6/06/06, otherwise known as '666' or 'Mark of the Beast' day, is cause for celebration among Satanists, teacher unions and in the nation's Godless urban centers. But among key Bush administration figures there is great concern that today could mark the start of 'The Rapture,' in which President Bush and millions of other Christians are summoned up to heaven.
Most Democrats likely to be left behind
By Deanna Swift
WASHINGTON, DC—6/06/06, otherwise known as '666' or 'Mark of the Beast' day, may be cause for celebration among Satanists, teacher unions and in the nation's Godless urban centers. But among high-ranking officials in the Bush administration there is growing concern that today could be President Bush's last day on earth. The reason: '666' is the sign of the Antichrist--and the fact that this eternal foe of Jesus Christ has chosen to announce his presence so publicly likely means that 'the rapture,' in which Mr. Bush and millions of other Christians will be summoned skyward.
White House officials are said to be concerned by a recent up-tick in the Rapture Ready Index, a self-proclaimed prophetic speedometer of end-time activity that monitors such seemingly disparate factors as the crime rate, unemployment, wild weather and the "mark of the Beast," evidence of activity related to the antichrist. The Rapture Ready Index recently reached 157, the highest it has been since 2004. Among the signs raising alarm on Pennsylvania Avenue: the possible emergence of a 'Beast Government' in Europe.
Who will rule?
For the White House, the possibility that the dramatic events described in Thessalonians 4:13-18, in which "the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord," presents an obvious dilemma: if President Bush is summoned on 6/06/06 to meet his maker, who among the "left behind" can govern the country? According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, if the president is incapacitated, dies, resigns, is for any reason unable to hold his office, or is removed from office, he is to be succeeded by his vice president, in this case Dick Cheney. But top White House officials have expressed concern that Cheney's health may make such a transition impossible, especially after the shock of witnessing his boss disappear through the ceiling of the Oval Office.
Next in the succession chain would be Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. But the former wrestling coach who attended Wheaten College, an evangelical college in Illinois, is likely to be raptured as well, say sources close to the Speaker. With Hastert unable to serve, the honor moves to the president pro tempore of the senate: 83 year-old Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who, at 38 years and counting, is that august body's longest-serving senator.
Security vs. tribulation
But Republican Party officials are already expressing concern that Stevens may not be up to the task of seeing the US through the turbulent years of Tribulation, a seven-year long period in which the antichrist takes advantage of the Christians' absence, and makes a treaty with the Jews, enabling them to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and to reestablish their ancient liturgical system of animal-sacrifices. "We're preparing for tough times ahead," said an administration official. "We don't know what's going to happen or what to expect."
A number of senators have also expressed misgivings over the possibility that Senator Stevens may use the confusion of the Tribulation period to divert excessive discretionary spending, known as pork, to his home state of Alaska. Since Stevens became chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 1997, per capita federal spending in Alaska grew by more than 50 percent, to nearly $12,000 last year, by far the highest in the country and almost double the national average. "We're talking about a guy who is basically the King of Pork," said one senator. "Is this really who you want running the country during a period of floods, plagues and unprecedented violence? The people of Alaska may survive the seven years, but what about the rest of us?"
Ready or not, here He comes
Of course there is always the possibility that the rapture won't happen today, if at all. But millions of Christians, including many of those who make up President Bush's socially-conservative base, say that they're convinced the rapture is imminent.
In a recent poll of Christians conducted on leftbehind.com, the online counterpart to the popular Left Behind series by Reverend Tim LeHaye, more than 50 percent of respondents said that they expected the rapture to happen any day. Nearly 3 in 10 either had unfinished business or didn't want to end their earthly good times just yet. Many Republicans are probably feeling the same way these days.
If President Bush is raptured today who do you think should lead those left behind? Deanna Swift can be reached at [email protected]