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Practice Module on Religion, Eschatology, and the End of Days

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: October 7, 2002
Latest Update: October 7, 2002

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Site Teaching Modules Religion, Eschatology, and the End of Days

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, September 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

Just when I knew that I had to return to putting up our comments this latest message, forwarded by Dorothy Naor of New Profile, but sent originally one of the Mothers For Peace. My goodness, so much is happening out there. I did not see 60 Minutes. Who has the time? But I reckon some of you did. We'll talk about the program, as it is described in the message Dorothy forwarded, and as some of you may have seen it. Father Adjakpey (Ghana) told Pat he'd return soon for out 5:30 to 6:45 Re-Interpretation of Theory. Sounds about as good a topic as we're going to get for the re-interpretation of religion and eschatology. You're all welcome to the discussion as soon as Father Adjakpey can arrange it.

And now for the message, with jeanne's comments on the Practice Module.

On Monday, October 7, 2002, jeanne received the following e-mail from Dorothy Naor of New Profile:

Subject: [New Profile] Fw: [mothers4peace] Christian Solidarity with Israel, Falwell and The End of Days

Thanks Teresa for the important and frightening data. Dorothy

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 9:52 PM Subject: [mothers4peace] Christian Solidarity with Israel, Falwell and The End of Days

Dear Friends -

What follows is a summary of the news program shown on CBS 60 Minutes on 10/7. The summary doesn't begin to approach the meaning of the story which was essentially this: The Christian Right believes we are nearing the end of days - and their leaders are working hard to ensure that the end of days becomes a reality.

The 60 Minutes program and the 10/5 MSNBC Hardball program both featured the Rev. Jerry Falwell, and provide a frightening look into the reasons why the Christian Right is pushing for war on Iraq and continued violence in the Middle East.

On the Hardball program, Falwell discussed his upcoming 60 Minutes appearance and his continued belief that the Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist. Rev. Falwell went on to say that there is no Palestine and there are no Palestinians and that the people there are welcome to have a home in any of the neighboring countries. Falwell continued in his statements to discuss the prophecies of the Bible and God's will regarding the end of days.

On the 60 Minutes program, Falwell and other Christian leaders acknowledged that Christians have aligned themselves with Jews against Muslims. The stated reason for this is that the Jewish people are chosen by God - and that the second coming of Christ will not be guaranteed until Israel controls all of the territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates. The Christian right has taken the position to support Israel at all costs. What is almost laughable about this alliance is that these same Christian leaders also admitted that they believe that 2/3 of all Jews will perish in Armageddon and the remaining 1/3 will be converted.

I am paraphrasing here - because there is not yet a transcript of either show.

It is becoming apparent that Christian conservatives like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Chuck Colson, and Franklin Graham are pushing for the end of days.

Yes, I said it -- they are pushing for the end of days. I have a hard time saying this -- as it sounds absolutely crazy -- but after watching the 60 Minutes program last night I am becoming convinced that this is the case.

In addition, you should be aware that the Christian Coalition is sponsoring a Solidarity with Israel Rally at the Whitehouse on October 11th. This Rally will take place during the Christian Coalition Conference being held October 11-13. Rep. Tom DeLay, Rep. JC Watts, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. James Robison, Alan Keyes, Oliver North, and Rev. E.V. Hill are some of the confirmed speakers. In addition, conference sponsors have invited the following to speak: Pres. GW Bush, Rep. Dennis Hastert, Rep Dick Armey, Rep Henry Hyde,Sen. Trent Lott, Benjamin Netanyahu, Karl Rove, Israeli Mayor Ehud Olmert, Ken Starr and Sec. of HHS Tommy Thompson among others.

In doing minimal research for this piece - I have learned the following:

The Christian Coalition (which is sponsoring the 10/11-10/13 Conference and Rally) commends Rumsfeld for his defense of Israel and his statements about the "so-called" occupied territories. The Christian Coalition opposes the creation of a Palestinian State. The Christian Coalition - founded by Pat Robertson also promotes the following: Muhammad was a "wild-eyed fanatic" and "a killer" and the Muslim faith is "a monumental scam." The fact that the Christian Coalition Conference has so many high ranking government leaders as speakers says volumes about how our administration really feels about Islam.

