Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR. (Openers)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Inside NCR. (Openers)

Article excerpt

The religious right in America is a slippery phenomenon, difficult to categorize by theology or identify by denomination. We know something of certain fundamentalist and literalist segments of the population: In the past, NCR has reported on the Left Behind series (June 15, 2001, issue) whose titles consistently make it onto bestseller lists.

In an exegetical sleight of hand that many Catholics might find simultaneously frightening and amusing, these books, and others of the genre, bring all of biblical history crashing apocalyptically into current political and religious circumstances.

I say amusing not to demean others' biblical viewpoint, but because in an earlier era that is perhaps how we Catholics might have viewed things also. But the view was so far outside the mainstream that it was easy to leave to itself.

It would not stay to itself, however. In recent decades that right-wing element, based on a fundamentalist view of the world, has asserted itself like never before. In the hands of right-wing religious leaders such as Pat Robertson or the Rev. Jerry Falwell and others, our sacred texts become blueprints for an equally right-wing American political agenda. The gospel is turned into a tract justifying every capitalistic whim. And the Book of Revelation becomes a literal point-by-point guidebook on the countdown to Armageddon, with Jerusalem smack in the epicenter.

All of this may seem rather fantastic to those outside such circles, but as Margot Patterson's reporting shows this week (Will fundamentalist Christians and Jews ignite apocalypse? …

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