As I write these words and as you read them, brothers and sisters, men and women of faith are plotting or praying for or rejoicing in the prospect of your death, the death of everyone you hold dear and the destruction of all you have worked for. This desperately sick adventism is not the work of turban-wearing, kameez-cloaked fanatics but your ordinary neighbors and other people you see every day.
This devoutly-inspired deeply-advocated death wish is the product of the glassy-eyed fundamentalist Christian. Their own glorious self-elevating, self-aggrandizing fantasy cannot come true fast enough — and requires you and your family to make way for them. Unless you and your loved ones die, are judged wanting by the Almighty and consigned to flames of woe and tortured for eternity, their dream cannot come true.
And what is their dream? That they be instantaneously transported into eternal bliss — or “raptured” — out of the strife and heartache and tedium of daily existence and be placed on a kind of celestial welfare. Why them and not you? Because they are washed in the blood of the Lamb, they are “saved,” and you remain an unrepentant unregenerate moral criminal.
And what crime did you commit? You didn’t believe what they believed. You didn’t say the magical words they said. You didn’t pray the “sinner’s prayer.” And now there’s hell to pay for not believing what they believe or not praying what they prayed. And no, I am not making this up.
So what do they believe? Good question. Among themselves they seldom agree. There are more than 45,000 different Protestant denominations, one Roman Catholic and seven non-Roman and non-Latin Catholic Christian denominations to pick from. Each adherent sincerely believes that he or she picked the best one and, in more cases than you might think, the only true one. That they alone lucked into the correct flavor of the many denominations available when there is so much at stake (presumably) and so many to choose from is a measure of their delusion — and their hubris.
All of this nonsense would be laughed off and forgotten were it not for the fact that it’s believed (or claimed to be believed) by people in power. Specifically, Republicans have co-opted the evangelical Christian paradigm and use it today to make policy when they can. Its policies can be felt everywhere, and range from “family values issues” such as abortion, same sex marriage, transgender rights and prayer in schools to policy affecting the Middle East and the nuclear powder keg there.
When death is seen not as an end but as a beginning, not as an escape from miscarriage of justice but the only ultimate dispensation of justice that matters, it can be used as a lethal expression of tyranny. For me and for many of us, life itself is a kind of miracle, the gift of a brief glimpse into this incomprehensible thing called reality and the baffling majesty of this thing we call the Universe, where “our little lives [are] rounded by a sleep,” and not a dress rehearsal for someone else’s idea of the Real Thing.
For the evangelical Christian, life is a proving ground, part of a ritual, an unpleasant trial for our ultimate destiny beyond the grave. To the evangelical, the earth is ultimately disposable, and it’s only the human soul that is significant, the only thing about us that is eternal. Silly things such as a planet upon which to live is not part of the ultimate concern of the evangelical Christian. So global warming is not a problem for many of them.
Yes, I know not all evangelicals are like that. Some are good and decent people. I used to be one, and I understand much of their well-meaning but deeply misguided motives from the inside. For such people the best I can say is to look at them and reflect that “they know not what they do.” While they may not participate in the evil that their paradigm inflicts on the rest of us, they ought to see it and make the connection between what they are taught and how those teachings impact the human race and the planet we live on. And say what you like about them, good people or no, many brainlessly go to the polls and vote for awful human scum like Donald Trump.
Such insanity is made possible by the almost uniquely evangelical malarkey that “God uses sinful people for his purposes.” When you consider that a disgusting child rapist and murderer like Trump can be attractive to people who allegedly espouse the “love thy neighbor as thyself” message of Jesus, then it’s somewhat easier to understand how so much evil can come from so much well-meaning rubbish.
For as long as Republicans are backed by evangelicals, the Republican Cult of Death will continue to hold sway over the party, and continue to be responsible for much of the abuses and hypocrisies of Republican politicians themselves. Whether Republican politicians use it cynically to advance their agenda of power for its own sake or they really believe it, the Republican Cult of Death remains not only the greatest threat to the survival of American democracy, but to the survival of our species and the only home we truly have, the planet earth. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.