Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Great New Film on Christian Zionism

Here's my latest on Christian Zionism. Click HERE to read on Huffington Post or read below.

The State of Israel just announced a decision (New York Times, Tuesday Nov 7, 2010) to advance the approval of some 1,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem during a sensitive time in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians. What they didn't mention is that several American Christian Zionist groups have been raising money to help build new illegal settlements on occupied land for years.

The so-called Jewish lobby is supposed to be so powerful that no American president can act without their approval. This is an anti-Semitic slur, a kind of Americanized "lite" version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a forged anti-Semitic screed purporting to describe a Jewish plan to achieve global domination). For one thing most Jewish-Americans aren't part of this lobby, but rather are ordinary American citizens who are just as skeptical of right-wing Jewish Zionist fundamentalist Israelis as other Americans are -- perhaps more so, because they know more about them.

The truth is that when it comes to pandering to powerful religious/ethnic "blocs" in the US the biggest game in town is the across the board bowing to the white Evangelical "base" of the Republican Party. That's the bloc of voters that adds up to real numbers, as high as a third of the American voting population.

It's the Christian Zionists who have driven American foreign policy over a cliff. (I'm speaking here as the proud father of a Marine, who was sent to war in the Middle East, again and again.) Christian Zionists continuously jeopardize our future by putting the promotion of harebrained interpretations of biblical "prophecy" ahead of the well being of both Israel and the US.

To the Christian Zionists "defending Israel" is just a handy pretext for indulging their obsession: egging on, even "helping" the fulfillment of "biblical prophecies" about the "return of Christ." But their worst sin isn't just embracing dumb "theology" but that they have enabled a nefarious group of losers to irreparably harm America and contribute to the needless killing of our men and women in uniform worldwide: the neoconservatives.

To the neoconservatives "defending Israel" is just a handy pretext for upholding the myth of "American exceptionalism" for profit and nationalistic "glory," of the kind that was supposed to have gone out of fashion when hubris and stupidity got half the young male population of Europe killed in World War One.

America needlessly went to war in Iraq because neoconservative war mongers -- who laugh at the "those rubes" as they think of earnest Evangelical Christian Zionists, and whose own sons and daughters seem notably absent from our armed services -- used the religious passion and dedication of conservative Evangelicals to provide political means and cover for the neoconservatives' commitment to America's military dominance of the world. In other words the Evangelicals provided the votes to put foolish war mongers like George W Bush in power.

With "friends" like the Christian Zionists and the neoconservatives Israel, America, our men and women in uniform, the Palestinians and the rest of humanity need no enemies. This is made poignantly clear by a new film, With God On Our Side.

With God On Our Side is the most powerful, humane and compassionate documentary exposé of the Christian Zionist movement, and the impact of their ideology on the lives they have touched (and ruined), ever made. It is well crafted, subtle and fair. And -- notable in the "when hell freezes over" department -- it was directed and produced by... an American Evangelical.

Porter Speakman Jr. (director and producer) was raised by an Evangelical minister. Speakman grew up in a Charlotte, North Carolina in an evangelical (Pentecostal) home. These days he attends a small conservative Anglican church where he lives in Colorado Springs, "the Evangelical capitol of the world," as some wags call the blighted town where James Dobson runs his Evangelical "Focus On The Family" empire.

The film traces Speakman's change of heart from Christian Zionist to moderate peace maker. Speakman's fictional alter ego -- the young actor who narrates the movie -- recreates Speakman's ethical, spiritual and political journey. His dramatized journey links the interviews and historical material that provide the facts which correct the absurd lies told by the Christian Zionists not to mention their apocalyptic fantasies.

I understand where Speakman is coming from. I too look at these issues from an inside perspective. My late father, Francis Schaeffer, was a key Evangelical founder and leader of the American Religious Right. I grew up in a home where the "return of the Jews to Israel" was seen as "proof" of "God fulfilling prophecy" in order to expedite the return of Christ. I changed my mind and I changed my politics. I explain why I quit the evangelical movement in my book CRAZY FOR GOD--How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. I no longer believe that any "prophecy" is being fulfilled in Israel or anywhere else. I don't believe anyone is "chosen." If there is a God then God either loves all people or none.

With God On Our Side is a pointed contradiction of most American Evangelicals who still believe that to "be a Christian" means that you must give your full support to the extremist elements in the State of Israel. They believe that God loves some people lots more than others. In fact the logic of their actions points to their hatred of the Palestinians, even hatred of Christian Palestinians, let alone of "those Muslims."