On the 60 Minutes program, Rev. Falwell stated that he persuaded 100,000 Christian conservatives to e-mail and call the White House protesting Pres. G.W. Bush's April, 2002 request that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories. The President never made a similar statement again. Falwell states: "There are 70 million of us [and] there is nothing that would bring the wrath of the Christian public in this country down on this government like abandoning or opposing Israel on a critical matter." Falwell believes the territories are occupied - by the Palestinians who do not have the right to be there.

In addition, Rev. Falwell and other Christian leaders have publicly supported war against Iraq. While the purported reason is for our own internal security, in light of their recent statements, this makes absolutely no sense. On 60 Minutes Falwell and other Christian leaders stated that they believe the end of days is at hand. They are eagerly waiting the second coming of Christ. Since our security should be of no importance with the impending end of days, it is more likely that they support war on Iraq knowing the potential for widespread conflict, in other words - Armageddon. (My theory here)

Another link from the Christian Coalition to the Administration is the White House Faith Based Initiative. In doing my research, I was able to uncover that of the 20 organizations receiving funds, 13 are either headed by evangelical Christians - or support evangelical Christian organizations. Operation Blessing International - headed by Pat Robertson received $500,000. Of the remaining 7 organizations, Emory University is the alma mater of Donald Wildmon, President of the American Family Association. The American Family Association is closely aligned with Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer and other Christian right leaders. I was unable to find a link (yet) for University of Hawaii, Clemson University, JVA Consulting, Institute for Youth Development and Montana State University; SE Asia Resource Center has no evangelical Christian right ties.

There are no faith based initiatives which received funds for any religion other than the Christian religion. While I applaud the work that each of these organizations purports to perform, I question why the administration is handing out money to so many evangelical Christian right organizations.

Why is it so important to pay attention to this issue? We seem to have a large contingent of very powerful evangelicals who are pushing this adminstration toward war in order to assure their own salvation. As concerned citizens, I would hope that each of us would recognize that this administration is dangerously close to bringing unimaginable horrors upon many innocent people.

I apologize for providing this letter without the transcripts. I did however want to publish this as widely as possible to impress upon you the importance of lobbying against a war on Iraq.

Your comments and suggestions on my opinion piece are welcome.

Warm regards,

Teresa Outlaw

Co-founder, Mothers for Peace-International

Falwell Brands Mohammed A 'Terrorist'
CBS News, Oct. 4, 2002

(CBS) The Rev. Jerry Falwell has called Islam's founder and most sacred figure, Mohammed, a terrorist.

In a 60 Minutes interview with CBS News Correspondent Bob Simon, Falwell also affirms the Christian Right's steadfast support for the state of Israel against its Islamic enemies and hints that right-wing religious groups are influencing U.S. government policy toward Israel. Right-wing Christians believe the turmoil in the Middle East is a harbinger of the second coming of Christ.

The interview with Falwell will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday at 7p.m. ET/PT.

"I think Mohammed was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war," Falwell tells Simon. "In my opinionJesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and I think Mohammed set an opposite example."

When President Bush urged Israel to remove its forces from Palestinian towns earlier this year, Falwell sent him a personal protest and the White House received 100,000 e-mail protests from Christians.

Falwell say he believes Bush is well aware of the Christian constituency. "There are 70 million of us[and] there is nothing that would bring the wrath of the Christian public in this country down on this government like abandoning or opposing Israel on a critical matter," he says.

Falwell and conservative Christians support the Israelis and condemn their enemies because they believe the triumph of Israel is God's will. The Jews return to their ancient homeland and sole ownership of the territories. Arabs and Israelis both lay claim to - is a precondition for the second coming of Christ, according to the Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians interpretation of the Bible.

