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Did McCain ad intend to link Obama to Antichrist?
John Byrne
Published: Friday August 8, 2008

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Aide calls ad 'light-hearted'

They call him "The One."

That's the spin from a Web ad launched Aug. 1 by the McCain campaign which some biblical scholars and Democrats say contains a hidden message linking Sen. Barack Obama to the antichrist.

"It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed," the announcer proclaims. Following the pronouncement, images of golden clouds and Moses parting the Red Sea are invoked to make a mockery of Obama's lofty rhetoric.

"And he has anointed himself ready to carry the burden of the one," the announcer intones. "To quote Barack, 'I have become a symbol of America returning to its best traditions.' He can do not wrong... Can you see the light?"

A spokesman for McCain's campaign told the Wall Street Journal Friday, "It's a light-hearted ad that pokes fun at him." He said the ad is only intended to highlight the Illinois senator's "many audacious statements."

Scholars and critics, however, point to startling links between the ad and the popular "Left Behind" Christian End Times series.

Director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado at Boulder Stewart Hoover told the paper the ad's antichrist references weren't subtle for anyone familiar with the books.

Images in the ad closely resemble those used in the latest "Left Behind" novel; the type font is nearly identical. The antichrist in the books, Nicolae Carpathia, sets up "the One World Religion" -- just as the ad repeatedly refers to Obama as "The One."

"For people who want a reason to be skeptical of Obama, this might nail it down," Hoover said.

The Obama campaign has not commented on the spot.

"The End Times, a New Testament reference to the period surrounding the return of Christ, were popularized in recent years by the "Left Behind" series of books that sold more than 63 million copies," the Journal notes. "The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the series, said in an interview that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Sen. Obama and the antichrist are incorrect."

"The antichrist isn't going to be an American, so it can't possibly be Obama," LaHaye said. "The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania."

The ad has provoked a growing debate on the Internet over whether it is playing with apocalyptic themes. Those ideas are chiefly shared by fundamentalist Protestants and some other evangelical Christians. Among their expectations: the ascension of a false prophet, a one-world government and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

"Short of 666, they used every single symbol of the antichrist in this ad," said Eric Sapp, a Democratic advisor who advises Democrats on religious outreach. "There are way too many things to just be coincidence."

Notes the paper: "In some swing states with concentrated pockets of fundamentalists and evangelical Christians, like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia, the ads could have particular impact. Suggestions that Sen. Obama is the antichrist have been circulating for months in Bible-study meetings in towns like Chillicothe, Ohio, where congregants compare his remarks and his biography with verses from the Bible."

The ad is available below.