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Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 17:54:17 EDT
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Subject: [Atheist] re; AANEWS for September 29, 1998
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subject: AANEWS for September 29, 1998

Robertson Spreading More Millennium Panic__Armageddon as a Cash Cow

From American Atheists News, No. 484
29 September 1999

Televangelist Pat Robertson rolled out his latest fund-raiser this week, announcing "Mission Millennium" and urging supporters to open their wallets for an ambitious evangelizing project. The operation, under the aegis of Robertson's Christian broadcasting Network, is design to "blizt the most troubled parts of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and "Flood four strategic areas" (Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East) with literature, Bibles and other proselytizing materials by the end of the year 2000.

"Make a difference," implores the CBN website. "Join CBN WorldReach in the goal of winning 500 million souls to God's kingdom by the year 2000." Those contributing $100 or more are promised a video of the latest CBN News production, "Preparing For the New Millennium," as well as a paperback edition of Robertson's "futuristic novel, The End Of The Age."

The CBN report highlights topics which have become standard fare on Robertson's "700 Club" program, including the Y2K computer bug, "natural disasters and weather patterns," political and economic problem areas and the "cashless society," a concern for many evangelicals who fear that it will lead to the rise of a premillennium antichrist and the "mark of the beast."

Contributors also receive Robertson's "The End of an Age," an apocalyptic novel where a meteor heads for earth and "unleashes a chain of prophetic events predicted in Revelation." A broadside for the Millennium promotion says that Robertson's fiction is really "a possible scenario of a future biblical Armageddon."

The tone of "Mission Millennium" echoes Robertson's penchant for attempting to fit natural and man-made events in an eschatological template where storms, floods, monetary crises and other occurrences become "signs" of the coming End Times. Unlike many evangelists, though, who have discredited themselves by predicting specific dates for the end of the world, the wily Robertson carefully hedges his predictions saying that they "might" take place in the near future.

"Mission Millennium" also underscores the growing dread and excitement reverberating through America's fundamentalist, evangelical and Pentecostal ranks over the approach of the year 2000. Robertson has declared that the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 triggered a series of prophetic events described in the Book of Revelation, and the onset of a new calendric millennium is an event laden with eschatological significance. Reviewing "The End Of The Age" in the New York Times, writer Christopher Buckley observed that as we approach the year 2000 and beyond, "there will be Elijahs on every street corner, cable channel and web site urging us to repent, repent, for the end is at hand."

"There's just something about an impending millennium," added Buckley, "that brings out the doom and gloom."

Robertson is one of the most conspicuous examples on the American religious landscape of "premillennialism," a doctrine which holds that Christ and his legions will arrive on earth for the Second Coming and establish a godly world order; some hold that this will last for a one thousand year period, after which there will be a final battle between good and evil, and the Last Judgment. Another group of believers, postmillennialists, hold that Christians must first "conquer the world" for Jesus Christ as a necessary prelude for the Second Coming. Most Christian Reconstructionists hold to this latter view. But all seem to agree that it is necessary for Christians to proselytize as many people as possible; many see the events such as the year 2000, an alleged increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, political or financial chaos and other occurrences as "signs," and an urgent call for action.

Exporting Religious Bigotry and the 10/40 Window

But all of this is more than just a science fictionesque scenario for Robertson that many of us would dismiss as nonsense and religious delusion. "Mission Millennium" is directed mostly at that those nations of the globe which are home to non-Christian civilizations. Asia is primarily Confucian, Buddhist and Shintoist. Africa has numerous indigenous religious systems despite centuries of aggressive proselytization by Christians, and Islam is popular throughout the Continent. India remains stubbornly and assertively Hindu, and a nationalist coalition now threatens the secular institutions in that society. In the Middle East, Islam is the religion of choice and generational indoctrination.

The failure of Christianity to penetrate these cultures and overturn centuries, even millennia of deeply ingrained religious belief is not discouraging Robertson and others, though, from launching ambitious projects like Mission Millennium. In addition to the Robertson scheme, there are other missionary efforts to "pray through the 10/40 window," a reference to the geographical band around the globe which includes this non-Christianized zone of nations. All of this has fueled calls by religious groups to enlist the United States government in ensuring that these nations open their borders to foreign religious-missionary activity. Many of the countries in the 10/40 Window have laws restricting proselytizing by outside religious groups, and see efforts by American and European based missionary organizations as a form of cultural interference.

The approach of the year 2000 is sure to be accompanied by a proliferation of the "street corner Elijahs" predicted by Mr. Buckley. It is also likely to see Robertson continue to emphasize the new millennium as an excuse for more energetic political and religious activism, and a good excuse in calling for more donations.

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