Televangelists


The Fringe NYC Encore Series is presenting the play Hillary Agonistes by Nick Salamone beginning tonight at 9:30 pm at the Bleecker Street Theater. The play posits the following future:

“Part Greek tragedy, part blackest comedy, Hillary Agonistes tells the cautionary tale of Hillary Clinton, newly elected President of the United States,” detail press notes. “One bright spring day 65 million people disappear – First Husband Bill among them. Is it the rapture? Pat Robertson, Stephen Hawking, a Papal emissary, the Antichrist and a Muslim convert named Chelsea offer their opinions as Hillary agonizes and attempts to avert Armageddon.”

See full article here.

In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted Tuesday that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in “mass killing” late in 2007.

“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”

Full article here.   Okay, the Lord didn’t say “nuclear.”  But did he say “nucular”?

Earlier this week, Sam Brownback, a Republican senator from Kansas, announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider his candidacy for president in 2008. Never heard of him? Here’s a little background on him:

Who would Jesus vote for? Meet Sam Brownback. Nobody in this little church just off Times Square in Manhattan thinks of themselves as political. They’re spiritual — actors and athletes and pretty young things who believe that every word of the Bible is inerrant dictation from God. They look down from the balcony of the Morning Star, swaying and smiling at the screen that tells them how to sing along. Nail-pierced hands, a wounded side. This is love, this is love! But on this evening in January, politics and all its worldly machinations have entered their church. Sitting in the darkness of the front row is Sam Brownback, the Republican senator from Kansas. And hunched over on the stage in a red leather chair is an old man named Harald Bredesen, who has come to anoint Brownback as the Christian right’s next candidate for president.

. . . “I am a seeker,” he says. Brownback believes that every spiritual path has its own unique scent, and he wants to inhale them all. When he ran for the House he was a Methodist. By the time he ran for the Senate he was an evangelical. Now he has become a Catholic. He was baptized not in a church but in a chapel tucked between lobbyists’ offices on K Street that is run by Opus Dei, the secretive lay order founded by a Catholic priest who advocated “holy coercion” and considered Spanish dictator Francisco Franco an ideal of worldly power. Brownback also studies Torah with an orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn. “Deep,” says the rabbi, Nosson Scherman. Lately, Brownback has been reading the Koran, but he doesn’t like what he’s finding. “There’s some difficult material in it with regard to the Christian and the Jew,” he tells a Christian radio program, voice husky with regret.

. . . The nation’s leading evangelicals have already lined up behind Brownback, a feat in itself. A decade ago, evangelical support for a Catholic would have been unthinkable. Many evangelicals viewed the Pope as the Antichrist and the Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon. But Brownback is the beneficiary of a strategy known as co-belligerency — a united front between conservative Catholics and evangelicals in the culture war. Pat Robertson has tapped the “outstanding senator from Kansas” as his man for president. David Barton, the Christian right’s all-but-official presidential historian, calls Brownback “uncompromising” — the highest praise in a movement that considers intransigence next to godliness. And James Dobson, the movement’s strongest chieftain, can find no fault in Brownback. “He has fulfilled every expectation,” Dobson says. Even Jesse Helms, now in retirement in North Carolina, recognizes a kindred spirit. “The most effective senators are those who are truest to themselves,” Helms says. “Senator Brownback is becoming known as that sort of individual.”

Full article here.

Fully one quarter of Americans describe themselves as Evangelical Christians, and their support for the president remains rock solid.

Cornerstone Church, a vast squat white temple in San Antonio, is rapidly becoming the movement’s epicentre, thanks to the charismatic founder, Pastor John Hagee, the rising star of America’s TV evangelists. For these evangelists, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but the beginning of the fulfilment of biblical prophecies that culminate, possibly very soon, in a mighty struggle between good and evil at Armageddon.

This belief lies at the core of the teachings of the bespectacled pastor, who argues that Christians and Jews must make common cause against forces of darkness he identifies as Arabs, Russians and even a future president of the EU. Christians who fail in their duty will be “left behind” when the obedient are summoned to heaven.

“Listen up, president of Iran,” booms the pastor. “We are going to be your worst nightmare, Mr Ahmadinejad. The pharaoh threatened Israel, he ended up fish-food in the sea. When you say Israel is going to disappear in a sudden storm you may be predicting the way you disappear.”

