Dogma Alert

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Pharisee Nation

American Nation Brainwashed
by John Dear
02/17/05 ICH

- - Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!”

So much for my speech. Not to mention the Beatitudes.

I was not at all surprised that George W. Bush was reelected president. As I travel the country speaking out against war, injustice and nuclear weapons, I see many people consciously siding with the culture of war, choosing the path of violence, supporting corporate greed, rampant militarism, and global domination. I see many others swept up in the raging current of patriotism. Since most of these people, beginning with the president, claim to be Christian, I am ashamed and appalled that they support war and systemic injustice, that they do it in the name of God, and that they feign fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus who gave his life resisting institutionalized injustice.

I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s great book, “Wise Blood,” where her outrageous character Hazel Motes is so fed up with Christian hypocrisy that he forms his own church, the “Church of Christ without Christ,” “where the lame don’t walk, the blind don’t see, and the dead don’t rise.” That’s where we are headed today.

I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose not to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus. Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him.

A Culture of Pharisees

We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.

In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.” Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a “Church of Christ without Christ,“ as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.

Troublemaking Nonviolence, the Measure of the Gospel

The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Every religion, including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, is rooted in nonviolence, but I submit that the only thing we know for sure about Jesus is that he was nonviolent and so, nonviolence is the hallmark of Christianity and the measure of authentic Christian living. Jesus commands that we love one another, love our neighbors, seek justice, forgive those who hurt us, pray for our persecutors, and be as compassionate as God. But at the center of his teaching is the most radical declaration ever uttered: “love your enemies.”

If we dare call ourselves Christian, we cannot support war or nuclear weapons or corporate greed or executions or systemic injustice of any kind. If we do, we may well be devout American citizens, but we no longer follow the nonviolent Jesus. We have joined the hypocrites and blasphemers of the land, beginning with their leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Los Alamos.

Jesus resisted the empire, engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Temple, was arrested by the Pharisees, tried by the Roman governor and executed by Roman soldiers. If we dare follow this nonviolent revolutionary, we too must resist empire, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against U.S. warmaking and imperial domination, and risk arrest and imprisonment like the great modern day disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan.

If we do not want to be part of the Pharisaic culture and do want to follow the nonviolent Jesus, we have to get in trouble just as Jesus was constantly in trouble for speaking the truth, loving the wrong people, worshipping the wrong way, and promoting the wrong things, like justice and peace. We have to resist this new American empire, as well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings. We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.

Just because the culture and the cultural church have joined with the empire and its wars does not mean that we all have to go along with such heresy, or fall into despair as if nothing can be done. It is never too late to try to follow the troublemaking Jesus, to join his practice of revolutionary nonviolence and become authentic Christians. We may find ourselves in trouble, even at the hands of so-called Christians, just as Jesus was in trouble at the hands of the so-called religious leaders of his day. But this very trouble may lead us back to those Beatitude blessings.

John Dear is a Jesuit priest and the author/editor of 20 books including most recently, “The Questions of Jesus” and “Living Peace” both published by Doubleday. He lives in New Mexico where he is working on a campaign to disarm Los Alamos. For info, see:

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Fingerprints of the Mossad (an aberration of nature)

Fingerprints, as with snowflakes, as the saying goes; there are never two exactly alike. It seems the creator decided in her infinite wisdom to give each human being a unique set of fingerprints that would distinguish them from all others. These specific markers that the PTB would one day use to their full advantage for identifying, classifying and marginalizing certain "dissidents" who were brave (or foolish) enough to stand up to Bush's creeping fascism in the early days of the 21st century.

There is one shadowy group operating on the world stage at present that seems to defy this very obvious fact of nature, because no matter where they go, or which agents are involved in their subterfuge, the fingerprints they leave behind are almost always exactly the same.

The group I am referring to is the Israeli secret service, otherwise known as the Mossad. This group operates for the most part under the radar of government and media, specializing in assassinations, false-flag operations and other covert deceptions with operatives based around the world. Because they are so successful in their clandestine operations, much of what is known about Mossad comes to us via the courageous work of Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent who detailed his adventures in two books entitled By Way of Deception and The Other Side of Deception. Both of these titles are unfortunately no longer in print, but used copies are still available on

Now, the motto of this particular organization is aptly named - "by way of deception, thou shalt do war", and goes a long way in describing how the calling card or "fingerprint" of the Mossad can be recognized. In essence, the Mossad excels at carrying out false-flag attacks and deceptively arranges it so that their enemies are the ones who take the blame. It's a purely Machiavellian strategy, whose successful two-pronged approach, seeks to embroil both one's foes by making it appear that one has openly attacked the other. Not only does this incite tension and hostility between both enemies, making them weaker overall, it also serves to effectively deflect attention away from the real perpetrators.

