Apocalyptic fears and the 2012 election

Updated
Republican candidates Michele Bachmann, Willard M. Romney and Rick Perry
Republican candidates Michele Bachmann, Willard M. Romney and Rick Perry
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The world didn’t end on May 21, 2011 as predicted by Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping. But you probably know that already because you’re reading this blog post.

Among a thriving section of evangelicals, the end is still nigh. To them, recent events — natural disasters, radical Islam, famine, economic meltdown — all signal the approaching apocalypse.

An interesting editorial in yesterday’s New York Times takes a look at fears of the Christian right and how it’s driving politics.

The world in 2011 resembles the world of the 1930s in many respects. International turmoil and a prolonged economic downturn have fueled distrust of government, as has the rise of a new libertarianism represented in the explosive growth of the Tea Party.

Op-ed author Matthew Avery Sutton says these voters will go for the Republican candidate based on their belief that Obama is quite literally the Antichrist:

For some evangelicals, President Obama is troubling. The specious theories about his place of birth, his internationalist tendencies, his measured support for Israel and his Nobel Peace Prize fit their long-held expectations about the Antichrist. So does his commitment to expanding the reach of government in areas like health care.

In 2008, the campaign of Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, presciently tapped into evangelicals’ apocalyptic fears by producing an ad, “The One,” that sarcastically heralded Mr. Obama as a messiah. Mr. McCain was onto something. Not since Roosevelt have we had a president of charisma and global popularity, who so perfectly fits the evangelicals’ Antichrist mold.

Current GOP candidate Michele Bachmann is happy to court this crowd, as proof when she recently declared herself a “Teavangelical.”

Sutton, an associate professor of history at Washington State University, will be on the show tonight. Lawrence will discuss how this is playing out with a variety of 2012 candidates.

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Apocalyptic fears and the 2012 election

Updated