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Christianist Ayatollahs Bring America To Shame; Are Worse Threat Than 'Communism'

American Christianists-- far right-wing, politicized extremists who engage their flocks' genuine Christian faith through manipulation and distortion, are, as the main voter constituency supporting extreme right wing republicanism and the Bush administration, at the core of the problem with America that has led to the state we find ourselves in today-- facing daily disclosures of worse and worse reports of horrible, twisted, perverted tortures.
Christianist Ayatollahs Bring America To Shame; are a worse threat to the nation than communism ever was. Steps to Confront Them

By Rob Kall

OpEdNews.Com

Every time you hear another disgusting, shameful report of a prison atrocity perpetrated by American soldiers, think of some self-righteous fundamentalist Christianist ayatollah exhorting his hypnotized flocks to support George Bush.

Every time you hear another report of the despoiling of the planet's ecology, think of an anti-abortion Catholic Bishop making the political threat to withhold communion and confession from members of his parish who vote for John Kerry or anyone who supports abortion. They better vote Roman Catholic, like the Vatican commands. A vote against abortion is all that matters, even if the guys they vote for rape the planet and helpless children too.

When you tune in to a right wing hate talk show, filled with distortions, innuendo and plain out lies, and can't find a local talk show that covers the left's perspective, think of a Christianist organization that supports suppression of freedom of speech and the right wing, in the pocket of corporatists legislators who allow de-regulation of the airwaves so a handful of right wing corporations can own and control the media.

American Christianists-- far right-wing, politicized extremists who engage their flocks' genuine Christian faith through manipulation and distortion, are, as the main voter constituency supporting extreme right wing republicanism and the Bush administration, at the core of the problem with America that has led to the state we find ourselves in today-- facing daily disclosures of worse and worse reports of horrible, twisted, perverted tortures. Contrary to what the criminal Bush administration claims, these appear to be system-wide patterns produced by policies made official by Bush's anointed and re-confirmed appointee, Donald Rumsfeld.

It is clear that Rumsfeld has had his hand directly in setting the policies that not only allowed but encouraged these un-American activities to occur. By declaring and confirming his strong faith in and support of Rumsfeld, before investigations could determine the facts, Bush made himself fully responsible for any acts in violation of international law that Rumsfeld's decisions caused. Bush should go to jail along with Rumsfeld. But that's another story.

The Christianist-led segment of the US population elected George Bush and his congressional supporters. They have put into power and maintain Bush, the man hated by more people than any other person in the history of the planet.

American Christianist mullahs-- preachers, bishops, and other leaders of the right wing churches whose political exhortations and leadership have put people like Bush, DeLay, Frist, and the toilet full of right wing federal legislator apologists for the Bush team must be seen for what they are-- the real American Taliban-- ugly, hateful, sexist threats to America. These frauds who claim to represent Jesus' teachings are really a far greater threat to the America envisioned by the founders of this nation than communists ever were.

These protectors and hiders of pedophiles, supporters of the defiling of the environment and the enthroners of of corporations as higher priority than humans are the modern day equivalents of the moneychangers Jesus threw out of the temple.

"...and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise" (John 2:13-16).

Today, the "temple" is the world of ideas about faith and religion. The "moneychangers" are the sell-outs who call themselves ministers and bishops and popes who use the ideas of faith, of God, to sell their politics. They charge up the passion, the faith, the tender, trusting, open hearts of their congregations, who yearn for trust and a spiritual bosom to nurture them... and they turn these innocent, good hearted people into toxic fools who now support torture, sexual perversion, contemptful mistreatment of the dead and an exploding litany of actions that have horribly sullied the reputation of the United States.

It is not enough for these twisted Christianist Taliban leaders (and the minority of right wing, extremist Jews, (mostly extreme orthodox) who misguidedly support Bush because of his anything goes for Israel policy) to condemn what has happened in the jails, though I have not seen much of a response or uproar from them yet. They are directly responsible for electing and encouraging the "leaders" who have taken our nation down this road of shame, irresponsibility and incompetence.