Full article here.

The following excerpt from Jerusalem: Countdown to Crisis, a collection of sermons by televangelist John Hagee, was heard on NPR’s Fresh Air on Monday:

In two minutes, let me tell you where we’re going from here.  This prophetic portrait paints the following sequence of events for the future.  America and Europe become weakened and cannot respond to Israel in the time that Russia and the Arab invasion begins against Israel.  This is God’s plan.  Why?  Because he wants the Jewish people in Israel and around the world to know that He — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — saved them, not America.  Secondly, Russia with Arab allies will plot and plan Israel’s destruction.  That’s happening right now.  It has been happening for ten years.  Iran’s nuclear weapons have been produced with Russian scientists, the Islamic Arabs are using the “roadmap to peace” to get all of the land of Israel that they can get.  And when Israel finally says “Enough!,” you’re going to see the beginning of the implementation of Ezekiel’s War in 38:39.  The critical point is the church is raptured before this War begins.  I am telling you that makes this message one of the most thrilling prophetic messages you’ve ever heard in your life.  You could get raptured out of this building before I get finished preaching.  We are that close to the coming of the Son of Man.

Listen to Terry Gross’ interview with Hagee, in which he discusses the Middle East, American politics and Hurricane Katrina – here.

Game over, says Falwell.  From Rev. Jerry Falwell’s sermon last Sunday at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia:

FALWELL: I expect the Lord to return in the 21st century to Rapture at his church. Now, I can’t prove that. I cannot prove that the Lord is gonna come in this century. No one knows the day or the hour, but in my heart I believe it because there are no more predicted events that need to happen before our Lord can return.

[...]

I expect a global economy in the 21st century, which first will manifest itself as a cashless society. I believe that plastic will take the place of cash, and that while this will only be fulfilled during the tribulation period at the Rapture, I believe that God is setting the stage for, and laying the infrastructure for, a cashless society right now. Most people, many pay their bills online already. And the day will come, I believe, when there will be no cash, and the only way you can get cash and trade and to do business is to [points to his forehead] have the mark of the beast.

And then I expect the nations of the world in the 21st century to move rapidly towards a one-world government. We already have the U.N. — it’s a useless bunch. But we’ve already got the U.N., and they will not be the one-world government, but they are the infrastructure, the stage on which the Antichrist will build his one-world government.

(Via Media Matters).

Overseer Yisrael Hawkins of the House of Yahweh (formerly known as country singer Buffalo Bill Hawkins) describes how he knows that global nuclear war will break out on September 12, 2006.  It has something to do with the fact that we can’t think of anything but sex.

Here’s an excerpt (thanks to Deb for the heads up):

Now that he’s mentioned it — darn it, I really can’t think of anything but sex.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. The Reverend Pat Robertson, who prayed for victory last week with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, contends that the cease-fire with Hezbollah has rendered the entire bloody conflict pointless.

Back from Israel to resume hosting his “700 Club” broadcast, Robertson quoted a Bible passage from the prophet Isaiah: “We were with child. We writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind.””In other words,” he said, “nothing came out of this at all. ‘We writhed in pain,’ but nothing was born from it.”

Suggesting that the invasion of Lebanon failed to achieve its objective, Robertson said, “Israel went in, but what have they done? Is the word of Isaiah true? — ‘We writhed in pain but we gave birth to wind’ — I’m afraid so.”

Says the UN to Robertson: sorry to have spoiled all your fun, Reverend . . . meanwhile, other apocalyptic evangelists are out making the rounds of the news shows hawking the “August 22″ theory:

Yesterday morning E. D. Hill interviewed Joel C. Rosenberg, whom she introduced as a “terror analyst” and author of the book “The Copper Scroll.” Rosenberg proceeded to claim that on August 22nd Iran’s President Ahmadinejad could be planning a “cataclysmic event” to celebrate a holy day in the Shi’a Muslim calendar. Hill was right there feeding her guest leading questions guaranteed to elicit answers that would send thrills and chills down the spines of the poor deluded FOX viewers. She never bothered to tell her audience about Rosenberg’s credentials as a mideast expert, probably because he doesn’t have any.