They have been using this strategy with great success for many many years, and although a few times have been "caught in the act" so to speak, for the most part always seem to emerge from the resulting chaos unscathed and smelling like a rose.

It seems likely that many of the suicide bombings that exact a huge toll in Iraq these days are a result of this sort of action, whereby agents of the Mossad arrange for sympathetic "agents" who are programmed to attack and kill Iraqi civilians whereby the bombings are then automatically blamed on so-called "insurgents". Two of the more flagrant examples of this type of Mossad operation can be found by looking into the facts of September 11, 2001, as well as the notorious Lavon Affair from 1954.

The most recent and glaringly obvious example of the ubiquitous Mossad fingerprint can be found on the recent assasination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Looking objectively at the facts surrounding this cold-blooded murder of a much loved and respected Middle eastern statesman, and which parties benefit the most from his death, the picture becomes painfully clear. This well-financed and intricately planned attack has all the hallmarks of a Mossad false-flag operation. The massive amount of explosives, the precise timing of the blast and resultant backlash against Israeli arch-enemy Syria are all important clues that point in one obvious direction.

Who benefits?

Well, take a look at this short summary of stories from mainstream and alternative press over the last week, and then decide for yourself who was mostly likely behind this cowardly and heartless act...

First from the World Socialist Website:

Mossad, the CIA and Lebanon
The assassination of Rafiq Hariri: who benefited?

By Bill Van Auken
17 February 2005

[...] the Syrian regime is being "framed" for a crime it did not commit...

[...] The powers that most clearly stood to advance their strategic aims by having Hariri assassinated and blaming the crime on Syria are the US and Israel. Among those who play the game of speculating who organized the car bombing in Beirut, the smart money is undoubtedly on Washington and Tel Aviv.

[...] Washington was prepared in advance to seize upon Hariri's death as a pretext for escalating its threats against Damascus.

[...] The timing of the assassination, barely a week after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced their truce in Egypt, is noteworthy. It is quite possible that any limited concessions the Israeli regime may agree to make as part of the "peace process" with the Palestinians will be repaid by Washington giving the green light for Israeli provocations and military actions against Syria.

[...] If one asks the question, "Who benefits?" the answer is clear. The destabilization of Lebanon, the mobilization of the US-backed opposition to the pro-Syrian government in Beirut, and the vilification of Damascus all serve to advance US and Israeli strategic plans long in the making.

It is not just a question of motive, however. Israel has a long history of utilizing assassination as an instrument of state policy. The Israeli regime has not infrequently carried out acts of terror and blamed them on its enemies.

[...] Car bomb killings in Beirut are a regular part of Mossad's repertoire.

Then this from Al-Jazeera:

Who killed Rafiq al-Hariri?

2/16/2005 1:00:00 PM GMT

[...] Israel stands to gain the most from his death as did the U.S.

[...] The U.S. and Israel were first of the block and quick to point the finger of blame at Syria - tantamount to convicting themselves as they're the only two countries that stand to gain from unrest being created in Lebanon.

[...] the blast had all the earmarks of the bombing that was carried out by Israel against former Palestinian leaders in Beirut in the past.

[...] It should also be remembered that the one man who wanted Lebanon destroyed, and who led the attack that Beirut on the brink of destruction was none other than one Ariel Sharon, Israel's current prime minister.

Sharon has set up a special group of dark ops in Israel who are allowed to kill anyone deemed to be a threat to Israel in any land in the world-clearly a violation of International Law.

Continuing on with this story from the Tehran Times:

Mossad behind Hariri assassination

Tehran Times Opinion Column, MNA
Feb. 16, By Hassan Hanizadeh

[...] The explosion destroyed a number of public buildings and vehicles, showing that the complicated terrorist act was carried out by a well equipped organization.

[...] regional and trans-regional powers such as the United States and the Zionist regime are trying to steer Lebanon toward a crisis, aiming to extend their military and political presence in some parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

[...] if Syrian forces withdraw from Lebanese territory, it would surely pave the way for the political and military machinations of the United States and Israel.

