Previous | TOC | Next

The Christian Right

Dueling Eschatologies

From Red Menace to New World Order

Anticipating the End Times

Jeremiah the Profitable Prophet

Catholic Marianist Apocalyptics

The Patriot & Armed Militia Movements

The Far Right

How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism

by Chip Berlet

Senior Analyst Political Research Associates

This study originally appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of The Public Eye magazine.

Revised 4/15/99

Political Research Associates
1310 Broadway Street, Suite 202
Somerville, MA 02144

Part Two: Apocalyptic Millennialism and Contemporary US Right-Wing Movements

Examining the Different Sectors

As the millennium approaches, targets of apocalyptic demonization already include Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Moslems, Freemasons, New Age devotees, peace activists, environmentalists, feminists, abortion providers, and gay men and lesbians. Members of groups ranging from the Trilateral Commission to the National Education Association are suspect--not to mention federal officials and UN troops. The person targeted as the devil's disciple could be you, or a neighbor, or a friend.

Apocalyptic fears and millennial expectation play an important role in three sectors of right-wing populism in which demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism flourish: the Christian Right; the populist right, including survivalist, Patriot, and armed militia movements; and the far right, especially the neonazi version of Christian Identity theology.

The Christian Right

The New Right coalition of the late 1970s "represented a reassertion of the `fusionist' triad of moral traditionalism, economic libertarianism, and militarist anticommunism," explained sociologist Sara Diamond.1 It was a coalition between secular conservatives and traditionalist Christians. Much of the New Right's mobilization of supporters was based on promoting a narrow, exclusionary, and northern European version of traditional Biblical values.2 As Laura Saponara puts it:

"The `deep structure' of New Right rhetoric is rooted in historic and contemporary constructs of Biblical literalism articulated through recurring, polarizing themes of good and evil, personal salvation, evangelism, and the inevitability of apocalypse, among others."3

Clearly, some of the Christians mobilized by the New Right felt, and still feel, they are engaged in "Spiritual Warfare" with Satanic forces.4 The role of Biblical apocalyptic thinking within mainstream Christian groups is well-documented by academics such as Sara Diamond, Paul Boyer, Robert Fuller, and Charles B. Strozier.

Open discussion of evil and Satanic forces is unremarkable within the Christian Right, even among savvy policy analysts and lobbyists. A 1983 booklet from the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation titled The Morality of Political Action: Biblical Foundations includes a Bible-based defense of the practice of Christian political activists misleading or tricking opponents as justified by the higher purpose of the Christian struggle against evil. The author advises that while opponents may be doing the work of the Devil, it would be wrong to publicly accuse them of being "a card-carrying member of Satan's band," not because it might be untrue, but because it falls under "the scope of the Lord's command: `Judge not lest ye be judged.' "5

Still, it must be remembered that some politically-conservative fundamentalist groups oppose this paradigm, and warn against demonization that conflates church and state. For example, the Institute for the Study of Religion in Politics argues that:

"...if the price of re-establishing a `public Christian culture' in this country means that the church must ostracize its opponents, ghettoize the adherents of other religions and cultures, make enemies of women who choose abortion, demonize homosexuals, etc. as it seeks to gather political power into its hands--maybe, just maybe, the price isn't worth paying."6

Dueling Eschatologies

Within Christianity there are many competing views regarding the millennial apocalypse; the theological study of these views is known as eschatology. At the center of eschatological study is a debate over theological theories of the "end time," when the forces of evil will be vanquished and the forces of good rewarded. 7

Post-millennialists believe that Christ returns only after a thousand years of reign and rule by Godly Christian men, and they urge militant Christian intervention in secular society. Smaller sectors, including preterists and a-millennialists, while still anticipating the eventual return of Christ, believe the prophesied millennium is not a major theological issue for Christianity, or believe it already has happened, thus de-emphasizing the Tribulations, the Rapture, and Armageddon as practical considerations affecting daily life.

Most Christian fundamentalists are pre-millennialists, believing the return of Christ starts the millennial, thousand-year period of Christian rule. For them, the year 2000 doesn't necessarily have theological meaning or signify the End Times. More important to them is the belief in an inevitable and final apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Pre-millennialists believe the second coming of Jesus will occur before his thousand years of reign and rule.

For pre-millennialists, faithful Christians may experience no tribulations, some tribulations, or all of the tribulations. This difference is expressed in eschatological timelines called pre-tribulationalist, mid-tribulationalist, and post-tribulationalist. Furthermore, not all pre-millennialist Christians believe in "the Rapture"--the temporary protective gathering of Christians up into Heaven while the battle against evil rages on Earth during the Tribulations. If they do believe in the Rapture, there is no agreement on whether or not raptured Christians then return to an earth purged of evil. The exact sequence of the Rapture, the Tribulations, and the battle of Armageddon is also disputed.

For many decades, the primary Protestant eschatology was a form of pre-millennialism called Dispensationalism, an interpretation developed by theologian John Nelson Darby that outlined specific historical epochs or dispensations that are pre-ordained by God.8 In this timeline, Christians are raptured up to heaven before the Tribulations, the sinful are punished, and then Christ returns for a millennium of rule over his loyal flock. This combination of pre-tribulationist and pre-millennialist views has sometimes encouraged a large sector of the Christian faithful to passively await salvation while remaining aloof from sinful secular society, while at other times an activist mode seeks to intervene in public affairs.

