I’ve always entertained the possibility a cabal of religious extremists could bring the world to its knees. I didn’t think they’d be Christian fundamentalists.
Yet, that is the scenario playing out in Washington right now.
That may seem alarmist, but no one really knows what the impact would be of the U.S. defaulting on its debt. We already know what happens globally when billions in bank holdings turn out to be a mirage. And who bailed out the banks? The government.
The public certainly seems confused. A recent CNN poll found 63 per cent of Americans blame Republicans for the government shutdown. But 57 per cent blame the Democrats, and 53 per cent the president.
If you know basic math, you know that amounts to 173 per cent. Fact is, most citizens — astoundingly — don’t know who to blame.
Well, here’s a hint.
Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachman is among those at the forefront of the Tea Party scheme to repeal U.S. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) by killing it through a routine funding bill. House Speaker John Boehner could probably get a “clean” funding bill passed with moderate Republican support, but Bachmann and friends won’t let him table it. If he does, they’ll boot him out.
If this was just savvy political manoeuvring, you could almost understand it. But something ominous is at play. Why? Because Bachmann, for one, is an “End Times” nut.
On Saturday, as a guest on a Christian radio show, she claimed the president had actually armed al-Qaida terrorists. (In fact, the president gained UN approval to send protective gear against chemical weapons to vetted Syrian rebels, but facts have never been Bachmann’s strong suit.)
Then she said this:
“Now, what this says to me — I’m a believer in Jesus Christ — as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times … where we are in God’s End Times history.”
And where are we?
“(When) we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this: that these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time.”
This is not someone you want playing chicken with the U.S. economy. Because, frankly, she doesn’t care what happens. God is about to snatch her up in a global recall of believers. To hell with everyone else.
There are many good reasons not to mix religion and politics. This is one of them.
What odds — the end is nigh
It reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s former interior minister James Watt, who handed out mining and oil leases in the early 1980s like he was doling out candy at Halloween.
“We don’t have to protect the environment,” he famously said. “The Second Coming is at hand.”
If you think that’s only an American phenomenon, read what current Calgary mayoral candidate Larry Heather had to say when asked by The Calgary Herald what the biggest issue is facing the city:
“Left-wing environmental posers and bureaucratic master ideologues, using management by crisis alarmism, to initiate the active suppression of our God-given resource-based Alberta industries.”
Heather, a Christian radio host, also said this about current mayor Naheed Nenshi, a Muslim, at a debate Monday night: “I firmly believe it is a mistake for Calgarians to endorse a swearing-in for office on the Qur’an. The values from that book do not produce a basis for maintaining a Western democracy.”
Nenshi ignored it. I’m not sure he should have.
People are entitled to their faith. In fact, there are millions of Christans, Muslims and other believers out there who are true pillars of society.
But I don’t think the lunatic fringe should be shrugged off so readily. Because they no longer seem content to simply march the streets, doomsday signs in hand.
At the risk of sounding apocalyptic myself, I believe we ignore them at our peril.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. He hosts a daily
one-hour forum called Naked Lunch, 12:30 p.m. at thetelegram.com.