Sunday, 7 September 2008

ANALYSIS: The curse and the blessing of the preacher man in US politics

Back in issues two and three, we highlighted how it has been suggested, on more than one occasion, that President George W Bush holds certain ... 'fundamentalist' opinions about God and the End of the World. This, it has been pointed out, is worrying for a man with control over the greatest nuclear arsenal the world has ever seen.

So it's interesting to find out about what his potential successor thinks about the issue. And what is thought about it by the people he relies on for support.

Much was made of the connection between Barrack Obama and controversial Chicago minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose racially divisive comments Obama had to publicly condemn and whose support he was then forced to renounce.

However, next to nothing has been made by the mainstream media of McCain's connections to really-much-scarier preachers such as Rev. John Hagee and Rev. Rod Parsley, both of whom share some rather fascinating views for the average apocalypse-watcher.

Hagee, for example, is not only really, really keen to ensure people are 'Rapture ready' but has also been publicly vilified for suggesting that Hurricane Katrina was God's retribution for homosexual sin (though not to the same extent as Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church for his comments about the Asian Tsunami being 'punishment' on Swedes for tolerating homosexuality).

Parsley, on the other hand, has a slight problem with Islam. This, for America, is nothing new but again McCain's relationship with Parsley has not 'broken' into the mainstream media and he has certainly not faced widespread demands to ditch the pastor from Ohio.

The fact that the media in America has not made the same deal of Parsley/McCain as any of them did over the Wright/Obama issue opens up some interesting attitudes towards both religion, politics and what opinions can/cannot be voiced. From a purely apocalyptic standpoint, Wright's opinions (which are pointed out for a lack of patriotism but a surfeit of interesting ... er ... racial ideas) are nowhere near as inflammatory as those of Parsley and Hagee. To be fair, McCain has sought to 'distance' himself from Hagee - though so far he has not been forced to renounce him, as Obama was with Wright. Add in Sarah Palin's somewhat ... strident views and it's a heady mix.

So what does the apocalypse-watcher have to learn from this experience? Well, aside from the fact that both sides in a US election will always seek to embarrass or smear the other side by concentrating on those 'associated' with the candidates, but there are clearly Issues Worth Mentioning and Issues Of No Consequence. From the evidence above it's clear that racial issues/militant black politics = a problem, but suggesting the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that Hurricane Katrina was a godly judgement and that America was founded as an anti-Islamic state which should attack Iran = just fine.

It also says something about the respective parties, with radical preaching okay with the Republicans, but not with the Democrats. Either way, with Obama having managed to shrug the Wright controversy off it'll be interesting to watch whether these preachers become a factor in the last two months of campaigning.

No comments: