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“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript Part Two.

September 26, 2019

The Chosen Ones, or so they have come to believe. Actually they look a bit lost is space

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – September 24, 2019 – Part Two

“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript Part Two.

(Continued from Part One)

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As one of them said, this is a cosmic, divine battle between Good and Evil with Jesus Christ being the only solution for our world. The term “the only solution for our world” was actually spelled out by Mike Pompeo in one of the speeches he gave in the U.S. Midwest. He commented that while members of the Christian Community are trying to reach some kind of balance, relationship with their fellow Muslims and Jews, the Evangelicals are encouraging their community, encouraging their churches, their audiences to hate, because the struggle is “cosmic” – “Join the war, be a part of the rapture” as Pompeo said.

This is what we are facing today. Ibrahim Kazerooni

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It is quite a different thing when Evangelicals are speaking about it in Church than from when they are advising the President of the United States. Their views become much more toxic, if you like, once proposed to a U.S. president in weekly advisory board meetings.

By themselves, the Evangelicals do not have this power, this access but one of the points that we have emphasized this evening is the manner in which they have piggy-backed on this “unholy alliance” with the Neo-cons and militarists and as a result have come to a position of undue influence of a kind that the country and the world is really not used to. – Rob Prince

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Rob Prince: I want to add something to your analysis and that is the influence that Conservative Christian/Evangelical ideas have had within the military itself. It is considerable.

Already nearly 15 years ago, disturbing reports surfaced of Christian Evangelical proselytizing by the staff at the Air Force Academy in 2004-5 in which non Christian – Jewish and Muslim cadets were harassed for their religious views.

It turns out this was the type of the iceberg.

Today let’s just give a few indications of how powerful – and integral to Trump’s base of support as this influence is – and how racist it is.

Evangelicals are, in fact, found throughout the US military in key positions.

General Stanley McChrystal – the first of Trump’s now four National Security Advisors along with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone. They considered themselves “fellow travellers in the great crusade against Islam.”

Chris Kyle, American sniper who claimed to have personally killed 255 Iraqis and produced a memoire “American Sniper” who considered Iraqis as “savages” was quoted:

“People ask me all the time, ‘How many people have you killed?’… The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”

According to Kyle it was the Iraqi who were savages for opposing the U.S. military occupation of their country and not the invading U.S. military and its Air Force. In the book he published on his war experiences, he gave a vivid description of what he thought of the Iraqi people, whose interests the U.S. military was said to be defending:

“I couldn’t give a flying f*** about the Iraqis. I hate the damn savages.”

How’s that for bringing “democracy” and “tolerance” to the people of Iraq?

Another U.S soldier, quoted in the same Al Jazeera article, who was a part of the U.S. military invading force in Iraq claimed “Each time I go into battle I feel `closer to God”

These examples suggest a level of Evangelical thinking at all levels

Ibrahim Kazerooni – It’s not just in the military Rob.

In 2013, 2014 the news went around that the FBI are using some of these Evangelical Christians to teach their members (of the agency). A part of the module that is used emphasizes hatred towards Muslims. They claim that Muslims and Christians are locked in a battle between Good and Evil with Christianity defending “the Good” – which is Jesus Christ and world salvation. Muslims represent “Evil” and led by Satan.

This is a module being taught in the 21st century to the FBI. So this Evangelical infiltration goes far beyond the military. Their tentacles are all over.

Rob Prince: Here’s another tentacle so to speak.

Intermingled with the Neo-cons, their strategic allies, Evangelicals on the Middle East are Christian fundamentalists, many of whom come together in a number of organizations, one of which is known as “Christians United For Israel” (CUFI) – the national chair of which is John Charles Hagee, senior pastor at the Cornerstone Church, a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas.

I want to give the listeners a sense of the extent of CUFI’s influence today.

CUFI is the largest pro-Israeli (pro-Netanyahu, pro-Occupation) organization in the United States with, 7.1 million members, at least as one source puts it. As of two years ago, CUFI reported 200 established chapters across the country with an active presence on 300 college campuses. Its membership has exploded from 1,000,000 in 2012 to its current 7.1 million today.

That’s a lot of people

The Colorado Connection to CUFI – One of its executive board members – according to its website – is Paster George Morrison, Founder of the Truth and Life Ministries, the main base of which is the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colorado – a powerful, if conservative force in Jefferson County, Colorado politics. For years a number of would go protest at the Faith Bible Chapel when John Hagee was invited to speak on Israel Awareness Day to audiences of 8,000 or more.

One of the saddest moments for me personally was to see the delegations of prominent Denver Jews, local rabbis entering the Faith Bible Chapel, making common cause with Hagee and CUFI, somehow rationalizing their fundamentally anti-Semitic Christian fundamentalist message by claiming they “support Israel.”

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Rob you don’t have to go Colorado, let’s simply note the American Embassy in Jerusalem. In 1995 the U.S. Congress voted to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama all faced pressure from wealthy potential campaign donors to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol.

But none of the actually did so.

