Prophets of Doom

Sunday Times/January 24, 1999
By Jonathan Ancer

With 2000 AD around the corner, Jonathan Ancer sets his sites on the end

Johannesburg South Africa -- The collapse of the global economy, genetic tinkering, the contamination of the food chain and rave music are sure signs that the world is drawing to a close.

For 2,000 years the Book of Revelations has provided a menu for the end of the world. But are we really flirting with the end?

Teacher Chen thinks so. And, judging from the Internet sites spreading doomsday messages, so do others.

Under the guidance of Chen, last year about 150 followers of a Taiwanese sect called God's Salvation Church moved to Dallas, Texas. Chen, a 42-year-old former professor, predicts that just before the calendar flips into the third millennium, flying saucers will land on the shores of Lake Michigan and whisk 'the saved' to a planet in another galaxy.

The group first surfaced in the media in 1998, following the mass suicide in San Diego by 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult. Like Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Applewhite, Chen preaches that flying saucers will signal the unfolding of God's final chapter of human history.

But Chen's been wrong before. On March 24 last year, onlookers and an army of reporters streamed into a Dallas suburb where he'd predicted that God would appear on television. Chen had said that God would land, reproduce himself hundreds of times, and shake hands with all those present and talk to each of them in their native languages. When the moment of truth came there was little indication of any divine arrival, but Chen had an explanation: God had entered the bodies and souls of all those present. As everyone was now God, they could answer their own questions and simply shake their right hands with their left. For details about Chen visit http://www/ groups/chentao.html.

Satellite communications and the Internet have revolutionized the doomsaying business. Judging by the "save-yourself" sites on the World Wide Web, it seems that any shyster in a black cloak, armed with catchy slogans about the millennial meltdown and a web page design depicting bug-eyed aliens ravaging New York City, can make a killing.

On The World of Millennium Prophecies site, which can be found at (, you can download low-prominence prophecies at $2,99 (about R18) a pop. These include predictions about war in small countries, ozone depletion, antibiotic-resistant diseases and all sorts of government cover-ups, like fluoride in the water supply. For higher magnitude prophecies, however, expect to pay a little more. Here you receive higher-grade doom stories of sinners burning in lakes of fire and harlots sitting atop seven-headed beasts.

And cult activity is likely to intensify. Remember David Koresh, who led about 70 members of the Branch Davidian to their death in their compound in Waco in 1993? A year later, 48 members of a Canadian-based cult [Solar Temple] died in fires in Switzerland.

Thinking about the end of time is, in fact, timeless. Over the past two centuries, people have been suggesting ways in which history might end. In A Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall, Bob Dylan sang that the world would end in a nuclear war.

Tom Manz has a slightly more complicated ending. "This year there will be a world war," he writes on his Web site, Prophecies about the End Times (, "and a one-world government, controlled by Satan, will emerge. He works through 'the beast', who requires everyone to receive a mark in the right hand or forehead. The beast will rule for three and a half years. The mark which he will require people to take will be a microchip implant. Chips like this have already been developed and implanted in thousands of people. Anyone who has the mark will go to hell."

According to Manz, his prophecy comes from interpreting biblical passages, and from visions. In one of his visions, Manz caught a glimpse of the Beast. "I saw the head of a steel cow, a wonderfully constructed machine. Large and magnificent, it appeared to be alive and moved from side to side. It moved its tongue, its whiskers, and it breathed. I stood right in front of it and was utterly awe-struck. As cows do, it stuck its tongue out and was about to lick me." Manz predicts that Christ will return and destroy the armies of the second beast. "I'm sure this doesn't sound like a very appealing set of events to live through. In fact, you might not live through it. A lot of people will be killed. You could be one of them. I know, because God has showed me, that I will be beheaded by the beast."

Will humankind really load up their trucks and head for the hills on December 31 1999? Americans certainly will, if recent sales of survival gear are a reliable guide.

The hedonists, as usual, have a more light-hearted view of millennium meltdown. According to them, if the year 2000 marks humankind's head-first entry into the apocalypse, then we should party like it's 1999.

During the last millennial change, predictions about the end of the world ran through medieval Europe. Yet despite two world wars, famine, Abba and Cinzano, the last 1,000 years turned out well.

Despite the doomsayers, I predict that humankind will muddle on, resilient as ever. That is, of course, until the crop circles are decoded, prompting aliens to attack Earth as predicted by Nostradamus. It's the millennium, and it's only going to end in fears.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.