I’m somewhat of a masochist when it comes to deciding whom I am going to watch — I went on a Bill O’Reilly binge sophomore year — and to whom I am going to listen. For instance, I keep myself awake during the 12-hour drives to and from Boston by scanning the dial to find Michael Savage, the conservative (although calling him “conservative” is like calling the sun “lukewarm”) talk-show host who once infamously referred to a gay caller as a “sodomite” and told him he should “get AIDS and die.” Listening to him ramble incoherently in his nasal voice really helps keep me alert during the duller stretches of I-90.

Jesse Singal

When it comes to instilling self-righteous anger in me, however, not even Savage can match the power of Concerned Women for America, a far-right Christian group founded by Beverly LaHaye. First, a bit on her husband: Tim LaHaye coauthored, with Jerry Jenkins, the hugely popular “Left Behind” series of novels, which depict the escalating, post-Rapture battle between good and evil. Of course, as with any good Rapture yarn, the righteous (namely, the observant, born-again Christians) have already ascended to heaven, and it’s left up to us Jews, Catholics, Muslims, and, presumably, Black Sabbath listeners, to fight the good fight for seven rough years and earn a place in heaven.

In addition to writing uplifting novels about the eternal damnation of nonbelievers, LaHaye also likes to dip his free-of-sin toes into politics. According to Rolling Stone, as Bush was preparing for his first presidential campaign, he met with a group of right-wing Christians that called itself the Committee to Restore American Values. LaHaye headed the group, and the positive impression Bush made on LaHaye ensured that the latter would help throw his weight behind the cause of getting the religious right to support Bush. It’s not really anything but old news, but it’s probably worth reflecting on once in awhile that our president seeks the approval of people who truly, honestly believe the end of the world is coming, and soon. (Coincidentally, that same Rolling Stone article quotes LaHaye referring to Saddam Hussein as a possible “forerunner of the Antichrist.”)

That’s enough on Tim for now. The two important things to remember are that he and Bush appear to have a good relationship and that LaHaye believes, as Rolling Stone paraphrases it, that “billions of six-inch-long scorpionlike monsters with the heads of men… and the teeth of lions, wearing crowns and helmets, will swarm across the globe gnawing on unbelievers.”

As for Beverly, while her husband works with co-author Jenkins to come up with the most creative ways to portray the evisceration of heretics’ flesh, she focuses her attention on more terrestrial concerns, and she accomplishes this through CWA, which she founded in 1979. She also runs the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the name of which, I am told, took her months to come up with. The best way to keep tabs on these two groups is to regularly check CWA’s website at cwfa.org. If you peruse their archives, you can find some interesting stuff. As a “gift” to you, the reader, I leave you with some highlights:

n “Mina’s Story: One Woman’s Daring Escape from Islam” — The heartwarming story of Mina, a Muslim woman fortunate enough to learn about Christianity and subsequently convert. I would assume this grants her mercy from those scorpion creatures.

n “Tom and Huck on Civil Unions” — A new addition to the sagas of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn that compares gay civil unions to the theft of a watermelon. You think I’m making this up, but I’m not.

n “Address by Sandy Rios on the Ten Commandments” — A transcript of a speech by Rios, president of CWA, in which she implied that certain shooting sprees, Columbine included, might not have occurred had those involved been familiar with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” Wow. Good point, Sandy. Thank God we have a book that clarifies such thorny, complicated, otherwise-insoluble moral dilemmas.

Singal can be reached at jsingal@umich.edu.

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