For example, aloof pre-millenialist Dispensationalism gained renewed support after the Pyrrhic victory for Christian fundamentalists in the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial. This famous Tennessee case ruled that teaching evolution (instead of creation) was not proper in the public schools, but the case proved a substantial public embarrassment to fundamentalists who were widely portrayed as ignorant, backward, and irrational.9 As a result, many fundamentalists retreated from active participation in the electoral and legislative arena. This lasted until an activist Cold War message that Christians should re-engage in civic participation, encouraged by evangelical groups such as Moral Re-armament and evangelists such as Billy Graham, brought many Christians back into the voting booths in the 1950s. It wasn't until the mid-1970s that evangelicals began to mobilize around partisan political issues in a way that directly linked their theology to the electoral sphere.10

While many previously passive sectors of Christianity were being mobilized by conservative political organizers, a complementary theological movement influenced by popular Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer and theologian Cornelius van Till, called for a more "muscular" and interventionist form of Christianity. The most zealous version of this renewal movement was called Reconstructionism, a post-millennial theology which argues that the US Constitution is merely a codicil to Christian Biblical law.11 Rooted in militant early Calvinism and the idea of America as a Christian redeemer nation, Reconstructionism sees religion, culture, and nation as an integral unit in a way that echoes some European clerical fascist movements of the 1930s.

Among the leading Reconstructionist ideologues are R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, and Greg Bahnsen. There are few Reconstructionists, but they have facilitated the emergence of a more widespread and softer form of dominionism, the theocratic idea that regardless of religious views or eschatological timetable, Christian men are called by God to exercise dominion over secular society by taking control of political and cultural institutions.12 The result is a broad dominionist movement of Christian nationalism that has spread from independent evangelical churches into mainstream Protestant denominations and even small sectors of Catholicism.

From Red Menace to New World Order

Apocalyptic millennialism provides a basic narrative within the US political right, claiming that the idealized society is thwarted by subversive conspiracies.13 During the 1980s and 1990s, the main demonized scapegoat of the US hard right shifted seamlessly from the communist Red Menace to international terrorists, sinful abortion providers, anti-family feminists, homosexual "special rights" activists, "pagan" environmentalists, liberal secular humanists and their "big government" allies, and globalists who plot on behalf of the New World Order. The relatively painless nature of the shift was due in part to the basic underlying apocalyptic paradigm, which fed the Cold War and the witch-hunts of the McCarthy period.14 To understand this dynamic requires stepping back a few paces to the roots of fundamentalist belief.

One of the core ideas of the fundamentalist Christian Right during this century has been that modern liberalism is a handmaiden for collectivist, Godless communism. Many conservative Christian anticommunists believe that collectivism is Godless, while capitalism is Godly. They often link liberalism to Godless collectivism; then to the notion of a liberal secular humanist conspiracy; and finally conclude that globalism is the ultimate collectivist plot. Prior to the collapse of communism, many leaders of the new Christian Right had already embraced a variation on their long-standing fear of secret elites in league with Satan: the secular humanist conspiracist theory.15 According to George Marsden, the shift in focus to the secular humanist demon:

"...revitalized fundamentalist conspiracy theory. Fundamentalists always had been alarmed at moral decline within America but often had been vague as to whom, other than the Devil, to blame. The "secular humanist" thesis gave this central concern a clearer focus that was more plausible and of wider appeal than the old mono-causal communist-conspiracy accounts. Communism and socialism could, of course, be fit right into the humanist picture; but so could all the moral and legal changes at home without implausible scenarios of Russian agents infiltrating American schools, government, reform movements, and mainline churches."16

A number of contemporary Christian Right ideologues promote the secular humanist conspiracist theory, including: Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition; Beverly LaHaye, leader of Concerned Women for America; her husband, the Rev. Timothy LaHaye, a well-known Christian author; and Dr. James Dobson, founding President of Focus on the Family, whose syndicated radio program is on thousands of stations.

The shift in focus from anti-communism to the claim that secular humanism now plays the key subversive role in undermining America is reflected in right-wing author John Stormer's two books, the second an update for the 1990s of his influential 1964 book None Dare Call it Treason.17 Similarly, some militant Protestant fundamentalists within the antiabortion movement, influenced by hard right theological activist Francis A. Schaeffer, claim a conspiracy of secular humanists as the source of Godless disregard for what they argued is sinful murder of the unborn.18 In 1991 David A. Noebel of Summit Ministries, an ultra-conservative Christian training center located outside Colorado Springs, Colorado wrote the 900 page Understanding the Times textbook used in 850 Christian schools enrolling a total of over 15,000 students.19 The book argues that secular humanism has replaced communism as the major anti-Christian philosophy.20

Secular humanists--pictured as the torchbearers of liberal Godlessness and New Deal statism--are scapegoated from a variety of perspectives: economic, anti-elitist, and moral, as well as religious. The idea of the secular humanist conspiracy also parallels and buttresses the resurgent libertarian theme that collectivism destroys individual initiative and saps the vigor of the free market system. It also echoes the concerns of conservatives, neoconservatives, and paleoconservatives over creeping moral decay and the failure of New Deal liberalism. This congruence of various sectors of the right, each opposing liberal secular humanism for its own reasons, has resulted in some remarkable tactical coalitions following the rise of the New Right in the late 1970s, especially around issues of public school curricula and government funding for education.

