Interesting signs surfacing just before the year 2000
Topics covered in this essay:
As the magic year of 2000 approached -- a year that is only special
because it happens to end in three zeros
-- millennial fever caught hold of many people's imagination. The Trends Research Institute (Rhinebeck
NY) had correctly predicted that the prophecy business would boom as the fever spreads
throughout most of the world.
Common predictions were related to:
||The return of Jesus Christ,
appearance of the Antichrist
||A massive battle of Armageddon, which will result in a
loss of billions of lives.
||The arrival of visitors from outer space that
will change our world in major ways.
||Massive catastrophes, caused by natural forces such as earthquakes, which
much of human civilization.
||A technological catastrophe caused by a lack of preparedness for
computer program failures.
The year 2000 arrived. Not much happened; it seemed to be a year much
like other years. The real end of the second millennium came and went on
2000-DEC-31, without a ripple. There is an interesting study here, if some
sociologist wishes to take it on. Back in 1993, a Yankelovich Partners poll found that 20% of Americans agreed that "...the second coming
of Jesus Christ will occur sometime around the year 2000." 1,2 During 2001, the Millennial panic subsided very quickly. This must have
been a devastating loss for those who expected the end. It would be
interesting to study how they handled the loss and whether it left any
permanent emotional scars.
Prior to the millennium some groups predicted major disasters:
||Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial
Studies at Boston University said: "I am more worried about after 2000 than
about 2000 itself...The real problem is that in the immediate period after disappointment,
- the first decade of the next century - one of the tendencies of disappointed apocalyptic
groups is to get nasty. They [will] look for scapegoats." 1
||The FBI conducted an extensive study into the possibility of
religiously-inspired violence during the start of the year 2000. They
called it Project Megiddo, named after the
location of a war prophesized in the Biblical book of Revelation. The Canadian
Security Intelligence Service issued a similar report in 1999-DEC-18. 2 They estimate that 400 "cults" that promote
end-of-the-world beliefs for the year 2000 may have been stockpiling
weapons in order to hasten the arrival of some form of doomsday. CSIS
reports: "The approaching year 2000 AD has stimulated millennial
anxiety and heightened concern that its unfolding will bring an increase
in potential threats by groups that would choose to assert their
apocalyptic beliefs through violence. While it is not known which cults
have the potential for violence, this does not imply that possible threats
posed by doomsday religious movements should be ignored, as they can
quickly manifest themselves in a variety of forms."
Some groups within the anti-cult movement created concern
among the public about the possibility of
religiously-motivated mass suicides associated with the millennium. Their
concerns seem to revolve around two possibilities:
||Jerusalem may have become a focal point for potential mass suicide cults,
similar to Heaven's Gate.
terrorists might have gone to Israel to generate a massive religious conflict. Their
goal would have been to trigger the war of Armageddon, and thus persuade Jesus
Christ to return to earth earlier than he would have planned to do so.
Security forces in Israel expected about 3 million tourists will visit the Holy
Land during the year 2000. They appeared to take these possibilities
seriously. Picking the few terrorists and mentally unstable individuals
out of the millions of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem proved to be a very
difficult task for Israeli security. A police spokesman said: "If the
Messiah doesn't show up as expected, we fear some of the disappointed
believers may take matters into their own hands and hasten along the end of
times. Given all the problems we have here already, Israel can ill
afford a Waco."
Some pre-millennial events in Israel were:
|| 1999-JAN: 14 members of the Concerned Christians,
formerly from Denver CO, were deported from Israel in the belief that they were planning some sort of major disturbance - perhaps
triggering a religious war.
||1999-OCT-11: 25 Irish Christians were detained in Haifa and forced
to leave the country. They had earlier been refused visas, which are
required for visits longer than 90 days. They embarked for Israel by ship, without the
Security forces described them as "an extreme Christian cult"
who were planning a mass suicide. Linda Hemuhin, a police spokesperson, said
that there was no connection between this group and Concerned Christians.
