Newsweek publishes article on purported debate over whether "Obama [is] the Antichrist"

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

In a Newsweek article headlined "Is Obama the Antichrist?" senior editor Lisa Miller treated as newsworthy purported debate among some "conservative Christians" over whether President-elect Barack Obama is "the Antichrist." In doing so, she gave credibility to the views of RaptureReady.com editor and founder Todd Strandberg, who has, among other things, smeared gays and lesbians, Islam, progressives, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In a November 15 Newsweek article headlined "Is Obama the Antichrist?" senior editor Lisa Miller treated as newsworthy purported debate among some "conservative Christians" over whether President-elect Barack Obama is "the Antichrist." In doing so, Miller gave credibility to the views of RaptureReady.com editor and founder Todd Strandberg who has, among other things, smeared gays and lesbians, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For example, Strandberg has written that Rev. Jerry Falwell correctly blamed 9-11 on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, [and] People for the American Way," and in January of 2006, Strandberg wrote that "Satan is the true god of the Hajj," the pilgrimage to Mecca that is a central part of Islamic faith.

In a November 18 post, Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen wrote of Miller's piece: "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." Benen later stated: "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."

In the Newsweek article, Miller reported:

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.

In addition to failing to mention Strandberg's smears, Miller did not note that an October 31 Salt Lake Tribune article reported that, "In his 22 years working on Rapture Ready, Strandberg has seen an 'avalanche' of anti-Christ suggestions, including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Obama doesn't fit the bill, he says, but he could be a type of 'anti-Christ,' which simply means too many people see him as a replacement for Jesus."

Strandberg has also made repeated anti-GLBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-progressive statements over the years. For example:

  • In a September 24, 2001, commentary, Strandberg agreed with Falwell's statement that "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way" "helped [9-11] happen":

One of the most asked questions of the past couple weeks has been, "Was this terrorist attack a Judgment from God?" I would put the answer as being most likely - Yes.

Jerry Falwell, once again, brought embarrassment to the cause of Christ when he first correctly laid the blame at the feet of immoral groups in America, but then he cowardly retreated when the press put fire to his feet.

Here is what Falwell said on The 700 Club:

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Here is what Falwell later told ABC News:

"I do not believe they endanger America. I misspoke totally and entirely."

In Jerry Falwell's world it would appear truth depends greatly on how the liberal media views your theology. I've said it in the past, because this man has a gift for repeatedly putting his foot in his own mouth, I think he should decline from making public statements.

  • In a January 16, 2006, commentary discussing reports of mass deaths and injuries during the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj, Strandberg stated that "Satan is the true god of the Hajj." From Strandberg's piece:

Considering that mass death stampedes are a rarity, their frequency in Mina defies logical explanation. I don't recall hearing of a regular body clean up after partygoers celebrate the New Year in Times Square, New York, or after national sports championships. It could be noted that these events even have an added danger because of widespread alcohol consumption.

I firmly believe the devil is the reason Islamic pilgrims are trampled to death with such strange regularity.

Because Satan is the true god of the Hajj, one would think he would want the pilgrimage to be a smoothly run operation. The ironic twist of having people die during the stoning ritual apparently is just too tempting for Satan and his host of fallen angels to pass up.

In response to the latest loss of life, the Saudis have announced plans for further modifying the site in the coming years to allow some 500,000 pilgrims an hour to carry out the stoning. I think they could expand that number to a million, and people will still be going home in body bags. Nothing will change until Muslims realize something is fundamentally wrong with their whole belief system.

