Pick Wayne's Brain

January 4, 2015

The End Is Not Near

Conservatives who claim to be Christians spent last year proclaiming the end times were nigh upon us though the evidence clearly suggests otherwise. (We’re still here.) It’s both funny and sad. Funny because these folks seriously believe this nonsense, and sad because these folks seriously believe this nonsense. And it IS nonsense because it makes no sense whatsoever. There are at least five different things that prove to these folks that we are approaching the end times, and none of them have anything to do with each other, nor can they be linked in any coherent way. And what are the five things that give true believers an indication the world is coming to an end?

Start with the Obama Presidency. According to US Representative Emeritus Michele Bachmann, both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are calling for both actual war and economic war with Israel. Of course, no such thing is actually happening, but when have facts ever gotten in the way of a Conservative Christian? (Speaking of which, can anyone out there list for me all of the teachings of Jesus that can even remotely be called Conservative? I strongly believe you can’t be both a Conservative and a Christian at the same time. That’s why Conservative Christians always come off as crazy. They’re walking around trying to believe two diametrically opposed philosophies.) Why she’s complaining baffles me because a war in Israel would bring about exactly what she desires – the end times, which means the Rapture, which means (she thinks) that she’s going to Heaven, despite all the many, many times she’s been known to bear false witness, such as in her claims that Obama dn Kerry want to bring about war in Israel. Or maybe, as televangelist Marion Gordon Robertson (better known as “Pot“, I mean, “Pat”) believes, the end times are upon us because Obama’s a “crypto-Muslim.” (Don’t worry, Pot’s praying for us. Did I say Pot again? I meant Pit, of course.) Or maybe it’s because Matthew Hagee is right and the end times are here as evidenced by Obamacare. Or maybe Franklin Graham is right and the end times are near because Obama isn’t cracking down on gay people enough like Vladimir Putin. (I meant not cracking down enough like Putin, not gay people like Putin. As far as I know, there is no evidence that proves that Putin is not gay.) Although Mark Creech thinks the end times are near because Obama is the Antichrist. Oh, and something about America being akin to the story of the Tower of Babel, which he believes “is a historical narrative of the first recorded form of government gone awry.” Right, because the Bible is such a reliable source of actual human history. (You can’t see them right now, but my eyes are rolling up in my head. Either because I can’t believe people believe the Bible contains reliable historical facts, or I’m having a stroke.) Or maybe Jonathan Wright is correct and Obama is the Antichrist because of the Bible Code. But whatever the reason, you can rest assured that the end of the world is coming because Barack Obama is president. (Isn’t it funny how the last three Republican presidents all gave huge tax breaks to the wealthy, which goes against everything Jesus taught his followers, but Obama is the Antichrist? Lies are a huge problem for real Christians, but not for Conservatives, which is why no Conservative can truly claim to be a Christian.)

Perhaps the end of the world is coming because of Ebola. Hagee thinks it might, and so does his father, John Hagee. But don’t worry, because Jim Bakker wants to sell you ice cream sandwiches to enjoy while everyone else is dead. Glenn Beck thinks Nigerian prison guards working in Texas will bring an airborne version of the deadly virus to the US and that we’ll be humbled (while we eat those sandwiches) and that Ebola was spiraling out of control. Not that facts have ever been known to influence your “thinking”, Glenn, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the exact opposite.

But don’t think for a moment Teh Gays are getting away without blame for all of this because, you know, they have too many rights. Whether it’s Matt Barber and Deryl Edwards’ theory that acceptance of gay Christians is to blame, or Linda Harvey’s theory that marriage equality is bringing it about, or Michael Bresciani’s theory that gay rights are responsible for increased terrorism in the world, or Flip Benham’s theory that homosexuality destroys nations, or Rick Wiles’ theory that our lack of support for Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies will result in nuclear war, or Dwight McKissic’s theory that Michael Sam’s coming out will do it, or Scott Lively’s theory that a Satanic conspiracy is “homosexualizing the world,” or Mike Huckabee’s theory that gay marriage victories will lead to God’s judgment, or even Sam Rohrer’s theory that same-sex marriage will lead to “tyranny” and the “destruction of our nation”, somehow, some way, Teh Gays will bring about the end of the world.

Unless it’s going to be all those abortions that have been going on with constitutional protection since 1973, according to Jonathan Cahn. Because Shemitah. These occur every seven years on the Hebrew calendar. Supposedly, major world events occur on these years and indicate God’s pleasure or displeasure with that nation. The 2008 financial collapse and the 9/11 attacks were Shemitah years. The Roe v. Wade decision came down in 1973, another Shemitah year. (That somehow explains our withdrawal from Vietnam several years later. I don’t get it, either.) I suppose his theory would also explain Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, and the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. Except that major events can happen in any year, and are often used to justify any number of opinions on God’s happiness. Especially major weather events like Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was powerful because the waters in the Gulf of Mexico were especially warm, and warm weather feeds energy to a hurricane. Do we need to go into why the waters were especially warm, or is that going to start another fight? Whatever the cause of the warm waters (the true reason for the storm’s intensity), I think we could all agree it wasn’t because of abortion and homosexuality, as the organizers of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s upcoming “I Haven’t Got a Prayer in 2016”-Hootenanny would have you believe. Even Mike Huckabee thinks abortion rights are worse than the Holocaust, and marriage equality will spell the doom of our nation. Not to be left out, Michael Bresciani says the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing is just God’s punishment for abortion and gay marriage, as if that wasn’t already covered by the other nutjobs. What was different is blaming abortion and gay marriage for the border crisis this summer. And remember, Friends, according to Joel Rosenberg, if you’re a Christian who’s not fighting hard enough against abortion, you’re no better than a Nazi collaborator. What I don’t understand is that a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion was confirmed more than 40 years ago. Why are we finally being punished now?