[...] Now, the question is: Who benefited from the assassination of Hariri, a man who played a constructive role in the reestablishment of security in Lebanon?

All the evidence indicates that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad killed Hariri, since it had previously plotted to assassinate important Lebanese politicians.

The Mossad is trying to help the Zionist army claw its way back into Lebanon, since history has shown that the stability of Lebanon is not to the advantage of Israel.

The there's this from the Islamic Republic News Agency:

Late Hariri's consultant: Hariri's assassination by Mossad aimed at creating tension in Lebanon


[...] "Assassination Hariri is the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad`s job, aimed at creating political tension in Lebanon."

[...] "Israel seeks the continuation of its existence in creation of constant tension in the region, and that was the reason why Tel Aviv imposed many years on civil war, and over a decade of occupation and instability against our nation."

And this from Islam Online:

State Agencies Behind Hariri Killing: Expert

Additional Reporting by Hamdy Al Husseini,
IOL Correspondent
February 15/05

[...] Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam arrived in Beirut Tuesday to pay his last respects to Hariri, and held Israel accountable for Hariri's grisly murder.

[...] "The magnitude of the blast indicates that it was the work of state security agencies and not just militant groups surfacing every now and then,"

[...] He stressed that the claim of the massive attack by a previously unknown group was a bid to distract attention away from the real perpetrators.

"The Group for Advocacy and Holy War in the Levant, which claimed responsibility for Hariri killing, was an invention of the parties behind the horrendous crime.

[...] He said that Lebanon is not a hotbed of the activities of Saudi militant groups as the country is an open arena for the Arab, Israeli and American intelligence and security agencies, which restrict the movement of such groups.

"Israel is the only country that benefits from Hariri assassination...

[...] Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, Khaddam accused Israel of assassinating Hariri, Al-Arabiya news channel reported.

State-run Syrian newspapers also accused Israel Tuesday of being responsible for the killing.

"Israel has adopted a hostile position to the Arab role in Lebanon since the end of its occupation of the south (in May 2000),"

[...] "This murder has unveiled a plot aimed at the entire region which has struck Lebanon and Syria in the heart."

Add to this from Channel News Asia:

Syria diverts blame onto Israel after 'odious' Hariri killing

16 February 2005 0156 hrs - AFP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was among the first leaders to condemn the massive Beirut bomb blast that killed Hariri and another 14 people on Monday...

[...] the official Damascus media in turn pointed a finger at Israel without even reporting the accusations against Syria.

Israel "continues to work to sabotage Lebanon's achievements to try to bring anarchy to the country and to be able to continue its occupation of the Shebaa Farms", a disputed strip of land along the Israeli border, said Tishrin.

Several Arab analysts stressed that Syria itself was also targeted by Hariri's assassination.

"Syria certainly did not need to complicate the situation, just when it is already in the firing line"

[...] Political scientist Gamal Salama, also in Cairo, ruled out any Syrian link because the killing could not serve the interests of Damascus.

It could signal "the prelude to action against Syria", said Salama. "Something has been in the pipeline against Syria for a long time. "Nobody knows what or when, but something is being cooked up to target Damascus."

And another from AlJazeera:

Syria accuses Israel of killing Al Hariri

2/15/2005 7:00:00 PM GMT

[...] "What happened was an attempt to shatter national unity in Lebanon, to sow anarchy and divisions which lead to a climate of civil war," said government newspaper Tishrin.

Israel "continues to work to sabotage Lebanon's achievements to try to bring anarchy to the country and to be able to continue its occupation of the Shebaa Farms", a disputed strip of land along the Israeli border, the newspaper added.

Meanwhile, several Arab analysts say that Syria itself was also targeted by Hariri's assassination.

"Syria certainly did not need to complicate the situation, just when it is already in the firing line" over UN Resolution 1559, Rauf Ghoneim, a former Egyptian deputy foreign minister, said

[...] Meanwhile, Iran said Israel is the only state that has the resources to carry out such attack. According to initial reports, the bomb which killed Hariri had the explosive power of 300 kg of dynamite.

