Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images
“I am the chosen one,” Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday. He looked up to the heavens as he said this, CNBC reports, so perhaps he truly believes that God anointed him to win a trade war with China, which he also started. This analysis is supported by two uniquely cursed presidential tweets, which he unleashed before he spoke to reporters. In them, he quoted remarks by conservative commentator Wayne Allyn Root, who has assigned Trump a lofty and troubling designation.
People had questions.
So could Trump be the Antichrist? Look, anything is possible. I will tell you what my father once told me. Satan walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (For the record, I don’t recommend saying this to a child, especially not after she tells you that she had a dream about a witch who eats people.) The point is that Satan is devious, and his works can be found anywhere. Trump could indeed be his agent, and that would make him an antichrist, if not the Antichrist.
The distinction is relevant. As Hannah Gais pointed out in the Outline last year, the term initially identified “those who refused to confess Christ’s presence on Earth or his divinity.” But the eschatology popular with many conservative Evangelicals holds that there is one Antichrist, who will bring about Armageddon. Biblical literalists of a certain stripe have long speculated that a president would make an ideal Antichrist, though this interpretation is not universal. The Left Behind series, which terrorized Christian youth groups in the late 1990s and early 2000s, gives us an Antichrist from Romania, who exists thanks to genetic experimentation by a Satanic cult.
But I digress. Real Revelations heads know that the Antichrist doesn’t just appear by surprise. There are signs. So let’s go through the checklist:
I don’t want to wade into eschatological debates. I would prefer to forget they exist. So I will only say that many (but certainly not all!) Evangelicals believe that God will take them into heaven before the Antichrist comes to power and instigates the Tribulation. Christians would vanish, “like a thief in the night,” as the verse goes, leaving their clothes and their apostate relatives behind. God thus spares them the thrilling horrors of the Antichrist, and they get to watch the show from above, as they lounge about in celestial glory. Until Pat Robertson ascends to his McMansion in the sky, there’s not much to worry about.
Does Trump meet the Rapture criterion? No.
The Antichrist Is a Charismatic, Attractive, and Widely Popular Diplomat
The Antichrist is a diplomat! He has to unite the nations of the world so he can carry out his nefarious schemes. You can’t just waltz into the Third Temple and desecrate it without public support; that’s the sort of thing that would otherwise start a war. Because the Antichrist has to create a new world order, it is generally assumed that he will be intelligent and charismatic. David Jeremiah, who pastors the ominously named Shadow Mountain Community Church and serves on Trump’s Evangelical advisory board, explained on his blog: “The combination of his magnetic personality, speaking ability, and extreme good looks will make him virtually irresistible to the masses.”
I will not touch the subject of Trump’s beauty. However, I will admit that Trump has charisma of a sort. He is a professional entertainer, and he became president, so some people are clearly persuaded by his rhetoric. Trump is widely unpopular both at home and abroad. And as for his intelligence? Well,
Does Trump meet the diplomat criteria? No.
Everything Is Supposed to Get a Lot More Chaotic
The world is a disaster. But the kind of people who take the Book of Revelation very, very literally tend to believe that things will get much worse before the Antichrist shows up and promises stability. There will be natural disasters, and plagues, and war. While climate change contributes to natural disasters, the world is not necessarily more violent than it has been at any previous point in human history. Trump, meanwhile, beats the war drums with Iran and denies climate change altogether.
Does Trump meet the instability criterion? Let’s say the results are mixed.
Christians Are Supposed to Be Persecuted
The time before the reign of the Antichrist is not a great one for Christians. The church will gradually become less influential and the world’s governments will persecute believers. Though Christians do indeed experience oppression in some nations, that’s not the case in the U.S. or in much of the world. Trump may not be the most devout, but he’s surrounded himself with people whose religious credentials are unimpeachable. It is a great time to be a Christian in the U.S., with one notable exception: We cage plenty of Christians in disease-ridden conditions at the border for reasons that have nothing to do with their faith.
Does Trump meet the anti-Christianity criterion? Yes, but only when the Christians are brown.
So the bulk of the evidence seems to suggest that Trump is not the Antichrist.
Okay, But What If Trump Really Is the Great Beast, the Little Horn, and the Son of Perdition?
It’s not too late to convert. Or you could take the more exciting route, and refuse because you want to see what the Tribulation is like. I wouldn’t blame you! There will be locusts and plagues and rivers of blood. The Four Horseman will be there, and so will the Whore of Babylon. The Antichrist is going to behead a ton of people. Wormwood will fall into the sea and turn a third of the waters bitter. In other words, party time. The Evangelicalism of my childhood (which taught premillennial dispensationalism, if you must know) held that you can still convert during or directly after the Tribulation. You’d still get to go to Heaven, and in a badass kind of way. Great news all around!
Trump Is Not the Antichrist, and Here’s How I Know
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No, Joni Ernst, Iowans Don’t Need the Electoral College to Influence Presidents
By Ed Kilgore
It’s funny that the senator for the First-in-the-Nation-Caucus State thinks nobody would pay attention to Iowa if not for its six electoral votes.
Governor Jay Inslee on Why He’s Dropping Out of the 2020 White House Race
By David Wallace-Wells
“I do think we succeeded in raising the profile of climate change as an issue,” says the Democrat.
The Wildest Comments From Trump’s Chaotic Wednesday
By Matt Stieb
Trump followed up on recent controversies, created some new ones, and indulged in several delusions of grandeur.
Some smart proposals from the Parkland kids
The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections.
The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.
It would dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns in ways sure to spark fierce blowback, including raising the age to 21 from 18 for those who want to buy guns. It calls for a “multi-step” gun licensing system, overseen by a federal agency, that would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.
