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Prosecuting the Anti-Christ for Identity Theft

Oscar Damus

Overview

People are watching for the Anti-Christ to trigger the end times. Although there are wildly divergent schools of thought on the topic,[1] it appears that most people who believe in the inevitability of the Anti-Christ as part of the eschatological terrain also believe that he[2] will be a wolf in sheep's clothing or, more precisely, a demon in savior's robe. The Anti-Christ[3] will portray himself to be Jesus, and people will likely fall for the ruse to Jesus' great detriment.

Can prosecutors indict and convict the Anti-Christ for identity theft? This article explores that possibility and explores some of the obstacles that prosecutors are likely to face.

I will refer to Jesus as as J+ and the Anti-Christ as J— from this point forward. Physicists use a plus (+) symbol to distinguish the positive charge of atomic particles from a negative charge (—). I borrow this nifty shorthand to emphasize the polar opposite relationship between the two major players in this courtroom drama and to demonstrate my unwavering commitment to the scientific method as applied to sacred matters.

Why Criminal Prosecution Is Necessary

J+ is expected to eventually fight a cosmic war against J— in defense of name,[4] honor, and territory. But raising an army takes time, possibly even a millennia or two. Given his disinclination towards violence, J+ is unlikely in the interim to resort to self-help or employ physical force against J—.[5] Thus, the courts are his only option, but because J+ does not have a sterling record in front of criminal tribunals, this time Government prosecutors will be on his side.

What evidence is available to prosecutors to prove that J+, not J—, is the genuine article?

Documents and Records[6]

The documentary support is sure to be thin, if one even exists. Keep in mind that there are people who refuse to believe that our sitting president is a U.S. citizen, and he has the documents, properly sealed, maintained, vetted, and authenticated to prove his provenance. It is hard to imagine what document, short of the original Ten Commandments,[7] could prove J+'s bona fides. It is even harder to imagine that J+ would carry and hand over identifying papers to the authorities, even in the unlikely event that he would ever be stopped in Arizona.[8]

Many people over the centuries have called themselves Jesus. Some were given this name at birth and others managed after reaching the age to consent to change their name on the government registries. I could find no independent verifiable source, but it is said that our asylums overflow with people who think they are J+. There is a multitude of mortals armed with birth certificates, court orders, and hospital release forms stating in indelible print that each and everyone of them is J+. J— is likely to be among these ranks, holding some government imprimatur that establishes his identity as the authentic Jesus. This could be played out tragically at trial. Here I am thinking of the court scene in Miracle on 54th Street[9] where the U.S. Postal Service delivers to the bearded defendant sack loads of letters from children addressed to Santa Claus, thereby proving that, yes, Virginia, this indeed is the authentic Saint Nick. Emulating this strategy, J— will get off scot free if, for example, a librarian delivers a late fine notice to him under the account of Jesus Christ.

Thus, it looks for the time being, prosecutors cannot rely on public records to help establish J+'s identity.[10]

Photographic Proof

J+ will be riding the clouds when he commands the chosen to rise to meet him. If the event is recorded and properly authenticated, that is perhaps all prosecutors need to establish J+'s identity, but that opportunity is unlikely to occur. According to the world's most trusted biblical scholars on the subject,[11] those "left behind" will not witness the rapture, only suffer its consequences.

There may be shutterbugs among the chosen few who are "swept up" by J+ and they take photos or videos of the event. Can prosecutors use their work? While the aerial images are sure to impress, they must unfortunately be discounted and discarded because the individuals taking the images suffer from the "teacher's pet" syndrome. These people were not left behind precisely because they are J+'s favorites, thus completely undermining their objectivity.

Do any other photos of J+ exist?

Perhaps the Shroud of Turin qualifies. It is at once an icon, relic, and photograph, said to be the funeral shroud and photographic negative of J+. If genuine, the Shroud would enhance any identity theft prosecution. However, scientists[12] have almost unanimously declared it a fraud. While this is a serious problem, it is a minor snag compared to the towering hurdle that prosecutors must clear: the Shroud does not look like the Jesus everyone knows and loves.

