Why American Evangelicals are the West’s Last Hope
By Vasko Kohlmayer
Christopher Hitchens — the author of God is not Great — is an anomaly: Unlike most secularists, he is deeply alarmed by the rise of Islam. While Hitchens tries to sound a warning trumpet, most of his fellow secularists are either oblivious to or even sympathetic to that against which he warns.
Michael Hodges, to mention one, writing in Time Out London
the many benefits that would supposedly accompany Islam’s takeover of his society. Such a development would, in his view, translate into appreciable improvements in ecology, public health, diet, social justice, education and the arts, among others. Remarkably enough, Hodges also included inter-faith and racial relations on his list. Jews and Christians in particular, he said, would enjoy special protection by virtue of being ‘peoples of the book.’
This kind of cultural inanity worries Hitchens who has repeatedly tried to rouse his secularist colleagues from their nihilistic stupor. So far his efforts have mostly fallen on deaf ears.
But Christopher Hitchens is more than just a committed secularist; he is also an aggressive atheist who objects to religion in all of its manifestations. His sharpest invective, however, Hitchens reserves for Christianity. His intense dislike of it came out not long too long ago in a series of interviews occasioned by the death of Jerry Falwell. Within hours of Falwell’s passing, Hitchens called him a ‘toad,’ ‘charlatan’ and a ‘wicked man’ among other things.
His view of Falwell’s co-religionists is no less unflattering. ‘Stupid and uncultured’ is how he once memorably described Christians as a group. But this would not be the worst of it; in addition to being dim-witted, Christians are, Hitchens thinks, highly dangerous, because they seek to impose their religion and values on the rest. It was primarily Falwell’s political activism that made him so repulsive to Hitchens. This is how he put it:
The evil that he did will live after him. This is not just because of the wickedness that he actually preached, but because of the hole that he made in the ‘wall of separation’ that ought to divide religion from politics.
It is this alleged desire on the part of Christians to take over that makes Hitchens deem Christianity to be nearly as great a threat as is Islam. Hitchens is half right. He is right about Islam but wrong about Christianity.
Through mass immigration (legal and illegal), Muslims have virtually colonized large parts of the European continent. By now they are the largest minority in almost every member state of the European Union (EU) and in some countries such France they account for more ten percent of the population. Within a number of EU states there are now Muslim enclaves that are in effect under the rule of Islamic Sharia; police no longer dare to enter those precincts to enforce the laws of the host countries. Things are becoming so dire that the French government has published a list
of 751 ‘sensitive urban areas’ within the borders of France which authorities are no longer able to control.
The way the French government makes this information available is emblematic of the catastrophic way things are tending. Published on the internet, concerned citizens can now locate the ‘sensitive areas’ in two ways. They can either click on ‘carte‘ which takes them to a detailed map where the zone in question is neatly demarcated in red; or, they can click on ‘rue par rue’ where they find street-by-street delineation complete with geographic coordinates.
The presentation is a picture of bureaucratic thoroughness and precision, and one can immediately sense that French bureaucrats still take a great deal of pride in their work. It is just too bad that they fail so abysmally in their primary task — ensuring that the laws of their land are enforced. Almost two thousand years ago Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Today French officials fiddle with their internet presentations while their country burns. History repeats itself in ways that are truly uncanny.
But France is not alone. Denmark, Sweden and Germany also contain large numbers of such out-of-control communes. Daniel Pipes, a noted expert on Islam, contends
that a more accurate name for these zones would be ‘Dar al-Islam, the place where Muslims rule.’
As the immigration continues unabated, the number and territorial size of such communities are only bound to increase. There are some who think that the point of no return has already been reached and the trend is irreversible. In the opinion
of U.S. national defense expert and Pentagon Advisor Lt. Col. Bob McGinnis (U.S. Army-Ret.):
It probably is too late for Great Britain and France and maybe even the Netherlands and Germany. They [Muslims] have very sizeable minorities that refuse to integrate, that impose Sharia law on the ghettos, and as a result have created what I think is a series of smaller countries within a country.
This view was echoed in a piece posted last year in the online version of the British Telegraph which has, however, since been taken down ‘for legal reasons.’ In it former Muslim Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo argued that Muslims are in the process of building a state within the state and making fast progress. He believes that ‘in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim Sharia law.’
