We’ve all heard about Islamic fundamentalism, but have we heard about Christian fundamentalism? According to this branch of the Christian tradition the end of the world is at hand. The signs are clear – we can see the increasing turmoil every day on the evening news. These are the final days of the last fallen epoch in history. We are approaching the Day of Judgment when Jesus will return to Earth.
The Second Coming, though, will only occur if certain preconditions are met. The first of these has already been satisfied: the establishment of the state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem – one of the most important Muslim mosques. This will then provoke a war with the legions of the Antichrist, and the final battle will take place in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.
The end of the world will be a bloody affair, but convinced Christian fundamentalists can look forward to it safe in the knowledge that they will be spared the suffering. The prediction is that before the final battle all the “true believers” will be lifted out of their clothes and will float up to heaven in an event called the Rapture. Not only will they be able to sit at the right hand of God but they will also be able to watch the action from the best celestial seats and see their opponents get struck down during the seven years of Tribulation which will follow.
Of course the last book of every Christian's bible is the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse), and most Christians see this as a trustworthy prediction of some final Day of Judgment. What makes the fundametalists different is the emphasis they give to this and their readiness to act to help speed the process up. The bible says Israel must expand before the Second Coming occurs, so let’s organise a car boot sale to raise money to send to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The bible says the new Temple must be built where the Al-Aqsa mosque is, so let’s send a few people over there to blow that damn mosque to pieces. (In 2000 three US Christians were deported from Israel for trying to do precisely this.) If the Second Coming will only occur after a huge war, let’s drop all this nonsense about wanting peace – let’s get the guns out and start shooting some of these people who deny that Christ was the son of God. Let's get this show on the road. Hallelujah!!
Sounds unbelievable? Click on www.raptureready.com to see just how serious these guys are. They aren’t joking.
Other people are taking them seriously. Like airlines in the U.S., for instance. Some US airlines have taken steps to ensure that the pilot and the copilot of a flight are not both Christian fundamentalists. If the Rapture occurs in midflight the company wants to avoid losing both people with their hands on the controls as the chosen ones float up to heaven.