I shouldn't be astounded at the profound depths of superstition into which great chunks of America has sunk anymore. Really, nothing should surprise me when it comes to the extremes of irrationality that grips far too many people anymore. Nonetheless, it does. It truly does. Even as some of the world comes to better understand the world as it is, to peer deep into the heart of matter and prize out the basic mechanisms by which it works, other parts of it retreat further and further into the dark dungeon of ignorance and fear and bar the door behind them.
It is thus that we find that there are people walking among us who are utterly terrified of the supernatural implications of the last presidential election. Apparently, it's the boogeyman who will be moving into the White House in January. Hellfire is going to rain down upon the planet because of this. The world is ending.
The number one question being asked: Is Barack Obama the antichrist? I've received dozens of emails pointing out the odd fact that the day after the election, the daily pick-three lottery number in Obama's home state of Illinois was "6-6-6..."Ummm, yeah. See pp. 51-59 of John Allen Paulos' Irreligion about that first paragraph. On November 5, as on every day, there are several numbers drawn in the Illinois lottery, and the fact is that the Evening Pick 3 number was 666. By the same token, the Midday Pick 3 was 779 and the Evening Pick 4 was 7779. What to make of that set of two numbers numbers? The odds that the combination 7-7-9 would be picked twice in the same day is far smaller than the odds off 6-6-6 being drawn once, so it would seem to me that on purely probabilistic terms the first combination would be far more significant than the latter, but this is a classic case of confirmation bias. 6-6-6 has a special significance to some people, whereas 7-7-9 doesn't, so they notice one number while ignoring the other. It's also worth noting that 6-6-6 was also drawn as the winning number for the Midday Pick 3 of the Illinois lottery on 10/23/08, the Evening Pick 4 (as 0-6-6-6) on 7/5/08 (the day after Independence Day! Clearly, America is Satanic!), the Evening Pick 3 on 3/22/08 the first day of Spring!), and the Evening Pick 3 on 1/16/08, and nobody made a big deal about these other four instances of the same number being drawn on these other days in the very same lottery. Why is that? Simple: on those days, it was simply a random number, just as it was the fifth time it was picked in 2008 on November 5.
I don't see anything shocking in last week's election. I do believe strongly that a dark demonic cloud has swept over the land, but this is how we should expect the end times to play out. And, I foresee more negative events to come. The only thing that worries me is the Christians who fail to see the danger that comes from prophecy being fulfilled in our day.
I believe we are entering a time when Christians really need to set their priorities. Your last chance to do something for the kingdom of God may be sooner than you realize...
— Todd Strandberg, "Fasten Your Seatbelts"
It's all in their heads, of course. Sheer superstitious nonsense... omens and portents and witchcraft. Some people who want to believe that the next President of the United States is the Anti-christ go out of their way to find evidence to support their conclusion, then trumpet it about the lunatic echo-chamber until it becomes some superstitious blogger's "number one question." Said blogger, sharing to some extent in the belief (in this case, that Obama may not be the Anti-christ, but he's certainly going to help set this mythical figure on some throne) doesn't do any research to determine if there could be any significance. He simply furthers the ignorance and insanity in which he shares and chucks out a bunch of self-serving babble drawn from something entirely unrelated to American politics, probabilities or evidence from the same lottery that might refute the very thing he mentions yet again. Why dispel a bizarre rumor with sound information when you can preserve it with gibberish?
But wait, what if Obama isn't merely the Anti-christ? What if he's Satan himself! Isn't that special?
I have never been one for making "political" commentary, and I'll admit I haven't deeply explored the issues, but watching from the sideline, I am seeing some connections between our new president, and our old prophecies. Seems like people have been looking for the Antichrist for years, and each generation has never been disappointed to find one, even several! Maybe we have moved past that now to something even more ominous - the beast...Who could possibly refute the argument that people being overwhelmingly concerned about economics during a period of economic stress and voting accordingly is evidence that the person they voted for is Satan? I mean, aside from anyone who wasn't already of the opinion that the person elected was some supernatural force of evil. That economic collapse itself might usher in a period of terrible hardships across the nation and around the globe isn't important. What's important is that anyone who doesn't agree with Nicodemus' priorities, based in turn on his religious ideology, just helped but Beelzebub in power. Shame on you, worrying about the possibility of your kids not being able to get a higher education, about not having money on which to survive after retirement, about being able to keep your family fed and sheltered. All of that's just a distraction! Your family doesn't need such things, because Jesus is signing unemployment checks.
