Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 18, 2008

NEWSWEEK CONSIDERS ANTICHRIST TALK.... When bizarre, fringe publications speculate openly about who may or may not be the Antichrist, it's easy to dismiss. When Newsweek publishes a 600-word piece on those who wonder about Obama being the Antichrist, one really has to wonder what on earth the editors were thinking.

On Nov. 5, Todd Strandberg was at his desk, fielding E-mails from around the world. As the editor and founder of RaptureReady.com, his job is to track current events and link them to biblical prophecy in hopes of maintaining his status as "the eBay of prophecy," the best source online for predictions and calculations concerning the end of the world. Already Barack Obama had drawn the attention of apocalypse watchers after an anonymous e-mail circulated among conservative Christians in October implying that he was the Antichrist. Former "Saturday Night Live" ingenue Victoria Jackson fueled the fire when, according to news reports, she wrote on her Web site that Obama "bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ." Now Strandberg was receiving up-to-the-minute news from his constituents in Illinois. One of the winning lottery numbers in the president-elect's home state was 666 -- which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast (also known as the Antichrist). "It is very eerie, and I take it for a sign as to who he really is," wrote one of Strandberg's correspondents.

First, from a theological perspective, the whole thing about "666" being a "mark of the beast" is inherently suspect, and dismissed as nonsense by most scholars. Second, and more importantly, what is the purpose of Newsweek running a story about those who wonder if Obama is the Antichrist?

Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's law school, says he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, but he can see how others might. Obama's own use of religious rhetoric belies his liberal positions on abortion and traditional marriage, Staver says, positions that "religious conservatives believe will threaten their freedom." The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," Staver says.

Um, Newsweek? "Widely shared" fears can most definitely be "nuts."

Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist, but he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means "fasten your seat belts." Obama's win pushed the index to 161.

Keep in mind, this isn't just some bizarre online-only piece -- Newsweek decided this was worthy of publication in the print edition of its weekly news magazine.

I can appreciate the fact that there are a handful of very odd people in the world, some of whom believe the Book of Revelation foretold Obama's election. Strange people can be led to believe strange things. That's not a reason for Newsweek to publish articles about their inanity.

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (125)

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"...from a theological perspective, the whole thing about "666" being a 'mark of the beast' is inherently suspect, and dismissed as nonsense by most scholars."

That scholars would even get involved in seriously disputing what is obviously myth, is just sad, as if there really were an anti-Christ. Or a Christ, for that matter.

When superstition is no longer taken as fact, this country can finally move into the Age of Reason.

Posted by: angry young man on November 18, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Reminds me why I canceled my decades long Newsweek subscription. That and Karl Rove.

Posted by: msmolly on November 18, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

What's next talking snakes? The next thing you know they will be publishing a serious tome on Creation: How it was accomplished in 7 days.

Posted by: John R on November 18, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

in hopes of maintaining his status as "the eBay of prophecy

It's a great website too. I bid on all Seven Seals and ended up winning 4 and 6!

Posted by: The November Fool on November 18, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, I attended a meeting of fellow NYC Democrats shortly after the 2004 convention where everybody was oohing and ahhing over this new guy Obama. "Frankly, I think he's the Anti-Christ," I muttered to a pretty decent peal of laughter. I think that's because, while people in the room recognized it for the ridiculous accusation that it was, they also recognized that it actually made a weird kind of sense. He was a little bit too young, a little bit too good looking and a little bit too eloquent to be believed. And, of course, he pretty much came out of nowhere. It all seemed too good to be true.

So, yeah. The idea is nuts. But it's not all that impossible to understand either.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on November 18, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Next up at Newsweek: a hard-hitting three part series on why the earth may only be 6000 years old.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on November 18, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me, if a lot of people believe it, that makes it news and therefore a legitimate subject for Newsweek. Crossing the line would be to explore whether Obama might actually be the Antichrist or Beast or whatever.

I remember when some people had eschatological worries over the number of letters in Ronald Wilson Reagan's name. Feh.

Posted by: scott_m on November 18, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus and fear are good business, they're going straight for the people who are gullible enough to support their advertisers.

What some people will do to make money is truly amazing. I hope someone at another publication takes Newsweek's "journalistic standard" to task, and humiliates them but good. The only thing some editors fear is the disdain of their peers.

Posted by: Racer X on November 18, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Is this really all that much further from reality than the most other Newsweek fare?

Posted by: jhm on November 18, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect there is growing commonality between the group of people gullible enough to believe in doomsday prophesies and the group of people gullible enough to believe what they read in Newsweek.

Posted by: Dr. Wu on November 18, 2008 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bush/Cheney were the antichrist administration.

Posted by: mljohnston on November 18, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

There is a reason why the Catholic Church did not think it was a good idea to let people untrained in scholarship read and interpret Biblical scriptures on their own.

Maybe Martin Luther was wrong?

Posted by: bakho on November 18, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Seems to me, if a lot of people believe it, that makes it news and therefore a legitimate subject for Newsweek." There were similar rumors about Bush. Also widely held beliefs/rumors that he would be the last political leader and would usher in the second coming. I don't remember a Newsweek story about that.

Posted by: wvng on November 18, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

I remember in 2002 reading about certain churches in TX whose congregations "worshipped" GW Bush.

