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March 04, 1981 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-04

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Wednesday, March 4, 1981

Page 4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Literalists prepare

Vol. XCI, No. 123

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board


and Salvadoran mire

THE HYPE has begun. The Reagan
Administration is busily building
a case for stepped-up U.S. involvement
in El Salvador. over the past month, at
just the right intervals, the Reagan
State Department has released
carefully prepared warnings of a
Communist conspiracy to install a
repressive Marxist regime there.
These statements, topped off by cap-
tured documents that supposedly
prove beyond doubt the "Soviet-Cuban
link", have helped create a frightening
atmosphere in which Reagan can
justify increased U.S. interference.
The only remaining question is just
how far Reagan is willing to go in his
effort to make El Salvador safe for
In the past two weeks, Washington
has sent additional military advisers
and equipment to the Latin American
country, and promised to send even
more. The administration has accused
Cuba and Vietnam of supplying arms
and equipment to the leftist insurgents
and subsequently has refused to rule
out actual U.S. military intervention in
either Cuba or El Salvador.
Reagan has reassured skeptics that
El Salvador will not become "another
Vietnam." More likely, it may become
a U.S. version of the Soviet's
Afghanistan fiasco.
In Afghanistan, the Soviet Union
escalated its military support of an un-
popular regime,,ird was eventually
forced to send troops to defend the
regime from rebels. As a result, the
Soviets continue to pour more troops,
guns, and money into Afghanistan to

keep the Soviet-backed regime in
power. If the United States continues to
dig its trenches deeper and deeper in
its defense of the unpopular
Salvadoran junta, it may find itself in a
similar mire.
The Reagan Administration, if it
continues to escalate its involvement
in El Salvador, may find itself commit-
ted to sending more and more equip-
ment and advisers to defend a
seemingly indefensible regime.
It has even been suggested by some
observers that the Soviet Union may be
fueling the Salvadoran conflict in an
attempt to provoke American inter-
vention there, thereby diverting inter-
national attention and criticism from
its own intervention in Afghanistan.
Ironically, in the Reagan Ad-
ministration's effort to save El
Salvador from the repression of Com-
munist rebels it has subjected the
people of that country to the repression
of a so-called democratic junta.
Although it is clearly unrealistic for
the American people to expect a
Reagan reevaluation of U.S. support of
this repressive regime, it is perfectly
reasonable for them to demand an end
to stepped-up U.S. military interven-
Although the Reagan administration
has already succeeded in increasing
U.S. military presence in El Salvador,
it is not too late to block further build-
up. The public cannot stand by,
passively allowing Reagan to push the
United States deeper into the
Salvadoran conflict, lest we find an
Afghan mire of our own.

Tomorrow may be cancelled, but certainly
not for lack of intertest. In fact, millions of
Christian fundamentalists in this country are
more interested in the immediate future than
anything the Rev. Jerry Falwell says or Bob
Dylan sings - because they believe current
events are merely an unfolding of Bible
predictions. They are convinced that the
prophesied end of the world is on its way.
"Bible prophecy is a hot topic right now,"
said John Hazelrigg, manager of the Western
Book and Tract store in Oakland, Ca. "It's
about the hottest subject around because
people are beginning to sit up and take notice
of the world situation."
CHRISTIAN BOOK stores are ringing up
increased sales of books on Bible predictions,
and prophecy is a favored theme in other
media as well:
" Twentieth Century Fox soon will release
"The Final Conflict," a motion picture sequel
to "Omen II," which deals with the rise of the
* In a recent direct-response television
marketing campaign, fundamentalist author
Hal Lindsey's latest book, "The 1980s, Coun-
tdown to Armageddon," sold more than
350,000 hardback copies. Bantam Books,
which has just released the book in paper-
back, predicts it will quickly land on national
best-seller lists.
* Reaching beyond strictly Christian TV
channels, Morris Cerullo, a San Diego
evangelist, bought time on 100 commercial
television stations on New Year's Day to air a
program called "Advent II." The show
focused on "the Rapture" - a time when
Jesus will swoop believing Christians into
heaven before the world ends. The program
generated "tons of letters," says Ben David,
director of media services for the advertising
company that sold the program. "It really
struck a chord."
A RECENT GALLUP Poll identified 31
million American adults as evangelicals, and
most of them are also fundamentalists who
believe in the literal truth of the Bible. Many
fundamentalists are convinced that these are
indeed, the "end times."
"They may not all agree with Lindsey's
timetable," explains Jim Reapsome,
managing'editor of Christianity Today, a bi-
weekly evangelical magazine that com-
missioned the Gallup survey. "But one of the
major doctrinal tenets of fundamentalism is a
belief in the literal return of Christ at some
point. With the increased complexity of the'
times and apparent insolubility of problems,
people tend to look for some kind of
cataclysmic end to solve everything."
Unlike the bearded and robed doomsayer
who brandished his "The End is Near" sign in
so many cartoons, these Christians are not
visibly eccentric. They include Americans of
all ages, races and occupations.
Oakland 7-11 store thinks the end is ap-
proaching because "there's too much corrup-
tion." A middle-aged white San Francisco
secretary says, "It's just a feeling, but
Christians can often feel spirits and it seems
like there are more bad spirits on the
streets." A 30-year-old career Navy woman in
Alamenda, Ca., wonders whether she should
leave military service early because, she
says, "I don't think I'll be here when I'm 40."
Although their vision of the future includes
the rise of a horrible dictator and a probable
nuclear holocaust, they are confident, if not
optimistic, that Christ will take His people in-
to heaven during the Rapture or at the least
give them the strength to endure earthly
troubles until His millenial reign begins. So,
while survivalists stock their bunkers and
plan for disaster, Christian fundamentalists
put more faith in Christ's return than in sup-
plies of food, water or munitions.
"Of course, there are the end times. But
God doesn't want us to go and hide in the
hills," says Edourette Corey brightly. The 35-

