Starring Bill Moyers as Chicken Little

Bill Moyers is off his rocker. Newly retired from his journalistic career at PBS and other outlets, Moyers has been keeping the fires burning via a string of articles, speeches, and interviews all with basically the same point: fundamentalist Christians who think the rapture is coming soon have taken over the government and are eliminating environmental policies and starting wars because the world will be ending soon anyway. I know, it’s hard to take all that in at once, so have a seat, and read it over again. Now do you see the urgent need for alarm?

Moyers’ latest take is in the NY Times Review of Books, but I’ve found at least five other variations of his new manifesto available on the web. In each one, warnings such as these are present:

For them the invasion of Iraq was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelation, where four angels “bound in the great river Euphrates” will be released “to slay the third part of man.” A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed—an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the Rapture Index stood at 144—approaching the critical threshold when the prophesy is fulfilled, the whole thing blows, the Son of God returns, and the righteous enter paradise while sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

The “them” to which Moyers refers are premillenial dispensationalists, which he equates with the whole of evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christians, of course, control the Republican party, which in turn controls the White House—the most powerful office in the world. Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!

Ironically, Moyers’ rantings are more crackerjack than the strawman he attacks. As often as he speaks of “Googling the Rapture Index” (why doesn’t he just type in the address rather than Google it every time?), one would think that every evangelical checked it as much as they did the weather. The truth is, most evangelicals who know about it—dispensational or not—think that the Rapture Index is little more than chiliastic hogwash. Sure, there are a few out there who won’t get on with their lives because they’re convinced that credit cards and bar codes are the mark of the beast, just as there will always be retired, angry journalists who concoct doomsday conspiracies just because their political party of choice has taken a turn for the worse.

With this in mind, let me just make a few notes for Mr. Moyers and his ilk so they can avoid confusion next time:

  • Not all evangelicals who believe in the rapture think that we can (or should!) hasten it.
  • Not all premillenialists believe in a pre-tribulation rapture
  • Not all evangelicals are premillenialists (surprise!)

That should clear up a few things. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Not all retired journalists punctuate their careers with ill-informed crackerjack conspiracy theories.