Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Public Option and the End Times: Searching for Sanity in the Health-Care Debate

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Public Option and the End Times: Searching for Sanity in the Health-Care Debate

Article excerpt

"THIS IS ABOUT the dismantling of this country ... We don't want this country to turn into Russia," declared Katy Abram, 35, to prolonged applause. Abram was sharing her concerns at a town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, as the health-care debate began raging in August. I am sure Sen. Arlen Specter, who hosted the gathering, and many others wondered what Russia has to do with the American health-care debate.

To get a deeper picture of what's under-girding the health-care conversation, it's important to unpack the "end times" subtext for millions of conservative Christians who are intent on defeating this initiative. As I explained in Cease Fire: Searching for Sanity in America's Culture Wars, "To understand the Christian Right, you need to understand not what they think or even what they believe. You need to begin by discovering what they are afraid of."

Many of these good people, deeply influenced by popular prophecy theories, live in abject terror, in these "last days," of being collectivized into a one-world Marxist gulag in which their liberties, faith, and guns are taken away and their families are placed at severe risk.

One of the most influential prophecy buffs is Tim LaHaye. His Left Behind series and his first book, The Battle for the Mind, sought to persuade evangelicals that their lives, families, and country will be taken over by the socialists as the first step in preparing for the reign of the Antichrist and the creation of a one-world government. For many religious conservatives, "socialism" has become the code world for this terrifying one-world takeover. I am convinced that politicization of eschatology is one of the major reasons for the migration of so many American evangelicals into the arms of the Far Right over the last 30 years.

In February, Tim LaHaye was interviewed on The Rachel Maddow Show. …

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