For many conspiracy-minded Christians, communism was but one manifestation of Satan's age-old, one-world conspiracy. They argue that if the ultimate villainous agent of control is Satan, the ideologies promoted by demonic agents can easily shift from Godless communism to secular humanism, and from global communism to a new world order. The collapse of communism in Europe allowed a shift in focus to other aspects of the alleged conspiracy--the collectivism and statism promoted by liberalism and secular humanism. As mentioned earlier, more secular hard right groups had long contended that behind Moscow Bolshevism and Wall Street capitalism were the same shadowy secret elites with their traitorous allies in Washington. Removing Soviet communists from the alleged secret team still leaves other dangerous players in the field.

Conspiracism in the Christian Right often is overlooked by the mainstream media, despite the prominence of those who promote it. Prior to the 1998 elections, Dr. James Dobson led a well-publicized campaign to pull the Republican Party into alignment with Christian Right moral principles. Dobson and his colleague Gary Bauer co-authored Children at Risk: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Our Kids, which sees an escalating civil war with the forces of Godless secular humanism. Dobson praises Noebel's Summit Ministries, especially its youth training seminars and its high school curriculum that immerse students in apocalyptic conspiracist theories about the secular humanist menace.21

Dobson's endorsement of Summit is significant because it illustrates how some of the more doctrinaire leaders of the Christian Right are comfortable with Old Right conspiracism. Among Noebel's previous works are Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, and The Homosexual Revolution: End Time Abomination. Summit Ministries has a longstanding relationship with the conspiracist John Birch Society, placing large ads in the John Birch Society's publications over many years. In at least one instance, in 1983, Summit Ministries appears to have served as a conduit for tax-exempt donations for the JBS.22 Noebel recently absorbed the newsletter of Fred Schwarz' hard right Christian Anti-Communism Crusade.

Even when not directly tied to diabolical schemes, conspiracism is widespread in the Protestant Christian Right. Pat Robertson's The New World Order is littered with conspiracist allegations and references, including his invocation of the Freemason conspiracy "revealed in the great seal adopted at the founding of the United States." Robertson links Freemasonry to End Times predictions of a "mystery religion designed to replace the old Christian world order of Europe and America"23 Later in the book he says:

In earlier chapters, we have traced the infiltration of Continental Freemasonry by the new world philosophy of the order of the Illuminati, and its subsequent role in the French revolution. We then were able to find clear documentation that the occultic-oriented secret societies claiming descent from Illuminism and the French Revolution played a seminal role in the thinking of Marx and Lenin. 24

As Michael Lind and Jacob Heilbrunn have pointed out in a critique of the book published in The New York Review of Books, Robertson moves beyond the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy and incorporates allegations that originate in anti-Semitic sources. 25

Anticipating the End Times

While most mainstream Christian religious leaders are reluctant to suggest the year 2000 marks the End Times, some are hinting that the date has theological significance, and a few have announced that the End Times have already started. 26 There is even a glossy full-color monthly magazine titled Midnight Call: The Prophetic Voice for the Endtimes. One Christian publishing house offers a catalog, "Armageddon Books." Its 1998 Internet version describes itself as the "World's largest Bible prophecy bookstore featuring books, videos, and charts on armageddon, antichrist, 666, tribulation, rapture, revelation." There are over 400 items. Credit cards are accepted. There are links to 160 other prophecy websites.27

Many Christian fundamentalists are scanning for the "Signs of the Times," a phrase used to highlight the possibility that a specific worldly event may fulfill a Biblical prophecy and thus be a signal of the End Times, when faithful Christians are expected to engage in appropriate (though highly contested) preparations. Earthquakes, floods, comets, wars, disease, and social unrest are commonly interpreted as such signs.

The demonic interpretation of apocalyptic Biblical prophecy, such as found in the Book of Revelation, has long encouraged conscious and unconscious fears about evil subversive conspiracies. Apocalyptic fundamentalists are thus especially concerned with false prophets and political or business leaders who are subverting God's will and betraying the faithful by urging them to abandon their righteous conduct, especially in terms of sinful sexuality or crass materialism. Many faithful Christians believe they must take on special duties during the End Times. These duties carry the weight of Biblical prophecy, and in some cases, actions may even be felt to be mandated by God. Revelation's prophecies can thus motivate action, especially on the part of those fundamentalists who combine Biblical literalism with a textual timetable.28 When this worldview intersects with oppressive prejudices, it is easy to prophesy the appearance of demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism.

Author Hal Lindsey re-ignited Protestant apocalyptic speculation in 1970 with his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which sold 10 million copies.29 Lindsey argued that the End Times had arrived and that Christians should watch for the signs of the times.30 Billy Graham again raised expectations in his 1983 book, Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, where he observed that Jesus Christ, "The Man on the white horse...will come when man has sunk to his lowest most perilous point in history." Graham then discussed how bad things were in the world. 31

Paul Boyer argues that Christian apocalypticism must be factored into both Cold War and post Cold War political equations. He notes that the 1974 prophecy book, Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis sold three-quarters of a million copies.32 The mainstreaming of apocalypticism received a major boost when, in 1983, Ronald Reagan cited scriptural authority to demonize the Soviet Union as an "evil empire."33 Grace Halsell wrote in her book, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War, of how some evangelists, including Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Hal Lindsey, hinted that use of atomic weapons was inevitable as part of the final battle of Armageddon.34

Halsell's book, and a monograph by Ruth W. Mouly, The Religious Right and Israel: The Politics of Armageddon, argued that one reason certain sectors of the Christian Right mobilized tremendous support for the State of Israel during the Reagan Administration, was in part because they believed Jews had to return to Israel before the millennialist prophecies of Revelation could be fulfilled.35

