Left Behind Authors Talk to Rachel Maddow, Say Crazy Things March 1, 2009

Left Behind Authors Talk to Rachel Maddow, Say Crazy Things

The other night, Rachel Maddow interviewed the authors of the Left Behind series, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

You want to see an interview that will hurt your brain?

Here you go (for more fun, try imitating Rachel and keeping a straight face as you watch):

My favorite excerpt:

Maddow: You think that Obama is a socialist and you think that a world socialist system is a… necessary precondition for the Rapture, and then after the Rapture, then there’s the Antichrist.

LaHaye: Yes.

LaHaye: [Obama] might be a closet Christian. You know, he claims to be a Christian. So if he is, when the Rapture takes place, he’s out of here, too.

Frightening stuff, no?

Even scarier is how many people buy into this nonsense.

Maddow says one thing that bothers me. After the interview (7:45 mark), she says: “None of us have the right to judge anybody else’s religious beliefs…”

Of course we do. If we want to live in a world based in reality, we must judge and criticize other’s beliefs when warranted. There’s no need to put on kid gloves when it comes to religion.

At the same time, though, we can do all that while still being kind to the people who hold those beliefs.

Maddow did just that during her interview, even though I’d assume she thought what they were saying was absurd.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ian

    Not only must we criticize other’s beliefs, we must hold our beliefs open to equal levels of scrutiny.

  • Most Christians think the Rapture idea is absurd, but it gets a lot of play among churches with little sense of historical Christianity.

  • Aren’t we supposed to respect all religions… even the one where two angry turtles did battle with the space-gods

  • I agree, religious beliefs should be subject to scrutiny.

  • Richard Wade

    Has anyone found a way to contact Rachel Maddow?

    When she said that placating nonsense about nobody having the right to criticize anybody else’s religious beliefs I fell off my chair. I rushed to my computer but couldn’t find any place where I could send her an email or a blog comment.

    I love her show and watch it every night, and that is the first time I strongly disagreed with her. I think she just wanted to minimize the angry letters from fundies, because right after she said that, she subtly did express her disdain for the lunacy that her two guests had expressed.

    The myth that religious beliefs are exempt from criticism should be challenged overtly every single time it is mindlessly repeated. Rachel doesn’t pull any punches when people spout their crazy, hateful and destructive ideas in any other field such as politics, so why should she or anyone have to be silent when god-talk advocates idiotic policies and behaviors?

  • timeeeee

    It would make more sense to compare the sales of the Left Behind series to the sales of other series, instead of to individual books. In that case it was beat by Harry Potter, Goosebumps, the Berenstain Bears, Nancy Drew, the Chronicles of Narnia, Clifford, and Winnie the Pooh.

  • Vincent

    I agree. That part about no right to criticize another’s beliefs really jarred me.
    We have the right to ridicule anyone we want. It’s called free speech.

  • Mark D

    The rapture belief system was create in the 1840s by a teen aged Scotish girl named Margeret McDonald. It was later pick up by a deflocked Anglican minister John Nelson Darby. It was introducted to Americans by “Doctor” Cyrus I Schofield who wrote the Schofield Reference Bible. Schofield never attended college, yet lied on his resume and put it in front of his bible. Schofield also spend time in jail for stealing money from his ex mother in law. It is sad that press does not report this and most fundies don’t know it either.

  • Richard — I wrote to her saying essentially the same thing. Her email is on the show’s website (rachel@msnbc.com).

    — Hemant

  • Robert Thille


    Is the address for commenting on the Rachel Maddow Show that’s listed on the MSNBC website.

  • Jesse

    I’m glad I’m not the only one bothered by the “no right to judge anyone else’s religious beliefs” remark. I find that far more irritating than the rest of the interview, because of who said it.

  • Re: “nobody has the right…”

    As hard as I can, now: Judge judge judge judge judge

  • Hank Bones

    those books were part of my fall from christianity. thanks left behind!

  • schism

    Maddow says one thing that bothers me. After the interview (7:45 mark), she says: “None of us have the right to judge anybody else’s religious beliefs…”

    Wrong as she was, I can’t really begrudge Maddow for wanting to remain employed. If she had done anything but treat LaJenkins with kid gloves (before, during, and after the interview), she probably would have set off another Imus explosion.

