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AIDS has intensified the Michaels' fear of homosexuals. Both Michaels believe the population at large should be tested for AIDS antibodies, and, "until we know" more, Kathy is for a quarantine. "It even crossed my mind when one of my children had something," says Kathy. "He kept getting sick. I don't know how in the world he would have gotten such a thing, but once in a while the thought will cross your mind."
"I am against homosexuality because God says 'no.' But I am not against the homosexual, and there is a difference," Kathy says. "It's just like when I tell my children I love them very much, but I do not love everything they do."
Should homosexuals be denied certain jobs? Should they be permitted to teach in public schools? "I have a hard time with that," Kathy says. "How do I know if this person keeps his private life to himself. If a person chooses to be a homosexual, that is his right. Does he have the right to molest small children? Many of them do. I'm not saying all of them do."
"It's hard to say these people don't have the right to teach," says Jim. Kathy disagreed: "My instincts would tell me no because of fear for the children."
In the Des Moines area, fundamentalists increasingly have turned to Christian schools, and there is considerable support for teaching children at home. The Michaels support the trend. "I am 100 per cent behind it," Kathy says. "We have to be careful of the textbooks being used today . . . [they] have socialism in themmaterial on Russia versus our own country and Marx versus George Washington."
The Michaels are opposed to communism, not only because they are fearful of aggressive war launched by the Soviet Union, but also because it runs counter to their Christian values. Jim wants to roll back communism.
"I'm not saying we should go into every place with guns," Jim says. "I'm just saying that they [anti-Communists] may need help and we should aid them. But Communist nations mostly don't go in and take over militarily. They go in and start educating people. They take their own agents in and begin to cause turmoil. I believe this is happening on our campuses today, that there is a certain amount of turmoil and unrest that is being bred on our campuses. They are putting a lot of questionable doubt in the minds of these future parents and leaders."
Because they have teenage kids, rock 'n' roll music presents a real problem for the Michaels.
"I don't want rock music in this house," says Kathy. "I don't even like this Christian rock music, but we have compromised on that. But now you've got back masking. You can take records and play them backward. They've got hidden messages . . . The new thing is political rock with Bruce Springsteen. I like the music, I just don't like the words. I think he's teaching rebellion across the country."
Behind the politics of the Christian right lies the powerful engine of Armageddon theology, which lends an emotional intensity to the movement. Numerous fundamentalist leadersJerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to name but twopreach the doctrine of "premillennialism," which holds that the world is entering a period of indescribable devastation and suffering. Its climax will be the battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ.
Premillennialists have been wrong in prophesying Armageddon at various points in history. Under President Reagan such prophecies have gained new currency. The president himself speculated on the subject in a 1981 interview with Peoplemagazine: "Never, in the time between the ancient prophecies up until now has there been a time in which so many of the prophecies are coming together. There have been times in the past when people thought the end of the world was coming, and so forth, but never like this."
Jerry Falwell told the Los Angeles Timesin 1981, "All of history is reaching a climax, and I do not think we have 50 years left." And when Falwell was asked whether Reagan agreed with him on such matters, he replied, "Yes he does. He told me, 'Jerry, I sometimes believe we're heading very fast for Armageddon right now.'"
The right often pictures the farm crisis in the Midwest as a sign of the end times. Pornography, homosexuality, and AIDS are all viewed as signs of God's judgment on sinners. The increasing conflagration in the Middle East, Libya's threatening acts, and Communist aggression in the third world are all seen by some fundamentalists as part of an Armageddon countdown.
In the story of Armageddon, the Middle East becomes the world's last battleground, with God saving Israel from destruction by invading armies. In the 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon,Hal Lindsey, by far the most popular writer on the meaning of the end times, unaccountably concludes that, although he believes the U.S. will decline in power, it can still survive. "If some critical and difficult choices are made by the American people right now,"he writes, "it will be possible to see the U.S. remain a world power." The choices Lindsey has in mind amount to embracing a right-wing political program.
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