Print More

I’ve been thinking some more about the following passage from Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning:

John Green, of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, says that about 10 percent of Americans believe we may be in the Book of Revelation’s “end times” and are on the lookout for the Antichrist. A constant barrage of e-mail and broadcasts suggest that Mr. Obama just may be it.

It’s one thing to charge a presidential candidate with being an atheist, as some Federalists charged Thomas Jefferson in 1800; or with taking orders from the pope, as some Protestants charged John F. Kennedy in 1960. Those are both propositions capable of being discussed according to what the philosopher John Rawls called public reason–the common reasoning of all citizens in a pluralist society. We all can weigh the evidence for and against Jefferson’s atheism, for and against Kennedy’s obedience to the pope. But the claim that a presidential candidate is or may be the Antichrist is subject only to nonpublic reason–reasoning among the particular religious community that happens to believe that the End Times are upon us, or could be. It invites the rest of us into a discussion of something that is, for us, unreal. For us, there’s literally nothing to discuss.

  • Anonymous

    Why not discuss the irrationality and the prostitution of the Christian faith that is involved in the charge that candidate X is the Anti-Messiah?
    Such charges (or suggestions) are not exercises of religous faith so much as politicizing by the Religious Right.

  • Mark Silk

    Of course one can have that discussion.

  • Mike Shannon

    I just can’t envision JFK as the Antichrist. Even if he is alive today, he is 91 years old. (Birth Year was 1917. It is my understnading that he will be assassinated (or at least an attempt made) shortly before he is “ressurected”. That would not fit Kennedy. Also, the only photograph that I have seen of a wheelchair-bound JFK post- assassination was taken from the front page of the “Weekly World News”. So the credibility of the particular person who was touting JFK as AC was shot to pieces in my mind. But the bottom line is this: No one will know who the Antichrist is until he is revealed. And I don’t mean revealed by someone using prophecy, numerology, etc, to try to figure it out.