So for these believers, Obama would simply be the alternative.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 18, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Relax, trust the American people. Very few of us are going to read the Newsweek article and say "Gee, maybe I better check this out, in case the world is about to end".

This is just another story about people who save pancakes that look like Jesus. If Newsweek played it any other way, it would just move them closer to the pancake crowd, which in my opinion is how they deserve to be seen, and long overdue.

Posted by: serial catowner on November 18, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"That's not a reason for Newsweek to publish articles about their inanity."
Well, if you're lazy and open to using anything that happens to be laying around so that you can gin up a false controversy and sell a few extra copies - for some people that's several good reasons....

Posted by: mikey on November 18, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

A handful? There's a lot more than a handful. Liberals love to kid themselves that most people are really rational and logical. Unfortunately, homo sapiens is not a rational, logical species. If we were, we wouldn't be wrecking the planet and destroying ourselves.

Posted by: Speed on November 18, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

And why is a national news magazine giving credence to folks who sit around all day looking at random incidents and then linking them together using a thought process which no rational human being would begin to think of?

A lottery ticket has the number 666. It was sold in Illinois. Therefore it is a sign that Obama is the Antichrist? How did they know it wasn't a sign for Governor Blogovich (himself in deep political trouble) or maybe William Ayers. How about Oprah or Ernie Banks for Chrissakes?

Nothing unites people in idiocy like intense paranoia!!! Today's's the 18th of November and YIKES, if you divide 18 in thirds you get THREE SIXES!!!!! I'm going back to bed and pull the covers over my head.

Posted by: dweb on November 18, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

So, Steve, is it better not to know about all the crazy shit people believe in? What is the difference between Newsweek's reporting this and all the reporting you did about the crazy shit people were screaming at McCain's and Palin's rallys? It all fits into the same frame --the world is going ape apocalyptic and in a planet of apes the apes are struggling for dominance over the visions of the truth as revealed by the apes of old. Nothing more crazy that the majority of the apes believing in an after life or a world after this world is there? So what's the surprise?

Posted by: lou on November 18, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

', a little bit too good looking and a little bit too eloquent to be believed. And, of course, he pretty much came out of nowhere. It all seemed too good to be true.'

It only seemed too good to be true because we have already been in hell for years. I'm old enough to remember when even Republicans made sense. Now when anyone makes sense, people think they are satanic.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on November 18, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

It makes me very sad to find out that Victoria Jackson is a religious wingnut. I always liked her on SNL.

Posted by: Brock on November 18, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

People who speculate about Obama being the Antichrist are nuts. Christians have been predicting the end times and the Antichrist for the last 2,000 years, and their predictions over that time have a 100% failure rate.

Antichrist speculation is idiocy, and Newsweek should be despised for trying to give this nonsense legitimacy.

Posted by: mccord on November 18, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Who can fail to notice that critics of this administration's well-documented malfeasance were said to have 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'.

Whackjobs calling Obama the Antichrist? 'They're not nuts'.

Your ever-helpful librul media.

Posted by: henry lewis on November 18, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

These news magazines have always covered cultural absurdity. It sells. It used to sell a lot more copies than it does now.

Now that printed news is falling off the charts in terms of readership, it would figure that knuckle-dragging, rapture adherents make up a significant number of Newsweek's remaining audience. So, they write stories that interest that segment of their audience.

Posted by: NealB on November 18, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

When you have a President-elect who hasn't done a lot of incompetent or corrupt things and you have a journalistic goal of "balance", this is the kind of story you get.

Posted by: Danp on November 18, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

watercooler hysteria- if people actually read the book of Revelations/Apocrypha they'd realize what a bunch of horse dung it is.

Oh Noes a black man is teh Auntie Christ!

Ronald Reagan's name had six letters in each...go figure

Posted by: rememberNovember on November 18, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK
I remember when some people had eschatological worries over the number of letters in Ronald Wilson Reagan's name.
I remember that too! Yet another way in which the 2008 election was like the 1980 election... Posted by: hubcap on November 18, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"I can appreciate the fact that there are a handful of very odd people "

A handful? The ridiculous Left Behind series sold 70 million effing copies.
Minimize these fruitcakes at your peril.

Posted by: OccamsAftershave on November 18, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Who the hell calls Victoria Jackson an ingenue? How about an annoying no talent who was trying to be Teri Garr but kept coming off as a miscast moron. This is much more damaging to Newsweek's fading credibility than is a 600-word article on whether or not the president-elect is the anti-Christ.

Posted by: BarryGoldwater on November 18, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

>"... positions on abortion and traditional marriage... will threaten their [wingnut] freedom."

I love this standard talking point from the loonies. Er, how will this threaten your freedom? Freedom to do what?

Posted by: Buford on November 18, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Liberty University? Jerry Falwell U? Now there's enlightened commentary. BTW, whatever happened to Liberty U's plan to register all their students in Va., get them to vote in lockstep and tip the state for Palin, I mean McCain? Maybe they did it and made no difference. Like this story.

Since the mid-80s I've been through three Raptures and a Harmonic Convergence. Most of us are still here, and those that aren't, like Falwell, left the normal way.

Did you catch the announcement that U.S News etc., the rightwing Time, is downsizing to a monthly? If it keeps running stories like this, how long do you think it'll be before Newsweek follows? It is owned by that fount of wisdom, the Washington "we don't have enough rightwing writers" Post.

