Don't Be Left Behind!

Why are millions captivated by an end-times soap opera?

This story first appeared on Beliefnet in May of 2000.

The best-selling book of the 1970s was a religious title, Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth." It told of how the birth of modern Israel signaled that we were in the "end times," that the book of Revelation and other apocalyptic portions of Scripture predicted that the Antichrist's arrival was imminent, that Christians would soon be raptured (taken up to heaven by Jesus) before all the bad stuff started happening, but after seven years of "tribulation" Jesus Christ would return to Earth and usher in a millennial reign of justice and peace.

More on Left Behind

'Desecration': Chapter One

What is the rapture?

'I was saved by "Left Behind"'

Was 9/11 a sign of End Times?
An interview with Jerry Jenkins

The Insignificance of the Antichrist


For all those who think we have become much less religious as a nation since the disco era, please note: The Left Behind series, a serialized novelization of Hal Lindsey's end-times scenario by fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye and professional writer Jerry Jenkins, have sold more than 25 million copies. A complementary series for kids has sold more than 5 million. All told, more than 40 million Left Behind products have been purchased. The latest novel, "Desecration," number nine out of a planned 12, will appear on The New York Times bestseller list almost immediately after its Oct. 30 release. A Left Behind comic-book series is on its way.

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