The 25 are apparently part of the Pilgrim House Community from Castletown,
Wexford. They appear to have a special concern for people with mental
disabilities. Eugene McCarne, a local priest, claims that the community is a
"committed and dedicated Christian group" without an
apocalyptic agenda. They were forced to return to their ship and were detained
there until it set sail for Cyprus. Since they refused to answer any of the questions
of the immigration authorities in Cyprus, they were refused entry there as
||1999-OCT-25: 21 Christians were arrested in Israel. They were
members of two groups: the House of Prayer and Solomon's Temple.
Most were Americans. Spokeswoman Linda Menuhin from the Israeli police stated
that "their stay could have brought, under certain circumstances,
damage to public safety." The groups lived near the Mount of Olives
where they expected Jesus to return very soon. The media reported that the groups
planned to execute violent acts in order to induce Jesus Christ to return to
earth. House of Prayer members claim that they are non-violent.
Author's note: We have a hunch, but cannot prove, that
Israeli officials over-reacted towards benign Christian groups. They may
have done this in order to send a message to persuade real apocalyptic groups to stay
out of the country.
The FBI expressed some concerns about domestic activity during the year 2000:
||1999-FEB: FBI director Louis Freeh issued a statement. The
Bureau has determined that "extremists, [destructive] religious
cults or apocalyptic groups" should be considered in the same
league as "traditional terrorists." Some of the former
groups look upon the year 2000 as the time for an "apocalyptic
struggle" between the forces of good and
||1999-OCT-20: The "Project
Megiddo" report was completed by the FBI. Megiddo is a geographical location in
Israel linked to the prophesized battle of Armageddon. This conflict is discussed in the Biblical book of Revelation as the mother of all battles. The report
to alert U.S. law enforcement to what the FBI described was "the
potential for extremist criminal activity in the United States by
individuals or domestic groups who attach special significance to the year
2000." An accompanying FBI statement mentioned that "The
threat posed by extremists as a result of perceived events associated with
the Year 2000 (Y2K) is very real. The volatile mix of apocalyptic religious
and (New World Order) conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed a
precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible..."
In this context, the "new
world order" is seen as a collection of "conspiracy theories warning of a tyrannical
global government, often depicted as a tool of the Anti Christ. 3 The goal of these groups was allegedly to precipitate the end of the world by first creating widespread
events involving massive destruction, violence, and death. This is not a new phenomenon
within Christianity. Very similar beliefs were held by a small minority of Christians
during the second century, who engaged in arson.
Data for the report were collected over a nine-month period of intensive
intelligence gathering by the domestic terrorism unit of the FBI, The report
was "considered so sensitive and secret that it will
not be made public." An FBI spokesperson stated that "
ideologies [could] motivate:
||violent white supremacists who seek to initiate a race war;
||apocalyptic cults which anticipate a violent Armageddon;
||radical elements of private citizen militias who fear that the United Nations will
initiate an armed takeover of the United States and subsequently establish a
One World Government; and
||other groups or individuals which promote violent millennial agendas."
Specific groups highlighted by the report were:
||A number of white supremacists organizations who share a belief in Christian
Identity: the concept that the white Aryan race is God's chosen
||Black extremist groups, including factions of the Black Hebrew
Israelites who were allegedly preparing for a race war at the
||Extreme Christian fundamentalists who have a record of demonizing gays
Facilities, organizations and individuals that were considered at risk included:
||UN buildings and personnel.
||Groups associated with African-American, Jewish, and other racial and
||Gays and lesbians.
||Foreign military personnel being trained at U.S. armed forces bases.
A copy of the report is available online.
A tragic mass-murder that involved the deaths of over 1,000 ex-Roman
Catholics occurred in Uganda during 2000-MAR. The leaders of the Movement for
the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God had predicted the end of the
world on 1999-DEC-31. When it didn't happen, some of the membership apparently
became agitated and asked for the return of the money that they had donated to
the religious group. The cult leadership appear to have murdered large numbers
followers in to avoid paying back the money. More
The most hopeful factor was that all past predictions of the end of the world
failed. The cluster of expectations at the time of the millennium never
materialized. There is every likelihood that future predictions will also not
happen as predicted.
