Onward – Christian Soldiers … to Iraq!

For those who keep arguing that oil was the only key driver for the disastrous Bush plan to secure Iraq for the US, I suggest there was another strong motive to proceed with this dumb idea, from an entirely different source: the Religious Right.

Under the heading “Onward, Christian Soldiers”, on April 15, 2003, Max Blumenthal of the Salon Media Group in San Francisco wrote:

Now that the Big Brother busts of Saddam Hussein are crashing to the ground from Basra to Kirkuk and widespread looting and violence have filled the power vacuum, Iraq remains tense and its future is murky. There, people are more concerned with things like water and medical care than the abstract world of politics. But in the West, a growing corps is squabbling over the spoils of war. While winners and losers in bids for reconstruction contracts and humanitarian opportunities are still being sorted out, one group seems certain to gain an avenue into the country: Southern Baptist Convention ministers prominent in the galaxy of the religious right. Among them is Charles Stanley, the former two-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a close ally of former President George Bush and a fervent supporter of the current president’s war on Iraq. ‘The government is ordained by God with the right to promote good and restrain evil,’ Stanley stated in a sermon. ‘This includes wickedness that exists within the nation, as well as any wicked persons or countries that threaten foreign nations … Therefore, a government has biblical grounds to go to war in the nation’s defense or to liberate others in the world who are enslaved.’ And sampling from a scattershot of biblical passages to inform his argument, Stanley warned that those who oppose or disobey the U.S. government in its drive to war “will receive condemnation upon themselves.

Even before victory has been formally declared, Baptists Ministries are just one phalanx in an army of Christian soldiers who see Muslim Iraq as an extraordinary new marketplace for their theology. Already, churches and ministries on the religious right are poised to send in missionaries and to ramp up broadcasts to the region. Like advance troops before the invasion, some U.S. military officials in Iraq have already staked out the country as a natural place to spread the Christian Gospel.

Given his ‘biblical support’ Bush did not misspeak when he went on national TV after 9/11 and used the word “crusade” to go after the “evildoers”.