The UN, the Antichrist, and a Global Takeover

Fred Clark of The Slactivist recently put up a post about how evangelicals’ beliefs about the end times are influencing public policy, especially the belief that the UN is just a placeholder for the coming one world government that will be led by the Antichrist and will be dedicated to the extermination of Christians. To many, this may seem like a weird conspiracy theory. To me growing up, it was, well, normal.

Consider this from Fred’s post:

Agenda 21 has become a right-wing bogeyman based on the false claim that it constitutes some kind of threat to local or national sovereignty. That claim is due to it being an international effort through the United Nations, which is suspect because all good Christians who read the Bible and, you know, go to church and stuff, know that the U.N. is just biding its time until the Antichrist uses it to establish a tyrannical one-world government.

A couple of things sprang to mind immediately as I read this.

The time my dad told us kids that when the government cracks down and takes over we need to immediately head to the armory, take it over, and mount the resistance from there.

The time I read the Left Behind books’ description of a group of patriotic Americans doing just this – taking over the local armory and fighting against the UN’s takeover of the United States only to be blown up and utterly defeated – and wondered if that would be me someday.

The time I put the stones outside of my cabin at camp into the outline of the words “Get the U.S. out of the UN,” and then received extra points for this during cabin inspections.

The time I was taught about a secret UN treaty that the U.S. Senate almost passed in 1993, a treaty that would have essentially amounted to a UN takeover in the name of environmentalism and as the forerunner of a one world government.

It strikes me that there is a lot of overlap between evangelical Christians’ beliefs about the end times and the ideology of the militia movement. Both want the U.S. out of the UN and both fear that the UN is on the cusp of a global takeover. Both see anarchy in the nation’s future. One camp I attended as a teen was actually an odd combination of Christian Right politics and militia movement ideology.

Here’s another excerpt from Fred’s post:

Tom Head — a judge, an actual judge who presides over actual cases in a court of law — is campaigning for a local property tax hike to hire more county police. Head, a Republican, says the additional police will be necessary to overthrow the one-world government he expects will quickly arise should President Obama be re-elected:

“[President Obama] is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N. Okay, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario here. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. We’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington-Concord take up arms and get rid of the guy.

“Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops — with the little blue beanies. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. Okay. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say, ‘You’re not coming in here.’”

Yes. This is so familiar. We expected future anarchy, and we did our best to prepare for it. That’s the main reason we learned to shoot, actually – we didn’t hunt, we just went to the gun range to a) burnish our second amendment rights credentials and b) be prepared for the coming government takeover (which generally meant UN, though it could also refer to an autocratic U.S. combined with a persecution of Christians).

It strikes me now that there was a fundamental disconnect between the belief that we would be called on to fight against this takeover and the belief that we would be raptured before the tribulation, with its formation of a one world government, began. Regardless, this is yet another example of how evangelicalism – and especially evangelicalism’s end times doctrine – affects the way people see and understand events that occur in the world around us.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • ScottInOH

    The last paragraph in your post seems awfully important to me. It seems like something any true believer should notice and therefore decide that fighting the UN is not a God-given requirement. Do you think they don’t recognize that contradiction? I figure neo-cons who don’t like the idea of the UN constraining the US are happy to stoke this paranoia, but what are the true believers thinking?

    (This is to say nothing, of course, of the fact that the UN has no troops of its own. I don’t expect facts about the world to penetrate this worldview.)

  • gillyc

    I would have thought that fear that the UN is going to take ove the US would lead to a drive to keep the US in the UN so that it could influence it? Or would that just be seen as allying yourselves with Satan?

  • Liriel

    I do see a lot of misconception on what the UN actually is in the one-world-government-conspiracy circles. I think misconceptions about Interpol are wider-spread, but I’ve not seen Interpol connection to any conspiracy theories.

    Then there’s the other contradictions mentioned with pre-tribulation Rapture and the need to fight. Or even the desire to prevent the events from coming to pass.