This is no false alarmism, since it is a matter of mathematical certainty that if the current trends continue unchecked, Europe will become majority-Muslim within decades. The plummeting birth-rates of the native European populations combined with the high inflows of fertile Muslim immigrants will inevitably bring this about. Mohammed is already the most popular name for newborn boys in a number of Europeans cities including Amsterdam and Brussels. Daniel Pipes describes
what this will mean in the not-too-distant future:
Grand cathedrals will appear as vestiges of a prior civilization – at least until a Saudi style regime transforms them into mosques or a Taliban-like regime blows them up. The great national cultures — Italian, French, English, and others — will likely wither, replaced by a new transnational Muslim identity that merges North African, Turkish, subcontinental, and other elements.
But the problem goes far beyond the enclaves and ghettos. By the sheer weight of their numbers, Muslims now exercise considerable electoral clout and are dramatically reshaping Europe’s political landscape. Their discipline in voting habits further augments their numerical strength. While with other minorities it is not unusual for their members to vote for different parties and candidates, Muslims usually vote in concert. It bears noting that almost without exception they support left or far-left parties who deliberately cultivate them as a voting block.
In Brussels, for instance, Muslims now have a hold majority in the City Council’s ruling party (socialists) where they have captured ten out of seventeen seats. Their spokesman and front-man is Mayor Freddy Thielemans, a life-long socialist, whom Brussels Life was once memorably described as a ‘very cheeky chap.’
Unfortunately, Thielemans is more than just cheeky. Last year he banned
a demonstration planned by an organization of Europe’s concerned citizens called Stop Islamisation of Europe
. This was only his sixth denial out of some 3,600 applications he received during his term in office. Among the many he approved was one in which 20,000 Muslims marched in support of a group which is considered a terrorist outfit by the United States. That this situation prevails in the very heart of the European Union of which Brussels is the capital is indicative of just how far things have come.
To make things worse, even many saner politicians are now bowing to the demands of their growing Muslim constituencies — on whose votes they depend for office — even though they go against the established laws of their lands. Germany, for example, now tolerates polygamy among Muslims even though German law makes this practice a crime. In Great Britain the police have been turning a blind eye to a Muslim form of murder called honor killings
. The implicit threat of terror further augments Muslims’ expanding political clout. Rather than risk violence, authorities often just cave in.
Globally the situation is equally dire. The period following the end of the Cold War has seen a rapid rise in Jihadism with extensive networks of determined fanatics seeking to bring the West down by means of terror. The September 11 attacks showed that this is no futile ambition. Even before the dust of the Twin Towers had fully settled, one thing was already clear: Things would never be the same again. Since then life America has changed in many profound and far-reaching ways.
The terrorist attacks in Spain and Britain have had a similar impact across the ocean. In the case of Spain the attacks even led to a complete reversal in the country’s position on the War and Terror and the installation of a pacifistic socialist government. After defeating pro-American Jose Aznar, new Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero promptly withdrew Spain’s troops from Iraq and changed course from an Atlanticist to a pro-European, Islam-accommodating foreign policy.
Worse yet, there is almost certainly more to come. It seems that not a month goes by when a serious plot is not uncovered. According to British security and intelligence officials, there are some 2,000 individuals engaged
in 30 high-priority terrorist plots in 200 networks in the UK alone. Intimately familiar with the extent of the threat, London Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair has warned that another successful terrorist attack is virtually inevitable
. Discussing this danger, Robert K. Leiken of the Brookings Institution painted
a sobering picture in Foreign Affairs
Jihadist networks span Europe from Poland to Portugal, thanks to the spread of radical Islam […] In smoky coffeehouses in Rotterdam and Copenhagen, makeshift prayer halls in Hamburg and Brussels, Islamic bookstalls in Birmingham and ‘Londonistan,’ and the prisons of Madrid, Milan, and Marseilles, immigrants or their descendants are volunteering for jihad against the West.
Should the Islamists succeed in hitting the already fragile and troubled continent in some spectacular way — with weapons of mass destruction, for example — or with a series of conventional attacks in close succession the consequences could be devastating. Should this happen, a domino-like collapse of institutions and widespread societal breakdown would not be out of the realm of possibility.
Although conquering the West has been Islam’s ambition for well over ten centuries, the gains it has made in recent decades are particularly momentous. Methodically chipping away from without and within, Islam has perhaps never been closer to attaining its long-standing goal of bringing down its perennial foe.
But even more alarming than the Islamic threat is the West’s response. Difficult as it may be to believe, no western country with the exception of the United States is really willing to do anything about it.
