Fact Check

Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?

The Book of Revelation does not describe the anti-Christ as someone with characteristics matching those of Barack Obama.

Published April 23, 2008

The Book of Revelation describes the anti-Christ as someone with characteristics matching those of Barack Obama.

Revelation (the final book of the New Testament) and Nostradamus' Prophecies are two all-purpose befuddling works. If you want to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (or simply yank people's chains), simply claim that some prominent person or recent event corresponds to descriptions that presage the end of the world, as elaborated by Revelation or Nostradamus. After all, comparatively few people have read either of those works; most people just have some vague idea that they describe, in detail, a coming apocalypse and the signs that will herald its imminent arrival. So pick your target, make up a list of reasons to explain how it supposedly matches up with end-of-the-world predictions, and watch the process of bewilderment begin. (We saw this happen in spades with bogus Nostradamus prophecies immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)

The item quoted above, linking presidential candidate Barack Obama with the figure of the anti-Christ, is more of the same type of denigrative fiction. Contrary to popular belief, the New Testament book of Revelation (not "Revelations," as it is commonly rendered) does not provide a laundry list of signs for identifying the appearance of an anti-Christ. In fact, it neither uses the term "anti-Christ" nor describes such a figure; Chapter 13 of that book merely recounts the appearance of "beasts," who are depicted in animalistic terms (as rendered in the King James version of the Bible):

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If any man have an ear, let him hear.

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

The term "anti-Christ" is mentioned several times in the first and second letters of John, but none of those passages specifically describes or identifies the anti-Christ figure (other than as a denier of the divinity of Jesus):

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Nothing in the Bible, in Revelation or elsewhere, describes the anti-Christ as being "a man, in his 40s, of Muslim descent." In fact, since the book of Revelation was complete by the end of the second century, yet the religion of Islam wasn't founded until about four hundred years later, the notion that Revelation would have mentioned a "Muslim" at all is rather far-fetched. (And even if it did, it couldn't be construed as a reference to Barack Obama, since he isn't a Muslim.)

A July 2009 video purportedly demonstrating how "Jesus revealed the name of the anti-Christ" to be "Barack Obama" was publicized by the disreputable WND web site:

Salon pointed out some of the questionable linguistic manipulations employed in the video and noted that:

The linguistic twists needed to produce the whole theory give away the game. Once you start playing around with language and deliberate mistranslations, of course, it's not too hard to come up with something that fits whatever preconceived notions you may have already had. "It would take us about a half an hour to come up with a crackpot theory, and we can make just about anybody into either the Messiah or the Antichrist" by picking and choosing words from the Bible, [Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College] says.

"[The video] doesn't hold up even within its own silly logic," Ehrenkrantz says.

In essence, the whole video seems to be the political conspiracy theory equivalent of taking a phrase and running it back and forth among different languages in Babelfish until it becomes gibberish.

The Biblical citation most relevant to this issue might not be one from Revelation, but rather this passage from the Gospel of Matthew: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags