I want to get some feedback on a topic I’m researching for my book on religion: the degree to which some Christian fundamentalists may be actively working to trigger the apocalypse. I’m not going to get into the weeds here (keep your sighs of relief to yourselves, thank you!), but, in brief:
In 2006, Pastor John Hagee founded Christians United For Israel (CUFI), an organization dedicated to pushing the US to give uncritical and unwavering support to Israel, specifically including its maximalist positions on territory. CUFI is now the largest and loudest Christian Zionist organization in the US.
Hagee also wrote a book that year, Jerusalem Countdown, in which he said:
The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. The war of Ezekiel 38-39 could begin before this book gets published . . . . the coming massive war in the Middle East . . . will sweep the world toward Armageddon. (53)
(In premillennialist theology, the Second Coming will be preceded the return of the Jews to Israel, then world-wide wars and calamities on a Biblical scale: Armageddon).
When then-President Obama and six other countries persuaded/forced Iran to agree to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under which Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program and submit to intrusive inspections for compliance. Hagee and his fellow fundamentalists denounced the deal from the start, saying it made it more likely to let Iran get the bomb (though how it would do so has never been clear). Trump, of course, opposes anything Obama did, especially the JCPOA.
Nonetheless, in 2017 Trump certified that Iran was in compliance. However, in April 2018, Mike Pompeo replaced Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and on May 8, 2018, Trump announced that the US was pulling out of the JCPOA. (Here is the Washington Post’s dismantling of the claims Trump made about Iran that day.) Needless to say, CUFI was in raptures over Trump’s announcement. (Link timed out.)
Let us be clear: By abandoning the JCPOA, Trump made it that much easier for Iran to really develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has since taken a number of small steps in that direction, each time announcing them and saying they would reverse them if the JCPOA were reinstated, but lately, especially after the Soleimani assassination, they have moved pretty much completely away from it. In other words, Trump’s action, urged on by Hagee and Pompeo and Pence, has removed the JCPOA’s restraints on Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb.
One of the connections between CUFI and Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA is Mike Pompeo, who regularly speaks at their meetings. (So does VP Mike Pence.) It’s hard to believe Trump’s decision to withdraw one month after Pompeo became SoS was just a coincidence. (Note: The US had to certify whether Iran was in compliance every year in May.)
Hagee and CUFI regularly deny that they are trying to promote an apocalyptic war in the Middle East, and it is difficult to find any published material other than the quote I posted above that shows any of this thinking. Even then, it can be fairly argued that they are not promoting an apocalypse, just predicting one.
Still, the line between prediction and promotion is easily crossed, especially if one believes the prediction is divinely inspired. So my question to the group is this: Do you see this as CUFI purposely pushing the US, Israel, and Iran into the war that Hagee insists is coming, are they naively or blindly doing so, or is there less of a connection than it appears? Other thoughts? (No prayers, please.)
PS: I had a diary up a little while back, Trump, Anti-Semitism, and the Apocalypse; this diary is looking at a different aspect of a common concern.
I’ve been Dan K for a long time here, but I went away while I was in the Peace Corps (Kenya) and then while I was working as a Foreign Service Officer. But that’s all behind me now.