  • In a September 24, 2001, commentary, Strandberg wrote that, "Instead of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks being a huge black eye to Islam, to my amazement, I'm seeing the resulting PR campaign as being used as a net positive. Muslim web sites are seeing heavy traffic, mosques are opening their doors to the public, and Islamic clerics are being invited to interfaith prayer services." He later stated: "Despite the overwhelming contradictions between Islam and Christianity the Antichrist will someday join together all faiths into one super religion that will have him as the supreme leader. The oddity that Islam did not suffer the common backlash of hatred that normally follows any similar type of incident indicates to me the Harlot Church of Revelation must not be too far off."
  • In a November 19, 2001, commentary, Strandberg embraced Rev. Franklin Graham's statement that, "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion." Strandberg wrote, "I was quite surprised to read these comments made by Franklin Graham. I wasn't amazed at all by the remarks themselves. I agree totally with him that Islam is an evil and wicked religion. My astonishment was that he stood by his comments."
  • In a January 21, 2002, commentary titled "Is AIDS A Curse From God?" Strandberg wrote, "I know science doesn't see in terms of the supernatural, but it does seem inescapable to me that AIDS is an unrelenting scourge, and there doesn't appear to be anything man can do about eradicating it through normal medical means." He continued, "Maybe it's time we started looking at it as being a judgment from the All Mighty. It is common knowledge that 95 percent of the time the virus is spread through some type of immoral act. Men simply refuse to hear any talk about sin being the primary root of this plague."
  • In a November 10 commentary discussing Obama's November 4 election victory, Strandberg wrote that "it's unlikely that Obama will be the antichrist" but later said that Americans, in electing Obama, chose to move more rapidly "towards the end." Strandberg added, "[I]t's time for prophecy-minded Christians to fasten their seat belts":

At this point, I think it's unlikely that Obama will be the antichrist. The beast of Revelation will come out Europe, and he will be a man of profound political skills.

What makes Obama potentially important to the end time is not the fact that he will be the most socially liberal president in our nation's history; I think his prophetic significance will center on how he handles our relationship with the state of Israel.

[...]

The global financial crisis is rapidly pushing the world towards the one-world economic system the Bible predicts. Later this month, several key nations are going to come together for another strategy summit.

I don't mean to pick on Obama before he has even taken office. I believe we are so close to the tribulation hour, there is a good reason to be apprehensive about policies he will seek to implement. During the campaign, I thought it was strange that one man could be friends with so many people with radical political views.

Prophetic events have progressed along so far, the only real choice we had between John McCain and Barack Obama in the election was the speed at which we would choose to move towards the end. Now that America has selected the more rapid option, it's time for prophecy-minded Christians to fasten their seat belts.

I don't see anything shocking in last week's election. I do believe strongly that a dark demonic cloud has swept over the land, but this is how we should expect the end times to play out. And, I foresee more negative events to come. The only thing that worries me is the Christians who fail to see the danger that comes from prophecy being fulfilled in our day.

  • In his October 20 commentary warning his readers that Democrats could win a congressional "super-majority" in the November 4 elections, Strandberg wrote that "Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] is the representative of America's Sodom and Gomorrah: San Francisco. I doubt the gay lobby will have any trouble getting her support." He later listed "just five" of the "very long list of liberal proposals that they [Democrats] would love to see become part of the law of the land," including:

- Union supremacy - Unions have been in decline for several decades. One of the key reasons is that they have a negative impact on business productivity. In a highly competitive world, unionized firms tend to fall behind. Democrats love unions because they are a good way to control large blocks of people with promises of government incentives.

- Medicare for all - The U.S. is already facing a calamity from the future entitlements promised to the baby boom generation. That bill will amount to $44 trillion. The idea of expanding the scope of Medicare makes me wonder if the Democrats are part of a secret plan to bankrupt this nation.

- Homosexual rights - Gays already have equal rights. The next step in this moral slide would be to make this sin protected from rebuke. In many European nations, it is a hate crime to quote the Bible's view of homosexuality.

He then wrote: "One of the disadvantages of being close to the time of the rapture is that we may witness some rather shocking changes in our form of government. If liberals are swept into super-majority power, there will be nothing to bar them from enacting these proposals. We can take comfort in knowing we will soon be rescued by a special Someone who will stand solidly for liberty and righteousness."

