Posts Tagged “anti-christ”

jesus-facepalmChristians have lived in terror of “antichrists” ever since the author of the Johannine epistles coined the term (αντιχριστοι or antichristoi in the original Greek), around the turn of the 2nd century CE. At the moment, it’s most common for Christians to view the Beast of Revelation as “‘the’ Antichrist,” even though Revelation doesn’t make that connection (in fact, Revelation doesn’t contain the word “antichrist” at all).

But that doesn’t mean Christians can’t manage to find “antichrists” elsewhere, and it doesn’t mean they’re not willing to go as far as they can in order to fight them. A recent chilling example of this phenomenon happened in Chile, as reported by The Santiago Times (WebCite cached article):

Investigative Police (PDI) arrested four people Thursday and are looking for the remaining members of a cult that sacrificed a three-day-old last November in the Valparaíso Region.

The ongoing investigation by the PDI alleges that 35-year-old Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, cult leader and the deceased’s presumed father, believed the baby was the “antichrist” and needed to be sacrificed to stop the world’s presumed end on Dec. 21, 2012.

In an interview with Chilean news outlet 24 Horas, PDI representative Miguel Ampuero said that none of the current detainees — including the infant’s 25-year-old mother — have shown any remorse for what has happened, believing the sacrifice “saved the world.”

These fine representatives of “the Religion of Love” certainly outdid themselves in exhibiting “compassion” for this little baby:

“The baby was naked,” Ampuero said. “They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits, they threw her on the bonfire alive.”

The ST article explains a little about the history of this sect, called Antares de la Luz, including that some of its members are professionals. These people are not entirely stupid, and don’t have any rational excuse for their murderous behavior. Only a delusionally-hyperreligious mind could assume a newborn baby could possibly be a danger to anyone.

Photo credit: Oloremo, via Flickr.

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Good, Bad. I'm the Jesus with the Gun.Texas authorities may not care much about the Christian militia that’s running amok in Amarillo, TX as I blogged already. But federal authorities today went after a Christian militia group operating in multiple states, as ABC News reports:

The FBI said Sunday that agents conducted weekend raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and arrested at least three people, and a militia leader in Michigan said the target of at least one of the raids was a Christian militia group.

Federal warrants were sealed, but a federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of those arrested face gun charges and officials are pursuing other suspects.

This other, unrelated militia leader in Michigan offered some additional information:

Michael Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, said one of his team leaders got a frantic phone call Saturday evening from members of Hutaree, a Christian militia group, who said their property in southwest Michigan was being raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“They said they were under attack by the ATF and wanted a place to hide,” Lackomar said. “My team leader said, ‘no thanks.'”

The team leader was cooperating with the FBI on Sunday, Lackomar said. He said SMVM wasn’t affiliated with Hutaree, which states on its Web site to be “prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren’t.”

It’s not clear to me who or what this “Hutaree Militia” is. According to their own Web site — which I will not link here — the name “hutaree” means “Christian warrior.” I’m not sure what language that is. As made famous by a John Wayne film by that title, “hatari” means “danger” in Swahili. But that particular movie doesn’t seem to have any connection with this Christian militia, so I suspect it’s a word they made up for themselves. In any event, they use scripture to justify their warlike posture, such as:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt 10:34)

They also cite a different scripture as support for their movement:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)

But that particular message is a pacifist one, intended to presage Jesus’ own sacrifice of himself (which happened later in that gospel), and is not warlike at all.

Another odd thing about them is that their avowed list of “information sources” includes mainstream and not-very-unusual outlets such as the Jerusalem Post and the Financial Times; yet it also includes avowedly and coercively religious sites such as World Net Daily, CNS News, and Jack Van Impe Ministries. It’s safe to say these guys are more likely to act on what they read from their co-religionists at WND than they are to act on anything they read in the FT.

Yet another aspect of this group that puzzles me is, how — exactly — do they think arming themselves and going on military exercises is a way to obey the Beatitudes, which can easily be found in the same Bibles they’re able to quote:

He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:2-10)

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (Lk 6:20-26)

I think it’s safe to say they never had any intention of ever obeying the Beatitudes. This makes them hypocritical Christians, who carve up their own Holy Bible to suit their wishes, waving around the snippets that appear to support them, and shredding the parts that condemn them … such as:

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Mt 26:52)

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum.

Photo credit: negatendo.

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workBack in August I blogged about the explosive Youtube video claiming to have proven that Barack Obama is the Antichrist. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Strange Bedfellows blog has details of a Harris poll showing that this belief is held by a significant number of Americans (WebCite cached article):

… Full results are expected tomorrow, but preliminary findings were released in The Daily Beast by John Avlon, whose book “Wingnuts” details the hyper-partisanship that has swept America since 2008. …

And 24 percent of Republicans, and 14 percent overall, agree that Obama “may be the antiChrist.”

The other ridiculous, juvenile and untruthful beliefs that many Americans have about their president are:

  • 45% of Republicans and 25% of Americans think Obama was born abroad

  • 57% of Republicans and 32% of Americans think he is a Muslim

  • 38% of Republicans and 20% of Americans say Obama is “doing many things Hitler did.”

