EDWARD WONG. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israel and Iran and The Rapture. (NYT 30.3.2019)

Yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had dinner with  Scott Morrison.  They both believe in The Rapture when Christ will return to Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.  Importantly at the moment we are being urged to join forces to counter the alleged Iranian ‘menace’ to Israel.

See below an article from Edward Wong on how Mike Pompeo’s beliefs are influencing US foreign policy, which we invariably follow. Odd indeed! John Menadue. 

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in a hotel in Jerusalem earlier this month, he made a remark that was perhaps the most revelatory of any in his nearly one year in office.

An evangelical Christian, Mr. Pompeo had just returned from tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the ground where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried, and of tunnels beneath the Western Wall, by the holiest site in Judaism. The interviewer posed a question around a biblical tale about a queen who saved Jews from slaughter by a Persian official: Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been “raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?”

“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It was remarkable — so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago, if I have the history just right — to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place, and the work that our administration’s done, to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

White evangelical Christians are a powerful force in the Republican Party. Vice President Mike Pence is a staunch believer and former President George W. Bush is an adherent, too.

But no secretary of state in recent decades has been as open and fervent as Mr. Pompeo about discussing Christianity and foreign policy in the same breath. That has increasingly raised questions about the extent to which evangelical beliefs are influencing American diplomacy.

On Monday, in a speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel group, Mr. Pompeo told an anecdote about Tibor Baranski, a Christian who saved 3,000 Jews in Hungary during World War II. Then he said, “As secretary of state and as a Christian, I’m proud to lead American diplomacy to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

The next day, Mr. Pompeo announced an expansion of Trump administration anti-abortion policies, saying the United States would stop funding foreign organizations that support other groups that perform abortions. It is a policy popular with conservatives, Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Though Mr. Trump is secular, white evangelicals are a big part of his voter base, and some of his major foreign policy moves, planned or supported by Mr. Pompeo, are intended to shore up political support.

The most notable examples involve Israel. When Mr. Trump moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, evangelicals applauded.

Studies show that white evangelicals are much more likely than other Americans to believe that Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy. Known as Christian Zionists, they believe God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.

Mr. Pompeo talks about the rapture. “We will continue to fight these battles,” he said at a “God and Country Rally” in 2015, because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.”

“Be part of it,” he said at the meeting, at the Summit church in Wichita, Kan. “Be in the fight.”

In November, Mr. Pompeo told a reporter for The New York Times Magazine that the Bible “informs everything I do.” The reporter noticed an open Bible in his office, with a Swiss Army knife marking his place at the end of the book of Queen Esther.

Mr. Pompeo, 55, became a devoted Christian at West Point, where he joined a Bible study group. After moving to Kansas, he joined the Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a relatively conservative denomination.

The State Department did not respond to questions about the intersection of Mr. Pompeo’s Christian beliefs and policy.

American evangelicals who supported Mr. Trump’s embassy move might also approve if Israel annexes part or all of the West Bank. After Mr. Trump formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many conservative Israelis said they are hopeful that annexing part of the West Bank will be next.

Then there is the question of what an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, as drawn up by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, will recommend for the disputed territories of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Martin Indyk, a former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, noted the evangelical influence on the Trump administration in saying he doubted that the peace plan would propose ceding any Israeli-occupied territory in the West Bank to Palestinians. Nor was it likely to provide a route to Palestinian sovereignty, Mr. Indyk said.

“In the view of evangelicals, that is the land that God gave to the Jews,” he said. “They’re strongly opposed to any territorial concession there. If there is any of that in the plan, I think there will be strong evangelical opposition to it.”

Mr. Trump’s decision in December 2017 to move the American Embassy was intended to please evangelical voters in the United States, as well as some Jews. Mr. Netanyahu has embraced evangelical support for his right-wing policies, and sees evangelicals as more reliable American allies of Israel than liberal American Jews.

An evangelical pastor, Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, gave an opening prayer at the embassy building’s dedication ceremony in May. His presence made many Israelis uncomfortable; he has said Jews, Muslims and Mormons are bound for hell. In 2017, during a conference call of Mr. Trump’s top evangelical supporters, Mr. Jeffress led a prayer for the protection of Mr. Pompeo, then C.I.A. director, and thanked God for putting him in the job.

Mr. Pompeo has gotten rid of a diplomatic consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians and merged its work into the new embassy.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Mr. Pompeo also has broadcast his Christian beliefs. At the start of a January speech in Cairo, Mr. Pompeo said the trip was “especially meaningful” for him “as an evangelical Christian, coming so soon after the Coptic Church’s Christmas celebrations.”

He added, “In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and his word, and the truth.”

Observers found it remarkable that Mr. Pompeo would open a speech in a majority-Muslim country by highlighting his Christianity. And some critics have pointed out that Mr. Pompeo, before becoming secretary, made us-versus-them statements about Christians and Muslims while talking about terrorism and war.

