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Conservative Christians have come to resemble their liberal counterparts when it comes to politics.
Recently, at a large evangelical church just north of Colorado Springs, 1500 people gathered to pray about three passages from the Old Testament book of Daniel. (Daniel 2:1, 4:4-5 and 4:31) They apply to the evil King Nebuchadnezzar and his departure from power. According to Ted Haggard of the Colorado Springs-based World Prayer Team (WPT), these verses "apply to Saddam because he currently rules over the same geographic area that Nebuchadnezzar ruled". Haggard goes on to say that "if we can motivate over a million Christians to pray for Saddam, God will deal with him, remove his royal authority, and he will leave Iraq."
This prayer meeting came in response to the Bush administration's recent offer to help Saddam Hussein find a safe haven if he steps down and leaves Iraq.
Two questions arise. First, would Iraq, in fact, be better off without Saddam? Very often, Bad Guy A was replaced by Bad Guy B, who was even worse.
Second, if the prayers of a million Christians are not answered, what next? What if Saddam does not step down? He has survived 12-plus years of Desert Shield, Desert Storm, no-fly zones, embargoes and bombings. He is very resilient and unlikely to decamp graciously. The obvious answer is that the U.S. will pulverize Iraq some time very soon.
Saddam is a horrible guy who has done horrible things. No one denies that. The world would be better off without him. However, things are just not as simple as the Bush administration, its amen corner in the media, and groups like the WPT would have us think.
The ChiComs and the Kim dynasty in North Korea have done far more gruesome things than Saddam could ever imagine. The whole world knows that they both have nukes. Why are we not gearing up to obliterate them? And why don't the folks at WPT pray for the departure of these regimes?
There are plenty of other evil regimes without which the world would be a better place. Among them (this list is not all-inclusive) are: Cuba, Libya, Sudan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Haiti, Rwanda, etc. Again, why are we not threatening to pulverize them if they do not step down? Again, why are groups like the WPT not holding prayer vigils about the departure of their rulers?
Many of these countries are in the Arab and Muslim worlds, in which mosque and state are one. Islam, as one commentator has put it, is communism in a religious wrapping. Iraq is right in the heart of this region. Is there any reason to believe that whoever follows Saddam will be any more humane toward his people?
Oh sure, we can install someone in Saddam's place. But what are the ramifications there? While many American preachers, in their infinite political cluelessness, will no doubt hail this "regime change" as fulfillment of God's will and claim that whoever rules in post-Saddam Iraq will rule by divine right, what will happen in real life?
We backed Saddam for much of the 1980s against Iran. We installed the Shah in Iran in 1953 only to see him deposed in favor of the Ayatollah in 1979. We backed Bin Laden in the 1980s in Afghanistan only to see him mastermind the horrors of September 11.
How long will the party last in Iraq?
How long will the Karzai regime last in Afghanistan? (Speaking of which, whatever did happen in our quest for Osama?)
How long will the American Empire last? No matter how hubristic we may become, and no matter how much we think the world loves us, no empire lasts forever. Consider the fates of Alexander the Great, Rome, Britain, Napoleonic France, Spain, Portugal, Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans, the Czarist Russians, the Soviets, etc. Hitler's Thousand Year Reich missed the mark by 988 years. Japan went into the empire business in 1931 only to be put out of business in 1945.
America is not exempt from this principle. We had warning shots with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the embassy bombings in Sudan and Kenya, and the bombing of the USS Cole.
The insanity of September 11 did not happen because the terrorists hate "our freedom and our democracy." While they hate these things about us, this is not sufficient motivation to go to the extremes to which Mohammed Atta and company went. The attacks happened because hundreds of millions of Muslims from Morocco to the Philippines seethe with hatred for our presence in Saudi Arabia, i.e. the holy land of Islam. They want us out and they are willing to go to insane extremes in order to make their point.
Let us drill for oil here at home, as well as in Canada and Mexico. We could create a few more jobs south of the border and stem the tide of immigration. (We could create a few more jobs here in Colorado as well.)
I am not a pacifist. I retired from the Naval Reserve two years ago. I will never write or say word one in criticism of America's sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines who are actually getting the dirt under their fingernails. (It is interesting: almost none of Bush's media cheerleaders ever did one day in the military.)
Jesus was not a pacifist either (Luke 22:36, Matthew 10:34). However those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). America currently has troops in over 140 countries around the world. The Soviet Union could never make this claim. You cannot throw your weight around to the extent that the United States does and have everyone love you.
Have you ever noticed how no one ever invades Switzerland? While wars have raged around them for centuries, the Swiss have remained resolutely neutral. They arm themselves to the teeth and mind their own business. Their military is purely defensive. As a result, other nations leave them alone. Switzerland and America both reap what they sow.
Perhaps I ought to arrange a big prayer meeting, with the enabling Scripture being Psalm 2:10:
"Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: Be instructed ye judges of the earth."
We will pray that in 2004 the American people have enough sense to elect a president and congress who adhere strictly to the principles spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as opposed to our current form of government which says "If it sounds good, do it." We will pray that America once again becomes a nation under God as opposed to a nation under man. We will pray for Thomas Jefferson's vision of "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none."
We will pray for regime change right here in America.
I will pray for all these things regardless of whether I can arrange a big prayer meeting.
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Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman
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