Armageddon Theology and Presidential Decision-Making:
Religious Leaders' Concern
Transcript of a Press Conference for RELIGIOUS ISSUES '84,
in Association with Conference on the Fate of the Earth
and Washington Research Center
October 24, 1984, 10:00 am, at San Francisco Press Club
Statements by Dwight Cocke, Executive Director of Conference on the Fate of the Earth; Dr. Thomas Ambrogi, Director of RELIGIOUS ISSUES '84 and former Executive Director of the Commission on Social Justice of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco; Rev. James Emerson, Ph.D., Pastor, Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco; Rabbi Martin Weiner, Congregation Sherith Israel; Steven Kull, psychologist and editor of Political Psychology; David Brower, founder and chairman of Fiends of the Earth and Conference on the Fate of the Earth; Daniel Ellsberg, former State Department and Defense Department official; Will Whittle, former Christian fundamentalist minister and author of How to Stop Believing in War.
(PR4A24.WS, 10-24-84, 23:30. Partially edited draft version, for review and correction by press conference participants. A corrected version will be available October 25, 1984.)
Washington Research Center
3101 Washington Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 931-7117, 931-2593.
Is Reagan Planning for Nuclear Armageddon?
(Transcript of Cassette Tape Recording)
"There are many prophecies made in ancient times in the Bible which speak of the kind of destruction that will be wrought upon the earth in the last great war before Jesus comes back. And they are perfect descriptions of a nuclear war."
What has this man been doing holding military briefings inside the Pentagon? Why does Ronald Reagan quote this man? Who is he? What does he believe, and what is he teaching the man who is control of our nuclear weapons?
"Nuclear war, and the second coming of Jesus Christ; Armageddon, and the coming war with Russia: what does all this have to do and say to you and me? It says this: "Prepare to meet thy God."
Why did Ronald Reagan arrange a private top-secret National Security Council briefing for this man? Who is he? What does he believe, and what is he teaching the man who is in control of our nuclear weapons?
"There will be no peace until Jesus comes! That is what the Anti-christ promises. Any teaching of peace prior to his return is heresy. It is against the word of God - it is anti-Christ!"
Why did Ronald Reagan choose this man to deliver the opening invocation at the 1984 Republican convention in Dallas? Who is he? What does he believe, and what is he teaching the man who is in control of our nuclear weapons?
"Because of all the private conversations I have had with Ronald Reagan through the years including long before he ever ran for public office, because of all the private times I have had with him, I have just always known he is a man who has sought God's will, who is determined to do God's will, either as a private citizen or as an elected official, regardless of the human cost or outcome."
Why did Ronald Reagan choose this man to be with during the opening speech of this 1984 election campaign? Who is he? . What does he believe, and what is he teaching the man who is in control of our nuclear weapons?
You have just heard Pat Boone, a born-again fundamentalist, and a personal religious confidant of Ronald Reagan's for over thirty years. And James Robison, fundamentalist born-again minister Ronald Reagan chose to open his 1984 Republican convention in Dallas. And Jerry Falwell, born-again fundamentalist leader of the Moral Majority, who has met with Ronald Reagan more than any other religious leader - in the oval office, in cabinet meetings, over the phone, in speeches, and in policy meetings. In March 1981, as one of his first acts as president, Ronald Reagan arranged for a top-secret National Security Council briefing, on the Soviet Union, for Jerry Falwell.
The first voice you heard was Hal Lindsey, born-again fundamentalist and author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, a book which Ronald Reagan has quoted ever since he was governor of California.
"The Governor was familiar with some of the books that were in this area; for example, The Late, Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey, which was a book that he had read. I've given him a lot of books, and The Late, Great Planet-Earth was one in which has been repeatedly discussed."
You have just heard the voice of Herbert Ellingwood, Legal Affairs Secretary to Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. Herbert Ellingwood now heads one of Ronald Reagan's government agencies. According to Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign biography, Reagan Inside Out, Herbert Ellingwood meets inside the Pentagon with the men Ronald Reagan has chosen to control nuclear weapons - to discuss the Bible: with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Vesse, with the chief of Naval Operations, James Watkins, and with other top military officers.
What do these men who have been influencing Ronald Reagan have in common? They are all born-again fundamentalists, who teach that the world is about to end in a nuclear Armageddon with the Soviet Union; that prophecy contained in two key books in the Bible, the Book of Revelation and Ezekiel: 38 and 39, is the literal will of God; and that a horrible final war of Armageddon is about to happen.
Is it possible Ronald Reagan, the man who controls our nuclear weapons, really believes these things? In the October 7th presidential debate with Walter Mondale, President Reagan was asked if he is born-again. He evaded the question. Why didn't he tell the truth when 100 million Americans were watching?
Ronald Reagan: "So, yes, I would say in the sense that I understand it, that I have had an experience that could be described as born-again."
Robert Slosser, author of the Reagan 1984 presidential campaign biography, Reagan Inside Out: "Reagan is quite knowledgeable about the Scriptures and particularly keenly interested in the various parts of prophecy that have been and are being fulfilled."
