“Never so sure our rapture to create,
As when it touch’d the brink of all we hate.”
― William Hazlitt, author and philosopher
Alongside the burgeoning rise of all things eschatological we also have the religious marketing phenomena of the “Rapture,” a term that refers to being “caught up” in anticipation of the Second Coming and finally resurrected. The word was chosen due to the mix of meanings from ecstatic joy, spiritual rebirth and the act of transporting the supplicant from one plane of existence to another.
Those responsible for introducing the concept of the Rapture came from a scattering of individuals. Firstly from puritanical American preachers Mather and Increase Cotton, a father and son duo from 17th Century; the theologians Philip Doddridge and John Gill who helpfully introduced the actual word in popular religious discourse. Various sparks of religious fervour supporting this idea appeared throughout the 17th Century until the mid-18th Century Scottish minister and theologian Edward Irving passed the baton to John Nelson Darby who took hold of the idea with particular fervour and made it truly popular for royal and rabble alike. Though rejected by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches and the Anglican Communion, the eschatology went into overdrive for the Protestants. It caused a stir in Baptist, Pentecostal and other fundamentalist denominations in both Britain and America; now they had something to really set their sights on, acting as a laser beam of focus within traditional eschatological movements as a whole. 
There are differing theories within the movement on timing: pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pre Wrath, Partial and Post-tribulation (see chart below) but the general consensus is that Jesus Christ appears in the air and has a con-flab with the righteous immediately preceding his return to Earth. They believe that their salvation is assured provided they sign on the dotted line to manifest Armageddon so that He can return at the appointed time. Thus they can be plucked from seven years’ worth of apocalyptic “tribulation,” which they enthusiastically helped to create. (How is that for a twist on “create your own reality”?) Meanwhile, the rest of us will be gnashing our teeth and weeping and wailing in a pit of fire. It’s appears to be a little more complicated then that however, as you can see from the chart below:
Diagram of the major tribulation views in Christian theology |
The faithful Dominionists are busy making sure that this is exactly the scenario that will play out. This is the bread-and-butter of fanaticism and should come as no surprise for anyone who has studied religious authoritarians. However, what makes this phenomenon chilling is the heavy, modern-day marketing of “Christian duty” which must have a guiding hand in its manifestation and furthermore, to rejoice in destruction. The absence of love and compassion in favour of vicious selfishness and spiritual greed is astonishing to behold.
Rapture prediction has been big business. Books, audio tapes and seminars offering sage advice in preparing for the Big Day have saturated the Christian market. Gracing our bookshops and internet outlets are The End-Times Survival Handbook: What to Expect before the Rapture and How to Survive It (2003) by Joan Hake Robie and Daymond R. Duck which seems to be somewhat oxymoronic. If all genuine Christians are going to be raptured then what is there to survive?
Then we have Jerry B Jenkins, ghost-writer for Tim LaHaye who seems to have cornered the market on apocalyptic writings using fiction to promote their message. With subtle titles such as: The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye–Countdown to the Earth’s Last Days (2007); The Mark: The Beast Rules the World (2011) and The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon (2011) and the popular Box-set of ten volumes entitled: The Left Behind Collection (2003) the formula is most reminiscent of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth series and equally lucrative.
Part of the success of the books is drawn from its sensationalist promotion of genuine fears which are already rising from the uncertainty of economic disruption and social dislocation. LaHaye is also the founder and president of the Council for National Policy, a secretive outfit known to very few but which exerts considerable influence. Formed in 1981 the CNP brings together a collection of disparate ultra-conservative groupings to focus and strengthen the right wing Christian agenda on Middle East foreign policy.
A New York Times report described CNP members as comprising of “a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country” who meet “behind closed doors at undisclosed locations … to strategize about how to turn the country to the right.”  The group is chock full of Neo-Conservatives and Christian Zionists who share the same burning desire to see the Middle East reduced to an apocalyptic pile of rubble as a prelude to the Second Coming. George W. Bush, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, devotee of Jewish messianic cult Chabad Lubavitch, were all members.
As author and journalist George Monbiot observed at the time:
“So here we have a major political constituency – representing much of the current president’s core vote – in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels ‘which are bound in the great river Euphrates’ will be released to slay the third part of men.” 
Though the Bush Administration has gone, the legacy remains within the Obama government.
US TV Evangelist Rev. Jack von Impe allegedly sent his pearls of wisdom directly into Bush’s ear and advised him on the religious stakes concerning the war in Iraq. Von Impe believes (and probably hopes) that Russia and the Arab nations will attack and destroy Israel as part of a nuclear Armageddon no later than the end of 2012.  Thankfully, along with brains, prediction is not an Evangelist’s strongest suit.
