Fully one quarter of Americans describe themselves as Evangelical Christians, and their support for the president remains rock solid.

Cornerstone Church, a vast squat white temple in San Antonio, is rapidly becoming the movement’s epicentre, thanks to the charismatic founder, Pastor John Hagee, the rising star of America’s TV evangelists. For these evangelists, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but the beginning of the fulfilment of biblical prophecies that culminate, possibly very soon, in a mighty struggle between good and evil at Armageddon.

This belief lies at the core of the teachings of the bespectacled pastor, who argues that Christians and Jews must make common cause against forces of darkness he identifies as Arabs, Russians and even a future president of the EU. Christians who fail in their duty will be “left behind” when the obedient are summoned to heaven.

“Listen up, president of Iran,” booms the pastor. “We are going to be your worst nightmare, Mr Ahmadinejad. The pharaoh threatened Israel, he ended up fish-food in the sea. When you say Israel is going to disappear in a sudden storm you may be predicting the way you disappear.”

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