  • Disagree with Maddow’s “no right to criticize” comment, but her interview with Tim and Jim was pretty good, including the part talking about how books these guys sold.

    Countering Tim’s defense on the interview, if they weren’t making major bank on these books, I seriously doubt they would have done anything past the first book. 16 book series? Even Harry Potter was only 7 books.

    It’s not religion, it’s a business.

    There’s my critical talking point.

  • Dave Huntsman

    We have the duty to judge any beliefs – including religious beliefs – when they are flat out wrong or harmful: The Earth is not 6000 years old; human beings did not ride dinosaurs; flying planes into buildings to get at 72 buildings is not ok, as neither is female genital mutilation; killing of homosexuals, men without beards, and disobedient children (from the Old Testament) and slavery are wrong; etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, the two crazies have a wide audience, and people are using their words, verbatim. This is from a friend of mine two weeks ago when I quoted Obama’s “We are a nation of Christians and muslims, hindus and nonbelievers” statement:

    “Written by the man who will agree with the Anti-Christ that the United
    > States of America should and shall enter into the great One World Government,
    > that every man, woman and child should and will (upon pain of death) take the
    > number of “The Beast” in order to buy and sell, and that every citizen of the
    > world should and shall become a member of the One World Religion, called
    > Babylon, to unify the peoples into peace. Which will become three and one
    > half years of peace at all costs, namely the lives of everyone who rebels
    > against this law. Then there shall be three and one half years of hell on
    > earth, called the Last Great War. Seven years. The Time of the
    > Tribulation. All in the Book of Revelation. It’s a good read, you
    > should try it. C”

  • Miko

    The fundamental principle of having productive conversations with Christians:

    Early in the conversation, mention the Book of Revelations. If they correct you (no s at the end of Revelation), end the conversation immediately.

  • Why on Earth did she give air time to this crackpot? Anti-Christ, Rapture, Revelations. Please.

    Surely nobody sane gives any credence to such ideas?

  • I failed epically- I did not keep a straight face- I yelled, I laughed, I wore a face denoting incredulousness, I got angry and I was dumbfounded.

    Not only do we have the RIGHT to criticise religions we have the DUTY to criticise religions

  • I would argue that we shouldn’t judge people’s private religious beliefs, but as soon as they use those beliefs to justify political actions than we have every right to judge them. Basically, I think any belief that people decide to enter into the public square is fair game, but if you privately decide to pray to the goddess of things stuck in drawers, whatever; it’s none of my business. These guys use their wacky beliefs to justify intolerant and immoral political actions so their beliefs are certainly fair game.

    Also saying that Left Behind is based on the book of Revelation is kind of like saying “10 Things I Hate About You” is based on “The Taming of the Shrew” there are certainly similar, nay identical, plot points, but with none of the same meaning.

  • Respect the person not the belief. It could be said that it’s disrespectful to people not to challenge falsehoods they hold to be true, especially if it may cause them or others harm. A belief isn’t a magic intangible it is merely a malleable organised neural pattern/behaviour held in one organ of the body. Why on earth should that be above criticism? Many such neural patterns that contain perceptions or convictions are false even in the most intelligent and rational of people. Therefore limiting critical evaluation of any thought – belief or otherwise – would inevitably lead to the preservation of false beliefs/lie/cons etc. Not a path to enlightenment young padawan.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    [Obama] might be a closet Christian. You know, he claims to be a Christian.

    Wha-a-a-at? Someone in the closet does not claim to be what he is. Since Obama claims to be a Christian, he cannot be a closet Christian. Stupid.

  • mikespeir

    And there’s absolutely no way to disprove these people’s notions. After all, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” That means in AD 1,000,000 it will only have been 1000 days–not even three years–to God. Jesus could still be coming “soon.”

  • Mark

    The religious rights arm flailing and teeth gnashing over President Obama being a closeted socialist is absolutely laughable. These, the very people who would like nothing more than to see our nation taken over by a bunch of religious thugs, our constitution replaced by a crucifixion, a Christian theocracy in place of a democratic republic, and every school teaching biblical principles instead of science. These are the people that are afraid of Obama being a socialist? Are they fucking nuts?

    I would rather starve under communism than eat from the table of a theocracy any day.

  • The world is ALWAYS in a state of change, LaHaye..

  • Alex Malecki

    I don’t understand her line of thought. Hell, America was founded by men who routinely attacked organized religion. The father of American independence, Thomas Paine, was an explicit critic,

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon rather than the word of god. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.”