George Otis, 1980 honorary chairman of Christians for Reagan, is a born-again fundamentalist who has been a personal religious confidant of Ronald Reagan's since before he was Governor of California. Otis was asked about Ronald Reagan and biblical prophecy: "Reagan does recognize the fact that this nation has a unique opportunity to have an influence upon the coming of the Kingdom Age. It is clear that this is in the forefront of his mind."
"Ronald Reagan indeed is very conscious of the fact that the Bible speaks of Armageddon. Ronald Reagan seems to be very cognizant of the Scripture,
particularly as contained in Ezekiel: 38 and 39, involving that group of nations such as Persia and modern Iran, and Libya, and of course Israel, and Assyria (what had been Assyria then) and the linkage somewhere downstream to Russia."
Born-again fundamentalist Harald Bredesen has known and counseled Ronald Reagan for over fifteen years. He was interviewed about the Biblical prophecy, Ezekiel: 38 and 39, regarding Armageddon and the end of the world, and the effects it might be having on the President's official policies: "I believe that Reagan is conscious of this section of scriptures and that it is having a real impact on his policies."
Is it possible that the man who controls our nuclear weapons really believes the world is about to come to an end? One week before announcing his candidacy for president, in 1980, Ronald Reagan told reporter Doug Wead: "We may be the generation that sees Armageddon."
Since becoming president, and especially since the assassination attempt on his life, the President's public statements about the end of the world have become progressively more certain, and more urgent.
Six weeks after Reagan became president, Jerry Falwell told reporter Bob Scheer in a tape-recorded interview, that President Reagan agreed with him on Bible prophecy and said, "Jerry, we are heading very fast for Armageddon now."
In October 1983 Ronald Reagan told the Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Thomas Dine, in a widely-published interview, "I turn back to your prophets in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we are the generation that is going to see that come about. I don't know if you have noted any of those prophecies lately, but, believe me, they describe the times we are going through."
On December 6, 1983, Ronald Reagan told two reporters from People Magazine, in a White House interview, "There were times in the past when we thought the end of the world was coming, but never anything like this."
This interview was also recorded in the official weekly White House compilation of presidential documents, with one exception. According to journalist Ronnie Dugger, author of the 1984 Washington Post article, "Does Reagan Expect Armageddon?", the President's references to the end of the world have been deleted from the public record.
Is it possible that Ronald Reagan has been making personnel decisions based on these beliefs?
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger told students at Harvard University, while head of the Pentagon: "I have read the Book of Revelation, and, yes, I believe the world is going to end - by an act of God, I hope - and every day I think that time is running out." In real terms, Secretary of Defense Weinberger is second in command of our nuclear weapons.
Secretary of the Interior James Watt, while in office, said that the government might as well mine federal lands because the world is about to come to an end anyway. News reports emphasized that he was not joking. In March 1982, in a nuclear war simulation inside the White House, Secretary James Watt made the final decision to move to an all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
According to Robert Slosser, executive vice president of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and author of Reagan's 1984 campaign biography, military commanders with the highest control over our nuclear weapons, General John Vesse, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and James Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, meet regularly inside the Pentagon with Herbert Ellingwood and Ed Meese, closest advisor to Ronald Reagan, to discuss the Bible. Do they discuss Bible prophecy about a nuclear Armageddon and the end of the world?
The Associate Director of Ronald Reagan's White House Office of Public Liaison, Carolyn Sundseth, this year, 1984, told the National Religious Broadcaster convention, that all White House aides should "get saved or get out" of the United States government. At that same meeting in Washington, D.C., former Republican Congressman John Conlan, called for a united campaign to defeat all non-born-again Christians running for public office. When President Reagan addressed this same group in the kick-off speech of his 1984 presidential campaign, what did he say?
He referred to Pat Boone: "And Pat Boone stood up, and in speaking to this crowd, he said, in talking of communism, that he had daughters, they were little girls then, and he said, 'I love them more than anything on earth.' And he said, (and I thought,'I know what he is going to say,' and 'Oh, you must not say that,' and yet I had underestimated him). He said, "I would rather that they die now believing in God than live to grow up under communism and die one day no longer believing in God."
Is it possible Ronald Reagan's beliefs about Bible prophecy and the end of the world have something to do with his calling the Soviet Union the focus of evil?
George Otis, religious confidant of Ronald Reagan's for over fifteen years and honorary chairman of Christians for Reagan in the 1980 campaign: "It is little wonder that modern observation plus his grasp of prophecy concerning what we now call Russia would cause him to express a description of the essence of the Kremlin's thinking and behavior as a condensation of evil."
"They are the focus of evil in the modern world."(Reagan)
Is it possible that Ronald Reagan and the Republicans he has appointed to highest positions believe that they are the actual instruments of God's will? ,
Senator Paul Laxalt, Ronald Reagan's longest political colleague, and general chairman of the Republican Party, sent a letter to fundamentalist Reagan supporters in this 1984 presidential campaign telling them that they are "leaders under God's authority".
Bob Slosser: "I would not expect Reagan to do anything that would be contrary to the revealed will of God."
