I missed this appearance by evangelical titans Tim and Beverly LaHaye on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show, but thanks to Andrew for flagging it. It’s a dismaying reminder that the religious right has not gone anywhere; in fact, its mixture of theological gibberish and hysterical politics get substantial airtime on the most watched cable news network in the country.
One couldn’t find a more succinct encapsulation of the politics I grew up immersed in — not so much by my parents as by the Christian media we consumed — than this five-minute chit-chat. The impending apocalypse was reinforced everywhere, from hosts on Christian talk radio programs to entire sections of books in Family Christian stores. The United Nations would grow to become a one-world government, which would lead to the rise of the Beast (probably somewhere like Iraq) who would impose worldwide totalitarianism and brutally persecute Christians. This was why, they said, we have to stand against liberalism: because it was inside job by militant secularists who wanted America to hand over its sovereignty when their moment of atheistic utopia arrived. Entire organizations were devoted to monitoring this process by connecting world events with biblical prophecy and, usually, articulating a Zionism-inflected conservative politics. These delusions reached their zenith in Mr. LaHaye’s bestselling Left Behind series, which fictionalized a global future many evangelicals actually believe to be in progress as you read this.
The segment above features Huckabee asking Mr. LaHaye, who has apparently written another apocalyptic novel, if we are in fact living in the “end times.” (LaHaye’s non-fiction 2000 book argues the affirmative on that question, confirming my suspicion that the “end times” can last indefinitely in the fundamentalist world without discrediting their prophets.) Keep in mind that the interviewer here is a former contender for the GOP nomination for president, and will likely run again next time. As the LaHayes move seamlessly between biblical prophecy and the “raw socialism” of Barack Obama, it never occurs to Huckabee to ask why any adult with a brain should give credence to these wild notions. That’s perhaps because, as a former Baptist minister himself, he essentially shares their view of the end of history. Considering that Huckabee once unironically equated his rise in the polls with Jesus’ miracles and believes the U.S. president should speak “the language of Zion,” I wouldn’t be surprised if this sort of mysticism also informs his politics. In fact, we know it does.
The way so many evangelicals judged the Left Behind books to be an embarassment, one could be forgiven for believing this kind of thing is on the way out. And maybe in the country at large it is. I’d like to believe that. But when this sort of talk airs on national television almost nightly via the Glenn Beck program, and when it finds sympathy in a major political party’s presidential hopeful, it’s not exactly a negligible force.
David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol. He covers religion for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and is a graduate student in the Draper Program for Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. He can be reached at hdavidsessions at gmail dot com.
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