The World’s Worst Books and the world’s worst public policies

The Left Behind novels are Very Bad. But they are also very influential.

From classrooms, to courtrooms, to the U.S. Senate and all ships at sea, these horrible, heretical books are shaping American public policy.

Tim LaHaye is changing your world.

Item No. 1: Louisiana parents fear “mark of the beast” in school cafeteria.

“A Louisiana school district is trying out a new biometrics device in the hopes of speeding up the lunch line,” vorjack reports. Uh-oh, here it comes:

“I was very, very mad,” said parent Mamie Sonnier. “Disappointed.”

Many parents felt that way. … Sonnier says she’s against the palm vein scanner because of her beliefs.

“As a Christian, I’ve read the Bible, you know go to church and stuff,” said Sonnier. “I know where it’s going to end up coming to, the mark of the beast. I’m not going to let my kids have that.”

Same thing happened when supermarket scanners first were introduced. And credit cards. And ATMs.

These were all denounced and opposed by self-proclaimed Christians who had “read the Bible,” and, “you know go to church and stuff.” What they really meant was that they had read books by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. Or maybe just seen part of The Omen on cable. You know, Christians.

Item No. 2: Soon-to-be U.S. Senator Ted Cruz fears a one-world-government U.N. conspiracy

Cruz fears, resents and resists Agenda 21 — a 20-year-old nonbinding resolution recommending best practices for sustainable communities.

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.

So since Agenda 21 recommends things like septic-tank inspections, bike lanes, walkable communities, mass transit and traffic-reduction, these folks therefore are now angrily, excitedly opposed to septic-tank inspections, bike lanes, walkable communities, mass transit and traffic-reduction.

Because of Nicolae Carpathia.

And because of the John Birch Society — the far-right group whose paleoconservative conspiracy theories are embodied in long-time JBS-member Tim LaHaye’s End Times novels. According to the JBS, Agenda 21 seeks “a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced.”

Thus efforts to reduce traffic jams are twisted into “the Antichrist is coming to take away America’s cars!!1!” It is no coincidence that anti-Agenda 21 hysteria predominates in the same Bible-belt regions where LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” heresy is widespread.

You might laugh when you hear red-faced Left Behind fans and Birchers shouting such things at a town council meeting. But it’s not as funny when you’re stuck in traffic due to common-sense regional planning being opposed as the New World Order.

And it’s not as funny when Texas sends Ted Cruz to promote this nonsense in the U.S. Senate. The Senate doesn’t need any more of this, because …

Item No. 3: The U.S. Senate spiked the Law of the Sea Treaty in order to foil the Antichrist

As Steve Benen noted last month, the treaty was:

… negotiated 18 years ago, and ratified by 161 countries around the globe. Here in the U.S., it’s been endorsed by the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, business leaders, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, and specifically U.S. Navy leaders who, as Josh Rogin explained, see the measure as necessary “to allow the United States to fully participate in the growing multinational system that governs the open seas.”

Yet U.S. participation in the treaty was nixed due to:

… far-right activists, who had irrational fears, based on little more than paranoia, that the measure would give the United Nations power over American laws. Fox News and other conservative media outlets soon began trumpeting the talking points, which were aggressively pushed by John Bolton and other extremists, that our “sovereignty” was being put at risk by treaty backers, including the U.S. military.

Item No. 4: A sitting judge in Lubbock County, Texas, believes he is a member of the Tribulation Force

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.’”

Wolveriiiiiines!

(Update: An explanatory note from Texan Charles Kuffner — “A ‘County Judge’ is not a person who wears a robe and conducts trials, though they do have the authority to do so in courts that don’t hear the major felony or civil cases. A ‘County Judge’ presides over the ‘Commissioners Court’,’ which is the governing body for counties in Texas. It’s a little like being the Mayor of a county.”)

  • Lori

    So true.

    In a very real way the GOP’s war on voting scares me more than all the rest of their crap. If they get away with their efforts to grab and hold power by preventing people from voting* they will leave citizens with no recourse but armed action. Our entire system was set up with the intent of keeping that from happening and they’re inviting it while wrapping themselves in the flag and prattling on about how patriotic they are. It’s the old “stupid or evil”. Are they so dumb they can’t see that or so dead inside that they don’t care?