"An organised terrorist entity like that of the Zionist regime has the capability to carry out such operations and it targets breaking unity and solidarity in Lebanon," a state-owned Iranian newspaper quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

And there's this from Asia Times:

From Baghdad to Beirut

By Pepe Escobar
Feb 17, 2005

[...] Without a shred of evidence - or perhaps profiting from "intelligence" amassed by the Pentagon, the Israeli Mossad, or both - the Bush administration immediately blamed Syria for the bombing that killed "Mr Beirut", former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

[...] it is well known in the Middle East that Palestinians working for the Israeli Mossad have been captured before and posed as members of a fake al-Qaeda cell in Gaza.

[...] Only Israel appears to benefit from Hariri's assassination.

[...] An array of Arab Middle East analysts, as well as the Lebanese government, point out that the blast was eerily similar to previous Israeli-orchestrated bombings against former Palestinian leaders.

[...] The iron-clad certainty, on both sides, is that these have been perpetrated not by "terrorists" as the US claims, but rather by Israeli black ops or Central Intelligence Agency-connected American mercenaries, with the intent of fueling sectarian tensions and advancing the prospect of civil war.

And this excellent essay by Jim Lobe printed on IPS:

Hariri Killing Sure to Bolster U.S. Hawks

Analysis by Jim Lobe
Feb 15/05 (IPS)

[...] the car-bombing is sure to strengthen forces inside the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush who have long argued for "regime change" in Damascus.

[...] He said Washington's precipitous recalling of its ambassador signals a "decision to really put the screws to the Syrians".

[...] The hawks, centred primarily in the Pentagon's civilian leadership and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, have long favoured a "regime change" policy for Damascus anyway.

One of Cheney's top Middle East advisors, David Wurmser and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith -- both with strong ties to Israel's settler movement -- contributed to papers in the 1990s that urged Israel and the United States to arm and finance groups in both Lebanon and Syria to force Damascus' withdrawal from Lebanon and destabilise the Baathist regime.

Since Washington's invasion of Iraq in March 2003, they have argued Damascus' alleged failure to fully cooperate with the occupation justified a more aggressive policy, including military strikes.

And considering that France is America's #1 allied enemy-du-jour, this piece from Expatica is most interesting:

Hariri murder seen as a 'Syrian message' to France

PARIS, Feb 15 (AFP)

[...] The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was a deliberate blow to France, whose president Jacques Chirac was a personal friend and has sponsored UN moves to end the Syrian occupation.

[...] "I am convinced this attack - the most significant since the end of Lebanon's war - was a message directed at Chirac, who was a personal friend of Rafiq Hariri," said Antoine Sfeir, director of the Cahiers de l'Orient newsletter.

[...] Syria has condemned the assassination. According to its supporters, the fact that suspicion automatically fell on Damascus suggests that another agent was responsible and calculated that Syria would be blamed.

And lastly, I will leave you with a well articulated summary of the real perpetrators and their motives written as an eassay by the editors at Signs of the Times:

Mossad Murders Former Lebanese PM in Carbon Copy of 1979 Assassination


As we noted yesterday:

Three Mossad agents who could pass for Arabs crossed into Lebanon and entered the city. One rented a car. The second wired a series of bombs into its chasis, roof, and door panels. The third agent parked the car along the route the "Red Prince" traveled to his office every morning. Using precise timing Rafi Eitan had provided, the car was set to explode as PLO chief Salameh passed. It did, blowing him to pieces.

Let's face it, all of the hallmarks of a Mossad operation are there. As an article in today's Economist states:

Some detect the work of an intelligence service—if not Syria’s, some other foreign power’s—in the method of the attack. Certainly, the size and sophistication of the bomb suggest it was the work of a well-organised and experienced group, or a government. The blast was big enough to leave a huge crater and shatter windows hundreds of metres away. Moreover, it was sophisticated enough to defeat jamming mechanisms, which the billionaire Mr Hariri’s convoy always used while travelling, to forestall such remotely triggered attacks. Mr Hariri, who made his fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia, knew he had many enemies and took what countermeasures he could.

By all accounts, Hariri was one of the few "men of peace" left in the Middle East. In his two terms as Lebanese PM since 1990 he had brought Lebanon out of the carnage wrought by 15 years of civil war and set it well on the way to becoming once more the "Paris of the Middle East." As in the case of Iraq, Israel is determined to do whatever necessary to ensure that it remains all-powerful in the region and prevent any of its Arab neigbours from emerging as solid, unified Muslim democracies that it could not demonise as "terrorist states". By murdering Hariri and having the blame pinned on Syria, the Mossad have removed a stablising influence on recovering Lebanese society and the Middle East in general, and given the US government an excuse to further ratchet up the war rhetoric towards Damascus.