Prophecy belief is widespread in the US. Philip Lamy reports that during the Gulf War, 14 percent of one CNN national poll thought it was the beginning of Armageddon, and "American bookstores were experiencing a run on books about prophecy and the end of the world."36 In 1993 a Times/CNN national poll found that 20 percent of those polled thought the second coming of Christ would occur near the year 2000.37

The process of prophecy belief triggering apocalyptic demonization and then leading to searches for the Devil's partners is continuously updated. Paul Boyer points out that those seen as the prophesied agents of Satan girding for End Times battle can be foreign or domestic or both. He notes how in prophetic literature the identity of Satan's allies in the Battle of Armageddon has shifted seamlessly over time, circumstance, and political interest from the Soviet Union to Chinese communists, to Islamic militants; and warns of an increasing level of anti-Muslim bigotry in some contemporary apocalyptic subcultures.38

Robert Fuller has looked at the range of current targets:

"Today, fundamentalist Christian writers see the Antichrist in such enemies as the Muslim world, feminism, rock music, and secular humanism. The threat of the Antichrist's imminent takeover of the world's economy has been traced to the formation of the European Economic Community, the Susan B. Anthony dollar...and the introduction of universal product codes."39

Visions of the Satanic Antichrist are common in relatively mainstream sectors of the new Christian Right. Typical of the current apocalyptic genre is a recent mailing from Prophetic Vision, a small international Christian evangelical outreach ministry, reporting that "prophecy is moving so fast" and "the Return of Christ is imminent." The mailing goes on to declare that the Antichrist, "Must be alive today waiting to take control!" and then solicits funds for the "end time harvest."

Rev. Pat Robertson frequently ties his conspiracist vision to apocalyptic hints that we are in the millennial "End Times," and End Times themes have repeatedly appeared on his "700 Club" television program. On one July 1998 program Robertson hinted that a tsunami in New Guinea coupled with the appearance of asteroids might be linked to Bible prophecy. Just after Christmas, 1994, the program carried a feature on new dollar bill designs being discussed to combat counterfeiting. The newscaster then cited Revelations 13 and suggested that if the Treasury Department put new codes on paper money, it might be the Antichrist's Mark of the Beast, predicted as a sign of the coming End Times.40

Christians are also debating the importance of the "Y2K" bug, the technical programming problem that crashes some computer software when it tries to interpret the year 2000 using earlier computer code written to recognize only the numbers 0-99 for calendar-based calculations. As in secular circles, responses range from cautious preparations to doomsday scenarios that have led some to establish rural survivalist retreats.41 At the 1998 Christian Coalition's annual Road to Victory conference, a workshop was devoted to announcing a plan to mobilize churches to provide food, water, shelter, and medical supplies in case the Y2K bug caused widespread societal problems.42 This mobilization was justified by arguing the anticipation of resulting disruptions was appropriate no matter what the eschatological viewpoint; and that if there was no serious disruption, the supplies could aid the poor. This equation neatly sidestepped the issue of the End Times, while allowing those who believe we are in the End Times to work cooperatively with those who do not.

Christian Reconstructionist author Gary North is now a much-quoted expert on the Y2K bug. He sees much chaos created by Y2K, but dismisses the link to Christ's imminent return.43 Some post-millennialists are more in line with the suspicious view expressed in the John Birch Society magazine, New American: "Much like the Reichstag fire, could the Millennium Bug provide an ambitious President with an opportunity to seize dictatorial powers?"44

Most Christians, even those who think the End Times are imminent, do not automatically succumb to demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracist thinking. Yet in the escalating surge of millennial titles, a scary number name the agents of the Antichrist or claim to expose the evil End Times conspiracy: Examples include: Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist; One World Under Antichrist: Globalism, Seducing Spirits and Secrets of the New World Order; Foreshocks of Antichrist; How Democracy Will Elect the Antichrist: The Ultimate Denial of Freedom, Liberty and Justice According to the Bible.45

Gender issues play an important role in apocalyptic millennialism. In describing the symbolism in Revelation, one contemporary Catholic commentary cautions against negative stereotyping of women.46 This is a needed caution, because anti-feminist, misogynist and homophobic interpretations of Revelation are widespread. A 1978 brochure with an apocalyptic subtext from Texas Eagle Forum was titled: Christian Be Watchful: Hidden Dangers in the New Coalition of Feminism, Humanism, Socialism, Lesbianism.47 As Lee Quinby has noted, while it is difficult to predict the outcomes of millennial moments, the current manifestation is unlikely to be good for women.48

A good example is the Christian evangelical men's movement, Promise Keepers, which has scheduled "Vision 2000" rallies at "key population centers and state capitols around the United States," for January 1, 2000.49 At the massive Promise Keepers rally of Christian men on the Washington Mall in October 1997, questions about the approaching End Times elicited eager responses.50

While the Promise Keepers is driven in part by millennial expectation, it is also a response to the need for men to find a coherent identity in modern culture that responds in some creative way to the issues raised by the civil rights and feminist movements.51 Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, men in the Promise Keepers are still considered the spiritual leaders in their families. As PK president Randy Phillips said, "we have to listen and honor and respect our wives," but admitted, "[w]e talk about ultimately the decision lying with the man."52

