ROBERTSON’S GAFFE

Plenty of evangelicals and Republicans have dumped on Pat Robertson for saying that Ariel Sharon’s stroke is related to his decision to divide the land of Israel. I’m baffled. It would be astonishing if Robertson did not believe something like that. Robertson’s version of Christianity is fundamentalist pre-millenarianism. He believes, as do most members of the religious right, that the world is soon coming to an end, and that the unification of Israel is integral to that story-line. (The Jews who don’t accept Christ will all die in a second and more extensive Holocaust, orchestrated by Jesus.) He also believes, as do millions of Americans, that God directly involves himself in our lives, as does Satan, and that He is a terrifying God who has committed mass murder and genocide in the past against those who flout his will (the Bible proves it) and will do so again. A mere stroke for Sharon? He should count himself lucky.

THE FUNDAMENTALIST REALITY: It’s also absurd to describe Robertson’s views as somehow out of the mainstream of contemporary Christian fundamentalism, or Republicanism. His 700 Club reaches more people than most CNN shows and has more viewers, as Laurie Goodstein points out, than CNBC or MSNBC. That’s why establishment conservative Fred Barnes was on the show last week; and why Karl Rove checks in with Robertson over judicial nominees. Moreover, the only reason anyone got mad at his statement about Sharon is because somone at PFAW is paid to listen. Do you think any of his 800,000 “Christian” viewers would be in any way discombobulated? This is their faith. As the Derb points out, it’s clear from the Bible what the consequences of ceding the West Bank are. Robertson is not alone in his beliefs about the looming end-times – indeed, the most vivid depiction of what current evangelicals believe, the “Left Behind” series, is the bestselling adult series of books in the whole country. In a recent installment, Jesus is an unrelenting future mass murderer of those who do not accept him. When he speaks at the end of time,

“Men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood. It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin … Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated.”

Why should Robertson be singled out for saying what he believes? This is the faith that animates the religious right, and that propels every electoral victory for the current Republican party. Why on earth should he apologize?

MANSFIELD ON THE EXECUTIVE: My former teacher is, as always, worth reading. The American executive is indeed designed to be able to act as a unitary actor in emergencies. War is such an emergency. Secrecy is, in part, essential in that function. The difficulty in our current moment, however, is that the emergency has been defined as permanent. And so instead of ceding extra-legal power to the executive in extremis, we are in danger of shifting the entire emphasis of government toward a routine executive power unrestrained by law. There is a balance we need to restore here – because this war is indeed different, in its longevity and involvement of American citizens. I see no reason why a revised FISA law wouldn’t be a prudent response to this problem. Especially when we have a war-president deeply distrusted by around half the country.

ZYGOTES: More discussion over at the Corner. I think all we can say with absolute certainty is that a majority of zygotes never make it to become grown-ups. I call them “human beings” and “unborn children” because, according to natural law philosophy, that’s what they are. To quote Robert P. George, the grandfather of theoconservatism:

A human being is conceived when a human sperm containing twenty-three chromosomes fuses with a human egg also containing twenty-three chromosomes (albeit of a different kind) producing a single cell human zygote containing, in the normal case, forty-six chromosomes that are mixed differently from the forty-six chromosomes as found in the mother or father.

All I’m doing to taking the arguments of the theocons and following their logic.

– posted by Andrew

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