There's a group rejoicing at the growing body count in Gaza. It’s time to meet the Christian Zionists.
Hey all, thanks for the thoughtful reaction to this piece so far. It's always fraught putting these things out into the world, especially when they deal with beliefs that were a big part of your life (I grew up a Christian Zionist) and when they also talk about such terrible real-world conflict.
I wanted to share a note I got from my aunt - a wonderful Christian woman. She'd originally thought to post it here but she doesn't have a sub. She sent it to me today and I said I'd post it here for her:
Great piece of writing Josh re Israel/Palestine and deadbeat Peter Mortlock. Never have liked the man. Grandad was a dedicated supporter of Palestine and its people. Like myself and many others, as you say, we believe in the attitudes which you quoted at the end of your article, and hate the greed, destruction and sense of entitlement that these 'special Christians' recognise as being justified destruction for others and sanctification themselves.
I think your article is powerful.
I've heard even Christians saying they re worried that they don't feel good enough to be Raptured and are madly trying to be 'better Christians' which I find amusing since God says none are without sin and to 'Come as you are'
Such a weird world. Love you guys.
Josh here again. It's so important to remember that a huge number of Christians believe in a Jesus who preached peace. I was particularly touched by my aunt mentioning my Granddad, who I loved and respected very much. The New Internationalist magazines he had at his house, which I always read, and my conversations with him when he was alive had a big impact on how I saw Palestine, and the world in general.
This is the mindset of the people in the environment in which I grew up (not my family but the private Christian school and the churches I attended). It also alleviates them of any kind of burden to do anything about the suffering of others because why would they? It’s all been prophesied and inevitable. It’s why so many evangelicals are also climate change deniers. Who cares if the world is on fire if Jesus is coming to snap you up?
There’s nothing scarier as a kid than thinking all this is about to go down any minute. I remember when one of the Middle East leaders was assassinated in the 90’s and I could not go to sleep that night because I was waiting for the trumpet to sound... but enough about my childhood trauma.
I used to work with a guy 20 odd years ago that was a Brethren. Not an Exclusive Brethren, he thought those guys were weird.
20 years ago there was quite the war going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he referred to it as "...all very exciting." He genuinely hoped that the rapture was coming. He was just waiting for the nukes to start flying and for untold quantities of non believers to be burned alive.
He said it was sad that there were people being killed, but he also said that this was their chance to take the Lord into their hearts. Their chance to be on the right side of what he hoped was the coming final judgement.
When I pointed out that a lot of people were dying as 'collateral damage' in a war they never wanted, he said that if they were good God fearing Christians, then their death didn't matter as they would now be in their true home in the afterlife.
He couldn't see the true value of human life. To him, and I'm sure a lot more, this life is only a stepping stone to their final destination - heaven. He would try his best to be a good person, but ultimately it was up to God on how this world would play out. If we suffer on the way through, no problem as this is only the waiting room.
This has always been the biggest concern of mine when it comes to religion - fundamentalism. That there are so many that would kill and die for their God is proper scary. Whether it's a suicide bomber, or a politician that lets a mother die in childbirth, in their eyes it doesn't matter as it's all part of God's plan.
I have a perfectly ginger heifer that’s never been yoked (seriously)! I’ll trade it for a ceasefire and Netanyahu getting prosecuted as war criminal.
Thank you so much Josh. As an ex preacher of all that I recognised it all. Thanks for the humorous touches that lighten the load a little. And such a beautiful end note quoting actual Jesus. Blessed indeed be the peacemakers.
World is ending, predictions of misery and horror coming true. Must act now, God wants you to reduce emissions and fulfil the holy Paris Agreement. People with a Ford Ranger Wildtrak X don't get into heaven.
I’m going to nervously share my poem
War & Peace
Jesus is a pacifist
When surrounded by evil power-mongers
He could have taken up weapons
But he said “Love your enemies”
He could have used counter-intelligence
To thwart the betrayers kiss
But he turned his cheek
When falsely accused, ridiculed, mocked
He could have used brilliant oratory
But he refused to answer
He could have employed some MMA
When the thorny crown pierced him
But he lowered his head
When he was dragged before the governor
He could have hired an assassin
But he emptied himself of power
He could have ordered an angelic drone-strike
When they laid him on that cross
But he surrendered to the nails
When he rose from the dead
He could have retaliated with a war on terror
But he forgave his enemies
The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it Jn 1:5
On the one hand, I *really* did not want a detailed reminder of these psychotic beliefs. I grew up surrounded by this type of awful thinking.