Posted by: ericfree on November 18, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I know this whole discussion is rediculous, but did Newsweek ever point out that the winning lottery numbers in Illisnois was not 666. I mean, if they are going to bring up this idiotic discussion, should they not point out that the whole lottery thing is not true, and is just an on-line smear.

Posted by: RJRolsen on November 18, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be really great if Obama WERE the antichrist.

All the religious nuts would suddenly realize their fantasies, and start worrying about judgment day.

Jesus would appear and explain to the fundamentalists exactly what he said and what he meant, forget their tortured interpretations of biblical text.

Homosexual demons would rend Ann Coulter's flesh.

Bring on the Rapture! Now that's change I want to believe in.

Posted by: upchuckie_cheezits on November 18, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me, if a lot of people believe it, that makes it news and therefore a legitimate subject for Newsweek.

Yes, a legitimate subject to be mocked and belittled.

Crossing the line would be to explore whether Obama might actually be the Antichrist or Beast or whatever.

Crossing the line is to treat this belief as "not nuts".

Posted by: Dave in NYC on November 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Knuckleheads abound. There are even people out there that think 9/11 was a gubmint conspiracy and that we flew planes into our own buildings.

Posted by: sjrsm on November 18, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK


Inanity is much too kind a word to describe these people and their beliefs.

Posted by: winner on November 18, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure that exposing crazy crap to the light of day is really a bad thing. I don't imagine that a lot of non-crazy people will read that and think "Wow. They must be on to something here."

I am hopeful that increased access to information means that lies and stupidity are more open to exposure and examination.

Old rules: Say something stupid or untrue with enough frequency and many people will believe it.

New rules: Say soemthing stupid or untrue with enough frequency and many people will know you are a liar or stupid or both.

Posted by: DrToons on November 18, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK


Now granted I'm not up on my End Times Theology...but I was under the impression that the Anti-Christ could only show himself on earth as a False Pope...something about taking the place of God's Representative on Earth and corrupting it in order to usher the flock towards Hell.

(at that's how Luther explained it)

Posted by: neilt on November 18, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Also, Victoria Jackson is an idiot. Unless of course she's actually engaging in some kind of elaborate piece of Performance Art - then she's a genius...

no, in all honesty, she's a "Moran" ;0)

Posted by: neilt on November 18, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Um, including the Title, its a 616 word piece.

Posted by: ROGNM on November 18, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Atrios has posted a very interesting query. Does Lisa Miller of Newsweek fuck goats? Inquiring minds want to know. She is rumored to eat goat cheese yet is never seen buying it at the store. She must have goats of her own. Attractive, well hung goats. Goats she fucks. Tell your friends.

Posted by: steve duncan on November 18, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Is it sweeps week?
Opps wrong medium!

Posted by: hornblower on November 18, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Newsweek! On Halloween night, 1938, there were "widely shared fears" that America had been invaded by Martians.

Posted by: gradysu on November 18, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Is it too late to change my vote?

Posted by: chrenson on November 18, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Newsweek did not say that the "Obama=Antichrist" people are not nuts. That was a quote from Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's law school.

This article was about what people believe. Yes, Lisa Miller could have made it clear that the people who believe these things are nuts, but isn't that the conclusion non-nutty people would draw from the article, anyway?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on November 18, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bakho, the Lutheran Church does not recognize the Book of Revelation as containing valid doctrine. So maybe Martin Luther was right.

And the Left Behind books sold 70 million copies, but since there are 11 volumes, the number of people who bought them is more like 7 million.

Big, but Stephen king sells more. Which should be consoling.

Posted by: pbg on November 18, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that ROGNM knows that the first known scroll with this particular numbers theory, has the number (not sign as Miller calls it) as 616. That should freak Lisa Miller out, when it's pointed out to her.

I remember the Ronald Wilson Reagan speculations; followed by Gorbachov being the anti-christ because of the mark on his forehead ...

Now it's Obama. They're all crazy, and Lisa Miller should be fired, because she is deeply irresponsible, and somewhat nonsensical in her reasoning.

Posted by: SteinL on November 18, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen: That's not a reason for Newsweek to publish articles about their inanity.

Typo alert: You forgot the 's' in 'insanity'.

.

Posted by: JGabriel on November 18, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

For Your FYI: So far in 2008, the number 666 has been a winner in Illinois five times, according to the lottery website.

Posted by: chrenson on November 18, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds as if Newsweek's article was mildly satirical and mocking in nature - "look at these nutjobs!"

Posted by: Peter on November 18, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

"...something about taking the place of God's Representative on Earth and corrupting it in order to usher the flock towards Hell."

Didn't they do that already in the Dark Ages?

I know someone out here in the desert who's got her own brand of antichrist hysteria. Hers is Gorbachev. She's got reams and reams of articles, books, photos of "Gorby" as she calls him, and ne'er a conversation goes by where she doesn't remind me that the end is near. She seems perfectly sane otherwise. Oh, and the government is evil. Yet she lives off welfare. And no she doesn't see the contradiction.

It all boils down to laziness. These assholes want to be excused for their carelessness in this life and religion provides the perfect vehicle for it. But don't be surprised Newsweek pushes it. Have you watched the History Channel lately and the crapola they call "history"?

Posted by: MissMudd on November 18, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I think the article is a reasonable tongue-in-cheek take on the nutcases. Miller writes, for example, Before Christ comes again, those who are saved will ascend to heaven, according to this end-times theology, in a huge, upward whoosh called the Rapture. It's not outright mockery, but it's not taking them seriously either.