. . . She asked Rosenberg if the date August 22nd was important in the Islamic world.

Rosenberg answered, saying “Well, as Middle East expert Bernard Lewis has brought up and as have others, August 22nd is a very important date in Islam. It’s the date by which the Prophet Mohammed supposedly made his night flight from Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem, to heaven and back. It’s a day that many radical Muslims kind of long for liquidating the Jewish people and liberating Jerusalem. Therefore, the concern is that, if this response is coming from Iran over its nuclear program on the 22nd, Lewis raises the possibility that this would be the date for the catastrophic attack that Iran is planning to wipe Israel off the map.”

E. D. HILL: “And why catastrophic attack? People in their right mind would say, well, wait a second, you bring that on you, you create the end of the world but, in fact, if you look at it from a religious perspective, that hastens the coming of the Messiah. And is that a fear that a lot of people have concerning Ahmadinejad?”

ROSENBERG: “Well, that’s the concern about Ahmadinejad and I write about this fictionally in “The Ezekiel Option”, “The Copper Scroll”, but what’s not fiction right now is that Ahmadinejad is a radical Shi’ite Muslim. He is telling colleagues in Iran that he believes the end of the world is rapidly approaching and that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah is to launch a global jihad to destroy Israel, the little satan, in his view, and the United States, the great satan. In the speech last October, E. D., in which Ahmadinejad gave his ‘we’re gonna wipe Israel off the map’ speech, he also urged the Muslim world to envision a world without the United States and he asked, rhetorically, ‘is that possible?’ and then he began to lay out the strategy of a Muslim attack against Israel and the United States.”

Full article here.  Iran and August 22 — that’s next week; Israel in Lebanon — that’s so, like, yesterday . . .

Jack Van ImpeName: Dr. Jack Leo Van Impe

Birth: February 1931, Freeport, Michigan

Claim to Fame: Apocalyptic televangelist and self-styled “Walking Bible,” head of the Jack Van Impe Ministries World Outreach Center in Rochester Hills, Michigan

Power Base: Mesmerized television viewers of “apocalypse porn” in 210 TV markets around the U.S., where his half-hour show Jack Van Impe Presents often airs between midnight and 6 a.m. on Sunday mornings

Google Hits: 33,000 hits for “jack van impe antichrist” as of 8/07/06 — although, to be fair, the guy talks a lot about the Antichrist, so the number is probably incidentally inflated.

Merits: “BEWARE OF JACK VAN IMPE,” writes David W. Cloud of the Fundamentalist Baptist Information Service. “He is a deeply deluded and very dangerous man.”

Although it is often true that fundamentalist Baptists and apocalyptic televangelists make very good bedfellows, Jack Van Impe has had a severe falling-out with a large number of people who would otherwise be a part of his natural flock over the past few decades.

A 1952 graduate of the Detroit Bible College (now known as William Tyndale College), Van Impe launched his career as a preacher in the Detroit area — warning about the dangers of rock ‘n roll, alcohol and communism. Eventually, he gained a national following as a traveling, musical “ambassador for Christ,” and later, through his syndicated radio show. As a popular leader among conservative Christians, Van Impe was well-known for his fierce advocacy of “Biblical separation” — the idea that most self-labelled Christian faiths were practicing in error, and that true fundamentalist Christians should isolate themselves from all the “wrong-thinking” faiths.

In the 1970s, however, Van Impe began to undergo an astonishing change of belief when he began to criticize the “appalling lack of love and unity among so many of the brothers and sisters in Christ,” striking an ecumenical chord and even going so far as to refer to Pope John Paul II as a “defender of truth.” As David Cloud observes, “The ecumenical river is running powerfully in the direction of the City on Seven Hills where the old harlot lives (Rev. 17) [i.e. Rome], and if a preacher does not aggressively paddle against the current, he will be swept down stream.”

