This week, Trump removed the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, pushing the Iranians closer to acquire nuclear material and thereby creating a volatile environment in a region plagued by war and instability. This move could be viewed as politically irrational and has been condemned by other Western powers including Britain, France and Germany. Trump’s position on this point, however, has an ideological stance which borders on a form of political radicalism which is connected with the Evangelical Christian Right in America. Donald Trump may not be an Evangelical Christian, but there is certainly Evangelical Christian influence within his foreign policies.
Evangelical Christianity in many ways is a world of contrasts. Based on the belief of the grace of Jesus Christ being earned simply by faith alone, Evangelical Christianity has made a large impact on the world, particularly in the English-speaking world. In Britain, the Evangelical Christian movement is vastly different from the American form of the Evangelical Christian movement, which fosters itself into a reactionary movement. In fact, Evangelical Christian denominations were heavily influential in establishing the Labour party, with Methodist churches being involved in both the trade unions and in the Labour Party itself. In fact, the book Christian Socialism: Scott Holland to Tony Blair by Alan Wilkinson categorises a distinctive Left-wing tradition in Britain in its form of Evangelical Christianity. However, in the United States of America, the development of Evangelical Christianity has been drastically different from the United Kingdom and other areas of the world. Ironically, the Evangelical Christian tradition in the United States of America comes from Britain, however, due to historical changes and transformations in these countries, the two traditions went on separate directions.
Evangelical Christianity in the United States has been connected with Nationalism and of the political Right. In Anatol Lieven’s book America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, despite being published in 2012, it suggests the rise of Donald Trump can be explained in part by shifting forces within the Republican party itself from a moderate centre-right party into a nationalist party, dominated by a marriage between Evangelical Christians on the one hand and nationalists on the other. The Evangelical Christians in the USA have been influenced heavily by a theological stance called Premillennialism which believes in a literal reign of Jesus Christ on earth which will cumulate into the Last Battle. There is for Premillennialism a large focus on international affairs, with a particular focus on what is happening in the Middle East.
Evangelical hold the establishment and preservation of an Israeli state as critical to Biblical prophecy. However also important reflections of Biblical prophecy of countries that oppose Israel. Particularly the prophecy of Armageddon, which involves a prophecy of a future war in Israel. In this prophecy found in Revelation 16 verses 12 to 16:
“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river the Euphrates and its water was dried up to prepare the way to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the dragon, out of the mouth the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
‘Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed’.
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon”.
This could be interpreted as an Iran gathering for a war with Israel, as East of the Euphrates river in Iran. A more popular interpretation of this is the Prophecy Against Gog found in Ezekiel 38 verses 1 to 10 highlights that an Iran (represented by Persia) will go against Israel in a future war and will bring about the end times.
This gives the context of why Trump has pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement. A war between Israel and Iran vindicates the Evangelical Christians in the USA who believes that this would bring about the return of Jesus Christ. Bear in mind the whilst Trump may not be an Evangelical Christian, Mike Pence is an Evangelical Christian and the Evangelical bloc being critical of Republican voters. It is clear that the Evangelical Right has had an influence on making what seems to be disastrous foreign policy.
Article by Daniel Clemence