As we learn about the man who shot bullets into the living quarters of the White House, an unnerving fact has emerged: The shooter believed that he was on a personal mission from God and that President Obama is the anti-Christ.
The attack on the White House and the first family is the result of an almost casual use by President Obama's political enemies of iconic religious imagery. The shots are a violent echo of the 2008 election when the rumor of Obama being "The One" surfaced through an ad by the McCain campaign. As Mara Vanderslice, then of the Matthew 25 Network, who now works in Obama's Faith Office, wrote:
"At best, this ad implies that those who plan to support Senator Obama are looking for a new savior or a replacement Messiah. But many are reading it even more darkly as an attempt to portray Obama as an anti-Christ figure."
As the 2012 campaign gears up, we are once again faced with the prospect of sinister religious rhetoric that paints opponents with hyper-charged and potentially lethal brushes. The case of Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez proves that words matter with potentially horrific results.
Let me say this as clearly as I can with my head still attached: President Obama is NOT the anti-Christ.
We know this, if for no other reason, because he has proven he is neither the messiah nor the anti-Christ by his mixed report card -- he just isn't effective enough to be either pure good or pure evil. To my mind, he is an intelligent, decent human being who is doing the best he knows how. The voters wil decide whether he gets another term -- not a divine or satanic mandate for or against.
None of the presidential candidates on any side of the aisle are the anti-Christ (or any equivalent in another religion). It is up to all of us to confront any pastor, political operator or friend who seriously introduces such charged religious language into our political landscape. If we don't, the blood that may be spilled because some unhinged zealot shoots to kill will be on our hands as well.
Who else has been described as the anti-christ?
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, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1008/NRSC_celeb_thinks_Obama_may_be_antiChrist_sooooo_evil.html" target="_hplink">told fans on her website</a> that Obama 'bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ' and is 'sooooo evil,' the Obama-as-Antichrist movement <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/2008/11/15/is-obama-the-antichrist.html http://www.newsweek.com/2008/11/15/is-obama-the-antichrist.html " target="_hplink">really ramped up</a>. 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 '<a href="http://www.ufodigest.com/article/expert-prince-william-antichrist-future-king-one-world-government " target="_hplink">One World Government</a>' 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 <a href="http://www.amazon.com/George-Bush-Antichrist-Stephen-Hanchett/dp/1411609832" target="_hplink">books</a> 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 <a href="http://www.multiultramedia.com/conspiracy/bush.html" target="_hplink">belief</a> among some that the Hebrew letters of Bush's first and last name work out to 666 - the "Number of the Beast."
Slammed by <a href="http://www.zimbio.com/Sarah+Palin/articles/770/Sarah+Palin+Anti+Christ+According+Deepak+Chopra " target="_hplink">Deepak Chopra</a> 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 <a href="http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/09/was-sarah-palin-sent-by-god-to.html " target="_hplink">Christian theologians</a> seem to think that Sarah Palin could be sent by God to <i> battle </i> 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," <a href="http://goodfight.org/a_v_spielberg_steven.html " target="_hplink">theorist Jason Kovar says</a>. Could "ET" actually have been a harbinger of the apocalypse?
OK, so this one isn't likely... but <a href="http://www.thesmokingjacket.com/humor/rebecca-black-antichrist" target="_hplink">The Smoking Jacket</a> 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.
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