  • Alex Malecki

    Also, the notion that there exists a set of ideas that are immune from criticism is utterly anti-democratic.

  • benjdm


    Why on Earth did she give air time to this crackpot? Anti-Christ, Rapture, Revelations. Please.

    Surely nobody sane gives any credence to such ideas?

    What % of Americans do you classify as insane?

    “…A TIME/CNN poll finds that more than one-third of Americans say they are paying more attention now to how the news might relate to the end of the world, and have talked about what the Bible has to say on the subject. Fully 59% say they believe the events in Revelation are going to come true, and nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the Sept. 11 attack.

    Some of that interest is fueled by faith, some by fear, some by imagination, but all three are fed by the Left Behind series…”

    (emphasis added)

  • Richard had a great point. When this sort of thing is given media time and not thoroughly mocked, it strengthens the whole mistaken idea that religious belief should be off limits to criticism.

  • If any believer in any religion feels threatened by any form of contrariness it is that believer that has a problem with the very same faith they profess to have.
    To be filled with the utmost faith in any cause means you are more than willing to die for said cause, that you are unafraid or feel threatened by the “Others”.
    Many peoples have been tortured and killed for their contrariness, died horrible deaths because they chose that over recanting their beliefs.
    It makes me wonder how many of these “Holier than thou” types would recant after apending a few days of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

  • Jen

    I just wanted to let you know that not all people who believe in biblical end-time prophesy are insane 🙂

    I do believe (most of the time anyways) that the bible phophesies these things, and that it is very likely that we are in the midst of these changes now. “end-times” does not mean the end of the world, just the end of the world “as we know it”. In otherwords, most of us will still be here but it will be a new era, a changed world; similar to the way the industrial revolution changed the world, but this will be a spiritual revolution. I’m a liberal, not a fundamentalist christian, and I happen to think that this spiritual revolution will be much more inline with the liberal ideologies than the Christian ones. Unfortunately, in order to get there we will have to go through some very hard times of suffering first.
    Because I am sane :), I’m not mentally commiited to this belief; what I mean is that I have a constantly shifting and adjusting interpretation that takes into account new facts and information. I think the problem with so many religious people is that they become too rigid and literal in their belief system- the bible should NOT be interpreted literally, particularly Revelations.
    I don’t write this to preach to you or convert you, I could care less if you disagree with me or want to criticize me, or even if you do think that I’m crazy. I just wanted to let you know that there are people who believe in prophesy without accepting the silliness of the “rapture” or preaching about being “saved”. We’re typically much quiter about our beliefs so they don’t get much air time 🙂

  • Lyris Primo

    All of you folks who are ridiculing Tim Lahaye and the other guy will one day realise the truth of what they are saying. However by then it will really be too late for you and you will be truly “left behind”. You will have no one to blame but your arrogant selves. What I should add though, the devil is gleeful about your thoughts, beliefs and foolish blabber.

  • Siamang

    You can kiss my left behind.

  • Siamang

    And the right one too.

  • curious

    Why don’t we ever hear about how many churches and organizations purchased these books in bulk to give away to their minions? If I purchase 1,000 copies of my own book to give away, does it still count as a sale? There sure are a lot of “christian schools” who read the books as part of their “curriculum”.

  • kemry hughes

    Rachel watching show is informative and enjoyable,thanks and keep on keeping on.The Rappys are urging voters to get involve and let their elected rep.know that Prersident Obama programs should be supported and will do this at no cost to anyone but the Rappys, Keep the news flowing and again watching toyr show is a joy, thank you. Kemry Hughes Clinron Md.

  • Carrie M Burton

    Dear Rachel;

    Why is it so difficult to email msnbc show hosts? I feel like I need a security clearance to send an email commenting on a story. It is very disturbing since my husband and I watch your show, Countdown, Hardball and The Ed Show. Why isn’t there a “contact us”, or “email us” on your shows’ official websites? Also, we would like to be able to email some of the stories on all of these shows to friends and family who may not always be able to watch. No can do that either!

    Just so you know we are NOT just complainers; we love you, your show, and that has to include your wit, intellegance, enthusiasim, and obvious enjoyment of your job! God Bless and keep on going!!!
    Carrie, Santa Fe, NM

  • Jim
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