The lunatic fringe stages a coup

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Peter Jackson

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.

Email pjackson@thetelegram.com.

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  • peter l
    October 09, 2013 - 13:38

    Keith, you should read the article again, the Heather is a he, not a she, named Larry Heather. As well, the article is not entirely correct, many Americans are against the Obamacare, and it is hung up on more factors than what the writer claims to be only Christian fundamentalists. He should look deeper into the issue, even many athiests and other non Christians are against Obamacare. The article really oversimplifies the issue.

    • Keith Hannaford
      October 09, 2013 - 21:11

      Oops! My bad on the gender. Otherwise, my point stands.

  • Herb Morrison
    October 09, 2013 - 10:54

    Advocates of the type of right-wing, Christian Fundamentalism which borders on extremism; to which Mr. Jackson makes reference to in this column, have been attempting to scare Hell out of people in this Province for a number of years. The fact that the pews of these particular Christian Churches, which prey on peoples’ fear in order to induce people to become believers, are full on any given Sunday; demonstrates clearly; that, playing on the feelings of insecurity, that no one living in today’s world is entirely immune from experiencing, is almost a sure fire way to fill either the pews of a Church or the seats at a political rally. In addition, the leaders in these Churches also attempt to induce in their adherents the unchristian idea that people to promote notion that all Christians are superior to other mortals, who choose not to be Believers. Such a scenario is not unique to this generation. In the days of my youth Christian Fundamentalists such a Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and Rex Humbard, used the spectre of Hellfire and Brimstone consuming the unbeliever, as a means of inducing in unbelievers the notion that a quick conversion to Christian Beliefs was in their best interests, should they wish to avoid Divine retribution either in this world or the fires of Hell in the next. As Mr. Jackson stated in his column we should not ignore the right-wing Fundamentalist Christian views being expressed by Christian extremists be they located either in the U.S.A. or right here within the confines of our own Province. Finally, the idea expressed by right-wing fundamentalist Christians such as Michelle Bachman, which essentially says to non-believers: I’m saved, to Hell with you and the world you live in, is not a Christian concept. As a Christian, I am II am guaranteed both Spiritual strength in this world, and eternal Spiritual life in Heaven; following my physical demise. Mind you it is not because I am any more deserving than anyone else. I have chosen to be a follower of Christ, and believer in God. Because I choose to have faith in God, the same gracious, loving and forgiving God grants supports me in this world and provides eternal spiritual life for my Soul in the next. The choice to become a Believer is up to each individual person, and is offered to every human being.

  • Keith Hannford
    October 09, 2013 - 10:51

    This "Heather" you quote was wrong even though she said two right things. 1) It is a mistake for Calgarians to endorse swearing-in for office on the Qur'an. But, and I'm sure this is where Heather and I would disagree, swearing on the Bible is a mistake too. 2) Because both the Bible and the Qur'an espouse values that do not produce a basis for democracy (Western or otherwise). Doubtless, Heather is being a bigot, but it's worth drawing a line between the literal meaning of her words, with which I agree, and her intentions in uttering them, which I oppose.