded, though esoteric, brand of dominion theology,” and observed that “promoters of Reconstructionism see their role as ideological entrepreneurs committed to a long-term struggle.”

So Christian Reconstructionism was the most influential form of dominion theology, and it influenced both the theological concepts and political activism of white Protestant conservative evangelicals mobilized by the Christian Right.

But very few evangelicals have even heard of dominion theology, and fewer still embrace Christian Reconstructionism. How do we explain this, especially since our critics are quick to point it out?

The answer lies in teasing apart the terminology and how it is used.

Christian Reconstructionism is a form of theocratic dominion theology. Its leaders challenged evangelicals across a wide swath of theological beliefs to engage in a more muscular and activist form of political participation. The core theme of dominion theology is that the Bible mandates Christians to take over and “occupy” secular institutions.

A number of Christian Right leaders read what the Christian Reconstructionists were writing, and they adopted the idea of taking dominion over the secular institutions of the United States as the “central unifying ideology” of their social movement. They decided to gain political power through the Republican Party.

This does not mean most Christian Right leaders became Christian Reconstructionists. It does mean they were influenced by dominion theology. But they were influenced in a number of different ways, and some promote the theocratic aspects more militantly than others.

It helps to see the terms dominionism, dominion theology, and Christian Reconstructionism as distinct and not interchangeable. While all Christian Reconstructionists are dominionists, not all dominionists are Christian Reconstructionists.

In its generic sense, dominionism is a very broad political tendency within the Christian Right. It ranges from soft to hard versions in terms of its theocratic impulse.

Soft Dominionists are Christian nationalists. They believe that Biblically-defined immorality and sin breed chaos and anarchy. They fear that America’s greatness as God’s chosen land has been undermined by liberal secular humanists, feminists, and homosexuals. Purists want litmus tests for issues of abortion, tolerance of gays and lesbians, and prayer in schools. Their vision has elements of theocracy, but they stop short of calling for supplanting the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Hard Dominionists believe all of this, but they want the United States to be a Christian theocracy. For them the Constitution and Bill of Rights are merely addendums to Old Testament Biblical law. They claim that Christian men with specific theological beliefs are ordained by God to run society. Christians and others who do not accept their theological beliefs would be second-class citizens. This sector includes Christian Reconstructionists, but it has a growing number of adherents in the leadership of the Christian Right.

It makes more sense to reserve the term “dominion theology” to describe specific theological currents, while using the term “dominionism” in a generic sense to discuss a tendency toward aggressive political activism by Christians who claim they are mandated by God to take over society. Even then, we need to locate the subject of our criticisms on a scale that ranges from soft to hard versions of dominionism.

Different Sectors

Crafting an appropriate response depends on what sector of the Christian Right we are criticizing:

Christian Conservatives – They play by the rules of a democratic republic, and so our response should be to develop better ideas and carry out better grassroots organizing campaigns.

Christian Nationalists – They erode pluralism, and we must defend separation of church and state, but also engage in a discussion of the legitimate boundaries when religious beliefs intersect with participation in a secular civil society.

Christian Theocrats – They want to replace democracy with an authoritarian theocratic society run by a handful of Christian men. They seek to supersede the Constitution and Bill of Rights with Old Testament Biblical law. We must oppose them and not give an inch in our defense of democracy against theocracy.

In the Christian Right, more leaders than followers have consciously embraced dominionist ideas. The tendency toward a “dominionist impulse,” however, has continued to become more widespread since the 1970s, making a discussion of theocracy not only legitimate, but necessary. Conscious or unconscious–dominionism is a real threat to democracy.

Generic Dominionism and Specific Dominion Theologies

Author Bruce Barron warned of a growing “dominionist impulse” among evangelicals in his 1992 book Heaven on Earth? The Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology. Barron, with a Ph.D. in American religious history, is also an advocate of Christian political participation, and has worked with conservative Christian evangelicals and elected officials. Barron is smart, courteous, and not someone you would debate without doing a whole boatload of homework. Disrespect him at your own risk.

I have discussed the Christian Right with Sara Diamond, William Martin, and Bruce Barron. The first three essays in this series are based on their work, reflecting a broad range of political and spiritual viewpoints. Along with my colleague Frederick Clarkson, it is authors Diamond, Barron, and Martin who built a firm foundation for the use of the terms dominionism and dominion theology.

Barron is worried by the aggressive, intolerant, and confrontational aspects of dominion theology; and is especially concerned that these ideas have seeped into the broader Christian evangelical community. Dominion theology is not a version of Christianity with which Barron is comfortable.

In his book, Barron looks at two theological currents: Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now, and explains that “Many observers have grouped them together under the more encompassing rubric of ‘dominion theology.'” Christian Reconstructionism evolved out of the writings of R.J. Rushdoony; while Kingdom Now theology emerged from the ministry of Earl Paulk.