For instance John Hagee, mega church pastor and founder of Christians United for Israel has said: "For twenty five almost twenty six years now, I have been pounding the Evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits 'I believe the Bible', I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have Christians over a barrel you might say."

Few within the Christian Evangelical community have dared to publicly question Haggee's type of approach. Speakman's film presents an authentically Christian and Evangelical alternative perspective to the warmonger Far Right's views. As such this film is literally the most important document of its kind -- because it was made by an insider. It is the key to understanding why Evangelicals have become the permanent party of war in the name of "helping Israel."

Note: If we go to war with Iran you'll know why after watching this film. Hint: it won't be to protect American interests.

With God On Our Side does more than just present another Evangelical perspective -- it presents an opportunity for Christians of all denominations as well as Jews, Muslims, atheists and agnostics -- whomever -- to engage for peace as vigorously as the Christian Zionists root for war.

Speakman allows everyone he interviews to express themselves, share what they believe and then he responds with story, facts and context. With God On Our Side contains interviews with the leading Christian Zionists including John Hagee and Malcolm Hedding (of the so-called International Christian Embassy Jerusalem).

The film shows that one of the problems with the Christian Zionist rhetoric is it is never put into context. Hagee and his warmongering ilk say whatever they want and get an "Amen" -- and a check -- from those who believe the same. But when you show the implications of their beliefs and actions, it becomes clear that this is not the way of Jesus.

Those like Hagee and Hedding are deeply disconnected from the pain and suffering amongst the Palestinian people and they abuse the Bible to justify such an approach with blatant disregard for the Bible's core teaching for both Jews and Christians -- love of neighbor.

The Christian Zionists are also deeply disconnected from the American military family that, for generations now, has been the spear point not of American foreign policy but of Evangelical fantasies about making the world "safe" for the return of Christ by "helping" along "biblical prophecy" by "standing up for Israel." This so-called standing up has mired America in perpetual war. And as if that's not enough their very raison d'ĂȘtre is an insult to any actual God (if there is such a thing). I mean how could God be stupider than his frail human creatures? And what could be stupider than tying land acquisition to spirituality, as if the God Of The Universe is addicted to enforcing borders established by British colonialists and/or some rather nasty genocidal warring Bronze Age tribes?!

With God On Our Side soberly and quietly challenges the thought that God is only "with" one ethnic or religious group. When I interviewed Speakman for this article he said, "When you think God is on your side everything is justified. Radical Muslims justify suicide bombings, Radical Jews justify ethnic cleansing and radical Christians justify modern-day crusades."

Speakman has toured the US (mostly in churches) twice with the movie -- quite incredibly mostly ignored by the mainstream media so far -- and is now in the UK and Ireland to answer his (often insanely hostile Evangelical) critics. "What we are seeing is that there are many people who are disturbed that they have not heard this side of the story before," says Speakman. "What is encouraging is that many people who watch our movie then want to learn more and get involved to make a positive change, for both Palestinians and Jews."

Note to the media: Pay attention to this film. It's a newsworthy story. Here's your hook -- "Evangelical Turns Against Own 'Side' and Works For Peace..."

Note to the cable news shows: Interview Speakman, he's articulate.

Note to anyone reading this review: Buy the DVD, watch it and then share it, you owe it to yourself, children and country.

Note to non-Evangelicals: Speakman takes the time to answer questions about bizarre "covenant theology" in a way that's directed at Evangelicals. Watch anyway, you need to understand the preoccupations, concerns and off-the-wall ugly delusion gripping of the vast Evangelical public, even if the archaic questions they care about -- for instance, "are the Jews still the chosen people or does this idea only apply to us Bible-believing Christians now?" -- might seem nonsensical to you.

If you want peace in the Middle East then learn why the Christian Zionists who say they love Jews love Jews the way tigers "love" lambs. Their "standing up for Israel" is not helping the Jews, Arabs and Palestinians who live there. It's only encouraging the militant hardliners -- like the ones who just stuck it to the rest of us with their 1000 new insults to peace they call "housing" -- to commit suicide, and maybe take the rest of us with them.

Speakman has gone a long way to proving that sometimes progressives' smug dismissal of "all those Evangelicals" as nutty is as unfair as it is inaccurate. With his courage (the aptly named) Speakman proves that truth may sometimes be spoken by the most unexpected people.

