‘Dual Covenant’ Christians

The major internal conflict for the strangest alliance in history is about what will happen to Jews who don’t convert to evangelical Christianity. The Armageddonites, those 30 million Americans who happily see Mideast chaos as hastening their one-way trip to paradise, are being increasingly questioned about the fate of Jews whom they urge to help fulfill the prophecies.

Once their death wish agenda is realized, the end-of-the-worlders believe that Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims (of course), other Christians (apparently including Catholics and Orthodox), and all the rest of humanity will be killed. But the born-again will be “raptured” to Heaven. (See “The Brutal Christ of the Armageddonites.”)

Now some enterprising Texans have “resolved” the big question. The Jews God kills will go to a parallel heaven, “their” kind of heaven, to enjoy eternity alongside the good Christians. The Jewish heaven will presumably be what “they” would like, perhaps different from the evangelical heaven, where there will be “no booze, no bars, and no need to mow the grass on one’s lawn,” according to a popular Gaither Singers song. (The fact that the Jewish faith has no afterlife at all similar to the Christian one is irrelevant, nor do the faithful Texans probably even know it.) It is called the “dual covenant theory” – the belief that Jews and Christians have separate deals with God. However, Muslims, Hindus, and others have no deal.

A Wall Street Journal piece described the dual covenant theory in an article about a Christian Zionist meeting in Washington two weeks ago. In particular it reported on Rev. John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel and organized the event. Now, Jerry Falwell and other evangelicals who once opposed the thesis have joined the Hagee group board of directors. They urge no peace concessions by Israel and, now, war with Iran.

The 3,500 delegates held a major rally in Washington attended by, among others, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) and Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., and other leading Zionists. As the Journal reports, “They see, and even sometimes seem to embrace, the notion of a global conflict between Islam and the Judeo-Christian West, just as do many zealous Muslims.” (Protesters outside the meeting were led by Carol Moore, who long ago first brought media attention to the Waco and Weaver travesties.)

Interestingly, polls indicate that most Americans are nowhere near as pro-Israel as their elected representatives. Recent polls show strong majorities of Americans do not want the U.S. to intervene on Israel’s behalf in its current military campaign.

There are many other strange facets to the Zionist-Evangelical alliance:

  • God needs Jews to gather in Israel for the fulfillment of His plans. To further this, the Christian Zionists collect money (from churchgoers and on TV programs) to pay for primarily Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel, because God can’t end the world until most Jews have returned to the holy land. However, American Jews apparently can stay in America without hindering His agenda.
  • The great advantage of being “raptured” is that there is no Judgment Day. Everybody who is “born again” automatically goes to Heaven, their sins all forgiven, and no good works are necessary. But it must happen soon. If John Hagee, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson should die before Armageddon happens, then God will handle their souls the ordinary way.
  • God loves the Jews, according to fundamentalist theology, but not if they work for peace. Pat Robertson explained that murdered Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin was killed because he got in the way of God’s plans for continued war. Robertson also blamed Ariel Sharon’s recent stroke on his withdrawal from Gaza. Similarly, according to the Wall Street Journal, Hagee said that “calls for Israel to show restraint violate ‘God’s foreign policy statement’ toward Jews.” In May, 2003 Hagee and other evangelical leaders sent a letter to President Bush applauding the invasion of Iraq but complaining about the Israel-Palestine peace plan. They said it would be “morally reprehensible” for the U.S. to be “evenhanded.”
  • Hardly any leader of the Christian Right publicly opposes the torture of prisoners of war (with the notable exception of Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship). Perhaps predictably, many fundamentalists are passionate supporters of John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, noted for symbolizing all that the rest of the world dislikes about America. Just war, rule of law, the Geneva Convention, charity to one’s enemies – such concepts are all anathema to these Christians who long for the end of the world.
  • Millions of Arab Christians are certainly not loved by the God of the Armageddonites. In fact, Arab Christians don’t seem to exist. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, for instance, refused to show a segment about Christian Arabs. Jerry Falwell’s tours of Israel purposely avoided them, according to Grace Halsell, who traveled with Falwell’s group and wrote a book about it. Robert Novak has written about the plight of Christians under Israeli rule and how almost no representative in Congress dares to speak up for them, except for Henry Hyde, who is retiring. The self-proclaimed “Christian” columnists and commentators on Fox News and the Washington Times op-ed page remain silent.
  • The White House has explained the nuances of God’s plans to Armageddonites before. Last year, it sponsored a meeting with leading fundamentalist preachers to explain that Gaza was not part of the historical Judea and Samaria. Therefore, its spokesman argued, Israel’s withdrawal of settlements would not interfere with God’s plan to end the world.

    It is a bit weird that we begin the 21st century with American foreign policy being made by religious fundamentalists who mirror some of their Muslim brethren in their hatred. And now they want to attack Iran, whatever the consequences for the world’s oil supplies through the Straits of Hormuz. Never mind all the wisdom and experience, books and lectures of America’s foreign policy establishment: State Department and CIA experts overseas, analysts at think tanks, the most brilliant thinkers in the nation might as well be whistling in the dark. George Bush has been asked if he believes that we are in the “end times.” He refused to answer. He has said that God tells him what policies to pursue, presumably those now inflaming the Muslim world. Catholics and most other Christians, incidentally, do not believe the Armageddonites’ scenario. Others believe God’s prophecies already occurred in Biblical times.

    And the preachers? Just in case the world does not end soon, Rev.Hagee has set aside several million dollars in trusts, money earned from his prophecies and preaching. The San Antonio Express News reported on the IRS filings of his Global Evangelism Television network. After their report, Hagee re-registered the fundraising network as a church, which does not need to show its IRS filings.

    Author: Jon Basil Utley

    Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative. He was a foreign correspondent in South America for the Journal of Commerce and Knight Ridder newspapers and former associate editor of The Times of the Americas. He is a writer and adviser for Antiwar.com and edits a blog, The Military Industrial Congressional Complex.