Thursday, May 5, 2011

Alex Pareene: Please, Mr. President, Release Photos of bin Laden Burning in Hell

As a counterpoint to the discussion two days ago about those seeking to link the assassination of Osama bin Laden to the beatification of John Paul II (his "second miracle," rhetoric employed even by the president of Peru, Alan Garcia, as TheraP pointed out in the thread to my previous posting about this issue):

Did pro-life Catholic attorney general Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia and rising star of the Republican party really tweet that bin Laden is in hell along with 72 "Virginans" [sic]?  If so, Cucinelli is in good company, since Southern Baptist minister, religious right superstar, and Republican presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee has also announced that bin Laden is now in hell.

And it appears 61% of the American people agree.  Belief in hell--in a literal hell to which we can hurl our enemies, confident that they are enemies of God while we stand unambiguously on the side of God--still matters crucially to many American conservatives.  Hell, a literal fiery destination for our enemies and those who do wrong, has been and remains an unparalleled mechanism of social control for conservatives in many Western societies, and there's fierce resistance to any questioning of the literalism or the easy division of the world into hellbound enemies and righteous saints (a society to which we ourselves, bien entendu, obviously belong).

I can understand Huckabee's (and the culture's) desire to consign enemies to hell as part of the baggage of some strands of evangelical Protestantism that are highly influential in American culture and part of the core belief system of the religious right.

But Cuccinelli's?  I had understood that the Catholic church teaches that we don't know if anyone is in hell, and that we're obligated to hope that God saves everyone, including even Judas.  And to pray for and forgive our enemies.

But maybe I labor under many misimpressions about what my church teaches and challenges me to believe as a follower of Jesus.

(For the most recent in a string of Bilgrimage postings about Cuccinelli and his "pro-life" political positions, see here.)  (And who are those "72 Virginans" roasting in hell along with bin Laden?  Inquiring minds want to know.  He surely meant 72 virgins, right?)

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