Many […] Christians […] are sincerely compassionate; they genuinely forgive their enemies. Yet they knowingly worship the perpetrator. Perhaps they do not like to think about it, but they firmly believe that, in the hereafter, their God will consign people they know, some of whom they love, to an eternity of unimaginable agony. Moved by this thought, they do whatever they can to urge others to join them in faith. Their deep sympathy with the unbelievers is expressed in efforts to persuade others to play by the rules the perpetrator has set. In worshiping the perpetrator, however, they acquiesce in those rules. They are well aware that many will not fall in line with the rules. They think that, if that happens, the perpetrator will be right to start the eternal torture. They endorse the divine evil. And that’s bad enough.
David Lewis, ‘Divine Evil’, in Louise Antony (ed.), Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, New York, 2007, p. 239
Very few people deliberately do what, at the moment, they believe to be wrong; usually they first argue themselves into a belief that what they wish to do is right. They decide that it is their duty to teach so-and-so a lesson, that their rights have been grossly infringed that if they take no revenge there will be an encouragement to injustice, that without a moderate indulgence in pleasure a character cannot develop in the best way, and so on and so on.
Bertrand Russell, ‘The Elements of Ethics’, in Philosophical Essays, 1910, sect. 21
The clearest sign of a Christian, and more specifically evangelical, influence on Bush’s ethics is his repeated invocation of a conflict between good and evil. We have seen that Bush often talks of “the evil ones” and even occasionally of those who are “servants of evil.” He urges us to “call evil by its name,” to “fight evil” and tells us that out of evil will come good. This language comes straight out of apocalyptic Christianity. To understand the context in which Bush uses this language, we need to remember that tens of millions of Americans hold an apocalyptic view of the world. According to a poll taken by Time, 53 percent of adult Americans “expect the imminent return of Jesus Christ, accompanied by the fulfillment of biblical prophecies concerning the cataclysmic destruction of all that is wicked.” One of the signs of the apocalypse that will precede the Second Coming of Christ is the rise of the Antichrist, the ultimate enemy of Christ, who heads Satan’s forces in the battle that will culminate in the triumph of the forces of God, and the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Projecting this prophecy onto the world in which they live, many American Christians see their own nation as carrying out a divine mission. The nation’s enemies therefore are demonized. That is exactly what Bush does. When, during a discussion about the looming war with Iraq with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in February 2003, Bush said that liberty for the people of Iraq would not be a gift that the United States could provide, but rather, “God’s gift to every human being in the world,” he seemed to be suggesting that there was divine endorsement for a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter at the time of his “axis of evil” speech, says of Bush’s use of the term “evil ones” for the people behind 9/11: “In a country where almost two-thirds of the population believes in the devil, Bush was identifying Osama bin Laden and his gang as literally satanic.”
Peter Singer, The President of Good and Evil, New York, 2004, pp. 202-203