The Left Behind Books Part I
The Background – Hating America
|First Book of the Left Behind series|
Almost 20 years ago Tim LaHaye and his writer Jerry B. Jenkins started putting out one of the most successful publishing successes of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. This was of course the Left Behind series of books which sold in the millions upon millions and helped to make Tim LaHaye a major player in the Evangelical movement in America. What is of interest in this series of books is that they are a revenge fantasy of murderous wish fulfilment.1
Now Tim LaHaye was in the 1960’s and 1970’s and into the 1980’s considered a marginal, extremist figure even in the Conservative Evangelical movement. In fact Tim LaHaye had for years been purveying a whole mess of conspiracy theories involving “Secular Humanism” and “Communism”; involving alleged “Satanic” influences that were working to undermine and destroy Christianity and working to ensure the triumph of Lucifer / Satan. Now Tim LaHaye is no longer a marginal figure for the huge success of his books has turned him from paranoid conspiracy theorist into a respectable Evangelical thinker. 2
Part of this web of conspiratorial thinking includes “International Bankers” and other subversive forces that are working secretly behind closed doors to destroy the “True Faith” and inaugurate the rule of the “Evil One”. This thinking goes back to what has been called the "Paranoid style” of American politics. The idea of subversives under the bed and frankly paranoid fear of change and the “other”. Thus it is no coincidence that Tim LaHaye ideology is similar to the mythology put forth by such paranoid organizations such as The John Birch Society which has been spouting for years paranoia about “progressives” under the bed in secret alliance with wicked foreign agents trying to destroy the “real” America.3
Thus Tim LaHaye shrieks about a “One World Government”, about alleged attempts to “subvert” US sovereignty etc. In Tim LaHaye’s paranoid world conspiracy “subversive” agents are working to destroy all that is Godly and good. Thus the UN is a “Satanic” force out to serve Satan’s will. The advance of “Secular Humanism” or just plain secularism is the result of satanic influences and the machinations of secret conspirators, including “International Bankers” to spread Satan’s power and corrupt the world and fight Christ.4
In other words Tim LaHaye does not even concede to his enemies good faith. They are by definition tools of Satan and has such are simply evil. This is called othering and no doubt makes it so much easier for Tim LaHaye to write the revenge fantasy that is the Left Behind books.
Thus Tim LaHaye inhabits the world of paranoid right wing American politics in which the sons of light are in perpetual conflict with the sons of darkness. Now of course one does not reason with or negotiate with Satan’s minions. One fights them tooth and nail. Intrinsic cosmic evil is destroyed by intrinsic cosmic good instead of negotiated with.
Allied to this is Tim LaHaye’s deep belief in theocracy. Tim LaHaye deeply and sincerely believes that the “proper” social order is one based on the Bible. Society should reflect what the Bible literally says. There is however a big however in all this. Society should reflect that the Bible literally says according to Tim LaHaye’s interpretation.
Thus Biblical pronouncements that Tim LaHaye does not approve of are explained away if not ignored, interpretations are called “literal” readings of the text and so forth. This is frankly typical of all religious thinkers and believers. This is so because every religious text invariably contains contradictions and stuff that may have fit the time they were written but do not fit today. So people have to pick and choose. Fundamentalists are just more likely to deny that they are in fact doing this than other types of believers.5
Tim LaHaye therefore wants the rule of the Saints and the imposition of “God given” law and as such he is part of a whole movement in America that wants and desires the imposition of a theocratic tyranny in America and the rule of the Saints. The implicit and sometimes explicit model for this is the Puritan theocracy of early New England with its witch burnings and punishment of "Heretics”; sometimes by death.6
The bottom line is that on a fundamental level Tim LaHaye and others like him deeply hate and fear both the modern world and America. Why do I say he hates America? Certainly Tim LaHaye and others like him mouth the most fervid patriotic devotion to America and hurl anathemas on those who “hate” America etc. It is too a large extent mere projection and camouflage designed to deflect attention from the deep hatred Tim LaHaye and other’s feel for both the modern world and America.
You see Tim LaHaye and others like him do love America but it is the abstract, theocratic and Christian America of their wish fulfillment fantasy. Actual America Tim LaHaye and people like him despise. A perfect example of this mindset is when the horrible 9/11 attacks occurred Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell said the following concerning who was “really” responsible for 9/11:
Falwell “The ACLU got to take a lot of the blame for this.” [The 9/11 atrocity.]
