Onward Christian Soldiers

First, an email that came in the other day:

Hi. My name’s Scott — , I’m a U.S. citizen from Nashville, RED, RED, RED Tennessee (I voted for Kerry). I’m a Christian. I have no reason to believe that the Earth is 5,000 years old. I do not believe that Satan planted dinosaur bones (Gimme a break). I say this to remind everyone that not all Christians are gullible lunatics, and not all Christians are buying the war profiteers’ simple-minded rhetoric. I may be crazy, and I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it’s hard to screw up something as simple as “thou shalt not kill.” Remember, Dr. Martin Luther King was also a Christian. People on the left need to realize that they’re not at odds with scripture, though some of them have been fooled into thinking that they are.

I’m posting this for a couple of reasons. First, Scott is absolutely correct — it’s obviously a mistake to assume that all Christians are crazy fundamentalists. (Jack Hitt has been too busy with real deadlines to post anything here yet, but this is a topic about which he has much to say, so maybe when he gets some time he’ll toss in his two cents.) But like all coins, this one has two sides — it’s equally a mistake to therefore assume that the rise of the militant evangelicals is not something to be concerned about, or to let conservative pundits of the “No One Understands Real Americans Like I Do” school convince you that such concern is simply the byproduct of your elitist liberal bigotry. The current Harper’s Magazine has two good pieces on the topic — a look inside the nation’s most powerful megachurch by Jeff Sharlet, and a report from the National Religious Broadcaster’s convention by Chris Hedges (the author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning). They’re not online, that I can tell — you’ll have to go buy the magazine. But there’s a passage at the end of the latter article that I’ve scanned in order to post here, because it’s an important counterweight to the aforementioned N.O.U.R.A.L.I.D.O. pundits.

…a few other thoughts about playing by the “old polite rules of democracy” while those in power dismantle our democratic state. That’s exactly what was happening in the runup to war, every time a Sensible Liberal said, gosh, you know, maybe Saddam really is a menace, maybe we have to give the President a fair hearing, maybe we have no choice but to invade, yadda yadda yadda. (There are some fairly well respected liberal bloggers that I can barely stand to read today as a result of this sort of nonsense.)

And it’s what was happening when I went to a speech Joe Liberman gave a month or so ago. When asked how he was going to vote on one or another of Bush’s more egregious nominees — I think it was Bolton, but I can’t find my notes, so I’m not 100% certain — anyway, he said he genuinely did not know, because he felt that he always had to give the President the benefit of the doubt.

All I can say is, we don’t have the luxury of such equivocation these days. The moderates and Sensible Liberals may be content to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, but our time would be much better spent trying to figure out how to steer course away from the iceberg, if such is still possible.