The lack of will on the part of Western democracies to defend themselves has been remarked on by several observers. One is the noted German author Henryk M. Broder who in an interview
with a Dutch newspaper compared the prevailing attitude of most European countries with that of a woman author whom he had recently debated: ‘She said that it is sometimes better to let yourself be raped than to risk serious injuries while resisting. She said it is sometimes better to avoid fighting than run the risk of death.’
Nothing could better confirm the accuracy of Broder’s assessment than an incident from a couple of years ago. In March of 2005 an Italian military operative named Nicola Calipari — who had just helped to negotiate the release of a kidnapped journalist — was killed near Baghdad by American troops. Even though it soon became evident that that the car in which he was riding was shot at after having violated check-point procedures
, the event set off a wave of protests across Italy. The demonstrations were led by the Italian Left which — like their counterparts in other western democracies — had opposed the war from the beginning. American soldiers were portrayed as indiscriminate killers and Calipari as ‘another victim of an absurd war.’ The frenzy became so intense that two weeks later then-Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi had to pledge
to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq. That Italy was at the time one of America’s closest allies in the War on Terror tells us all we need to know about the state of the European mindset.
There are undoubtedly several reasons for this, but we can get some clues from a piece
which appeared late last year in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard
. Its author, Oscar Van den Boogaard, who is a Dutch citizen and a self-described ‘humanist,’ wrote that facing the Islamization of Europe is like ‘a process of mourning.’ Although it makes him feel sad, he is unwilling to do anything about it: ‘I am not a warrior, but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.’
Distinguished Belgian journalist Paul Belien, one of Europe’s most insightful commentators, put
it this way:
In Europe a secularized post-Christian culture is facing a Muslim one. The secularized culture is hedonist and values only its present life, because it does not believe in an afterlife. This is why it will surrender when threatened with death because life is the only thing it has to lose. This is why it will accept submission without fighting for its freedom. Nobody fights for the flag of hedonism, not even the hedonists themselves.
Appeasement, accommodation and outright defeatism overwhelmingly characterize the conduct of western countries in the face of Islamic resurgence. Many of them are so hapless that they are even turning against those who would protect them; several EU states have initiated legal proceedings against American agencies for capturing and removing terrorists from their midst. Last year, for example, a German court issued an arrest warrant
for thirteen CIA agents involved in the capture and interrogation of a terrorist suspect that took place in Macedonia. The man, one Khaled al-Masri, is a German national of Lebanese descent. In an almost surreal twist, al-Masri’s lawyers in a press conference referred to the agents as ‘suspects.’
Things are even worse in post-Berlusconi Italy. In February of last year a court
in the Italian city of Milan indicted 25 CIA agents for ‘kidnapping’ a suspected Egyptian terrorist. Some time later an article
titled In Italy, CIA Agents Are Undone by Their Cell Phones
described how the evidence in the case was collected. The piece told of when and how the agents checked into a hotel, how they communicated with each other via mobile phones, what aliases and code names they used, and which military facilities they contacted during the course of the operation. It was obvious that these details must have been provided by the Italian security services who were obviously proud of their thorough work in uncovering that CIA sting. Nowhere does the article mentions that what the Americans were trying was to remove a potentially dangerous terrorist from an Italian city. The man in question was Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an ‘Egyptian-born preacher of fiery ideology’ who had been plying his extremism ever since he had been granted political asylum in 2001. One can only hope that the Italian security personnel use the same thoroughness and zeal that characterized their work on this case against those who are infiltrating their country to subvert it.
Australia and Great Britain have been the two exceptions among the moribund western democracies, but even they are only capable of nominal measures; there is a clear sense they would not be able to bear any substantial costs in either blood or treasure. Now, however, even the little they do may come to an end. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown is seriously reconsidering his country’s role and there is little hope that Howard-less Australia will maintain her fighting spirit.
All this makes all the more obvious that the United States is the only western nation willing to seriously deal with the threat of Islamic Jihad. All that can be hoped from the rest is that some may join the battle and that as timid allies at best.
But America’s fighting stance is by no means the result of unanimous consensus either. Quite to the contrary — the Democratic Party is feverishly trying to reverse it. More than that, the Democrats are doing all they can to undercut America’s ability to wage this fight. Here are just some of the things they have done as part of this effort
- They have repeatedly conceded defeat in Iraq. Harry Reid once declared ‘this war is lost.’
