Apocalypse Now(ish): Irvin Baxter's End Times Empire

Death, destruction and the end of humanity: Dallas pastor Irvin Baxter is building a media juggernaut by predicting the very worst.

Apocalypse Now(ish): Irvin Baxter's End Times Empire
Mark Graham
Endtime founder Irvin Baxter

Irvin Baxter doesn't dance.

It's a rainy fall night in Granbury, a small town about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. On the stage inside the Calvary Church of Granbury, a young, clean-cut band is blasting a syrupy, guitar-driven ballad: "I'm gonna sing for You like nobody's listening, gonna dance for You like nobody's watching." The lyrics are projected onto a screen hanging behind the stage, so the audience of 250 or so can sing along. Everybody's elbow to elbow in the green pews. A row of folding chairs in the back accommodates the overflow.

It's barely five minutes into the evening, but nearly everyone is on their feet, many with their arms raised beseechingly, looking overcome. Pastor Jacob Stump, center stage, sways, his eyes closed, his head thrown back.

Baxter's Apocalypse-themed magazines.
Baxter's Apocalypse-themed magazines.
Baxter's Apocalypse-themed magazines.
Baxter's Apocalypse-themed magazines.

Details

Email the author at anna.merlan@dallasobserver.com.

Baxter stands next to him. He's a big man in his late 60s, with a belly to match, a broad, acne-scarred face, a straight white smile and square silver-rimmed glasses. He's sort of shuffling to the music, arms by his sides, singing along and wearing a little half-smile. He has no rhythm. He looks like somebody's bashful uncle, perched on the edge of the dance floor at a wedding.

He's tonight's star, though, the reason all these people have packed Calvary on an inclement weekend night — to attend Baxter's "conference," as he calls it. It's obvious many of them aren't regular congregants. Calvary is a Pentecostal church, and its members are up front, the men in neat suits, the women in roomy dresses and high, stiff hairdos. Near the back, things get a little more disorderly: people in jeans, a pissed-off-looking guy in camo shorts and a "Stand With Israel" shirt, a biker-looking couple whose male half has a balding head of dreadlocks and what looks to be a homemade tattoo on his forehead. With the exception of an assistant pastor from Fiji, everyone in the room is white.

"It's an honor and a privilege to have you in Granbury," Stump tells Baxter, and the room erupts in applause and shouts. Baxter takes the podium, his awkwardness gone.

"It's my first time in Granbury," he tells the crowd. "Let's applaud three times as loud for Jesus Christ." Jesus gets a hearty round, and after a quick joke, Baxter gets down to business. He asks how many people subscribe to Endtime, his magazine. Not many hands go up.

"You probably should," he deadpans. "It's required to make the Rapture." Everyone giggles, slightly scandalized.

Out in the lobby, at a table manned by his adult daughter Jana, Baxter's DVDs await. There are more than a dozen titles, each going for $20. They've got cover art like something you'd see on a video game cover or a heavy metal album, and dramatic titles like World War III: Entrance Ramp for the Antichrist and Master Plan of the Dragon. As part of his four-step instructions to get ready for the collapse of human government and the return of Jesus Christ, Baxter recommends Understanding the Endtime, a 14-DVD set that costs $200. Tonight he's lecturing on "2012 in Bible Prophecy." There's a DVD for that too. Dedicated fans can also purchase Endtime University, a "six semester" set that contains 84 Bible lessons. It costs $595.

On stage, Baxter offers some good news: The world won't end in December 2012. All that stuff about the Mayan calendar or some "Planet X" hitting the Earth is wrong. He shows a few clips from apocalyptic movies; the audience watches tensely as L.A. and New York get wiped out repeatedly for several minutes by meteors, floods and nuclear bombs.

"You wonder why sleeping pill sales are up?" Baxter says, pausing the DVD.

Just because the Mayans were wrong doesn't mean big things aren't afoot. "We're just about in transition. That's what you feel. Even our president talks about a fundamental transition. I don't think he knows what he's talking about, but ..." Baxter starts to go on, but he's interrupted by whoops of approval and applause. He smiles.

"I didn't mean that quite how you took it," he tells them. "We got a loaded crowd here tonight."

How do we know what's really about to happen next? Easy, Baxter says. "It's in your Bible. You won't like it. It's the Battle of Armageddon." The audience doesn't seem fazed, though. Armageddon is what they came for.