In addition to Van Impe’s defense of Roman Catholicism, fundamentalist apocalyptics are suspicious of the following:

  • Van Impe has lashed out at other apocalyptics. In 2005, for example, after Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Van Impe compared Robertson to Osama bin Laden, and called for Robertson to recant not only the Chavez remark, but also Robertson’s expressed hope that a Supreme Court justice would die and pave the way for a pro-life Court majority.
  • Van Impe proclaims that Islam is a peaceful religion — much to the profound irritation of apocalyptics. In March 2003, according to Todd Stranberg of RaptureReady.com, Van Impe “all but declared Islam to be equal to Christianity.” Detractors point out that Van Impe has been praised by the Islamic Supreme Council of America for his “fairness,” and that in September 2004, Van Impe exhorted his viewers to “thank God for the Muslims who are preaching love.”
  • The surname “Van Impe” is a Dutch-Flemish name which is believed to be derived from the old German word “impfen,” or “to graft.” By the 1400s, it was common to use the word “imp” to refer to “a child,” but it was even more common a century later to use the word to refer to a “child from hell,” or, the “spawn of Satan.” These days, “imp” is generally accepted to mean “fiend,” “evil creature” or “small demon.”
  • Finally, Jack Van Impe is known to play a mean accordion — which, if it is not considered to be the devil’s instrument, it certainly should be.

Still, in all, J-Vim continues to host his weekly TV show with gusto, his slightly creepy amanuensis Rexella sitting by his side. (David Futrelle in Salon described Rexella thusly: “Prim and cheerful, with permed blonde hair and a Home-Shopping-Network fashion sense, Rexella speaks of the end of the world as calmly as if she were announcing a potluck.” Hard to beat that kind of prose.) He ebulliently quotes bible verses and interprets news stories with an eye towards showing that the Rapture, Armageddon and the Second Coming are just around the corner. He himself now seems to favor the theory that the EU is the Antichrist. He had seen, in the 1979 energy crisis, signs of an apocalypse that could have occurred as early as 1980; in the years leading to 2000, however, he was fairly Y2K-obsessed, predicting widespread catastrophes associated with the turning of the millennium, and he was also fond of saying that Bill Clinton was the “End of Times President.” Since then, in general, Van Impe has shrewdly kept his viewers on the edge of their seats, refusing to make an outright prediction of the date of the end of the world.

Quay Fortuna’s Analysis: Within the provincial world of apocalyptic fundamentalist Christians, Jack Van Impe’s turnabout from “Biblical separation” was a cutting and treacherous blow, and the sense of outrage over it tends to make Van Impe out to be a much more important character to the fundamentalist community than he really is to the rest of the Earth.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be just like the Antichrist to keep calling attention to the impending apocalypse, mollifying us with the right hand of anticipation while the left hand, while we’re not paying attention, grasps us firmly by the windpipe and clenches down hard? Yes, he’d be giving us false dates and false antichrists high and low, wouldn’t he? And the more clever among us would see right through it, by employing that one time-honored, tried-and-true rule — “He who smelt it, dealt it.” Ultimately, that is one law of nature that is difficult to argue with.

So, yes, there are some compelling arguments that Jack Van Impe might be the Antichrist. In my own humble opinion, however, if it were true — well, I must say I would’ve expected that the Antichrist would have a more hip haircut, wear nicer suits, and have a better time slot on the tube.

From Reuters:

Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said on Thursday the wave of scorching temperatures across the United States has converted him into a believer in global warming.

“We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels,” Robertson said on his “700 Club” broadcast. “It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air.”

This week the heat index, the perceived temperature based on both air temperatures and humidity, reached 115 Fahrenheit in some regions of the U.S. East Coast. The 76-year-old Robertson told viewers that was “the most convincing evidence I’ve seen on global warming in a long time.”

Last year, Robertson said natural disasters affecting the globe, including hurricanes Katrina and Rita that wrecked the U.S. Gulf Coast, might be signs that the biblical apocalypse was nearing.

The issue has divided conservative Christians.

In October, Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate, said the National Association of Evangelicals was teaming up with “far left environmentalists” for saying global warming was caused by humans and needed to be mitigated.

Signers of that statement included California mega-church pastor Rick Warren, author of the bestselling “The Purpose Driven Life.”

In the late 1990s, Robertson paid at least $300,000 to investigate the revival of an oil refinery east of Los Angeles. The bid was unsuccessful.

Televangelists getting together with environmental leftists? Now I know the world is coming to an end.

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