Conservatives and faith leaders warned Christians to be more careful of how they criticize political opponents after court documents revealed that the suspect in the White House shooting, Oscar Ramiro Ortega- Hernandez, believed President Barack Obama to be the “antichrist.”
“It’s one thing to be a political opponent of the president; it’s another thing … to do and say things that reflect poorly on Christ and would adversely impact our ability to witness,” said Mark DeMoss, founder of The DeMoss Group, a Christian public relations firm, to The Christian Post.
In the case of the 21-year-old assailant, arrested Thursday and charged with attempted assassination of the president, speculation about whether Obama is the antichrist may hurt some Christians’ witness.
Last Friday, nine shots were fired into the second floor White House window. One of the bullets broke the exterior window, but was stopped by the second pane of ballistic glass. The first family resides on the second and third floors. But the president and First Lady Michele Obama were not in the White House at the time of the shooting.
FBI investigators linked Ortega-Hernandez to the shooting after a Washington, D.C., witness reported seeing a man shoot a gun through the passenger side window of a dark-colored sedan. The police later found an abandoned car near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. They also found a Romanian Cugir SA semiautomatic with a scope, multiple ammunition clips, shell casings, a baseball bat and a pair of brass knuckles inside the car. Another witness reported seeing the car’s driver trying to restart the car then fleeing the stalled vehicle on foot. An acquaintance of the suspect from Idaho confirmed that the suspect owned a car and gun similar to the ones found.
According to court documents, an informant who “knows Ortega-Hernandez well” told police that the suspect wanted to “hurt” the president and believed Obama to be the “antichrist” and “the devil.” The person also said Ortega-Hernandez was becoming increasingly “agitated against the federal government.”
The suspect, who also thought “that the federal government is conspiring against him,” may have possibly been influenced by mental illness. This has neither been confirmed nor denied.
Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament Studies professor Daniel B. Wallace wrote in a 2009 op-ed in The Christian Post that more than one Christian friend have suggested to him in all seriousness that President Obama is the antichrist.
A Google search of Obama’s name and the word antichrist uncovers links to several websites using the Bible to defame the president, including the Westboro Baptist Church’s website. The group, which protests funerals proclaiming God’s disdain for homosexuals, also has signs declaring “God hates Obama” and “Antichrist Obama.”
A YouTube search brings up several pages of videos questions on whether or not Obama is the antichrist.
Several videos, such as the one by “WorldMustWakeUp,” compare Obama to biblical passages in Revelations and Luke about the antichirst. A video from “James1vs27” alleged that “Obama” can be found embedded in the text of Revelations.
Carl Gallups, a Southern Baptist pastor, said he too has heard rumors about biblical proof that Obama could be the antichrist, particularly online.
“There had been a lot of noise about an amazing Word [of God] correlation so I did a study of it myself and found that it was true,” he said.
His research is documented in a 2009 video titled, “Did Jesus Give Us the Name of the Antichrist?”
In the video, Gallups shows how some have used the Bible verse Luke 10:18 and Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary to translate Jesus words, “I beheld Satan as lightning falling from the heavens” suggest that Jesus in fact said “I beheld Satan as Baraq ‘O’ Bam-Maw (or Baraq ‘U’ Bam-Maw.)”
However Gallups urged, “The important word is ‘correlation,” as in there is a very loose link between the Hebrew words and what Jesus said in the Bible.
Wallace, who teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary, affirmed that the English to Hebrew translations of the words “lightning” and “the heights” (or heaven) to baraq waw (which transliterated o/u) bamaw. Waw, he said, is simply a conjunction much like the English word “and.”
However, Wallace pointed out that the scripture said “lightning falling from heaven,” not “lightening and heaven.” Wallace also questioned whether Jesus even spoke Aramaic or Hebrew.
“It is debatable whether Jesus spoke most of the time in Aramaic; he may have done much of his teaching in Greek,” he wrote. “It is also not true that Aramaic is the oldest form of Hebrew.”
Gallups also clarified in the original video that Aramaic and Hebrew are not the same.
“It is a valid claim … that Aramaic is older than Hebrew and it is indisputed [sic] that Hebrew arose ‘from’ the Aramaic language. So did the Arabic languages,” he shared.
Gallups also noted that in his video the word heaven is translated in Greek as “Ouranos,” not bamaw.
He summed his video with the statement, “Bottom line is this: we don’t know what Aramaic-Hebrew words Jesus used exactly.”
Wallace also concluded, “The linguistic torturing required to make the biblical evidence say this is beyond the pale of reason and, perhaps, sanity.”
Gallups explained that some Christians believe that Obama is the Antichrist because they see some of the biblical signs of the end times happening right now and Obama appears to be entangled in those signs. He clarified that things such as threats against Israel can be explained by the spirit of the antichrist, which, he said, the Bible teaches is already in the world.
As the pastor of a Florida church, Gallups said he would not be afraid to out someone as the antichrist if he felt there was sound scriptural evidence to support that belief. However, he vehemently stated, “I have never ever with my voice or my words or my video ever said that Obama is the antichrist.”
The video, which Gallups said is meant to be a conversation piece for his YouTube ministry PPSimmons, also featured a disclaimer declaring that his video is not meant to declare Barack H. Obama as the antichrist.
There is no evidence that suggests that Ortega-Hernandez ever followed the online chatter about Obama. There is also no evidence to suggest he is a Christian.
Court documents reveal that Ortega-Hernandez also believed himself to be Jesus, a belief Christian would likely consider blasphemous.
But DeMoss cautioned Christians that making such religious political statements against a politician is “a horrible testimony that does not reflect the heart or mind of Christ.”
He also noted that such statements are not just limited to liberal politicians. He pointed out that Christians also make such negative spiritual attacks against conservative candidates as well.
DeMoss said he is bothered by a Monday statement that labeled a race between Mitt Romney and President Obama as a race between “Satan vs. Satan.” DeMoss has personally endorsed and volunteered for Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
He blamed a flawed mentality that puts politics before faith for such religious attacks on politicians’ character.
“I have no problem saying that I don’t agree with Barack Obama’s view of government and his policies, but he’s a good man and a good husband and a good father,” DeMoss said. “A lot of Christians can’t say that.”
He said Christians and Americans in general must learn to oppose and criticize policies we don’t agree with, not the politicians.
“[This practice is] important as Americans; it’s doubly important as Christians,” DeMoss said.
Ortega-Hernandez was arrested in Pennsylvania and is being transferred to Washington, D.C. to stand trial. The charge of attempted presidential assassination carries a possible life sentence.