    *I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people don’t call the GOP out on the fact that their voter suppression efforts are a tacit admission on their part that the majority of the electorate doesn’t want them in office.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people don’t call the GOP
    out on the fact that their voter suppression efforts are a tacit
    admission on their part that the majority of the electorate doesn’t want
    them in office.

    I tried. It’s been long enough since I sent that letter in to the local paper that I don’t think they’re going to publish it.

  • Turcano

    Ironically, this is why the Second Amendment is still necessary in this day and age.  Although the chances of it happening are small, there is always a possibility that the government will delegitimize itself by suspending or fixing elections, and if that happens, it may fall on the common citizenry to fight it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It would not be any more successful for us than it would be for the Tea Partiers, militia movement, or survivalists.  There is no way we could fight the entire military.  

    However, if we keep to clandestine operations we could fall on the recourse of anyone in an occupied land by making running the country very difficult for those in power until the things are forced to shift.  

    … holy crap, I think I just realized the reason for Republican obstructionism.  o_O

  • Turcano

    That’s the really scary part: the political left is both the group most likely to need to resort to revolution and woefully unprepared for the task.  Familiarity with weapons is common among the right wing but almost absent among their counterparts due to being largely urban and their association with gun control efforts.  So if the Second Revolution would consist of me and my bolt-action .22, things would look pretty grim to say the least.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Exactly!  I mean this is basic combined arms doctrine here, going back to WWII – nobody with air superiority is going to advance on a defended position without first seeing if there’s a way to weaken that target from the air or at least hit it with artillery fire.

    Now they might be hesitant to do that if said yahoos holed up in the middle of a town (this depends on if the yahoos are just deluded or if this really is a ‘tyrannical one world government’ scenario);  but that depends on a lot of things, most importantly those yahoos being dispersed rather than trying to hole up in some kind of strong point.  If they hole up, they’re going to get bombed – if they disperse it’s that much easier for the infantry and armor to roll them up.

    Oddly enough the best resistance strategy is to go the non-violent route  because it forces collaborators to view you in a different light.  If you’re shooting at them, then you’re The Enemy.  If they’re carting you off for protesting – then that can (won’t always, but can) breed reflection; especially if the person isn’t precisely crazy about the new leadership.

    Of course none of that matters because an actual one-world government is a long, long, long way off* and won’t happen in any of our lifetimes barring some kind of immortality serum (which is also highly unlikely).

    *I do think it will happen – centuries, even millenia from now, assuming we haven’t managed to make our planet totally inhospitable by then; but it won’t happen soon, there are too many old hatchets unburied and too many other more immediate problems.

  • Tonio

    “Earned military might”? So the US deserves to control the world because we’re the most powerful nation militarily?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people don’t call the GOP
    out on the fact that their voter suppression efforts are a tacit
    admission on their part that the majority of the electorate doesn’t want
    them in office.

    Given that the GOP elected officials doing it have *flat out said* “There is no real in-person voting fraud problem. We are doing this to give the election to Romney,” I  can’t figure why this hasn’t ended with more elected officials going to *jail*.

    The thing my wife is up in arms about this week is that it appears that they’re trying to spin the Obama administration’s attempts to do something about the Ohio voter suppression thing as “Obama is trying to keep Our Beloved Troops from voting early!”

  • J Neo Marvin

    A sitting judge in Lubbock County, Texas, believes he is a member of the Tribulation Force

    So does that mean he’ll soon be piloting Air Force One and keeping his mouth shut? I look forward to this.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Not gonna lie, that made me lol >_>

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     I have honestly been wondering the same thing.   How can you get away with admitting that kind of thing in public with no repercussion at all?  I mean it is, last I checked, flat out *illegal* to do that.

  • Tricksterson

    Thing is that’s been said about just about every resident since Nixxon, except Carter and Bush Sr.  It’s standards boiler plate bullshit.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com MikhailBorg

    Don’t assume that people who favor gun control have no familiarity with small arms.

  • DashRendar1128

    Link?

  • LoneWolf343

    That judge can’t be a member of the Tribulation Force, because he’s actually trying to do something!