But my favorite nonsensical claims that the end days are coming are the ones based on the imaginary War on Christmas. Franklin Graham claimed that the War on Christmas (he speaks of it as if it is a real thing) is a sign of the end times, and he cites a couple of examples. When I read them, red flags and klaxon alarms pounded inside my brain, because I sensed that I had just read a right wing lie. It turns out I was partly right, in that it was a lie of omission. My eye was struck by this line:

In Ramsey County, Minn., the courthouse banned red poinsettias because someone deemed them a “Christian symbol.”

I tried seeing if Snopes or somebody had checked it out, and none of my Google searches indicated anything on Snopes itself (I did not go to their site directly, but a later a search turned up nothing. But that’s not the point.) As I tried to learn the truth behind this claim, I began to notice some things. Many if the sites had that same sentence almost verbatim, right down to the quotation marks around the words “Christian symbol.” Many of the sites that talked about this story were quoting Graham’s blog. And many of them said that this ban was recent. But I also noticed that some stories were from December 2013, and some dated as far back as 2001! Well, if it happened in 2014 or even 2013, that could be considered “recent.” But if it happened in 2001 (assuming it happened at all), that could hardly be called “recent.” I’m sure you’ll see references to it that way, but it’s not a recent story at all. And it’s not even the whole story. But that’s exactly the kind of thing you should expect when researching a Conservative claim, especially one supporting a Christian persecution complex. Because one other thing I noticed is that some of the stories said the county “tried to ban” the flowers. It turns out this is the most precise way to put it, but it would also help to point out (which neither Graham nor the people quoting him did) that it ended as soon as it began, and there was never any serious effort made to ever enforce the ban. After some digging I was finally able to locate the text of the original story, re-printed here without permission.

      Flower battle blooms in St. Paul
            Joe Kimball 
            Star Tribune 
      Published Dec 7 2001
      The War of the Poinsettias continued today in St. Paul, as some of the red-leafed plants were smuggled into City Hall overnight and inserted into the holiday floral display arrayed at the feet of the Vision of Peace statue.

      County officials had banned red poinsettias from this year's arrangement, saying there had been complaints that red poinsettias were a Christian symbol. Instead, they placed white poinsettias in front of the statue and piped in holiday music.

      Although many courthouse workers were displeased at the decision they thought seemed rather Grinch-ish, no one has publicly taken credit for the mysterious and sudden burst of Christmas color in the Courthouse. 

      County Manager Paul Kirkwold, hoping the poinsettia controversy will quickly and quietly disappear, said he won't remove the new flowers.

      And no one knows how the night visitor slipped the flowers past the tightened security checkpoints installed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

      To read more about the Great Poinsettia controversy and other St. Paul people and events, see Joe Kimball's Around St. Paul column in Friday's Star Tribune.

      © Copyright 2001 Star Tribune. All rights reserved. 

There you have it. There really was a complaint, and there really was a policy banning the flowers. But after someone thwarted their post-9/11 security upgrades to plant the flowers inside, there was no effort made to enforce the ban, and so it meant nothing! And I’m sure the ban is no longer in effect thirteen years later. But Graham is not the only Conservative Christian to believe the War on Christmas is a sign of the end times. Madeline Crabb also believes it. But she employs the false logic of assuming that because something that’s supposed to happen right before a prophesied event is happening, that the prophesied event must also be happening, as though the current event never happened before without the prophesied event following. In his column claiming the War on Christmas portends the end times, J.P. Sloane makes the hilarious claim, “Friends, what we are seeing is the reason America is not mentioned as a world power in Bible end times prophecy.” Gee, and I thought it might be because the Bible was first written down about 14 centuries before the United States existed. And Gary Cass thinks the War on Christmas is happening because the spirit of the Antichrist is moving through America. Which is all well and good except there is no War on Christmas. What the Conservative Christians refuse to accept is that December 25th has become a secular, commercial holiday in America whether they like it or not. For most Americans, it’s a holiday, not a Holy Day. And all Americans, regardless of religious preference, have the right to observe this secular holiday, without any religious attachment to it whatsoever. And I have news for them: Nowhere in the Bible will you ever find Jesus wishing anyone a “Merry Christmas.” And the end of the world isn’t coming. At least, not in the way your religious books tell it.

Seriously, do these guys have anything else to think about? I know it comforts them to believe they will be Raptured, but I think they ought to learn a little bit more about the message of Jesus before they start thinking themselves saved. To be perfectly honest and 100% accurate, I have just as much chance of getting into Heaven as any of them do.

My most humble thanks to the wonderful folks at Right Wing Watch for their painstaking research and cataloging of what the Right Wing is up to in public. Without them, my ability to report it back to you, Kind Readers, would be much, much harder.

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