The people of America who cherish democracy and the values of the founding fathers of our nation face a situation similar to that of the majority of the people in Iran. There, the mullahs, though representing a minority, hold the reins of power. They perpetrate crimes and corruptions that have dragged the nation backwards.

In our free country, it is not possible to jail these American fundamentalist ayatollahs . We can't even stifle their speech. But we can let our neighbors know that they are despicable. We can speak out that they are the hypocrites whose support has allowed the perverse, unacceptable by any religion's standards, actions that the Bush administration's leadership has encouraged and then applauded (Bush did say he thought Rumsfeld was doing a wonderful job.)

You can call in to your local talk show and name the ministers and Bishops who function as right wing political operatives, supporting the Bush torture and sexual perversion (like having prisoners form naked pyramids or pose as though performing oral sex) prison policies. You can write letters to the editorial pages of your local dailies and weeklies. They protest in front of family planning clinics. We can protest in front of their churches with signs declaring that anti abortionists are pro-torture, pro-sexual deviance (probably best to do with coordination with the police. This is confronting them on their turf, and will inflame passions.).

Get in the faces of the hypnotized flocks. Make them confused. Force them to struggle with the idea that it is not a black and white issue-- that opposing abortion is making a deal with the devil and that their leaders have sold their souls to dark side. People want to do what is right, what is good. Their leaders have misguided them, taken them down the path of the unrighteous, through the valley of the shadow of death. Their cups overflow with blood and lascivious fluids. They bear responsibility for the evil. For they have forsaken goodness and mercy and they have lost the way of the lord.

It is not enough though, to just bash Bush and complain about these anti-abortion hypnotized sheep. We must offer them a solution that, while respecting women's rights to chose, also offer a perception of the progressive model that is spiritually resonant with their beliefs. The right wing has think tanks that spend millions developing these models, policies, slants, frames and perspectives. The left desperately needs to take the same approach. We now have the Center for American Progress as the first reasonably well funded left of center policy promotion think tank. We need dozens more, just to catch up with the right wing. The issue of how to deal with the right wing's clutch upon fundamentalist religion must be warred with. It will take many battles and a serious investment by wealthy contributors and foundations for an effective strategy to be reached. Until we take on this challenge, the extreme right will continue to be able to manipulate the religious right with, as is now the case, minimal contention or competition of ideas from the left. This must change.

~ ~ ~

Rob Kall  rob@opednews.com is editor/founder of  http://www.OpEdNews.com This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 100 other articles  http://www.opednews.com/archives%20kall.htm by Rob Kall including a series of articles on the need for progressive policy promotion think tanks.

homepage: homepage: http://www.opednews.com/kall051704_christianist_ayatollahs.htm
address: address: OpEdNews.com


A strange kind of freedom 17.May.2004 20:15

Robert Fisk

The most astonishing -- and least covered -- story is in fact the alliance of Israeli lobbyists and Christian Zionist fundamentalists, a coalition that began in 1978 with the publication of a Likud plan to encourage fundamentalist churches to give their support to Israel. By 1980, there was an "International Christian Embassy" in Jerusalem; and in 1985, a Christian Zionist lobby emerged at a "National Prayer Breakfast for Israel" whose principal speaker was Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to become Israeli prime minister. "A sense of history, poetry and morality imbued the Christian Zionists who, more than a century ago, began to write, plan and organise for Israel's restoration," Netanyahu told his audience. The so-called National Unity Coalition for Israel became a lobbying arm of Christian Zionism with contacts in Congress and neo-conservative think-tanks in Washington.

. . . In May this year, the Israeli embassy in Washington, no less, arranged a prayer breakfast for Christian Zionists. Present were Alonzo Short, a member of the board of "Promise Keepers", and Michael Little who is president of the "Christian Broadcasting Network". Event hosts were listed as including those dour old Christian conservatives Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who once financed a rogue television station in southern Lebanon which threatened Muslim villagers and broadcast tirades by Major Saad Haddad, Israel's stooge militia leader in Lebanon. In Tennessee, Jewish officials invited hundreds of Christians to join Jewish crowds at a pro-Israel solidarity rally in Memphis.

