The Debate Rages On...
"Left Behind" Authors: Obama Not Antichrist
By Michelle Boorstein
This may be a first for a presidential campaign: A debate about whether one of the candidates is the Antichrist.
The latest round began with the McCain campaign Web ad released earlier this month called "The One." The spot includes clips of Obama seeming to imply he is God's choice, shots of Charlton Heston, stairs in the clouds (to heaven?) and images that some say are meant to mimic those in the wildly popular "Left Behind" book series about the end of the world that feature the Antichrist.
Some Obama supporters pounced on the ad, which was released in early August, saying it deliberately was meant to stoke a debate that's been going on among some Christians for months: Whether Obama is the Antichrist.
"This was not some YouTube video put together in someone's basement. It was a professionally and carefully produced ad that had a much more sinister subtext that millions of Americans will pick up on," said the Eleison Group, which advises Democratic candidates on faith issues, in a statement. "This is the use of religion at its very worst in politics because it is an attempt to subtly and perhaps even subconsciously play on some of the deepest fears of millions of evangelical Americans."
Despite months of Antichrist chatter on the right, from the questions posed on the talk show of popular conservative host Glenn Beck to the horned-O coffee mugs, stickers and T-shirts for sale from conservative Web site RedState.com, the McCain campaign says its ad is being taken too seriously.
"This is absurd. It's obviously a lighthearted ad having some fun with Senator Obama's tendency to get carried away with audacious statements," campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said today in an e-mail.
The debate over the debate has gotten so intense that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the authors of the "Left Behind" series, issued a statement clarifying that Obama is likely not the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation. "I've gotten a lot of questions the last few weeks asking if Obama is the Antichrist," Jenkins told Christian Newswire. "I tell everyone that I don't think the Antichrist will come out of politics, especially American politics."
LaHaye has said he recognized echoes of his books in the McCain ad.
Meanwhile, even political junkies seem to be getting Antichrist fatigue.
"The people who think Obama might be the Antichrist and the people who think the McCain campaign is cannily designing its campaign ads to exploit fears that Obama might be the Antichrist deserve each other," wrote Ross Douthat of the Atlantic.
Posted at 4:28 PM ET on Aug 14, 2008
The Debate Rages On...
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