The solar eclipse is a sign that America is evil, religious right members say

Today's solar eclipse is further proof that you are a sinner, if some fringe commentators are to be believed


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Matthew Sheffield
August 21, 2017 5:22PM (UTC)

The science behind human understanding of today's solar eclipse is nothing new. Astronomer Johannes Kepler figured out the science of how eclipses happen in the 17th century when he mapped out the orbits of various celestial bodies. But all of that is just new-fangled nonsense according to some of the most prominent Christian nationalist commentators.

Televangelist and convicted felon Jim Bakker, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison for defrauding viewers, is telling viewers that they need to see routine physical events as signs from God.

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During an Aug. 14 episode of his doomsday prepping program, Bakker and his guest, Mark Biltz, told their gullible audience that a double rainbow that recently appeared over the White House was an omen, as was the upcoming eclipse.

BILTZ: I believe a rainbow speaks of God’s covenant, and over the White House, I think God is telling America he is in covenant with us. He is in covenant with us, that’s why it’s over the White House. As a nation, it represents the nation, and God is saying he’s in covenant with us and that's why it’s so important for us, then, to heed the warning and to repent. That’s why we also have the solar eclipse coming across, because God wants [us to repent.]...

BAKER: God wants to be in covenant with our White House. We should be praying for our White House instead of cursing it. America is cursing, they’re cursing each other, they’re cursing our president.

Later on, Bakker warned people who might watch the segment to believe what they were hearing.

“You people that are mocking the prophets,” Bakker said. “You better be careful because God’s raised up the prophets to warn us and to teach us . . . I’m telling you people, if you don’t know we’re in the last days, you’re so deceived.”

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, was more explicit in her belief that the eclipse could be a sign that God is going to punish America because this country is in the Bible, or something. In a blog post headlined "Is God’s Judgment Coming on America?" Lotz compared Americans celebrating a fun, unusual event to Babylonian drunkards:

For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation.  People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate.  While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger.  Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

Jewish rabbis have historically viewed solar eclipses as warnings from God to Gentile nations. Therefore, my perspective on the upcoming phenomenon is not celebratory. While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is.

Christian nationalist radio host Bryan Fischer was a bit less unhinged, but only just a bit in an Aug. 18 Facebook post:

The sun, if it is a symbol of anything, is certainly a symbol of God’s radiant truth, which is intended to reveal, to illuminate, and to enlighten every soul on planet earth. The night, on the other hand, is a symbol of spiritual darkness, deception, and error. . .

The path of this total eclipse of the sun is remarkable, in that it crosses over the entire continental United States, almost perfectly bisecting America from the Northwest to the Southeast. And in that path, the sun will be perfectly blotted out, by the ruler of the night, plunging all of America in its path into virtual total darkness.

This is a metaphor, or a sign, of the work of the Prince of Darkness in obscuring the light of God’s truth. Satan, and those who unwittingly serve as his accomplices by resisting the public acknowledgement of God and seeking to repress the expression of Christian faith in our land, are bringing on us a dark night of the national soul.

John Hagee, a mega-church pastor in San Antonio, literally wrote an entire book about lunar eclipses, which he called "blood moons," which supposedly were linked toward catastrophes in history. While he managed to make a lot of money selling his poorly researched tome, in 2015, he invited a Christian astronomer onto a web TV special about it and ended up with egg on his face as the astronomer debunked his ludicrous theories.


Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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