Walter Veith

Every church has its fringe folks who advocate bizarre conspiracy theories.

One I’ve recently been exposed to is Walter Veith, a South African zoologist who has a number of DVDs about creation and evolution. Those may be fine, as he is speaking about a subject in which he is well-educated. But he has other DVDs that promulgate the strangest collection of conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen, related to Bible manuscripts on the one hand and to current events on the other.

The Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference has addressed his views on Biblical manuscripts.

Here are a few observations I made after watching his series, “Total Onslaught” (passed on to me by a young adult who was impressed by Veith’s presentation style and the amount of content).

9-11 Conspiracy theories. Veith claims that there was no debris found at the site of the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA. Shows snippet of a German documentary featuring the mayor saying, “There was no plane.” This is not true.

In the book, Wisnewski describes the scene as follows: “And then it becomes apparent that something is troubling Ernie Stull. On the one hand, it’s what the leading authorities of the United States – the FBI, the CIA, the President – have claimed. On the other hand, it’s what his brother-in-law and his friend told him. ‘There was no airplane,’ says Ernie Stull, speaking partly to us and partly as if he were listening to his own voice, checking to see if he had heard himself correctly. One and half years after the catastrophe, he still shakes his head, completely at a loss, and helplessly extends his arms: ‘No airplane’.”

When Der Spiegel confronts Stull with the English translation of these passages in the book and the film script, the man is speechless: “My statements were taken completely out of context. Of course there was an airplane. It’s just that there wasn’t much left of it after the explosion. That’s what I meant when I said ‘no airplane’. I saw parts of the wreckage with my own eyes, even one of the engines. It was lying in the bushes.”

Alpha Confusion. Veith shows a slide about manipulation of “alpha waves,” and then starts talking about the “Alpha Course,” as if there were some connection between the two. But these are two completely unrelated things, that have in common only the word “alpha.” The “Alpha Course” is an introductory course (hence “alpha,” the first letter in the Greek alphabet) in Christianity (from a charismatic perspective). It may not be in keeping with Adventist theology (or Catholic, for that matter), but it says nothing about “alpha waves.”

Jesuits and Mormons. Veith says, when speaking of Joseph Smith, that the Jesuits created and controlled the Mormons. His only supporting evidence is mention of a supposed friendship between Pierre de Smet and Brigham Young. In fact, they met once, in 1846. Young simply asked them about the territory, which the Jesuit missionary knew. Here’s the real story:

Not till 1841 do we again read of a Catholic priest visiting Utah. In that year the heroic Jesuit missionary and explorer, Father Pierre-Jean de Smet , passed through the valley of Salt Lake on his way to Green River, Wyoming . This remarkable priest was, in the autumn of 1846, the guest of the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, who was wintering with his followers near Council Bluffs, preparing to enter the Great American Desert in the spring of 1847. As the Mormon president had not yet determined where he and his people would finally settle, he was greatly impressed with Father de Smet’s description of Salt Lake and Cache Valleys stretching away from the Wasatch Mountains. “They asked me a thousand questions about the regions I had explored”, writes the priest to his nephew, “and the valley which I have just described to you pleased them greatly from the account I gave them of it. Was this what determined them to settle there? I would not dare to affirm it. They are there!”

Wandering Bishops. He shows pictures of men dressed as bishops and claims that the Catholic church has “wandering bishops” who minister to the New Age movement. These are not Catholic bishops; they are merely New Age charlatans who dress up like bishops and claim to have been ordained by someone who claimed to be ordained by someone who claimed to be ordained by someone who was ordained by a real bishop.

Jesse Duplantis. He shows clips of Jesse Duplantis, a Pentecostal preacher from Louisiana with a pronounced Cajun accent. Veith can’t understand the accent, however! Duplantis ends a sentence with, “See?” – Veith hears “Satan.” Duplantis says another time, “I’m going to tell you something” – Veith hears, “I am with Satan.” This was one place where Veith had me laughing out loud.