Look, idiots, see if you can get this: Obama is not a Muslim, but a Christian (see FactCheck and Politifact, cached articles here and here respectively). Obama was born in Hawai’i, not some other country, and has proven it (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here). Also, both Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler were heads of state, so I’m sure you will be able to find similarities in their behavior … but confusing the two is irrational and illogical.

It’s time for the Right in the US — especially the Religious Right — to grow the hell up and stop lying about people they don’t like just because they don’t like them. No one says you have to be happy that Barack Obama is the president … but not wanting him to be president doesn’t grant anyone license to lie about him. Are we clear on that?

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

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YOU'RE NEXTThere are certain Bible passages which have caused much more mayhem than others. Exodus 22:18, for example, has directly caused the deaths of many women over the centuries. Matthew 28:18-20 led to forced conversions and uncountable violence in order to “spread the Gospel.” These days, Leviticus 18:22 is making life difficult for gays.

Another passage that appears to have inordinate control over many — especially of the Protestant-fundamentalist “end times” type of Christian — is Revelation 13:11-18, which is as follows:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.

He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,

and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom: Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

This has spawned vast amounts of speculation as to who “the Beast” will be: Among the foolish speculations was that it was the assassinated Anwar Sadat, who defied this prediction by refusing to rise from the dead; then speculation was that “the Beast” would be whoever headed the European Common Market once it had ten member countries, although this too is now out of the question since it morphed into the European Union with many more members than 10); and many more guesses have been made … all of which have failed utterly. I will set aside the fact that, while most believers generally speak of “the Beast of Revelation,” the text actually talks about two separate “Beasts.”

At any rate, in addition to the bilge and kerfluffle that have erupted over the years concerning the identity and nature of “the Beast,” another matter of speculation has been exactly what would be “the Mark of the Beast,” and central to that is that it will be required for commerce under “the Beast’s” rule. That standard UPC codes appear to contain three 6s in their sequencing has been a source of continuing talk among the “Armageddon-worshipping” Christians. Of course, this is not actually the case, but when you’re obsessing over Armageddon, appearances are more than enough. I’m not sure what barcodes on products have to do with “the Mark of the Beast” which supposedly will be placed on people, but that too appears not to be a concern.

At any rate, we finally arrive at the point of this blog post, which is that there is a fundamentalist Christian who believes she has figured out what “the Mark of the Beast” is, and her contention has spawned a lawsuit. Wired Threat Level reports on this bizarre development, which apparently is less unique than I had thought:

A 22-year veteran kindergarten teacher in the Texas Bible Belt could lose her job for refusing, on religious grounds, to give fingerprints under a state law requiring them.

The evangelical Christian, Pam McLaurin, is fighting a looming suspension, claiming that fingerprinting amounts to the “Mark of the Beast,” and hence is a violation of her First Amendment right to practice her religion. Her case is similar to a lawsuit by a group of Michigan farmers, some of them Amish, challenging rules requiring the tagging of livestock with RFID chips, saying the devices are also the devil’s mark. …

McLaurin’s lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency cites various passages of Revelation, the final book of The Bible:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand and on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.… Then a third angel followed them saying with a loud voice — if anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.… He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Her attorney, Scott Skelton, said his client believes that the computerized fingerprinting, in which her fingerprints will be stored in a database, is the mark addressed in Revelation. The teacher does not believe that it is merely coincidence that Revelation says only those with the ‘mark on his forehead or on his hand’ will be able to buy or sell, since only those teachers who comply with fingerprinting requirements will keep their jobs, he said.

I wasn’t aware that anyone could opt to have their fingerprints on their foreheads instead of their fingertips, but hey … once again, those Armageddon-worshippers never let little things like facts get in the way of their paranoid thinking.

Despite the lawsuit, the school district still thinks highly of Ms McLaurin:

The Big Sandy Independent School District, where the woman teaches, is located about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Wayne Haglund, the school district’s lawyer, described McLaurin is a “valued member of the faculty and one of the best teachers we have.”

The problem with this “fingerprints are ‘the Mark of the Beast'” scenario, of course, is that it doesn’t work, in the face of what the Bible says about “the Mark,” which is that “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast” (Rev 13:17). Clearly the implication is that “the Mark” — whatever it’s supposed to have been — will be optional. People may choose to get it — and then be able to buy and sell — or not get it, and not be allowed to buy and sell. Fingerprints, however, are not “optional.” Every human being has fingerprints. (Except maybe the men in black, at least, according to the movie.)

Is it really a good idea to allow someone this fact-deprived and rationality-challenged to teach children? I think not.

Hat tip: The Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds.

