During the Bush years we began to get glimpses of the spread of fanatical Christian fundamentalism through the central government and even the Pentagon. There've been claims that the US Air Force academy itself is being transformed into a giant, fundamentalist Bible school for the future Masters of Mass Destruction.
And who can forget this character, Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin? From BeliefNet:
Boykin made headlines ...when it was revealed he had made numerous statements suggesting that America, as a Christian nation, is engaged in a battle against idolatrous Muslims. Enemies like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus," Boykin said during an Oregon church gathering last year.
Appearing in uniform during a speech at the Oregon church, Boykin said: "Why do they [radical Muslims] hate us? Why do they hate us so much? Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we're a Christian nation." In another speech he recounted the time he chased down a Muslim Somali warlord who was bragging that the Americans would not capture him because Allah would protect him. "My God is bigger than his God. I knew my God was a real God, and his was an idol," Boykin said.
That Jerry Boykins? The same one implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?
According to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee ...the prison abuse scandal grew out of a decision to give greater influence to the Defense Intelligence unit, led by Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence--and his deputy, Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin.
But the really scary thing about Boykin was in a single, cast-off remark he made in one of his public appearances when he asked why George W. Bush became president even though his Democratic opponent won more votes?
“Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him? I tell you this morning that he’s in the White House because God put him there.”
Okay maybe that sounds like wacky fundy drivel - until you understand that this is a cardinal tenet of The Family. They seriously believe that it's not the meek that God favours but the strong, the powerful. They hold as an unquestioning belief that God appoints his chosen people to power, whether those chosen go by the name of Lincoln, Ghandi, Stalin or Hitler. To these backroom potentates God did indeed elevate George Walker Bush to the White House.
These people aren't your mainstream fundamentalists. Sharlet points out that they distance themselves from ordinary fundamentalism, considering it "white trash" Christianity. You don't join their church. There is no Church of The Family as such, no pews, no altar. It's sort of like the Skull & Bones, you get recommended by a member, vetted and then, if approved, invited inside. Many of these people have money, a lot of money. Others have political power and influence. They use their money and their influence to help The Family and each other advance to greater wealth and greater power, all guided by their unique understanding of Jesus and God.
Sharlet points out that there is no such being as "Jesus" in America. There is Jesus.2.0 and Jesus.3.1, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.7, Jesus 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 and Jesus 5.0. There are as many Jesuses as there are Christian factions, each manufactured, dressed, armed and accessorized to reflect what each group wants in their own personal Jesus. It's hard enough to believe in Jesus much less having to believe that your Jesus is better than everyone else's Jesus.
To The Family of course, Jesus is the Leader of the Pack, their pack - the rich and powerful. Jesus and his Dad, that would be God, aren't much interested in the retail or even the wholesale market; they want the Big Dogs. They even choose who's going to be a Big Dog and every Big Dog, no matter how murderous and evil, is their pick. Even George w. Bush.
The editor of the Charleston Gazette, James Haught, explored Bush's fanatical belief that he was the instrument of God's will in a piece he wrote for the Council for Secular Humanism entitled, The French Revelation, or The Burning Bush:
Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.
Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.
Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion. Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”
After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Read more here: http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=haught_29_5
If you're interested in the infiltration of Christian fundamentalism into America's battlefields, read Sharlet's Jesus Killed Mohammed from Harper's: http://harpers.org/archive/2009/05/0082488
Has The Family spread into Canada's political structure? If it has, nobody's talking but that, after all, is the very credo of The Family. Steve Harper is known to have ties to the uber-right, fiercely secretive Council for National Policy, an organization founded by the Rapture-Boy himself, Tim LaHaye (of Left Behind fame), whose membership lists have been festooned with names like Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Oliver North and the lesser known Ed and Elsa Prince of the Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, also the parents of one Erik Prince, the billionaire head of infamous military contractor Blackwater (now "Xe") who currently stands accused of being a fundamentalist Crusader and facilitating the slaughter of Iraqi Muslims. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817/scahill
How to wrap this up? Maybe by repeating these words of warning from Chris Hedges on our new 'war without end,' our Grand Crusade:
The moral certitude of the state in wartime is a kind of fundamentalism. And this dangerous messianic brand of religion, one where self-doubt is minimal, has come increasingly to color the modern world of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, used to tell us that we would end our careers fighting an ascendant fundamentalist movement, or, as he liked to say, "the Christian fascists."
The Family, as Sharlet calls them, became the subject of brief controversy during the 2008 election campaign - brief and passing. We can only hope Sharlet's book fixes these top tier, backroom fundamentalists in the public eye, the one place they strive to avoid.