Saturday, July 17, 2004

Kristoff on intolerance on the religious right

In his current column (Jesus and Jihad) Nicholas Kristoff characterizes the current crop of what he calls "evangelical thrillers" as having scenes such as
"Jesus will return to Earth, gather non-Christians to his left and toss them into everlasting fire: 'Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again.'"
Kristoff goes on to say that
"These are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide.

It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety." [emphasis added]
"the horses [of the non-believers], their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, ... [rattle] to the pavement."
As Kristoff says, "One might have thought that Jesus would be more of an animal lover."

Kristoff then points out that
"If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of [this sort of fiction] and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit.

As my Times colleague David Kirkpatrick noted in an article, this portrayal of a bloody Second Coming reflects a shift in American portrayals of Jesus, from a gentle Mister Rogers figure to a martial messiah presiding over a sea of blood. Militant Christianity rises to confront Militant Islam.

[W]e should be embarrassed when our best-selling books gleefully celebrate religious intolerance and violence against infidels.

That's not what America stands for, and I doubt that it's what God stands for."

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