    Can I ask if other conspiracy theories (HAARP causing natural disasters, fake moon landing, etc.) are also believed in fundamentalist circles? I guess I’m particularly talking about conspiracies that are supposed to be perpetuated by the US government. Or was it only theories with had some (perceived) connection to biblical prophecy/Revelation?

    • Libby Anne

      In a word, yes.

  • Malte

    This is really fascinating to me. As evangelicals in Britain, we never worried about eschatology – we were just taught that someday Jesus would come back and that would be that. It was never connected to real politics or fleshed out premillenial dispensationalist-style. In fact, the only sermon I can recall on the issue explicitly warned us against trying to match “Bible prophecy” to specific political events, for that way folly and paranoia lay.

  • Kacy

    As for the last paragraph, my guess is that you still had to train as marks(wo)man just in case the POST-TRIB rapture people were correct. Your parents were hedging their bets, so to speak, because of course eschatology had to be some sort of premillenialism/dispensationalism/rapture theology. That really leaves 3 options–pre-trib, post-trib, ,or mid-trib rapture. It seems like they were preparing you in case the rapture occurred post-trib or mid-trib.

    Now I feel slightly icky for understanding the nuances of fundamentalist eschatology and conspiracy theories. As a child those Left Behind books were the source of many nightmares and scary what-if scenarios in my over-active Christian imagination. I used to be afraid that the rapture would happen while I was walking home from school, and I would come home to an empty house. Because even though I “accepted Jesus into my heart,” how was I 100% sure I was really sincere or that I hadn’t said one-too-many bad words to show my true faithlessness. I’d love to see you write about the weird psychological mind game around salvation, in fundamentalist and evangelical circles.

    • machintelligence

      Rapture belief can lead too some great pranks, though.

      • Darryl

        This video won’t show for me, but I remember it pretty well from a few years back. I feel a high confidence that this rapture “prank” is a hoax, by which I mean the “victim” is in on it, and acting her amateur heart out for cameras that just about have to be completely visible to her. (They aren’t zooming from a hidden spot. They’re moving freely as if handheld by someone walking around in this not very convincing “cafe”) I saw at least one other prank put out by “Prank 3:16″ in which the “dupe” is a manager being grilled by fake IRS agents. It was even more self-evidently 100% staged to look like a prank, but wasn’t. So, the Christian comedians responsible for this shoddy production (available on DVD) are lying when they say they pulled actual pranks.

    • ScottInOH

      You’re definitely not alone, Kacy. Search “salvation anxiety” and/or “End Times” on this blog. You may find it cathartic; I certainly have.

    • Libby Anne

      Check out this post and this post and this post. :-)

      • Kacy

        Thanks for pointing me to these old posts. :-) The second one refers to the specific sort of salvation anxiety I was alluding to. I discovered your blog back in May, so I hadn’t found that one yet.

  • Noelle

    Help me out here. My Xian upbringing was one of those we got no idea when the end will come so let’s all just live a godly life kinda deals. But if an end was referred to, then it was a good thing. Because then we’d all go to heaven and hang with our dead relatives for eternity.

    So, why do the end-timers want to keep us from the end if it’s so great and all? Why do they think they could hold the Almighty back even if they tried?

    • Libby Anne

      I actually asked that once, when I was about twelve. The answer I was given was “we have to try.” in other words, yes, the world is just going to get more morally decadent until the end comes, but if we don’t at least try to stop it, God will judge us for that.

      • John Small Berries

        But I don’t understand that either. The whole Rapture/Antichrist/Tribulation end-times deal is, purportedly, God’s plan. Doesn’t opposing God’s plan put one in opposition to God himself, and therefore in the service of Satan? (Assuming for the sake of argument that those characters actually existed.)

      • Libby Anne

        Opposing sin, opposing evil. I know it’s not completely consistent, but the thought wasn’t so much to oppose God’s plan as to oppose evil wherever it surfaced.

