Even after Dobbs, the end times are dominating bestseller lists.
There’s no denying that the apocalypse is currently having a moment, culturally and politically. It could be driven partly by the pandemic and fears of climate change. Those are actual, frightening apocalyptic scourges. Russia’s war has also set off alarm bells for certain evangelicals, as there was a Cold War tradition of identifying the country, variably, with Gog or Magog.
But it seems an odd time for doomsday fervor, given the ascendancy of the religious right in American politics and the current makeup of the Supreme Court. Why, at this moment, when the Christian right should be feeling more empowered, would the end of the world be so trendy?
Matthew Avery Sutton, a history professor at Washington State University and author of American Apocalypse, noted that Donald Trump, knowingly or not, tapped into a century of end-times beliefs by quarreling with NATO and criticizing the FBI and the “deep state.” In the Left Behind book series, which was published in the ’90s and early 2000s and which has had an enormous impact on how many Christians conceptualize the apocalypse, the Antichrist turns out to be a politically savvy secretary-general of the United Nations, which is then converted into a single world government. Trump didn’t frame his isolationist America First policies or his anti-FBI rants as a fight against the Antichrist, but his distrust of European governments and of his own intelligence and security agencies maps onto these cultural tropes and other long-held evangelical suspicions about the threat of satanic forces. “It’s all about fighting one world government and the coming dominance of the Antichrist so we can stand against evil,” Sutton said.