You might not remember Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, but you probably remember his "We're not gonna fix it” response to the mass shooting at a Nashville-area private school in March. Burchett was true to his word: He didn’t do anything, though his fellow Tennessee Republican Party members voted to expel state legislators who did try to pass gun safety laws.
But Burchett’s real bread-and-butter issue is UFOs. The U.S. government has renamed unidentified flying objects as unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP. Burchett has been particularly vocal in his belief that what people see in the skies are objects of intelligent design that are not from our planet. (Cue the music!) With a recent spate of reported sightings and a new “whistleblower” story making the rounds in (mostly) the right-wing media bubble, Burchett is out and about promoting his version of little green men.
Speaking with Steve Bannon, Burchett explained that UAPs have been around for millennia, according to his reading of the Bible—by way of the television show “Ancient Aliens:”
“I mean, they’re in the Bible. Read the first chapter of Ezekiel. It’s a King James version. It’s a translation, but it describes a wheel within a wheel. It describes what I would call the classic saucer-shaped UFO. It’s in the Bible. In hieroglyphics. It’s in Dark Ages’ paintings. It’s there.”
Let’s talk about this.
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Here’s Burchett’s intellectually lazy statement about aliens.
First off, there is no translation of the Book of Ezekiel on planet Earth in which a UFO is described. The idea has been placed into the popular imagination by convicted fraudster and embezzler Erich von Däniken in his book, “Chariots of the Gods.” With an assist from former NASA scientist Josef Blumrich’s book “The Spaceships of Ezekiel,” the ancient alien conspiracy theory has been solidly with us since the 1970s.
But since Burchett wants to pretend he reads and comprehends the Bible, let’s use his preferred King James translation to figure this out. The Book of Ezekiel, if you aren’t familiar, is filled with the writings of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel 1:4-28, which is what Burchett is referring to, describes his vision of God’s “chariot.”
“And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself; and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.”
Wait a second! “Likeness of a man?” Ezekiel then describes these creatures with hands under their wings—on all four sides of their four individual bodies! Huh? Right?
“As for the likeness of their faces, all four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side, and all four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”
Wait, that doesn’t sound like ...
“Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold, a wheel was upon the earth by each of the living creatures with his four faces.
The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness; and their appearance and their work was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.”
Here’s an old artistic rendering of Ezekiel’s vision. It’s important to remember that what “Ancient Aliens” and Burchett with Bannon do here is assert that the prophet Ezekiel, who meticulously writes down his “visions,” is confused by what Burchett describes as the “classic saucer-shaped UFO.” His confusion leads to the above description—ostensibly because his ancient mind hadn’t the words or technological understandings to describe it more accurately. But Ezekiel does describe metals in his visions and he also knows what the face of an ox, a lion, a man, and an eagle look like. Right? So … he’s not describing a flying saucer. He’s describing exactly what he says he’s describing.
There is also a question of theology. Burchett is supposedly a devout conservative Christian. Instead of calling for gun safety legislation, he’s called for a “Christian revival” in our country. Is Mr. Christian saying that the great Hebrew prophet is telling humanity that the Christian God—the God of Moses, the one who Christians believe is also Jesus—is an E.T.? What kind of Christology is this?
Because when Burchett mentions “Dark Ages” paintings, he’s talking about medieval religious art that would frequently depict angels (or the sun and the moon) as entities witnessing famous Christian scenes, like the crucifixion or the birth of Jesus. So … God is an alien? Sounds like Burchett is more into Scientology than his purported Christian theology.
Finally, the general concept that all great achievements in humanity result from alien technology randomly gifted to ancient groups of people (most of whom just happen to not be white) is dismissive of human ingenuity, inherently racist, and pathetically cynical. Of course it would explain religious conservatives’ style of do-nothing governance.
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