Armies of God

Singularly terrifying must read from the Texas Observer.

On September 28, 2009, at 1:40 p.m., God’s messengers visited Rick Perry.

On this day, the Lord’s messengers arrived in the form of two Texas pastors, Tom Schlueter of Arlington and Bob Long of San Marcos, who called on Perry in the governor’s office inside the state Capitol. Schlueter and Long both oversee small congregations, but they are more than just pastors. They consider themselves modern-day apostles and prophets, blessed with the same gifts as Old Testament prophets or New Testament apostles.

The pastors told Perry of God’s grand plan for Texas. A chain of powerful prophecies had proclaimed that Texas was “The Prophet State,” anointed by God to lead the United States into revival and Godly government. And the governor would have a special role.

The day before the meeting, Schlueter had received a prophetic message from Chuck Pierce, an influential prophet from Denton, Texas. God had apparently commanded Schlueter—through Pierce—to “pray by lifting the hand of the one I show you that is in the place of civil rule.”

Gov. Perry, it seemed.

Schlueter had prayed before his congregation: “Lord Jesus I bring to you today Gov. Perry. … I am just bringing you his hand and I pray Lord that he will grasp ahold of it. For if he does you will use him mightily.”

And grasp ahold the governor did. At the end of their meeting, Perry asked the two pastors to pray over him. As the pastors would later recount, the Lord spoke prophetically as Schlueter laid his hands on Perry, their heads bowed before a painting of the Battle of the Alamo. Schlueter “declared over [Perry] that there was a leadership role beyond Texas and that Texas had a role beyond what people understand,” Long later told his congregation.

So you have to wonder: Is Rick Perry God’s man for president?

Read the whole thing, it’s important.  And spread it around.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, makes the point that this is “nothing new.”

Perry’s event is deeply problematic, as I’ve argued before. Some of his apostles, it is true, have a penchant for the most outlandish prophecy. But if you see it as a bolt of lightning through which Rick Perry has created something weirdly new, you’re missing the larger picture. He’s being more bold and unabashed in courting some of the lesser known (and therefore less politically astute) figures than some of his predecessors have been, and that might be a strategy that backfires on him. But he’s following a long legacy.

Perhaps – Pat Robertson ran for the presidency before, but  the fringe wields much more power than the past; it’s not really fringe anymore.  Also, post 9-11, apocalyptic hysteria has been ramped up for everyone, Christian and atheist included, given the world seems to be rapidly falling apart, so this type of belief will only deepen.  Finally, the candidates themselves are becoming more fanatical – Robertson was a preacher, so preaching was part of his game.  Bachmann and Perry are politicians, thereby giving them some cover of legitimacy.

Personally, Bachmann scares me more than Perry.  Even though Perry would have a better shot to win, he strikes me as another Bush – part evangelical, but steered more by Koch-style economics and wars for oil.  Perry was a Democrat fairly recently – he’s potentially posturing as much as a true believer.  Even Palin seems empty enough that she could easily be a puppet for other people, like Bush.  Whereas Bachmann seems like a believer in every part of her soul.  She is an End Timer, and might even defy the input of Koch Industries, who probably don’t want to die in a fiery Armageddon.

I’m not sure the point of saying this is “nothing new.”  I guess the subtext is – Republicans have always been crazy, don’t support Republicans.  But the other subtext is that they’ve always been this crazy, and America hasn’t burnt to the ground, so don’t worry about it.

On her post comes this comment, which shows just how serious this is.  If voting for Democrats is “demonic” and not voting for Republicans is thwarting the arrival of Jesus, then terrorism isn’t far off.  It’s getting scary out there:

Dear Sarah you are correct…there are tons of Hypocrites and false prophets…but you are incorrect in your twisted slander. With all respect you are a Modern Day Pharisee and you have stood directly against the written Word of God…and you will reap what you have sown! [Gal. 6:7,8]
To come against real Christians or a man praying not only Pharisitical…it is Demonic!
Better fall on your knees before the real God.

On the Andrew Sullivan blog (written by a guest poster) there’s a similarly dismissive post:

Well golly gosh. You mean to say supporters of one team think they’re right and supporters of another team are wrong? I appreciate that in matters of faith it is indelicate to point this out but, blimey, I seem to recall Pope Benedict also suggesting that protestants are theologically mistaken too. At some fundamental serious adherents to any sect must believe in the righteousness of their interpretation of the scriptures and, consequently, that alternative beliefs lack substance….

So, in the end, Michele Bachmann used to be a pretty conservative Lutheran. Which means she’s not a Roman Catholic and her church is not likely to be impressed by the Bishop of Rome. Big deal! Next: Red Sox fans disagree with Yankee fans. Amazing!

It’s no big deal if she believes the pope is the Anti-Christ.  It’s just a part of her faith!  A true WTF moment.  Taking this logic, you could say, “Michele Bachmann believes in the End Times.  So do 50 million other people, so who cares?”   It’s almost like being an apologist for fanatics, and saying let them believe whatever they want, no matter how insane that is, and no matter how close they get to the highest corridors of power.  This kind of intellectual fairness is as dangerous as the belief itself.  The same sort of balance occurs on mainstream news – the Christian right is given a voice because it indeed is the perspective of millions of people, but without the counter of – “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense…” – it becomes an normal part of the conversation, which doesn’t make any more sense than teaching Creationism as science.

This Salon piece gets at Bachmann’s End Times beliefs, but the snarkiness does not do the subject any service.

Now the question is, why is Bachmann running for president? If Michele Bachmann is a true Christian, she should rise bodily to Heaven during the Rapture, making her totally unable to govern. Is she going to pick a non-believer running mate in order to ensure continuity of government? The people have a right to know who will be president during the famines, wars, and devastation that will overtake the Earth in the years before the Second Coming!

It’s as if non-believers can’t quite feel empathy for the true believer – believers must be all slightly kidding, given how ridiculous their ideas are.  Granted, people also make fun of the afterlife with virgins of Islamic fundamentalists, but snark is only part of the discussion.     Mocking this accomplishes nothing – readers can write this off as a fantastic joke, when it’s deadly serious.  Try to believe for a moment that Armageddon is necessary with the same certainty that the sky is blue.

I’ve given up being surprised when the mainstream right can believe in the most implausible ideas imaginable.  The swift-boating of Kerry.  Obama is a socialist.  At first, I thought – that’s so blindly the opposite of reality that the majority can’t possibly believe it.  But they do – part of this is a symptom of believing in the fairy tales of organized religion – so truth can be a fiction and fiction a truth.  The next in line after Obama is a socialist is Jesus is Coming.   Mock this at your peril.

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