Acknowledging the sincere religious devotion and quest for growth of many Promise Keepers men, academic Lee Quinby, who has extensively researched the subject area, nonetheless sees political content in the group's vision of "apocalyptic masculinity," which rejects gender equality and scapegoats homosexuals and feminists "as a threat to the pure community." Quinby calls this tendency "coercive purity."53

Sociologist Sara Diamond reports that even some Christians who are dubious of "hard" End Times claims have nevertheless been re-energized by a "softer" millennial view of the year 2000 as a time for aggressive evangelism or even "spiritual warfare" against demonic forces.54 The broad quest for purity associated with the "softer" millennial thinking among apocalyptic Christians can breed violence, such as seen in the escalating attacks on abortion providers. It has already sparked legislative efforts to enforce divisive and narrowly-defined Biblical standards of morality. The wave of newspaper advertisements calling on gay men and lesbians to "cure" themselves by turning to Jesus is another example of a Christian coercive purity campaign influenced by millennial expectation. Richard K. Fenn, a professor of Theology and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary, argues that popular "rituals of purification" in a society are closely associated with apocalyptic and millennial beliefs.55

Jeremiah the Profitable Prophet

An example of a group profiting from a campaign of millennial ritual purification is Jeremiah Films, named after the Biblical prophet. Jeremiah Films and Jeremiah Books are run by the husband and wife team of Pat and Caryl Matrisciana.

Sen. Trent Lott, who in 1998 denounced homosexuals as not just sinful but sick, had already appeared in Jeremiah's 1993 anti-gay video "Gay Rights, Special Rights." The video, used in several statewide legislative campaigns to erode basic rights for gay men and lesbians, also features former attorney general Edwin Meese III and former education secretary William J. Bennett, along with notable conspiracists such as David Noebel of Summit Ministries. Lott also stars in Jeremiah's 1993 video "The Crash--The Coming Financial Collapse of America," which comes in two versions, one with a secular doomsday scenario and another with a special Christian cut featuring discussions of End Times Biblical prophecy.

Jeremiah has a large collection of conspiracist videos. Caryl Matrisciana, a leading author of Christian Right books with conspiracist themes, co-hosted a thirteen-part video series from Jeremiah titled "Pagan Invasion." The series includes videos that claim evolution is a hoax, Freemasonry is a pagan religion, Halloween is a tool for Satanic abduction, and Mormonism is a cult heresy. The Jeremiah video on Mormonism has earned rebukes from mainstream religious commentators for its bigoted intolerance toward the Mormon faith.56

One segment of the Jeremiah Films series "Pagan Invasion," is titled "Preview of the Antichrist." It is described in an online Christian Right catalog with the following blurb:

"According to Ancient Hebrew scriptures, in the last days mankind will urgently seek the security of a one - world government. This global desire for a super leader, who will bring peace and safety to a world in chaos, will ultimately leave the human race vulnerable to the beguiling charm and the most intelligent, powerful, and charismatic person of all history. The Bible calls this man the "anti-christ." Ironically, he will dominate the globe and orchestrate society's ultimate destruction. Chuck Smith and Caryl Matrisciana host this blueprint of apocalyptic events. Interviews with prophecy experts Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsey, and Peter Lalonde explain "why" the world will follow this man into perdition. Must viewing for all who desire a glimpse of the future."57

Jeremiah is best known for The Clinton Chronicles, a video distributed widely by Jerry Falwell, which alleges that the President is at the head of a vast murderous conspiracy. The Clinton Chronicles video and the subsequent The Clinton Chronicles book are the work of Jeremiah's Patrick Matrisciana, who is also founder and president of Citizens for Honest Government, a group dedicated to the impeachment of President Clinton.58

Many of the conspiracist attacks on President Bill Clinton originate in the apocalyptic sector of the Christian Right. One example is a book penned by Texe Marrs, titled Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary Clinton And The White House Feminists Who Now Control America--And Tell The President What To Do. The book claims a plot by "FemiNazis" and their allies in "subversive organizations whose goal is to end American sovereignty and bring about a global Marxist paradise."59

Catholic Marianist Apocalyptics

Catholics who pay special devotion to the Virgin Mary constitute a diverse Marianist subculture within the Church. Some Marianist groups have clashed with Church hierarchy over what constitutes an appropriate amount of adoration expressed for the Virgin Mary in relation to that reserved for Jesus Christ. Some Marianists report sightings or apparitions of the Virgin Mary; and these are sometimes considered End Times warnings.60

The basic message of the Marianist magazine Fatima Crusader, for example, is that we are in the apocalyptic End Times and are facing a direct struggle with Satan. Furthermore, the magazine urges that the actions and religious devotions of true Catholics must be based on End Times warnings and predictions made in appearances by the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ before the Catholic faithful.61

Visions of the Virgin Mary have inspired devout Catholics to pay more attention to their religious duties since 1531 when an apparition of Mary appeared at Guadeloupe, Mexico. A shrine to the Virgin of Guadeloupe was built at the site, and the appearance was venerated in Europe.

The Virgin Mary also appeared several times before three children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, and a shrine to Our Lady of Fatima was built there as well. A major message delivered at Fatima was the need to carry out the consecration and conversion of Russia to Christianity.62 This mandate had serendipitous benefit to the anticommunist movement within Catholicism, which in turn had socio-political consequences in Europe and the US.