“While differing from Reconstructionism in many ways, Kingdom Now shares the belief that Christians have a mandate to take dominion over every area of life,” explains Barron. And it is just this tendency that has spread through evangelical Protestantism, resulting in the emergence of “various brands of ‘dominionist’ thinkers in contemporary American evangelicalism,” according to Barron.

The distinction is crucial. Dominion theology (Christian Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now, and a handful of smaller theologies), has generated a variety of versions or “brands” of “dominionism” adopted by a number of leaders in the Christian Right who would not describe themselves as “dominionist;” and most certainly would reject the theological tenets promulgated by a “dominion theology” such as Christian Reconstructionism.

Beginning in the 1960s, and gathering force in the 1970s, the “dominionist impulse” rode along a wave of discontent among evangelicals and fundamentalists. They were upset with secular society, especially federal court decisions and government legislation and regulations they felt intruded too far into the personal–and religious–life. Their concern over social, cultural, and political issues involving pornography, school prayer, abortion, and homosexuality prompted participation in national elections since the 1970s.

This social movement of conservative Christian evangelicals was mobilized by the Christian Right, who joined with ultraconservative political operatives to take over the Republican Party. In this coalition, there are a wide variety of theological tendencies and disputes that are temporarily set aside in favor of organizing to achieve a specific political agenda. This coalition also sets aside disputes over how the End Times of biblical prophecy play out. This means that the primarily “postmillennialist” Christian Reconstructionists work on projects with the primarily “premillennialist” evangelical constituency of the Christian Right.

Open advocates of dominionism declare that “America is a Christian Nation,” and that therefore Christians have a God-given mandate to re-assert Christian control over political, social, and cultural institutions. Yet many dominionists stop short of staking out a position that could be called theocratic. This is the “soft” version of dominionism.

The “hard” version of dominionism is explicitly theocratic or “theonomic,” as the Christian Reconstructionists prefer to be called. For America, it is a distinction without a difference. According to Barron, “Unlike the Christian Right, Reconstructionism is not simply or primarily a political movement; it is first and foremost an educational movement fearlessly proclaiming an ideology of total world transformation.” Barron also “observed a discomforting triumphalism within dominion theology, especially its takeover rhetoric.” In this usage, “triumphalism” simply means when it comes to religions belief, it’s my way or the highway. One God, one religion, one folk, one nation–a Christian Nation–love it or leave it.

Barron notes that Christian Reconstructionism has “intellectual substance, internal coherence, and heavy dependence on Scripture,” and this has helped “Reconstructionist philosophy win a hearing in many sectors of the Christian Right.” For example, Barron found the “idea of Christian dominion, though with less emphasis on biblical law, has been echoed within the Charismatic movement, that segment of American Christianity identified by its free-spirited, demonstrative worship and its practice of spiritual gifts such as tongue speaking and prophecy.”

One well-known Charismatic preacher is Pat Robertson, who reaches millions of viewers weekly through his “700 Club” television program. “Robertson’s explicit emphasis on the need to restore Christians to leadership roles in American society mirrors what” Barron called, “a dominionist impulse in contemporary evangelicalism.”

Who is a dominionist?

Barron argued that “in the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.”

Around World War II it was the sentiment of many evangelical Protestants in the United States that they needed to find a way to co-exist with an increasingly pluralistic society, and thus they began to self-identify as “evangelicals” to distinguish themselves from the more doctrinaire and intolerant wing of “fundamentalism.”

Barron believes that the “all-encompassing agenda” of the dominionists “puts them at odds with those more moderate evangelicals who work for social change yet still affirm the pluralistic nature of a society in which all ideas–be they Christian or anti-Christian, derived from or opposed to biblical law–have an equal right to be heard and to compete for public acceptance.”

So evangelicals can work for conservative social change without being “dominionist,” and some can be our allies in building broad opposition to dominionism as an impulse in the Christian Right. This is aided in part by an intractable contradiction among practitioners of hard forms of dominion theology.

As Sara Diamond explains, ultimately, “Dominionist thinking precludes coalitions between believers and unbelievers….” This creates an irresolvable contradictory tension. “The Christian Right wants to take dominion,” notes Diamond, but it also wants to work within “the existing political-economic system, at the same time.” The broader the Christian Right stretches as an electoral coalition, the more obvious it becomes that some of its key leaders want a theocracy rather than a democracy. Hard-line dominionists want to overthrow the existing political-economic system and replace it with a theocracy. That’s a real hard sell to most of our neighbors.

In the United States today, there is a struggle between democracy and theocracy–as Fred Clarkson so aptly puts it in the title of his book. This is obvious to many of us, perhaps, but it is largely being ignored by the mainstream media and most Christian evangelicals. This is a wedge issue that can only be effective if we learn how to distinguish among the many different theological, political, organizational, and other aspects of Christian belief and political participation. Using terms such as “dominionism” and “theocracy” in a cautious and careful way allows us to broaden the conversation, and broaden the coalition that seeks to defend the dream of democracy against the nightmare of theocracy.

