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Garret Keizer

Guerrillas in Jesus Land

A different way to be Christian in America.

Perhaps you got one too—the map a friend emailed to me the day after the 2004 presidential election, the one that shows a blue America of Canadian provinces and seacoast states capped over a vast, red territory labeled "Jesus Land." The implied equation of Christian faith and right-wing politics also appeared on a picket sign my daughter saw when she and a carload of like-minded college students drove to an airport to protest the arrival of George W. Bush. Ranked in a vertical row and each stamped with a large black X were the letter "W," a swastika, and a cross.

My first reaction, both to the map and to my daughter's description of the sign, was to say, "They asked for this." Of course, by "they" I meant the Religious Right. I meant the way that a large number of American Christians seem willing to offer their political allegiance to any candidate who professes his allegiance to Christ. I meant what has emerged as a compelling, if ultimately unfair, argument for the bankruptcy of evangelical religion. Once you make "confessing Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior" the sine qua non of faith, haven't you made yourself the dupe bar none of any party willing to make the same confession?

So much for my first reaction. My second thought was that I might be seeing early glimmers of a backlash against evangelicals and even against co-religionists of different stripes. When Iraq war veterans begin to evaluate how they came to be maimed, when the post-Depression generations get their first bitter taste of pre-Depression social "security"—when the falling abortion rate reverses itself because fewer and fewer people have the means for supporting an extra child while more and more children lack the wherewithal to avoid getting pregnant, a whole lot of fairly amiable people sitting down to potluck suppers in church basements are suddenly going to seem like the ugliest, stupidest creatures to have walked the earth since the dumber dinosaurs stumbled into tar pits. ...

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