The Biblical scenario is not a savory one for many Jews, however. "God save us from these people," says Israeli political analyst Yossi Alpher. "When you see what these people are encouraging Israel and the U.S. to do (ignore the Palestinians, kick them out)they are leading us into a scenario of out-and-out disaster," he tells Simon.

But disaster is part of the scenario. Many Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe there will be catastrophic events on earth, some occurring already, including the turmoil in the Middle East, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon in which Christ will triumph and begin ruling the earth. At this point, they believe, non-believers will be destroyed, good Christians saved and any remaining Jews converted to Christianity.

Says Ed McAteer, a founder of the Moral Majority and known as the godfather of the Christian Right, "I believe that we are seeing prophecy unfold so rapidly and dramatically and wonderfully, and, without exaggeration, [it] makes me breathless."

jeanne's comments:

First of all, please be aware that this message starts out in the US, goes to the Middle East, and then comes back to the US. This is the power of the Internet. Recognize that in following such messages you must rely on your own strong sense of checking out authority, so that you do not just accept messages without being aware of the difference between rumor and fact, opinion and fact and theory, and without checking the source of data before you decide that any given message represents "the truth."

Particularly now, as this talk of war and occupation and threats, begins to involve religious beliefs, as in this message, affect runs high. We experience the most affect when someone violates our expectations about that which we have learned informally. Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language. I beg you to notice that the world seems to have been neatly divided up in the report of these TV discussions as Christian, Jewish, Muslim. First of all, that's just not an accurate description of world beliefs. There's Zen, Buddhism, atheism, the Hindu beliefs, and a zillion more, for each of us tends to adapt our religion (or not-religion) to our own culture and our place within that culture. So I would suggest that in this discussion there is a mathematical model used that of the world divided into these three religions. But like the mathematical model that describes gender as male/female, this is a wholly inadequate model of the real world.

One reason I chose the text, Sexism and God-Talk, is that I realized that we were very close to needing to throw open our conceptual discussions to religion. In Chapter 10 of that text Rosemary Rasford Ruether speaks of Eschatology and Feminism. Eschatology is, according to Merriam-Wester's Dictionary on the Web:

  1. :" a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind"
  2. : "a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of mankind; specifically : any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment."

What I ask you to recall as we read and discuss all these issues is that the role of an educational institution and of an educator is to foster illocutionary discussions. I do not have the answers; nor does anyone else. We can only interpret to the best of our ability those facts and theories we believe to be adequately shown to be reliable. So I can't tell you if the End of Days is upon us. Neither can Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, or any other religious leader. We can only tell you what we have interpreted to reflect reality out there, whatever that is.

When Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson tell you that Mohammad was a terrorist, I am bound as an educator to demand that they tell us the sources upon which they have relied for that conclusion. We're not likely to get that in the sound bites of TV interviews conducted as much to entertain as to enlighten. And as a critical theorist I am bound to inquire whether they have listened in good faith to all the validity claims made by others with equal rights to world citizenry, for such a good faith hearing is requisite to legitmate public discourse. Perhaps they don't intend their message to be a part of legitimate public discourse. Perhaps they intend it only for those who share their faith. So be it. But then it must NOT be interpreted as legitimate within the field of governance. It is then a matter only for that shared faith. In the United States we are protected by the Constitution from the intrusion of religion as reflected by shared faith into our legitimate governance processes. Here I am relying upon the theories we have discussed this semester which come from Jurgen Habermas and Maria Pia Lara.

We have had religious groups prophesies of the End of Days before. Since that is purely a matter of the hermeneutical reading of the Bible or the Qu'ran or whatever, we are, as Jean Paul Sartre would remind us, responsible for our own interpretations of the signs. And a miscalculation of the End of Days could prove a disaster. We could plunge a world into a war that is warranted primarily on the prophecy of that End of Days. It's very important here to distinguish between fact and hermeneutical interpretation of a combination of facts and unquestioned beliefs.

Think on all these things, and remember that it is to understand one another as humans, with a voice in our destiny, that we hold these discussions. This is NOT a debate. No one has the answer as to who is right. But we do have aesthetic and moral guides that should lead us closer to reasoned governance in the interest of all.