The Christian Right

Putting the Christian Right in its proper place in the political spectrum as a component of the broader U.S. Political Right is an important step in developing an effective response. This also allows us to evaluate the threat posed by domininionist and theocratic tendencies in the Christian Right. Some people see this better when presented in outline of chart form, so this entry in the series is constructed along those lines.

The Christian Right is a series of social movements with participants that have been mobilized into political participation through the Republican Party as part of a larger set of coalitions that include social conservatives, moral traditionalists, neoconservatives, militarists, etc. The Republican Party and the Christian Right, however, represent just a portion of the entire spectrum of the U.S. Political Right, so we provide a full chart of these sectors below.

The Christian Right plays multiple roles in the political system: as a social movement made up of people with shared grievances; a political movement with a specific set of electoral and legislation goals on the federal and state level; and a coalition partner in conservative politics.

Christian Right: Multiple Roles in Political System:

  • Social Movement
  • Political Movement
  • Coalition Partner

The Christian Right itself is made up of different sectors that exist in a coalition that may seem monolithic, but which actually has fracture points where wedge issues can be developed as part of an effective counter-strategy.

Christian Right: Multiple Internal Sectors:

  • Christian Conservatives
  • Christian Nationalists
  • Christian Theocrats

Within the Christian Right, it is primarily the Christian Nationalists and Christian Theocrats who pursue a type of dominionism that has theocratic aspects. The degree of dominionist authoritarianism varies by sector. Christian Reconstructionism is the major theopolitical ideology behind Hard Dominionism, but it is a subset of it. So there are nested subsets.

All Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats are also Soft Dominionist Christian Nationalists, but not all Soft Dominionist Christian Nationalists are Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats.

All Christian Reconstructionists are Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats and Christian Nationalists, but not all Hard Dominionist Christian Theocrats are Christian Reconstructionists.

Whew!

Degree of dominionist authoritarianism:

  • Soft Dominionist – Christian Nationalists
    • Hard Dominionist – Christian Theocrats
      • Christian Reconstructionist

Dominionists of all varieties can also have a complicated mix of attributes. These include the theology and style of religious practice; and the view of biblical End Times prophecy.

Theology and style of religious practice:

  • Protestant
    • Mainstream Protestant denominations (Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran)
    • Evangelicals
    • Fundamentalists
    • Charismatics
    • Pentacostals
  • Catholic

View of biblical End Times prophecy:

  • Postmillennialists
  • Premillennialists
  • Amillennialists

The Christian Right is just one of several sectors that comprise the Political Right in the United States. The chart below shows where it fits, dividing the Christian Right into hard and soft dominionists. Christian Conservatives are the bridge between the Secular Right and the Dominionists and Theocrats, but it is a weak bridge. Christian Conservatives are listed in the Chart below as part of the Religious Right.

See: Chart of Sectors of the U.S. Political Right

This all may seem overwhelming at first, but in a nation where many people have elaborate systems for tracking sports scores or soap opera plots, it is a reasonable expectation that people who want to successfully challenge dominionists and theocrats can walk up the learning curve and appreciate the view from the top.

Biblical Prophecy and the End Times

The day after Christmas, Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind Prophecy Club” sent out its daily e-mail message with a 2005 “Year in Review” summary The teaser stated: “Are we living in the End Times? Could events of today signify that the Rapture and Tribulation could occur during our generation? Five important Signs from 2005 say yes!”

  • Devastating natural disasters foreshadow the coming of Christ.
  • The Jewish population converges in Israel to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.
  • A union between Europe and Iraq could set the stage for the emergence of the Antichrist.
  • Islamic extremists lash out with London bombings and France riots.
  • Putin consolidates power in Russia, as the empire rebuilds.

In the text that follows, we learn that “events in Russia are exactly what we should expect to see if we are nearing the end times….the rule of the Antichrist may not be too far behind…[the] Bible prophesies that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt as headquarters for the antichrist. Babylon lies on the Euphrates River, just 50 miles south of Baghdad.”

We also are told that “…continued tensions may make Israel ripe for a covenant with the Antichrist,” and that the “ancient Sanhedrin, the official legal tribunal in Israel…issued an official call to rebuild the temple [of Solomon in Jerusalem], an act that God’s Word predicts must occur before the return of the Messiah.”

Meanwhile, natural disasters may be “a foreshadowing of the overwhelming chaos that is to transpire during the tribulation, prompting many to repent before it’s too late.”

That last piece of advice is what the Left Behind series is all about. It is future narrative devoted to encouraging current salvation through a particular premillennial reading of the Bible. It’s not enough to be a Christian, you must embrace a narrow and specific version of Christianity. Otherwise, you are not just going to Hell, but you will be persecuted and maybe tortured and murdered as well.

That’s the basic theme of the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The 13 volumes have sold some 70 million copies, regularly hitting best seller lists. As pop theology, the messages of the series and the Left Behind Prophecy Club are troubling, but as popular political ideology, they are dangerous.