In this sense, Israel shares a common goal with the US and it is for this reason that Israel has always enjoyed the overwhelming support of successive US administrations. While the US and Israel both make much of their bogus "war on terrorism", both countries have long since realised that it is by fomenting "terrorism" and "terrorist" groups that their control of the Middle East can be assured. Yet, while both countries share a common goal, the reasons that each desires to achieve that goal are slightly different.

By controlling the extensive oil resources in the Middle East (and the countries that sit upon them), the US can ensure that it continues to top the heap of world superpowers. Israel too wishes to remain as a powerful world player, and its leaders realise that acting as a hired thug for the US in the region is the best way to do so. Yet it is more than mere power lust that is driving Israel's leaders to deliberately antagonise and provoke the entire Arab world. Israel's very presence in the Middle East is predicated on the Judaic notion of a "chosen people" and their very own homeland granted to them thousands of years ago by their mythical god, yahweh.

While it may be possible (if unlikely) to make a convincing geopolitical argument for the US government's Middle East policies over the years, to understand the thinking of people like Sharon and all those that act on his orders, one would have to first embrace as legitimate the idea that a group of human beings can constitute a "chosen people", one of their lives being worth more than 1,000 of the lives of the "lesser" people of the world. One would also have to accept that the "chosen people" are divinely entitled to a piece of land in the Middle East and that they are permitted therefore to act in any way necessary to achieve their goals of lebensraum. While the Israeli government is careful to distance itself from extreme Judaic beliefs, it is clear that it is just such beliefs that underpin its policies.

Religious and political incentives aside, one of the strongest indications of an Israeli involvement in the murder of Hariri is the fact that not ONE mainstream news source is even mentioning the possibility of Israeli involvement, when it is painfully clear that Israel has the most to gain from his death. But then again, we have become accustomed to the severe lack of intestinal fortitude or any real journalistic integrity on the part of the mainstream media. And also to the fact that much of the Western press is dominated by Israeli sympathisers and/or "Zionists".

So, it should be pretty clear by now that by the deliberate killing of Hariri, the Mossad did exactly what it had intended to do; that is destabilize Lebanon and further demonize Syria in the eyes of the west, giving Israel's staunch ally, the U.S. more ammunition with which to crank up the ant-Syrian rhetoric in preparation for the inevitable invasion of the next "axis-of evil" country on Uncle Sam's hit list.

The unique fingerprints of the Mosaad are all over this one, and that's why it's imperative that the truth of their involvement in this horrible crime get spread far and wide. I encourage all readers who are interested in the truth to disseminate links to this blog or any of the other articles mentioned so as to inform as many people as possible.

For further research please see the following pages...

Signs Feb 15/05

Signs Feb 16/05

Signs Feb 17/05

Signs Feb 18/05

and follow the links therein.

I'd like to end this essay by quoting from a Paul Simon Song at the end of his Graceland album called The Myth of the Fingerprints...

"I've seen them all and man they're all the same"

And although he was likely being his humourous poetic self, when it comes to the Israeli secret service, he may actually be on to something.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Blind Faith

February 9, 2005
By Bill Moyers

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress.

For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

One-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup Poll is accurate, believes the Bible is literally true. This past November, several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in what is known as the "rapture index."

These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans. Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre: Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "bibli-cal lands," legions of the Antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That is why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. That is why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations, where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." For them a war with Islam in the Middle East is something to be welcomed—an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The rapture index—"the prophetic speedometer of end-time activity"—now stands at 153 (

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? As Glenn Scherer reports in the online environmental journal Grist, millions of Christian fundamentalists believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but hastened as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

We're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half of the members of Congress are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian-right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who before his recent retirement quoted from the biblical Book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to relish the thought.

Onward Christian soldiers

And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the Book of Revelations are going to come true. Tune in to any of the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations or flip on one of the 250 Christian TV stations across the country and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible?"

These people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's Providential History, which contains the following: "The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth … while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people." No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers in this past election, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

Once upon a time I thought that people would protect the natural environment when they realized its importance to their health and to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to believe that—it's just that I read the news and connect the dots.

Immoral imagination

Mike Leavitt, the former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment—a mandate for an administration that wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to judge beforehand if actions might damage natural resources.

