Though America’s enemies in the Terrorist and Sino-Communist worlds still have several months left in 1420 A.H. and the Year of the Monkey respectively, good, God-fearing folks the Free World over are now settling in to celebrate the end of 2004.

As the year winds down to a quiet close, the 99 per cent of the world that doesn’t live in the all-powerful American Bible Belt may still be forgiven for shaking their heads in wonder at the successes that this year has offered up to the once-dormant, now-galvanized Evangelical army of Born-Again “Christian soldiers marching as to war.”

For while it seems that each of us, regardless of ideology — secular humanists, liberals, communists, paleoconservatives, soft Zionists, social-democrats, homos — has had cause to engage in serious introspection and re-evaluation this year, the God-gunner crowd is rejoicing without doubt-filled restraint. If they were allowed to dance, they would.

At the risk of seeming smug, or presenting myself as the year-end know-it-all, I think that it’s pretty obvious why the Rapture-ready have come out the big winners this year. For decades, the Evangelicals have been doomsaying while the rest of us humped to the pseudo-Latin rhythms of the dot-com boom in the ’90s, and before that the New Wave vibes of the coke boom ’80s.

Jack Van Impe looked like an imbecile trying to shoehorn reasonably unpanicked headlines into the restrictive lunacy of the Book of Revelations. He and his erstwhile sidekick-in-Christ Rexella pounded away at the desk, their every exaggeration seemingly dwindling the ideological clout and political capital of Evangelicalism. Revelations 18:9 When the kings of the Earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burningâe¦ “Monica Lewinsky as the Whore of Babylon?” we scoffed, “Please! Now look at all the money I’m making on!”

And then, in September of 2001, the World Trade Centre came tumbling down just like, um, the Tower of Babel, and suddenly prophecy was back on top. Panicked by the onset of the End Times, we turned back to the Born Agains, now smug and smiling and ready to appoint the next president. And the year 2004 — with all its Holy Land blow-ups and dead PLO chairmen and matrimonial matrons locked in televised lesbian kisses in front of secular courthouses — was like an Armageddon Superbowl.

Because everything this year was “born again”: the Bush administration, Spiderman, Bridget Jones, the French empire in Haiti, Quebec nationalism, Hugo Chavez and Paul Martin. It was the year of Second Comings! Colin Powell was somehow born again as a tragic figure. John Kerry, alternating rapidly between hawk and dove, was born again and again and again. Iraq was born again as the home of collaborators appointed to rule the country on behalf of Anglo-Saxons. Halliburton was born again as a U.S. federal government program. And after his bland and inchoate Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore was born again as a controversial populist rebel with the brilliant Fahrenheit 9/11. Ohio was born again as Florida.

Not many of us paid any attention when, in a rebuttal of liberal vote-rocking hopes expressed in pre-election predictions that record numbers of young people, blacks, women, Latinos and newly-anti-Bush Arab-Americans would be flexing their electoral muscles, an eerily calm Karl Rove predicted that, in fact, the sleeping Evangelical giant would raise its voice and drown the others out.

And regardless of how many votes were stolen or how many Swift Boat veterans sought the Truth unfairly, the fact remains: millions of Americans think that God is going to rapturously scoop them up into Heaven when things get too hot between the Jews and the Arabs, and they are among the most powerful cultural blocs in the world. This year, they made themselves heard, as 366 days of craziness reinforced their once-nutty worldview.

It’s safe to say that 2004 was the year of the Born Again. And you know what’s really scary about that? Nostradamus predicted that it would be.