You might want to read Bill Moyers' recent essay, "Battlefield Earth" (thanks to Steve for passing it on). Bill & I came out of the same Texas Southern Baptist tradition, and he has a profound grasp of what seems to motivate the Religious Right. He's particularly astute on the issue of the environment and the current dominant theology loose on the land:
"...Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? ... Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'
"Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the bible is literally true -- one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right – the rapture index .... Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre...: once Israel has occupied the rest of its 'biblical lands,' legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts, and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.
"...[These believers] have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act .... A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed -- an essential conflagration on the road to redemption....
"So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? ... millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
"...Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total -- more since the election -- are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the senate floor: 'the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land.' he seemed to be relishing the thought...."