On Saturday, The New York Times ran an op-ed about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s faith with the headline: “The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy.” Pompeo, a member of an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, views the world through a Christian lens. Contrary to the suggestion of the Times headline, this does not blind him to the “real world,” and it does not mean he is obsessed with the End Times and the rapture.
In fact, despite its prominent place in the New York Times headline, the story barely mentions the rapture, the End Times, or the Battle of Armageddon. Instead, the article focuses on how Mike Pompeo’s Christianity impacts his view of the world and comes through in his public statements. The text mentions “rapture” a grand total of two times, in these two paragraphs:
Studies show that white evangelicals are much more likely than other Americans to believe that Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy. Known as Christian Zionists, they believe God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.
Mr. Pompeo talks about the rapture. “We will continue to fight these battles,” he said at a “God and Country Rally” in 2015, because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.”
Shorter NYT: Pompeo mentioned the rapture in 2015, and he is a Christian who supports Israel. Oh my! He must be obsessed with End Times prophecy and the rapture.
While the headline is extremely misleading, the analysis by Edward Wong is mostly spot on. Mike Pompeo does indeed discuss his faith more frequently than previous secretaries of State. He told a New York Times reporter in November that the Bible “informs everything I do.” In a January speech in Cairo, Pompeo said, “In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and his word, and the truth.”
Speaking so openly about Christianity in Egypt may not be the best strategic decision, and comparing President Donald Trump to the biblical Queen Esther may be defensible due to Trump’s pro-Israel policies, but it certainly strikes many Americans — and many Jews and Christians — the wrong way. Pompeo’s rhetoric is indeed noteworthy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Mike Pompeo speaking from the heart and applying his faith to his view of the world, however. Most Christians support Israel partially due to their faith, and every person has basic assumptions that impact the way they see the world. Mike Pompeo is remarkably honest about how his faith impacts his worldview, and that honesty should be encouraged.
This New York Times clickbait clearly suggests that there is something nefarious going on. The reference to the “rapture” in the headline does a disservice to Christianity, suggesting an obsession with the End Times is the main reason why American Christians support Israel.
Liberals have indeed accused Christians of supporting Israel for nefarious reasons. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur tweeted that evangelical Christians only support Israel to bring about the End Times, when all Jews die. He used this false and twisted logic to accuse evangelical Christians of being the “worst” kind of anti-Semites.
Many Christians do support Israel because they think the modern Jewish state fulfills Bible prophecy. There are many problems with this view, and a careful reading of the Bible would dispel it. A reference to the rapture in 2015 does not suggest Mike Pompeo supports Israel because of Bible prophecy, or that he thinks the modern Jewish state will bring about the End Times.
None of that stops The New York Times from engaging in “rapture” click-bait, of course. Americans need to call them out on it.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.