About those strong jobs reports from last year…
Employers added a half-million fewer jobs in 2018 and early 2019 than previously reported, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
The revisions, which are preliminary, are part of an annual process in which survey-based estimates are brought into alignment with more definitive data from state unemployment insurance records.
Wednesday’s revision covers the period through March; final updates, which will include the rest of 2019, will be released in February.
The revisions don’t change the overall picture of a healthy job market. But they do mean that 2018, which had ranked among the strongest years of job growth in the decade-long recovery, was weaker than previously believed. After the revision, hiring probably averaged under 200,000 jobs per month last year, down from the 223,000 initially reported and only modestly better than the 179,000 monthly jobs added in 2017.
Is Donald Trump the Antichrist, the Beast, the Son of Perdition?
By Sarah Jones
There would be signs, okay?
Yet another one
Another arrest of a man planning a mass shooting. This time targeting coworkers and guests at a Marriott in Long Beach, CA. Tip from a coworker led police to a home in Huntington Beach where they found multiple high-powered weapons, tactical gear, & high capacity magazines.
When Trump Talks About Jews, He’s Really Talking to Evangelical Christians
By Ed Kilgore
Trump’s appeals to Jews are mostly dog whistles to his Evangelical base, which views Jews and Israel as central to the Second Coming.
Oh good, we’re back on this again
President Trump on Wednesday said his administration is once again seriously considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship months after several lawmakers cast doubt on his ability to take such action.
“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Kentucky. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”
“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he added. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”
Trump’s Tweets Prove GOP Attacks on Omar, Tlaib Were Always About Islamophobia
By Zak Cheney-Rice
The anti-Semitism allegations were just a cover.
Why Celebrities Fall for the ‘New Instagram Rule’ Hoax
By Brian Feldman
Platforms need broad licenses to exist. That doesn’t mean users shouldn’t be worried.
The Amazon Rainforest Is on Fire
By Adam K. Raymond
Vast stretches of the Amazon are burning and humans are to blame.
Denmark’s PM is the latest woman to earn Trump’s “nasty” label
Trump says the prime minister of Denmark was “nasty” and “inappropriate” by publicly rejecting his unsolicited proposal to buy Greenland in the way she did. He says she could’ve just said no, and he’s not going to let her talk to him that way.
Trump Demands Right to Detain Migrant Children Indefinitely
By Ed Kilgore
It’s mostly symbolic, since the judge who set the 20-day limit on detention of children is unlikely to approve it, but the new policy sounds tough.
The Trump administration wants to indefinitely hold migrant families
It’s official: Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of homeland security, just announced that the Trump administration now will use a new immigration rule that would allow it to detain immigrant families who cross the border illegally indefinitely, replacing the Flores settlement.
McAleenan is stressing that the new rule allows families to remain together. But it must also be stressed that children, including infants and toddlers, will now be held indefinitely in detention centers that have been flagged for dangerous conditions for adults.
Bernie showing some strength in a new poll
New national polling of the Democrats’ primary elections in 2020 from The Economist and YouGov:
Share among Democratic primary voters (change vs last month):
Biden: 22% (-3)
Sanders: 19 ( 6)
Warren: 17 (-1)
Harris: 8 (-1)
Buttigieg: 7 (1)
O’Rourke: 3 (1)
Gabbard: 2 (0)
The actual news from Greenland
This is where Earth’s refrigerator door is left open, where glaciers dwindle and seas begin to rise.
New York University air and ocean scientist David Holland, who is tracking what’s happening in Greenland from both above and below, calls it “the end of the planet.” He is referring to geography more than the future. Yet in many ways this place is where the planet’s warmer and watery future is being written.
It is so warm here, just inside the Arctic Circle, that on an August day, coats are left on the ground and Holland and colleagues work on the watery melting ice without gloves. In one of the closest towns, Kulusuk, the morning temperature reached a shirtsleeve 52 degrees Fahrenheit (10.7 degrees Celsius).
Denmark’s Leaders Mock Trump and His Dream of Buying Greenland
By Adam K. Raymond
“Trump lives on another planet.”
ABC summoning some moral courage here
the national interest
the national interest
Trump Says Jews Should Love Him Because He’s Almost Literally Jesus
By Jonathan Chait
Trump can’t understand why stiff-necked Jews forsake his brand of blood-and-soil authoritarian demagoguery.
Racism Has Thwarted American Ideals From the Beginning, and Still Does
By Ed Kilgore
Instead of complaining about greater recognition of racism in American history, conservatives should realize it has been their enemy, too.
Trump’s Denmark-trip cancellation is embarrassing for Americans, confounding for Danes
A Tennis History Lesson With the Oldest Living Grand Slam Champ
By Reeves Wiedeman
“You could travel the world and live like a king. And you didn’t make any money,” says 95-year-old Vic Seixas.
Equinox and SoulCycle Workers Need a Union
By Josh Barro
After the Stephen Ross controversy, they have an unusual amount of leverage now in a profitable business. They should use it.
Trump’s Greenland Fantasy Wasn’t a Joke to His Administration
By Matt Stieb
Despite the obvious stupidity of the president’s wish to buy Greenland, the administration reportedly drew up a rough plan to pursue the deal.
Lawsuit Alleges Epstein Arranged for Sex With Teenager While on Work Release
By Matt Stieb
According to three lawsuits filed Tuesday, Epstein coerced multiple young women — including a teenager — during his work release from jail in 2008.
California’s New Use-of-Force Law Is Still Deadly Vague
By Zak Cheney-Rice
A new law strengthens California’s guidelines for police use of force. But it does not go far enough.