For centuries, religious hucksters have made hay (read: money) by convincing people that they have specific insight into when the world will end. (Hint: it's always just around the corner.)
Last week on his Fox News program, Glenn Beck hosted one such person. Author Joel Richardson was invited on the program to add some context to the events in the Middle East. During his appearance, Richardson mostly sat idly by while Beck tied Islam to the Antichrist, and Beck never pressed him on his actual beliefs on the end times.
Had Beck done so, his viewers may have heard Richardson discuss how Satan is using Islam as the "primary vehicle" to fulfill Biblical prophecy - an idea fleshed out in Richardson's book, Islamic Antichrist, to which Beck gave free publicity - or been treated to Richardson's explanation of how a "prophetess" foretold of Richardson's end times wisdom.
Via Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch, it seems Beck will continue to use his Fox show as a platform for people who view current events through the prism of end times prophecy. This Thursday, according to a press release from Concerned Women for America, Beck will host author Tim LaHaye.
For years, LaHaye has suggested that we are quickly approaching Biblical Armageddon. He's even made a career out of it - writing the enormously popular and lucrative Left Behind series of novels and several "nonfiction" books based on this premise.
Beck has previously hosted LaHaye to discuss end times on his CNN program.
Beck opened the March 30, 2007 edition of his CNN program, by asking if the apocalypse is "almost upon us":
BECK (voice-over): Is the apocalypse almost upon us?
REV. PAT ROBERTSON, "700 CLUB": The Bible does indicate such a time will happen in the end of time, and could this be it? It might be.
BECK: Are the cataclysmic events of 9/11, Katrina, tsunami, famine and the threat of global pandemic signs we`re living in the end times?
One world government, one world economy, one world vision. Are we creeping even closer to the Book of Revelations' countdown to doomsday? And does an age-old prophecy foretell a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel as well as a nuclear showdown? Apocalypse now? [CNN Headline News, 3/30/07, accessed via Nexis]
Introducing LaHaye and fellow guest Joel Roseberg that night, Beck said that "this is a show that I've wanted to do for a while, but quite honestly, what stops me from doing it is people think I'm nuts."
Based on how much he has been dabbling in end times theorizing lately, I guess he's no longer worried about that.
Last week, a poll from Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of GOP primary voters think Obama wasn't born in America.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who has previously criticized media and polling outlets for covering birthers, downplayed the poll results and suggested that the attention paid to birthers is part of an effort to "marginalize Republican opposition in 2012 by painting them as nuts."
During an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Karl Rove endorsed this theory and said that "this is the White House stategy. They love this."
But Fox is trying to have it both ways.
While network personalities blame the birther "obsession" on "the media" and the White House, Fox News and its affiliated websites regularly dabble in birtherism.
For example, if you head over to Fox Nation right now, you will see the following story on their front page:
Fox Nation excerpts and links to a story from fringe conspiracy/birther website WorldNetDaily. The WND article promotes that site's ongoing "Where's the Birth Certificate?" billboard campaign and celebrates the recent poll numbers from PPP.
Who knew that the White House was in charge of posting stories to Fox's websites?
Author Joel Richardson has a long history of antagonism toward Islam, having written in his book The Islamic Antichrist that Islam will be the "primary vehicle" "used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible." He has also agreed with the Florida pastor who planned to burn Qurans that "Islam is of the devil" and written a column headlined "What Obama and the Antichrist have in common."
During his month-long public meltdown over Egypt, Glenn Beck has somehow managed to become progressively more incoherent -- moving from fearmongering about an Islamic caliphate and Code Pink to claiming that the Bush State Department was "in bed" with "communists" and "radical Islamists" to warning his viewers not to do Google searches, because Google is "in bed with the government" and is "working way too close with hardcore leftists."
The journey down the rabbit hole will continue tonight, when Beck will host End Times-obsessed author Joel Richardson, according to WorldNetDaily, which published his most recent book. Beck previously featured Richardson as an expert in his documentary Rumors of War.
In 2009, Richardson published The Islamic Antichrist, in which he puts forth his theory that "Islam is indeed the primary vehicle that will be used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible about the future political/religious/military system of the Antichrist that will overwhelm the entire world just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ."