Broken cross. Veith shows the crosier of Paul VI (used also by John Paul II) which has an abstract representation (modeled on a rough sketch by St. John of the Cross). He calls this a “bent” or “broken” cross, and claims it to be a Satanic symbol. But he offers no proof for this; he shows no depictions of such a cross in occult documents, only citing the undocumented claims other conspiracy buffs.

Pope at St. Louis. He shows snippets of the 1999 visit of Pope John Paul II to St. Louis and claims that the pope did not say a word about Jesus. You can read them yourself to see (one and two). Here are some extracts:

Praised be Jesus Christ! …

We are gathered here this evening to listen to Jesus as he speaks to us through his word and in the power of the Holy Spirit. …

Today, this impressive stadium has become another kind of training ground not for hockey or soccer or basketball, but for that training that will help you to live your faith in Jesus more decisively …

ake the Sunday celebration in your parishes a real encounter with Jesus in the community of his followers: this is an essential part of your “training in devotion” to the Lord! …

Jesus does not have “contempt for your youth”. He does not set you aside for a later time when you will be older and your training will be complete. Your training will never be finished. Christians are always in training. You are ready for what Christ wants of you now. He wants you — all of you — to be light to the world, as only young people can be light. It is time to let your light shine! …

And wherever I go I challenge young people — as a friend — to live in the light and truth of Jesus Christ….

“You are the light of the world. . . Your light must shine before all”
(Mt 5:14.16).

Dear Young People,

Ask yourselves: Do I believe these words of Jesus in the Gospel? Jesus is calling you the light of the world. He is asking you to let your light shine before others. I know that in your hearts you want to say: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am. I come to do your will” (Responsorial Psalm; cf. Heb 10:7). But only if you are one with Jesus can you share his light and be a light to the world.

Are you ready for this?

Sadly, too many people today are living apart from the light in a world of illusions, a world of fleeting shadows and promises unfulfilled. If you look to Jesus, if you live the Truth that is Jesus, you will have in you the light that reveals the truths and values on which to build your own happiness, while building a world of justice, peace and solidarity. Remember what Jesus said: “I am the light of the world; those who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (cf. Jn 8:12).

Because Jesus is the Light, we too become light when we proclaim him. This is the heart of the Christian mission to which each of you has been called through Baptism and Confirmation. You are called to make the light of Christ shine brightly in the world.

Pronunciations. He repeatedly mispronounces names like Teilhard de Chardin and common words like “Episcopal” and “episcopacy.” This shows he is ignorant of the subject.

Pac-Man. He sees the video-game “Pac-Man” character as a representation of the “all-seeing eye of Lucifer.” This is just silly. Compare the “all-seeing eye” (on the top of the pyramid on the US dollar bill) with these sketches of the design for Pac-Man. Demand that Veith document his claim.

Sources. His videos reveal that he has uncritically appropriated a wide variety of conspiracy theories and sources, which he has strung together on the flimsiest of associations (as noted under Alpha, above). It appears that in Veith’s mind, everyone is a freemason, these are controlled by the Jesuits, who also created the Mormons. He rehashes every 9-11, Kennedy assassination, and Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy theory. He consistently says he is giving sources, but his sources are mainly just other conspiracy sites.

Valid points. Yes, there are plenty of issues here worth talking about: the philosophies of Freemasonry and the New Age movement, self-esteem movements in Christianity, charismatic phenomena, Catholic theology, and the rock-star treatment of popes. But it needs to be done with citation of credible sources, by someone with a background in the subject.


There are more issues that could be raised. Is a conspiracist theory of history plausible? Nicholas Miller address this question here.

23 thoughts on “Walter Veith

  1. Communication is so important! Style and content count. There are many out there who have fantastic content but horrible communication skills and are not able to present their material. This looks like a case of a guy who is able to communicate but is a bit of a flake. I think the same can be said for preachers.

  2. Thanks for the run-down, Bill. I had a couple of my members telling me about this guy. I just had to shake my head while they were talking, and say, “Yup. Right. Okay.” Without watching it, I knew that it was probably a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

    What is accomplished by such conspiracy theories? I asked this to one of the guys who relayed this onto me, and he just said, “Well, we don’t want to get fooled. . . We’re living in crazy times.” Maybe I’m being presumptuous, but I don’t think that I am in any danger of converting to Mormonism, et al!