  • In a November 27, 2006, commentary, Strandberg criticized Pastor Rick Warren for allegedly saying during a trip to Syria that "he could find no persecution there of Christians or Jews. He also said he could find no evidence of extremism or terrorism in Syria." Strandberg wrote that Warren had responded to WorldNetDaily.com founder Joseph Farah's criticism of statements Warren made during his Syria trip by saying, "As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Oxford Analytica, I might know as much about the Middle East as you." Strandberg wrote, "I found this remark hilarious because in defending himself he admits to being a member of two organizations that are known for being anti-Christ and supportive of a one-world government." Strandberg later stated:

If Warren understood Bible prophecy, he might not be in such hot water. Some day, Syria will be part of a surprise attack against Israel. His trip can only help embolden Israel's enemy into making its move.

Any leader who rejects prophecy runs the risk of becoming an active player in Satan's end-time plan. Warren is currently promoting a global peace plan, which is the same ploy the Antichrist will use to deceive the world.

  • In an undated post on his website titled "Satan's Little Helpers" that has been there since September 26, 2000, Strandberg warns readers that, while Satan can use dictators to control countries that have them, "In the 'free world,' Satan has found the liberal media makes for an effective tool for guiding and controlling society." Strandberg later stated: "When Jesus Christ returns to earth, He'll cast the liberal media into the pit of darkness. In hell, members of the media won't be harassed by us Christians, so they'll have the freedom to follow whatever news stories they choose." From Strandberg's piece:

Although Satan has a host of demonic angels throughout the world, there is one area to which the devil finds himself mostly restricted. Satan and company are spiritual beings, which makes them incapable of acting in this physical realm. Satan's little helpers must be of flesh and bone. so this is where the need for human organizations comes in. In the nations where the devil has dictators in command, he can use them directly to control those countries. In the "free world," Satan has found the liberal media makes for an effective tool for guiding and controlling society.

[...]

The liberal media will be a substantial player in end-time events. When the Antichrist finally does come to power, the liberal media will be tripping over itself to report his every word. The values that the press currently portrays will perfectly match the values of the forthcoming Antichrist. It will be love at first sight.

The liberal media's final act will be to broadcast the hatred of the Jews and nonconforming Christians. Even today, these two groups are constantly reported about a negative bias [sic]. As we draw closer to the tribulation, the negative media coverage will only increase.

When Jesus Christ returns to earth, He'll cast the liberal media into the pit of darkness. In hell, members of the media won't be harassed by us Christians, so they'll have the freedom to follow whatever news stories they choose. They will be able to cover topics like, "Why is hell so hot?" or "Does a snowball really stand a chance down here?" I'm sure the liberal media, at that time, will conclude that hell is a racist and homophobic place, and the burning sulfur will certainly be noted as destructive to hell's environment.

Finally, in the Frequently Asked Questions section of his website, Strandberg has written the following about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • Question: How can I recognize a cult?
    From the answer: Just for example, let's look briefly at the Jehovah's Witnesses. They believe that Jesus was a good man, but not that He is the Son of God. They also place divine authority on sources other than the Bible. Furthermore, they believe that they acquire salvation through their good works. These beliefs obviously indicate that Jehovah's Witnesses is a cult. But, a religion does not have to meet all of the above criteria to be considered a cult; just one characteristic will do it. Many mainstream denominations are deceiving people by not teaching the truth. But God does not make exceptions to His Word.
  • Question: What is Mormonism?
    From the answer: Mormonism is a cult that, like most cults, is sprinkled with enough truth to just hint at the truth of the Bible while missing it entirely. Again, we have a religion that denies the deity of Jesus Christ. In this faith, He is relegated to being a mere mortal, a true offspring of Elohim and an equal to Lucifer, another of Elohim's offspring. According to the Mormon Doctrine, "Every man who reigns in celestial glory is a god to his dominions;" "There was never a time when there were not Gods and worlds;" and, "Each god, through his wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters." So, every man is equal to Jesus in that he has the opportunity to become a god and have dominion over his people.

From Miller's November 15 Newsweek article headlined "Is Obama the Antichrist?":

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" ingénue 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.

[...]

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. Strandberg is so certain that the Rapture is coming, he's bought a number of Internet addresses in addition to RaptureReady: AntiAntichrist, Tribulationus and RaptureMe. In the event that RaptureReady crashes during the apocalypse, anyone who needs an update will, with a simple Google search, be able to get one. 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.

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