Baxter looks around the room and smiles big. "I'm so glad I'm alive right now," he confides. They should be too, he says. They're privileged, special, a chosen generation. They won't be "asleep at the wheel" when the big things hit.

"God put me right where I want to be," he tells them. "To see this whole thing wrap up."


"If you're not ready when it comes, it will sweep you away," Baxter says one morning, about a week before the conference in Granbury. "And so we've been updating our structure. Our purpose is to reach the world with our message."

Time is growing short, though.

"There's a horrific war coming. I wish it would never happen, but it is going to happen. The prophecies never miss." In that war, Baxter says, more than two billion people will die, and the United States will suffer greatly. "I wouldn't be surprised if we lose 25 million."

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28 comments
superelf
superelf

Hello, Anna Merlan. For someone who appears to fall into the category of those who find the end of the age "a little obscure for non-prophecy types", your article was nicely informative about Mr. Baxter. Perhaps you will write a follow-up when these Holy Bible prophesied events start showing up in the newspapers (as you now know for what to look)? See you then.  ;)

doctordave77
doctordave77

Anna, I'll have some respect for your journalism when you do a similar article covering Scientology. You use some cheap tricks in an attempt to paste Baxter with the same brush as TBN. The hucksterism practiced by TBM is unrelated to EndTime so why do you write about their misdeeds in an article supposed to be about Baxter's ministry.


And his salary seems to be very low for a man overseeing a company with that income. I didn't read a word of credit in your article about that. Plus his advisory committee is not mentioned on his IRS form? So what? Why don't we have some details about the individuals on the committee and what function they actually serve.


Your anti-fundamentalist bias shows throughout the piece. Better to excuse yourself before you cover another religious organization.


Dave

GA030382
GA030382

I will agree that the DVD prices are steep.  Especially since the word of the Lord should be free.

But the DVDs were really done well.

JesusFollowerForever
JesusFollowerForever

I like how you shared his Holy Ghost Experience because that's a real experience everyone should try to receive it is a promise to everyone, read acts chapter 2:38 and the whole chapter along with it. The Holy Ghost changed my life I was addicted to many different drugs for years but the Holy Ghost changed me forever and delivered me from my addictions forever. I'm glad to be free.

jeremyconr
jeremyconr

I firmly believe that Mr. Baxter is a genuinly good man. I do appreciate a look at his ministry from a different point of view. I think he is honestly doing the best he can with his preaching and with the financial contributions he recieves. His ministry is what has worked best for me .

   I believe its not a Christians job to chastise anyone, maybe point them in a better direction, but not to belittle .  I think its a Christians job to live the best life they can quietly and live the life others would want. Not everybody wants to be a Christian, but that is their right. Its no mans job to judge. I hope everyone gets to experience the peace of mind I have had for the past 10 years, but I cant show them through words.

scottie1620
scottie1620

Praise Jeezus! I got to get me one of them thar prophetic churches! If there are enough ignorant, illiterate, stupid people around here with enough extra money to contribute to my cause, then I, too, can live the life of Robert Tilton, Robert Shuler, Oral (sic) Roberts, James Robinson, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Creflo Dollar and the rest of those charlatans who have conned their way into a comfortable living by playing on the fears of the uneducated mental midgets among us.

 

Anybody who believes this "endtimes" garbage needs to take the money they give to these guys and spend it on a good psychiatrist. Professional help may get you over this delusion of belief in sky fairies and endtime prophecies. And, by the way, the last two Presidents who talked about one world government in flowery terms were George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They called it the "New World Order", and it is the very same "New World Order" about which Hitler talked, along with many other far right fascists for the last 1,000 years.

abeliever
abeliever

I've been following Bible prophesy and the Book of Revelation for over 30 years now.... and I find Pastor Baxter's videos and presentations about the last days or the endtimes to be about 90%  accurate... His timeframes are exponentially excellerating as each year goes by... the signposts are definitely there.....

kritter3
kritter3

It is great to live in a country where religious ideas are free to be disseminated to those who are willing to listen. If this article reveals anything, it is the possibility that the IRS might be used as the agent to silence anyone with an opinion. If we want to talk about taxing Non-profit organizations, we need to thing about the unintended consequences. Breast cancer research, climate change, and charities that directly help the homeless and those in poverty are just a few categories of nonprofits affected. 