The Environmental Protection Agency had even planned to spend $9 million—$2 million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council—to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

I read all this and then look at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer—pictures of my grandchildren: Henry, age 12; Thomas, age 10; Nancy, 7; Jassie, 3; Sara Jane, nine months. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

And I ask myself: "Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?"

What has happened to our moral imagination?

The news is not good these days. I can tell you that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free—free to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk.

What we need is what the ancient Israelites called "hocma"—the science of the heart, the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

HAARP the Herald Aliens Sing...

As our modern society slides into ever-increasing levels of chaos and madness, where the latest technological marvels include bigger and better ways to kill human beings, it seems that people are searching in greater numbers for answers as to why the planet is in such bad shape, while most signs indicate that it's all going downhill from here.

As a result of this search, it appears that more and more people are flocking away from those "old-time religions", as the fear of God no longer holds the same sway and influence as it once did. In a society where the greatest value is put own owning the latest and most expensive "stuff", there is little room in the equation for love thy neighbour or eternal damnation and hellfire.

So, what are the PTB who manufacture the control system to do when their obedient flock no longer cower before the prescence of the Almighty?

Enter the paradigm of the new time religions...

For some reason, over the centuries, humankind has been conditioned to believe in a "saviour" of some kind. A superhuman prescence who will arrive on the planet at the last minute and solve all our present day problems, or barring that whisk his "faithful followers" away while the rest of humanity is left to wallow in the cesspool they have created.

So, if it's no longer Jesus who will come to rapture up his chosen few, then it must be some kind of extra-terrestrial intervention. Benevolent aliens with sophisticated technology and vast intelligence who have the good intentions to rescue humanity from all it's self-created ills such as global warming, perpetual war and the creeping fascism of the New World Order.

I've noticed a sharp increase in the promulgation of the "aliens as our saviours" scenario on the web, as well as quite a bit of speculation by certain areas of the mainstream press that a visit by our ET brothers is bound to happen anytime soon.

The first is the promotion of Dr. Steven Greer's Disclosure Project by certain alternative new sites, and the second, a recent report by ABC's anchorman Peter Jennings enitled; The UFO Phenomenon -- Seeing Is Believing.

Now whether the emergence of these two stories at this point in time is coincidental or not, I think it's important to discuss them in relation to the idea of "aliens as our saviours", and why people always tend to want some higher force to come down and rescue them, rather than taking responsibility for themselves.

It seems to me that this idea of extra-terrestrial intervention just when the planet is on the verge of climatic and economic catastrophe, is just a repackaging of the rapture myth desperately clung to by the fundamentalist Christian sect.

My own perspective, based in part on Richard Dolan's work and the research done by the Cassiopaean website, has lead me to the conclusion that our planet has been and continues to be visited by so-called "aliens", and that their agenda is anything but helpul or benevolent.

Combine this with a recent report on the HAARP array in Alaska by Laura Knight Jadczyk , and I'm getting the distinct impression that this device is being used, in part, to condition the masses of humanity to accept the "aliens as saviours" model, in spite of all lack of evidence to support it.

It seems things are heating up in a major way here on the Big Blue Marble, and the alien rapture scenario is just one more facet of a very complex puzzle designed to hide the truth from the human race that in all probability; we are not at the top of the food chain.

Now considering that HAARP can be used to to direct microwaves at specific places on the planet and shape the perceptions of most of humankind and certain susceptible individuals, it puts the following story in a whole new light...

Receiving Messages from the Virgin Mary

By: Amy Jacquin

Perryville, Missouri - There's something happening in Perryville that's attracting people from miles away. On the 13th of every month, one man says he has visions of the Virgin Mary, and that She gives him messages.

It all started about a year and a half ago, as a personal revelation for Neal Gremaud. Since then, Neal says the Virgin Mary told him to invite everyone to pray with him. And over the past year, the crowds have steadily grown.

On this nasty January morning, only true believers gather at the Grotto on the Vincentian seminary grounds in Perryville. A couple dozen people huddle in prayer... Starting at 9 a.m. And lasting more than two hours. It'd during the praying Neal says he sees and hears the Virgin Mary.

"When she appears to me, it's not as I see you or am talking to you," he tries to explain. "It's more internal. I don't really know how to explain it. When you're talking about something Heavenly, it's impossible to describe it."

It's the hope of such a heavenly visit that inspires people to come. Sometimes by the hundreds, sometimes smaller. The small January group showed devotion despite shaking with cold.

