Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phantom Menace

"The tribulation may be upon us," warns Washington State professor Matthew Avery Sutton in the New York Times.

Not the Great Tribulation predicted in the Bible. No, the tribulation that will be shortly ushered in by American evangelicals voting for "anti-statist" candidates, because of their fear that Obama is the Antichrist.

In times of trouble, from World War I to the Great Depression, Professor Sutton tells us, American evangelicals have long sought comfort and explanation in biblical apocalypticism. And these are times of trouble! Sutton concludes, "The sentiment that Mr. Obama is preparing the United States, as Roosevelt did, for the Antichrist’s global coalition is likely to grow. Barring the rapture, Mrs. Bachmann or Mr. Perry could well ride the apocalyptic anti-statism of conservative Christians into the Oval Office."

What evidence does Professor Sutton present to demonstrate this "growing sentiment"?

This three-year-old campaign ad from John McCain.

And that's it.

Sutton's piece was one of the Times's most e-mailed pieces last week.

Over at CNN's BeliefBlog, the editors have written a piece entitled, "A movement to paint Obama as the Antichrist?" They at least quote someone who's called Obama the Antichrist in the past year - a lone protester at a recent dinner where the president was raising money for his re-election campaign.

Based on that incident, Sutton's piece, and, once again, that pre-recession McCain ad, the editors ask, "What do you think? Is there a gathering movement to paint the president as the Antichrist? Are such charges overblown attempt to discredit Obama's critics?"

Do you want me to answer that honestly, BeliefBlog?

I'll be the first to admit it - evangelical politics, by-and-large, is whack. (Although considering the level of affluence we're afflicted by, it could be a lot worse.) But that doesn't mean the millennialists are on the verge of destroying the American system. The left's treatment of evangelicals in politics is starting to resemble the Oklahoma legislature's campaign against Shariah law. (With Oklahoma's Muslims constituting .008% of the population, it was a close call!)

Unemployment in this country has been nearly at 10% for three years, and we're most likely headed into another recession. Health insurance premiums are through the roof, as are insurance deductibles. The wars are going terribly. Social Security is going insolvent, and the immigration, education and environmental crises continue to fester, with scarcely any attention from the national government. 40% of the babies born in this country this year will be born out of wedlock, and a fifth of the pregnancies in this country will end in abortion. Our national debt is skyrocketing, and our federal government has, so far this year, nearly shut down three times.

Maybe that's why reactionary candidates like Bachmann and Perry are doing so well.

Or maybe it's because evangelicals who are scared of the Mark of the Beast are driving national politics.

You never know. As Professor Sutton tells us, "evangelicals have grown ever savvier and now constitute one of the largest interest groups in the Republican Party." And how is it that this ginormous interest group can't find better presidential candidates? "A leadership vacuum exists on the evangelical right that some Republicans — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and even Ron Paul — are exploiting." Ah. A savvy, influential leadership vacuum. How incredibly devious.

Cultures rarely castigate the true sources of their decadence. The amount of abuse that Bachmann and Perry are receiving from the political elites are as sure a sign as any that, whatever their failings, they are the sideshow.

But maybe I'm wrong. Tell me readers - when was the last time you heard someone seriously claim that Obama is the Antichrist? For me, it was November 2008.


  1. I would disagree with Prof. Sutton as well on the idea that Bachmann or Perry stand a chance at receiving the nomination. Most likely Romney or perhaps...Romney.

    Secondly, I'm not sure what you're getting at with the second to last paragraph: "Cultures rarely castigate". Do you mean that Bachmann and Perry only represent something shameful but the persons themselves bear the criticism? Or are the things that Perry and Bachmann stand for (and are criticized for) still only peripheral to a central shameful thing(s) that we still haven't looked straight in the eye?

  2. Well said, Adam. As to your question: it's the second thing.