“It would be a mistake to be dismissive of End Times believers,” says humanist David Niose, “because their influence in American policymaking is far from marginal.” Apocalypse cheerleaders might seem silly, even inconsequential, but there’s no denying the danger they pose to humanity and a planet facing environmental collapse.
The unrelenting plunder of earthly resources is motivated by greed: the inequitable distribution of spoils is foundational to capitalism. Most people find the consequences unfortunate or inevitable, and rationalities for this exploitative system abound; the myth that human selfishness works for the common good being perhaps most pernicious. But the construct of entitlement, that some persons are more worthy than others, finds expression in the particularly self-serving world view of American Exceptionalism.
Support for this orientation is largely metaphysical, and frequently ensconced in religious trappings. “End times,” or “end of days” eschatology is embraced by numerous employees of the Trump/Pence regime, including the newly confirmed secretary of state Mike Pompeo. “Jesus Christ … is the only solution for our world,” proclaimed the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. “To worship our Lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty.” That includes total capitalization on God’s “gifts” so as not to offend the provider.
Donald Trump’s evangelical Christian Cabinet threatens to “bring an unsettlingly theocratic attitude to America’s foreign policy,” warns Vox staff writer Tara Isabella Burton. “Because the rapture [which failed to materialize Monday] is ultimately desirable — it marks the return of Jesus Christ — anything that hastens it is desirable too. For many evangelicals, apocalyptic ‘good versus evil’ battles, particularly centered over the ‘Holy Land’ of the Middle East, are signs that the longed-for end may be at hand.”
Pompeo’s Islamophobia will have a direct impact on how he views foreign policy, concludes Burton. “[His] vision of the relationship between America and the Islamic world as, fundamentally, a relationship between good and evil is at odds with the very nature of the secretary of state’s office.” Pompeo is hardly alone in debasing Muslims. A number of GOP politicians allow rapture theology to influence their political ambitions.
And evangelical Christianity has become an increasingly powerful force within the United States military. “Holy warrior” General William G. Boykin described a military victory against Somali warlord Osman Atto: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” A 2004 Yale report warned “There’s one religious voice, the conservative evangelical Christian voice, that has decided that it has the right to lay claim to the environment … and it is able to do that by working with the [Air Force] Academy power structure.” Complaints to a watchdog group have doubled since November 2016 over the increasingly central role of evangelicalism in the military.
It’s not enough to ridicule the lunatic rantings of xenophobic frontmen. We must deny legitimacy in their actions. And we’ll have to do this ourselves. The U.S. Congress has failed to defend justice at practically every turn. Resist further degradation of the planet. Indict, prosecute and convict the Trump/Pence regime for crimes against humanity.
The world doesn’t have to be this way. A better world is possible.