    • Jaimie

      So, why do the end-timers want to keep us if the end if it’s so great and all? Why do they think they could hold the Almighty back even if they tried?

      In high school I also made the mistake of asking this very thing and quickly found out that it was placed in the category of “questions you are not allowed to ask.” Because it made no sense and no reasonable explanation could be given.
      I also found out that people who were angry, unhappy with their lives, or wanted cosmic revenge on all the “sinners” were really gungho over the end times teachings. It was a clear window into a very ugly part of Christianity. Since I had faith back then, it was very disturbing, to say the least.

  • Bix

    I’ve always found this belief about the UN rather bemusing–it has its own structure, but it doesn’t exist outside of its member states, which all have competing interests. The United States is the largest financial contributor, and one of the five countries with veto power in the Security Council. The UN can only ask for volunteer peacekeeping troops from its member states, and peacekeepers are authorized to do very little–in UN language, they ‘robustly monitor’. And they think the UN is going to invade the US? With what? Or do they think the ‘little blue beanies’ are magic?

    • Noelle

      Maybe high schoolers participating in Model UN will be trained as a sort of modern-day Hitler’s youth.

      • Bix

        Ah–I must have been too young and naive to notice my own indoctrination. I thought I was just pretending to represent Djibouti on the Legal Committee, not being trained to fight for UN world domination.

      • Noelle

        The day off school to pass notes with the cuties representing China can often be confusing. It’ll all become clear when the UN takes over.

  • smrnda

    I also notice that any expansion of the government, even social welfare programs, are always believed to be some Trojan Horse by which a one world government will be imposed, leading to the reign of the antiChrist. I’ve overheard Christians complaining about legislation they totally did not understand, environmental protection legislation, regulations for Wall Street, health care – it’s all seen as some plot to bring in the End Times.

    Of course, the private sector is not exempted and I recall hearing about Christians going nuts over alleged Satanic symbols in the corporate logo for Proctor and Gamble.

    To me, this is absolute lunacy, and people who think this way are really incapable of making responsible choices in the real world. Any lack of evidence is chalked up to a conspiracy theory where the truth is being repressed. Worst thing is these people vote, and their fear of imaginary problems is hurting their ability to fight real-world ones.

    • Rosie

      Though, oddly, the expansion of the government to fight wars on the other side of the world is not seen as the imposition of “one world government”, or a plot to bring about the End Times.

      • smrnda

        I also don’t buy the End Times belief that political power is becoming more concentrated. I mean, back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the US and a handful of European powers pretty much ruled the entire globe. If anything, political power is a lot less concentrated now.

  • Lumiere

    I can never tell whether to respond with sarcasm, hatred, or disdain. You hear similar things from racists, ‘oh, there’s a race war coming, the X people are gonna come and’ blah blah blah. I’m fairly certain they’re just mentally masturbating over the idea of A) being oppressed, and B) killing people who disagree with/are different from/oppose them. These people exist on both sides, no doubt, but are primarily a right wing occurrence. I wonder why.

    • machintelligence

      If you haven’t read it, this may give you some insight

      • Lumiere

        Thanks for the link but I was being sarcastic, doesn’t show up so well on the ‘net, does it?

  • Darryl

    Not two weeks ago, I had lunch with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years, and who, in the intervening time, had gone all-in on the UN takeover hysteria. The last time we talked, I was still a (liberal) believer and he was a not-very-committed evangelical. This time, he was surprised to find me an atheist, and I was unnerved to find him spouting a line of talk that I’m pretty sure he used to find untenable. No question about it, there is a wish-fulfillment component to this. He seems to relish the idea of being a hero in a Red Dawn type defense scenario.

  • Lem

    Antichrist doesn’t mean atheist. It means, a religious alternative to Christianity. Like the one the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints provides. So tragic to see churches led astray.