When the History Channel hatched a plan to render the Shroud's image in 3-D so that the world could finally see what J+ really looks like, the idea appeared unassailable. But the History Channel might have hesitated or even turned back if it had known about the earlier efforts from one of the world's leading magazines. Eight years earlier, Popular Mechanics commissioned scientists and artists to render a sketch of J+'s likeness based on archeological context and historical probabilities.[13] The rendering was a huge disappointment. Jesus had a vacant expression, bulbous nose, and short, trimmed, curly hair and beard. The man looks like a cross between a caveman and Zeus. Worse, he is not even bantamweight class, standing only 5'1" and weighing a paltry 110 pounds. One would think that The History Channel would have learned from Popular Mechanics, but then its 3D analysis completed this year revealed the image of a slight and very swarthy man. Nowhere in these two images do we see the person accepted throughout the ages to be the true embodiment of J+: a dapper,[14] tall, fair-skinned man with fiery blue eyes,[15] long, heroic nose, and wonderfully bouncy hair (no split-ends) and well-combed beard. A Messiah lacking any of these features cannot be the complete package and would have an impossible time attracting the critical mass of acolytes that is required to make the Apocalypse the success that we have all come to expect.

Simulacra

Simulacra are religious images that appear in everyday items, from toast, to bathroom fixtures, to bananas. Simulacra generally manifest themselves only to the faithful, at least initially, as their obvious significance would go unappreciated by less pious individuals[16] who, instead of immediately summoning the local TV news crew to bear witness to the miraculous apparition, are more apt to eat the holy tortilla or sacred burned toast.

There is one major obstacle to using simulacra: resolution. These images lack sufficient pixelation. The technology of the spirit world has just not kept up with the demands of terrestrial consumers.[17] It is difficult to tell who, if anyone, is shown in any of these images, much less what they are up to. Simulacra are like Rorschach Tests: better at evaluating the state of mind/grace of the viewer than verifying the reality of what is perceived. Interpretation can easily devolve into pareidolia, the psychological condition where people perceive patterns from random, barren, an inert sources and extract meaning where none exists. Journalists will recognize this phenomena in themselves during press conferences, as will teenagers when they read the Twilight/New Moon vampire novels.

Jesus Relics

Jesus apparently shed body parts before he exited this earthly plane. The surviving relics were collected and catalogued for proper veneration and display which, by propitious coincidence, also boosted church attendance.

Can modern forensic science match these relics to J+?

It is easy to imagine a battle of the experts at trial, with prosecutors having an uphill battle. I could find no court precedent[18] that allowed the use of 2,000 year-old human fragments to verify the identity of a living person, but the rapidly-developing disciplines of forensic archeological and forensic anthropology might lend a hand. The question for experts in these fields would be whether there are sufficient human remains to match to J+.

There is no central repository for Jesus relics, but we can place the relics in two categories. The first is blood, of which there is but one extant sample. It has been stored in an air-tight vial for hundreds of years and kept at the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Belgium. If church authorities agree to release the sample, a positive match is possible.[19]

The second type of Jesus relic calls for a cautious, tentative touch to avoid arousing the delicate sensibilities of the devout.[20] But our pursuit of legal due diligence requires that, at some reasonably distant level, we face unpleasant verities. Thus, let us sally forth. The other Jesus relic is ... J+'s foreskin. His foreskin from circumcision (he was only eight days old) was preserved to the current era. The Holy Prepuce[21] (its official name) is said to be endowed with mystical powers. Penile fragments from J+ are scattered across churches on the European Continent, attesting not only to the vitality and penetration of the new faith, but also to the prodigious promise of its founder's Second Coming.

There are two major obstacles, however, to using The Holy Prepuce as evidence. First, why this piece of flesh did not resurrect and reunite with its original owner 2,000 years ago raises thorny theological questions that I do not feel I am qualified to address.[22] Second, to even acknowledge or discuss its existence invites certain excommunication by the Vatican,[23] and no one, not even the most jaded prosecutor, wishes to be on the outs with heavenly authorities when Judgment Day is looming.

The Holy Prepuce and the vial of blood share share a second problem: it is equally possible[24] that prosecutors will not be able to match the remains to J+ because they (the remains, not the prosecutors) are too ancient and lack the genetic source material or because they never belonged to J+ in the first place. We must thus seek elsewhere for a more reliable method for proving J+'s identity.

Iconography

For nearly 2,000 years, people have manufactured countless images of J+. Can prosecutors use these images to identity J+? I have not made a complete inventory or analysis of the world's paintings, carvings, and sculptures of J+,[25] but there a few things that we can safely conclude about his physical features. J+ is probably not fat, thereby eliminating all U.S. citizens and a growing number of foreigners from contention as would-be J+ impersonators. But on closer consideration, J+ may not be as physically fit as one would hope. Experts recently detected a troubling increase in caloric intake by J+ and his disciples,[26] which would explain why J+ is forced to wear a golden girdle to bind down his breasts[27] during the Rapture and why he and his coterie are continuously at odds with federal dietary guidelines.