At Mr. Pompeo’s confirmation hearing in April 2018, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, asked him about his ties to prominent anti-Islam activists. Mr. Pompeo acknowledged the ties but said he had a strong record “with respect to tolerance and the equal treatment of people.”

When Mr. Pompeo traveled to Lebanon after his recent stop in Israel, he toured a church and a Crusader citadel and talked with a bishop about religious freedom, one of his favorite themes. He plans to host a second conference on religious freedom at the State Department in July.

Mr. Pompeo has made Iran a signature issue, blaming it for stirring unrest in the Middle East. He reliably calls the country by its full name — the Islamic Republic of Iran — to highlight its religious identity.

Last year, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Pence led an extraordinary campaign to pressure President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a proponent of political Islam, to release an American evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in 2016.

But Mr. Pompeo, citing the mission of religious freedom, has also defended the rights of Muslims oppressed by some Asian nations.

He has criticized Myanmar for its ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, though he has declined to describe it as genocide. And Mr. Pompeo has denounced China for its detentions of one million or more Muslims.

Hours before leaving for Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon, Mr. Pompeo hosted an on-the-record conference call with just “faith-based media,” barring journalists who regularly cover the State Department.

Though widely criticized for the move, Mr. Pompeo and the State Department have refused to say who was on the call or release a transcript.

Representative Susan Wild, Democrat of Pennsylvania, told Mr. Pompeo during a House hearing on Wednesday that his action“raises concerns about First Amendment violations.”

Mr. Pompeo said it was “no different” than giving selective interviews. He added, “I am confident I will do so again.”

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3 Responses to EDWARD WONG. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israel and Iran and The Rapture. (NYT 30.3.2019)

  1. Thanks John. Two aspects of the religious discrimination issue surprised me. Firstly, the absence of attention to our constitution. I tried to rectify that in the post you quoted. Secondly, the very fact that the issue has arisen.

    Do you know any “people of faith” who complain about getting a raw deal in Australia? This is a remarkably tolerant country. It is a special privilege to be an Australian. We don’t know how lucky we are. The Government is promising action for a tiny minority of malcontents who will not be happy with moderate “light touch” legislation.

    After Attorney General Christian Porter was attacked by the Australian Christian Lobby on the front page of the West Australian newspaper I wrote to him making two suggestions. Firstly, publish a discussion paper on the proposed legislation so the general public can make submissions, not just the lobbyists. Secondly, when the bill comes to the Parliament, make this a conscience vote for the Coalition.

    I made the same suggestions in correspondence with Jim Chalmers and Penny Wong on the Labor side. I did express the hope to the Attorney that the Government would not be so low class as to create a “wedge” issue on religion.

  2. John Gray says:

    Excellent observations and report. This PM we have (Not MY PM!) cannot help but run the country with a Christian agenda. We already have the resurrection (pun intended) of a Religious Freedom undead legislation which Morrison is “hell bent” (Oh, the puns keep coming!) on foisting on everyone, regardless of what he might say to the contrary.
    As Edward has rightly reminded us, ScoMo has the mandatory belief in the rapture which is tied in to Armageddon and the new heaven and new earth mythology. That is why they think it is fine to kill the planet and its occupants by raping the forests, mining more and more coal, etc. etc. After all, there will be new one, so, bring on Armageddon. That’s why war in the Middle East is pursued, as well as for oil. Yes, I know, perhaps sounds a little “conspiracy theory” but, do your own research … the good guys, the chosen, like ScoMo and his family will sail up into the air to meet “the Lord” … hopefully JC can find his way through the smog and pollution to find his followers, and he’ll have thought to bring a portable oxygen supply.
    Christians REALLY believe all this end times stuff. I should know. I was in Christian Life Centre organisation for 5 years! Yep, I’m a “backslider” and am in the darkness, wailing and gnashing my teeth.
    Oh dear, sorry for the rant … anyhow, my point is that, as ScoMo cosies up to the loony religious right in the USA, we, who are NOT fundamentalist “believers” should be VERY concerned. I am just waiting for the anti-abortion legislation to appear.

    I draw everyone’s attention to the excellent contribution by Jerry Roberts, regarding governments keeping their noses out of religious lawmaking . It is in our constitution; something that ScoMo and his “brothers is Christ” seem to have forgotten: https://johnmenadue.com/jerry-roberts-religious-discrimination/

    As always, thanks for the opportunity to put in my two cents worth John.

  3. J.Donegan says:

    Even though the alleged second coming of Christ is a recurrent theme in millennial literature, I suspect that an ‘ordinary’ Christian, while likely aware of this, might nonetheless wonder why Christ would want anything to do with a world that is now best described as a cesspit; and where the only passable occupation for anyone of intelligence is to contemplate what floats to the top.
    Also, consider this: if all the world’s Christians disappear in a puff of smoke above Jerusalem, who then is left to defend Israel? Where then compassion for those left behind? As our PM might say: Empathy is for those who deserve it.

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