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The idea that Barack Obama is the Antichrist (which I blogged about before) is one of those “crank” notions that apparently refuses to die. According to Public Policy Polling, nearly 1/3 of New Jersey Republicans believe Obama could be — or truly is — the Antichrist. Rachel Maddow recently had Frank Schaeffer — the evangelical preacher and former Religious Right activist — on her show to discuss this. I have rarely seen anyone express the problem of Christian fundamentalism any more concisely than Shaeffer does here. He posits that these folks constitute an American subculture of their own, complete with its own customs and suppositions (transcript courtesy of Alternet; a Youtube video of this is below):

But I think the larger point this brings up is that the mainstream—not just media, but culture—doesn‘t sufficiently take stock of the fact that within our culture, we have a subculture which is literally a fifth column of insanity, that is bred from birth through home school, Christian school, evangelical college, whatever, to reject facts as a matter of faith. And so, this substitute for authentic historic Christianity …

Stunning, yet true … Christian fundamentalists do — in fact — utterly reject all facts that even appear to have the possibility of refuting their beliefs. They do not care what it is, they just refuse to accept it — reflexively and without hesitation. They view “facts” as impediments to belief … hurdles they must jump on the road of faith, if you will, or tests of faith thrown in front of them (by God or by Satan).

But Schaeffer doesn’t just leave it at that, he continues, explaining things even better:

And when you see a bunch of people going around thinking that our president is the anti-Christ, you have to draw one of two conclusions. Either these are racists looking for any excuse to level the next accusation or they‘re beyond crazy? And I think beyond crazy is a better explanation.

And that evangelical subculture has rotted the brain of the United States of America and we have a big slice of our population waiting for Jesus to come back. They look forward to Armageddon. Good news is bad news to them.

When we talk about the “Left Behind” series of books that I talk about in my book “Crazy for God,” what we‘re talking about is a group of people that are resentful because they‘ve been left behind by modernity, by science, by education, by art, by literature. The rest of us are getting on with our lives. These people are standing on the hilltop waiting for the end.

And this is a dangerous group of people to have as neighbors, and they‘re our national neighbors. And this is the source of all of these insanities that we see leveled at the president. One way or another they go back to this little evangelical subculture. It‘s a disaster. …

There is no end to this stuff. Why? Because this subculture has as its fundamentalist faith that they distrust facts per se. They believe in a younger of 6,000 years old with dinosaurs cavorting with human beings. They think that whether it‘s economic news or news from the Middle East, it all has to do with the end of time and Christ returns. This is la-la land.

And the Republican Party is totally enthralled to this subculture to the extent that there is no Republican Party. There is a fundamentalist subculture which has become a cult. It‘s fed red meat by the pawns like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other people who are just not terribly bright themselves and they are talking to even stupider people. That‘s where we‘re at. That‘s where all of this is coming from.

Schaeffer has a little advice for the Republican party, too:

And until we move past these people—and let me add as a former lifelong Republican—until the Republican leadership has the guts to stand up and say it would better—it would be better not to have a Republican Party than have a party that caters to the village idiot, there‘s going to be no end in sight. …

Look, in the year 2000 I worked for John McCain, to try to get him elected in the primaries instead of George Bush. But John McCain sold out by nominating Sarah Palin who comes directly from the heart of this movement and carries with her all that baggage. So, he sold out. I don‘t see anybody on the Republican side of things these days who has the moral standing to provide real leadership, or who will risk their position to do so.

I agree with Schaeffer on this … unfortunately there are no serious, credible, competent Republican leaders capable of seizing the reins of the party and casting off the fundamentalist subculture. At the moment, this “lunatic fringe” of furious and often armed wing-nuts is their sole source of political power (since they no longer hold the White House, Congress, or a majority of state houses or governorships). The GOP does not believe it can afford to jettison them. Of course, if they did, they would widen their appeal immensely among the 75% or so of the US which is not enslaved to religious fundamentalism … and in so doing they might acquire political power they currently don’t have. But, to their own and the country’s detriment, they staunchly refuse to take “the leap of faith” required to find out.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

Lastly, here is Maddow’s interview of Schaeffer, courtesy of Youtube:

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All right, folks. It’s official. President Barack Obama is the Antichrist! Here’s the earth-shattering story (locally cached version of page):

Did Jesus actually reveal name of the ‘antichrist’?

Viral video makes Hebrew word connection to latest White House occupant

For centuries, many have wondered about the identity of a biblical leader who will do Satan the devil’s bidding, trying to thwart the plans of Jesus Christ shortly before His prophesied return to Earth.

That character has come to be known as “the antichrist,” even though the Bible never uses that word to describe any single person.

Now, after endless speculation suggesting Presidents John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush could possibly be the End Times Bad Boy, there’s a new viral video placing the current occupant of the White House into the club.

An American Christian has produced a brief film for YouTube that connects one statement by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke to President Barack Obama.

That’s right. According to this “World Net Daily exclusive,” and a viral video on the Internet, Barack Obama is the Antichrist.

I’ll leave aside the fact that these translations of Obama’s name into Biblical languages is more than a little bit off. I’ll leave aside the fact that World Net Daily is an instrument of dominionism and not very credible. And I’ll leave aside that “viral videos” are not exactly known to be bastions of truth.

I will, rather, leave it up to you to decide what the truth is, here.

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