"Church and State: American Rapture" - Craig Unger - Vanity Fair

"Church and State: American Rapture" - Craig Unger - Vanity Fair

Best-selling author and evangelical leader Tim LaHaye has contacts that extend to the White House. That could spell trouble, since his theology espouses a bloody apocalypse in Israel.

by: Craig Unger | publication date: December 1, 2005 | Publication: Vanity Fair |

"On a scorching afternoon in May, Tim LaHaye, the 79-year-old co-author of the “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic thrillers, leads several dozen of his acolytes up a  long, winding path to a hilltop in the ancient fortress city of Megiddo, Israel. LaHaye is not a household name in the secular world, but in the parallel universe of evangelical Christians he is the ultimate cultural icon. The author or co-author of more than 75 books, LaHaye in 2001 was named the most influential American evangelical leader of the past 25 years by the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals. With more than 63 million copies of his “Left Behind” novels sold, he is one of the best-selling authors in all of American history. Here, a group of about 90 evangelical Christians who embrace the astonishing theology he espouses have joined him in the Holy Land for the “Walking Where Jesus Walked” tour. Megiddo, the site of about 20 different civilizations over the last 10,000 years, is among the first stops on our pilgrimage, and, given that LaHaye’s specialty is the apocalypse, it is also one of the most important. Alexander the Great, Saladin, Napoleon, and other renowned warriors all fought great battles here. But if Megiddo is to go down in history as the greatest battlefield on earth, its real test is yet to come. According to the book of Revelation, the hill of Megiddo—better known as Armageddon—will be the site of a cataclysmic battle between the forces of Christ and the Antichrist. . . "

Criag Unger joined a tour of the Holy Land with Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series. While not posing as anything other than a writer, Unger did not disclose that he was on assignment from Vanity Fair. This piece, as well as a subsequent book, detail his experiences with LaHaye and his followers. Unger received no reaction from LaHaye or any of his tour mates after the publication of the book or the Vanity Fair story. He did not reveal his reporting method until 2007, in a Huffington Post story (see page).

Access to online material.