Last Tuesday evening Red Baron listened to a lecture by Professor Matthew Sutton from Washington State University titled:
The Antichrist and the Rise of the American Christian Right
|Professor Sutton and his audience (©Carl-Schurz-Haus)|
In Germany the influence of religion on politics is on the decline. In our pluralistic society Christian Churches fight rearguard battles against abortion and same-sex marriage but no one will lament that the Lord no longer holds his hand over Germany. Red Baron learned that statements such as these were made on television in the States following the 9/11 attacks: Wake-up America. Turn back.
|Infidelity, sensualism, wars, despising |
of the government, apostasy, Bolshevism,
isms of all kinds (©Matthew Sutton)
The interpretation of the Bible in particular the Book of Revelation gave those fundamentalists their arguments. Signs of the times like the rebirth of the state of Israel pointed in the direction of Armageddon. Some fundamentalists even went so far as to consider Hitler God's tool driving the Jews to Palestine.
American politicians, although cautious in their statements not to be taken for fundamentalists, easily jump on the bandwagon of the Evangelicals when it serves their purposes. That was even true for presidents. However, at present some fundamentalists question whether the Magic Negro in the White House indeed is a Christian or is he rather the Antichrist?
To get some structure in my writing: here are some key points from the announcement of the lecture organized by the Carl-Schurz-Haus in Freiburg:
Starting in the early 20th century, a colorful and charismatic group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces - communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment - Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and many others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Rather than withdraw from their communities to wait for Armageddon, they used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the United States for God’s final judgment.
The world has seen this before. There have always been particular periods in the course of history when Christians anticipated the final judgement. Already the primitive community lived in the imminent expectation of Christ's return for: Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (John 16:16).
Luther, disgusted by the abuses in the Roman Church, was convinced that the Antichrist had usurped St. Peter's Chair. The reformer believed in an imminent eschaton.
And a recent poll revealed that nearly 50% of Americans think that Jesus will return by 2050. Why should one care about global warming for now the end is near and humanity faces the final curtain?
It seems that the scourge of the 21st century is religiously motivated fundamentalism. The abuse of religion as an instrument of political power runs as a common thread through history. While ISIS slaughters people of another faith in the name of Allah Christian fundamentalist movements brainwash people, deprive their followers of their free will and ... money.
What is wrong here? Did we not see the Enlightenment already at the end of the 18th century? Why do we need religions at all? That will be the topic of another blog.