Posted by: RSA on November 18, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I've always liked Newsweeks hard-hitting reporting. I hear next week they're writing an expose of how the moon really is made of green cheese.

Posted by: josephus on November 18, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

I thought it had already been decided by the True Bible Society that John McCain was the anti-Christ because he wanted to control Mesopotamia for 100 years:

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/343356

Posted by: Ugly Moe on November 18, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

The 666 thing has a meaning that was well understood at the time and is well understood now among scholars. You can make numbers out of Hebrew characters, and the characters for 666 spell out the name of Nero, who was by this time the archetype of those who oppressed Christians.

But of course, if you do some work and interpret the book accurately, that takes away from your opportunity to inflate your self-importance by making yourself out to be an oracle.

Posted by: Mike Toreno on November 18, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Is there a substantive difference between what these people believe, and the stories about Jesus being the son of God and rising from his grave to heaven after his crucifixion?

Why are some people who believe in Biblical fables called crazy, and others down-home faithful, patriotic folks? What's the distinction? Is it just the sheer numbers of them? Is respectability just a matter of how many believe in certain legends? Or what?

Posted by: hark on November 18, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

During the sixties, Newsweek enjoyed a surge of well-deserved glory with candid, hard-hitting reporting on the horror and futility of the Vietnam War. That took courage that it no longer has.

Example: a few weeks ago it ran an irreligious column by Sam Harris, but it identified him right from the headline as "an atheist"; you know, don't take him too seriously.

Newsweek, like most of the dominant media, still cowers before rightwing fanatics and fools. Their owners demand it.


Posted by: LeRoy on November 18, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite anti-Christ moment came when "666" was drawn as the Pick3 numbers for Kansas on an Easter Sunday.

Hey, didn't Obama used to live in Kansas?

Anyway, I gave up on Newsweek when they took on Karl Rove, so who gives two hoots what they publish?

Posted by: mokanmaxie on November 18, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

hark writes:

Why are some people who believe in Biblical fables called crazy, and others down-home faithful, patriotic folks? What's the distinction? Is it just the sheer numbers of them? Is respectability just a matter of how many believe in certain legends? Or what?

I think that there is a clear answer to this question. Beliefs by themselves, however bizarre, don't make someone crazy. It is only actions (that may in turn be motivated or inspired by those beliefs) that make someone crazy. We live in a secular society, so your public actions can be judged in secular terms, regardless of what your private beliefs are.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on November 18, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'm very tired of the outrage about this article, because these people matter far more than most people seem to get. They are on the fringe, yes, but under Bush,they absolutely were not:

Richard Land (president since 1988 of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Capitol Hill lobbyist, friend of Presidential advisor Karl Rove, and now Bush appointee to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) told the Christian Science Monitor before his nomination, "In the Reagan administration, they took our calls," but with Bush, "sometimes they call us.

http://www.alternet.org/story/15667/?page=entire

The ties between Bush, Rove, and fundamentalists have been extreme, and it's largely flown under the radar. These folks are losing power along with Bush, and their philosophy is deeply dangerous. It took them something like 2 decades of serious effort to become major players, and they must be dealt with in an ongoing, serious fashion. Making fun of them is absolutely not sufficient, and we ignore them at great peril. Really.

Minimizing them will not make them go away, and they still plan to bring us theocracy. Sarah Palin is their current best hope.

Posted by: Jehosophat on November 18, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Actually the beast is the rule of 78s. Google "rule of 78s" 666.

Question, If there were no christ could there still be an anti-christ.

And now will the beast devour the auto unions?

Ok now time to take my meds.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on November 18, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

666 -- which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast

Actually, as SteinL points out above, the earliest texts use 616.

616 is the area code for Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was the home of Gerald Ford, which means that Gerald Ford is the Anti-Christ. It's exactly as likely as Obama.

Posted by: anandine on November 18, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

It's enjoyable to poke fun at all this silliness and at the silly people, but stepping back we should perhaps sober up.

This story is yet another reason why the Secret Service NEEDS TO DOUBLE ITS EFFORTS in protecting our new President. History has shown, it's often religious zealots who act on there crazy ass fantasies.

Posted by: Palinoscopy on November 18, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The "liberal media" strikes again!

Feh.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, now we've done it. Now Amy Sullivan will probably come along and concern-troll us about liberals' need to respect religion.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Get this: My rightwing sources tell me that there is now a rumor making the rounds to the effect that Obama visited his grandmother in Hawaii to kill her before she could tell the world that he wasn't born in the US.

That sort of stuff would be sick enough on its face, but it is even more sinister when you consider that we'll read lots of those rumors over the next eight years because the rightwing, devoid of ideas and solutions, has no other option that to smear.

Posted by: castanea on November 18, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Obama the antichrist. Right. And Palin thinks dinosaurs walked with men. Too bad there weren't helicopters back then, eh'? She could have picked-off a few raptors on her way to cave painting drawing class.

If Obama's the antichrist, Bushit must have been the prodevil...

Posted by: Stevio on November 18, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Im not taking any chances, I'll be stocking up on crucifixes before Obama bans them.

Posted by: rick on November 18, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Lisa Miller, star student at The Sarah Palin School of Journalism.

