The World According to Tim LaHaye: Chapter Eight - The Age Old Conspiracy
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:33:59 PM EST
Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates (author info) Left Behind
The Rev. Tim LaHaye knows that the country is being subverted by the forces of Satan, and he knows who is behind the conspiracy. In his 1998 book, Rapture (Under Attack), LaHaye writes, "For twenty years my wife and I have worked tirelessly to halt the effects of this conspiracy on the church, our government, media, and the public schools; so obviously I am not hostile to the conspiracy theory" (p. 138).
Rapture (Under Attack) is an updated version of No Fear of the Storm, published in 1992. The main text is a defense of LaHaye's theological theories about the premillennial pre-tribulation Rapture. But in Rapture (Under Attack), LaHaye takes a moment to explain his views on the vast conspiracy:

I myself have been a forty-five year student of the satanically-inspired, centuries-old conspiracy to use government, education, and media to destroy every vestige of Christianity within our society and establish a new world order. Having read at least fifty books on the Illuminati, I am convinced that it exists and can be blamed for many of man's inhumane actions against his fellow man during the past two hundred years (p. 138).

According to LaHaye, "It was satanically-inspired in the brain of Dr. Adam Weishaupt...who launched the Illuminati...." (p. 138). According to a mix of some history and much myth, in 1776 Weishaupt set up a secretive philosophical and political society in Bavaria, the Illuminati, that then sent members into various Masonic lodges across Europe to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment. The Illuminati didn't last long, but in the late 1790s a series of books were published claiming that it was the Freemasons and their Illuminati allies who launched the French Revolution and unseated church-state oligarchies across the continent. LaHaye is not the only leader of the Christian Right to pick up this conspiracy theory.

Pat Robertson's 1991 book, The New World Order also supports the idea of a Freemason conspiracy "revealed in the great seal adopted at the founding of the United States." Robertson links Freemasonry to End Times predictions of a "mystery religion designed to replace the old Christian world order of Europe and America"  (p. 36).

Robertson goes on to state:

In earlier chapters, we have traced the infiltration of Continental Freemasonry by the new world philosophy of the order of the Illuminati, and its subsequent role in the French revolution. We then were able to find clear documentation that the occultic-oriented secret societies claiming descent from Illuminism and the French Revolution played a seminal role in the thinking of Marx and Lenin. Ibid., pp. 261-62.

Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind went after Robertson's conspiracy theories in The New York Review of Books, pointing out that Robertson took some of the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy allegations from sources that included antisemitic claims about the role of Jews in the vast plot that echoed the early 1900's hoax document, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Where do these ideas come from? Michelle Goldberg, Russ Bellant, and Matthew N. Lyons and I have all written about how several conspiracist claims and themes that originated in the John Birch Society in the 1960s are still current in today's Christian Right.  This is clearly the case with Robertson and LaHaye. No surprise, then, to find out that in the 1960s and 1970s, LaHaye lectured at John Birch Society seminars.

In her book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, Michelle Goldberg has shown how this works with the claim that there is a "War on Christmas." Goldberg, in an NPR interview, explained:

... it first shows up, as far as I've been able to find, in The International Jew, by Henry Ford, in the 20s, which is his book about malign Jewish conspiracies and Jewish influence in American life. And he talks about a plot to remove Christmas from the public square. And he also links together several different incidents in which Jewish groups objected to carol singing or to Christmas trees or to, you know, participating in Christmas pageants. Then it reoccurs in the 1950s, with the John Birch Society. And the enemy is no longer Jews. Now it's the United Nations' one-worlder. And they actually, in 1959, issued a pamphlet called "There Goes Christmas," warning about a plot to remove Christmas decorations from the nation's department stores and replace them with symbols of one-worldism as an opening wedge in the greater struggle to undermine the Christian character of America. (Garfield 2005)

Goldberg writes about this in her book, as well as two online articles, "How the Secular Humanist Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas," on Salon, and "Anti-Semitism and the Christmas Warriors," here on Talk2Action

Henry Ford was a big fan of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, itself based on the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy theory, adapted to indict Jews as the masterminds behind the doors of the Masonic Temples.  Robertson said he had been unaware of the antisemitic aspects of the cites in his book, and tried to blame it all on his researchers. LaHaye has carefully avoided antisemitic sources. But there is a synergy between the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy theory and the conspiracy theory that blames the Jews.

Goldberg explained in her Talk2Action essay:

To compare today's "war on Christmas" demagogues to Henry Ford is not to call them anti-Semites. Rather, they are purveyors of a conspiracy theory that repeatedly crops up in America. The malefactors change -- Jews, the U.N., the ACLU -- but the outlines stay the same. The scheme is always massive, reaching up to the highest levels of power.

And taking that last step into antisemitism is all too easy. According to Goldberg, as Christmas 2005 approached, Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly began to use rhetoric that seemed to be plucked from the allegations in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. "On November 28th, O'Reilly warned his radio listeners about a `very secret plan' to `diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A.'" The plan included financial wizard and philanthropist George Soros, the ACLU and the left-wing  media. O'Reilly's "insistence on a covert, coordinated plot against Christianity by moneymen, lawyers and left-wing journalists has some very, very ugly echoes, said Goldberg.

Very ugly indeed.

Sources

Chip Berlet, 1998, "Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes
Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism," The Public Eye, Vol. 12, Nos. 2 & 3, Fall.

Rob Boston, 2002, "Left Behind," Church and State, American United for Separation of Church and State, February.

Bob Garfield, 2005, interview with Michelle Goldberg, conducted by for
 "AWAY WITH THE MANGER," On The Media, National Public Radio, December 9, 2005.  

Michelle Goldberg, 2005, "How the secular humanist grinch didn't steal Christmas," Salon,

Michelle Goldberg, 2005, "Anti-Semitism and the Christmas warriors," Talk2Action,

Michael Lind, 1995, "On Pat Robertson: His Defenders", The New York Review of Books, April 20, pp. 67-68; and accompanying article: Jacob Heilbrunn, "On Pat Robertson: His Anti-Semitic Sources", pp. 68-71.

Pat Robertson, 1991, The New World Order. Dallas: Word Publishing.


On LaHaye:

by Chip Berlet

"Left Behind Video Reflects Bigoted Apocalyptic Violence of Original Fiction Series," (6/12/2006)

"LaHaye and Jenkins: Why is the Criticism Left Behind? "

The World According to Tim LaHaye: A Series
Part One: Hunting Down the Enemies
Part Two: Pre-Trib Perspectives
Part Three: Satanic Secular Humanism
Part Four: Secular Humanism as False Religion
Part Five: The Secular Humanist Web
Part Six: The Council for National Policy
Part Seven: Humanists Attack the Family
Part Eight: The Age Old Conspiracy


Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates


The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates

Chip's Blog




Display:
Get's a pretty free ride in the religious and otherwise mainstream press.  Especially for a having a record of statements that compare with Pat Robertson more outrageous views.


by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 09:19:13 PM EST

I just read the 8 part series "God, Calvin and Social Welfare" last night.
This great series ties a lot of loose ends together for me.

Now I want to read the 8 part series on Tim LaHaye.
But I can't find parts 4 and 7.
The link to part 4: Secular Humanism as False Religion takes me to part 4: Apocalypse and Social Welfare in the Calvin series.
Is there a part 7 of the Tim LaHaye series out yet?

Thanks to Chip for putting it all together! 

 



by justintime on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 10:49:09 AM EST


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