I cannot remember the last time I heard about someone building a 5 million dollar "empire." Dallas must be fairly scandal free these days if we are digging this deep to try and find one.

jstump
jstump

Hey Anna, enjoyed the article and interesting take on the conference.  One correction though, the well dressed folks up front were all visitors while many of the folks in the back were the regular attenders.  We wanted the guests to have the best seats in the house.  The gentleman with the "Free" tattoo on his forehead is Darron - a veteran of the Iraq war - and an amazing person!  He definitely tends to get noticed.  :) 

 

We're so glad you came!  Next time let us know as we would love to recognize you and your paper.

 

God bless,

Jacob Stump

PhoneHome1
PhoneHome1

@ZachsMind #End of times = full of POISION & FEAR all for MONEY

Randy
Randy

I like how the font of "EndTime"'s cover is the same as the font on TIME magazine's cover.

Steve Nabors
Steve Nabors

Minus natural events, if an Apocalypse does occur I can almost guarantee it will be caused by the deadly virus of religion.

Louise Clifton Siebert
Louise Clifton Siebert

I'm more afraid of these religious crack pots than i am the end of the world! Maybe he should have his own reality show like honey boo boo..we all love watching a good train wreck

Jarod Warren
Jarod Warren

Another one? I seem to remember the Bible having some choice phrases regarding false prophets. Ah well, I guess like carrying dogs in purses, predicting the apocalypse has become the new.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Now what was it that PT Barnum said?

sunny-in-texas
sunny-in-texas

Sorry to nitpick, but it seems the author is using "prophesy" in places where she should be using "prophecy". Just kinda driving me nuts. Thanks!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

"...at thirteen years of age, I figured something was wrong with me."

 

The one thing in this guy's life he got right.

 

I also love that he envisions himself behind "them all" on his white horse, watching it all unfold. *sheesh*

 

Megalomania, it isn't just for breakfast anymore!

sarahjane1923
sarahjane1923

@Dallas_Observer This is not required work reading, but I can't stop. It's like a well-written trainwreck.

WackyCrackerTracker
WackyCrackerTracker

I still say that "End Times 2: Die Prejudiced, Prudish And Proud" is the best in the series, although the CGI wasn't as impressive as the original.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I'm in the wrong 'bidness'.......this ENDTIMES CRAP sells better than a hooker in an oil camp!  But sadly, I'm not a deceiver-oh, dern.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Isn't it overly prideful for 'Christians' to think that they are the ones to live in the 'end times?'  as all of em have for the last 2000 yrs.

jereca16
jereca16

They only way you can debate an issue is if you fully understand both sides you look down on Christian. Because you are a simple worldly person who knows absolutel. Nothing of God so you can speak of something you no not of. God is real and trust me so is the devil but you will blindly follow him because your uneducated from the truth ( which is god). Noone knows for sure exactly when or what will happen in the end but irvin has done his best to depict what God has told us. Also so you know this is the only era that has turned away from God every generation before us as well as every country ever built has known god he is not fictional. He gave you the air you breath( a waste). I pray that you find true knowledge and understanding so you wont suffer for you ignorance. God bless.

scottie1620
scottie1620

 @kritter3 The IRS is the ONLY agency that grants non-profit status, and it is done under specific terms and conditions. If the IRS revokes a non-profit status for violating the rules, then it does so because the "organization" is failing to operate according to the law, not because they are silencing anybody's voice. You are free to say anything you want to say to anybody at any time, and you do NOT need a non-profit exemption from income tax to do it. One has to be pretty dumb not to see the difference.

jereca16
jereca16

Your a good man. :) only a godley man could write that reply.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @jstump That's a really important correction, and I apologize sincerely for the error. Thanks, Pastor Stump. Glad you found the article interesting, at least. Thank you too for having me as a guest in your church. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

 @sunny-in-texas If it makes you feel any better I just fired myself for this offense. I immediately rehired myself, because I need the health care, but for a moment, justice was yours.

 

Joe Tone, editor

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @sunny-in-texas I think you're right. That's my mistake, and it should rightfully drive you crazy. We'll try to get in there and fix it momentarily. The print editions of the paper will stand as a monument forever and ever, though. 

reneeboyette
reneeboyette

There was a Pastor that always taught -- dont take my word for it -- go to the Bible and verify all that is said--- and once again Go to the Word of God the Bible -- there are teaching throughout the entire Bible --- that prove the endtime will come -- and gives signs of these times.

 
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