After watching With God On Our Side I have a renewed hope for the Evangelicals in America. And maybe peace in Palestine and Israel is possible. This film can help that happen by signaling the beginning of the end of the largely unchallenged influence of Christian Zionism.

Film Website: WithGodOnOurSide.com

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back


.

9 comments:

cmnselection said...

Christian Zionists also have no idea of the Jewish religious resistance to Zionism, especially that of the Orthodox Jewish community. The Zionist state of Israel can claim no religious justification from the Torah in it's ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Frank Schaeffer said...

Good point. I hope that I made it clear that re Zionism I was not talking about all, or even most Jews or Christians. But I should have also added your point, thanks Cmnselection, best, Frank

Susan said...

The vast majority of Orthodox Jews are Zionists. There is a small group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionists. They believe that the state of Israel should not exist until the Messiah comes. Most Jews don't believe that Jews should wait until the Messiah comes to have their own state. Actually, they are not against a Jewish state since they think that God will ultimately create a Jewish state.

I notice that you don't comment on Stephen Sizer who is accompanying Porter Speakman on tour and is an antisemite.

I don't support the Christian Zionists. They want a Jewish state with no Jews in it, because they want all the Jews to become Christians. You cannot accept Jesus as your savior and remain Jewish. As a Jew, I have a problem with ALL Evangelicals who want to convert Jews whether they are Christian Zionists or not.

The difference between anti-Christian Zionists and anti-Zionists is not as clear as it needs to be at times.

Morrison said...

Frank, the Jews have learned that if they don't fight, they die.

In World War Two the Jews did not fight back in any organzied fashion, and they were almost exterminated.

That is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN FRANK.

You need to learn that.

Moreover, the Jews have nuclear weapons and if Israel goes down the world is going to know about it this time.

So, you can whine about it all you want, Frank, but you need to realize this.

Live with it.

Michael Caddell said...

@ Morrison: Burr-headed bullies, unfortunately as in Kansas, are not mythic, as the equally rotten notion as Zion has become to Jews, Christians and Mormons. The Zion utopian parable from the Bible, like social experiments in communism have become distopian totalitarian failed states, as in current Israel and even more so the U.S.A.

Writing from Kansas, as you claim, would necessitate knowing more than a fair share of outrageous lunatic followers of such authoritarian fantasies, realized.

Better to tell the current Israelis government it has become a pariah, even to the collapsing empires supporting them with military and financial lifelines. Who are fast becoming incapable of supporting them, if and when they use their precious nukes, which will not save the tiny land from the starving hordes.

Better to tell the current Israelis government to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with the U.N. allow a complete voter registration of all in the occupied lands toward selecting a new Israel government by referendum and candidate (including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority entities).

Israel has become the old apartheid South Africa, no matter what the neocons in DC or the Kansas Christo-nationalists decide or desire.

Learn to live with that, Morrison.

Morrison said...

Caddell, apparently you despise Americans in Kansas, and speak as in a bigoted manner, as you do the Jews. You give yourself away, sport.

GET THIS...

What happened in World War Two is NOT going to happen again.

The Jews are going to fight this time.

If Israel were to go down, a large part of the world is going with them.

Hamas, etc., can call for their extermination all they want, but there will be no starving hordes to take over the land. They will no will no longer exist.

Get over it, coward.

Art Telles said...

YHWH said...

"And Elohim said further to Moseheh, 'Thus you are to say to the children of Yisra'el, YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Yitshaq, and the Elohim of Ya'aqob, has sent me to you.

"This is my name forever, and this is my remembrance to all generations.' " Exodus 3:15

Question 1 Frank -

Are you for or against the only Elohim whose name is YHWH?

Question 2 Frank -

Are you for or against the name of the only Elohim whose name is YHWH being remembered and proclaimed from one generation to the next generation, including today in the 21st century?

Question 3 Frank -

Are you for or against the covenant that the only Elohim whose name is YHWH made with Abraham?

Question 4 Frank -

Are you for or against Israel building housing on it's own property, Jerusalem?

Question 5 Frank -

Are you for or against Hamas and it's charter that clearly says that Hamas is for the extermination of Israel and all Jews?

Question 6 Frank -

Are you for or against the global jihad by political Islam, to kill and exterminate Israel and all Jews?

Question 7 Frank -

Are you for or against political Islam using the Qur'an to justify calling Jews rats and pigs?