There also seemed to be a rise of rational belief that the year 2000 is simply a year
that has three zeros -- it is in no way special. After all, if humans had been born
with 8 fingers on each hand, then our numbering system would be based on 16 (hexadecimal),
not 10 (decimal). And our year 2,000 would then just be year 8D0 in hexadecimal. Nothing
special; just another year with an unremarkable number.
Harvard professor of zoology and geology Stephen Jay Gould pointed out that the
word millennium was originally a Biblical apocalyptic term linked to the second
coming of Jesus. 4 It is evolving into a matter-of-fact
designation for the end of a 1000 year period. "The basic reason for 'millennium'
switching from a description of the future to a counting in the present stems from the
failure of this expected future to materialize."
Michael R LeGault, a journal editor and reviewer of science books noted: 5 "The millennial message would appear to be that knowledge based on experience has
won out over knowledge based on doctrine...this knowledge is a record of both our
intellectual and moral progress. And that only in rational pursuit and use of this
knowledge is our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being ensured.
||End of the world books and movies: Apocalyptic prophecy had
an increasing influence on the
North American public as the millennium approached:
||Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' book series "Left Behind"
enjoyed tremendous success. 8Over 17 million copies were sold as of
2000-JUL-27. The seventh novel in the series, "The Indwelling:
The Beast takes possession," sold more than 2 million copies
between its release in 2000-MAY and the end of July. "It has
been No. 1 on The New Times fiction best-seller list for a month and
held the top spot on the Amazon.com best-sellers list in April, based
on advance orders." A total of twelve novels are expected in
||A number of movies opened in late 1999. These include
Arnold Schwarzenegger's "End of Days" and a Bible-based
thriller, "The Omega Code" (described below).
||Psychiatrists in Israel; 1998-MAY: An unidentified news service described that Israeli psychiatrists
were preparing to deal with an influx of pilgrims
with psychological problems related to the millennium. Dr. Yair Bar-El has documented the
"Jerusalem Syndrome", a belief by pilgrims that they are Biblical
figures (Jesus, David, the virgin Mary, even Mary Magdelene) or chosen
individuals involved in a godly mission.
The Givat Shaul clinic usually treats about 150 cases of the syndrome
per year. About 40 require admission to hospital. By 1999-NOV, there
was already an increase of about 50 to 60%. "The disorder is
most notable among some protestant Christians and Jews, predominately
from the United States and Europe." 6 Many hundreds of victims of this syndrome were expected in the year 2000, among the
anticipated 3 million visitors to the Holy Land.
||Squatters in Israel; 1998: Richard Landes, head of the Center for
Millennial Studies at Boston University recommended that Israeli
authorities deny entry to visitors who do not have a round-trip ticket and a place to
stay. 7 "I would say to Israeli security: the Mount
of Olives might be taken over by squatters waiting for Jesus to return. If, in their
disappointment, they dig in, you have an impossible situation."
||Christians relocating to Israel; 1998: Some Evangelical Christians from the U.S.
sold their assets and relocated to the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem. The Mount
of Olives Hotel has written to 2,000 Christian groups in the U.S. asking "How
would you like to be staying at the Mount of Olives Hotel the day that Jesus returns?"
The Hotel is run by Palestinian Muslims.
As of 1998-OCT, there were three known religious groups in the U.S. who are selling all
of their possessions, planning to move to Jerusalem.
||ELCA pastoral letter; 1998-NOV: Ecumenical News International (ENI)
reported on 1998-NOV-18:
"The bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued
a pastoral letter dismissing 'wild prophecies' that the world is about to end and
declaring that the third millennium should be welcomed with hope. The statement by H.
George Anderson, the church's presiding bishop, and the 65 synodical bishops of the ELCA,
which has more than 5 million members, said the letter was necessary because of
growing apprehension about the turn of the millennium."
||Apocalyptic movie; 1999-OCT: "Omega code" was an
independent movie funded by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the
largest Evangelical Christian TV network in the U.S. The plot involved a
portrayal of the rapture, when "saved"
Christians both alive and dead fly upwards in the air to meet Jesus. The
Antichrist uses a secret Bible code to take over
control of the world. The movie was promoted by a team of U.S. 2,400
pastors. Hal Lindsey, a prolific author on end-time prophecy was a Biblical
prophecy consultant for the film. By OCT-25, it was rated in the top 10
grossing movies for the previous week.
||Jewish reaction to New Year's Eve: 1999-DEC-31 fell
on a Friday. Sundown on Friday is the start of the Jewish Sabbath.