Here he is explaining the book's thesis at the end of its first chapter:
So maybe you now agree that it is important to become informed regarding Islam, but you may wonder why it is important to understand Islamic eschatology specifically. That's a good question. Please think through some of these points carefully: The Bible makes it clear that the Devil's primary plan for the last days has been, for the past few thousand years, to raise up two men, the Antichrist and the False Prophet, as his primary instruments to deceive the inhabitants of the earth. How do you suppose that Satan has planned to include the world's 1.5 billion Muslims in his grand end-time deception? Did Satan fail to foresee and strategize regarding the global spread of Islam? Or has Satan included the Muslims of the world in his end-time strategy? Will Islam, the world's third monotheistic religion, also undergo the persecution of Satan along with Christians and Jews as they all resist the Antichrist together? Or will Islam -- the religion that prides itself on resisting any form of idolatry -- simply submit to a demonic and false religious leader without putting up any real fight? For years, I questioned the Lord about these issues. In time, as my knowledge of Islam deepened, the answers to my questions became very clear. This book is my attempt to share with you what I have learned. I understand that this may sound like a strong statement to make, but I believe that the information presented in this book will establish the fact that Islam is indeed the primary vehicle that will be used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible about the future political/religious/military system of the Antichrist that will overwhelm the entire world just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. [The Islamic Antichrist, Pages 11-12 (italics in original)]
One thing you learn when covering Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft is to never declare anything he does "rock bottom," because he always manages to find a new low.
Today, he blamed CBS reporter Lara Logan and "her liberal belief system" for her sexual assault and beating in Egypt. In a post headlined "After Sexual Assault & Beating... CBS Reporter Logan Learns That Political Correctness Is a Killer" Hoft writes [emphasis in original]:
Lara Logan is lucky she's alive.
Her liberal belief system almost got her killed on Friday. This talented reporter will never be the same.
Why did this attractive blonde female reporter wander into Tahrir Square last Friday? Why would she think this was a good idea? Did she not see the violence in the square the last three weeks? Did she not see the rock throwing? Did she miss the camels? Did her colleagues tell her about the Western journalists who were viciously assaulted on the Square? Did she forget about the taunts from the Egyptian thugs the day before? What was she thinking? Was it her political correctness that about got her killed? Did she think things would be different for her?
Earlier today, we documented the unfortunate wave of victim-blaming and ugliness Logan's sexual assault has spawned. Add Hoft to the list.
UPDATE:Hoft has updated his post with a response to Media Matters, saying that "the post stands":
UPDATE: Sorry Media Matters the post stands.
The far left does not like it when their tenets are questioned. It must be hard when someone holds a mirror up and you see that your twisted agenda has caused such havoc and pain around the world. These warped individuals must have missed that day of school when they talked about playing with fire.
One final question- Does Media Matters ever post anything that is not a dishonest smear on their website?
It's important to remember when watching conservatives discuss the Middle East that many of them see events over there on a slightly larger scale than world politics. Back in 2006, numerous conservative media figures -- including Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson -- used unrest in the Middle East to question whether we were facing an "impending Apocalypse."
In fact, prominent conservatives regularly dabble in Biblical Armageddon soothsaying. In recent weeks, Beck has hosted End Times-obsessed Joel Rosenberg to forward Apocalyptic talk about an Islamic Caliphate. (Beck previously hosted Rosenberg on his CNN show to examine "end of days scenarios.")
As we documented, last year prominent conservative pastor John Hagee released a book positing that we are fast-approaching Biblical Armageddon. Beck endorsed Hagee's "excellent" book, and said that "a lot of the pieces that have never been here for the prophecy are here now."
In this vein, Fox Nation is currently asking if a video of the Egyptian protests shows evidence of the "Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse":
In the wake of Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Bill Kristol calling out Glenn Beck for his "hysteria" over Egypt, prominent conservatives have been choosing sides.
Beck has responded by lashing out at critics -- including telling people that call him "crazy" because of his New World Order theory to "go to hell" -- and wrongly insisting that articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have proven him right.
This weekend was not a particularly good one for Team Beck - as we noted, Bill O'Reilly and several Fox News guests directly contradicted Beck's Egypt theories on Friday night.
During his regular "At Your Beck and Call" segment, O'Reilly challenged Beck, going so far as to say "I don't see it," and adding that "there's no evidence that says I'm not right."
But while prominent conservatives distanced themselves from Beck's incoherence, Beck found solid support from a couple attendees at CPAC.
WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi, whose love for conspiracy theories leads him to say things like Obama "has stolen the identity of a natural born citizen" and is "using someone else's Social Security number," said that he and WND have "supported Glenn Beck" and that "Glenn Beck is right on it." Corsi referenced a piece by fellow WND writer Aaron Klein, in which Klein wrote that he was "compelled to join Glenn Beck's side":
Fox Nation frequently dabbles in race-baiting, but rarely are they as overt about it as they are with the following "story" that is currently featured on their home page:
Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal article that Fox Nation excerpts and links to does not share the same headline. The article, headlined "Big Union to Step Up Recruiting," is about how the SEIU is increasing recruiting efforts in various cities around the country in order to "counter political pressure on public-sector unions."
While WSJ reports that the campaign will focus "mostly" on recruiting "low-wage minority workers," nowhere does the article mention Obama (or a "Minority Army," for that matter.) It's focused on the SEIU trying to mobilize people living in cities that "have high concentrations of SEIU members and are in states where governors have proposed cutting benefits to public-sector workers amid worries over pension costs and broader budget woes."
This is just blatant race-baiting, and based on the reactions from their unhinged commenters, the article has served its intended purpose.
Last week, Glenn Beck unfurled an elaborate, nonsensical conspiracy theory purporting to explain the uprisings in Egypt.
As we documented, over the course of the week, he connected the events in Egypt to the AFL-CIO, Code Pink, the Tides Foundation's Drummond Pike, Frances Fox Piven, Marxist communists (not to be confused with Islamic socialists, who are also involved), ACORN co-founder Wade Rathke, the Muslim Brotherhood, food prices, and Bill Ayers. (Last night, Beck confirmed that our description of his theory was accurate, though he protested that it's "not a conspiracy.")
Much of his theory revolved around how people on the left are supposedly working with Islamists who want to install a caliphate in the Middle East.
For a brief sampling, here's a segment from Beck's show from last Monday, where he laid out part of his caliphate theory.
In response to Beck's attempt to explain what's going on in Egypt, Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote that Beck has been "marginalizing himself" through his "hysteria," and said that his rantings recall Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.:
Now, people are more than entitled to their own opinions of how best to accomplish that democratic end. And it's a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice.
But hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He's marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s. [The Weekly Standard, 2/14/11]
Unsurprisingly, Beck and his co-hosts responded by lashing out at Kristol, suggesting that he hasn't done "a minute of research" into the issue and joking about "dumbing it down" for Kristol's benefit.
As their feud continues, several conservative commentators are picking sides. Salon's Alex Pareene got the ball rolling on trying to separate commentators into "Team Beck" and "Team Kristol" - or, as he put it, the "crazy right-wingers against merely nutty."
Here's how things are shaping up so far.
Conservatives have spent the last several years trying to cast doubt on President Obama's Christianity, often by suggesting he is a secret Muslim or claiming that he is a non-believer pretending to be Christian for political benefit. Sadly, their smear campaign has been effective - Pew reported last year that only 34 percent of Americans believe Obama is Christian (compared to nearly 18 percent who think he is Muslim.)
You might think it would be difficult for conservative smear merchants to continue to cast doubt on Obama's faith when he calls Jesus Christ "my lord and Savior," like he did at yesterday's annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.. But, as "news" outlets like Fox Nation have shown time and again, they have absolutely no standards and are willing to manufacture scandals out of thin air when reality doesn't coincide with their chosen narrative.
If you visit Fox Nation right now, you are greeted by the following story on their front page:
If you follow the link, you are taken to a page on Fox Nation that claims Obama "misquoted a familiar Bible verse" during his address yesterday:
President Obama misquoted a familiar Bible verse during a faith-based address at the National Prayer Breakfast.
"Those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint," the president said during a speech to several thousand people at the breakfast.
But the actual passage, from Isaiah 40:31, states: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Somewhat ironically, while Fox Nation appears to be positioning themselves as the arbiters of authentic Christianity, they seem unfamiliar with the fact that there is more than one version of the Bible.
This would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
Most likely, they won't bother to correct their story, and their goal will be accomplished: the readers that trust them will remember the time Obama "misquoted" the Bible, some more people will question the authenticity of Obama's faith, and the smear machine will move on.
Some readers have correctly pointed out that while the New International Version is closer to what Obama said than the King James passage Fox Nation used is, Obama didn't quote word-for-word from the NIV either.
The NIV says: "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Other versions of the Bible are also pretty close to what Obama said.
Here's the Holman Christian Standard Bible, for example: "but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint."
So while Fox's criticism of Obama is still wrong, I should not have asserted that Obama was directly quoting from the NIV.