Few Christians will admit it because few Christians even recognise it, but they are members of a Death Cult; a degenerate, death-anxious, exclusively fatalistic religion that has since the Hammer of the Arians (Bishop Hilary of Poitiers) predicted the mass liquidation of all earthly species in 365 CE produced a continuous supply of socially derelict luminaries who’ve longed for nothing short of the total and complete annihilation of our home world. Now, granted, like an awkward uncle it’s something most liberal churches try not to bellow about from the pulpit, but let there be no doubt, Christianity (like Judaism and Islam) is an anticipatory religion; a sect almost wholly fixated on the expectations (and apprehension) of a single and supposedly inescapable future event: the apocalypse detailed in John’s Revelation where all but “saved” Christians (perhaps as few as 144,000) will be butchered by the Middle Eastern Christian god…. and it’s a bloodbath many Christian captains have been (and still are today) simply giddy about.
Just a decade after Bishop Hilary’s fatalistic proclamation Martin of Tours pronounced that the heavenly holocaust was at hand (375 CE). For the trireme of morose hopelessness embodied in Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus and Saint Irenaeus it was 500 CE when the Christian god was going to obliterate everything from toddlers to tea leaves. For the Spanish monk, Beatus of Liébana, it was the 6th of April 793. Pope Sylvester II and Cardinal John of Toledo named 1186 as the year the Christian god was going commit its radiant genocide. Joachim of Fiore fingered 1260, then 1290 and finally 1335. 1284 was the date for the glorious massacre according to Pope Innocent III, 1378 for Arnaldus de Villa Nova, the 20th of February 1524 for Johannes Stöffler (later revised up to 1528), and the 27th of May 1528 for the Anabaptist, Hans Hut, who apart from getting his prediction of the end of the world horribly wrong holds the rather unusual distinction of being perhaps the only person in history to be executed a day after in fact dying. The mathematician and monk, Michael Stifel, was quite specific saying 500 million innocent men, women and children, together with millions of equally innocent species would be willfully put to death at precisely 8am on the 19th October 1533. For Jan Matthys it was 1534, 1555 for Pierre d’Ailly, 1585 for Michael Servetus, and 1600 when Martin Luther hoped the earth would be destroyed in a cataclysmic blast of resplendent carnage. 1794 was the year the Methodist, Charles Wesley, was certain god was going to wreak heavenly havoc on all creatures. His brother, John, fingered 1836, but for the Jehovah Witnesses 1914 was the year they were positively convinced the world would be put to the saintly torch. When it didn’t they simply dusted themselves off, pulled up their socks, and went on to name 1915, then 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, and finally 1994 as sequentially erroneous dates for their Christian god to commit its rapturous mass murder. The Baptist minister, William Miller, was sure our world would be blissfully annihilated on the 21st of March 1843; a date amended on the 22nd of March to the 18th of April, only to be revised again on the 19th to the 22nd of October 1844, which came and went without as much as a godly sneeze. The Methodist, Joanna Southcott, was certain her Christian god would annihilate everything on the 19th of October 1814, and Joseph Smith got his prediction of the end of the world fabulously wrong when 1891 passed to 1892 and children were still playing under the sun. For Jim Jones it was 1967. Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God wanted it all to end in 1936, then 1943, and finally 1975. Leland Jensen thought 1980, Pastor Chuck Smith named 1981, and television evangelist, Pat Robertson, was no doubt left scratching his head when his god failed to blow our home planet and everything on it to smithereens in 1982. Tara Centers was so confident the Christian god was poised to extinguish all life that she took out full page ads in newspapers on the 24th and 25th of April 1982 announcing that “The Christ is Now Here!” Edgar C. Whisenant got it wrong in 1988 but did sell 5 million copies of his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. He revised the date to 1989, then 1993, and finally 1994, but didn’t sell as many books the second, third and fourth times around. 1993 was the date for our planets dazzling demise according to the Disciples of Christ, David Berg, and after getting it wrong in 1988 and then again in 1999 the World Mission Society Church of God was certain 2012 was in fact the year their god was going to end it all. For the Christian radio broadcaster, Harold Camping, it was 6am on the 21st of May 2011 (a date later updated to the 21st of October), for Ronald Weinland of the Church of God it was May 27th 2012, June 30th for José Luis de Jesús of the Growing In Grace International Ministry (Inc.), and for Warren Jeffs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it was the 23rd of December 2012 (a date amended a few days later to the 31st of December) for when the Middle Eastern Christian god was going to commence its enchanted bloodbath and extinguish all terrestrial life.