Many Jews felt a conflict between their religious duties to
celebrate the Sabbath and their desire to party on the eve of the year
2000. Jews follow three main traditions in the U.S.; each has a
different approach to this conflict:
||Orthodox Jews rejected any secular interests in favor of
Sabbath observance. The Union of Orthodox Congregations of
America, the largest Orthodox synagogue umbrella group, called
on its members to resist assimilating in to the American secular
culture. They threatened to cancel the kosher certificate of
a New York restaurant which is frequented by Orthodox Jews if it
proceeded with a New Year's millennium gathering. Israel's
Orthodox rabbi's attempted to limit activities at the
nation's kosher hotels and restaurants, even when those attending
are non-Jewish tourists.
||Many Reform Jewish congregations belong to the liberal Union
of American Hebrew Congregations. Most planned to end
services early, and leave their congregants free to pursue secular
interests as midnight approaches. UAHC communications director
Emily Grotta commented: "The most prevalent model we're
seeing is an early (service), and then congregants can do what
they want. Reform Jews are of this world. We expect our
congregants to celebrate [New Year's] even though there is no
Jewish content there.''
||The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, who represent
the conservative wing of Judaism in America has issued
a handbook titled "Shabbat of the Centuries.'' They
urge their members to make the New Year's weekend into a "sacred
time capsule'' to be spent with family and in Jewish study.
- The Center for Millennial Studies has a web site at: http://www.mille.org/
- "Doomsday Religious Movements, Report # 2000/03,"
Canadian Security Intelligence Service, at: http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/eng/miscdocs/200003e.html
- "'Project Megiddo' warns of cult violence, religious terrorism as
new millennium approaches," AANEWS, 1999-OCT-20.
- S.J. Gould, "Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist's Guide
to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown.", Harmony Books, (1997) You can read a
review and perhaps buy this book from amazon.com online bookstore
- M.R. LeGault, "Worried about the year 2000? Nature doesn't
care.", The Globe and Mail newspaper, Toronto ON, 1997-NOV-15. A review of
- "Jerusalem fears disturbed pilgrims: Millennium will spur
admissions, clinic says," Reuters, 1999-NOV-25.
- The Center for Millennial Studies deals with the the arrival of
millennium in 2001:
- Tim F. Lahaye & Jerry
Jenkins, "Left Behind, series of end-times books has been fabulously successful. It is written from
a conservative Christian perspective, and includes beliefs in the rapture,
Antichrist, etc. Ten in the series have been published by Tyndale House from 1996 to 2003.
These books each have hundreds of reviews by readers on the Amazon.com web
site. We have listed the paperback versions; hardcover editions are also
- "Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days " Read
reviews/ buy this book "Tribulation Force: The Continuing Drama of Those Left Behind" Read
reviews/ buy this book "Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist " Read
reviews/ buy this book "Soul Harvest: The World takes sides" Read
reviews/ buy this book "Apollyon: The Destroyer Is Unleashed " Read
reviews/ buy this book
- "Assassins: Assignment -- Jerusalem, Target -- Antichrist" Read
reviews/ buy this book
- "The Indwelling:
The Beast takes possession," Read
hundreds of reviews/ buy this book
- "The Mark: The beast rules the world," Read
over 100 reviews / buy this book
- "Desecration: Antichrist takes the throne," Read
reviews/ buy this book
- "The Remnant, On the Brink of Armageddon,"
reviews/ buy this book
- Poll data was mentioned in Michael Shermer, "The fire that will
cleanse: Millennial meanings and the end of the world," Skeptic
magazine, Vol 7, #3, 1999
- "Prophecy: What the Bible Says About the End of the World,"
Newsweek magazine, cover story, 1999-NOV-1, as reported in AANEWS for
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Latest update: 2004-AUG-04
Compiled by B.A. Robinson