The Minions of Error
In the late 1950s, the Brookings Institute published an article in one of its publications expressing concern over the direction "Conservative Christianity" was taking. The article argued that it was time to take measures to adjust the thinking and even the doctrines of the conservative church. Many have suggested since that article came out that Allen Dulles and the CIA have been doing this almost from the time he took over as the Director of Central Intelligence in 1953. His sanction of the infamous mind control program Project MK-Ultra and the CIAs media management program Operation Mockingbird made sure that the CIA controlled what reached the media. It was under Operation Mockingbird that the CIA worked to control the thinking of Christian America.
One of these programs was the development and promotion of doctrines about the end times. Drawing upon the teachings of some arcane Jesuit priests, a drug-induced vision by Margaret MacDonald, and the teachings of John Darby, C.I. Schofield, the CIA began the process of developing a Christian teaching about an end-time leader they would call "the Antichrist." Using an elaborate system of money laundering, they were able to finance their biblical research through a number of conservative seminaries (most of them willing to do anything to avoid the humiliation of U.S. Bankruptcy Court). The most notable seminary on their list is Dallas Theological Seminary, located in Dallas, Texas. The student list includes an number of interesting individuals, one of the most notable students being Rev. Hal Lindsey, author of The Late Great Planet Earth. He would soon become the most prolific author of prophecy books in the Christian book world. Rev. Lindsey set the tone for prophecy teaching in the United States and even around the world.
Hal Lindsey effectively plagiarized much of his information from his notes taken while he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary and from information given to him by his former pastor, Lt. Col. R.B. Thieme, also a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate. Lindsey promoted the idea of an end time "Antichrist," a world political leader. He theorized that this leader would control every sphere of world government including and especially religion. Using a number of Bible verses, mostly pulled out of context, he warned in a lot of his books that the time was coming when a world leader would arise that would somehow force the world to worship his religion. Since Bible prophecy has been largely ignored by most of the mainline Christian churches, Lindsey's book found a niche. Using a combination of Madison Avenue marketing and early high rankings on the New York Times bestseller list (publishers often buy 100,000 copies of a title in the first week to get their title listed near the top of the bestseller list), Lindsey's book soon became one of the leading titles in the Christian book market and still remains one of the highest ranking Christian bestsellers of all time.
It was not long before people were carrying Lindsey's books with their Bibles. They would look at The Late Great Planet Earth as some kind of auto-Bible decoder book that would somehow help them unravel the mysteries of the Bible.
Diverting Christian Thinking
Once Rev. Hal Lindsey and countless other authors had successfully gotten Christians to start looking for a single Antichrist under every bush and tree, the Spirit of Antichrist was free to do what he was wanted to do all along. He created a group of "power pastors" to further centralize and divert Christian thinking. We saw the beginnings of this with the advent of Bishop Sheen, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Rex Hubbard, Jack Coe, A.A. Allen, and William Branham. These men began to gain huge followings as they traveled the world preaching the gospel. These men were all controversial in one way or another. However, by the 1960s, the Spirit of Antichrist realized that his leaders needed to follow his program instead of the Bible. Billy Sunday was already dead, Bishop Sheen was clearly in the Roman Catholic camp, and Billy Graham often cooperated with Roman Catholic and other mainline denominations when conducting his crusades. Even though Rex Humbard went through a lot of troubles in the 1970s, his ministry was effectively purchased by Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he appeared on TBN's flagship show: Praise the Lord multiple times.
Even though Jack Coe had problems with the Assembly of God Church, which ordained him, he maintained a biblical stance to his ministry, but died in 1958 of Polio. A.A. Allen died in his room at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco in 1969, allegedly of alcohol poisoning, though the county coroner's report said his blood alcohol level was at .36%? It also should be noted that he had several ambitious people working in his ministry, who desired to hi-jack the ministry once he died. Eventually, Don Stewart wrested the ministry from Allen's family and went on to form his own radio ministry. A.A. Allen's descendants have also formed their own ministry.
The most curious case of all is William Branham. Throughout most of his preaching career, he attacked the denominational churches for deviations from the teaching of scripture. His only affiliation was with the Full-Gospel Businessmen, International, which sent him around the world to hold meetings. He also did meetings for individual pentecostal churches and other Christian organizations. He was also one of the first preachers to tape a lot of his messages, which survive to this day. Even though he taught at a lot of his meetings, he also held a lot of healing services and had a success rate that far exceeded other ministers of his time. Many people though, took exception to some of his teachings and prophecies. He ran into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service in the 1950s, which caused his ministry to stumble for a time, but by the 1960s, his ministry was again doing pretty well. He was not inclined to build a mega-ministry like his counterpart: Oral Roberts. He preferred to "remain poor, just like the people he ministered to." It seems that by 1965, the Spirit of Antichrist had him in his sights. Unlike most of the other evangelists of his time, Branham did not try to sell himself as a brand of Christianity and refused ademately, to form up another denomination. He also tried to dissuade people from being a part of the denominational church system, warning that they were nothing more than "harlot daughters of the Roman Catholic Church." He further warned that if Christians joined them, they would become "bastard children" and not real Christians. Since the Antichrist System depended upon Christians falling into their vast denominational system, William Branham could no longer be tolerated. On December 17, 1965, while returning to Jeffersonville, Indiana from his home in Arizona, he station wagon was struck by a car driven by a intoxicated soldier on leave near Fiona, Texas, southwest of Amarillo, Texas. Severely injured, Branham and his family were taken to the Parmer County Medical Center. When he was stabilized, he was transported to Amarillo, Texas where he died on December 24, 1965. Numerous authorities on demonology have pointed out that when people are intoxicated, they become easy targets for demons seeking to enter and sometimes posses them. It seems, the Spirit of Antichrist had put a contract out on William Branham. Prior to leaving Arizona, he had told officials of the Branham Tabernacle in Jeffersonville, Indiana that he would be preaching a sermon to them titled, "On the Trail of the Serpent."
By 1970, the Spirit of Antichrist had either killed or compromsied almost every independent preacher. The only one that seemed to remain was Jimmy Swaggart, but he seemed inconsequential at the time. They were in the process of developing three mega-ministries to gain control of the Christian world. The first of these was Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), founded by Marion "Pat" Robertson around 1965. Working in that network was Jim and Tammy Bakker who would later leave to form PTL, and Paul and Jan Crouch, who would later leave to join PTL and then form Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). While Rex Humbard, Oral Roberts, and Bishop Sheen had already created television shows and bought time on television stations to air their programs, CBN, PTL, and TBN began to form their radio and television networks. The Spirit of Antichrist trapped these ministries by contolling the financial inputs into them. These ministries were forced by financial expediency to hold telethons several times a year to maintain their financial standings. Even then, they were forced to incessantly ask for money throughout their broadcasts. In time, they became suspectible to the "Prosperity Gospel" teachings of E.W. Kenyon. This gospel taught that if people gave them money, that God was somehow obliged to bless them financially for their giving.