Obama's shout-out to heathen "non-believers" at the inauguration was a great moment for the godless — or those who believe in many gods. But is the new president the harbinger of a new paganism in America? Some right-wingers think so, but not necessarily because of his inaugural rhetoric.
Back in November shortly after the election, Newsweek magazine ran a column asking, "Is Obama the Anti-Christ," with no tongue in cheek. Writing as if this is even a half-way legitimate question, the story described the Anti-Christ this way:
He will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, "the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind," explains Richard Landes, former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. No wonder, then, that Obama triggers such fear in the hearts of America's millennialist Christians....
The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," [Liberty University's Mat] Staver says.
Perhaps? Not nuts? Well, I guess if the faculty of Liberty University is concerned, then so must we all be. (Personally, I thought the whole Anti-Christ controversy had been settled by Seattle Weekly years ago: It's Dubya.)
The only surprise to me is that no one has yet blamed Obama for the attempted human sacrifice on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill. Candle-lit altars? Female victims? Yes we can!
Obama's policies are also underscoring religious suspicions. National Review Online contributor Michael Novak wrote recently that Obama's pro-gay, anti-torture, and abortion-friendly policies were the signs of something big:
From these announcements we learn that President Obama recognizes no difference between the Jewish-Christian covenant between a woman and a man (a covenant that they will have and nurture children, if they are so blessed), and a civil contract between two persons of any sex, in order to set up a household of affection and sexual favors. This is a relapse into paganism.
That's right, Obama's liberalism is ushering us into a New Pagan Age. If only. Why is it conservatives seem to forget that pagans invented democracy? In my humble opinion, America needs a lot more paganism of that sort.
Is paganism ready for prime time in America? Our TV is already filled with the bloodsport of the arena (reality TV, football) but the Judeo-Christian God seems well ensconced, especially in sports where some quarterbacks carry Bibles. One commentator asks about this weekend's Super Bowl:
What if some Cardinal or Steeler were to be named Most Valuable Player come Sunday and lead off his interview in front of the entire world, by saying, "I'd just like to thank L. Ron Hubbard and the church of Scientology?" Or, "I'd just like to express gratitude to my dark lord Beelzebub?"
That player would likely have to postpone his trip to Disneyland because the "separation between sports and state" has not yet been fully achieved. Football might trace its smash-mouth roots back to pagan Rome, but it's the pagans who'd be eaten alive if they came out of the closet on national TV.