People make fun of Christian preacher Harold Camping because he predicted the world would end on a specific day this May, and then, obviously, it didn’t.
What most people don’t know is that presidential candidate Michele Bachmann did just about the same thing 5 years ago.
In October 2006, Bachmann made a prophetic declaration to the Christian ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, which is dedicated to using public school assemblies as a way to convert children to Christianity. She said that the end of the world would come very soon:
“The day is at hand! We are in the last days! The day is at hand, Lord, when your return will become nigh! Pour a double blessing!”
Nigh means in the near future. Bachmann said it herself that “the day is at hand”.
Which day? Bachmann was more canny than Harold Camping. She didn’t say exactly which day the return of Jesus Christ would happen, but she said twice that the day was “at hand”, meaning nearby or close in time.
It’s been about 1,700 days, give or take a few, since Michele Bachmann predicted that Jesus Christ was about to come back to Earth, and the End of Times would begin.
Last time I checked, the world was going about its business pretty much as normal. There are some problems, but they’re not the kind of problems that could be associated with the end of the world, and it looks like people could take care of these problems, if they really wanted to, without any supernatural intervention.
So, it looks like Michele Bachmann pulled a Harold Camping. She predicted that the end of the world would come very soon, and then it didn’t.
Some people might want to make an excuse for Bachmann, and say that when she predicted that the end of the world would be nigh, she might have meant six years, or eight years, or maybe even twelve years. But the fact is that Bachmann didn’t say that Earth was in its last years. She said that the Earth was in its last days.
The phrase last days has a pretty narrow meaning. It means that there aren’t many days left.
When I hear that a sale at a store is in its last days, I don’t think to myself, “That sale could go on for another five years.” I know that the sale has a week, tops, before it’s over.
When I tell my kids that we’re in the last days of summer, they know that I mean they’d better have whatever fun they want to have soon, because before too long, autumn will be here and they’ll have to go to school. They know I do not mean that they have 1,700 days of summer left.
When a newspaper headline reports that an ailing celebrity is in his or her last days, it means that the celebrity will probably die very soon. It doesn’t mean that the celebrity has 5 more years or more to live.
This false prediction of the end of the world made by Michele Bachmann is important, because it shows how very, extremely, monumentally inaccurate Bachmann’s perception of reality is. Republicans get testy with Barack Obama because his predictions about the direction of the unemployment rate over the course of a few months isn’t quite on target, but then they turn around and enthusiastically support a candidate who has wrongly predicted that the entire Earth will be destroyed in a few days. If Michele Bachmann really believed that the end of the world was going to happen in 2006, then we know that her grasp of important trends is inadequate.
We also have to consider the method Michele Bachmann used to arrive at the conclusion that the world was going to end in 2006. Those of us who were around in 2006 remember that there were no signs that the end of the world could be close. There were no remarkable meteor showers, gamma ray burst, solar flares or formations of alien spaceships in the sky. There were no unprecidented earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. There were no devastating epidemics or nuclear explosions.
We do know, however, that Michele Bachmann has said on multiple occasions that she believes that she is in personal communication with a divine ruler of the universe who has the power to destroy the Earth. We know that Bachmann believes that this divine ruler has a plan to destroy the entire Earth. Furthermore, we know that Bachmann supports this plan.
In other words, Michele Bachmann is a devoted follower of the most powerful religious terrorist ever.
Maybe Bachmann doesn’t view her fervor in those terms, but the fact is that her beliefs led her to declare that the world was about to end five years ago, and she remains a follower of the same beliefs that led her to that false conclusion. If Bachmann is elected President, who’s to say that she won’t wake up one morning, decide that her divine friend needs to destroy the Earth by the end of the week, hold a press conference and tell us all with a smile on her face that we’re all going to die?
I don’t mean to suggest that people should vote against Michele Bachmann because she’s a Christian. We’ve had many many Christian presidents, and none of them so far have decided to help their divine leader to destroy the Earth. Most Christians don’t literally believe that the world is destined to end within their lifetimes.
What I do mean to suggest is that people should vote against Michele Bachmann because she lacks the mental capacity to understand the metaphorical structure of her own religion sufficiently to avoid coming to the conclusion that the Earth is about the be destroyed. What I mean to suggest is that people should vote against Michele Bachmann because she lacks the discretion to refrain from cheerfully announcing in public that everybody on Earth is about to be killed.
It isn’t about religion. It’s an issue of psychological stability.
But put all that aside, if you still believe that Michele Bachmann is a reasonable choice to become President of the United States, and just ask yourself one simple question: If Michele Bachmann really believed that the world was about to end in 2006, why is she running for President in 2012?