Meet the 'End Times' Novelist Adored By Glenn Beck Who Is on His Way to Congress
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"All you've got to do is go read the Senate report on that," Stewart continues. "That's not a particularly new idea, lots of people realize the EMP would be a terrible event for our nation. And that's all I was talking about. The whole point of the Great and Terrible series is what happens to the United States if an EMP attack were to take place."
But in a 2009 interview with Meridian Magazine, an LDS-oriented publication, about the series, Stewart, who's also written a self-help book called Redefining Joy in the Last Days, suggested that the religious underpinnings of his books were more than just a plot device. "The timing for events of the last days can catch us unaware as well," he said. "It is why we listen to the prophets and why we read the scriptures to be prepared. In the Book of Mormon, Samuel the Lamanite came and gave them a five-year warning before Christ's birth. Maybe we'll get that."
(A quick glance on Amazon reveals that his readers got the message. "The author provides an eerie review of how Satan and his minions may influence us in our decision-making and life directions," writes one reviewer. Another adds: "I'm taking stock of our storage of food, water, medicines, and the means to protect ourselves and our neighborhood" in the event of an EMP strike.)
Utah Republicans are wary of Stewart for reasons other than his end-times-themed writings. Some are upset about how he won the nomination. Utah uses primaries only as a last resort, preferring to hold county- and then district-nominating conventions and proceeding from there only if the race is still deadlocked. Three days before the 2nd District's convention in April, delegates received an anonymous mailer filled with personal attacks on Stewart.
The mailer didn't have much of an impact until a little-known Republican candidate, a small town mayor named Milt Hanks who had made almost no campaign appearances, announced at the convention that he had been invited to join an anti-Stewart cabal called the "Anybody-But-Chris" club. Every other candidate was in a conspiracy against Stewart, Hanks warned. They'd formed a pact stipulating that once Stewart was eliminated, they'd all back the top non-Stewart candidate.
Outraged delegates responded by rallying behind Stewart. His opponents, who say they were stunned by the accusations, also rallied around one candidate, a banker named David Clark—just like Hanks had predicted. When the candidates appeared on stage together to endorse Clark, Stewart's supporters began chanting, eerily: "The prophecy has been fulfilled! The prophecy has been fulfilled!"
The precise meaning of the chant is unclear. "Stewart has a group of followers who kind of drank the Kool-Aid," says Howard Wallack, a businessman and losing 2nd District candidate who says he heard the chants. "If you've read his books, he speaks of miracles and prophecy from the Book of Mormon and things like that." Cherilyn Eagar, a tea party activist and another losing GOP candidate, believes that the "prophecy" chants alluded to Hanks' ultimately self-fulfilling warning.
The incident, which was reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, was corroborated by multiple Republican attendees I spoke with—but Stewart denies it ever happened. "That's the kind of absurd reporting that makes people roll their eyes," he says. "You can go back. If you make the effort, you can look at the tape."
His opponents contended that the whole episode was a set up. They allege that the incendiary mailer had actually been sent out by Stewart in an attempt to draw sympathy for his campaign, noting that in 2010 Chris Stewart's brother, Tim, a lobbyist, had paid an FEC fine for doing just that on behalf of then-Sen. Robert Bennett. An investigation by the Utah GOP concluded that Hanks had " acted irresponsibly" in making baseless allegations but ultimately "found no evidence that any laws were violated by any of the candidates or their campaigns." It was all a big mix-up, in other words. But in June, four of Stewart's Republican opponents, including Clark, Eagar, and Wallack, asked the Federal Election Commission to formally investigate the conspiracy claim.