Left Behind’s Anti-Semitism: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Frank Schaeffer has written a great piece for the Huffington Post on the End Times theology which drove the Michigan Hutaree Militia.

The article draws direct ties between the mainstreaming of End Times theology and the trend towards violence which we are witnessing in the far-right wing of the American political spectrum.  But Schaeffer fails, in my opinion, to fully address the anti-Semitism which sits under the surface with the Tea Party movement and right-wing militias.

Schaeffer does mention the significance of anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideologies for Holocaust museum shooter James Von Brunn.

Sometimes right-wing paranoia takes an ugly twist. A website maintained by James Von Brunn, an avowed racist and anti-Semite well known to the netherworld of white supremacy — and the assassin who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in June of 2009 — said that Brunn tried to carry out a “citizen’s arrest” in 1981 on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, whom he accused of “treason.” When he was arrested outside the room where the board was meeting, he was carrying a sawed-off shotgun, a revolver, and a knife. Police said he planned to take members of the Fed hostage.

Von Brunn’s actions represent some of the more extreme factions of the far-right but the belief in End Times theology, and the associated anti-Semitism and Christian Supremacism, is becoming dangerously mainstream.

At the heart of the mainstream End Times theology is the Left Behind empire of books and movies which have reached a truly staggering level of acceptance in our society.

As a relatively young observer of this phenomenon, I vividly remember seeing the Left Behind books read in my high school and enjoyed by people who I hadn’t thought of as right-wing evangelicals or “end timers”.

Schaeffer is right to point out that the books promoted violence and a sense of persecution amongst evangelicals, but what struck me upon finally reading the first book was the thinly veiled anti-Semitism which seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the narrative.

The ADL expressed their reservations about the series in 2004.

Among those who have followed the series, there are varying opinions as to whether it is anti-Semitic. The fact that reasonable observers, both in and outside the church, have characterized as hostile to Jews some of the most successful books of the past decade suggests that these novels pose unusually subtle questions about what it means to be unfriendly to Jews.

The contention is not that the Left Behind cycle is explicitly derogatory and stereotyped – it is not. It describes, however, a world in which Jews are not as fully human as Christians – unless they become Christians.

Since the 1980s, forming alliances with the evangelical far-right has meant turning a blind-eye towards the anti-Semitism which increasingly bubbles to the surface.

Irving Kristol deserves much of the credit for linking the neoconservatives and the evangelical movement back in 1984.  But even then, Kristol found himself having to excuse patently anti-Semitic remarks made by his supposed allies.

Max Blumenthal writes:

Kristol’s apologia was inspired by the anti-Semitic ravings of a preacher named Bailey Smith. “I don’t know why God chose the Jews,” Smith had said. “They have such funny noses.” When Jewish groups pounced on those remarks and on those of Jerry Falwell, who told his followers that Jews “can make more money accidentally than you can on purpose,” Kristol rushed to the preachers’ defense.

“Why should Jews care about the theology of a fundamentalist preacher when they do not for a moment believe that he speaks with any authority on the question of God’s attentiveness to human prayer?” Kristol wrote. “And what do such theological abstractions matter as against the mundane fact that this same preacher is vigorously pro-Israel?”

While being “pro-Israel” and Islamophobic seem to be well accepted within the far-right, openly anti-Semitic language or ideas are still frowned upon.  But according to a recent Gallup poll (Daniel Luban wrote about if for LobeLog) “the strongest predictor of prejudice against Muslims is whether a person holds similar feelings about Jews.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. Interesting to compare this to the piece one of you wrote some weeks back, deatiling the philo-semitism (real or feigned) of anti-Muslin rightists, particularly in Europe. I’d like to see one of you try to bring both themes together into a coherent whole.

    As to the end-timers, what can one say? If only Diocletian had done a more thorough job. . . .

  2. Hi Eli, you make a good point about my article and in future I’ll do my best to go into the “End Times” issues with that in mind. Thanks, Frank

  3. I love that they asked for “Public Defenders” (and they thought they could bring down our government), undercover FBI agent, sweet. The simpleton Tea baggers keep missing the point. These are the same whiners that were crying when the McCain/Bailin ticket lost. Now they are crying again because their yelling and screaming (because they are haters not debaters or as others have dubbed them screamers not dreamers) did not stop the health care debate or the bill from passing. They think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something they are not the only ones that are armed and not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. Do not cry when regular people openly laugh at your group when they see on TV that your leaders are Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and your own turn coat Glenn Beck from the LDS. They do more to discredit you group on TV (powerful) than any of comments on the blog sphere. Yee Haw!

  4. This is the first I have heard of the teabaggers being anti semites and white supremist.
    I thought they were just pissed off big government right wingers haters…and right wingers usually love war mongering, Muslim terrier fighting, Israel.

    Is this actually true or a left wing ploy to further discredit the teabaggers?

    But I do agree with this…”the strongest predictor of prejudice against Muslims is whether a person holds similar feelings about Jews.”…for the most part…bigots will be bigots.

    I would say though that the whacko evangelicals are perfectly capable of hating Muslims while loving Jews…or whatever their version of “loving” the Jews is….which may be watching them get eaten by locust for refusing to convert while they ascend to heaven in their spaceship launched from Israel.

  5. How could they have gotten the moniker “teabaggers”? Do people know that is an underground pejorative, umm, descriptive phrase? It says so much more about them than they will ever know… :)

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