- They have sought to undermine the country’s faith in its troops and their commanders
- They outed and wrecked a crucial eavesdropping program designed to collect intelligence from terrorists’ phone call
- They have sought to portray our troops as killers, torturers and rapists
- They seek to extend constitutional protections to foreign terrorists and enemy combatants
- They are trying to decimate crucial components of the Patriot Act
- They lobby for the release of most Guantanamo Bay detainees even though many are dangerous terrorists
- They have deprived America of one of the most effective tools for collecting intelligence (coercive interrogation)
- They have sought to destroy the reputation of the American military by making scandals out of minor incidents (Abu Ghraib)
- They have portrayed America’s main terrorist detention facility as one torture chamber even though it is the most pampering prison in the history of warfare
- By manufacturing bogus scandals they have seriously damaged their country’s international reputation in a time of war
- They purposefully downplay any American military successes
- They visit and praise America’s sworn enemies some of whom are terror states responsible for the deaths of American troops. While there, they blast their own country.
- They seek the resignation of any member of the administration who advocates tough measures in the War on Terror
- They object to any meaningful action against Iran, the world’s currently focal point of Islamic radicalism
- They want to quit the battlefield in the middle of a war
The question is: If one of the two US major parties is so set against the aggressive pursuit of the War on Terror who then is responsible for America’s fighting stance?
It is, of course, George W. Bush and his administration. Having resolved to take the fight to the enemy, Bush is by no means shy to use belligerent measures when he deems them necessary. As part of this effort he has initiated, among other things, two armed invasions, authorized forced interrogations of terrorist suspects, and ordered the liquidation of jihadists in clandestine operations across the globe.
But Bush’s actions met with fierce opposition from Democrats who have gone into great lengths to undercut and de-legitimize his efforts. A central part of their strategy has been to assail and vilify Bush personally. They have, for example, sought to portray him as someone who relishes torture and likes to listen in on phone conversations of ordinary Americans. The word Nazi and Hitler have often been bandied in connection with policies. Dick Durbin compared the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo with that of the Nazi concentration camps and Soviet Gulags and then implied Bush was somehow to blame. In one public appearance, Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, after having sharply criticized Bush’s conduct of the war called him a ‘loser.’
As could be expected, the years of relentless attacks have taken their toll and the President’s job approval rate dropped to near-historic lows. Struggling with low ratings throughout most of his second term, Bush’s approval ratings plummeted in June of 2007 to a low
of 26 percent. That is two points below even the nadir of Jimmy Carter’s troubled presidency. Richard Nixon was the only president in modern history to score lower and that not by much. In the midst of the Watergate Scandal his approval rate sank to 23 percent.
Wounded and weakened, Bush had to abandon several of his policy initiatives and change course on a number of issues. The Social Security reform, the comprehensive immigration bill and the Dubai ports deal are only a few examples. Yet he has never altered his aggressive stance on Islamic jihad.
That Bush has been able to maintain this posture is not unsurprising, since this is where he has been hit the hardest. There can be no question that the bulk of his political damage came from controversies directly linked to his aggressive pursuit of the War on Terror. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the NSA ‘scandal’ all belong to this category.
But even though he has been heavily weighted down by the fallout, Bush has not only maintained his forceful course, but he has been able, for the most part, to get his way despite the fierce opposition from Democrats.
We have seen a remarkable instance of this just after the 2006 elections when within days of their victory the Democrats launched a concentrated campaign to take us out of Iraq. Claiming a popular mandate, their proposals ranged from an immediate redeployment to Okinawa to a time table that would set a definite withdrawal date. Given they had just won an election and had the momentum on their side, America’s disengagement seemed inevitable.
Bush, however, not only rejected all Democrats’ suggestions, but ordered a substantial increase in troop levels in what has come to be known as the ‘Surge.’ This was a daring move given that his party had just sustained a costly election loss. But even though he was weakened politically and suffering from low approval rankings, Bush was able to implement his plan, the virulent protestations by Democrats notwithstanding.
This means that in spite of surface appearances there must be an electoral segment that strongly supports Bush’s fighting stance. To be sure, its members are not as shrill as his antagonists, but they nevertheless must exist and that in substantial numbers; otherwise Bush would not be able to get his way. In a sense, this bloc could be compared to a black hole which is largely invisible but still exerts a powerful influence. It is from there that Bush draws the political backing necessary to stay the course.