  • RJ (TO)

    OR…they’re nervous that they’ll end up not being among the ‘saved’ (because of, y’ know, all the lying, greed, bigotry, and general ignoring of all Jesus’s teachings).

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/F64NWR2RGAJJMJ7XWTLX53MY7I Charles Thompson

    Perhaps you should do some research rather than regurgitating lies. This thing is filled with fact errors. Here is the most obvious one:

    “Tom Head — a judge, an actual judge who presides over actual cases in a court of law”

    Tom Head is not “an actual judge,” his job is to serve as the chief executive of the county commission, sort of like a mayor maybe. He is not a “judge” as in a judge in a court who presides over actual cases. Get a grip man. The vast right wing conspiracy is a figment of your imagination. Go to a JBS meeting to see what it is about instead of spreading propaganda and falsehoods. I’m not a member (due to the fee) but I like them a lot.

  • AnonymousSam

    He’s not a judge, yet his title is “Honorable” and his job position is “county judge”? He’s not a judge, but he conducts hearings and can perform civil ceremonies? He’s not a judge, and yet his mailing address is a court house?

    I can see why people might make that mistake.

    By the way, I think it’s interesting how you seem to assume that means the rest of the issue with The Honorable Judge Tom Head (who is not a judge) falls right apart. ‘Cause, y’know, there’s no alarming weirdness at all involved in calling for a militia to engage in civil war.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Judge Head: “OK. What’s going to happen. Now I’m going to tell you my
    opinion, OK. Obama has put executive orders and whatever other documents
    his minions have filed. And regardless of whether the Republicans take
    over the Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the United
    States Congress and he’s going to make the Constitution irrelevant. He’s
    got his czars in place that don’t answer to anybody. He’s got his
    documents in place. They’re going to be irrelevant.

    I just do not believe this shit. Surely this guy has realized that Obama had all the chances in the world in the beginning of 2009 when the Dems still held both Houses of Congress.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    you seem to assume that means the rest of the issue with The Honorable Judge Tom Head (who is not a judge) falls apart like a house of cards

    To be fair, I don’t think Charles assumes the issue falls apart so much as they aren’t engaging the issue at all, merely impugning the credibility of the speaker. Which is in some environments a viable strategy.

  • AnonymousSam

    To be fair, that’s a logical fallacy and does nothing to undermine the seriousness of a government official actively planning rebellion against the government, let alone of having wildly untrue and dangerous beliefs about the government. He should know better. He is COUNTED UPON to know better.

    “LOLOLOL YOU MORON JUST BECAUSE HE’S A JUDGE DOESN’T MEAN HE’S A JUDGE YOUR CLAIM IS INVALID” is the kind of stupid bullshit reasoning I’d expect out of Republican campaign ads.

  • Madhabmatics

     Oh man, he’s like a mayor? That totally makes what he said less completely awful and dumb. Thanks for enlightening us, Charles Thompson. I’ll be sure to keep a watch for the black helicopters in the future!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The thing that just floors me is he’s an emergency marshal type dude, and he’s trying to use the weight of his authority to make false, baseless claims that could be construed as actively hindering the work of other elected officials in his area, at the very least.

    At the very worst, it’s actively seditious and he should lose his job.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yup, all of that is true.
    Or TRUE, if you prefer all-caps and italics.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     *I can’t for the life of me figure out why more people don’t call the
    GOP out on the fact that their voter suppression efforts are a tacit
    admission on their part that the majority of the electorate doesn’t want
    them in office.

    Because the inevitable Republican response is a lot of ranting about ACORN and Vote Fraud and how it’s better to keep a thousand bl-uh, BLAH people from voting than allow one incidence of fraud and so on and so forth.

  • PJ Evans

     Or, in terms of other states, a county supervisor. I used to live in the next county north, and as a county official, yes, his address is going to be the courthouse, because that’s where the offices are. A county courthouse in Texas is more like a hall of administration: voter registration (and some of the early voting), tax payments, car registration, the county surveyor, and, yes, actual courtrooms with actual juries.

  • PJ Evans

    the inevitable Republican response

    And to very carefully ignore that the most prominent cases of voter fraud in the last three or four years were all Republicans.