Robertson “Oh Yeah”
Falwell “I know I’ll hear from them for this but throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.”
"I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Robertson "Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we’ve adopted that agenda at the highest levels of government so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. The top people includes the Court system."7
Falwell “Did you notice yesterday that the ACLU and all the Christ haters; the American people for the American way, NOW etcetera were totally disregarded by Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on to the steps and called out unto God in prayer and sang God Bless America and said let the ACLU be hanged. In other words when the nation is on its knees the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time calling upon God.”
Thus The America of 2001, corrupt, far from God was deserving of the most severe punishment and was a wicked and ungodly place. Further it illustrates that what truly gets these people’s goat and causes them to hate America is the secularism of the American state and increasingly of society. Nothing but nothing causes them more anguish. America’s refusal to impose the rule of Saints and a Christian theocracy bothers them to no end.
Thus they most devotedly hate and despise the separation of Church and State. That the very constitution enshrines this separation is ignored. That most of signers of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were secularists is of course ignored.
After 9/11 President Bush declared that the reason that Muslim Terrorists had attacked America was because:
“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”8
Now Bush got some deserved ridicule for this statement, which however is still partially true. Given that Fundamentalist theocrats, which Bin Laden and his associates were and are, would fear and despise a free society by definition. However what Bush missed was that so many of the Fundamentalists of the Tim LaHaye sort hate and despise America for her Freedoms also. For it is the very secularism and Freedom that America has that evokes within them the most derision and spite.
Thus the very freedom of American society evokes the contempt of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and the failure to impose “Biblical Morality” pisses off them and other Theocrats like Tim LaHaye. For by definition the failure to impose “Biblical Morality” is a moral failing of cosmic proportions. That America is secular and worldly is a sin, that God and his alleged moral teachings are not the basis of the state is a fact causing among them profound sorrow.
Thus the efforts and desire to impose a “Biblical” “Godly” morality on the states citizens and the desire to impose theocracy. That America was founded by Secularists, that its founding fathers explicitly rejected the idea of theocracy is ignored. That the US Constitution explicitly calls for the rejection of the idea of a unification of Church and State; in fact calls for the separation of them, is ignored. That some of the founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson rejected Christianity and had nothing but contempt for the idea of theocratic government is also rejected / ignored.9
In fact people like Bryan Fischer, Tim LaHaye, the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson engaged / engage in truly Orwellian doublethink in order to twist the very secular founding fathers into support for their theocratic vision. Much is ignored but falsification runs rampant among the true believers. That the great majority of the founding fathers were secularists who believed firmly in the separation of Church and State is ignored / denied. That a very sizable number were Deists and many not Christian at all is both denied and ignored. Since however the founding fathers have immense ideological importance they are appropriated and subject to distortion and the memory hole to advance the theocratic agenda. Thus Jefferson who viewed much of Christianity, including the virgin birth and resurrection has absurd fables is turned into a Christian. If Jefferson was alive today he would be viewed by Tim LaHaye and others as an evil “Secular Humanist”, a tool / minion of Satan. Since however he is a revered figure he is appropriated and distorted totally out of shape to serve theocratic ends. Thus Tim LaHaye and others turn the founding fathers into anti-American icons.10
Thus we get Fundamentalist fanatics like Bryan Fischer who explicitly reject the notion of separation of Church and State, who also reject the idea that Freedom of religion includes non-Christian religions and in fact manifest hatred of religious pluralism and Freedom. Bryan Fischer thus shows clearly his deep seated hatred and contempt for America. What he wants is the theocratic rule of Saints and a rejection of the founding principles of America. In his own way Tim LaHaye similarly longs for one faith and rejects religious pluralism and the secularism that that secularism made possible. Instead Tim LaHaye wants and desires a “Bible based” society that involves a deep rejection of core American values and hence a rejection of America itself.11
This is indicated by Tim LaHaye’s idea of the ideal society. It is one ruled by “Biblical” morality with just one “true” faith all others being idolatry that have to be snuffed out. A Society ruled by the blatant religious code of the Old Testament, excluding those parts Tim LaHaye doesn’t like.
