Welcome to Doomsday

If you care about the fate of the planet, start worrying about fundamentalists eagerly awaiting the end of the world.

This article is based on a lecture Bill Moyers gave in December 2004 upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment. That original speech was widely circulated throughout the internet. More recently, Moyers has written this updated version to correct errors in the original and expand on his views. This essay will appear in the paperback edition of his collection 'Moyers on America,' to be published by Anchor Books in June.

There are times when what we journalists see and intend to write about dispassionately sends a shiver down the spine, shaking us from our neutrality. This has been happening to me frequently of late as one story after another drives home the fact that the delusional is no longer marginal but has come in from the fringe to influence the seats of power. We are witnessing today a coupling of ideology and theology that threatens our ability to meet the growing ecological crisis. Theology asserts propositions that need not be proven true, while ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The combination can make it impossible for a democracy to fashion real-world solutions to otherwise intractable challenges.


In the just-concluded election cycle, as Mark Silk writes in "Religion in the News," the assiduous cultivation of religious constituencies by the Bush apparat, and the undisguised intrusion of evangelical leaders and some conservative Catholic hierarchs into the presidential campaign, demonstrated that the old rule of maintaining a decent respect for the nonpartisanship of religion can now be broken with impunity.

The result is what the Italian scholar Emilio Gentile, quoted in Silk's newsletter, calls "political religion"-religion as an instrument of political combat. On gay marriage and abortion- the most conspicuous of the "non-negotiable" items in a widely distributed Catholic voter's guide-no one should be surprised what this political religion portends. The agenda has been foreshadowed for years, ever since Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other right-wing Protestants set out to turn white evangelicals into a solid Republican voting bloc and reached out to make allies of their former antagonists, conservative Catholics.

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Bill Moyers
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