666: Armageddon, Iran and Bush Foreign Policy
June 6, 2006 (6/6/06) is the 62nd anniversary of D-Day, one of the most glorious - and bloody days - in American military history. But as the American Prospect reports, for evangelical leaders close to President Bush such as Texas Pastor John Hagee, the number 666 has another important meaning for the future of the United States. 666 is the number to be borne by the Anti-Christ in the coming battle of Armageddon, which if Hagee has his way, will fought against Iran.
As I wrote back in May ("Bush, Iran and the Second Coming"), key figures in the radical religious right see Israel and end-of-times conflict with Iran as the fulfillment of biblical prophesy contained in the Book of Revelation. (That piece also highlighted a parallel end-times bellicosity surrounding the return of the Mahdi among President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Shiite clerics of Iran.)
But Hagee is at the bleeding edge of a Christian Zionist movement seeking to accelerate the Second Coming of Christ and the final battle in Israel. Since the 1990's, Hagee and his group CUFI (Christians United for Israel) has tried without success to breed the "red heifer," the perfect calf that will signal the Second Coming." As Sarah Posner writes in the American Prospect, "for Hagee's new project - agitating for war with Iran - his influence over Washington is less important than his influence over his audience." His book Jerusalem Countdown sold over 500,000 copies. And as Posner reports, Hagee is not alone:
Hagee calls pastors "the spiritual generals of America" an appropriate phrase given his reliance on them to rally their troops behind his message. The CUFI board of directors includes the Reverend Jerry Falwell, former Republican presidential candidate and religious right activist Gary Bauer, and George Morrison, pastor to the 8,000-member Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colorado, and chairman of the board of Promise Keepers. Rod Parsley, the Ohio televangelist who is rapidly becoming a major political figure in the Christian right, signed on as a regional director.
Just how much influence the likes of Hagee have over President Bush and his foreign policy team is open to debate. But what seems clear, as I wrote previously, is that the most extreme religious elements in Iran and the U.S. alike seek to accelerate the End of Times. And as their positions over the Iranian nuclear program harden, Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad may have more in common than they know.
NOTE: The American Prospect article "Pastor Strangelove" requires a subscription. For more background, see my piece "Bush, Iran and the Second Coming," here.