These are difficult times for defenders of liberty. With the ironically named Patriot Act (whose name is an acronym for Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism), law enforcement agencies have gained greatly increased powers to search telephone and e-mail communications without a warrant.
According to Stephen Prothero, America is both “deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion.” Personal belief in God remains high. Americans say that their convictions shape their public behaviors, and most support the idea of religious organizations participating in public policy issues. Yet surveys show that the majority of Americans cannot name even one of the four Gospels. Only one-third know that it was Jesus who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and 10 percent think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
By some accounts, the 2006 elections signaled a seismic shift in the political landscape for American Christians. Allies of the Christian right such as Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative John Hostettler of Indiana were ousted.
When Pope Benedict XVI recently quoted a 14th-century emperor who claimed that Islam’s singular contribution to the world was the doctrine of spreading religion by violence, Muslim reaction was swift and angry.
Thousands of medieval Christians answer the spiritual call of the pope, take up arms, and travel to the Holy Land to defend the faith against a barbaric and militaristic Muslim foe. The war is bloody, and over time Jerusalem is won, then lost again—but the spread of Islam into Christendom is halted.
The leader of the Western world stands before his compatriots and outlines a list of atrocities allegedly committed by a demonic and militaristic Muslim power. He warns that even more horrendous crimes are imminent, perhaps this time to be committed on home soil.