(RNS) – The editor of the Nashville Tennessean has vowed to investigate how a full-page ad predicting a nuclear attack by Muslims purchased by a breakaway Seventh-day Adventist group ran in the paper.
A version of the ad from Future for America, a “prophecy ministry” based in Arkansas, ran on Sunday (June 21). The ad featured a photo of Pope Francis and Donald Trump in front of an American flag and was filled with dire warnings and a few Bible verses. Its authors claim that Trump will be the last president of the United States and that Trump’s feud with Democrats was predicted by the Bible.
“We are under conviction to not only tell you but to provide evidence that July 18, 2020, Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee,” the ad began. It also included a link to a detailed Bible study and website.
On Sunday afternoon, after a backlash appeared on social media, Michael A. Anastasi, vice president and editor of the Tennessean, denounced the ad and said an investigation was underway. The paper reported that its advertising policies forbid hate speech.
“The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published,” Anastasi told the Tennessean. “It has hurt members of our community and our own employees and that saddens me beyond belief. It is inconsistent with everything the Tennessean as an institution stands and has stood for.”
Bible prophecy teacher Jeff Pippenger of Future for America told Religion News Service in an email that he wrote one version of the ad and a friend from Ireland wrote a different version of the ad, which ran earlier in the week.
Pippenger said the ministry paid for the ad, which he said was inspired by the work of Ellen White, one of the co-founders of the Seventh-day Adventist church.
He said that he and the others behind the ad consider themselves Seventh-day Adventists, “though some such as me have been removed from their membership by the Adventist Church because of our prophetic beliefs.” The ad itself also criticizes what it calls the “backslidden Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
The Future for America ministry claims its mission is “to proclaim the final warning message of Revelation 14 as identified by the prophecies of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.”
“The end-time fulfillment of Bible prophecy is no longer future-for it is taking place before our eyes,” its website claims.
Pippenger said that plans to run more ads were now on hold.
“We were going to do a mail out, but the printing company that had agreed to print and mail it out backed out based upon counsel from their attorneys.”
The ad was reminiscent of similar warnings from the late radio preacher Harold Camping, best known for his 2011 prediction about the end of the world.