Now, given the collapse of Godless communism in Russia, this task might seem less pressing. Not so; in the worldview of The Fatima Crusader, Russian tyranny can come in many forms. The Fatima Crusader's editorial position is that the predictions at Fatima refer to the threat of a Russian-style collectivist One World Government ushered in by socialists, liberals, secular humanists, homosexuals, abortionists, and followers of the New-Age spirituality movement. Articles in The Fatima Crusader also weave in millennialist references to Biblical prophecies about the End Times struggles against Satan and the Antichrist.

Numerous apparitions of Mary have been reported at a number of locations, with disputes arising among competing factions within the Marianist subculture as to which appearances are true and to be venerated, and which are hoaxes to be denounced. Medjugorje is a Herzogovinian village in what was Yugoslavia, where visions, first reported in the 1970s, draw Marianists from all over the world.63 In Bayside, New York, starting in 1968, the late Veronica Lueken reported visions that became increasingly apocalyptic, including news from the Virgin that the Antichrist was alive and on earth.64 Starting in 1993 the faithful gathered at Conyers, Georgia to hear divine messages from Mary revealed through former nurse Nancy Fowler.65

In the Summer, 1994 issue of the Marianist Fatima Family Messenger, Charles Martel writes, in an article on "The Antichrist," that "The Church is in a shambles" characterized by:

    · "Open rebellion against authority,

    · "Enthusiasm for abortion, contraception, divorce, etc.,

    · "Addition of many clerics to Marxism,

    · "Presence of un-Catholic teachings in seminaries and universities,

    · "Widespread and well organized homosexual network,

    · "Acceptance of New Age belief as the latest of ecumenism."66

Martel argues that "There is much more indisputable evidence available which indicates that the Antichrist is here and is in command."67

Another right-wing Catholic publication with apocalyptic themes is the Michael Journal, which includes conspiracist articles about the parasitic nature of financial elites that reflect historic anti-Semitic themes. Michael Journal celebrates the memory of Father Coughlin, the Catholic priest whose national radio programs in the 1930s moved from labor populism to anti-Semitism and eventually to fascist-style demagoguery. Coughlin is described as a man "Who courageously denounced the bankers' debt-money system." According to the Michael Journal, "The Illuminati are elite men, those on the top, who control the International Bankers to control, for evil purposes, the entire world." Followers of the Michael Journal lobbied against the Massachusetts seat belt law, believing it was a collectivist step toward Satanic One World Government. The newspaper featured an article titled "The Beast of the Apocalypse: 666" which proclaimed that "Satan's redoubtable ally" was a "gigantic auto-programming computer" in Brussels at the headquarters of the European Common Market.68

Right-wing Catholic Marianists and apocalyptics are a significant force in the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement. Human Life International, a right-wing Catholic group, is a major source of anti-abortion materials for such activists. HLI publishes and distributes books that feature conspiracist thinking and misogyny, with titles such as Sex Education: The Final Plague, The Feminist Takeover, and Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. HLI also distributes the book New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies, by William T. Still, which attacks the Freemasons as part of conspiracy to control the country through the issuing of paper money.69 The book is also sold by right-wing groups other than HLI. According to Still, his book:

"...[s]hows how an ancient plan has been hidden for centuries deep within secret societies. This scheme is designed to bring all of mankind under a single world government--a New World Order. This plan is of such antiquity that its result is even mentioned in ...Revelation...."70

As this comment citing Revelations suggests, the battle against the conspiracy is the battle between good and evil. The back cover blurb of Still's book confirms this by stating that the plan "to bring all nations under one-world government" is actually "the biblical rule of the Antichrist."71

Asserting that the Federal Reserve is part of the conspiracy, Still incorporates references to the Rothschild banking interests in a way that reflects historic anti-Semitic theories alleging Jewish control over the economy.72 Still's book is endorsed in a back-cover blurb by D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., influential senior minister of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. According to Kennedy's blurb:

"Regardless of your views about the coming of a world government, Bill Still's new book will make you reassess the odds. He traces the historic role of secret societies and their influence on the "Great Plan" to erase nationalism in preparation for a global dictatorship. He allows the facts to speak for themselves, as he sounds an ominous warning for the 21st Century."73

Here we see apocalyptic conspiracism bridging the divide between politically-active right-wing Catholics and Protestants.

The Patriot & Armed Militia Movements

In the 1970s and 1980s far right Christian Identity and Constitutionalist groups interacted with apocalyptic survivalists to spawn a number of militant quasi-underground formations, including some that called themselves patriots or militias.74 During the height of the rural farm crisis in the early 1980s, one of these groups, the Posse Comitatus--a loosely-knit armed network that spread conspiracism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism throughout the farm belt--captured a small but significant number of sympathizers among farmers and ranchers.75 Other groups, such as Aryan Nations and the Lyndon LaRouche group were also active, and soon a loose network was constructed linking tax protesters to groups as far to the right as various Ku Klux Klan splinter groups and neonazi organizations.

The Patriot movement and its armed wing, the citizen militias, are revivals of these and earlier right-wing populist movements, emerging in the 1990s after the collapse of European communism and the launching of the Gulf War. When President Bush announced his new foreign policy would help build a New World Order, his phrasing surged through the Christian and secular hard right like an electric shock, since the phrase had been used to represent the dreaded collectivist One World Government for decades. Some Christians saw Bush as signaling the End Times betrayal by a world leader. Secular anticommunists saw a bold attempt to smash US sovereignty and impose a tyrannical collectivist system run by the United Nations. This galvanized into activism pre-existing anti-globalist sentiments within the right.76

A self-conscious Patriot movement coalesced involving some 5 million persons who suspected--to varying degrees--that the government was manipulated by secret elites and planned the imminent imposition of some form of tyranny. The Patriot movement is bracketed on the reformist side by the John Birch Society and the conspiratorial segment of the Christian right, and on the insurgent side by the Liberty Lobby and groups promoting themes historically associated with white supremacy and anti-Semitism. A variety of pre-existing far right vigilante groups (including Christian Identity adherents and outright neonazi groups) were influential in helping organize the broader Patriot and armed militias movement.77 The Patriot movement has drawn recruits from several other pre-existing movements and networks, including gun rights, anti-abortion, survivalist, anticommunist, libertarian, anti-tax, and anti-environmentalist.