But thank you both for this newsletter. More people need awareness of the various foundational beliefs behind the support of the Israeli state’s genocide of Palestinians.
Fucking gross. Downright evil.
This was a great piece. I feel sick, but more informed than I've ever been about Christian Zionist beliefs. I can't wrap my head around it. To be that bloodthirsty and believe that's what a "loving" god wants. I grew up Catholic but I'm 100% Atheist now. Nothing about religion makes any sense to me now.
And I know there are tons and tons of amazing people who are religious. I just can't believe any of it anymore. Especially when it celebrates something this horrific.
I know a lot of people have been afraid to speak out against what Israel is doing for fear of being called antisemitic. Now I realize a lot of the people supporting Israel are ironically antisemitic themselves..
Thanks David, an interesting, if disturbing read. There are some insane things being said at the moment, juxtaposed against the reality of what's happening in Gaza they are just grotesque.
I wrote a newsletter this week on the old adage of truth being the first casualty of war, primarily about people, from all around the world, being labelled as anti semitic because they are asking for a ceasefire. It's free here if anyone would like to have a read:
It all sounds a lot like Biblical fan fiction these days. Its dangerously in the hands of those wielding a little too much influence on the vulnerable and predisposed.
All of my adolescent/teen years were spent in an organization similar to this.
I got to witness full evangelical Christian nonsense during the height of the y2k panic. I remember very vividly being 16 and standing in line to load into the choir box and listening to the women behind having a conversation where one of them said "I need to renew my license but I don't think I will because we're not gonna be here in another 5 years for it to matter". She thought because the RAPTURE was going to happen that she wouldn't need to renew her license. Its this same belief thay many evangelicals use to justify not doing anything about climate change, social issues, etc. And that's the mindset I spent most of my time around during my formative years. I am *still* overcoming it to this day at 40.
It's so hard to see these events and not be triggered by feelings of the fear of "is this really it?" My brain automatically goes there and I hate it. It makes watching these awful events unfolding far worse. It doesn't help that my parents who are avid church goers still believe this is the end times. Now they're not rejoicing in the lives lost or extreme violence or anything, but I know they're eagerly anticipating the arrival of Christ so their suffering will be over. "Theirs" meaning my parents not the people *actually* suffering at the hands of violence.
I'm happy to not be a part of it anymore. But the damage of this kind of teaching lasts forever it seems 😪.
Honestly the last month has been some of the most despairing moments of my life. Nothing else seems relevant right now. My heart breaks for everyone in Palestine. This is a massacre built on western imperialism and the dehumanisation of the Middle East and I will never ever forget how our leaders and institutions do *NOT* serve us in any way.
I watched a video of a child with his femur poking out of his leg yesterday. He wasn’t crying. No tears left. I don’t know how anyone could watch videos like this and not die inside.
The only hope now is the power of the masses. Beautiful Auckland wormies - see you at Aotea square 2pm Sunday.
Fantastic piece, thank you Josh! Great job accurately explaining the mouthful that is 'premillennial dispensationalist eschatology'. Like others here, I grew up beneath the boot of Christian Zionism in various NZ evangelical churches. I have since left that harmful fucking childhood mindset far behind and these days try to follow a gentler, wilder Christ outside (many) church walls. Easy to spot parallels between Qanon and Christian end times cult conspiracy theories when there are people fully believing they'll be trundling out archaic guillotines to behead Christians and you've watched others trundle out wooden noose contraptions at Trump political rallies. Didn't know there was a worldwide venture to breed perfect red heifers!
I grew up in a very exclusive and conservative lay church which shared these intensely Christian Zionist views. Every week from the pulpit you'd hear someone talking about how "the Jews are God's chosen people - but they need to be brought to Jesus", while generally glossing over the process through which that happens. Anytime there is war in the Middle East you'd see a spark in their eye and the phrase "these are truly the last days" would pepper casual conversation. It took making a Palestinian friend at uni and studying colonialism for my views on Israel to flip.
I grew up with all the predictions of mass destruction and death that Mortlock was repeating, but with my Doomsday Cult own particular spin on the tribulation. Woe unto the world for time, times and half a time and modern day Israel (the UK and Great Britain were believed to be the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh). It was terrifying for a child, for it was drummed into us that it would happen very soon. All my friends and family members would be obliterated in a nuclear winter beyond comprehension. But we would be saved if only we held true to what we were taught. It seems incomprehensible to me now but I was indoctrinated to believe that God show will show his love by inflicting such horrible death and suffering upon billions of people. My older self looks back on this in horror it sees it as but one of the many forms of abuse we suffered as a second generation cult survivor.