Illinois Bishops Urge Institutions to Drop "Left Behind" Items

Cite Anti-Catholic Message and Bad Theology

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CHICAGO, JUNE 24, 2003 ( The bishops of Illinois are warning Catholic institutions to remove «Left Behind» books and videos from their shelves, citing the series’ anti-Catholicism and faulty end-times theology.

In a statement, the Catholic Conference of Illinois says the series published by Wheaton, Illinois-based Tyndale House Press espouses «a fundamental theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings.»

Moreover, the series of novels, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, has taken on an anti-Catholic slant.

«In later books in the series,» the bishops’ statement said, «the new Pope is depicted as instrumental in establishing a relativistic world religion encouraged by the Antichrist and operated from New Babylon (formerly Rome). The Left Behind series is anti-Catholic in content and form, consistent with Mr. LaHaye’s other writings, in which he associates the Church with ‘Babylonian mysticism.'»

The «Left Behind» series, which is growing in popularity in Protestant as well as Catholic communities, tells of a coming «Rapture,» a fast-approaching secret and silent disappearance of Christians from the earth prior to a time of tribulation (see June 13 interview in ZENIT, at

The Illinois bishops caution, however, «This belief is not supported in Scripture.»

«The scenario in Left Behind, of a ‘tribulation force’ of born-again former sinners who attempt personally to derail the progress of the Antichrist, is broadly classifiable as pre-millenarianism,» the statement said. «The pseudo-historical backdrop for the story ties apocalyptic scripture to specific events in history, an error known as pre-millennial dispensationalism.»

It continued: «While many adult Catholics are secure enough in their faith to avoid being proselytized by such works, or by the direct preaching of fundamentalists, the real danger of Left Behind is its attractiveness as a story of good people in a heroic battle against ultimate evil. Readers lacking a full understanding of Catholic scriptural teaching about the end times in many cases have internalized this fictional post-rapture time of tribulation when sinners are left to battle the Antichrist, because it sounds familiar and ‘biblical.’ …

«We, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, call upon those responsible for faith formation to provide planned, coherent, and informed catechesis to all age groups about Church teachings on the end of the world, based on scripture and tradition. We also call upon Catholic institutions — libraries, bookstores, schools, and parishes — to remove any Left Behind books and videos from their shelves, to prohibit the sale of these materials in Catholic venues, and to provide the faithful with information that these materials are, in fact, a marketing tool for fundamentalist preaching about the end times and a thinly disguised polemic against the Catholic Church.»

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