Harald Bredesen: "Reagan is sufficiently conversant with the Bible and yielded to the will of God that he would not do anything that would frustrate or seek to frustrate the purposes of God as indicated in the Scriptures."
Pat Boone: "I believe that Ronald Reagan would make no decision that would run counter to his understanding of God's direction and what God says is going to happen and what God says he wants to happen."
George Otis: "As the various conversations took place, there was a great clarity in his mind as to the fact that we needed to watch and to steer all that we could do in context with the fact that God had foretold the significance of the fact that that area what we call the Holy Land, the Middle East area, is like the stage upon which not only the last act of time will be worked out but also the stage of the last scene of the last of time. . . "
"Reagan does recognize the fact that this nation does have a unique opportunity to have an influence upon the coming of the Kingdom Age, and is aware of the fact that the strength of the United States, and its ability to be able to allow its people to fund the spreading of things that are consistent with what God asks us to do, would have a tremendous influence upon the timing of Christ's return."
What exactly do Ronald Reagan and the born-again fundamentalists who have
been teaching and guiding him for over fifteen years believe is God's will? What do
they believe will happen if Biblical prophecy as they teach it, is fulfilled?
H. L. Wilmington, leader of Jerry Falwell's Liberty Home Bible Institute: "All hell will break loose and many of the Jews will loose their lives. In fact, there are some theologians that feel on the basis of reading Zachariah:14 that two-thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered. It is difficult to know who a Jew is today, but approximately 16 million Jews, which means he will kill more than Hitler killed."
Sixteen million Jewish people is far greater than the entire Jewish population living in the Middle East today. Do Ronald Reagan and the fundamentalists who guide him then expect their nuclear Armageddon will become a global, not just a limited, nuclear war?
Jerry Falwell not only teaches that the Armageddon in the Bible will be a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, but that born-again believers will be miraculously saved from the physical effects of nuclear weapons, world-wide. This is the belief they call the "Rapture".
Rev. Jerry Falwell: "What is going to happen on this earth when the Rapture occurs? You'll be riding along in an automobile. You'll be the driver, perhaps. You're a Christian. There will be several people in the automobile with you, maybe someone who is not a Christian. When the trumpet sounds, you and the other born-again believers in that automobile will be instantly called away - you will disappear, leaving behind only your clothing, and physical things that cannot inherit eternal life. That unsaved person or persons in the automobile will suddenly be startled to find that the car is moving along without a driver and suddenly somewhere crashes. These saved people in the car have disappeared. Other cars on the highway driven by believers will suddenly be out of control, and stark pandemonium will occur on that highway and every highway in the world where Christians are called away from the driver's wheel."
Ronald Reagan arranged a private National Security Council briefing on the Middle East and the Soviet Union for Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell's pamphlet, Armageddon, shows a nuclear explosion mushrooming into a reddened sky on its cover. Another Falwell pamphlet, Alpha-Omega, has a major section called, "The Coming War with Russia", about nuclear Armageddon.
If a nuclear crisis involving the Soviet Union were to begin while he was president, would Ronald Reagan see events there as precursors of the God-ordained cataclysm he expects to happen in this generation?
Are Ronald Reagan, his key White House advisors, cabinet officials, and top military commanders in control of nuclear weapons discussing Bible prophecy for a reason?
Do Ronald Reagan's beliefs about the end of the world have anything to do with the fact that he has opposed every arms control. proposal of every president, Democrat or Republican, since the bombing of Hiroshima?
Do Ronald Reagan's beliefs have anything to do with his 1984 platform calling for the United States to keep building more and more nuclear weapons so that the United States will "clearly prevail" in any US-Soviet nuclear conflict. Do Ronald Reagan's beliefs about the end of the world have anything to do with his 'joke' that he would begin bombing the Soviet Union in five minutes? Or why the Soviet leaders suggested that the beliefs behind Reagan's 'joke' were his "secret dream"?
Don't you have right to know the answers to these questions before November 6th?
This collective insanity can be stopped. The vast majority of Americans and Christians do not condone this collective madness.
Gerald Shepherd, Professor of Old Testament theology at Union Theological Seminary: "I think what worries me the most when Ronald Reagan panders to and perhaps even believes what people like Hal Lindsey, Harold Bredesen, Pat Boone and Jerry Falwell are saying about this generation being the last one prior to the imminent second coming is not simply that they believe that this is the last generation. It is one thing to bemoan the fact that we have taken the risk of destroying this generation; it's another to see that fact as a glorious sign of the imminent coming of Jesus Christ and then use that information to evaluate the relation of nations to one another, to decide which nations are going to participate in which final war, to decide who we should ally ourselves with now in anticipation of Armageddon.
That kind of thinking in using Biblical prophecy, or pandering of people who use Biblical prophecy in such a fashion, to me is the kind of thinking presidents cannot afford to participate in.
It's a misuse of a message of hope in terms of a disaster scenario that could lead to very bad public decisions about our conduct in the world. It's bad policy making, poor Christianity, and a threat to the human race.
Ronald Reagan: "Maybe it's later than we think."