‘Obama the Antichrist’ and end-times doctrine
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, a 21 year old from Idaho Falls, Idaho was charged this week with attempting to assassinate Barack Obama by firing rifle shots at the presidential residence at the White House. The president, Ortega-Hernandez reportedly maintained, is the Antichrist.
Whatever Ortega-Hernandez’s actual motive or mental health, and regardless of whether he truly believes the president is the pivotal figure in an apocalyptic end-times scenario, the idea that Obama might be the Antichrist (or that President Clinton before him, or any unnamed president of the European Union) is a durable one in the evangelical imagination. As the historian Matthew Avery Sutton has noted, such apocalyptism “was fringe among conservatives 150 years ago” but “is now mainstream. It’s just the air they breathe.”
The Antichrist, as depicted in the end-times imaginings of prominent American evangelists, is the demonic figure who deceives the world with false promises of peace, but instead, installs a “one-world government”, “one-world economy”, and a “one-world religion”, captivating the planets’ inhabitants before Jesus returns with the Truth and vanquishes the Antichrist at Armageddon.
That, in turn, has fuelled a dizzying parade of conspiracy theories. Might the Antichrist be gay? Jewish? European? The instigator of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians? A Georgia man has even sued his employer over its firing of him for refusing to wear a sticker that showed his factory had been accident-free for 666 days, because that number is the mark of the Antichrist. In the apocalyptic imagination, the Antichrist is a deceiver, so who knows?
Left Behind author and end-times entrepreneur Tim LaHaye said in 2008 there’s no evidence in the Bible that the Antichrist is American, so it couldn’t be Obama. Imagine how LaHaye’s 2008 statement was construed by Armageddon seers who insist Obama isn’t a real American, particularly since they believe the Antichrist is a deceiver.