First up from the God Machine this week is a report on a notable leader in the religious right movement – who’s also a former U.S. military leader – who believes the Second Coming will feature Jesus carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.
A little backstory is in order. William “Jerry” Boykin was the deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence for much of the Bush/Cheney era, and was even in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in 2003. At the same time, however, Boykin delivered a series of speeches in churches, in uniform, in which he characterized the war in Iraq as part of an end-times scenario. Indeed, his over-the-top anti-Muslim rhetoric became a huge story throughout the Middle East a decade ago.
In 2007, Boykin was ousted after Donald Rumsfeld’s retirement, and he ended up becoming a leading official at the Family Research Council, a prominent religious right organization. Right Wing Watch’s Kyly Mantyla reported this week on a Boykin speech in which he fleshed out his unique theological perspective.
“The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 is says when he comes back, he’s coming back as what? A warrior. A mighty warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe…. I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies ‘cause he’s coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.“And I believe now – I’ve checked this out – I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15…. The sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”
Boykin added that “the whole concept” of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment “came from Jesus.”
The remarks drew more attention than Boykin is ordinarily accustomed to receiving, with reports on his speech published this week in the Huffington Post, Gawker, New York Daily News, and Wonkette, among others.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The Pentagon has tweaked its rules on facial hair and turbans among active-duty troops to better accommodate members of the Sikh religion: “The policy change doesn’t mean Sikhs (or Muslims, for that matter) can automatically grow beards or wear turbans on duty. It simply gives their commanders the option to let them do so.”
* This doesn’t exactly seem consistent with Pope Francis’ overall message: “The 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. With five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool, it’s valued at nearly $800,000, records show. But it’s not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.”
* I often forget the Murfreesboro story isn’t over yet: “Rutherford County has spent $343,276 fighting a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs upset that the county approved construction plans for a mosque. The legal bills will increase again when county government attorneys respond to an appeal request to the U.S. Supreme Court” (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* Jamie Coots, a Kentucky pastor and the star of a reality show on the National Geographic channel about snake-handling, died this week after a snake bite during one of his Pentecostal services.
* A federal judge ruled this week that the NYPD’s surveillance of New Jersey Muslims “was a lawful effort to prevent terrorism, not a civil rights violation.”
* Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) argued this week that Americans “got off track” when we “stopped realizing that God created this nation, that He wrote the Constitution.”
* And in Alabama this week, the state House debated a measure to promote the Ten Commandments. During the legislative discussion, state Rep. James Buskey (D) reportedly referred to Islam as “Muslimism.”