Vice President Dan Quayle's parents and wife are "avid followers" of a far-right preacher named Colonel Robert B. Thieme Jr. of Houston, Texas, according to several published reports. Who is this influential man? What does he teach?
During Memorial Day weekend in May 1990, Thieme (pronounced "theme") was in Arlington, Virginia to conduct four evenings of a regional bible conference for his East Coast followers. Only a few miles away, President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were meeting at the White House to discuss peace at the same time that Colonel Thieme was predicting that, within ten years, war between the United States and the Soviet Union is inevitable.
He said that Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika initiatives are a "deception" to weaken America's defenses. The money offering from his audience of about 300 was taken up in upside-down, camouflage combat helmets instead of collection baskets. The ushers who took the collection were uniformed Marine, Army, Air Force, and Navy men.
Thieme, a former Army Air Corps lieutenant, is an ordained minister who studied at the Dallas Theological Seminary, which is well-known for its fundamentalist and Armageddon theology. He has pastored Berachah Church in Houston for forty years. Thieme has had an impressive nationwide outreach ministry through audio and video tapes since 1961. He claims former senator and Air Force major Barry Goldwater as one of his closest friends.
Thieme's most devout followers call themselves "the invisible heroes" and are forming groups and churches all over the U.S. One of these groups meets right outside the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia. They believe that Bible "prophecies" about the end of the world, through nuclear holocaust as the result of a Soviet attack on Israel, may be about to come true and cannot be prevented. They fiercely oppose peace talks with the PLO or with the USSR, not because of practical cautions, but because of their religious conviction that the Arabs and Soviet Union are destined to invade Israel. Thieme gives the details in his audio tape series on "Armageddon" and "Mideast Crisis."
Colonel Thieme was cited as the behind-the-scenes Bible scholar and "military expert" for the World War III scenario in the multimillion bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Since 1970, over 25 million copies of the book, in more than 30 languages, have been sold. The book is still widely available in Christian bookstores.
Lindsey's 1989 book, The Road to Holocaust, is dedicated to Thieme. Recent bulletins from Thieme's Berachah Church list the Hal Lindsey Ministries as one of its prayer and outreach efforts. Both Thieme and Lindsey teach that the Bible says two-thir ds of the Jews worldwide must die, and that billions of all nationalities will also perish in a nuclear war they expect by about the year 2000. They also teach that born-again Christians and Jewish converts to Christ will be the only survivors upon a new earth which will be miraculously restored by God.
Former Nixon aide Charles Colson, in his 1987 book, Kingdoms in Conflict, has warned from his more moderate evangelical Christian viewpoint that a U.S. president in the 1990s could indeed trigger off World War III over Israel, if influenced by Bibl e prophecy ideas such as Thieme's. Former congressman Paul Findley in the 1989 update of his book, They Dare to Speak Out, also deals with the threat of this Armageddon theology.
It is well-known that Dan Quayle has taken a separate, bellicose, negative stand from that of President Bush in regard to the peace talks and arms reductions agreements with Gorbachev. During the same Memorial Day weekend as the summit conference, the Washington Post reported Vice President Quayle's pessimistic remarks at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, Virginia. Quayle claimed, in a tone strikingly similar to Thieme's, that the U.S. is still in danger and must be prepared for a "surprise" from the Soviets.
Dan's wife, Marilyn Quayle, has been described as a Colonel Thieme "devotee." Our press and broadcast media need to make a more thorough investigation into the probability that Dan Quayle may be either a present secret believer, or heavily influenced by his wife's admitted belief. What the Quayles believe about Armageddon is of critical importance to all Americans and to the fate of the entire world.
Suzanne Nicole is a freelance writer living in Reston, Virginia.