Salon Profiles “Islamic Antichrist” Author Joel Richardson

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.)

10 Responses

  1. In case you overlooked this article published last week in the Guardian >> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/30/christian-fundamentalists-plan-teach-genocide

  2. “The Shocking Truth About the Nature of the Beast” is probably the greatest subtitle ever. Even if it does sound like an unauthorised Iron Maiden biography.

  3. Hi Richard

    There’s a whole lot of complexity to us humans, and although we have some rough and ready heuristics for dealing with differences of opinion — ranging from the avoidance of ad hominem attacks to “hate the sin, not the sinner — it isn’t in fact easy to separate “person” from “identification”.

    To take a really simple case, if I say “that’s stupid” in response to something you said , would I be calling the idea stupid (the problem here is that ideas presumably don’t think either well or poorly), or the person who not only thought but went so far as to propose that idea?

    To my mind, that means that labels like “Islamophobic” and “antisemitic” are themselves problematic — both badly needed in civil discourse, while also dangerously reifying what in fact is subtle and complex: human ideation and choice.

    *

    I too find Joel Richardson to be a likeable (personable, as you put it) interlocutor, one who is courteous to those whose positions differ strongly from his own — and that’s a quality I value highly.

    Within his teachings, there’s one point he’s made that stands out for me: his insistence that the role of Christians is to await the Second Coming without militancy or dominionism/domineering.

    In his own words, which I have quoted more than once in my own blogging at Zenpundit:

    QUOTE: I explained to my host that unless a supernatural man bursts forth from the sky in glory, there is absolutely nothing that the world needs to worry about with regard to Christian end-time beliefs. Christians are called to passively await their defender. They are not attempting to usher in His return. Muslims, on the other hand, are actively pursuing the day when their militaristic leader comes to lead them on into victory. Many believe that they can usher in his coming. :UNQUOTE

    I wish more end-time / prophecy writers and preachers would come out unambiguously in similar terms — or clearly state the opposite if that’s their view.

    Joel’s willingness to be counted among those opposing military intervention in Iran is likewise worth noting. From an article by Drew Zahn on WND, defending Joel against the Salon piece:

    QUOTE: It is clear the author of the article wants to show all Christians who study end time Bible prophecy as war-mongering pawns of the Republican Party,” Richardson told WND. “Yet I have openly been standing against the calls for war with Iran. On the very first page of my blog, I call on my readers to pray for Iranians and that war with Iran can be averted.” :UNQUOTE

    As I say, I disagree with him on many things — but I also rather like him.

  4. I just posted above that quote from Joel about “Muslims, on the other hand, are actively pursuing the day when their militaristic leader comes to lead them on into victory. Many believe that they can usher in his coming”.

    I should in all fairness add some mention of the fact that Dr. Tim Furnish, a conservative Christian who speaks the languages and has written at book length about Mahdist movements, doesn’t believe the Iranian regime is looking to hasten their version of the Second Coming via nuclear war:

    QUOTE: Tehran thus, ironically, finds its potential nuclear policy fettered by Qom: mainstream Shi`i theology does not support violence (nuclear or conventional) in order to precipitate the return of the 12th Imam; furthermore, employing nuclear weapons is verboten in the Mahdi’s absence — except, perhaps, under the rubric of defensive jihad, were Iran itself to be attacked or invaded. Seen in this light, the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear weapons falls from the overly-alarmist apocalyptic register into a more mundane, and manageable, geopolitical one. :UNQUOTE

    That’s from Dr Furnish’s report, A Western View on Iran’s WMD Goal: Nuclearizing the Eschaton, or Pre-Stocking the Mahdi’s Arsenal? — which downloads as a .pdf from this URL:

    http://goo.gl/Eimq7

  5. Charles, thanks for the comments. Hoping to connect someday in Cali.

    Johnny, although I am a former Iron Maiden fan, (in the sixth grade, I painted a picture of Eddie on the back of my dungaree jacket) I cannot claim credit for that subtitle. That was all the publishers.

    Richard, thanks as well. Been a bit too busy to leave a comment here. But hopefully the Iron Maiden comment will satisfy you for a bit. Although, for some reason, I suspect that you were more of a Duran Duran or Wham type of fellow.

    Cheers and Blessings.

  6. I’m still waiting for someone to write a spoof right-wing Christian Islamophobic tract. But I guess no one has the stomach for it.

  7. […] has also been interviewed by Joel Richardson, who claims that the Bible predicts that the Muslim world will come under the control of a Muslim […]

  8. […] Richardson, who sees this as further evidence that the Muslim world will come under the sway of a Muslim Antichrist) Share […]

  9. […] has some passion for research. Alas, his only role model is the crank theorising of his father and his father’s friends. Share […]

  10. […] WND, dismisses the document as a “proven fraud”. Richardson, of course, would rather we focus on the prospect of an Islamic […]

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