You would think it has been established as undisputed fact that J+ wears long hair and a long beard. These features, although not immutable, would go a long way in substantiating his identity. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is no academic consensus on J+'s hair's color, luster, and style. Indeed, according to Scripture, J+'s hair is as white as wool.[28] Equally troubling, coiffure fashion has taken temperamental dips and turns during J+'s two millennia absence, and it would be surprising if he kept up with the prevailing standards of vogue.

Witness Accounts

There are countless people who claim to have seen J+ in visions and/or to have achieved a continuing, personal relationship with him.

Can they recognize J+ in the courtroom and help prosecutors out?

Probably not. There is a marked inconsistency about the person they perceive and describe, if indeed, they see J+ at all. Most just "feel His presence" or "know He is there/here" without actually seeing J+. It is difficult to imagine how such a sensation can be verified or tested by reliable means. There is also the grave danger that one of these people will not recognize J+ under the glaring lights and in the skeptical atmosphere of the courtroom, conditions that are not conducive to extra-sensory channels of communication. Prosecutors would butt up against the Uri Geller Paradox (UGP). Under UGP, the more extraordinary the claim, the less proof there is to support its existence. UGP appears with devastating consistency at the most inopportune times during these situations. An "I'm sorry, I don't sense anything" from a witness would certainly torpedo the Government's case.

J— Goes On The Defense

J— will fight like the Dickens[29] to avoid prison. While I cannot cover all the possible defenses he might raise,[30] selective prosecution will probably be in the mix.

J— is sure to argue that false prophets have proliferated for two thousand years with nary a disapproving glance from enforcement officials. For the Government to single him out is selective prosecution, perhaps even a violation of the 14th Amendment. The trial judge is unlikely to be receptive to this defense in light of U.S. Supreme Court precedent that requires proof that similarly situated defendants were not prosecuted for the same crime.[31] As stated earlier in this article,[32] time and space could not allow allow testimony of all the past false prophets who have not been prosecuted.

Conclusion

Despite 2,000 years of planning and insider prognostications, the Apocalypse is likely to be a messy affair with quite a few unintended consequences and surprise developments. What is undeniable is that J+ will have his hands full and will be hampered by J—'s usurpation of his identity. Prosecutors must be vigilant and must be open to assisting J+ by all means available to them, including identity theft laws. But before prosecutors can act, they must be able to tell J+ and J— apart. If they cannot, neither will a judge or jury. This article outlined some of the major obstacles prosecutors are likely to face, and although I offered no concrete solutions, I hope I inspired a new generation of prosecutors to start thinking in an optimistic way about their vital role during the Apocalypse.

Notes

[1] Here I could needlessly weigh the reader down with an inventory of my qualifications and citations to the authorities I consulted on why there are wildly divergent views on the topic. I will not inflict needless tedium upon anyone. I believe that I can talk with equal, no, greater authority about all things eschatological, such is the ardor the topic holds for me. That is not to say that my analysis is tainted by subjectivity in any fashion. I kept my believe-at-all costs attitude in check during the writing of this article to ensure the proper academic neutrality.

[2] I say "he" because although making J+ or J— a woman would probably be an improvement, the consensus, it appears to me, is that the cosmological authorities do not welcome evolution in theory and certainly not in practice.

[3] Some claim that it is improvident to single out one false prophet when we have throngs of false prophets and that, indeed, our whole economy and most of our religions hinge on the continuing vitality of false prophecy, of people who claim to know the future and take bets just to make sure. While this criticism is not entirely baseless, this article is not intended to pass judgment on bookies, ministers, and hedge fund brokers. My analysis is modest in scope and is limited to setting out a workable framework to facilitate the Rapture.

[4] Warring parties tend to trot out that old bromide, "what I do is miracles; what you do is black magic" during celestial conflagrations of this kind with irksome regularity.

[5] There probably won't be a duel of magic a la Dumbledore vs. the Dark Lord in the Harry Potter books. I hope I do not have to explain why J+ is Dumbledore and J— is the Dark Lord in this metaphor. The beards are a dead giveaway.

[6] I initially planned to discuss only documents in this section, and then I changed my mind and switched to records only, and finally decided to cover both. Country and Western fans can sympathize.

[7] Even if J+ were to produce the original copy of the Ten Commandments, they might prove of little probative value because they predate his birth by several centuries. There is also a danger that J+ would be accused of trafficking in ancient cultural artifacts.

[8] I suspect that J+ will be reluctant, based on his prior experience, to always cooperate with local enforcement officials. [9] Natalie Wood edition, of course.

[10] Matters could, of course, change and improve if someone (who shall go unnamed) with a sufficiently powerful reach and a vested interest intercedes to tweak the evidence at trial. There is precedent, as George Burns demonstrated in Oh, God!, the 1970s hit movie.

[11] I am of course referring to Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and their "Left Behind" series. It is altogether a joyful occasion when novelists fill in the fuzzy interstices of religious dogma with their own imaginary flights and thus dictate the theological agenda for the rest of us.

[12] Not that science should have final word in matters of authenticity. People are able to draw reasonable and hopeful conclusions and fill in gaps in the evidentiary record, and regularly reach conclusions that are diametrically opposed to that record, based solely on the strength of one's faith, like NFL fans regularly do.

[13] http://bit.ly/9hdBLP

[14] We should not put any stock in Isaiah 53:2 when it describes J+ as being ugly. Biblical prophecy, while inerrant, should not be twisted to conform to current exigencies.

[15] To show that I am not a fanatic about these things and a slave to tradition, I can entertain the possibility that his eyes are not necessarily blue, even when, in all probability, that is exactly what they are.

[16] Matthew 7:6. This is the old casting pearls at pigs analogy which never much made sense to me. I can imagine swine making great use of pearls if they are allowed to accessorize properly and given access to Photoshop.

[17] A lesson could be learned from Apple Computer's latest iPhone which takes pictures in 5 megapixels resolution, a vast improvement from previous models and more than a cut above the typical J+ figure that appears in tree knots.

[18] Hitting this "dry well" may be due either to my rudimentary research skills or my lack of access to primary or secondary legal sources. If you, dear reader, have access to a functioning library containing U.S. case law dating back to at least the early Middle Ages, I would welcome any helpful findings.

[19] Space and rational decorum do not allow me to entertain other possibilities, however intoxicating they may seem, that can be derived from possessing and manipulating a genuine sample of J+'s blood. For example, there would be undeniable wisdom in cloning J+. It would be like installing more towers to deliver greater cell phone coverage. Having a personal relationship with J+ would not only be easier, it would be unavoidable. If one J+ can save the world, an army of J+ s might allow the Gospel to be projected outside our earthly realm, in which case coordination with NASA would be advisable.

[20] This is not to suggest that most people's faith crumbles like sugar cookies when confronted with stifling logic or banal realities. What I am instead saying is...well, I am still refining that argument and will keep you posted.

[21] Alas, I could find nothing in the records about whether anyone bothered to preserve the Holy Postpuce, much less the main corpus of the Puce. The historical gap is surprising given the Church's fixation and legal tangles with all things penile.

[22] However, I am willing to postulate that long ago (I mean really, really long ago), J+ stopped considering the discarded foreskin as a part of his body. He probably viewed it more like a kidney stone. Or perhaps he just wanted it stored for safekeeping, like baby teeth, and he will reclaim it upon his return.

[23] David Farley, "Fore Shame, Did the Vatican steal Jesus' foreskin so people would shut up about the savior's penis?" Slate Magazine (December 19, 2006), http://bit.ly/aW9PUF.

[24] By "equally," I mean I am equally unsure of each possibility, not that each possibility should be assigned the same statistical weight.

[25] About my methodology: I studied the first three pages (of approximately 14.7 million) from a Google search for my initial composite of J+'s likeness. A majority of the images are from movies. Hollywood coalesced along time ago around what the proper Jesus should look like. There is one notable exception. Willem Dafoe, who played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ. He is much too angular and menacing, not at all like the Prince of Peace. Mr. Dafoe resembles a bearded Green Goblin (a role he later played) and would not make the proper impression before a trier of fact.

[26] "Study: Paintings are super-sizing the Last Supper," CNN (March 23, 2010), http://bit.ly/cCRgx6. The Last Supper has morphed from its spare, original offerings first into a moveable feast and then to an all-you-can-eat buffet of such gluttonous proportions to make a Roman senator simultaneously blush and upchuck.

[27] Revelation 1:13 (King James). No one should entertain the alternative and heretical theory that J+ will use the girdle to hide or accentuate some sort of artificial augmentation.

[28] Revelation 1:14. Contrary to what we have all been told, people age in heaven. Not only will J+ have grey hair, he will have trouble walking. Revelation 1:15 says J+ will wear prosthetics—bronze or brass feet—possibly from diabetes or from mistaking lava for water.

[29] This should not come as a surprise because everything J+ does is in the manner and fashion of the Dickens, and I do not mean Charles.

[30] I do not, after all, practice criminal law and can only make uninformed guesses about likely tactics.

[31] While this may not be the exact standard enunciated by the Court, it is a fair exegesis if allowances are made for broad interpretive error and unbounded expressive license.

[32] It was stated in an earlier footnote. Footnote 2, if memory serves, as the attentive reader will recall without having to actually work back through the footnotes, although that exercise might impart salutary effects on the author, if not the reader.


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Published:
  2010-11-02

Categories:
  End Times, Jesus

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