  3. You probably won’t print this reply but as far as i can tell everyhthing Walter Veith talks about is researched thoroughly. … Are you sure Veith is not preaching the truth? Have you researched the subject thourouhgly? The Bible says ‘test all spirits’. You better not be dismissng the truth simply because of what you think. What you think is of no consequence find out the truth. Only the truth matters.

  4. I gave you quite a few instances where he clearly was sloppy, misinformed, and teaching false things. I demonstrate this for you. Does truth matter? I think so.

  5. Dear Bill,

    As an Adventist pastor, I share your concerns and find it very troubling that many are taking Veith’s distortions as Bible truth or as representations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    I’ve blogged several times along the same lines, but have not taken the time to point out the specific problems in Veith’s speculations. Thanks for you work.

    I’ve you don’t mind, I’d like to direct others to your post. I confess it is laziness on my part, letting you do the work for me.

  6. Yes, I agree. But Veith’s methodology doesn’t make it easy. I think there are possibly some health issues involved. Paranoia is debilitating.

    I had never planned to go as far as I have with the subject, but my initial post generated so much heat. Though months old, the first post is still driving considerable search engine traffic. A good thing for a blogger, but the negative nature of the comments are getting old.

  7. Re: his methodology–I know. That’s why I picked at some obvious ones. And I think that’s what I’d suggest to anyone. Just start probing any of the issues he raises. Look at his sources. Start picking at any of the threads of this bizarre tapestry. He talks fast and throws out so much stuff it’s almost as if he’s trying to keep you from focusing on the details. He wants to give you a “total onslaught.”

  8. Good research. It surprises me how many Adventists adopt his sensationalist teachings. I saw his protege Mark Woodman show clips of George W. Bush and Gordon Blair mentioning a “New World Order”. This was supposedly clear proof that a conspiratorial coalition is looming. But in context, these world leaders are seeking peace and charity, not pain.

    Ben McArthur mentions conspiracies in his imaginary conversation with Walter Utt in a recent Spectrum issue.

  9. Thanks, Colin. It was a pretty quick write-up. I was mentioning to another concerned pastor that I think there’s a need for someone to do something more significant–or perhaps for a bunch of us to pursue different threads in this bizarre tapestry.

  10. In my devotions this day, I was contemplating the enormous satanic conspiracy that surrounded the imminent death of the Son of God.

    Clearly there was fallen Lucifer – the master conspiror.

    Also, a 1/3 former angel contingent.

    Then, you cannot ignore a vast array of rabbis, pharisees, sadducees, Sanhedrin, and assorted rulers & leaders who were scheming to use the arm of the state of Rome to…..

    But above all…there was one so sinister…as to actually infiltrate the inner circle of 12 & eat with, and sleep with, and live with…

    And so what do we see our Savior doing about this clear-cut conspiracy? Did He ever preach a single message that “connected the dots” for his faithful 11 man Remnant? No!

    What did Jesus do?

    I see Him healing, caring for, feeding and above all PREACHING THE GOSPEL & saving people from their sins!!!! I see Him sending out His faithful ones to do the same exact work.

    He does this without falling for the distraction of the conspiracy theory. He does this without blinking at the devil’s distracting schemes. He does this all the way until He steps in…suspends the conspiracy for a moment, saves a dying thief hanging beside Him…then exposes the conspiracy with a single act!!! Of supreme sacrificial eternal love!!!

    And it was finished!! End of story!!

    ~ Ken L. Wiseman

    PS: We would do well to just stay in His tracks (forget the crazy distractions of all the various conspiracy theory teachings – we have a HIGHER calling & BETTER work to do) as once again it is about to be finished!!! And END OF HIS-STORY!!!!!!! (Praise God!!!)