  • AnonymousSam

    I DO INDEED GOOD SIR.

    Even my monocles are capitalized and italicized — FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

    That and the AM hours are never a good time for me to read this blog.

  • Tricksterson

    So what he actually is is a jumped up clerk?

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

     Tom Head is a county commissioner — got that.  Odd terminology in Texas, where the top commissioner, the one with the executive power in the county, is called a judge.  (Shades of Paul McCartney — “A county judge, who held a grudge, will search forevermore . . . .”).

    That doesn’t mean he’s not a fool, perhaps insane and in need of drugs and counseling (and perhaps hospitalization).  He very much is a fool, perhaps insane, and should be removed from office until certified mentally healthy enough to carry on with his job.

    And what is his job?  He’s asking for a tax increase, according to him, to arm up to oppose the federal government.  His wackaloonery stops barely short of treason and a call to harm the president (if the FBI is worth its salt, it’s already got a dossier going on this guy — we put people in jail for less in Texas).  Tom Head’s job is to make sure the county is ready to deal with emergencies, and otherwise to make sure liaisons with the federal Department of Homeland Security are good.  Think “Fifth Column.”  Think “Quisling.”  If the Soviet Union did to a U.S. county what Tom Head is trying to do, we’d call it an act of war.

    He’s unfit for the job.  He’s crazy.  And he’s just one of tens of thousands of Republicans similarly unfit for their jobs in the nation.  Todd Akin.  Ted Cruz.  James Inhofe.  Tom Coburn.  Scott “Ahab” Walker.  They have a different “world view,” and that causes them to believe foolish things and act in ways detrimental or dangerous to America and freedom and democratic government. 

    It doesn’t matter what his title is.  He is dangerous, wrong, and he’s wasting public resources.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Given that the GOP elected officials doing it have *flat out said* “There is no real in-person voting fraud problem. We are doing this to give the election to Romney,” I  can’t figure why this hasn’t ended with more elected officials going to *jail*.

    Plausible deniability.  People are going for Richard Nixon electoral tactics, but learned their lesson about leaving paper trails.  Nixon could have plausibly denied a lot of stuff that happened, but there was just too much to connect him to it.  These days, they never even talk to the candidate they are supporting, they just funnel money through SuperPACs which talk to each other but not their supported candidate.  It allows them to use lots of underhanded tactics to pave that candidate’s way without actually involving the candidate in the dirty business.  

    Still, a Supreme Court crackdown on this kind of bullshit would be nice.  

  • Athenides

    I wonder if we could generate a paradox that would make these people’s heads explode by suggesting palm scanners to counteract all of that so-called “voter fraud” happening in poor and left-leaning districts. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/F64NWR2RGAJJMJ7XWTLX53MY7I Charles Thompson

     Yes lets put all Republicans we disagree with in mental institutions or jail so we can have a glorious one party state with welfare and bankruptcy for all… wait, what?? Sounds like somebody needs to take their meds.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/F64NWR2RGAJJMJ7XWTLX53MY7I Charles Thompson

     The point, as I’m sure you’re aware unless you’re brain dead, is that you don’t take articles filled with basic fact errors seriously. This is garbage, that’s all. And they don’t even have the nerve to run a correction – basic journalism 101.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Quoted from the post:

    (Update: An explanatory note from Texan Charles Kuffner
    — “A ‘County Judge’ is not a person who wears a robe and conducts
    trials, though they do have the authority to do so in courts that don’t
    hear the major felony or civil cases. A ‘County Judge’ presides over the
    ‘Commissioners Court’,’ which is the governing body for counties in
    Texas. It’s a little like being the Mayor of a county.”)

    So the one fact error you specifically mentioned has been acknowledged and retracted. You say the article is “filled” with them; what others should we be concerned about? And are we to take your silence on this issue (because it’s been five days since the article went up and I think if there were any other fact errors somebody would have commented on them by now; this is a very high-traffic blog) as indication that our host got everything right?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    These are people who believe the big “G” Government is something akin to the Empire from Star Wars: a nameless, faceless, wholly evil central power staffed by nameless, faceless toadies and goons (rather than, say, actual human beings).

    Speaking of, see this recent opening from The Colbert Report.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X