In the end Tim LaHaye and others like him harbour a deep hatred of the values of the Enlightenment and all that flows from that. The result is a deep and abiding hatred of one of the preeminent results of the European Enlightenment that is the American Revolution and the resulting USA and its Constitution. Instead of the Enlightenment values of Tolerance, Openness and Reason they seek the values of Dogma and Faith. Instead of a state that is resolutely neutral in terms of “Faith” they seek one that is actively promoting one particular Faith. In other words a Theocracy – the rule of Saints.
Thus in contra-distinction to Reason they seek to impose Creationism thus attacking Reason and replacing it with Dogma. They also more or less desire that the State impose religion on others. Thus we hear the nonsense that the First Amendment only applies to Christianity. Which is patent nonsense. Thus they assert, against the evidence, that the USA was founded as a Christian nation going against the quite secular aims of the founders.
In the Left Behind books we see clearly especially at the end Tim LaHaye’s ideal society. It is one with one religion and one Leader and all the evil ones - those who have beliefs and opinions different from Tim LaHaye et al, punished and damned to Hell has minions of Satan. Thus values that are different from Tim LaHaye’s et al are by definition satanic values worthy of damnation. Plurality of religious opinions is by definition evil because error should not be tolerated.
The America that is is the object of deep hatred by this type of religious Fundamentalist and so are many of the core values of America. However in their propaganda people like Tim LaHaye proclaim over and over again that they worship America and embrace its core values and the values of the founders of America. Since however they reject the secularism of the founders, reject on a deep level religious pluralism and seek to impose and desire the rule of a Biblical Theocracy it is rather obvious that this stuff is mere propaganda and / or self-deception. For they reject deeply and passionately the Enlightenment values that serve as the basis for America and American values in government and public / political discourse. In so far has present day America embodies the core values of the Enlightenment it is the object of hate by Tim LaHaye et al who long for the “Godly” rule of the Saints; a theocracy ruled by God in person.
The retreat of “Faith” has led to the creation of vicarious fantasies of revenge by the “Faithful” and the Left Behind Books are outstanding examples of such wish fulfilment. In a later posting I will get to the books themselves here I will merely note that the books and the ideology they represent reflect a deep rejection of American values and has such is the ideology of America haters.
1. See Left Behind, Wikipedia Here. The above Web site says a total of 63 million books of this series have been sold. The first book being published in 1995 and the last (12th) being published in 2004.
2. Tim LaHaye was the author of such risible fare as The UnHappy Gays, Tyndale House, Carol Stream IL, 1978, and The Battle for the Mind, Revell, Old Tappan NJ, 1980, which clearly showed his conspiratorial mindset. Standaert, Michael, Skipping Towards Armageddon, Soft Skull Press, Brooklyn NY, 2006, pp. 81-105.
3. IBID, Standaert. Pat Robertson, Evangelical preacher / talk show host, wrote a book called The New World Order, World Publishing, Dallas TX, 1991. The book is a grab bag of conspiracy paranoia centering around Satanic “International Bankers”. In other words the book is bonkers. Tim LaHaye’s beliefs are similar and just as Paranoid. For the John Birch Society and paranoia see John Birch Society, Wikipedia Here. Even the studied neutrality of Wikipedia can’t hide the loonyness of the John Birch Society.
4. Footnote 2 Standaert.
5. See Spong, John Selby, Saving the Bible from Fundamentalism, Harperone, New York, NY, 1992.
6. See Standaert, pp. 167-177.
7. Ambinder, Marc, Falwell Suggests Gays to Blame for Attack, Sept 14, 2001, ABC News Here and can be heard - Here. I transcribed the missing portions from the ABC story from the recording of the broadcast.
8. Transcript of President Bush’s Address, September 21, 2001, CNN.com, Here.
9. See Rodda, Chris, Debunking David Barton's Jefferson Lies (Because They Still Need to Be Debunked), Huffington Post, Here.
10. IBID. The works of the “Historian” David Barton are especially noteworthy for special pleading and lying about the Founding Fathers and how “Christian” and theocratic they allegedly were. His books are worthless as history so I will not give any reference to them. You can google him if you want to find his worthless books. Fischer is an out and out theocrat who wants “Biblical Morality” imposed and doesn’t think the First Amendment gives religious freedom to non-Christians. For an example of his theocratic notions see this earlier posting of mine, Here.
11. Standaert, pp. 151-165.