What is alarming is that Bush seems to have no reservations about the notion that God and the good are squarely on the American side. As Joe Klein put it in Time, the President's "faith offers no speed bumps on the road to Baghdad; it does not give him pause or force him to reflect. It is a source of comfort and strength but not of wisdom."
Bush's actions, if not his words, seem also to be in line with end-times scenarios imagined by some conservative Christians and fictionalized in the "Left Behind" series that has sold over 50 million volumes since 1995. Up to 40 percent of Americans believe that we are living in the last days, says historian Paul S. Boyer, and that history is racing toward an apocalyptic clash between the forces of good and evil. Millions of Americans believe that the Bible foretells regime change in Iraq, that God established Israel's boundaries millennia ago, and that the United Nations is a forerunner of a satanic world order (The Chronicle Review, February 14). Bush is giving tacit support to such a perspective with his hands-off policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his antipathy toward international cooperation and agreements, and his near apocalyptic discourse of good contending with evil.
Does the President believe we are living in the last days of history and does he see his own actions as leading toward a divinely ordained, cataclysmic conflict with the forces of evil? If it is not a literal reading of biblical prophecy that is informing his policies, then what does he mean by his talk of providence?
The American people have a right to know how the President's faith is informing his public policies, not least his design on Iraq.
The Christian Century describes itself as "a magazine that believes the Christian faith calls people to a profound engagement with the world--an engagement of head and heart. We think Christians must articulate their faith in a way that is socially meaningful and intellectually compelling."
The alarm these reasonably sympathetic Christians are feeling with respect to the potential outcome of Bush's rhetoric must be recognized for the threat it represents.
We secular American citizens must figure out more concrete ways to forestall an artificial, Republican-bred but American taxpayer-funded Apocalypse.