The question is who makes up this block. It is almost certainly devoid of leftists as almost all of the Left’s major groups either fiercely oppose Bush’s efforts or — along with the ACLU — actively assist the other side.
Thus whatever support Bush gets must be coming almost exclusively from the Right. But contrary to what many think, the Right is by no means unified either. Most protectionists have been against the projection of power from the very beginning. Pat Buchanan, a particularly passionate and vocal opponent, said this in a television interview with Ali G: ‘I don’t think Saddam Hussein and Iraq were a threat to the United States even if they had WMDs as long as they were not nuclear weapons.’ He went even so far as to suggest impeachment: ‘If people make a mistake they have to live with it for four years or they get their Congress to throw their president out… We have rules whereby you can throw out the president.’
Buchanan is not alone. Most members of the American Libertarian Party apparently largely share his views. This is what the Party’s chairman recently said
in September of this year:
Contrary to what President Bush is claiming, his new course for Iraq is the same as what we’ve seen for the past four years. Nothing in Bush’s speech indicates the administration has any intention to deviate from the same plan in Iraq that has failed time and time again.
Those who assume that the Right is unified behind Bush’s confrontational line would do well to remember that libertarians not only make up a sizable segment of the conservative spectrum, but are also America’s third largest party.
Opposition to Bush’s strategy indeed comes from many quarters on the Right’s continuum. The notable journalist Robert Novak opposed
the invasion of Afghanistan on the grounds that it would degenerate into a wholesale slaughter of Afghanis. Some of the other notable conservatives who have spoken up against Iraq include William Buckley
(‘the American objective in Iraq has failed’) and Paul Craig Roberts
(‘Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake’). And then, of course, there are a whole slew of moderates who would also rather avoid head-to-head confrontation.
As we scan the Right’s ideological landscape we see that the backing for Bush’s tough line comes overwhelmingly from an electoral demographic comprised of those who are commonly referred to as fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. It is they who urge Bush on and provide the political leverage he needs to maintain his fighting stance.
Even a brief review of the last two presidential elections makes this quite obvious.
When George Bush ran against Al Gore in 2000, he made a conscious effort to appeal to the evangelical block. His campaign made it repeatedly known that he is a born-again Christian, that he reads the Bible regularly and that he prays every day. This tactic, however, failed to generate the great evangelical surge Bush had been hoping for. Many fundamentalists were neither impressed nor convinced. There were doubts about the genuineness of his profession and also questions about his past behavior. His opponents further counteracted Bush’s Christian theme by repeatedly pointing to his past drinking problems and in the campaign’s final stages made much of his DUI arrest. In any event, Bush’s Christian appeal drive largely failed to inspire the kind of evangelical turnout he was hoping for. The result was an exceptionally close election in which Bush actually received fewer votes than his opponent.
Then on September 11, 2001 the United States came face to face with Islamic jihad. While a stunned America reeled in shock, George W. Bush made clear his determination to aggressively pursue not only those directly responsible but also those who may harbor similar aspirations for the future. Within four weeks of the attacks he invaded Afghanistan and seventeen months later Iraq. At the same time, he initiated a host of measures to combat the threat, both domestically and internationally. He was the engine behind the Patriot Act and authorized forced interrogations of captured terrorists. He also mobilized an international coalition and hundreds of suspected terrorists were either captured or killed in clandestine operations across the globe. Whatever else could be said about Bush, one thing was clear: He was determined to go hard after the enemy.
In the 2004 presidential election Bush faced northeastern liberal John Kerry. Given the temporal proximity to 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, the campaign was largely dominated by issues relating to national security and the War on Terror. Vacillating and with a long history of defeatism, it quickly became obvious that Kerry’s approach would differ from that of George Bush. In one unguarded moment, he even hinted he would confer with the UN and our European allies in matters of America’s national security. This was rather revealing, since it was already obvious then that most of Europe was largely in appeasement mode.
The American Left, however, was impressed and threw all they had behind their candidate. The media dropped any pretence of objectivity and openly took Kerry’s side. While Dan Rather was hard at work on Bush’s National Guard scandal, Evan Thomas, the Managing Editor of Newsweek
that the media’s push would translate into 15 percentage points on Election Day. Actors and rock stars were registering young people en masse at concerts and other events. Wealthy democratic donors like George Soros were pumping hundreds of millions into the campaign and Michael Moore and his colleagues were feverishly crisscrossing the country on Kerry’s behalf.