"Holy Joe" Lieberman

I doubt that Lieberman was there, Bob, 17.May.2004 22:37

-

and if so, that that was the purpose. If so, provide evidence

Don't assume 17.May.2004 22:58

mom

that the "flock" doesn't already know "that it is not a black and white issue".
There is more conversation and debate inside these churches than an outsider might think. Many congregations just ignore what the secular press wants to put on the front page. Why does the extreme voice always get so much press?

to "I doubt" 17.May.2004 23:34

Sen. Joseph Lieberman is a Christian Zionist fundamentalist.

he is a 'Christianist' - as defined by the originally posted article.

Lieberman's Conflict of Interest
by William Hughes
 http://www.counterpunch.org/hughes0823.html

Like all members of the Senate, Lieberman is required to file an annual "Financial Disclosure Statement" with the Secretary of the Senate. In his May 15, 2001 submittal, he again failed to mention any official membership in any Zionist organizations. Although, he does disclose his significant connection, as an advisory board member, to three Israeli-based non-profit organizations: "The Peres Center for Peace" at Tel Aviv; "Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies" at Bar-Ilan University, and the "Natural History Museum," located in Jerusalem.

Lieberman's membership in these Zionist affiliated groups does raise, on its face, an appearance of a conflict of interest on his part with respect to an issue, like S. Res. 247, since it advances the cause of Zionism and/or Zionist Israel. If he is in fact a Zionist, then the conflict between his public duties and his private interests becomes even more pronounced.

The Anti-Defamation League, a hot air organ for Israel, defines Zionism as, "The guiding nationalist movement of the majority of Jews around the world, who believe in, support and identify with the State of Israel." Does Lieberman subscribe, as a matter of personal political philosophy, to the ADL's definition of Zionism? If so, shouldn't he put that fact on the public record, whether he is a card carrying Zionist or not?

Actually, Zionism is an alien based political movement, global in scope, racially restrictive, with its spiritual headquarters in Tel Aviv, and not Washington, D.C. It aspires to a land grabbing "Greater Israel."

On another disturbing front, Israel Radio (Kol Yisrael), reported on Oct. 3, 2001, that Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had boasted at a Cabinet meeting, "I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

In light of the above, I feel the Senate had a right to know any relevant information about Lieberman's Zionist political ideology, memberships, and associations in order to weigh the value of endorsing or opposing his pro Israel resolution. He should have, at a minimum, disclosed to the Senate any and all of his Zionist connections, and then, if appropriate, recused himself on the matter of S. Res. 247.

Our country is at high risk for terrorist attacks, partly, because of its flawed policy of giving unconditional support to a hawkish Israel, presently led by a man universally-loathed for his brutality. This policy, unfortunately, also includes unfairly demonizing and punishing Muslims and Arabs leaders in general; for example, the economic sanctions against Iraq, which have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, fall into the latter category (CASI, 01/02).

During the 2000 election, Lieberman received $86,000 from Pro-Israel PAC contributors towards his Senate re-election campaign, (See, Janet McMahon, WRMEA, Oct/Nov. 2000 issue). What effect did that financial contribution, and others like it, have on his voting record and on his hidden political agenda?

-------------------

The faith-based Lieberman

 http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=14364

Lieberman, who is Jewish, is also a strong supporter of President Bush's faith-based initiative. In fact, early last year when the president's project was floundering, Bush gave Lieberman and Republican Senator Rick Santorum the task of crafting a compromise initiative. While it seemed to be a balanced pairing of "liberal" with "conservative," the reality is that Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Santorum share more than a seat in the same legislative body. They both share a close relationship to a conservative operation called The Empowerment Network (TEN), where they serve as Empowerment Caucus Chairmen.

TEN describes itself as "a resource hub for state legislators, grassroots organizations, and other civic leaders promoting American family and community renewal of civil society in the 21st century." According to its website, "TEN's grassroots network provides the winning edge on policy initiatives that support youth character and family revitalization, entrepreneurship and the unleashing of faith-based initiatives and cultural remedies."

