Verily, it's useful to be reminded that the United States of America is a very different kind of country. A foreigner - or a New Yorker - could spend a lifetime here and never understand this sort of thing. It is so extreme, so un-modern (for better or for worse), so convinced of the imminent apocalypse and yet, also, almost painstakingly optimistic. Reverent too, not just in terms of its religiosity but also in its boundless belief in man's capacity for revelatory improvement. In this last measure, then, these evangelicals cling to a vital part of the American idea: There is always a Second Act. (There's always appalling hucksterism too, of course, and no shortage of snake-oil peddlers preying upon the credulous and the needy. But that's a different matter.)
And yet, and yet... This news report could have been made by The Onion. But in fact it comes from Pat Robertson's 700 Club and is in deadly earnest. It seems that some evangelicals have decided that since Isiah, 35:8 reads:
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
this must mean that Highway 35, which runs form Texas to Wisconsin through the heartland, must be that chosen Highway. Consequently they're mobilising the power of prayer to cleanse it of strip clubs, porn shops, gay bars and other unclean elements. Hence, the need for "purity sieges". Yes, really. Watch it all: