On Friday the Center for Public Integrity requested the White House, Department of Justice and Office of Government Ethics investigate presidential strategist Stephen K. Bannon for using a private public relations executive to conduct official White House business.
In July the Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting launched #CitizenSleuth — a crowd-sourced investigation that is examining the detailed financial disclosures from more than 400 Trump administration officials, including Bannon.
By Eileen Fleming
The letter from Center for Public Integrity addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Office of Government Ethics Acting Director David Apol and newly hired White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, asks the officials to “exercise the appropriate authority to investigate, prosecute, or make recommendations regarding potential violations of federal laws and regulations” can be read HERE: 355532346-Bannon-Letter
Also in July, a Vatican-vetted journal, singled out Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, naming him a “supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics” that has stymied action against climate change and exploited fears of migrants and Muslims with calls for “walls and purifying deportations.”
The article EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTALISM AND CATHOLIC INTEGRALISM: A SURPRISING ECUMENISM, begins:
In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.
The writers declare that the worldview of American evangelical and hard-line Catholics, which is based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, is “not too far apart’’ from jihadists.
The article and the backlash to it reminded me of an email conversation I had with a fundamentalist Episcopal priest a few weeks after my first of eight trips to both sides of Israel’s Wall in Palestine, which inspired this excerpt from my first historical fiction:
Chapter 16: A CONFRONTATIONAL CONVERSATION
“Father Paul, you cannot possibly be telling me that an Episcopal priest has been taken in by fundamentalist theology?” Terese incredulously asked the new assistant to the rector at St. Joan of Arc Episcopal Church in Orlando, who also served at the noon mass every Wednesday.
Father Paul Hendricks was a passionate evangelist on a mission to convert every Jew he encountered to become a Christian. Terese had kept her silence for the first six months she had been listening to his Wednesday noon sermons, but finally broke her silence after the rest of the parishioners had departed.
Paul sighed and shook his head. “Look, Mrs. Hunter, I read your op/ed in the newspaper about Israel and Palestine, and we both agree we want peace; we just go about it differently.”
“Father, let me say that the fastest growing cult in the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism. Approximately 25 million U.S. Christians believe as you do, and I am most depressed to see that the simple answers of fundamentalism have reached their tentacles into the thinking man’s church. You just preached for thirteen minutes on Genesis 12:3–‘I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse: and in you all the families of the world are blessed’–as if God meant blessings to be political power and military might. Father, surely you understand that the belief of the ancient Israelites, who held that they were chosen, as if they were somehow special from others, as if God esteemed them above others, is just basic primitive nationalism. Come on, Father, looking down on one’s enemies to foster one’s own tribal interest and praying to God to smite one’s enemies is what the ancients did. Isn’t it about time we moved beyond that limited thinking?”
Father Paul clenched his fists and held them behind his back, as he suppressed a simmering rage. He stood nine inches above Terese’s upturned head, and with a slick smile and condescending tone told her, “Mrs. Hunter, you are very misled. The text is understood to mean a blessing to Abraham’s lineage–”
Terese cut in. “Agreed! And Genesis 12:3 was promised even before Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation, and Isaac, the Jew, were born! And what about the very first mention of Israel? Jacob was renamed Israel for having wrestled and struggled with God. That is how I understand Israel; everyone who struggles and wrestles with God is Israel, too. Israel means more than a geographical location, Father Paul.”
“Mrs. Hunter, the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures, and God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, exclusive, and will not be abrogated. I refer you to Genesis 12:1-7, 15:4-7, 17:1-8; Leviticus 26:44-45; and Deuteronomy 7:7:8.”
“And Father, I refer you to Matthew 5:43-45, which does not only critique Genesis 12:3; it blows it apart, for Christ commanded, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despite-fully use you, that you maybe children of your Father.’”
The two had reached Paul’s SUV and he silently prayed he could make a swift escape, but Terese had positioned herself at the driver’s door, and if he were to open it swiftly, she could be easily moved aside. Father Paul entertained the thought for more than a moment, but remained mute and still, as the tiny woman exploded with a torrent of words.
“Look, blind allegiance to the Israeli government has allowed them to become a big bully, and isn’t God always on the side of the oppressed? My sense is that you Christian Zionists see the political state of Israel as a replacement for Christ and that certainly is not Christianity!
“How do you take Genesis 12:3 to literally mean that blessings equal land and political power, yet ignore God’s promise in Genesis 21:17-20 to ‘make a great nation out of Ishmael’s descendants and that ‘God was with the boy.’ Yet your way of thinking allows the growing apartheid wall to continue, and supports occupation and oppression of people that God also made promises too.”
“Mrs. Hunter, why don’t you make an appointment and we can discuss this further? I really have to go.”
“Okay, I can take a hint, but let me leave you with this: when religion and politics are in bed together, everybody gets screwed! The Israeli government is using you Zionists as apologists in support of their agenda of illegal occupation and settlements in the West bank, Golan, and Gaza, on literal biblical grounds taken out of context. Your blind allegiance to every act of Israel, understood as being orchestrated by God and which should therefore be condoned, supported, and even praised, makes me want to puke! And I wonder about the true motives of Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon and love to speculate on who gets ‘left behind.’ Christ was very clear that there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, but get left out. God has always been on the side of the oppressed, and your uncritical endorsement and justification for Israel’s racist and apartheid policies are an abomination.”
The stunned and silent priest watched in relief as Terese turned, flipped her braid, and walked away…….
Eileen Fleming is TADN’s volunteer Health Reporter and Senior Non-Arab Correspondent
Fleming produced the UNCENSORED “30 Minutes with Vanunu” Mordechai, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower
Contact her HERE
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