Posted by: Ken on November 18, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

"...As the editor and founder of RaptureReady.com, his job is to track current events and link them to biblical prophecy in hopes of maintaining his status as "the eBay of prophecy," the best source online for predictions and calculations concerning the end of the world..."

How do you determine that distinction? Has the world ended several times before and we somehow missed it?

Posted by: Varecia on November 18, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Newsweek is my only access to the corporate media since i don't watch TV and have no oher subsriptions.

I haven't read this article yet so haveno opinion about it YET.

Seems to me that tone is important. If the article seems to endorse the nutcase views, then the article is irresponsible and I will cancel;however, if the article is simply displaying for all to see the creepy, stupid face of rightwing religions, then I applaud the publication. This is Sarah palin's religion folks! This is Dobson's religion! This is the Repubican rank and file!

About time they got exposed.

Posted by: wonkie on November 18, 2008 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

It is newsworthy that there are people who try to link current events to ancient texts that were symbolic when written and are largely incomprehensible today. It is newsworthy because there are people who allow these discredited theologies to influence how they conduct public policy. I cite George W. Bush as an example. One interpretation of Revelation sees Iraq and Iran as key players in Armeggedon, the great cosmic final battle between good and evil. Jesus said "no one can know the day and the hour" when all things will end, but that hasn't stopped people, including many who are practicing religions other than Christianity (Islam has a similar stream of thought), from trying to figure it out.

I'm a liberal Protestant minister who has studied this stuff. I don't take the theology seriously, but I sure take seriously those who seriously believe this stuff. Convinced they are helping God, they will act on their beliefs.

Posted by: revbelair on November 18, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Is this a "glass-half-empty" kind of group? Just as "Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist," I say that Strandberg probably isn't pulling off his clothes and frothing at the mouth at the moment --- even though many people believe that he is.

Posted by: Ralph on November 18, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

There's also a Newsweek article this week on Erick Erickson and Red State as the new power in the Republican party, with no mention of the hate spewed there.
New motto: "Normalizing Crazy"?

Posted by: short fuse on November 18, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

While trying to fathom the purpose God gave Newsweek in writing this treatise I left my breakfast tortilla on the griddle too long.
When I flipped it over there was burned an image of Sarah Palin winking at me.

Posted by: ricky on November 18, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the coming Rapture would be God's way of saving the rest of us from these crazy, right wing religious nut jobs.

On more than one occassion, I have wished that somehow these Xtists would just disappear.

So, maybe God wouldn't be saving the idiot Xtists, but really just getting rid of the religious bigots and zealots.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Posted by: Continuum on November 18, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned in a previous post.

The "Rapture" is pure fantasy. Nowhere in the Bible, old or new testament, does it mention a 'rapture', during which believers will be delivered unto heaven and the rest of us are left behind.

This theory started in the early 1800's in London I believe, and of course was turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise by the authors of the Left Behind series.

Again, it's pure fantasy.

The scary thing is, millions believe it to be true. Now what does that tell you about the mindset of millions of Americans?

Organized religion - the curse of mankind.

Posted by: citizen_pain on November 18, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Ricky: I'll be studying my Jonnycakes very carefully from now on.

Posted by: GVC on November 18, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I'm outraged by the article because it is all fluff and offers no clear examples or questioning of the legitimacy of such dangerous superstitions--indeed it seems to effort hard at making a case for Obama being the so called "Anti-Christ".

I can't believe Newsweek allowed this one to go through. The article offers next to no mention of the rise of Extreme Fundamentalism that was central to the Bush Administration. It is a very provocative piece (especially the title), with no information. It belongs in the "Star" Magazine or the like.

And the quote from Mat Staver, a dean of a law school no less --is dangerously misleading: It sounds as though he's arguing a good case for these extreme fundamental superstitious beliefs. At the very least he provides no solid reason to question or debunk them as fringe, as potentially dangerous.

If he wasn't prepared to do this, then Newsweek needed to provide another stronger voice (there are many) who can illustrate in detail the very real perils of this thinking, the seduction of the rapture belief, the specific ramifications that ensue when this kind of thinking grows and is applied to everything from personal to the political--as it indeed has under the last eight years of the Bush Administration.

Of course we can see how others 'might believe' these things. What a throw-away statement. Others believe all sorts of insane things. We can also see how others believe in UFOs and that Jesus Christ is imprinted on their potato chip...
Of course others are easily threatened--another throwaway comment. That doesn't make it credible and it doesn't mean we shouldn't take a closer look at how it is folks can so easily be threatened.

The example he used about Obama's beliefs is a bad one. Indeed, it sounds like he, along with the author have found ways to justify other's contentions that he's the Anti-Christ.

There is no elaboration as to what Obama has said and no specifics as to how fears are ignited. It's all very vague, provocative commenting that seems to be way too sure of itself and leaps to all sorts of conclusions.

Obama's "religious rhetoric' belies nothing in my view. To call it rhetoric is a deep slam in itself. Obama's beliefs and more importantly the way he thinks through issues, along with his actions seem to me to be thoughtful, balanced, coherent and compassionate through and through. They do not seem to me to suggest anything that would He is not pro-abortion for example, wanting to kill babies as Palin and others tried hard to suggest.

He acknowledges it is a moral dilemma that has no easy answers. He is pro-choice, pro family, pro-woman. He believes in the privacy issue and he believes that an adult ought to have more rights than a fertilized embryo.