"I feel really warm inside," says Elaine Pinar of Perryville. "It's very cold... But I'm warm inside. I feel so blessed. Especially when Neal said the Blessed Mother was walking around and touching every one of us. I really felt that touch."

"I didn't care what the weather would be like, I wanted to be here," agrees Pat Fornkohl of Cape Girardeau. "I took off work to be here. I feel so blessed."

There are stories of other miraculous happenings here at the Grotto. Stories we couldn't confirm.

Neal says he received his first visit in the summer of 2003.

"I was working in the fields, on the tractor, and I smelled the scent of roses so I knew it was Her," he says. "She asked me to some out to the grotto on the 13th of every month, for 13 months."

According to Neal, she extended that time frame. And now, he has no clue what to expect from month-to-month.

"I hope that people come here and see how she works in people's lives," he says simply.

So how does She work? Why pick a Perryville farmer to spread messages of prayer, fasting and peace?

"I wondered, why me?" admits Neal. "I really don't know! All I know is, She asked me and I could not refuse."

He says the Virgin Mary has a plan for the old seminary, and wants to keep it a holy place.

"She's asking that the buildings here not be destroyed," he says. "She has a future purpose for them."

The Vincentians, however, plan to tear-down two buildings and replace it with a new residence for retired priests. Demolition prep work started just this week

"I just keep praying for all her intentions," he shrugs. "That's all I can do."

No one is getting paid for this. No money changes hands. No collection is taken.

"It's not about profit," Neal answers calmly. "It's all about calling Her people to pray."

Everyone here knows there are skeptics and non-believers. Neal knows some may call him crazy. But it's a cross he's willing to bear.

"If it were me, something I was doing personally, I couldn't do it," he says. "It's only by God's grace that I am being allowed to do this."

Neal types-up the messages and hands them out to anyone who wants them. They all center around a request to pray.

We should mention we did find a few skeptics around town, but no one wanted to talk on camera.

...Glory to the Newborn Thing.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Christian Zionists and neocons: a heavenly marriage

A fusion of religious zealotry, political dogma and anti-Islamism is becoming a potent and underestimated force in United States security policy.

Paul Rogers
3 - 2 - 2005

The effects of the Iraq war are reverberating across the United States defence establishment. One of its consequences is a major rethink of military budget planning, including a decision to postpone some high-tech projects in favour of increasing the size and capability of the US army (see “Insurgents prevail”, 6 January 2005). It is becoming clear that this is happening in the contest of increasing civilian influence over defence planning within the Pentagon, as well as a more powerful role for the Pentagon itself within the George W Bush administration.

US military leaders, according to a well-informed source,

“are worried the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is being hijacked by a small cadre of civilians, and they believe they will be kept out of the loop, just as they were when budget cuts were decided only a few weeks ago”

For more information, see David Fulghum and Robert Wall, “Style Change”, Aviation Week, 24 January 2005 (subscription only). The key player in this “cadre” is probably Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence. But the overall trend seems further evidence that Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz (the defense secretary and his deputy) are able to maintain much greater control of military force planning than their predecessors.

The senior military are naturally reluctant to cede the control of such planning to civilians. They also have a wider concern that the current hawkish security policy of the Bush administration, including its liking for pre-emption, simply doesn’t take military realities into account. A well-rehearsed example is the refusal of the civilian leadership in 2002-03 to listen to voices from within the Pentagon and the US Army War College about the likely consequences of regime termination in Iraq.

Many departments of the United States government – state, commerce, justice and the treasury, as well as agencies such as the CIA – have historically made a contribution to developing United States security policy, in a context where the Pentagon plays the major role. But in the post-9/11 era, as US military forces moved to the forefront of the US response, “national security” concerns have come to overshadow other influences in policy formulation. In particular, the administration has come to regard the intelligence agencies much more as arms of government policy than as providers of independent assessments. This has been encouraged by, and in turn enhanced, the influence within the administration of neo-conservative security ideologues who are determined to ensure that the dream of the New American Century becomes a reality.

Many commentators have concentrated on the increasing influence of this neo-conservative thinking, especially in the light of the convincing electoral victory of President Bush in November 2004. But a quite different source of influence on US foreign and security policy, often neglected or underestimated, is also becoming significant. This is the constituency known most commonly as the “Christian Zionists”, whose role was mentioned recently by those anonymous SWISH consultants in their recent report.

