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?
Follow Paul Brandeis Raushenbush on Twitter: www.twitter.com/raushenbush