Salon has a brief profile of Joel Richardson, author of several books on how the Bible predicts a “Muslim Anti-Christ”:
His 2009 book “The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About the Nature of the Beast” became an unlikely New York Times bestseller despite not benefiting from any substantial publisher promotion or press treatment. He has been discussed in the New York Daily News, written for World Net Daily and David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine, and appeared frequently on Glenn Beck’s hugely popular (but now thankfully defunct) Fox show as well as on the Dennis Miller Show.
…Richardson is “coming up and making the rounds” in this subculture, [Matthew] Duss [of the Center for American Progress] says. Richardson’s website features endorsements from several pastors and professors, as well as Robert Spencer, the leading anti-Islamic intellectual in the United States.
…Relative to many of his competitors, he is well-versed in scripture and is a comprehensible writer. His preachings about loving Muslims while despising Islam make him seem grounded in Christian teachings and compassionate in his beliefs. But his virulently bigoted views on Islam make him a dangerous character — and one that has found many adherents on the religious right.
Richardson, like Hal Lindsey before him, interprets prophetic passages of the Bible in ways that do violence to their historical context, but which pander to the particular concerns of the US right. Perhaps his most ludicrous stretch is his endorsement of Walid Shoebat’s claim that the Greek letters representing “666” in the Book of Revelation are actually misinterpreted Arabic letters for “In the Name of Allah”, revealed visually to an uncomprehending Saint John the Divine. He also indulges in a bit of current affairs punditry, claiming that Obama’s unwillingness to keep the Egyptian dictator Mubarak in power is evidence that he wants Islamists to take over the country.
Richardson isn’t happy with the Salon profile, though:
The Left truly have become caricatures of themselves. I was contacted the other day by a reporter for the radically left wing news outlet Salon.com. Of course, I do not trust these people, but I was happy to share with the reporter my heart for Muslims. But while my emphasis was on loving Muslims despite their Qur’an’s hatred and of my own Christian faith, the article was a predictable, cheap, demogogic rant about my bigoted “Islamophobic” hatred. Yawn.
I’ve written a number of blog posts on Richardson, and the man himself has occasionally stopped by to leave comments; I’ve always found him to be personable. Last year, he called for reconciliation between Shoebat and Mosab Yousef, a rival Palestinian ex-Muslim-turned-Christian whom Shoebat had accused of being a Hamas “infiltrator”.
Richardson’s teachings have recently gone international: at the beginning of May he gave a presentation at the Salem Church in Stavanger, Norway.
(Incidentally, I recently received an email from a reader urging me to consider two other points in favour of the “Muslim Anti-Christ” theory. I don’t know if these are arguments which Richardson would endorse, but they’re kicking around the internet. They are: (1) that there is a phonetic similarly between the Hebrew word “‘ālāh“, meaning “curse”, and “Allah; (2) that Zechariah 5 mentions a “flying scroll” sent out across the world as a curse, and this is supposedly a prophecy of the Koran. Both points are nonsense: there is no etymological link between “Allah” and “‘ālāh”, and the concept of “curse” has been misunderstood. A “curse” in the Bible is actually a punishment inflicted by God, and it’s clear that the “flying scroll” is a symbolic instrument of God, not some kind of rival religious text.)
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