Towards the “end of days”

Christian Zionism, also known as dispensationalism or dispensation theology, has been around for over a century and a half but it has only acquired real political significance in the past decade. Its current importance stems from three factors: the voting power of a significant proportion of evangelical Christians, its visceral support for the state of Israel, and its links with neo-conservatism.

The essence of “dispensation theology”, allowing for internal variations, is that God has given a dispensation to the Jews to prepare the way for the Second Coming. The literal fulfilment of Old Testament promises to biblical Israel is approaching, an “end of days” that will involve a millennium of earthly rule centred on Jerusalem. Thus, the state of Israel is a fundamental part of God’s plan, and it is essential for it to survive and thrive.

Dispensationalists would argue that this has always been a core part of the Christian message, but most historians of theology trace the doctrine to the thoughts and preachings of John Nelson Darby (1800-82), a minister of the Plymouth Brethren active in promoting it in the 1820s. It attracted particular attention in the United States as part of the Biblical Conference Movement in the 1870s, and flourished in the first decades of the 20th century.

The evangelist Cyrus Scofield was central to this process. His Scofield Reference Bible (1909) was the first book published by the new US offices of the Oxford University Press. Its prolific theological interpretations helped make it perhaps the most renowned version of the bible in North American evangelism.

Michael Vlach describes how many Bible schools teaching dispensationalism were formed in the 1920s, the most significant being the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924. The Scofield Bible became a standard source in these institutions, helping the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” to lay down firm roots in the inter-war years.

Many dispensationalists saw the establishment of Israel in 1948 as the beginning of a fulfilment of biblical prophecies. Later moments in the country’s history – especially the six-day war in 1967 and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 – gave a further impetus to the idea.

The Bill Clinton years (1993-2000) were more difficult for dispensationalists, partly because they followed the preacher scandals of the late 1980s, and because Clinton was more favourable to the more secular elements of the Israeli political system, not least with its Labour Party. But during his presidency, the main Israel lobbies in Washington – particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) – sought to build close links with the Christian Zionists. In this, Aipac and similar organisations were recognising the increasing demographic and political power of the Christian Zionists, and also securing a wider base of support at a time when American Jewish communities were scarred by deep divisions that threatened to reduce support for Israel.

A recent, succinct history of Christian Zionism by Donald Wagner of Chicago’s North Park University tracks the remarkable coming together of the movement with neo-conservatism during the George W Bush era, and quotes the leading evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell: “The Bible Belt is Israel’s safety net in the United States.”

Wagner remarks:

“By 2000, a shift had taken place in the Republican Party. It began embracing the doctrines of neoconservative ideologues who advocated US unilateralism and favored military solutions over diplomacy. The more aggressive approach was put into action after Sept. 11, and to no one’s surprise, Israel’s war against the Palestinians and its other enemies was soon linked to the US ‘war on terrorism’.”

A number of groups now connect evangelical Christian churches in the United States with support for Israel, many of them making specific reference to Jerusalem. Stand for Israel, for example, talks of the need “to mobilise Christians and people of faith to support the State of Israel…” and declares on its home page that “Anti-Israel = Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism”.

A new dispensation

This growth in Christian Zionism in recent years forms just one part of the wider increase in the conservative evangelism movement, the fastest-growing sector within American Christian churches. Donald Wagner estimates that it numbers 100-130 million adherents (the population of the United States is 293 million). The proportion of Christian Zionists among this figure is harder to assess, but perhaps 20-25% of US evangelicals could be described as sympathetic to the doctrine’s fundamentalist views. At the same time, larger numbers may be inclined to support Israel because of broader dispensationalist sympathies; and the fact that evangelical Christians seem particularly disposed to vote, and to be more likely to support the Republican Party, has allowed them to secure a power even greater than their numbers.

The political consequence is that both Israel and US neo-conservatives have come to benefit from ideological and electoral support from an unexpected and growing source. This has wider strategic implications too: for many adherents seriously believe that we may be approaching the end of the world, that salvation can arrive only through a Christian message linked decisively to the success of the state of Israel, and that Islam is necessarily a false faith that must be combated.

The fusion of religion and politics that Christian Zionism represents remains a largely unrecognised force in American politics. Its alliance with neo-conservatism may yet do much to influence the middle-east policies of the second administration of the born-again George W Bush.