Biblical Prophecy/Public Policy: Nuptials From Hell
There is a church in the city of Bethlehem built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born called the church of Nativity. If you consult UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, it will tell you that the church is located in Palestine. But when the question of its location came up during a round of Jeopardy in January 2020, the answer of one of the contestants who mentioned Israel set off something of internet firestorm.
Today, evangelical Christians are the most politically powerful political bloc in the United States. And in the Trump administration, they’ve been given unprecedented power. They’ve turned support for Israel and hostility towards its enemies into core tenets of conservative ideology. And a big part of those policies is rooted in how they interpret the Bible. In 2016, more than a quarter of all US voters identified as white evangelical Christians. One of the primary differences between evangelicals and other Christians is their relationship with the Bible.
Conservative Evangelicals believe that the Bible is literally true. The majority of them believe that the Bible is sort of this prophetic roadmap of modern life, the events described and prophesied in the Bible will become true. For evangelicals, the most important of the Bible prophecies is the second coming, when Jesus will return to Earth. The Bible doesn’t say when it will happen, but it says where. Simply in Jerusalem. Greg Laurie is an evangelical preacher, one of several who meet regularly to advise President Trump. They’re the leaders of megachurches with tens of thousands of members. And many of them, including Greg Laurie, preach a belief called Christian Zionism, the idea that the return of Jewish people to Israel is one of a series of events that will trigger Jesus’s second coming.
According to this theology, God will save those who help Israel and punishes those who don’t. But let’s pause here. After the Holocaust, the United Nations divided up the then- British territory of Palestine, home to more than 1 million Arabs, into two states, giving Jews who had been persecuted in Europe a homeland. Over the next few decades, Israel fought multiple wars with its neighboring Arab states and seized much of the land that had been originally set aside for Palestinians. Evangelical Christians see that as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Ever since, groups like Hamas have been fighting against the Israelis trying to regain their legal territory.
Esther saved the Jewish people by using her persuasion with the king. Evangelicals who are very wrapped up in this kind of theology, because Persia is modern day Iran, they contextualize this Bible story into foreign policies. Mike Pompeo approves of this interpretation of this biblical story.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and vice president Mike Pence both identify as evangelical Christians. And both have enormous influence over America’s foreign policy. A ProPublica investigation found that Pence re-routed millions of dollars in foreign aid that has been earmarked for humanitarian projects in Iraq, diverting it towards Christian groups in the country. When President Trump approved the drone strike that killed Iran’s top military commander in January 2020, it was, according to the Washington Post, at Pompeo and Pence’s urging. When President Trump moved the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the move had more support from American evangelicals than American Jews.
Judge Jennie Pirro compared Trump to King Cyrus, also a part of this Biblical prophecy. This evangelical support isn’t by any means an accident. After the administration—under the oversight of Jared-come-lately Middle East diplomat-expert/real estate heir/speculator/investor/son-in-law-Kushner put out a “peace plan” that would’ve given Israel unprecedented control over Palestinian land, the Christian Broadcast Network interviewed Trump’s ambassador to Israel, who talked about opening the Bible and bringing it to life in many ways for those who are listeners. He also added that it is an opportunity for Biblical tourism that will grow and flourish in profound ways.* The networks coverage followed his lead. For evangelical Christians in America, the Bible isn’t just a foundational text, it’s a prophetic roadmap that tells the future and shapes the way we view the present.
And for an influential group of evangelicals, that motivates their support for a foreign policy that they see as affirming those prophecies, and a president who depends on their votes.**
Writing and Middle East Political Affairs Editor for The Humanist Advocate
Leap Day. February 29, 2020
*one of which is, of course, money—prophets for profits, if I may.—Ed.
**Perhaps getting more of these religious geopolitical misconceptions as questions (or is it answers?) by writers for Jeopardy, more people would get involved and protest the insanity of these end times predictions.—Ed.