If Mr. Staver has the audacity to claim somehow that Obama's beliefs fuel the fire,as does the author. "No wonder Obama triggers such fears" (?).

What?!

Posted by: Newsweek should be ashamed on November 18, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK


Steve,

It's all about what sells copy. Magazines are taking a hit financially, as are most other print publications. Maybe this story is one way to recoup their losses.

Posted by: ctrenta on November 18, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Terrorist Fist Bump redux. Same level of complexity and comprehension

Posted by: John R on November 18, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Um, assuming the Illinois lottery number really was 666, did anyone think to point out that it's a three-digit number, thus there are 1000 possibilities, therefore the odds are pretty good that it comes up 666 every 3 or 4 years or so?

Has it never come up 666 before? If it has, what historical events surrounded it?

Was all this way too much work for Lisa Miller? Evidently so.

Posted by: Rick Massimo on November 18, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I was completely shocked. I thought Newsweek went out of business years ago.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another example - along with the hiring of Rove, Stuart Taylor, Jr., and other righty nutjob Meacham hires - of Newsweek's headlong rush into the toilet. Count me among those who chose not to renew my Newsweek subscription, even though it was free.

Posted by: mak on November 18, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Christians have been predicting the end times and the Antichrist for the last 2,000 years, and their predictions over that time have a 100% failure rate.

And what's really funny about that is, the Bible quotes Jesus cautioning against just such prophecy, saying we would know not the day or the hour.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

that last sentence got cut off--if they are going to re-ignite these fears and suggest they are even credible, then there is a responsibility in an article like that to argue a case that also shows how INcredible such beliefs are. And how they not only grow, but how easily and how quickly such irrational thinking leads to paranoia, fear and dangerous action.

Posted by: Newsweek should be ashamed on November 18, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Get this: My rightwing sources tell me that there is now a rumor making the rounds to the effect that Obama visited his grandmother in Hawaii to kill her before she could tell the world that he wasn't born in the US.

You're about three weeks behind on that one.

It's obvious that he killed her, for two reasons:
1) The not-born-in-the-US thing
2) She had proof - PROOF, I tell you!! - that his real name is Barack Husein Osaama. That's a twofer - the 6-6-6 thing, and conclusive proof that he really is Osama bin Laden. (Well, you've never seen the two of them together, have you? Hmmm??)


Look, in a country where some 30-odd per cent of the people believe in angels and divine miracles and so forth, maybe it's time you atheistic LIEberals realized that you are wrongWrongWRONG about everything, especially His Antichristness (as you will now have to refer to him).

Posted by: SFAW on November 18, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike wrote: Knuckleheads abound.

"Posted by: sjrsm on November 18, 2008 at 10:03 AM" QED

There are even people out there that think 9/11 was a gubmint conspiracy and that we flew planes into our own buildings.

Yeah, but their conspiracy theory rantings don't get taken seriously by the so-called "liberal media."

I think it's so cute when Red State Mike adopts his feeble pretense of nonpartisan commentator, but the resulting idiotic analysis is much more boring than his predictable partisan dishonesty.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Mike Tereno's observation that Biblical scholars have previously thought Nero might have been the anti-Christ referred to is fleshed out and reinforced in the wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast

His comment concerning the mundane reality behind the number is apt.

If this scholarship has been debunked or discredited, I've not heard about it.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 18, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading RaptureReady's bulletin board talk for several years, as a kind of "reality check"--as in, THIS IS THE REALITY OF AMERICA. People here in Japan sometimes ask me how "sensible" Americans could have elected Dubya twice; I tell them about RaptureReady and what America is really like. Yes, there are plenty of weird new religions here in Japan too--just today I passed a woman standing on the street, facing a bank in Shibuya and devoutedly chanting sutras--but for a country that touts itself as the beacon of the world, America is hard to beat for looniness.

Posted by: Hokuto on November 18, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Shame, I used to like how Victoria Jackson played the ukelele.

Posted by: CT on November 18, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Does that make 667 the neighbor of the Beast?

Magical thinking in Newsweek? Do tell.

Posted by: MisterX on November 18, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

When will this garbage be thoroughly placed off-limits? The only reason it hasn't been, is because people walk on egg-shells when it comes to religious belief.

If people take these myths literally, and especially if they want them to come true, that means they want the biggest genocide in the history of the planet to occur. All non-Christians will be slaughtered. That includes the Jews, of course.

Right now, that's some 5 billion people. If a person believes in the Rapture literally, and literally wants it to happen, they are hoping for the slaughter of 5 billion people.

Why is that not seen as something more vile, sadistic, inhuman, immoral and reprehensible than the Holocaust? Why is that "belief" not placed in the same category as NAZI and KKK ideology?

The veneer of religion protects a truly despicable belief and desire.

Posted by: Cuchulain on November 18, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Best bumpersticker I've seen in a while: "After the Rapture --- Can I have your car?"

Posted by: bdbd on November 18, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Lisa Miller, star student at The Sarah Palin School of Journalism.---by Ken.

I bet its got more credibility than the Dan Rather school of journalism doesnt it?

Posted by: Opportunity Costs on November 18, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Who at Newsweek thinks that chasing the Christianist End Timer demographic is gonna pay off?

