Tim LaHaye, Religious Right Founder, and Best-Selling Author of Apocalyptic Novels, Dead at 90
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 29, 2016 at 09:49:01 AM EST
On July 25, despite their being no signs of The Rapture, the Rev. Tim LaHaye slipped off this mortal coil, just days after suffering a stroke. Long before LaHaye, and his writing partner, Jerry Jenkins, teamed up to write the Left Behind series of mega-best-selling apocalyptic novels - which took The Rapture and apocalypticism to the mainstream -- LaHaye was a major figure in the founding and nurturing of the Religious Right.

In 1989, the Unification Church-owned Washington Times newspaper described him as "one of the lightning-rod clergy of the Religious Right." In 2005, Time magazine declared LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. At the same time, Time named LaHaye and his wife Beverly -- who founded the conservative Christian Concerned Women for America in 1979 - "The Christian Power Couple."

LaHaye had a long history of involvement in Religious Right organizations and activities. The Reagan-Bush campaign assigned LaHaye "to coordinate Christian Right voter registration projects," Sara Diamond wrote in her book Roads to Dominion. Out of that project came the American Coalition for Tradition Values, which was "largely funded by television preachers."

"In 1987, he was honorary national co-chairman of Representative Jack Kemp's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but quit after published reports quoted anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish passages in his writings," The New York Times pointed out.

Rev. LaHaye earned a bachelor's degree at Bob Jones University in 1950, and received doctorate from Western Theological Seminary.  He was president of Family Life Seminars, co-founder of the Moral Majority, founder of the American Coalition for Traditional Values, and an organizer of the Council on National Policy (CNP), a highly secretive, ultra-conservative organization comprised of almost every major right-wing leader and personality in the country.

According to a post on LaHaye's official Facebook page, he also "founded two accredited Christian high schools, a school system of 10 Christian schools and what is now San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College), co-founded the Institute for Creation Research with the late Dr. Henry Morris [in 1972], and the LaHayes hosted a radio show and, later, a TV program called "The LaHayes on Family Life."  

Over the years, LaHaye had written, or co-authored, many non-fiction books covering a wide range of subjects including family life, homosexuality, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism

Despite his involvement in building the New Christian Right, LaHaye's second act was possibly far more influential; popularizing The Rapture and the End of Times.  In 2005, he late Rev. Jerry Falwell told Time magazine that "In terms of its impact on Christianity, it's probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible."

A few years back, Guy Manchester, author of Acts of the Apostles, a novel about theocracy in America, wrote: "LaHaye has gone from activist to novelist. Instead of using sensational fundraising letters to exploit people's fears, he writes sensational novels. One might say that he's exchanged one form of fiction for another. Yet, in his new role, he's reaching more people than he ever dreamed of back at the Moral Majority."

In its report about LaHaye's death, Christianity Today pointed out that in 2006, CT "ranked Left Behind among the landmark titles that have shaped evangelicalism. LaHaye and Jenkins not only had readers rethinking the rapture, but also the potential popularity of Christian novels. `The book launched a series that launched a marketing empire that launched a new set of rules for Christian fiction. The series spent a total of 300 weeks--nearly as long as the Tribulation it dramatized--on The New York Times' bestseller list.'"

According to The New Your Times' Robert D. McFadden (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/books/tim-lahaye-a-christian-fu ndamentalist-leader-dies-at-90.html), "The series -- 16 volumes that appeared between 1995 and 2007, including sequels, prequels, children's versions and translations into many languages, as well as spinoff movies, DVDs, audio dramatizations, video games and clothing -- sold more than 65 million copies and was perhaps the most commercially successful Christian fiction in publishing history."

Christianity Today reported that "The series ... still sells in the six figures annually, according to Jenkins."

The Left Behind series spawned several Left Behind movies, video games, and all sorts of knickknacks and End Times souvenirs.  

In April 2011, LaHaye appeared on Mike Huckabee's Fox New program and he said President Obama's policies were bringing America "closer to the apocalypse," adding: "He doesn't understand that some of the things he's introducing that many of us call `raw socialism' -- it's a different name, but it's essentially government control and government domination over everything."

"Are we living in the end of times, from your perspective?" asked Mr. Huckabee.

"Very definitely, governor," Dr. LaHaye said.

Tim went to California and started several John Birch Society chapters.  JBS theories and his view of the end of times are closely tied together.  Prestonwood Baptist Church used to fly him in to teach a Sunday school class.

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