As part of its sales pitch for a subscription service, we are told that “The Left Behind Prophecy Club has the news you need to know” about:

  • Islamic Terrorism
  • Middle East Peace Process
  • The War in Iraq
  • Europe’s Power Struggle
  • Natural Disasters

The way these current events are woven into a discussion of Biblical prophecy creates frames of reference that help move people toward specific political viewpoints, not just concerning U.S. policies in the Middle East, but also about domestic issues.

Central to this process is a particular way of reading the Bible’s book of Revelation that establishes a timetable and sequence of events for the End Times and the Tribulations that are related to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

According to polling by Barna research, “nearly nine out of ten evangelicals who believe in the end times (88%) maintain that is it very likely that Jesus will return during the last days, and 77% of born agains who believe in the end times indicated the same.”

Tim LaHaye has spent decades melding his conspiracy theory of history into the End Times beliefs of evangelicals. In his 1980 non-fiction book The Battle for the Mind, LaHaye added a conspiracist theme to the critique of secular humanism put forward by popular theologian Francis A. Schaeffer, a conservative Christian evangelical. LaHaye dedicated the book to Schaeffer.

In a chapter entitled “Is a Humanist Tribulation Necessary?” LaHaye writes that the “seven-year tribulation period will be a time that features the rule of the anti-Christ over the world.” LaHaye explains that this “tribulation is predestined and will surely come to pass.” LaHaye, however, describes another period of tribulations that he calls the “pre-tribulation tribulation.”

LaHaye, explains that the “pre-tribulation tribulation is:

“…the tribulation that will engulf this country if liberal secular humanists are permitted to take control of our government–it is neither predestined nor necessary. But it will deluge the entire land in the next few years, unless Christians are willing to become much more assertive in defense of morality and decency than they have been during the past three decades.”

According to LaHaye, adultery, pornography, and homosexuality “are rampant” and this is evidence of the warning by Schaeffer’s “that humanism always leads to chaos.” In the Left Behind series, LaHaye and Jenkins write about the spread of humanist moral relativism in the forms of the feminist movement, abortion, and homosexuality. The Left Behind series takes the conspiracist themes of LaHaye’s non-fiction books and spreads them through a huge audience.

The apocalyptic frames and conspiracist narratives in the Left Behind series are a form of “fiction explicitly intended to teach,” according to author Gershom Gorenberg, who warns:

“Inspiration is part of the appeal. Subliminally, so is the all-encompassing paradigm the books offer for understanding the world. Here’s how the global economy (which may have cost me my job or halved my retirement savings) works. Here’s what lies behind debate over abortion or foreign policy. Some people serve God, and some serve falsehood. Here’s why a believing Christian can feel left out: Today’s society is controlled by evil. And here’s why cataclysmic war between the forces of good and the axis of evil is inevitable.”

The LaHaye conspiracy theory about secular humanism provides a powerful theological justification for Christians to establish “dominion” over sinful secular society.

Bibliography

Ammerman, Nancy T. 1991. “North American Protestant Fundamentalism.” In Fundamentalisms Observed, The Fundamentalism Project 1, eds., Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991).
Armstrong, Karen. [2000] 2001. The Battle for God. New York: Ballantine Books.
Barron, Bruce. 1992. Heaven on Earth? The Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Boyer, Paul S. 1992. When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press.
Diamond, Sara. 1989. Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.
Diamond, Sara. 1995. Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. New York: Guilford Press.
Diamond, Sara. 1996. Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press.
Diamond, Sara. 1998. Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right. New York: Guilford Press.
Diamond, Sara.“Dominion Theology,” Z Magazine, February 1995, online archive.
Fuller, Robert C. 1995. Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession. New York: Oxford University Press.
Martin, William. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.

JEFF SHARLET – Rolling Stone

This is how you enlist in the Army of God: First come the fireworks and the prayers, and then 4,000 kids scream, “We won’t be silent anymore!” Then the kids drop to their knees, still but for the weeping and regrets of fifteen-year-olds. The lights in the Cleveland arena fade to blue, and a man on the stage whispers to them about sin and love and the Father-God. They rise, heartened; the crowd, en masse, swears off “harlots and adultery”; the twenty-one-year-old MC twitches taut a chain across the ass of her skintight red jeans and summons the followers to show off their best dance moves for God. “Gimme what you got!” she shouts. They dance — hip-hop, tap, toe and pelvic thrusting. Then they’re ready. They’re about to accept “the mark of a warrior,” explains Ron Luce, commander in chief of BattleCry, the most furious youth crusade since young sinners in the hands of an angry God flogged themselves with shame in eighteenth-century New England. Nearly three centuries later, these 4,000 teens are about to become “branded by God.” It’s like getting your head shaved when you join the Marines, Luce says, only the kids get to keep their hair. His assistants roll out a cowhide draped over a sawhorse, and Luce presses red-hot iron into the dead flesh, projecting a close-up of sizzling cow skin on giant movie screens above the stage.