Every time someone has me believing that "hard copy media" will survive after all, something like this comes along to remind me that they are, indeed, doomed. Newsweek, Time, the NYT, the Post--pretty much all the old media--for all their focus groups, infotainment, and trend-following, really have no idea what to do to be useful in the 21st century.

Posted by: W Action on November 18, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Stop interpretting the news and just report it? No left, no right---just report it. Its news, iys weird news, but the comment at the end? Dumb.

Posted by: Opportunity Costs on November 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

If you see a head wound miraclously healed, you better have Christ in your heart or run under a rock or cave. It will get ugly here on earth!!!!

Posted by: Bayo on November 18, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

... Strandberg says Obama probably isn't the Antichrist ...

Yep, and I'm *probably* not a 25 foot tall purple dragon.

Posted by: synykyl on November 18, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"What is the purpose of Newsweek running a story about those who wonder if Obama is the Antichrist?"

Snark?

Seriously, I think they're trying to make the Dominionists look as foolish as they are. I sense a tone of bemused dismissal in the clips you've printed.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 18, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Damn! The Devil is in the details.

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on November 18, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Bush the Lesser was probably the Anti-Christ. Isn't AC supposed to be the scion of a wealthy family? Shrub fills that bill to a T. And his legacy of destruction is pretty darned good even. And he started a war in the Middle East (for no apparent reason also).

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on November 18, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but their conspiracy theory rantings don't get taken seriously by the so-called "liberal media."
Posted by: Gregory

Yeah but the article wasn't supporting the contention that Obama is the anti-christ, only pointing out there are folks that believe it. The liberal media has also pointed out in many articles that there are folks (predominately democrats) that are "truthers". Tit for tat.

Posted by: sjrsm on November 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

The funny thing about all of this is, if you do a careful reading of the New Testament, it's very clear that people will agitate for the return of Jesus. The next step in their game is to claim He has actually returned; they've been at the end of the end-times rope for several decades now and sooner or later their congregations will want them to deliver the goods. All of this is in due course, and nothing will happen until a large majority of those folks believe that "the Lord delayeth his coming". Hence Rapture Indexes are all false positives and they largely miss the point; if Christ were to come tomorrow or you were to die tomorrow, the day of your reckoning would be at hand. Are you prepared? That, to me, seems to be one of the main themes of the New Testament's message regarding the return of Christ.

Posted by: Node of Evil on November 18, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah but the article wasn't supporting the contention that Obama is the anti-christ, only pointing out there are folks that believe it.

Exactly -- an entire article devoted to descirbing their belief is taking them seriously, and giving their belief a national forum into the bargain.

The liberal media has also pointed out in many articles that there are folks (predominately democrats) that are "truthers". Tit for tat.

I was inclined to chalk your obstinate failure to recognize the difference to your well-known stupidity, Mike, but your invocation of the nonexistent "liberal media" convinced me that it's your well-known dishonesty, instead.

Though I admit, it's so hard to tell the difference I doubt even you can.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

If it can't be proven on Funniest Home Videos, I don't want to hear it. Show me footage of Barack growing a tail, or just shut up.

Posted by: daylily on November 18, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

No legitimate Anti-Christ would ever condone aborting babies in the third trimester and insist that if they survive outside the womb they be left unattended until they die. Not to mention the inconvenience of having to impose on another doctor to render services.

Posted by: Greg J. on November 18, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

As long as he continues to support the genocide of 18-20 million aborted babies world wide each year he might as well claim the title of Anti-Christ.

Posted by: Sandy on November 18, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

"And why is a national news magazine giving credence to folks who sit around all day looking at random incidents and then linking them together using a thought process which no rational human being would begin to think of?
"

Yes... it's true... Newsweek is the "Family Guy" of print. We are all manatees now...
(http://www.lemonzoo.com/funny_videos/15684/South_Park___How_Family_Guy_is_made.html)

Posted by: El.Kabong on November 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

666 came up as the pick three number in Washington DC on the Inauguration Day of Reagan. It was the size of the total federal spending in billions by the end of that current fiscal year ($666.x billion), a fiscal year that he had little or nothing to do with, btw (since it was a Carter-year budget from Oct. '80 to Sept. 30 '81).

Over and over again, the Reagan people would use the sum of 666, 18, or multiples of that such as 180, or a variation like 108 (all equivalent by numerology), for key budget or policy proposals. Pershing IIs? 108 of them. 'The Language Crystal' details a huge coincidental number of these occurences.

And then, of course, the Reagans retired to a 666 address (which Nancy changed on the house, but which the USPS still has as 666).

Posted by: sofla on November 18, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I just sent this email to Newsweek:

Quote: "The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared."

This is outrageous and ridiculous.

Anyone who thinks there's such a thing as an anti-Christ, let alone has an opinion as to who that might be, is a complete lunatic.

And what's this "they may be jumping to conclusions" line?! That's worse than the "they're not nuts" line. The latter line could be explained by positing: "They're just misguided or ignorant or doing some serious drugs or talking in their nightmare-riddled sleep."

But "jumping to conclusions" suggests that there's insufficient evidence now that Obama is the anti-Christ but, at some point in the future, there could be sufficient evidence.

How much further are you guys willing to go with your "fair and balanced" "some say" lunacy?

By a fortuitous stroke of luck, my Newsweek subscription is about to expire and I haven't yet sent in my renewal. I don't think I will now. And I want you to know: This article isn't the sole reason, but it is certainly the last straw.

