End Times: Behold, the end is near. At least that's what the Rapture Index suggests. Factoring 45 categories--from liberalism to apostasy to "Beast Government"--the index hits the level dubbed "Fasten your seatbelts" when it surpasses 145 points. Now it's at 153. But as the site explains, the index "is by no means meant to predict the rapture, however, the index is designed to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture." Jon Carroll of The San Francisco Chronicle writes that "The Rapture is a good thing, and therefore floods, famine, drought and all that are also good things because they portend the coming of end times. Even liberalism is a good thing, because there need to be a lot of Christ-deniers for the end times to come..."

Think it's funny? Don't. It's fairly mainstream ideology among Bush backers, as evidenced by frequent contributions to Bush Country and The Conservative Voice and the popularity of Tim LaHaye's million-selling Left Behind books (Volume I, "A Novel of the Earth's Last Days," is Amazon's 1,329th best seller) . Theologian Tom Harpur writes in the Toronto Star of a conference he attended in Destin, Florida, called "Left Behind: A Conference on Biblical Prophecy about End Times" and featuring LaHaye:
To sum up the essence of the three speaker's messages all that long Saturday, I have never heard so much venom and dangerous ignorance spouted before an utterly unquestioning, otherwise normal-looking crowd in my life. For the $25 fee, the 800 devotees certainly got a plateful.

There were stunning statements about humans having been only 6,000 years on Earth and other denials of contemporary geology and biology. And we learned that the Rapture, which could happen any second now, but certainly within the next 40 years, will instantly sweep all the "saved" Americans (perhaps one-half the population) to heaven, leaving the United States as "a Third World country" with the European Union becoming the revived Roman Empire.

But these fantasies were harmless compared with the hatred against Islam that followed. Here are some direct quotes: "Islam is an intolerant religion — and it's clear whose side we should be on in the Middle East." Applause greeted these words: "Allah and Jehovah are not the same God ... Islam is a Satanic religion ...We will never be able to understand their (Muslim) mentality ... They're going to attack Israel for certain. ..."
Earlier: From 2001, Left Behind, The Movie!

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