Alt-Facts and the ‘Anti-Christ’

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Talk radio host

Views from the Edge re-publishes this piece on Maundy Thursday, 2017. It first appeared here on March 24, 2010. Sadly, nothing much has changed. The U.S. was sucker-punched by the apocalyptic spirituality of the alt-right politics of Rush Limbaugh and Steve Bannon.

Something from the Christian tradition – the idea of ‘the Anti-Christ’ – is lifting its ugly head, a word and concept that could trigger unthinkable tragedy unless we clean up our civil discourse.

According to Harris Interactive Poll taken between March 1 and 8, “more than 20% believe [President Obama] was not born in the United States, that he is ‘the domestic enemy the U.S. Constitution speaks of,’ that he is racist and anti-American, and that he ‘wants to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers.’ Fully 20% think he is ‘doing many of the things that Hitler did,’ while 14% believe ‘he may be the anti-Christ’ and 13% think ‘he wants the terrorists to win.”

The poll reflects what we all know: our civic health as a nation is being poisoned by inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle. This toxic disregard for truth lies behind the results of the Harris Poll. Trigger words like ‘socialist,’ ‘communist,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘anti-American,’ and ‘the Anti-Christ’ and the allegation that America’s first black president is the nation’s chief domestic enemy take us beyond the McCarthyism of the ‘50s. This cocktail is lethal.

As a Christian pastor I rue the use of Christian scripture to stoke the fires of fear and hate. The Christian life – or spiritual life of any sort, for that matter – is a life of discernment about the powers that shape ordinary life. It is not blind to evil. But loud spirituality is an oxymoron. We need to be reminded that all the great religions hold some version of the essential tenet expressed in the First Letter of John. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” and “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”

Labeling the President of the United States ‘the Anti-Christ” gives deranged minds a license to kill . . . in the name of the non-violent, crucified Jesus. If some deranged American patriot like the Marine who plotted to assassinate the President should succeed . . . God forbid! . . . the blood will be on the hands of all who remained silent when the hate speech was being poured into the public stream of consciousness. And if you claim to be a disciple of Jesus, get yourself to church Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to ground yourself again in the love that conquers hate and fear.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Maundy Thursday morning, Chaska, MN.

12 thoughts on “Alt-Facts and the ‘Anti-Christ’

  1. Interesting that you quote from 1 John, which is the source of the word “anti-Christ”. Which in its biblical context was used to refer to people who denied that Christ was an incarnate human being – ie that he was present in spirit only. So this was a term used in a battle of theologies.
    This is something I only just learnt today as I read my way through Marcus Borg’s Evolution of the Word. It really makes me think that too few Christians actually know what is in the New Testament (and I humbly include myself in that statement).
    I have just raced through Revelation, because I have always be too scared to read it and discovered it is a beautiful book! Somewhat macabre and gothic but full of stunning imagery and nothing like what most people think it is. And, for those who aren’t aware, no mention of the Anti-Christ.

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    • David, Great to hear from you. Interesting, isn’t it – that the term was coined in defense of the flesh-and-blood Jesus and against a spiritualism that saw corporeal existence as either less than real or ….? Harvard New Testament scholar Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza’s has a nice commentary on The Book of Revelation.

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  2. Politically Speaking: I think that President Obama is the best president of my long life time. I think that Adolph Hitler and his cult followers are the worst criminals in the history of the world. I think that I live in the best part of the worst part of the best state in the country. I live in a community that I love that was the dream project of a prominent Minnesota Republican. I came to live in this community from the state with the most liberal reputation of all, California… I came from the California bright star county that voted for George McGovern for president, along with Minnesota. It is so hugely refreshing for me to hear Pastor Stewart discussing issues… like this one about the influence on our lives of the existence of millions of humans who believe that Barrack Obama is a Hitler-like person, and the article previous to this about speaking aloud “the experiences along the way.” I can speak aloud my experience, can’t I? Pastor Stewart is my favorite religious leader, since I used to listen to every published word of Martin Luther King in the 1960s. Thanks for being on the case Rev. I have love for everyone who pays attention to Rev Stewart.

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    • Hi, Robert. One of these days invite me over for coffee and introduce me to this amazing man! He sounds a lot smarter and bolder than I, but if you respect him this much, I’d love to meet him, although, I must say, my history leaves me highly suspicious of religion, pastors and priests. 🙂

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  3. Gordon, this reminds of the fact that the 1st & only Catholic POTUS we ever elected was only allowed to serve for 1000 days before we found a way to eliminate him.

    It seems the same process is @ work here. Pres. Obama is @ about 1580 days in office so his enemies believe our 1st Black President has overstayed his welcome too. His enemies have to be much more subtle than an outright assassination.

    Of course we could say the same about the Bushes & Clinton but the negative energy seems to be of a greater intensity with JFK & BHO.

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    • I wish this weren’t true. but the energy of hate directed at the President exceeds anything I have seen in my lifetime. Whatever we (the American people) thought of a former President, and however much we disagreed or detested his actions and policies, this is the first time in my lifetime that the vitriol calls the President “the Anti-Christ’. It’s not a coincidence, of course, that the appellation is used for America’s first black President. I pray for his physical safety every day and pray for the nation’s sanity even more.

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