The Empowerment Network was founded in 1992 by a coterie of right-wing ideologues including:


Its current president, David Caprara, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary under Jack Kemp (during the George H. Bush administration) and National Director for the American Family Coalition;

Sam Brunelli, who from 1988 through 1995 was the Executive Director of the highly partisan American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is member of the secretive Council on National Policy, and, in August 2001, joined the Republican Liberty Council as its National Finance Chairman;

Robin Brunelli, President of the National Foundation for Women Legislators;

Robert Woodson, the President of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise;

Stephen Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis, current Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and e-Government with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), Faculty Director for the Innovations in American Government program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Chairman of the Corporation for National Service, and Special Advisor to President Bush on faith-based and not-for-profit initiatives;

George Allen, the former Governor and now Senator from Virginia; and

Clint Bolick, the Vice president for the anti-affirmative action, pro-school voucher Institute for Justice.
So it wasn't surprising that when the Senators came back with a proposal in February of last year, Lieberman called it "a constitutionally appropriate" way to proceed. Lieberman:

"We also have an agreement to increase funding for a group of social service programs, including, particularly, the social service block grant program, which is very important to our states and very important to a lot of nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations that now use it to do good works.... We have [also] responded... to the evidence presented by your faith-based office... of not fair play totally toward faith-based groups as they applied for government funding. And this says that if you qualify otherwise, you can't be discriminated against in applying for a grant to do social service work, if you have a cross on the wall or a mezuzah on the door, or if you praise God in your mission statement, and that's the way it ought to be. So this is a real step forward."
Months after the Lieberman-Santorum "compromise" died in the Senate, the President sidestepped the whole process by signing executive orders in late December aimed at giving faith-based groups a leg up in the competition for federal money.

Lieberman and ACTA

Lieberman has comfortably sidled up to right-wing ideologues throughout his career. He, along with Lynne Cheney, the vice-president's wife and longtime critic of left-wing academics on America's college campuses, founded the National Alumni Forum in 1995. The group later changed its name to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). It is a Washington DC-based organization dedicated keeping its eye on campus "radicals" and countering "political correctness."

ACTA unloaded the first shot in the current war against critics of the president's war on terrorism when, in November 2001, it issued a report charging that "colleges and university faculty have been the weak link in America's response to the attack" on September 11. The report, titled "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America, and What Can Be Done About It," affirms the right of professors to academic freedom, but says that this freedom does not make these academics immune from criticism. "We learn from history that when a nation's intellectuals are unwilling to defend its civilization, they give comfort to its adversaries," the report declares.

To his credit, in a December 18, 2001, letter to Jerry Martin, President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), and co-author of the report, Sen. Lieberman wrote: "If I had been given an advanced copy, I would have objected to its content and methodology and asked you either to revise it or make clear that I had no involvement with it." Lieberman also asked that his name be removed as a "co-founder" of ACTA from its Web site or other Council documents.

Those are some of Lieberman's friends and some of his beliefs. To be fair, the Senator has a decent record regarding the environment, labor issues, and civil and human rights for gays and lesbians, although he did vote in favor of "The Defense of Marriage Act." On the whole, Lieberman enters the race as the most conservative Democrat in the field, and one of the party's most conservative foreign policy hawks since the days of Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson.

-------------------

Sen. Joe Lieberman Erases Ties to Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Group

 http://www.thememoryhole.org/pol/lieberman-ifcj.htm

>>> With his eyes firmly fixed on the White House, Senator Joseph Lieberman is making moves to whitewash his religious record. Specifically, "Holy Joe" (as he's sometimes called) is trying to erase his association the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization that tries to get fundamentalist Christians to support Israel, especially the emigration of Jews in the former Soviet Union to Israel.

If you haven't been paying attention lately, fundie Christians are growing ever more supportive of Israel, since the creation of that country and the return of Jews to it are two of the big steps on the way to the joys of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, the Rapture, etc., etc. The Fellowship plays on these beliefs by constantly invoking "biblical prophecy," conveniently forgetting that in the End Times scenario, Jews must either convert to Christianity or roast in hell forever.

