The United States has long been the home of a wide assortment of bizarre and eccentric sects and cults, most being harmless, or at least lacking the ability to do any serious harm outside of their immediate proximity without large-scale followings nor serious political access. But there are always exceptions, and one of the more prominent and influential ones is the highly-politicized and well-funded Dispensationalist movement, a vocal and well-represented faction among fundamentalist Protestants. Not only do Dispensationalists have a large scale following, but they also manage to wield considerable influence in Washington, especially on US foreign policy.
The relationship between fundamentalist Protestant eschatology of the Dispensationalist variety and America’s geopolitical agenda can be clearly seen in the figure of Hal Lindsey. In the early 1970’s he published a book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which proved a bestseller among fundamentalist Protestants. Scrawled during the height of the Cold War, Lindsey’s work proposed that Soviet Russia was the sinister entity known as Gog spoken about by the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, and that it would soon invade Israel, thus bringing about Armageddon. Lindsey was not an isolated figure by any means; a film based on his book – narrated by none other than Orson Welles – was made, and his admirers included Ronald Reagan, who cited Lindsey’s teachings on Russia as Gog in a speech prior to becoming president.
Lindsey’s eschatology served to provide a Manichean, religious veneer to America’s Cold War against communist Russia. It conveniently serviced Washington’s geopolitical ends, as well as casting all of Israel’s Arab opponents as agents of sinister supernatural forces. America and Israel were the Sons of Light, while their adversaries were the Sons of Darkness. As such, Protestant fundamentalists found ample theological justification to support Euro-Atlantic elites’ drive for global hegemony. Indeed, the late American intellectual Gore Vidal whimsically observed that the practical result of this Dispensationalist theology was a “military buildup that can never, ever cease until we have done battle for the Lord.”
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