“When you enlist in the military, there’s a code of honor,” Luce preaches, “same as being a follower of Christ.” His Christian code requires a “wartime mentality”: a “survival orientation” and a readiness to face “real enemies.” The queers and communists, feminists and Muslims, to be sure, but also the entire American cultural apparatus of marketing and merchandising, the “techno-terrorists” of mass media, doing to the morality of a generation what Osama bin Laden did to the Twin Towers. “Just as the events of September 11th, 2001, permanently changed our perspective on the world,” Luce writes, “so we ought to be awakened to the alarming influence of today’s culture terrorists. They are wealthy, they are smart, and they are real.”

Luce is forty-five, his brown hair floppy, his lips pouty. On the screens above the stage, his green eyes blink furiously. “The devil hates us,” he exhorts, “and we gotta be ready to fight and not be these passive little lukewarm, namby-pamby, kum-ba-yah, thumb-sucking babies that call themselves Christians. Jesus? He got mad!” Luce considers most evangelicals too soft, too ready to pass off as piety their preference for a bland suburban lifestyle. He hates what he sees as the weakness of “accepting” Christ, of “trusting” the Lord. “I want an attacking church!” he shouts, his normally smooth tones raw and desperate and alarming. He isn’t just looking for followers — he wants “stalkers” who’ll bring a criminal passion to their pursuit of godliness.

Cue Christian metal on the mammoth screens flanking the stage: “Frontline,” a music video produced at Luce’s Honor Academy in east Texas for the band Pillar. It opens with a broken guitar magically reassembling itself, a redemptive reversal of four decades of rock & roll nihilism. Then comes the gospel: “Everybody with your fist raised high/Let me hear your battle cry!”

In the hall outside the arena, kids line up to buy BattleCry T-shirts and hoodies and trucker caps, a dozen designs scrolled with goth and skater patterns. A brown tee for boys features a white silhouette of a kid with a baseball bat, a devil behind him rubbing his horns after a beat down. no more lies, reads the legend. On the second day, when the time comes for even the youngest to enlist in Luce’s army, I find myself sitting on the main floor of the arena next to a couple of twelve-year-olds, Hanneh and Mallory. Hanneh has straight blond hair; Mallory’s a redhead with curls. Mallory wants to borrow my pen. “I have to write a message to MTV,” she says. She hunches over in her seat, her hair hiding her hand as she scratches it out. “Dear MTV,” she reads aloud, “leave those kids alone!”

Then she adds a kicker: “Repent.” I ask her what she means. She giggles as if I’m teasing her. “Ron Luce said so!”

Luce knows that most of the kids who attend his shows come for the music (P.O.D. headline his biggest events; a screamo band called Flyleaf gets top billing in Cleveland), but he also knows that from their numbers, he’s growing a new hard core for American fundamentalism. Luce recruits the politically powerless — kids too young to vote. “That makes ’em want to fight,” he tells me backstage after one of his events. “They get so livid. They’re mad. They’ve been very cleverly marketed to. Kids started finding out that we cannot just stand back and let these people do this to us.”

Luce calls his crusade a “counter-rebellion” or a “reverse rebellion” or sometimes simply “revolution.” The Cleveland event, Acquire the Fire, only one stop in what is becoming Luce’s permanently touring roadshow, is not meant to save souls — most of the kids say they accepted Jesus when they were four or five — but to radicalize them. He’s been doing this for two decades, but it didn’t take off until days after the Columbine shootings of 1999, when Luce rallied 70,000 angry, weeping kids at the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit. In 2006, he brought his rallies to more than 200,000 kids. Overall, he’s preached to 12 million.

They’re the base. Of that number, Luce has sent 53,000 teen missionaries around the globe to preach spiritual “purity” — chastity, sobriety and a commitment to laissez-faire capitalism — in Romania, Guatemala and dozens of other “strongholds” that require young Americans to bring them “freedom” — a Christ they believe needs no translation. Luce selected more than 6,000 for his Honor Academy, some of whom become political operatives, media activists and militant preachers who then funnel fresh kids into the Academy. It’s a vertically integrated movement, a machine that produces “leaders for the army,” a command cadre that can count on the masses Luce conditions as its infantry.

Luce says only four percent of the U.S. will be Christian, by which he means “Bible-believing,” when the current generation, the largest in American history, comes of age. To understand how a nation more actively Christian than at any point in its past is about to become some vast Sweden — Luce’s archetypical wasteland of guilt-free sex and socialized medicine — you have to know that his antagonism toward secularism is dwarfed by a contempt bordering on hatred for what he dubs “cultural Christians.” He considers them traitors.

At Acquire the Fire, Luce tells the kids to make lists of secular pleasures they’ll sacrifice for the cause. Hanneh starts with Bow Wow and Usher, bites her pen, and then decides to go big: “Music,” she writes, then “Friends” — the nonfundamentalist ones — and “Party.” This, she explains, is a polite way of saying “sex.” Not that she’s had any, or knows anyone her age who has, but she’s learned from Luce that “the culture” wants to force it upon her at a young age. “The world,” he tells her, is a forty-five-year-old pervert posing as another tween online.

Luce sometimes brings a garbage truck onto the floor to cart the lists away, but this is a relatively small event, so Hanneh and Mallory trot over to one of the trash bins stationed around the arena and drop theirs in. “I feel so much better,” Mallory tells Hanneh. Hanneh nods, smiling now. “I feel free,” she says.

Later, one of Luce’s PR reps takes me backstage to sift through the bins of rejected affections. Most kids mention music, movies, girlfriends and boyfriends, sex or, surprisingly often, just condoms, but a number of new warriors are oddly precise about their proposed abandonings. They cast into perdition Starbucks (multiple votes), Victoria’s Secret (ditto; Luce encourages kids to confront the managers of lingerie stores), cereal (Special K and Cap’n Crunch), hip-huggers, “smelling amazing,” “vengeance,” “medication” and A&W root beer. “I would say it’s ridiculous what they are doing to root beer,” wrote the boy who will drink A&W no more.

“This is a real war,” Luce preaches. When he talks like that, he growls. “This is not a metaphor!” In Cleveland, he intercuts his sermons with videos of suicide bombers and marching Christian teens. One of the most popular, “Casualties of War,” features an elegiac beat by a Christian rapper named KJ-52 laid over flickering pictures of kids holding signs declaring the collapse of Christendom: 1/2 OF US ARE NO LONGER VIRGINS, reads a poster board displayed by a pigtailed girl. 40% OF US HAVE INFLICTED SELF-INJURY, says a sign propped up over a sink in which we see the hands of a girl about to cut herself. 53% OF US BELIEVE JESUS SINNED, declares the placard of a young black man standing in a graffiti-filled alley.

Luce lays out cooked statistics, images, assertions. He doesn’t explain — he warns. To the crowd of watery-eyed teens he recites letters he says their peers have sent him, souls lost to what he calls, over and over, the “pigpen” of secularism. It’s a reference to the sorry fate of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, who wound up tending hogs until he submitted to the authority of God and was restored to his riches. There’s an unnamed girl who left Jesus and then “got date raped.” There’s “Emily,” who dated a non-Christian boy — “now she works in pornography and lives a bisexual lifestyle.” Luce sneers: “pigpen.” There’s “Heather,” who wrote to Luce to complain that “my father is passive, and my mom is controlling.” “Pigpen,” Luce says, his voice filled with sorrow for the girl with the sissy dad…

>>This is an excerpt from the new issue of “Rolling Stone,” on newsstands until April 19th, 2007.

>> See it now! Judge America’s crusade yourself: Watch footage from a recent BattleCry rally and see one teen’s haunting testimony.

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From Boston Globe

The title of the course was Constitutional Law, but the subject was sin. Before any casebooks were opened, a student led his classmates in a 10-minute devotional talk, completed with “amens,” about the need to preserve their Christian values.”Sin is so appealing because it’s easy and because it’s fun,” the law student warned.

Regent University School of Law, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to provide “Christian leadership to change the world,” has worked hard in its two-decade history to upgrade its reputation, fighting past years when a majority of its graduates couldn’t pass the bar exam and leading up to recent victories over Ivy League teams in national law student competitions.

But even in its darker days, Regent has had no better friend than the Bush administration. Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website.

One of those graduates is Monica Goodling , the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who is at the center of the storm over the firing of US attorneys. Goodling, who resigned on Friday, has become the face of Regent overnight — and drawn a harsh spotlight to the administration’s hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations.

Documents show that Goodling, who has asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress, was one of a handful of officials overseeing the firings. She helped install Timothy Griffin , the Karl Rove aide and her former boss at the Republican National Committee, as a replacement US attorney in Arkansas.Because Goodling graduated from Regent in 1999 and has scant prosecutorial experience, her qualifications to evaluate the performance of US attorneys have come under fire. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, asked at a hearing: “Should we be concerned with the experience level of the people who are making these highly significant decisions?”

And across the political blogosphere, critics have held up Goodling, who declined to be interviewed, as a prime example of the Bush administration subordinating ability to politics in hiring decisions.

“It used to be that high-level DOJ jobs were generally reserved for the best of the legal profession,” wrote a contributor to The New Republic website . “. . . That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the DOJ.”

The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson’s Bible-based college in Virginia. It was initially called “CBN University School of Law” after the televangelist’s Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus and which provided much of the funding for the law school. (The Coors Foundation is also a donor to the university.) The American Bar Association accredited Regent ‘s law school in 1996.

Not long ago, it was rare for Regent graduates to join the federal government. But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent’s government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management — essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni.