By Mary Claire Blakeman
year-old Oakland woman studied law and
agriculture in college but now evangelizes for
Christ full time, often taking her four children
along to help with the work." "We really don't
have time to do anything else but spread
Jesus' message. People will begin leaving
their jobs - the world may call it unem-
ployment - but getting the Word out is more
important right now than a paycheck."
THE POWERFUL spiritual experiences
born-again Christians have reported in recent
years have undoubtedly changed some career
paths. Many of them, however, adapt their
everyday lives to biblical tenants by banning
alcohol and drugs from their homes, in-
creasing church attendance and using a daily
guide like the Jesus Person Pocket Promise
Book, a pamphlet of inspirational verses that
is another top seller in Christian bookstores.
But, more imporant, fundamentalists have
altered their reality gauge: faith healings are
considered normal and almost everyone
knows someone who has "spoken in tongues."
Also, they believe Satan is responsible for all
evil in the world and anything not directly at-
tributed to Jesus Christ is, by definition, con-
sidered an instrument of the devil. Strict fun-
damentalists see not only the Ayatollah
Khomeini and Islam as Satan's agents but
also rebuke Buddhists, Hindus, and humanist
They find support for these views in the
Bible, which is considered the final arbiter of
what is true or false. This lateral belief ha,
broad ramifications. One is the current
regeneration of debates on teaching evolution
or creation theory in public schools. Again,
this kind of thinking is not limited to street
corner doomsayers. Jesuit Thomas Clancy, in
the Catholic publication America, wrote, "If
one identifies Fundamentalism with belief in
biblical inerrancy, then 42 percent of
American adults must also be classified."
WHAT IMPACT should literal acceptance
of the Bible have on the way fundamentalists
view real events? Ray Brubaker, a Christian
commentator in St. Petersburg, Fla., who has
produced the radio program God's News
Behind the News. since 1948, answers that
question regularly for millions of listeners. In
a recent broadcast over the 1,000 radio
stations in the United States that air the show,
Brubaker reminded his audience, "It is never
wise to interpret the Bible in the light of
current events; rather, it is best to interpret
current events in the light of Bible teaching.'
So a Christian can read in the Book of Mat-
thew that just before Christ's return there will
be earthquakes in "place after place," read
daily newspaper headlines such as "Ear-
thquake Rate Picking Up," and interpret
them as part of God's plan for the world.
When Greece joined the European Com-
munity as its tenth member in January, to
fundamentalists the story was not just a
political or economic event. Rather, it was
seen as completion of the prophecy that a 10-
nation confederacy would arise prior to
Christ's return.
"THE WHOLE European Common Market
could fall apart tomorrow," says Bob Nellis,
president of the Bay Cities Bible Institute in
Oakland. "But it is within the realm of
possibilities that Greece joining the Common
Market completes the prophecy of Daniel."
This 10-nation confederacy supposedly will
give rise to a world dictator who is the An-
tichrist, and thus it plays an important part in
the picture of the last days painted by fun-
But why now? Why, after countless an-
nouncements of the imminent Second
Coming, are these Christians convinced that
this time it's for real? After all, the United
States has experienced similar religious
revivals as far back as the 1730s and in more
modern times, Hitler was branded the An-

