Fundamentalist Christians have launched a nationwide billboard and bumper sticker campaign, opposing President Bush’s plan for peace in the Middle East that calls for a Palestinian state with permanent borders by 2005.
Some 100 billboards in major American cities, including five in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Memphis alone, cite Genesis 35:11-12: “And the Lord said to Jacob … ‘Unto thy offspring will I give this land!'”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Beneath the Bible verse, the billboards say, “Pray that President Bush Honors God’s Covenant with Israel.”
The billboards also include the phone number for the White House comment line and identify the sponsoring organizations as Apostolic Congress and Religious Round Table.
The Apostolic Congress is a Washington-based organization concerned about the sovereignty of Israel, abortion and family issues. It claims to “lift up a spiritual shield of protection for our nation and leaders through persistent prayer.”
The Religious Round Table played a founding role in the Moral Majority and advocated the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Americans for a Safe Israel created the billboard and bumper sticker campaign “in order to halt the ‘Road Map,'” the group said on its Web site.
“The campaign reflects the growing concern within the Christian community that the ‘road map’ for ‘peace’ … will dictate the surrender of biblical lands promised to Israel—an affront to all believers.”
Ed McAteer, president of the Religious Round Table, said in a Memphis Commercial Appeal column that “President Bush is making a mistake of monumental proportions in pursuing the ‘road map’ plan … in his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.”
Terming Bush’s plan “a roadblock,” McAteer wrote, “It would be biblically, historically and morally unacceptable for the United States to insist that Israel give up the Holy Land.”
Linking the conflict in the Middle East with the end times, McAteer, a member of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, told National Public Radio: “Prophesy is rapidly being fulfilled before my very eyes. We are living—listen to me—in some very, very exciting prophetic days.”
“The Bible tells us that cultures will begin to cave in, that there will be wars and that there will be rumors of wars and the value of life will be diminished,” McAteer said. “We’re seeing all of those things take place.”
Other Christians, however, read the biblical witness about the end times differently from McAteer and reject an unqualified support for Israel.
“The Israelis must be forced to the peace table and a Palestinian state must be created in order for peace to have any fragment of a chance,” said Danny Hays, a professor at Ouachita Baptist University.
A coalition of mainline Protestants and Catholics support Bush’s road map for peace.
See also “Christians Must Not Block Road Map For Peace” and “Road Map For Peace Moves Forward, Despite Criticism By Religious Right.”
Buy Daniel Hays and Marvin Pate’s book, Iraq—Babylon of the End Times? now from Amazon.com.