By many of his supporters, President Barack Obama has been hailed as nothing short of the American messiah—maybe even the Messiah. This is, obviously, ridiculous. So too are the claims that Obama is the Antichrist spoken of in the book of Revelation. Still, the canard pops up periodically, most recently when “Left Behind” series co-authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” over the weekend.
The video of that interview is at the top. Religion Dispatches summarizes it after the jump:
Jenkins and LaHaye wisely distanced themselves from a bald assertion that Obama is the Antichrist, retreating instead to a somewhat more theologically tortuous position of Obama as something of a warm-up act. First, because the Antichrist will only appear after the rapture—and since Obama “claims to be a Christian” and “might be a closet Christian”—he may not even be on Earth during the crucial stages. (Familiar readers may recall, however, that liberal Christians in End-Times novels are almost always left behind.) Second, they argued that there must be an overwhelming consensus about the Antichrist’s popularity—a state of affairs that does not currently exist. In fact, Jenkins claimed that he had heard “from just about as many Democrats accusing McCain of being the Antichrist as Republicans accusing Obama” (a doubtful claim, though interesting if true). In any case, at worst Obama appears not to be the Antichrist, but merely to be setting the stage for his later appearance.
Despite these disclaimers, Jenkins allowed that “I can see why people might think that”—i.e., think that Obama fits the job description. LaHaye repeatedly returned to the dual claim that prophetic scenarios foretell a stage of socialism in which “government controls everything”—redistributing wealth from the haves to the have-nots—and that Obama is such a socialist working for such a world. His key argument was that Obama’s policies suggest that prophecies are falling into place. In other words, Obama is playing his part as a key leader of the bad guys even if he’s not the Antichrist himself.
Not surprisingly, “confusion in the Middle East” figured prominently in LaHaye’s vision. Citing Ezekiel 38 and 39, which according to LaHaye are about contemporary Russian and Middle Eastern politics, he claimed that: “For the first time in world history the Russians are working openly with the Arab world; that kind of makes you think [the fulfillment of prophecy] could be very close at hand.”