The Michigan Doty
for end
Fundamentalists counter that never before
have all the elements described in Bible :
prophecy occurred together. They say the
linchpin in their theory is the emergence of
the state of Israel in 1948. The Hal Lindsay inka
terpretation of the Bible states that tHe
generation witnessing the rebirth of Israel as
a nation will also see the end of the world. Sin-
ce they believe God will judge nations on thei
treatment of Israel, many fundamentaliMtt 1
unswervingly support that country.
SUPPORT OF ISRAEL is but one politica)
position shaped by belief in the biblie1'
scenario. Another important piece of the "eri.
times" puzzle involves the view that Russia:
the "king of the north" is bent on world
conquest and will ally itself with Irn'
Ethiopia, and possibly East Germany to it
vade Israel.
As Hal Lindsay has said in lectures, "Wha;
Russia invaded Afghanistan, it took its first
step into Ezekiel 38." Such an outlook not only
has fueled the worldwide communist conspir-
acy fires, but also turned some American '
voters toward Ronald Reagan. "I voted for
Carter in 76, but when he kissed Brezhnev,
that was the day I left him," says Bible 4
scholar Nellis. "Christians and Jews are suf-
fering in Russia. This idea of being buddy
buddy with them is repugnant to me."
The Russians will get their come-uppance
when God defeats their army after they in-
vade Israel, fundamentalists say. But then,
according to the biblical script, a new danger
will arise in the form of an Antichrist who will
take credit for saving Israel, and set up a
world government and a world church.
IN THESE interpretations, the fundamen-
talists veer most dangerously from the accep-.
ted reality of America. in 1981. A strain of an-
ti-Catholicism becomes acceptable to fun-
damentalists when they see the Pope as part
of the Antichrist's plan for a world church.
When viewing countries as mere players in"
the Bible's Revelation drama, fundamen-
talists often adopt simplistic, sometimes
racist notions about the rest of the world.
They gloss over the late Shah of Iran's tor-
tures with the excuse that the United States
was keeping Iran from allying with Russia for
the eventual invasion of Israel. In Hal Lin-
dsey's Late Great Planet Earth, a chapter
describing China's role in the last earthly bat-
tle of Armageddon is entitled "The Yellow
But for all their seeming intolerance of'
anything that falls outside the borders of their'
particular world view;the fundamentalists of
the 80s have a degree of compassion for those
who differ with them. Expressing concern
over the influx of Cambodian Buddhists and
others who came to the United States as boat
people, an Oakland housewife says, "I don't'
condemn them, I pray for them." Many of
these Christians say their ultimate goal is to
live like Christ, and dismiss historic religious
excesses such as the Crusades or the
Inguisition by saying its participants were not
true Christians.
And, fundamentalists and Catholics are
finding common ground in the "baptism in
the Holy Spirit," a profound religious ex-
perience increasingly occurring in the small
Pentecostal churches that are springing up
around the country. These impromptu "bap-
tisms" involve committed born-agains who
experience an ecstatic contact with God.-:
Spreading this exuberant spirit is what
many Christians see as their mission until the
Rapture occurs. "Whether or not the Rapture
comes, is that the important issue, or to serve
Jesus with our whole mind, body and spirit?"
ask Marilyn Olson, who works in the office
of Berkeley evangelist Mario Maurillo. "I
don't want to be so caught up with thinking
about the Rapture that I miss opportunities to
share Christ every day."
Mary Blakeman is associate editor fdr
the Pacific News Service.

Darwin vs. Bible


issue is being challenged in the
courts again. Bible fundamentalists in
California insist the state's public
schools are denying the Constitutional
rights of children by presenting only
Darwin's theories of evolution.
the fundamentalists argue the
children's right to religious freedom is
being violated because the schools do
not teach Christian creationist theory
along with Darwinism in science
Certainly, no ,individual should be
denied the freedom to pursue any

religious theory he or she wishes.
However, not teaching creationist
theory in the science classes does not
constitute such a violation of rights.
Darwinism is a scientific theory;
creationism is a religious one. It is
foolish to assume that religious conjec-
ture should be taught in a class dealing
with science. Teaching such scientific
theory, however, does not prohibit one
from pursuing any religious belief.
Religious theories concerning man's
creation can be taught in classes
dealing with religion - or even social
science. But they have no place in a
science classroom.

Mush on the brain

To the Daily:
I have finally found the cause
for all the innocuous tedium
which occupies the Opinion page.
It is a severe and seemingly
degenerative case of "mush on
the brain."
The March 3 edition is an ex-
ceptional example manifesting
the effect of this debilitating af-
fliction. Without even going into a
discussion on quality and content,
the quantifiable evidence alone
makes the disease an indeniable
Over 26 percent of the page is
devoted to "Witticisms" which is
an attempt at imitating "Buch-
waldean journalism" (Hell, not
even the master himself gets that
much space); 28 percent of the
page is filled with editorial car-
toons, usually of previous weeks
vintage; another 28 percent is
given to "Letters to the Daily,"

to the page commanding about 12
percent of the total space. These
numbers intimate to me the ef-
feteness of the editorial staff.
For Witt, "mush on the brain"
is due to being a self-proclaimed
"All My Children" junkie. I thank
him for his honesty. It has been
evident to me for some time
because of the "soap opera"
topics he writes about. I can only
surmise as to reasons why the
rest of you suffer from the same
ailment. Hopefully, it is not
The editorials make me
suspect you have safely and con-
veniently insulated yourselves
within the textbook-walls of the
University and its environs. This
refuge has produced a collective
myopic intellect, a nebulous
political perspective, ambivalent
economic assessments, and
provincial social attitudes.

" n"
proudly displayed on the front
page will cease to have meaning
because sedated, insulated,
mushy brains are unable and un-

7 ailment.

willing to

use that editorial
-Christopher Salata
March 3-

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