Conversely, another Armageddon cheer-leader and Christian Zionist TV preacher John Hagee believes that the United States must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel for the return of Christ at the appointed hour. Essential to this countdown to destruction is the Neo-Con doctrine of a pre-emptive strike against Iran which will initiate the countdown to a global holocaust. The fact that part of this mythology includes the required obliteration of Israel is conveniently left out of his proselytizing.
Another Club which has grown into a comprehensive cabal is “The Fellowship” which had its beginnings in the 1930s care of spellbinding Norwegian immigrant and Methodist minister, Abraham Verified. Having changed its name on various occasions since 1935 and cultivated a constant but modest presence throughout politics, its strength and influence is now considerable. Journalist and author Wayne Madsen asserts: “Its stealth existence has been perpetuated by its organization into small cells, a pyramid organization of ‘correspondents,’ ‘associates,’ ‘friends,’ ‘members,’ and ‘core members,’ tax-exempt status for its foundations, and its protection by the highest echelons of our own government and those abroad.” 
It seeks to present itself as a religious fraternity when it is nothing more than cult of political control working in tandem with other factions for totalitarian government. Like other nested military-intelligence cults, Fellowship members believe that the New World Government should consist of the Christian elect that will rise from the ashes and establish God’s dominion on Earth. Madsen connects the heritage from which The Fellowship draws its succour is none other than our favourite iconic despot Hitler, who:
“… planned for a ‘Thousand Year Reich’ over the planet. It is not a coincidence that Hitler desired and the so-called Christian Dominionists/reconstructionists now contemplate a thousand year reign. The Christian Dominionists are the political heirs of Hitler, the Norwegians Vereide and Quisling, Buchman, Opus Dei founder and fascist patron saint Josemaria Escriva and their political and religious cohorts.” 
This is essentially what we are talking about here: a virulent, religious fascism that has merged with all the many elements of the Conservative Establishment and melded with American-German Nazism to produce a potent political force. It is the new militant army that exerts near total control over the United States executive, its legislature and several state governments. The federal judiciary and the U.S. Supreme Court are sure to follow, as its influence in high-level international affairs continues to expand.
This sect may well be the source of the revival in Dominionism within the Bush and Obama administrations. Many top level members of the military are in its thrall appealing to the spellbinders and psychopaths that fancy cutting a retributive slice of messianic deliverance upon their enemy. Some of these members include those for whom sexual abuse and torture are part of God’s will for the New American-Israel, such as former Joint Chiefs Chairman General David Jones, former Marine Corps Commandant and current NATO commander General James L. Jones, Lt. Gen. Bruce Fister, the former head of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Iran-contra figure Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, current Joint Chiefs chairman General Richard Myers, and yes, the familiar presence of Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, the military head of Defence Secretary Rumsfeld’s intelligence branch who went on to create the torture and sexual molestation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The United States has become the battleground for millennial fanaticism of the kind that was last seen at the time of the crusades. Instead of swords, arrows and armies we have drones, smart bombs and technocratic psychological warfare.
Notice how religious, scientific and civic activism is engineered to conflict and fight out each other’s opposing force so that the population is kept busy and attention deflected away from those pushing the buttons of these movements? On the one hand you have atheists and humanists all waxing lyrical about the evils of the religious right while the latter hurls fire and brimstone accusations at the communist Anti-Christ minions of the left. All the while “Satan” puffs a cigar and warms his hands on the conflict from each.
There is no shortage of groups and individuals proclaiming a Rapture date from the 17th Century right up to the present. The well-publicized announcements of radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted the fateful / joyful day as September 6, 1994. Surprisingly enough, nothing happened that could be described as Rapturous. Camping revised his predictions and confidently told us that May 21, 2011 was in fact, the true date for a trans-spiritual pick-up. Again, nothing happened. Camping put this down to God’s Judgement. Even God can get his Rapture day wrong it seems. So, October 21, 2011 was to be the new Departure point, which nonetheless, proved surprisingly – for Camping at least – a non-Rapture event.  (More ruptured than raptured?)
However, there may be some truth to the predictions of a specific time of “Tribulation,” the Rapture being the least important of the beliefs currently swirling in the vortex of Dominionist anticipation. This is where sects like The Fellowship, Christian Fundamentalism and Zionism link hands forming a circle around the Biblical icon of End Times prophecy:
Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
 ‘Club of the Most Powerful Gathers in Strictest Privacy’ By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, August 28, 2004.
 Their Beliefs are Bonkers…, George Monbiot, The Guardian, 2004.
 ‘Is Bush Getting Apocalyptic Advice?’, MSNBC, August 13th, 2003.
 ‘Expose: The “Christian” Mafia – Where Those Who Now Run the U.S. Government Came From and Where They Are Taking Us’ By Wayne Madsen, May 2005, waynemadsenreport.com/
 ‘Apocalypse (Not Quite) Now: Camping Picks New End-of-World Date’ May 24 2011. Laist.com