Lieberman has long been associated with this group. From 1994 to 1999, he was the co-chair of their Center for Jewish and Christian Values. He has praised the Fellowship and appeared in their infomercial.

After announcing his candidacy, he asked the Fellowship to remove him from their half-hour commercial, which pleads for money to send Russian Jews to Israel. Also appearing in the infomercial--which aired on the right-wing Christian PAX network--are Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. (Holy Joe claims he didn't know he was in the infomercial.) A still-frame of his appearance is at the top of the page. I viewed a videotape of the original, uncut version of the infomercial, kindly sent by Ed Ericson. Lieberman's portion comes at the 17-minute mark and lasts for 12 seconds. Sitting in a studio and directly addressing the camera, he intones:

Brother Eckstein established the first dialogs in America between the Jewish community and evangelical Christian community. He is the leader in America, probably in the world, in this important work.

Furthermore, Lieberman has said that the Fellowship is "the best-kept secret in the United States." That cryptic endorsement used to be on the homepage of the Fellowship's Website, but now--naturally--it's gone. However, we've rescued it from purgatory (see above).


Thanks much for providing links... 18.May.2004 03:22

-

The 3 organizations in the first article I seriously question whether they are zionist groups specifically engineered to kick out the palestinians--supporting groups in Israel does NOT by definition equal Zionist. The organization in the last article is more suspicious.

But what is the definition of supporting Zionists? Serious question--I'm trying to understand where people are coming from.

And, can't you be supporting 18.May.2004 03:24

-

oppressed jews (like in Russia--it's horrible for the jews) to go to Israel, without agreeing with the policies of Sharon? Does that by your definition make one a Zionist?

U.S. support for Israel, Zionism, etc. 18.May.2004 13:24

phase out civilian aid, increase military aid

Israel's Lavi fighter
 http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/row/lavi.htm

. . . Subsequently, Israel planned to build up to 300 Lavi dual-role combat aircraft to replace its fleet of A-4 and Kfir aircraft between 1993 and 2003. One estimate put the development cost at $3 billion. The United States provided $1.3 billion of $1.5 billion Lavi development costs between 1980 and 1986, and between 1983 and 1988 Congress earmarked a total of $1.8 billion (through FY1987) for the Lavi. The Lavi program used mature US subsystems, and Israel subcontracted to American companies for the PW1120 engine project that it was not in a position to develop on its own, as well as for other elements that were beyond domestic Israeli capacity such as composite wings and flight control computers.

Lavi was canceled in 1987 as a result of growing American concerns about the cost of the project, as well as from concerns that Lavi fighters would threaten the export market of the US F-16 and F-18. Under American pressure, on August 30 1987 the Israeli cabinet voted to cancel the Lavi project, but *********asked the United States for $450 million to pay for canceled contracts. The State Department agreed to raise the earmark for procurement in Israel from $300 million to $400 million to pay Lavi cancellation costs*********.

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Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US
 http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

Since 1973, Israel has cost the United States about $1.6 trillion. If divided by today's population, that is more than $5,700 per person. This is an estimate by Thomas Stauffer, a consulting economist in Washington. For decades, his analyses of the Middle East scene have made him a frequent thorn in the side of the Israel lobby.

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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
U.S. Aid to Israel: $91 Billion and Counting
 http://www.webcom.com/hrin/magazine/israel.html

-------------------

U.S. Arms Transfers to Israel
 http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/reports/israel050602.html

-------------------

The Israel Lobby
 http://www.webcom.com/hrin/magazine/israellobby.html

AIPAC is widely regarded as the most powerful foreign-policy lobby in Washington. Its 60,000 members shower millions of dollars on hundreds of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Newspapers like the New York Times fear the Jewish lobby organizations as well. "It's very intimidating," said a correspondent at another large daily. "The pressure from these groups is relentless."

-------------------

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)
 http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020902&c=1&s=vest

On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war--not just with Iraq, but "total war," as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, "regime change" by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents--be it Colin Powell's State Department, the CIA or career military officers--is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East--a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.

. . . Indeed, there are some in military and intelligence circles who have taken to using "axis of evil" in reference to JINSA and CSP, along with venerable repositories of hawkish thinking like the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, as well as defense contractors, conservative foundations and public relations entities underwritten by far-right American Zionists (all of which help to underwrite JINSA and CSP). It's a milieu where ideology and money seamlessly blend: "Whenever you see someone identified in print or on TV as being with the Center for Security Policy or JINSA championing a position on the grounds of ideology or principle--which they are unquestionably doing with conviction--you are, nonetheless, not informed that they're also providing a sort of cover for other ideologues who just happen to stand to profit from hewing to the Likudnik and Pax Americana lines," says a veteran intelligence officer. He notes that while the United States has begun a phaseout of civilian aid to Israel that will end by 2007, government policy is to increase military aid by half the amount of civilian aid that's cut each year--which is not only a boon to both the US and Israeli weapons industries but is also crucial to realizing the far right's vision for missile defense and the Middle East.


The Jesus Landing Pad 18.May.2004 16:04

Rick Perlstein

Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move

The Jesus Landing Pad

by Rick Perlstein
May 18th, 2004 10:00 AM
 http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0420/perlstein.php

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.

Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Voice, Upton denied having written the document, though it was sent out from an e-mail account of one of his staffers and bears the organization's seal, which is nearly identical to the Great Seal of the United States. Its idiosyncratic grammar and punctuation tics also closely match those of texts on the Apostolic Congress's website, and Upton verified key details it recounted, including the number of participants in the meeting ("45 ministers including wives") and its conclusion "with a heart-moving send-off of the President in his Presidential helicopter."

Upton refused to confirm further details.

Affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Congress is part of an important and disciplined political constituency courted by recent Republican administrations. As a subset of the broader Christian Zionist movement, it has a lengthy history of opposition to any proposal that will not result in what it calls a "one-state solution" in Israel.

The White House's association with the congress, which has just posted a new staffer in Israel who may be running afoul of Israel's strict anti-missionary laws, also raises diplomatic concerns.

The staffer, Kim Hadassah Johnson, wrote in a report obtained by the Voice, "We are establishing the Meet the Need Fund in Israel—'MNFI.' . . . The fund will be an Interest Free Loan Fund that will enable us to loan funds to new believers (others upon application) who need assistance. They will have the opportunity to repay the loan (although it will not be mandatory)." When that language was read to Moshe Fox, minister for public and interreligious affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he responded, "It sounds against the law which prohibits any kind of money or material [inducement] to make people convert to another religion. That's what it sounds like." (Fox's judgment was e-mailed to Johnson, who did not return a request for comment.)

The Apostolic Congress dates its origins to 1981, when, according to its website, "Brother Stan Wachtstetter was able to open the door to Apostolic Christians into the White House." Apostolics, a sect of Pentecostals, claim legitimacy as the heirs of the original church because they, as the 12 apostles supposedly did, baptize converts in the name of Jesus, not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ronald Reagan bore theological affinities with such Christians because of his belief that the world would end in a fiery Armageddon. Reagan himself referenced this belief explicitly a half-dozen times during his presidency.

While the language of apocalyptic Christianity is absent from George W. Bush's speeches, he has proven eager to work with apocalyptics—a point of pride for Upton. "We're in constant contact with the White House," he boasts. "I'm briefed at least once a week via telephone briefings. . . . I was there about two weeks ago . . . At that time we met with the president."

Last spring, after President Bush announced his Road Map plan for peace in the Middle East, the Apostolic Congress co-sponsored an effort with the Jewish group Americans for a Safe Israel that placed billboards in 23 cities with a quotation from Genesis ("Unto thy offspring will I give this land") and the message, "Pray that President Bush Honors God's Covenant with Israel. Call the White House with this message." It then provided the White House phone number and the Apostolic Congress's Web address.

In the interview with the Voice, Pastor Upton claimed personal responsibility for directing 50,000 postcards to the White House opposing the Road Map, which aims to create a Palestinian state. "I'm in total disagreement with any form of Palestinian state," Upton said. "Within a two-week period, getting 50,000 postcards saying the exact same thing from places all over the country, that resonated with the White House. That really caused [President Bush] to backpedal on the Road Map."

