Oprah Winfrey is tied to evil - that is, according to Mike Bickle, head of the International House of Prayer (IHOP). After a video of Bickle suggesting that Oprah is a forerunner to the "Antichrist" uncovered by the People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch surfaced earlier this week, entertainment sources including the Hollywood Reporter eagerly picked up the story.
In the video, which aired on God TV, Bickle says:
"The Harlot Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the Antichrist. The Harlot Babylon will be a religion of affirmation, toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement. They will feed the poor, have humanitarian projects, inspire acts of compassion for all the wrong reasons. They won't know it, beloved they will be sincere, many of them, but their sincerity will not in any way lessen the impact of their deception. The fact that they are sincere does not make their deception less damaging.
I believe that one of the main pastors, as a forerunner to the Harlot movement, it's not the Harlot movement yet, is Oprah. She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable, she is utterly deceived, utterly deceived. A classy woman, a cool woman, a charming woman, but has a spirit of deception and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement."
Bickle has wide-reaching influence: the Kansas-City based IHOP congregation, which was founded 12 years ago, has grown exponentially from a group of 20 to a following of "tens of thousands" of worshippers, evangelizing round-the-clock worship on its live webcast. "The Second Coming will probably happen within the lifetime of people living today," Blickle claimed in a recent feature for the New York Times.
If the end times are approaching, Oprah certainly isn't the only contender for spawn of Satan. Check out the slideshow below for a look at some other public figures who (supposedly) portend an era of fire and brimstone:
The first German in many years to be elected Pope, Benedict was from the outset a controversial choice for the papal throne because of his (involuntary) involvement as one of Adolf Hitler's "Hitler Youth" in childhood. However, Benedict isn't the first pope called a demon in God's clothing: certain passages of Revelations say that the Antichrist will be directly connected to a "city with seven hills," which is a popular nickname for Rome.
Even before Obama was elected to the presidency, rumors and email chains fingering Obama as the Antichrist were running rampant. When Victoria Jackson, formerly of Saturday Night Live, told fans on her website that Obama 'bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ' and is 'sooooo evil,' the Obama-as-Antichrist movement really ramped up. Today, Obama's support of gay marriage, women's reproductive rights, and acceptance of every religion are all frequently referenced as evidence that our President is, in fact, the spawn of Satan. While most would scoff at the notion, the idea has a life of its own on the Internet: a Google search for "Obama Antichrist" yields over 4 million page results.
Perhaps the most unlikely contender in the list, some people believe the newly-married Prince has a lot more than his latest Royal tour on the mind. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the Duke will head a 'One World Government' which will come into power in 2013, while others point to his bloodline, which supposedly dates back to the Tribe of Judah and King of David.
Entire books have been published on the basis of the belief that the former president is actually the Antichrist. Foremost among the evidence: the "death and destruction" of 9/11 and the subsequent wars which occurred in the aftermath, the Bush family involvement in the secretive Yale society Skull and Bones, and the belief among some that the Hebrew letters of Bush's first and last name work out to 666 - the "Number of the Beast."
Slammed by Deepak Chopra as "the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses," this potential 2012 presidential candidate hasn't escaped the seemingly-obligatory "Could You Be Satan?" political scrutiny. But the flipside is also true: Some Christian theologians seem to think that Sarah Palin could be sent by God to battle the Antichrist. Which is it? Only time can tell.
The mind behind "Jaws," "ET" and "Jurassic Park" might have more insidious intentions - at least, that's what a handful of conspiracy theorists think. "Many Christians contend that the great delusions surrounding the coming Antichrist spoken of in 2 Thessalonians will involve demonic alien beings who will befriend mankind only to insure his doomed fate," theorist Jason Kovar says. Could "ET" actually have been a harbinger of the apocalypse?
OK, so this one isn't likely... but The Smoking Jacket points out that Rebecca's first name means "to tie" or "to bind," which, combined with her last name, could mean "To tie to darkness." And while the lyrics to Black's undeniably catchy hit song encourage listeners to engage in "reckless rebellion" by "jumping in an already crowded vehicle and taking off into Satan knows where," it's the obsession with "getting down" - the direction to Hell - which seems most damning.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that Oprah had been called the Antichrist. She was actually implicated as a "forerunner" to the Antichrist, by way of Mike Bickle's logic.