The BBC World Service’s Reporting Religion programme has an interesting interview with Dick Armey, former US House Majority Leader. Armey is a long-standing supporter of the Israeli right, and in 2002 stated publicly that he wished to see Palestinians removed from the Occupied Territories. BBC journalist Dan Damon asked Armey about his beliefs concerning the End Times (at 19:55).
Armey: We talk about the End Times, the day of Tribulation. Yes there seems to be, if you believe in Bible prophecy, there seems to be a great deal of the circumstances that was prophesised present at this time, and a lot of people believe that this is the time for that prophecy. They also believe that a free and a, what shall I say, well, Israel will be a consequence after those days of Tribulation, but that the whole world goes through a difficult time during those days of Tribulation.
Interviewer: Do you believe it?
Yes, I do.
Does the President of the United States believe it?
I believe he does.
Do you understand why that would worry people who are not Christian or Jewish living in the Middle East?
Well, I can understand why that would worry people, it worries us. This is a very difficult time in the world. I know of nobody who thinks of the days of Tribulation as a good thing. We believe it will happen because the Bible says it will happen, but it is not something that we prefer to see happen. We just expect that to happen, because the Bible says so.
Are you trying to make it happen?
No, I don’t…I’d be very upset with anybody who’s advocated that we ought to make it happen. These things are supposed to happen in God’s good time, and somebody that would try to create the circumstances purposely I think would be out of step with the teaching of the Bible.
And yet a lot of people, a lot of Americans, are raising money, the Americans are sending weapons to Israel. Isn’t that trying to make it happen?
No, I don’t think so. My own guess would be that the most active Americans that are supporting Israel materially by way of sending money or materials, war materials, are not American Christians but American Jews.
Where should we go with this, Congressman, because we’ve got these tremendously dangerous divisions, haven’t we, between people who believe in the end times calling themselves Christians, people who belive that that the final battle with the infidel is coming, calling themselves Muslims?
Well, you know, I think you have to look at who is playing this out, who is asserting it. I think the most important question that you ask is: ‘are people in the United States, particularly people in positions of authority and responsibility – are they trying to make the End Times happen? Are they forcing the issue?’ And those then become in my estimation the very dangerous people that we must look out for. And I don’t believe that any people in office in a position of responsibility and authority in the United States today is trying to force these circumstances predicted in the Bible to come to pass.
Meanwhile, Max Blumenthal reported recently in the Nation that
Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a newly formed political organization that tells its members that supporting Israel’s expansionist policies is “a biblical imperative.” CUFI’s Washington lobbyist, David Brog, told me that during the meetings, CUFI representatives pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah.
The White House instructed Brog not to reveal the names of officials he met with, Brog said…
But just how significant is all this? Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker recently expressed some scepticism:
Doubtless [Christian Zionist leader John] Hagee holds his audiences in thrall, but that audience does not happen to include George W. Bush or even (cue thunderclouds) Karl Rove. Nor millions of other Christians. Despite what the anti-Christianists seem to believe, the evangelical movement is not monolithic on such issues and Hagee doesn’t have an office in the State Department.
In fact, at one White House meeting with about 35 evangelical leaders, one participant told me Hagee said nary a word. Even if he had, no one in the Bush administration is listening.
“You can be sure that Condi Rice is not reading Tim LaHaye books,” says Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and director of its Evangelicals in Civic Life program.
…What’s missing…is a basic understanding of reality: the fact that those who preach an End Times scenario also voted for Bush does not necessarily mean that they have Bush’s ear. When someone like Hagee sends a smoke signal to the White House about Israel and Armageddon, the attitude at Pennsylvania Avenue is, ”Oh yeah, John, we’re aware of that, thank you.”
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