Posted by: Lynn Dee on November 18, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Now Newsweek has been invaded by Paliens. They're everywhere. Fear mongering ignorance abounds.

Christ was a liberal. Anti-Christ then would be anti-liberal. Since these whackos voted (as usual for dem pres candidates) that Obama was the "most liberal member of the senate", that pretty much leaves Obama out.

The anti-christ would be one who believes in cruelty like "torture" and "Preemptive war" and stands against "civil liberties" trying to spy on everyone and categorize all people into classes and giving them a number or "ID" to "Vote" with or buy sale and trade with. Someone who believes in riches and a very wealthy class who operates unregulated by anyone but him certainly not social programs like health care for children (S-CHIP). It sounds to me that the anti-Christ would have to be a republican.

What do you want to bet Strandburg is a republican who has set out to protect the identity of the Anti-Christ since so many republicans believe in those same tactics.

Newsweek's credibility is laughable. Ha

Posted by: joey on November 18, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is asinine. If you take the Bible as literally true, Obama has none of the characteristics of the anti-Christ. First, according to John the one Antichrist denies the Father and the Son, something Obama has never done. Second, in Paul, the son of perdition "sit[s] in the temple" claiming divine authority and opposing himself against all that is worshipped. Again, explain how Obama fits this description. The anti-Christ will also according to Paul perform counterfeit miracles and signs. As far as I can tell, the only miracle Obama has performed is becoming a black leader of a batshit crazy country. The only people who believe this mess are "Christians" who have never read the Bible, which in my experience is most.

Posted by: Joe on November 18, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK
Nowhere in the Bible, old or new testament, does it mention a 'rapture', during which believers will be delivered unto heaven and the rest of us are left behind.

That would probably depend on how you interpret the "we" in 1 Thess. 17,

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

If this "we" refers to believing Christians, and not to humanity in general, then this seems to be a reference to just such an event. (The "them" in this verse is a reference to "the dead in Christ", so it's plausible that by "we" Paul meant "the living in Christ".)

In the Vulgate Bible, by the way, the verb translated "we ... shall be caught up" is "rapiemur", which is from the same verbal root that gave us the word "rapture".

Posted by: noncarborundum on November 18, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"A little too young, a little too good looking..."


...See: JFK

Posted by: Lindsay on November 18, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK
Does that make 667 the neighbor of the Beast?

Oh, don't get me started. But I will point out that 6.66 * 10^23 is Avogadro's number of the beast.

Posted by: noncarborundum on November 18, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Newsweek needs a better copy editor. This:

Liberty University's law school

should read:

Liberty "University"'s "law school" [sic]

Just saying.

Posted by: lambert strether on November 18, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the sum of the numbers in Roulette (1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 35 + 36) = 666! Is Las Vegas trying to tell us something?

Posted by: Neil B on November 18, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's law school, says he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, but he can see how others might.

I don't know enough about Staver to conclude that he's a nutbar douchebag, but I can see how others might.

Obama's own use of religious rhetoric belies his liberal positions on abortion and traditional marriage,

Because there's no possible way that REAL Xitans could be anything but bigoted right-wingers, just like Jesus was.

positions that "religious conservatives believe will threaten their freedom."

Because authoritarian bullies feel 'threatened' when other people live their lives in ways not conforming and controlled by them.


Posted by: Mike G on November 18, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Newsweek and Time left the reality based world a long time ago. They've been a leader/follower of the wingnut contingent for a coon's age because that is where they see their market. Lord knows why.

As for anyone, even the wingiest of wingnuts, believing that Obama is the Antichrist while George Bush lives, is functioning on a bare minimum of cerebral synapses. Looking at his record and personal history, if the descriptions of the Antichrist are at all accurate, then George Bush has to be the antichrist. No one else in the public eye even comes close.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 18, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

www.timecube.com

IM NOT NUTS! TIMECUBE WEBSITE IS FAMOUS! IT MAKES LOGICALLY COHERENT ARGUMENTS THAT ARE IRREFUTABLE BY "MAINSTREAM' SCIENCE! NEWSWEEK, DO AN ARTICLE ON 4-QUADRANT TRUTH OR EXPOSE YOURSELF AS MENTALLY SICK EVIL FRAUDS!

www.timecube.com

Posted by: timecube guy on November 18, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

I know the "mainstream" news mags have totally lost it, but this is really too much. I would be embarrassed to be a "Newsweak" subscriber. Hell, I'm not a subscriber and I'm embarrassed.

Posted by: Ed Sanders on November 18, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Purpose? The purpose of this is to try to get Obama killed. It's really no more complicated than that.

Posted by: expatjourno on November 19, 2008 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

On the night Obama won the election there were tens of thousands of hits on the internet under 'Obama Antichrist' This has never occured in any other election. That is probably the reason behind this article.

Although there were others considered the AC in the past: Ronald Wilson Reagan(666) JFK (666 votes in congress), etc. according to Christians none of these come close to the many characteristics Obama shares with the AC of the Bible. That's why Christians have their panties in a bunch over him.

Posted by: Sentone on November 20, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

666 refers to the Roman Emperor Nero. It isn't about a magical evil figure, just a human one. It's Jewish Gematria. So we could say bad things about him without the Romans knowing. Next time Christians want to understand their religion ask a Jew!

Posted by: EBG on November 21, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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