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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

Gapers Block

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With the Cubs clinging to first place in the NL Central division as of this writing, I thought this might be a good time to answer a question about the Final Days, a.k.a. Armageddon.

Q: I heard some people suspected John F. Kennedy of being the AntiChrist. Why?

Before I answer that question, let's quickly establish some background information.

Although a long tradition of apocalyptic literature exists, when Christian groups speak of the Apocalypse, they are primarily referring to the Book of Revelation (note: not Revelations) in the New Testament of the Bible. The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word "apokalypsis," which literally means to uncover or reveal. Many people are surprised to discover that the term "AntiChrist" does not appear at all in the Book of Revelation. The only place it is mentioned is in the the letters of John in the New Testament. (see, for example 1 John 2:18) However, the image of "the beast" in Revelation has traditionally been interpreted as a symbol of the AntiChrist in Christian religions. Christian tradition describes the AntiChrist as a man who represents the opposite of Christ, who will rise to power, deceiving the world by pretenting to be just and good. Christ will then appear and defeat him, thereby bringing about the end of the world.

For more historical background, I highly recommend the PBS website titled Apocalypse!, the companion site to an episode of the popular Frontline series that originally aired in November 1999.

So, to answer the original question, according to the PBS website, John F. Kennedy was labelled the AntiChrist for two main reasons. First, he received 666 votes during the 1956 Democratic Convention. In the Book of Revelation, 666 is the "number of the beast." (Rev. 13:18) Secondly, JFK died of a head wound. Head injuries are significant to prophesy believers searching for the AntiChrist because of Rev. 13:3, which states in part that "One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound." Take the AntiChrist quiz to find out which other world leaders have been called the AntiChrist.

Additional Resources:

One of the most well-known proponents of "apocalypse theology" today is evangelical preacher Tim LaHaye, founder of Tim LaHaye ministries and the Pre-Trib Research Centre, a Bible scholarship group established to expose ministers "to the teachings of good Bible prophesy." LaHaye also co-authored the apocalyptic Left Behind series with writer Jerry B. Jenkins.

Also check out the Journal of Millennial Studies from the Center for Millennial Studies. Articles are available online in .pdf format and include titles such as "The Joy of (Apocalyptic) Sex" and "Apocalypse and the Savior of the World in American films of the '90s."

Finally, visit Red, White, Blue & Brimstone: New World Literature and the American Millennium, an online exhibit of the Book of Revelation from the University of Virginia looking at the role of Revelation from early American history to the present.

Got a question? Go on, ask me. I dare you. Send your questions to and it may be featured in a future column.

Next week: A tale of two ballparks, part 1.

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Wiz of Odds / September 11, 2003 2:36 AM

A dunce ivy-league millionaire pretty-boy womanizer, son of a bootlegger and gangster who brokered a deal with Sam Giancana to steal an election, and then begin the committment of US troops to Vietnam...sounds like an antichrist to me. I hate that guy.

Naz / September 11, 2003 9:39 AM

But that's what makes him so bad ass.

dce / September 11, 2003 11:53 AM

Who also happened to be the first president to openly endorse sweeping civil rights reforms that ended legal segregation, diffused the Cuban missile crisis and a belligerent (albeit after a botched Bay of Pigs) and was the seminal influence behind the landing of the first human being on the moon.

AntiChrist? Hardly.

dce / September 11, 2003 11:54 AM

... and a belligerent Kruschev

Somehow managed to neglect that in the previous post.

Wiz of Odds / September 11, 2003 12:47 PM

Harry S Truman also espoused desegregation (he desegregated the army--the first essential step) much earlier than Kennedy, and LBJ is the one that enacted all of the civil rights reform--Kennedy enacted exactly zero, with the exception of appointing the first EEOC chaired by--who?--LBJ. Kennedy is a no-account worshipped by baby boomers because he's theirs.

Sorry for the clutter Alice. As always I am fascinated by your knowledge.

Alice / September 11, 2003 2:06 PM

Hey, at least I know people are reading the column - even if the conversation is a bit off the original intent. No harm, no foul. :)


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