When I sought to confirm Upton's account of the meeting with the White House, I was directed to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, whose initial response upon being read a list of the names of White House staffers present was a curt, "You know half the people you just mentioned are Jewish?"

When asked for comment on top White House staffers meeting with representatives of an organization that may be breaking Israeli law, Jones responded, "Why would the White House comment on that?"

When asked whose job it is in the administration to study the Bible to discern what parts of Israel were or weren't acceptable sacrifices for peace, Jones said that his previous statements had been off-the-record.

When Pastor Upton was asked to explain why the group's website describes the Apostolic Congress as "the Christian Voice in the nation's capital," instead of simply a Christian voice in the nation's capital, he responded, "There has been a real lack of leadership in having someone emerge as a Christian voice, someone who doesn't speak for the right, someone who doesn't speak for the left, but someone who speaks for the people, and someone who speaks from a theocratical perspective."

When his words were repeated back to him to make sure he had said a "theocratical" perspective, not a "theological" perspective, he said, "Exactly. Exactly. We want to know what God would have us say or what God would have us do in every issue."



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The Middle East was not the only issue discussed at the March 25 meeting. James Wilkinson, deputy national security advisor for communications, spoke first and is characterized as stating that the 9-11 Commission "is portraying those who have given their all to protect this nation as 'weak on terrorism,' " that "99 percent of all the men and women protecting us in this fight against terrorism are career citizens," and offered the example of Frances Town-send, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, "who sacrificed Christmas to do a 'security video' conference."

Tim Goeglein, deputy director of public liaison and the White House's point man with evangelical Christians, moderated, and he also spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage. According to the memo, he asked the rhetorical questions: "What will happen to our country if that actually happens? What do those pushing such hope to gain?" His answer: "They want to change America." How so? He quoted the research of Hoover Institute senior fellow Stanley Kurtz, who holds that since gay marriage was legalized in Scandinavia, marriage itself has virtually ceased to exist. (In fact, since Sweden instituted a registered-partnership law for same-sex couples in the mid '90s, there has been no overall change in the marriage and divorce rates there.)

It is Matt Schlapp, White House political director and Karl Rove's chief lieutenant, who was paraphrased as stating "that the Presidents Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level."

Also present at the meeting was Kristen Silverberg, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. (None of the participants responded to interview requests.)

The meeting was closed by Goeglein, who was asked, "What can we do to assist in this fight for these issues and our nations [sic] foundation and values?" and who reportedly responded, "Pray, pray, pray, pray."



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The Apostolic Congress's representative in Israel, Kim Johnson, is ethnically Jewish, keeps kosher, and holds herself to the sumptuary standards of Orthodox Jewish women, so as to better blend in to her surroundings.

In one letter home obtained by the Voice she notes that many of the Apostolic Christians she works with in Israel are Filipino women "married to Jewish men—who on occasion accompany their wives to meetings. We are planning to start a fellowship with this select group where we can meet for dinners and get to know one another. Please Pray for the timing and formation of such." Elsewhere she talks of a discussion with someone "on the pitfalls and aggravations of Christians who missionize Jews." She works often among the Jewish poor—the kind of people who might be interested in interest-free loans—and is thrilled to "meet the outcasts of this Land—how wonderful because they are in the in-casts for His Kingdom."

An ecstatic figure who from her own reports appears to operate at the edge of sanity ("Two of the three nights in my apartment I have been attacked by a hair raising spirit of fear," she writes, noting the sublet contained a Harry Potter book; "at this time I am associating it with witchcraft"), Johnson has also met with Knesset member Gila Gamliel. (Gamliel did not respond to interview requests.) She also boasted of an imminent meeting with a "Knesset leader."

"At this point and for all future mails it is important for me to note that this country has very stiff anti-missionary laws," she warns the followers back home. [D]iscretion is required in all mails. This is particularly important to understand when people write mails or ask about organization efforts regarding such."

