The dramatic upsurge during the last year or so of conservative use of the term “socialist” to describe Barack Obama, progressives generally, and such progressive goals as universal health care and carbon emissions limits, is usually attributed to a hyperbolic free-market mania that treats any public-sector activism as a way station to government direction of all economic activity.
That clearly is the predominant causal factor in latter-day red-baiting on the Right. But there’s another one as well: the determination of the pre-millenial faction of what’s left of the Christian Right to identify progressives with a one-world secularism that’s a sign of the rise of the Antichrist and the End Times.
You may recall the many hints dropped during last year’s presidential campaign by some Christian Right agitators that Barack Obama might be, well, if not the Antichrist himself, then maybe one of his agents.
Such “thinking” didn’t end with Election Day, and now some premillenialists are weaving together the global economic crisis, the interventionist policies of many Western governments, and the replacement of Bush-style unilateralism in Washington with Obama’s oft-repeated efforts to restore diplomacy and alliances as foreign policy tools, into Marks of a Red Beast.
Via that intrepid chronicler of the Christian Right, Sarah Posner, we are alerted to a special Easter Issue of the conservative tabloidy magazine Newsmax, which takes the temperature of conservative Christian activists on the question of whether the Second Coming is imminent.
While some Christian Right leaders (particularly those associated with postmillenialst theological traditions, like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land) quoted in this feature are quick to warn about the dangers of too much End Times speculation, others are not so reticent, and the prevailing theme is that global “socialism” of the mildly center-left nature could be, literally, the work of the devil. Check out this quote from Tim LaHaye, co-author of the bestelling “Left Behind” series of apocalytpic novels:
In an exclusive interview, LaHaye tells Newsmax: “What we see going on in the world is just like Jesus said — in the last days, perilous times will come. Well, they are perilous, not only in the political field. And socialism is sweeping the world. Even Newsweek magazine recently announced on its cover that ‘We Are All Socialists Now.’
“It’s a new thought, for the American people anyway. World socialism is the forerunner to the Antichrist kind of government that he is going to run during the Tribulation period.”
More ominous is Newsmax’s quotes from Fox’s Glenn Beck, who is now rivalling Rush Limbaugh as the most popular right-wing gabber in the country. Beck connects all the dots linking Obama, socialism, and the one-world agenda of the Antichrist:
America’s blatant move towards socialism has caught the eye of the world, especially those who love the idea of a one-world government. They think this could be their opportunity to achieve their goal, and they are attempting to cash in on socialism’s current favorable public view. The sad part is they are succeeding. The world views the European Union as a wild success and other leaders want to emulate the EU. Why do you think that Obama had such huge crowds in Germany? Because he thinks like they do….
The fact that, for the first time, Russia and Iran have alliances — something that has to happen for end-times prophecy to be fulfilled; America’s weakened standing in the world. America is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, implying that it would be crippled or taken out of the picture in some way.
For people like LaHaye and Beck, Obama’s foreign policy, and particularly his diplomatic initiatives towards Russia and Iran, are as significant as any of his domestic policies in signalling his alignment with Satan’s agenda. This is worth watching as the campaign of calumny, and in some cases demonization, against the 44th president continues.
I didn’t realize that Beck was part of the pre-millennial crowd, but reading further in the article you cite seems to suggest that his theology is heavily laced with stand-up comedy.
Consider the following excerpts:
“I absolutely believe that Christ is coming again — although I hope it’s not soon because I’m dreading the whole seven-year Tribulation thing, which is going to be very, very ugly. Think Helen Thomas naked.”
Will the United States be around to witness the Revelation, or will we be long gone by then?
“The United States will have to be diminished in some way… The way things are currently going — it looks like our best-case scenario for the future is “France West.” So we may be around, we will just have hairy armpits and we’ll all be wimps.”
Reinhold Niebuhr, he ain’t.