Patriot movement adherents who formed armed units became known as the armed militia movement. During the mid-1990s, armed militias were sporadically active in all fifty states, with numbers estimated at between 20,000 and 60,000.78 Both the Patriot and armed militia movements grew rapidly, relying on computer networks, FAX trees, short-wave radio, AM talk radio, and videotape and audiotape distribution. These movements are arguably the first major US social movements to be organized primarily through overlapping non-traditional electronic media. The core narrative carried by these media outlets was apocalyptic: featuring claims that the US government was controlled by a vast conspiracy of secret elites plotting a New World Order, and was planning to impose a globalist UN police state in the near future.

A key early figure in organizing the militia movement using the short-wave radio and the Internet was Linda Thompson, whose elaborate apocalyptic warnings and conspiratorial assertions of government plots were widely believed within the militia movement until she called for an armed march on Washington, DC to punish traitorous elected officials.79 Her plan was widely criticized as dangerous, probably illegal, and possibly part of a government conspiracy to entrap militia members. Mark Koernke, aka Mark of Michigan, quickly replaced her as the most-favored militia intelligence analyst.

In anticipation of attack by government agents, a significant segment of the Patriot and armed militia movement embraces survivalism. Survivalism is an apocalyptic view (with both Christian and secular proponents), that advocates gathering and storing large supplies of food, water, and medicine, in anticipation of economic collapse, social unrest, or the Tribulations. Some adherents also purchase gold and other precious metals as a hedge against currency devaluation; and some acquire weapons. Philip Lamy titled his book on the subject Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy.80

As a protective maneuver, a number of survivalists have withdrawn to remote, usually rural, locations, or formed small communities for mutual self-defense. This is what led the Weaver family to a remote region of Idaho. Randy Weaver and his wife were survivalists as well as Christian Identity adherents. Had the federal marshals who surrounded their house in 1992 factored these beliefs into their plan for arresting Randy Weaver, the subsequent deadly shoot-out might have been avoided. Federal Marshal William Degan, and Weaver's wife Vicki and son Samuel died. Randy Weaver and his friend Kevin Harris were wounded.81

Some Christian fundamentalist survivalists believe that to avoid the Mark of the Beast, they must live apart from secular society for a period of up to 42 months. Robert K. Spear, a key figure on the patriot and militia training circuit, is the author of Surviving Global Slavery: Living Under the New World Order.82 According to Spear, we are approaching the Tribulations of the End Times. Spear cites Revelation, Chapter 13, and warns that Christians will soon be asked to accept the Satanic Mark of the Beast and thus reject Christ. True Christians, according to Spear, must defend their faith and prepare the way for the return of Christ through the formation of armed Christian communities. His book is dedicated to "those who will have to face the Tribulations."

In 1993, the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas functioned as this type of fundamentalist survivalist retreat. Davidian leader David Koresh was decoding Revelation as an End Times script and preparing for the Tribulations. The government's failure to comprehend the Davidian's millennialist worldview set the stage for the deadly miscalculations by government agents, which cost the lives of 80 Branch Davidians (including 21 children), and four federal agents.83 TV coverage of this incident sent images of fiery apocalypse cascading throughout the society, further inflaming the apocalyptic paradigm within right-wing anti-government groups.84

Throughout the late 1990s, the Patriot and armed militia movements overlapped with a resurgent states' rights movement, and a new "county supremacy" movement. There was a rapid growth of illegal so-called "constitutionalist" "common law courts," set up by persons claiming non-existent "sovereign" citizenship. These courts claimed jurisdiction over legal matters on the county or state level, and dismissed the US judicial system as corrupt and unconstitutional.85 Constitutionalist legal theory creates a two-tiered concept of citizenship in which white people have a superior "natural law" or "sovereign" citizenship. Amazingly, many supporters of constitutionalism seem oblivious to the racism in this construct.

The most publicized incident involving common law ideology was the 1996 standoff involving the Montana Freemen, who combined Christian Identity, bogus common law legal theories, "debt-money" theories that reject the legality of the Federal Reserve system, and apocalyptic expectation.86 On a global level, many of the fears over declining sovereignty are linked to the idea that "the UN is a critical cornerstone of the New World Order," as one Birch Society publication put it.87

Three men suspected of shooting a law enforcement officer while attempting to steal a water truck in Colorado in 1998 had talked to friends about the coming collapse of society, using Patriot-style rhetoric. Two reportedly attended meetings of a local Patriot group.88 Incidents like this are likely to increase as we near the year 2000. However, the conspiracist scapegoating of right-wing populism, like that in the Patriot and armed militia movements, creates not only individual acts of violence, but also what Mary Rupert has dubbed "a seedbed for fascism."89 Right-wing populism is a recruitment pool for the far right.

