Last week I wrote about the fallout from President Trump’s announcement that the United States would formally recognize Israel’s capital as Jerusalem and move the U.S. Embassy there.
A major facet of this shift in U.S. policy is Trump’s fundamentalist Christian support base. Apocalyptic prophesies of the “End Times” are an obsession with these Christians. And they see Trump’s decision as a step towards realizing Armageddon.
Fundamentalist Christians and biblical literalists are thrilled by Trump’s announcement because they see Armageddon as the culmination of what is described in the Book of Revelation, in which Jesus returns to destroy the forces of evil and rapture all the faithful Christians.
An example of this sick obsession with the end of the world was on display at a Trump rally in Pensacola, FL on Friday. Florida Republican state Senator Douglas Broxson was introducing Trump when he said, “Now, I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem — where the King of Kings [audience applause] where our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel.” The crowd ate it up.
Other evangelical religious leaders and politicians praised Trump for his decision. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “Today is a major milestone in America's historic relationship with Israel. Under the bold and courageous leadership of President, Trump America is finally putting American interests and the interests of our key allies first. America's foreign policy, as it pertains to Israel, is coming into alignment with biblical truth—Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.”
If you look at the percentage of white evangelicals compared to American Jews who believe that God promised Israel to the Jews, then it becomes apparent how much of a focus this issue is for the evangelicals. 82% of white evangelicals believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people, while only 40% of American Jews believe the same thing.
As an atheist, I am already a proponent of the right to criticize all beliefs, religious or otherwise, but the need to break the taboos protecting religion from criticism becomes all the more important when religion is influencing government policy. Trump has thrown the Middle East into disarray with his announcement, and things are likely going to get far worse before they get better. Evangelical Christians want to give up on any chance humanity has for developing a lasting civilization all for the promise of their fairy tale belief in an after-life. This life is the only guaranteed one, and we need to protect it from the ridiculous idea that Jesus is going to fly out of the clouds like Superman to defeat all evil and save all the devout Christians.