I have heard of Christians who voted for him for economic reasons. They believe he will save the economy. If economics is the most important thing, then our focus is in the wrong place. We cannot serve both God and money. Incidentally, there is only one other reference that I know of in the Bible regarding the number 666, and it is regarding Solomon's gold. If the mark of the beast has to do with our love of gold instead of our love of God, then maybe this is the time when the man of lawlessness has been revealed. Just maybe.
Still, for sheer desperation to believe that Obama heralds the end of the world, it's hard to beat the blatant idiocy of "evidence" like this:
One thing that has amazed me is how Barack Obama is not only considered to be a president-elect of the United States, but also president OF THE WORLD...The fact that the election of Obama is celebrated by a world that has worried over the last eight years of the Bush Doctrine of preemptive warfare against any nation we think might be some kind of threat at some point in the future is a sign of the apocalypse, you see. That Obama is charismatic, that he might have (shudder to think!) a global view, that he's not bellicose and threatening, that the world might breathe a collective sigh of relief... these are signs of an evil nature. Normally, of course, the United States elects uncharismatic presidents who are lazy and anti-intellectual, who view the outside world as a threat, whose finger trembles perennially just above the metaphorical big red button. The election of someone not like this, someone that the rest of humanity thinks might actually be a shift away from a dangerous America, is evidence that he might be the Antichrist.
The Economist reported that Mr. Obama "quickly scooped support from readers in China, India and most of Europe, as well as from the United States itself. Mr. Obama won the backing of an overwhelming share of voters in 56 countries — including the likes of Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia and South Korea — claiming the support of 90 percent (or more) of those who voted."
The world map was almost a monochromatic blue expressing strong support for Obama, including in the Philippines. The only exceptions were Iraq, Algeria, Cuba and Congo in favoring Sen. John McCain. The general result of this Global Electoral College poll may look lopsided, but it is not unexpected. Opinion polls including one carried by the BBC also revealed that Mr. Obama is the world's overwhelming choice.
How about that? This is significant considering that the Antichrist will also have support of most of the world when he begins his reign. I cannot think of a time in history when an American president was viewed as an "overwhelming choice of the world."
Another fascinating feature about the antichrist is his charismatic personality that leaves people awe struck...
— Rich Wilbur, "Is Barack Obama The Antichrist?"
Now, in all fairness this same author isn't fully convinced that Obama is the son o' Satan:
...Remember, the identity of the antichrist is not for us to know, but for the world to know. He will offer himself up to the world...Hmmm... then again, Rich Wilbur is saying that Obama "fills the bill." Wilbur doesn't know that Obama is the Antichrist, but he clearly could be, and Wilbur spends a good deal of time in this piece providing evidence that he is before leaving himself an out at the very end of his supernaturally paranoid screed just in case, you know, it turns out that he isn't.
In the mean time, we will continue to watch and pray and make associations of what the bible says about the antichrist to Obama or anyone else who fits the bill.
Of course, we can save any of these bloggers the trouble by simply pointing out that history is filled with Antichrists pointed out by any number of Millennialists and the world is still here and they're still in it. The thing is, these people want to believe this nonsense. They're living in a demon-haunted world, a sort of paranoid parallel universe, inhabited by Christ and Antichrist, witches and ghosts and things lurking under the bed. Spooky stuff, that.
You know, sooner or later someone inspired by the kind of religious fear embodied by these three authors (and untold thousands more equally fretful true-believers; these are just three examples I happened across) is going to try to "stop the Antichrist" with a bullet. It's a pathetic likelihood, but I'm sorry to say that I think it's coming. It'll be someone like Jim Adkisson, some self-styled foot soldier who gets "the message" and decides to do something about it. Sooner or later, there's going to be one lunatic out there who thinks that he or she is going to be covered in glory for attempting to put a bullet into the 44th President/Antichrist/Terrorist-in-Chief.
This is the sickness that confronts us, even here in the 21st century, centuries after the Enlightenment. Americans still believe in evil spirits, and they believe that anything they don't like is the result of one of them. And then, sooner or later, one of them tries to kill it.