Loughner Admired Conspiracy-Minded Zeitgeist Film

On Good Morning America today, Jared Lee Loughner’s former close friend Zach Osler described how the accused shooter did not watch political news, but did admire a “a web-based documentary called Zeitgeist, that focused on currency based economics that ‘poured gasoline on his fire . . . The Zeitgeist documentary had a profound impact on Jared Loughner’s mindset,’” according to Osler.

Last year, the New York Times ran a piece on “Z-Day, the educational forum associated with the online movie ‘Zeitgeist,’” produced by Peter Joseph. The Z-Day event drew a crowd of 900 in Manhattan and others around the world:

“The mission of the movement is the application of the scientific method for social change,” Mr. Joseph announced by way of introduction. The evening, which began at 7 with a two-hour critique of monetary economics, became by midnight a utopian presentation of a money-free and computer-driven vision of the future . . . .  some basic themes emerged: modern economics is a fraud; global debt will crush the planet; society itself is dying from the profit motive; and people ought to wise up to the fact that more than legislation — or presidential administrations — needs to change.

The first of Joseph’s three films has been criticized, among other things, for perpetrating 9/11 conspiracy theories, as well as for denying the existence of Jesus. The Zeitgeist Film Series website elliptically describes “The Zeitgeist movement” as calling for a “new social system:”

While the films have served as inspirations for The Movement, the subject matter in the films is not to be confused with the main materials/interests of The Zeitgeist Movement itself, which focus on values, resource economics and sustainability. For example, TZM is not about 9/11, Comparative Religion, Central Banking, Financial Reform or the like. In the world today, many are active in these areas and work to resolve them on a per case basis. TZM is not interested in this – its function is to find the ‘source’ of problematic social phenomena and act to resolve it at its core. This is why a completely new social system is expressed in the Movement’s materials.

The site attempts to rebut religious critiques of the films:

Sadly, some in the religious community have been the most vehement in this regard, grossly misinterpreting the intent of Part 1 of Zeitgeist: The Movie. (Source) Some have even composed full books/videos in an attempt to refute. These rebuttals appear to be almost always one sided and radiate with emotional disdain.

Christian apologetics have denounced the movie’s claims that Jesus never existed, and the New Testament’s account of his conception, birth, life, death, and resurrection were “stolen” and derivative of pagan and pre-Christian belief.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email