All told, in the last fifty-six generations (1,700 years) there have been more than three-hundred prominent captains of Christianity who have announced with excited yips of childlike anticipation that their god was about to lay waste to all life on earth. In this generation alone there have been over forty major public incidents where socially-reckless, apocalypse-hungry Christian leaders have proclaimed that their god was here and it was time to die… and when the captains speak easily persuadable, astoundingly gullible congregants regretfully listen. Today a staggering 41% of US citizens (130,000,000 adults) believe that their Middle Eastern god will commence its mass extinction of all creatures in their lifetime. It’s a ghastly figure but it is a number reflected in the multi-billion dollar Christian apocalypse industry that has in just the last twenty years produced 29 End Times films (with such grand titles as “Tribulation” and “Judgement”), 60 documentaries (like “Racing to the End Times”), and some 1,120+ grotesquely warped End Times books, of which the Left Behind series has alone sold over 40 million copies. Add into this mix literally thousands of Christian End Times websites (like Ark Haven), thousands of blogs (like Christian Survival, The End-Times Christian Spiritual Survival Page and End-Time Preparation), and scores of geographically-specific Christian-only Survivalists groups and what we have is the largest and (somewhat antithetically, albeit hilariously) longest-lasting Death Cult in the history of humanity; a debauched sect geared to producing media products like Richard Mitchell Jr’s “Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times,” and Robert J. Logston’s, “The End-Times Blood Bath” which has a delightful foreword that reads:
“The Rapture, The Beast, The False Prophet, The Four Horsemen… there is a good chance you will personally witness these events. It is foretold that during the End-Times two-thirds of all people on earth will die and Christ will return for the remaining Christians. Reading this book will introduce you to the main players and prepare you for the reign of the Beast.”
Now, without delving into the depraved depths of thanatophilia, or even the detestable notion of the anticipated slaughter of children whose only crime is that their parents were born into the wrong religion, it is perhaps only appropriate to remind the death-craving religious audiences of the Robert J. Logston’s of the world that they should probably read their bibles a little more carefully, because if they did they’d see that the very first Christian Doomsdayer, Jesus Christ himself, got his own prediction of the end of the world stupendously wrong when he boldly announced: “I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28, Luke 9:27, Mark 9:1). Evidently, the character Jesus wasn’t exactly telling the truth. All those standing there in the story went on to die perfectly normal, entirely non-supernatural deaths, and that leaves the 21st Century Christian in quite a credibility muddle. If the Host, Guest of Honour and Master of Ceremonies of the Christian apocalypse got his own date with annihilation wrong then it’s perfectly safe to categorise any and all ensuing thought of magically-delivered, earth-wrecking firestorms as little more than the demented ramblings of conspicuously unbalanced minds; minds whose warnings are about as convincing (and ultimately as menacing) as a hippy threatening to punch someone in their aura. Indeed, when confronted with such brain haemorrhaging nonsense all any sane individual could quietly hope for is that these emotionally unstable Christian luminaries and the simpleminded (death-anxious) flocks they oversee might one day instead direct their efforts to improving life on this planet today, rather than wishing for its obliteration tomorrow.
*POSTSCRIPT 8th October, 2015: Christian radio host Chris McCann got his date for the end of the world, 7 October 2015, wrong.