Her boss, Pastor Upton, displays a photograph on the Apostolic Congress website of a meeting between himself and Beny Elon, Prime Minister Sharon's tourism minister, famous in Israel for his advocacy of the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli-controlled lands.

His spokesman in the U.S., Ronn Torassian, affirmed that "Minister Elon knows Mr. Upton well," but when asked whether he is aware that Mr. Upton's staffer may be breaking Israel's anti-missionary laws, snapped: "It's not something he's interested in discussing with The Village Voice."

In addition to its work in Israel, the Apostolic Congress is part of the increasingly Christian public face of pro-Israel activities in the United States. Don Wagner, author of the book Anxious for Armageddon, has been studying Christian Zionism for 15 years, and believes that the current hard-line pro-Israel movement in the U.S. is "predominantly gentile." Often, devotees work in concert with Jewish groups like Americans for a Safe Israel, or AFSI, which set up a mostly Christian Committee for a One-State Solution as the sponsor of last year's billboard campaign. The committee's board included, in addition to Upton, such evangelical luminaries as Gary Bauer and E.E. "Ed" McAteer of the Religious Roundtable.

AFSI's executive director, Helen Freedman, confirms the increasingly Christian cast of her coalition. "We have many good Jews, of course," she says, "but they're in the minority." She adds, "The liberal Jew is unable to believe the Arab when he says his goal is to Islamize the West. . . . But I believe it. And evangelical Christians believe it."

Of Jews who might otherwise support her group's view of Jews' divine right to Israel, she laments, "They're embarrassed about quoting the Bible, about referring to the Covenant, about talking about the Promised Land."

Pastor Upton is not embarrassed, and Helen Freedman is proud of her association with him. She is wistful when asked if she, like Upton, has been able to finagle a meeting with the president. "Pastor Upton is the head of a whole Apostolic Congress," she laments. "It's a nationwide group of evangelicals."

Upton has something Freedman covets: a voting bloc.

She laughs off concerns that, for Christian Zionists, actual Jews living in Israel serve as mere props for their end-time scenario: "We have a different conception of what [the end of the world] will be like . . . Whoever is right will rejoice, and whoever was wrong will say, 'Whoops!' "

She's not worried, either, about evangelical anti-Semitism: "I don't think it exists," she says. She does say, however, that it would concern her if she learned the Apostolic Congress had a representative in Israel trying to win converts: "If we discovered that people were trying to convert Jews to Christianity, we would be very upset."



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Kim Johnson doesn't call it converting Jews to Christianity. She calls it "Circumcision of the Heart"—a spiritual circumcision Jews must undergo because, she writes in paraphrase of Jeremiah, chapter 9, "God will destroy all the uncircumcised nations along with the House of Israel, because the House of Israel is uncircumcised in the heart . . . [I]t is through the Gospel . . . that men's hearts are circumcised."

Apostolics believe that only 144,000 Jews who have not, prior to the Second Coming of Christ, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah will be saved in the end times. Though even for those who do not believe in this literal interpretation of the Bible—or for anyone who lives in Israel, or who cares about Israel, or whose security might be affected by a widespread conflagration in the Middle East, which is everyone—the scriptural prophecies of the Christian Zionists should be the least of their worries.

Instead, we should be worried about self-fulfilling prophecies. "Biblically," stated one South Carolina minister in support of the anti-Road Map billboard campaign, "there's always going to be a war."

Don Wagner, an evangelical, worries that in the Republican Party, people who believe this "are dominating the discourse now, in an election year." He calls the attempt to yoke Scripture to current events "a modern heresy, with cultish proportions.

"I mean, it's appalling," he rails on. "And it also shows how marginalized mainstream Christian thinking, and the majority of evangelical thought, have become."

It demonstrates, he says, "the absolute convergence of the neoconservatives with the Christian Zionists and the pro-Israel lobby, driving U.S. Mideast policy."

The problem is not that George W. Bush is discussing policy with people who press right-wing solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with devout Christians. It is that he is discussing policy with Christians who might not care about peace at all—at least until the rapture.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, in the interests of peace for those living in the present, might want to consider a disengagement.