As Mark Hulsether, author of Religion, Culture and Politics in the Twentieth Century United States, notes in his recent piece in Religion Dispatches, “End Times believers consider Barack Obama as a serious contender for the Antichrist.”
The Obama-as-Antichrist rhetoric got a further hearing when Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, co-authors of the Left Behind series, discussed it on the Rachel Maddow show. While the authors backed away from suggesting that Obama himself was the Antichrist and even conceded that he “might be a closet Christian,” LaHaye and Jenkins view Obama’s “socialist” policies as prophetic of the End of Times:
LaHaye repeatedly returned to the dual claim that prophetic scenarios foretell a stage of socialism in which “government controls everything”—redistributing wealth from the haves to the have-nots—and that Obama is such a socialist working for such a world. His key argument was that Obama’s policies suggest that prophecies are falling into place. In other words, Obama is playing his part as a key leader of the bad guys even if he’s not the Antichrist himself.
Hulsether concludes the article by speculating on the Rush Limbaugh-like position LaHaye puts himself in by hoping for the worst:
Maddow did a nice job of pressing LaHaye about whether he looked forward to his scenario of doom (at least for unraptured people)—a vision somewhat akin to Rush Limbaugh’s desire for Obama to fail, but in this case intensified by religious emotion. LaHaye seemed unsure how to frame his response—how much to stress that he hoped for the sake of the country that his bleaker scenarios would not unfold, as opposed to hoping based on his theology that they would unfold.
Perhaps his uncertainty holds out a small thread of optimism for citizens who, like our president, “might be closet Christians” or unlikely candidates for rapture. If LaHaye continues to be slightly embarrassed spinning his theories in public, most likely because he fears how they will appear in the light of rational public inquiry, this cannot be entirely good news for the “Obama as Antichrist” discourse, even when it scores a prominent spot on prime-time television.