Mil-len-ni-um - a: a period of 1000 years b: a 1000th anniversary or its celebration 2a: the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 during which holiness is to prevail and Christ is to reign on earth b: a period of great happiness or human perfection
Ar-ma-ged-don - [scene of the battle foretold in Rev 16:14-16] a final and conclusive battle between the forces of good and evil b: the site or time of Armageddon 2: a vast decisive conflict (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)
As we enter the last decade of the 20th Century, these words will gain new meaning for all of us. Christian mythology calls for a "Kingdom" on Earth after the Battle of Armageddon rains down fire and destroys all civilization only "saved" Christians will be left to enjoy this paradise on earth. Everyone else will have perished in the death and destruction of those last days. For fundamentalists, it is impossible to believe in a future of happiness or human perfection until after the final confrontation between good and evil. They believe they are living in the "last days" and look forward to the conflagration with eager joy.
"So what," you say, "if people want to believe that the end of the world is near, why not let them? Why should it be a problem for the rest of us? Surely these beliefs can't hurt anyone else but themselves?" Maybe not, but Bush calls himself a "born-again" Christian, what if his belief in the inevitability of Armageddon pushed him to posture in a more threatening manner than he should and he ends up egging Saddam Hussein on. Bush could be playing with the lives of a half million soldiers and we'd never know. Vice-president Quayle's wife is a follower of Colonel Robert Thieme, one of the more extreme fundamentalist preachers. What does Quayle think about Armageddon? Could that explain why he takes such a strong negative position to recent changes in the Soviet Union?
According to "Under God," an article by Garry Wills in December's Playboy magazine, religion has always been strong in this country and cyclically the Fundamentalist strain becomes more virulent. He quotes Gallop poll statistics like: "Nine Americans in ten say they have never doubted the existence of God. Eight Americans in ten say they believe they will be called before God on judgment day to answer for their sins. Eight Americans in ten believe God still works miracles. Seven Americans in ten believe in life after death. 37% of Americans believe in the Devil. 50% believe in angels--as opposed to the 15% who believe in astrology. About 40% attend church in a typical week. In 1989, 40% of the population called itself born again in response to a poll. Wills quotes George Gallop, Jr. as claiming that "Religious affiliation remains one of the most accurate and least appreciated political indicators available."
Wills, a Christian himself, argues that "commentators continue to neglect the elements of the American religious experience: revivalism, Biblical literalism, millennial hope (for the Second Coming of Christ). Yet these have profoundly influenced our politics. Wills warns that "the century's end may be more marked by domestic than by international conflict. The makings of a cultural war are present in religious attacks on pornography, homosexuality, abortion and the eroticism of rock music and television." He says that, while the Bible will not be at the center of these developments, "we neglect it at our own peril."
November's Spin magazine give us KulturKampf, a German term meaning "the struggle for culture" in an article titled "The War Is On Us" by Jefferson Moreley who argues that the national mood is war-like not just against Saddam Hussein. "Americans are divided about the First Amendment and abortion. They are divided along racial lines and about drugs. They are divided to an unprecedented extent by class and income. President Bush says "Our way of life is at stake" in the Middle East, but no randomly selected groups of Americans would be able to agree upon what that way of life is." He continues, "In America's Kulturkampf, state-sponsored morality is pitted not against organized religion but against the community and culture that emerged from the '60's counterculture...With old values failing, the struggle for culture intensifies.
And, in November's "Mother Jones" magazine, a one page article "Wildmon Kingdom?" by Fred Clarkson should scare the pants off you. According to Clarkson, Rev. Donald Wildmon, and many of his associates are part of the Coalition on Revival (COR), a theopolitical movement that seeks to make a fundamentalist Christian nation out of the United States. This past year the National Coordinating Council the defacto political arm of COR developed a 24-point program. Clarkson advises that, among other things, the program calls for the abolition of public schools, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve systems by the year 2000. He says that, while they have a national agenda, COR has a grass-roots strategy and are targeting 60 cities in the next five years. According to Clarkson's article, the group places a special emphasis on county government--sheriffs and boards of supervisors--and, once in power, the creation of county "militias."
Reconstructionism is a strong faction within COR which seeks to impose its version of "Biblical Law" on society and call it the Kingdom of God. Some Reconstructionists explicitly oppose democracy, notable R.J. Rushdonny, Reconstructionism's acknowledged leader who also believes "homosexuals, adulterers, blasphemers, astrologers, and incorrigible children should be executed preferably by "stoning." He is on COR's steering committee and is slated to become a faculty member at their planned Kingdom College in San Jose. In a recruitment letter for the college. COR recently wrote that they want "young warriors who will be thrilled and challenged to go through a Christian 'green beret' boot camp training school for radical world changers.
BOBBY LILLY is a co-founder of the CALIFORNIANS ACT AGAINST CENSORSHIP TOGETHER and the editor of their great newsletter. See the KNOW YOUR FRIENDS database to contact CAL-ACT.