John Hagee is at it again - the super-big preacher guy is shooting off his super-big mouth. Having declared the Catholic Church as the "great whore," "homosexual rallies" as the cause of Katrina, and Hitler as "God's will" for the Jews, he is back to his favorite crusade -- bombing Iran tomorrow so Iran won't bomb Israel. The Christian Zionist movement that he created, Christians United for Israel, is about to have its third annual convention in Washington on July 21-24, and Hagee is flogging the airwaves, making sure that every last seat is filled, every possible lobbying fax is sent to Congress ...and every last dollar is donated. The sooner we do a pre-emptive strike on Iran, the better (he says).
Obviously Hagee doesn't care that growing numbers of Americans don't want more war. After all, Hagee talks directly to God (he says), and he knows that God wants us to go to war with Iran (he says).
Many centuries ago, in 1095, when the medieval big-mouths got up on a pulpit and preached the First Crusade against the Muslims in the Holy Land, a lot of European Christians said, "Yahoo!" put on their armor and jumped on their war-horses, and went. They mortgaged their castles and sold their gold dinner plates to bankroll the war. There was the Second Crusade, the Third, the Fourth ...the Ninth, and never a conclusive victory. After the Battle of Nicopolis in 1386, when the Christians got their asses whipped worse than ever, it was finally over. Most of Europe's Christian military leaders and elite fighting forces didn't come home from that last crusade. They were dead or in prison, being held for ransom by the enemy. Europe was almost bankrupt. Muslims not only remained in firm possession of the Levant, but they continued to advance into Eastern Europe until they were finally stopped at Vienna in 1683 because by then the shoe was on the other foot. It was the Muslims making the strategic mistake - they had stretched themselves too thin, and they had to fall back.
It took nearly 400 years for European Christians to figure out that the Crusades against Islam were a bad idea. So much for history. Perhaps, somewhere in the collective consciousness of humanity, the spirits of many Americans somehow remember this last time that we got beaten because we chose to break one of the cardinal rules of warfare and fight a guerrilla war with Muslims in their own back yard.
At any rate, the latest figures at WorldPublicOpinion.org show that most Americans are not going along with Hagee on his new crusade. Fully 88% of Democrats and even 56% of Republicans think we should work at better relations with Iran instead of threatening them with military force. Overall, most of the reliable polls show that a majority of Americans don't want us in Iran, and they want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not to mention the fact that our government will have to do a yard sale to raise money for fighting Iran, 'cause we are borderline bankrupt with the wars we already have.
As a student of history, I've always had the spooky feeling that these fundamentalist right-wing latter-day supporters of Israel are not demonstrating total sincerity when they talk about solidarity with Israel. Sure, maybe they feel a little guilty about all the Jews that both Protestants and Catholics persecuted and killed for 2000 years. And sure, for the moment, it's a good strategy for them. For example, I can see why the Christian Coalition of America is sucking up to the American Jewish community. No doubt the CCA hopes that conservative Jews will support - and make donations for -- the evangelicals' favorite causes, like banning gays and abortion.
But defending Israel from attack by Iran is potentially a blockbuster among fund-raising efforts. CUFI's donation page says, "Funds are needed to further the education of the Christian Community of America and the nations of the world on the biblical reasons why Christians should support Israel." I'll bet the donations are just pouring into Hagee's coffers. What percentage of every dollar goes for CUFI overhead and the salaries of its executive board (whose membership includes Pastor John C. Hagee himself)? And how many pennies of every dollar will trickle through to the cause itself? I'd love to know.
No sane and caring American wants to see Israel attacked and destroyed...by Iran or anybody else. We definitely have to get smart about how to deal with Iran. But those of us who don't stand or fall on the Bible have a legitimate issue with big mouths like Hagee. When they try to make the Bible a factor in national defense policy, when they go to war-mongering on another country for "biblical" reasons, and lobbying Congress to go along with them, they don't represent the rest of us. And the rest of us have a right to be heard. And we'd better make ourselves heard.
This Iran/Israel issue may well explode to front and center in the election campaign before November 2.