With all this backing, Kerry appeared to have an edge and actually managed to raise more money than his opponent. Such was the confidence in his camp that when the preliminary exit polls began pouring in his campaign manager addressed him as ‘Mr. President.’ The cockiness was not wholly unjustified — the final count showed that Kerry had received more votes than any other presidential candidate up to that time.
But even this was not enough. In the end Kerry was beaten by well over three million votes. Even more strikingly, Bush received ten million votes more than he did just four years before.
Exit poll data soon confirmed the Left’s worst fears: They were beaten by a group they despise the most — Christian evangelicals. ‘The religious fundamentalists turned out in enormous numbers,’ conceded Ken Warren, a political scientist at St Louis University. His findings were echoed by Mark Rozell of George Mason: ‘The turnout of the religious right was key to Bush’s victory.’ A PBS anchor opened a program
with this statement: ‘The religious vote was decisive in President Bush’s reelection.’ The assembled pundits agreed. ‘Religious conservatives were absolutely critical to President Bush’s reelection last Tuesday,’ said of them.
But perhaps no one encapsulated the story of that Election Day better than the British Guardian
in an article
titled How Bush Tapped into a Well of Faith
Right up until the results were announced, the conventional wisdom held that a big turnout would help John Kerry. The sight of huge queues to vote, and polling stations staying open for extra hours, all fed the idea that Kerry would win. But the results instead proved Rove correct. It was the religious right, not just Bush-bashing Democrats, who were flocking to vote.
The large evangelical turnout took many by surprise, since religion received relatively little attention during the 2004 campaign. There was certainly less talk of it than in 2000 and some of it was done by Kerry himself. Most people still remember his insistence in one of the televised debates that he would take his faith into the Oval Office.
Since religion had been scarcely mentioned, it could only have been Bush’s tough stand on terrorism — the campaign’s central theme — that so galvanized the evangelical voters.
Most pundits did not see this coming and they failed to draw correct conclusions even after the fact. To this day many of them think that the evangelical turnout was somehow spurred by moral concerns. But this is incorrect, since during the campaign moral issues were discussed no more than religion was. Even those states that had the sanctity of marriage initiatives did not generally draw a greater proportion of evangelicals than the states that did not. It was neither religion nor moral questions that so energized fundamentalist Christians in the 2004 election. It was the War and Terror and the specter of Islamic threat that drove them to the polls.
The inability to grasp this fact and to come properly to terms with what happened shows just grossly unfamiliar the metropolitan punditry is with the American evangelical mindset. Some among them suspect as much. One commentator even facetiously suggested that perhaps they should start sending foreign correspondents to the Red States. That would perhaps not be wholly inappropriate, since the concerns that prevail there are in many ways foreign to them. While the East coast media elites worry about global warming and Abu Ghraib, the Bible Belt is anxious about something else entirely.
When evangelical pastors discuss politics or current affairs, more often than not their topic will be the threat of Islam. Since 9/11, Islam has been discussed almost as often in conservative churches across America as all the other top secular subjects — evolution, abortion, divorce and homosexual marriage — combined.
While the politicians and media elites have been praising Islam as a great faith and a religion of peace, evangelical leaders see things differently. In a 2006 interview on ABC’s 60 Minutes
Jerry Falwell declared
that ‘Muhammad was a terrorist’ and a ‘violent man, a man of war.’ He added: ‘Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. And I think that Muhammad set an opposite example.’
Pat Robertson said
that those who think that the terrorists distort Islam are wrong. ‘They’re carrying out Islam,’ he told his audience. Speaking about the Danish cartoon controversy, he said that ‘it just shows the kind of people we’re dealing with. These people are crazed fanatics.’
Franklin Graham, the son and successor of Billy Graham called
Islam an ‘evil and wicked religion.’ Unlike Jerry Falwell, Graham refused to back down in the face of the angry protestations that ensued.
John Hagee, one of America’s best known evangelical preachers, said
: ‘America is at war with radical Islam. Jihad has come to America. If we lose the war to Islamic fascism, it will change the world as we know it.’
In keeping with this, evangelical pastors regularly invite as guest speakers in their churches individuals with some expertise on the subject. Soldiers and personnel who have taken part in the War on Terror are also often asked to speak. Needless to say, the congregations are overwhelmingly appreciative of their work and sacrifice.
