God save America ...
The race for the White House will be decided by fundagelicals.
That's good news for twice-born George Bush
Monday May 3, 2004
The word "fundagelism" has never appeared in the columns of this
newspaper. The term is, however, current in the blogosphere - that
cyberforum which nowadays carries the most interestingly paranoid
political debate. "Fundagelism" is not a word that trips easily off
the tongue. It's a crunching together of the even more mouth-
boggling compound "fundamentalist evangelism".
George W Bush is a fundagelist. Dad wasn't. George H Bush (not
renowned for his Wildean wit) delivered his most memorable wisecrack
on walking into a room full of fundagelists: "Gee! I'm the only
person here that's only been born once."
His son is truly twice born, with two dads. Nor are the parents
equal in the eyes of their son. The journalist Bob Woodward, as he
recalls, asked the current president if he ever turned to the ex-
president for help. "Well, no," replied Bush Jr: "He is the wrong
father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal
to in terms of strength. There's a higher father that I appeal to."
There are, it is estimated, 90 million evangelical Christians in the
US. If they can be mobilised, they will form a rock-solid foundation
for November victory for the Republican incumbent. Chads need hang
Of course, not all American evangelicals are fundagelicals any more
than all Muslims are Islamic extremists. But lukewarm evangelicals
(like the Islamists) are more likely to vote for their own kind -
even if extremist - than the opposition.
What do fundagelicals instinctively oppose? Gay marriage, abortion,
gun control, taxes, the UN (and the currently top-rated candidate
for anti-Christ, Kofi Annan), withdrawal from Iraq, Michael Moore,
Janet Jackson's left breast.
What do they believe in? Christian values and the future as foretold
in the Book of Revelation. According to a Time Magazine poll (which
strains credulity but seems to be valid) 59% of Americans trust that
St John's prophecies will be fulfilled - probably during their
lifetime. November could be a last opportunity to vote for God's
preferred candidate. Iraq (ancient Babylon) figures centrally in the
fundagelist vision of things, as does the Rapture, and the imminent
mass conversion of the Jews (hence fundagelist-Zionism).
The White House has recently been accused of inveighing (via Nasa)
against the movie The Day After Tomorrow (out on May 28) because it
narrates the wrong apocalypse. One caused by man-made global
warming, that is, rather than God's white-hot rage against sinners.
The apocalypse depicted in Tim LaHaye's Left Behind books is, we
assume, the US government-approved version.
Fundagelism presents problems for the Democratic party as it girds
itself for the coming campaign. John Kerry is a Catholic. A former
altar boy, he is (to the irritation of Catholic bishops) in favour
of women's reproductive rights. Last week Naral Pro-Choice America,
the country's leading lobby for legal abortion, endorsed Kerry's
Kerry so-called. Until a couple of years ago, the Democratic front-
runner was assumed to be as Boston Irish as his namesake county.
Newspaper sleuthing discovered that his paternal grandfather was, in
fact, a Czech, Fritz Kohn, who changed his name. Kerry lost
relatives in the Holocaust. Race-hate websites nowadays routinely
abuse him as "Kerry (Kohn aka Cohen)". Famously, Kerry is a
decorated Vietnam war hero who, like Siegfried Sassoon, threw his
medals away in disgust at what he came to see as a futile colonial
Was ever a candidate for the presidency more triangulated? Pro-
choice Catholic, Shamrock-Jewish, warrior-pacifist? In any rational
contest, to be all things to all voters should be an advantage. But
with fundagelism riding high, Kerry looks 110% flip-flop.
Last Thursday, the American PBS network ran a programme The Jesus
Factor. It made (for Democrats and, dare one say it, democrats)
depressing viewing. America, it suggested, is aching for certainty.
Any certainty. Fundagelism supplies it. God help America is all I