Question 8 Frank -

Are you for or against political Islam teaching 3 and 4 year old children to hate... Jews?

Question 9 Frank -

Are you for or against political Islam using the Qur'an to justify killing "people of the book," Christians and Jews?

Question 10 Frank -

Are you for or against political Islam using Islamic law, sharia, to subjugate it's own women?

Question 11 Frank -

Are you for or against proclaiming to the 21st century world the words of the only Elohim whose eternal name is YHWH about the "land flowing with milk and honey" as the inheritance of the children of Abraham?

"And Elohim said ...

"Go, and you shall gather the elders of Yisra'el together, and say to them, YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, of Ytshaq, and of Ya'aqob, appeared to me saying, 'I have indeed visited you and seen what is done to you in Mitsrayim (Egypt):

" 'and I say: I am bringing you up out of the affliction of Mitsarayim to the land of the Kena'anite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hiwwite and the Yebusite, to a land flowing with mil and honey.' " Exodus 3:16, 17

Question 12 Frank -

Do you even care what the only Elohim whose name is YHWH has said about "... my people, my inheritance Yisra'el?"

Joel 3:1,2,20

"For look, in those days and at that time when I turn back the captivity of Yehudah and Yerushalaym,

"Then I shall gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Yehoshaphat. And I shall enter into judgment with them there for my people, my inheritance Yisra'el, whom they have scattered among the nations, and they have divided up my land.

[...]

"But Yehudah shall dwell forever, and Yerushalayim to all generations."

- - - - -

Frank, whatever your response is, if you choose to respond here or on the Huffington Post with a longer and itemized article, your response will not really be to me, a visitor to your blog, or to your readers on the George (Schwartz... his original Jewish birth name) Soros mulit-million dollar funded Huffington Post... that is filled with anti-Semitic sentiments.

Your response will truly be to the God Who Is There... the only Elohim whose eternal name is YHWH.

Question 13 Frank -

Are you for or against Israel?

Question 14 Frank -

Are you for or against Hamas?

Do you need time to think about it?

"GET THIS...

"What happened in World War Two is NOT going to happen again."

Ever.

Art
Only YHWH can ... STOP! Islamization Of America ... with our informed speech and action

Mark DeYoung said...

Pre-Tribulation Dispensationalism is a relatively new belief system. It seems to have started in 1830’s Scotland by either teenager Margaret McDonald or John Nelson Derby. It does appear McDonald was the first person to use the term “The Rapture”. (To the embarrassment of fundamentalists who often don’t respect the opinions of women or children).
But Pre-Trib was brought to the American Fundamentalist messes with the “Schofield Reference Bible.” “Doctor” Cyrus I. Schofield was a conman and a fraud. He never attended college, but lied on his resume and gave himself and Doctorate of Divinity. He then his published his falsify resume in his reference bible. Fundamentalist leaders seem to have no problem with someone “bearing false witness” inside the bible, or adding to the bible, which his reference notes do. Many fundamentalists treat Schofield’s reference notes as perfect, in effect elevating Schofield’s notes as the inspired perfect world of god. (But fundamentalists also do this to the KJV 1611.) Schofield like John Hagee also dumped his first wife for a younger more attractive woman (So much for family valves)
Schofield later founded a bible college that is now Dallas Theological Seminary. DTS is where Hal Lindsey, author of the “Late Great Planet Earth” attended college.
Few Fundamentalists know about the life of Schofield. While Christian bookstores are full of copies of his reference bible, I have yet to find any biographical books about him in the same stores. I have no doubt that many Pre-Trib leaders know about Schofield’s big lie, but keep it secret from their followers.
As a former fundamentalist, I only found out about Schofield’s lie about five years ago. Looking back on my fundamentalist youth, I am beginning to realize how often my clergy lied to me or hide the truth about many subjects.

Tim said...

I can't understand the comment by Susan above "You cannot accept Jesus as your savior and remain Jewish.". So I conclude from that that Susan believes that you are a Jew based on your faith. However, what about the atheistic Jews who live in Israel? If it is based on Faith then they ceased to be Jews when they took up Atheism. Okay, maybe not faith then. Is it based on Ethnic background. Someone is Jewish because of their race. Okay, that's valid. So when a Jewish person becomes a Christian do they change DNA? If it is based on race then they maintain their Jewishness on accepting Jesus.

Either way, it is clear that a Jew who accepts Jesus is still a Jew.