Almost every evangelical outfit now offers some material on the dangers of Islam. Books, booklets, fact-sheets and audio recordings on the subject abound on their websites. The documentary Obsession
is among the most popular
at discounted prices from many evangelical outlets. Subtitled Radical Islam’s War against the West
, its promotional blurb gives a clear idea why the film so appeals to this demographic:
As we sleep in the comfort of our homes, a new evil rises against us. A new menace is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western Civilization under the yoke of its values. That enemy is Radical Islam. Using images from Arab TV, rarely seen in the West, Obsession reveals an ‘insider’s view’ of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination.
Focus on the Family, an influential organization ran by one of America’s leading Christian conservatives, James Dobson, devoted four of its daily radio broadcasts to Islam in September of last year. The titles tell it all: Understanding the Threat of Radical Islam Part 1 & Part 2 and Radical Islam’s Impact on America Part 1 & Part 2. In one of the programs, Dobson stated:
I feel so strongly about what we have done this week. In retrospect, maybe five or ten years from now, this could be the most prophetic material that we have ever dealt with, because our nation is in danger… great danger from those who hate those who want to destroy us.
Alarmed by Islamic expansionism, evangelical writers and scholars have produced a number of books seeking to alert to the danger. Here are just a few examples. Jim Murk, a seminary professor, wrote Islam Rising. Former missionary Robert Livingston published Christianity and Islam: Final Clash. Michael D. Evans, a fundamentalist minister, recently put out Showdown with Nuclear Iran: Radical Islam’s Messianic Mission to Destroy Israel and Cripple the United States. Joel E. Rosenberg, an evangelical of Jewish descent, wrote Epicenter: Why Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future.
When seeking to discredit the War on Terror, critics often evoke the term ‘crusade.’ The intent is to link the two and imply that that the project was somehow hatched by fundamentalist Christians who wish to impose their religion on Muslim lands. And even though the critics are wrong about the motive — it is to defend rather than to conquer — their attempt shows that they understand at least instinctively where the strongest support for Bush’s policies comes from. The 2004 race showed just how right that intuition was.
Eager to protect their faith and way of life, evangelical Christians turned out in such great numbers that within days the shell-shocked Democrats began talking about the necessity of doing something to appeal to ‘values voters.’ This phrase is, of course, nothing else than a code name for evangelical Christians.
It was in this spirit that by January of 2005 Hillary Clinton was giving speeches designed to endear her to that demographic. In one appearance
, she described herself as a ‘praying person’ and even conceded that abortion may not be the best course of action in some circumstances: ‘We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic, choice to many, many women.’
This understandably did not go down well with Mrs. Clinton’s liberal base who complained of her ‘naked attempt’ to appeal to the Christian Right.
Even though her attempt fell largely flat, it was indicative of how thoroughly Democrats were shaken by the blow they had received from the evangelicals at the polls. So disoriented they were for a while that they were even willing to moderate (albeit only rhetorically and for a time) some of their most cherished positions.
The fact that the United States has now a president who is willing to confront west-hating jihadists is decisively due to American evangelicals. They are the reason why America is the only western country willing to take the necessary steps to protect itself (and its allies) in the face of the Islamic threat. It is they that keep up America’s fighting spirit and provide Bush with the support he needs to carry on the fight.
Were it not for American evangelicals, the free world would be presently without a leader. Without them America’s policy would be in the hands of John Kerry and John Edwards who be likely by now have dismissed the whole idea of the War on Terror. This is what John Edwards said
on the subject in May of last year in what his campaign billed as a major foreign-policy speech:
The War on Terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It’s a bumper sticker, not a plan.
Most evangelical reject this view, because they know what the true goal of Islam is. Pat Robertson expressed what many feel he said
that Islam’s ultimate goal is ‘world domination.’ Adrian Rogers, a former president of the Southern Baptists, declared that radical Islam ‘presents a danger to the entire world in its ambition to take over every nation either politically or by force and subject everyone to the will of Allah and Sharia law.’
While there are those of other ideological stripes who are conscious of the danger we are in — Christopher Hitchens being one of them — the energy and electoral impetus to battle the resurgent Islam comes largely from evangelical Christians. Should they withdraw from the political realm, the rest would not be able to come together in sufficiently high numbers to exert the political clout necessary to continue the struggle. There are simply not enough Hitchenses around to carry on the fight. Without the evangelicals, America’s will to fight would collapse.
All those who care about this civilization should realize that if the evangelicals lose politically in the US, there will not be enough will left anywhere in the West to fight for it.
To put it simply: As it goes with American evangelicals, so it will go with western civilization.