ABC's Good Morning America joined CNN in featuring a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East, by hosting the authors of the Left Behind Christian book series to discuss the issue.
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On July 27, ABC's Good Morning America joined CNN in featuring a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East. Interviewing Christian authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, co-host Robin Roberts asked: "You see what's going on: the bombing in Haifa and Israel and it's so close to the valley of Armageddon. And when you think about that, and people see this and think about [it], is it indeed Armageddon?" Jenkins replied that "it seems like we are heading toward something, and people want to know what it is and want to be ready." Roberts twice highlighted the authors' Left Behind series of books -- which use the Book of Revelation as a "framework" to tell a story of the End Times -- as "page-turners," and concluded the interview by saying: "[A]lways a pleasure to have you here and and for your insight." Throughout the interview, the onscreen text read: "Apocalypse Now: Is The End Near?"
As Media Matters for America documented, CNN has featured two recent segments on whether the current Middle East violence signifies the Rapture is nigh, airing on the July 24 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now and July 26 edition of Live From ... . The ABC and CNN segments come in the wake of considerable speculation by conservative media figures over whether current events offer signs of the End Times. During the CNN segment, Christian author Joel C. Rosenberg, who appeared with Jenkins, claimed: "I've been invited to the White House, Capitol Hill. Members of Congress, Israelis, Arab leaders all want to understand the Middle East through the lens of biblical prophecies." ABC's Roberts did not ask Jenkins or LaHaye if they had received similar invitations by the White House or Congress.
According to a January 28, 2004, Rolling Stone article, LaHaye "prodded the Rev. Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority" and co-founded the Council for National Policy, "a secretive group of wealthy donors that has funneled billions of dollars to right-wing Christian activists." LaHaye's wife, Beverly LaHaye, founded the conservative group Concerned Women for America.
From the July 27 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
ROBERTS: Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are America's favorite authors of the Apocalypse. Their Left Behind novels, which take biblical prophecies about the end of the world, translate them into fiction. You simply cannot put them down; they really are page-turners. Well, they have sold 62 million copies across the globe. And their new book is The Rapture [Tyndale House], and they both join us now. The book was released on 6/6/06, The Rapture. Good to see you both again.
JENKINS: Good to see you.
LaHAYE: Good to see you again.
ROBERTS: With everything that is going on, and we see your books are just -- as we said, are page-turners, there are DVDs, there are children's books. And now, tell me a little bit about The Rapture.
LaHAYE: The Rapture is the next historic event to take place in prophetic calendar of God, when Jesus shouts from Heaven and all Christians are taken up to be with him. And then the world goes into chaos, called a tribulation. And I've got to tell you, I hate to say this, but if we think we're in chaos now, the tribulation is many times worse.
ROBERTS: Jerry, you see the -- the same thing? I mean, a lot of people are talking about the times that we're living in right now, and [GMA co-host] Diane [Sawyer] said it as well. And there are so many people who go, "We're reading about this." This was -- this is not a surprise to some.
JENKINS: Yeah, people are scared to death about the future. I think they hear about fiction based on Bible prophecy, and it makes -- intrigues them. You know, what is going to happen? And we don't know when this is going to happen. Jesus even told his disciples that he didn't know but only the father knew. But sometime in the future, we expect this to happen. And all the chaos we see now, all the natural disasters getting worse, all these things are predicted in Scripture. So we're heading towards something.
ROBERTS: When we see what's going on in the Middle East, and we -- when we talked to you before, and there are tsunamis and Hurricane Katrina, and there are many people that believe it's just not by coincidence. How do you feel?
LaHAYE: Well, Jesus predicted it would be in this kind of a turmoil situation at the End Time. And Matthew 24, all of the discourse is very explicit in that regard. And so many of us believe this is all a precursor to the Rapture. And what we're trying to do is, the first book we wrote was called Left Behind, that's the series. We're trying to make sure that people accept Jesus while they have an opportunity so they don't be left behind. And the interesting thing, Robin, is that all across America, in fact around the world, many people are calling on the name of the Lord and being saved. Because there's no alternative. You either accept Jesus, or you're going to go through terrible times.
ROBERTS: As my mom often says, you better get right -- better get right in these times that we're living in.
ROBERTS: You see what's going on: the bombing in Haifa and Israel, and it's so close to the valley of Armageddon. And when you think about that and people see this and think about -- is it indeed Armageddon?
JENKINS: Well, we feel Armageddon comes later. But the big thing is, this is keeping the discussion on the table. And again, there have been wars and rumors of wars and nations rising against nations for 2,000 years. And so people say, "Well, haven't the end times been here all this time?" It does seem to be more elevated now. It seems like this is the most crucial time in the Middle East since the Six-Day War. And so as I say, it seems like we are heading toward something, and people want to know what it is, and they want to be ready.
ROBERTS: Despite the book being so -- the series being so incredibly popular, you know you have those people who are just going: "Come on. It's a war, it's been going on for centuries, and that's just how it is."
ROBERTS: And to say it is of a biblical proportion, to say this, that and the other, you know they just don't believe it.
LaHAYE: Well, that's true. But there are many people who recognize that the Bible has taught for over 2,500 years that the focus of the world would be on the Middle East. And the nations that are in conflict today are the very nations that are talked about in the Bible 2,500 years ago. And it's kind of scary if you aren't ready. Because you realize that something in this world is taking place, and we believe it's highly spiritual.
JENKINS: And there will always be detractors. Our feeling is, we're not trying to say that we are writing Scripture or that we know 100 percent exactly what's coming and when and how. We simply want people to know and to decide for themselves. And if they decide to scoff and laugh, you know, we still respect them. We still love them. We still care about them. We just want them to -- we just want to say, "Look, this is something that we see predicted and we think it's going to happen, and you need to decide for yourself."
ROBERTS: Do you think that the times we live in, because of the tsunamis and because of the war that's going on and what's happening in the Middle East, that's part of the reason for the popularity of this series? That if we were living in peaceful times, people wouldn't be drawn to your work?
LaHAYE: Very definitely. And I believe that people are looking for something. They want something tangible to put their faith in. Intuitively in the heart of every human being is the desire to live after death. And we have the answer, not from our words, but from the Bible. And we've just fictionalized it and made it so popular, it just caught on.
ROBERTS: It has caught on, over 60 million worldwide. Gentlemen, always a pleasure to have you here and for your insight, we really do appreciate it. And you can read excerpts from The Rapture at our website at abcnews.com.