“We’ve had great placement,” said Jay Sekulow , who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state. “We’ve had a lot of people in key positions.”

Many of those who have Regent law degrees, including Goodling, joined the Department of Justice. Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.

Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.

In a recent Regent law school newsletter, a 2004 graduate described being interviewed for a job as a trial attorney at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in October 2003. Asked to name the Supreme Court decision from the past 20 years with which he most disagreed, he cited Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling striking down a law against sodomy because it violated gay people’s civil rights.

“When one of the interviewers agreed and said that decision in Lawrence was ‘maddening,’ I knew I correctly answered the question,” wrote the Regent graduate . The administration hired him for the Civil Rights Division’s housing section — the only employment offer he received after graduation, he said.

The graduate from Regent — which is ranked a “tier four” school by US News & World Report, the lowest score and essentially a tie for 136th place — was not the only lawyer with modest credentials to be hired by the Civil Rights Division after the administration imposed greater political control over career hiring.

The changes resulted in a sometimes dramatic alteration to the profile of new hires beginning in 2003, as the Globe reported last year after obtaining resumes from 2001-2006 to three sections in the civil rights division. Conservative credentials rose, while prior experience in civil rights law and the average ranking of the law school attended by the applicant dropped.

As the dean of a lower-ranked law school that benefited from the Bush administration’s hiring practices, Jeffrey Brauch of Regent made no apologies in a recent interview for training students to understand what the law is today, and also to understand how legal rules should be changed to better reflect “eternal principles of justice,” from divorce laws to abortion rights.

“We anticipate that many of our graduates are going to go and be change agents in society,” Brauch said.

Still, Brauch said, the recent criticism of the law school triggered by Goodling’s involvement in the US attorney firings has missed the mark in one respect: the quality of the lawyers now being turned out by the school, he argued, is far better than its image.

Seven years ago, 60 percent of the class of 1999 — Goodling’s class — failed the bar exam on the first attempt. (Goodling’s performance was not available, though she is admitted to the bar in Virginia.) The dismal numbers prompted the school to overhaul its curriculum and tighten admissions standards.

It has also spent more heavily to recruit better-qualified law students. This year, it will spend $2.8 million on scholarships, a million more than what it was spending four years ago.

The makeover is working. The bar exam passage rate of Regent alumni , according to the Princeton Review, rose to 67 percent last year. Brauch said it is now up to 71 percent, and that half of the students admitted in the late 1990s would not be accepted today. The school has also recently won moot-court and negotiation competitions, beating out teams from top-ranked law schools.

Adding to Regent’s prominence, its course on “Human Rights, Civil Liberties, and National Security” is co taught by one of its newest professors: Ashcroft.

Even a prominent critic of the school’s mission of integrating the Bible with public policy vouches for Regent’s improvements. Barry Lynn , the head of the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said Regent is churning out an increasingly well-trained legal army for the conservative Christian movement.

“You can’t underestimate the quality of a lot of the people that are there,” said Lynn, who has guest-lectured at Regent and debated professors on its campus.

In light of Regent’s rapid evolution, some current law students say it is frustrating to be judged in light of Regent alumni from the school’s more troubled era — including Goodling.

One third-year student, Chamie Riley , said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

As Christians, she said, Regent students know “you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth.

MYTH 1: ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH HAS ELIMINATED THE NEED FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS.  On the contrary, embryonic stem cells contain the key to unlocking the full potential of adult stem cell research.  The success of adult stem cell research is inextricably linked with the study of embryonic stem cells.

Those who oppose this research on religious grounds too often make their arguments using incorrect premises. For example they will say that adult stem research renders embryonic stem cell research unnecessary. They will also incorrectly claim that adult stem cells are being used for treatments of sixty to seventy different medical conditions: this too is a gross exaggeration. Such statements are an assault of mendacity being led by US Senator Same Brownback (R-Kansas; Brownback, for the record is an Opus Dei cooperator the reactionary sect within Catholic Church leading the war against this research[i]).

Furthermore, opponents of embryonic stem cell research excessively hype the current effectiveness of adult stem cells. As a recent press release from the Genetics Policy Institute observed:

On July 13, three stem cell experts published a letter in the journal “Science”, along with detailed supporting data, that has demolished the lynchpin argument and key talking point of the religious right and others who oppose the expansion of funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council had long- promoted a list of 65 medical conditions supposedly treated by adult stem cells, thereby sending the message that adult stem cells were currently delivering treatments and thus there was no need to fund embryonic stem cell research.