  11. The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church is to proclaim the Gospel of righteousness by faith in Christ. This is because when you know the certainty of your salvation you have the correct stimulus for obedience. My disquiet with ministries that emphasise conspiracy theories is that the Gospel is invariably de-emphasised. The key to all our problems is the Gospel, not highlighting shadows. The world is full of shadows – we know that too well – turn on the Gospel light and the darkness will dispel. This is what Jesus did – see Ken Wiseman’s excellent summary.

  12. It is unfortunate that so many of our members get distracted by the attraction of the sentionalism and conspiracy theory.

  13. I have seen 5 of 13 DVD’s sent to me. Yes some things may need to be researched further, but in my eyes, this is more truth for SDA’s to accept. The remenant may come out of the remenant.

    I believe that David Koresh for instance and his group, was murdered and burned to death by the US government, but not everyone believes that. But does it really matter anyway?

    • What matters is that we must be above reproach. If we claim something, we must be able to back it up. And we have no business preaching anything for which we don’t have a “thus saith the Lord.” Contrast Veith’s approach to that of Jesus.

  14. Most every thing Veith has talked about in the videos, he says don’t get mad at me, they said and wrote it. Instead of attacking someone who is knowledgable of many things, lets go after lost souls. Not everyone is perfect on any subject. Some SDA pastors have erred in past and current events. Remember 1844? Christ didn’t come, so is the SDA church in total error now? I think not, nor are independents. We are all lost sheep. Enough said.

    • And that’s a large part of his problem. He uncritically accepts sources that have no credibility. He has ransacked every conspiracy buff webpage and throws out their claims without evaluating them and judging them. I don’t think he would do that as a scientist. He clearly isn’t knowledgeable about history or theology. Let him stick to what he knows instead of seeking after sensationalism.

    • Interesting, but the interviewer doesn’t ask the right questions. First, the “Textus Receptus” is a composite manuscript with lots of problems, as all Biblical scholars know. Second, while acknowledging that the Jews are not behind his conspiracies, he doesn’t address any of the issues that I have pointed out–including his reliance upon unreliable conspiracy buffs, and his repetition of factual errors.

  15. Hello, just came to your site. On the comment “no plane” even after the interview he noted that there was not much left after the explosion, What explosion I thought the plane was bought down by the passengers! Jesus is coming soon no one is surely saying that our beliefs have suddenly changed so that we shouldn’t be looking for and warning others not to be decieved. What about the three angels messages? I love to hear messages of hope and christian love and understanding but it has been a long time since I have heard anything of our unique sda beliefs. It is our young people that are now only getting the milk how are they going to identify truth from error if all they are preached or taught from church is Social gospel. I feel that many of your researched comments were on minor errors. Many souls have come to know Jesus through Walter’s messages and come to sda churches baptised by our church pastors. Praise God that he has the courage to share his convictions. Would I be considered a conspiritor if I saw written in the Sydney Morning Herald about the pope stating that he supported a new world order with more teeth. July 9 2009. There are many adventist ministers that obviously comment on your site my prayer is that you will take my comments about our young people to heart and not be ashamed or embarressed by our church’s calling. There are three angels not just the gospel angel balance is needed. God bless a concerned mum.

    • Yes, the plane was brought down by the passengers. But when it hit the ground, it exploded. Planes do that.

      Yes, we should preach the Three Angels’ Message. That’s what I wish Veith would do. He’s preaching conspiracies and worldly wisdom. Read Matthew 24 and 25. Read Revelation. Read Great Controversy. You will find NOTHING that resembles the stuff Veith is dishing out. This is fantasy. You want to be concerned about young people? Give them TRUTH that can be backed up by the Bible alone.

  16. “Read Matthew 24 and 25. Read Revelation. Read Great Controversy. You will find NOTHING that resembles the stuff Veith is dishing out.” Bill, I assume you’ve read these. How can you make such a contradictory statement?

    • It’s not contradictory. There is nothing in these sources that resembles the slap-dash, paranoid conspiracy stuff that Veith is peddling. None of these books are about fear, and about tying together wacky, internet based conspiracy theories. They are all about hope, and centered on Jesus Christ.

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