Yet in May, 2018, Trump chose two individuals, two so-called Evangelicals, to lead Congress to pray `in the name of the one born in Bethlehem. One of them was Robert Jeffrees, Pastor of the 11.000 strong First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Shortly thereafter, on May 14, 2018, along with John Hagee, Jeffrees also led prayer at the opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem when it opened. Jeffrees is a pastor who preaches “the rapture,” Jeffrees was quoted as previously saying that Mormons are heretics, Jews fated to Hell, Islam promotes pedophilia and homosexuality. Yet he led the Jerusalem embassy prayer in an audience that included all the Jewish leaders sitting there and listening to him and they all knew who he was and how he had preached against Judaism

Something to keep in mind – As Jewish support for Israel has somewhat waned, with more and more Jews, especially younger ones, finding themselves ill at ease with Israeli violation of Palestinian human and political rights, hardcore Zionist organizations – AIPAC, Zionist Organization of America, these hardcore organizations have made common cause increasingly with Christians United For Israel, despite the deep (and well known) anti-Semitic bedrock on which CUFI is based.

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, on a couple of occasions this evening we have referred to expressions like “Armageddon,” “the Rapture,” – yet what is the connection between what is happening in Middle East today and ontological religious themes? At first glance they don’t seem to have any connection to one another – and I might add – they shouldn’t. But they do, don’t they?

So could you explain to us what is going on here? What is the theological context of Armageddon and the rapture and why are we even talking about them in a program whose focus is the current trends in the Middle East, and the prospects for peace and war in the region?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: To deconstruct this – as we say – we need to look at the theological basis for this “rapture” and “Armageddon.”

“Rapture” refers to the transport of Christians to Heaven as a result of the second coming of Christ. Technically it’s a phenomenon of a false ancient obsession that really has no theological basis and yet it claims significant role in Evangelical teleology. The critical component here has to do with timing. According to Evangelicals, at the time of the second coming of Christ only a special group of Christians are chosen, selected, to be lifted to Heaven. The rest of humanity is doomed, victimized by the Armageddon that takes place.

According to rapture believers the second coming of Christ requires an all out war, the end of the world, the final confrontation between the forces of good led by God or God’s image and evil, led by Satan .

The main point: because these Christians believe that they are the selected few, and they are the ones who are going to Heaven, even if a rationale for a world war, the mother of all wars, is lacking, such wars must be engineered and executed.

Rob Prince: Why the Middle East? Because that is where they want it to happen?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: That is where they believe the second coming will take place.

They believe that once the Jews from around the world are taken back to Palestine the time will be at hand. As a result, Evangelical Christians have been bringing as many Jews to Palestine as possible, from Russia, Ethiopia, India and all other places.

Once the gathering of Jews in Palestine takes place, once the spark is created to ignite war and Armageddon, that mother of all wars is engineered, now the basis for the second coming of Christ has been created.

That war has to be provoked, engineered and executed.

Now, when such ideas remain in some fringe or marginal, irrelevant or inconsequential religious organization, the consequences of such thinking is not an issue. In the past the revolving door was between oil and politics now it is between the Evangelicals and politics. Once this happens and there are people like Pompeo near the apex of political power, it is entirely different situation.

In an interview in Jerusalem, when asked by an Evangelical Christian radio station if Donald Trump was elected “to deliver” Christians and “to lead” the way towards Armageddon and rapture, he answer was a powerful “yes.” He went on to say that as a Christian he believes that Trump was “chosen” to deliver that message.

So now we begin to understand to where such thinking leads. Given their new authority the Evangelical Advisory Board takes on a totally new significance in their role of advising Trump on both national and international issues. We are no longer speaking of a “fringe group.”

Rob Prince: It is quite a different thing when Evangelicals are speaking about it in Church than from when they are advising the President of the United States. Their views become much more toxic, if you like, once proposed to a U.S. president in weekly advisory board meetings.

By themselves, the Evangelicals do not have this power, this access but one of the points that we have emphasized this evening is the manner in which they have piggy-backed on this “unholy alliance” with the Neo-cons and militarists and as a result have come to a position of undue influence of a kind that the country and the world is really not used to.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: I just wanted to add once point.

Unfortunately because of the Evangelical political influence today, as a result of this unholy trinity that has come together between the Neo-cons and the military, their pulpit has become one of spewing poison particularly with regard to the Muslim and Christian relationship. The Evangelicals consider this relationship between Christianity and Islam to be one of apocalyptic holy war.

As one of them said, this is a cosmic, divine battle between Good and Evil with Jesus Christ being the only solution for our world. The term “the only solution for our world” was actually spelled out by Mike Pompeo in one of the speeches he gave in the U.S. Midwest. He commented that while members of the Christian Community are trying to reach some kind of balance, relationship with their fellow Muslims and Jews, the Evangelicals are encouraging their community, encouraging their churches, their audiences to hate, because the struggle is “cosmic” – “Join the war, be a part of the rapture” as Pompeo said.

This is what we are facing today.

 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    September 26, 2019 10:15 pm

    This was a very enjoyable and informative piece. If I understand this issue correctly, the Lunatic Fringe Christians are leading the Lunatic Fringe Zionists over the Pied Piper’s cliff and Christians can’t even play the flute.

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