Wednesday, December 14, 2005
So what are the leaders of the Extreme Literalist Bible Movement doing when they're not dictating policy to the US government? Simple. They plan on building the ultimate theme park for Evangelical fundamentalist Christians - in Israel - on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.
The plan is for a $60 million, developed site on 125 acres of pristine Sea of Galilee waterfront. While the Israeli Tourism Ministry is involved, a majority of the funding is coming from none other than Christian Broadcast Network and 700 Club founder, Pat Robertson, and the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard.
The Christian Heritage Park will be built along the waterfront from Magdala to Bethsaida, both of which are major acheological digs. The town of Capernahum, supposedly where Jesus lived and practiced, is nearby, rounding out the ultimate Extreme Bible experience for the flood of American Evangelists expected to visit the area.
And it isn't going over well with a lot of Israelis.
The proposed site will butt against existing Palestinian-Arab villages, causing the residents, many of whom are Christian, a good deal of consternation. Christian Arabs claim that they have nothing in common with the American fundamentalist Christians and observe that American evangelists display a hostility towards Palestinian Christians, especially the Palestinian evangelists. American evangelists have embraced Christian Zionism which the Arabs find objectionable and have denounced.
Jewish leaders in the area are concerned that this is little more than a jumping-off point for American evangelical Christian missionaries and are worried that a huge influx of American Bible adherents will result in Christian proselytization. Given the behaviour of the likes of Robertson, Dobson, Haggard and other rabid evangelist leaders, the concerns of the Jewish community in the area of the proposed site are fully justified.
Environmentalists are concerned that the development, which would violate the current zoning, will destroy one of the few unspoiled areas in the country. Currently there are small monasteries, fields and small churches belonging to the Christian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
But, none of that will stop the fundamentalist Christians. This is all being planned in preparation for the Rapture, (and to make buckets of money). Israel is critical to the Rapture, thus this looks like less of a Christian sanctuary and more of a "next stage" on the road to fulfilling the fundamentalist prophecy. Additionally, the leaders of the evangelical movement in the US have strategically skated around the issue that on the day that all Born-Again Christians enjoy the "big event" the Jews of Israel will be expected to immediately convert or be instantly burnt up.
Of course, this whole thing could go the way of James Bakker's PTL Christian Heritage Park at Fort Mill, SC, which is now little more than an uncompleted, abandoned ruin.
It's so nice to see the Extreme Literal Bible Movement is raising funds and directing money to such worthy causes. I mean... to hell with starving children. Right?