The letter to “Science” stated in its concluding paragraph “By promoting the falsehood that adult stem cell treatments are already in general use for 65 diseases and injuries, Prentice and those who repeat his claims mislead laypeople and cruelly deceive patients.”
“Only nine of the so-called treatments were actually approved by the FDA. In fact, much of the Prentice list was comprised of anecdotal data drawn from such sources as testimony from Congressional hearings, distortions of published research reports and even a newspaper clipping,” said Bernard Siegel, executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute.[ii]

MYTH 2: ALL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE EMBRYONIC STEM CELL AND SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER RESEARCH. In reality, different organized religions take different or no position at all on the research. In fact, many religious organizations, including the Presbyterian Church USA, the Church of England, the American Jewish Congress, United Church of Christ, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Foundry United Methodist Church and a clear majority of America Roman Catholics[iii] all support this potentially life saving research. 

As William Neaves of the Stowers Institute observed, “Other religious traditions acknowledge the product not fertilization to be a life but do not accord it the status of a human being.  For example, both Judaism and Islam hold that full human status is acquired progressively during embryonic development, not at fertilization.[iv] Until 40 days after conception, Judaism considers the developing embryo to be “mere fluid.”  The early embryo is respected as a potential human being, but it is not yet a person.  Accordingly, both Judaism and Islam permit the use of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic and research purposes.”[v]

Beyond that, all four branches of Judaism support embryonic stem cell research pursuant to the halakic doctrine of pekuach nefesh—the preeminence of saving a life in being. Under Jewish Law a fourteen-day embryo has the same status as water. There is a very similar concept in Christian thought known as Epikiea. Great thinkers of the Judeo-Christian tradition have always understood that sometimes one needs to break the letter of the Law in order to achieve the spirit of the Law.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, saving a life in being is often the holiest of songs. And if the written rules of faith are the keys to such music, then as with music we sometime must break the letter of the Law to achieve the spirit of God’s Law. 

A good example is the famous song “Maria” written by Leonard Bernstein for his masterpiece West Side Story. The song, written in the key of C (no sharps or flats) famously uses the tri-tone, i.e. key of C with a prominent F#. The three note melody of the word “Maria” is C F# G. The tritone, or “flat-five,” is generally considered the most dissonant interval, but without that dissonance from the rules for the key of C, the song Maria would lose its essence.

To put it in musical terms, stem cell research is the prominent F# in curing disease. It is the change we need to effect to do the greatest good: saving lives in being. 

The Gospels consistently detail how Jesus adhered to Pekuach nefesh through His many acts of healing. And as a Christians who have read the Gospels, the IPC leadership cannot cite one example of Jesus directly refuting pekuach nefesh. It logically follows that a Jesus who lived by Jewish law raises a presumption that He would not oppose this vital medical research. If anything, His healing the infirmed and disabled along with raising the dead contradicts those who oppose this research solely on religious grounds.

  
MYTH 3: PRESIDENT BUSH’S AUGUST 9, 2001 DECISION ALLOWS EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH TO PROCEED UNHINDERED.  Wrong. The President has only authorized research on those embryonic stem cell lines in existence on August 9, 2001—originally believed to number between 60 and 70 lines.  And according to an article in the March 4, 2004 Washington Post, “…At least 16 of the 78 human stem cell colonies approved by President Bush for federal research money have died or failed to reproduce in their laboratory dishes — making them useless to scientists.” As of today only 12 lines are available for research and of these only 4 are in the possession of U. S. researchers.

MYTH 4: ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH MAKES NUCLEAR TRANSFER RESEARCH UNNECESSARY.  In fact, neither embryonic stem nor adult stem research may fully solve the problem of a patient’s body rejecting stem cell treatments.  With somatic cell nuclear transfer research, the patient’s own DNA is used in the process thus providing a viable solution to the problem of body rejection.

MYTH 5: PRESIDENT BUSH OPPOSES EMBRYONIC STEM CELL AND NUCLEAR TRANSFER RESEARCH BECAUSE HE’S PRO-LIFE. If President Bush were truly pro- life, why did he—as well as research opponents Senators Jim Talent and Rick Santorum continue–to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from tobacco special interest groups?  Consider this: tobacco has the potential to end lives but embryonic stem cell and somatic cell nuclear transfer research have the potential to save lives.  

——————————————————————————–

[i] Senator Sam Brownback, columnist Robert Novak, the socially conservative member of President Bush’s Bioethics Council, Robert P. George and Newark Archbishop John Myers have all been vocal opponents of embryonic stem cell research. While Archbishop Myers is an Opus Dei member, Brownback, George and Novak deny they are officially members of the sect. Yet this denial does not tell the whole story because all three men (as well as Senator Rick Santorum, R-PA.) clearly act as Opus Dei “cooperators.” While not officially members, cooperators of Opus Dei are clear simpatico with the sect’s goals and often act on its behalf, going as far as donating money. Both Brownback and Novak were baptized by the infamous Opus Dei priest, John McCloskey.
[ii] Press Release, Genetics Policy Institute, July 17, 2006
[iii] Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, August 13, 2005; link: http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=5238
[iv] Citing, Ebenstein, R. Fall 2004 Participation in creation to heal the world. B’nai B’rith Magazine, 28-31
[v] William B. Neaves, When Does Life Begin? Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 2005.