The Far Right

The far right in the US is composed of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, the Christian Patriots, ideological fascists, and neonazis. The term "far right" in this context refers to groups with an aggressively-insurgent or extra-legal agenda, including calls for denying basic human rights to a target group. Christian Patriots combine Christian nationalism with constitutionalism.90 Non-Christian neonazis are able to work in coalitions with the Christian Patriot groups due to shared anti-government sentiments and conspiracism rooted in historic anti-Jewish bigotry.

The most significant worldview in the Christian Patriot movement is Christian Identity, which believes the US is the Biblical "Promised Land" and considers white Christians to be God's "Chosen People."91 Michael Barkun in Religion and the Racist Right has tracked the influence of apocalyptic millennialism on major racist and anti-Semitic ideologues within Christian Identity, including Wesley Swift, William Potter Gale, Richard Butler, Sheldon Emry, and Pete Peters.92 The neonazi version of Identity ideology claims Jews are Satanic agents who manipulate subhuman people of color.93

Christian Identity was a common core belief in the Posse Comitatus in the 1980s. Some Ku Klux Klan and racist skinhead groups now espouse Identity, as does Aryan Nations. Identity is a millennialist ideology that plans for an imminent apocalyptic race war, and history has proved that they act on their beliefs--making the threat of violence especially real.94 Many proponents of Christian Identity seek to overthrow the "Zionist Occupational Government" in Washington, DC and establish an exclusively white, Christian nation. In this ideology Jews are pictured as agents of the Antichrist who must be eliminated to prepare the way for the return of Christ.95

The Gulf War encouraged Christian Patriot groups to peddle anti-Semitic conspiracist theories about Jewish power behind US military involvement. An example was the 40-page newsprint tabloid booklet by Nord Davis, Jr., Desert Shield and the New World Order, published in 1990 by his Northpoint Tactical Teams.96 Other pre-existing Christian Patriot groups quickly reached out to the emerging militia movement with similar propaganda materials. For instance the Tennessee-based Christian Civil Liberties Association published The Militia News, ostensibly a newspaper but actually a catalog of books and other educational resources including guides on how to evade government tracking and surveillance. The opening article, "U.S. Government Initiates Open Warfare Against American People," is a good example of anti-Semitic Christian Patriot dogma:

"...following the turn of the 20th century, Communism (the Judeo-Bolsheviks of Russia) and other diabolical movements and philosophies--Fabian socialism, materialism, atheism, and secular humanism--would, like malignant parasites, establish themselves in America. Even our presidents, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, would begin using the resources of this nation to finance and support our foreign enemies, particularly the Communist and Zionist movements."97

The article rails against what the author sees as the unconstitutional attack on states' rights by "Court mandated integration and forced busing" in the 1960s, and the "systematic de-Christianization of the nation."98 Warning this is part of a "satanic conspiracy," the author advises that for the government to succeed, "the globalists must outlaw and confiscate" firearms.

"Every gun owner who is the least bit informed knows that those who are behind this conspiracy--who now have their people well placed in political office, in the courts, in the media, and in the schools, are working for the total disarming of the American people and the surrender of our nation and its sovereignty....The time is at hand when men and women must decide whether they are on the side of freedom and justice, the American republic, and Almighty God; or if they are on the side of tyranny and oppression, the New World Order, and Satan."99

Mobilizing gun owners was the first step in building the militia movement out of the Patriot movement. The Weaver and Waco incidents focused the attention of the Patriot movement as examples of government tyranny, and served as trigger events to galvanize a mobilization in 1993 and 1994 around stopping the Brady Bill and gun control provisions of the Crime Control Act.100 But more militant and suspicious elements within the Patriot movement grafted apocalyptic conspiracist fears onto the gun rights campaign, arguing that if gun rights were restricted, a brutal and repressive government crack-down on gun owners would quickly follow. The Weaver and Waco incidents were seen as field tests of the planned repression, with the ultimate goal being UN control of the US to benefit the conspiracy of secret globalist elites. While for many this was a secular narrative, an apocalyptic and millennialist End Times overlay was easily added by Christian fundamentalist elements in the movement. Another overlay was overt anti-Jewish conspiracism. The solution, given this narrative, was to create independent armed defensive units to resist the expected wave of government violence--thus the armed citizens militias.

Timothy McVeigh, who had moved from conspiracist anti-government beliefs into militant neonazi ideology, blew up the Oklahoma City federal building on the anniversary of the Waco conflagration to protest government abuse of power which he, and others, believed was prelude to a tyrannical New World Order.101 It is likely that McVeigh wanted his act of terrorism to push the more defensive and less ideological militias into a more racialized and militant insurgency. His act of terrorism mimicked a scenario in the novel The Turner Diaries, which he distributed to friends. Written by neonazi William Pierce, The Turner Diaries has apocalyptic themes invoking the cleansing nature of ritual violence typical of Nazi ideology, which also sought a millenarian Thousand Year Reich.102 McVeigh's apparently secular concern that during the Gulf War the government had implanted a micro-chip into his body echoes historic concerns among fundamentalist Christians that the Mark of the Beast might be hidden in electronic devices.

Previous | TOC | Next

Online Articles:

Spotlight On

Browse Topics | Site Guide | Multimedia Bookstore | Magazine | Publications | Activists Resources

Political Research Associates

Copyright Information, Terms, and Conditions

Please read our Terms and Conditions for copyright information regarding downloading, copying, printing, and linking material on this site; our disclaimer about links present on this website; and our privacy policy.

Updates and Corrections