Reverend Clyde Lott is a revivalist preacher and cattle rancher from Mississippi, who attempted to hasten the end of the world in a rather unusual way – by shipping red cows to Israel. He took up the challenge in accordance with an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers, which states that without the sacrifice of a red heifer, the Jewish people cannot be purified and enabled to rebuild the Third Temple.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the apocalyptic countdown will play out something like this: Jews would return to Israel after 2,000 years – the Holy Temple would be rebuilt – billions of people would perish during seven years of natural disasters – the antichrist would rise and rule the world – the battle of Armageddon would commence somewhere near Israel – Jesus would return to defeat Satan’s armies and then preside over Judgment Day.
For things to turn out as prophesied, the Holy Temple needs to be rebuilt, of course, and purified with the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer. Some people even believe that the construction of the temple cannot be resumed unless a red cow that fits the description is actually born, signalling the beginning of the end. The heifer in question is mentioned specifically in Numbers 19:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish and upon which never came a yoke.”
Interestingly, the existence of such a cow is a biological anomaly. The conditions are quite strict – the animal must be entirely of a uniform color (there are a series of tests by the rabbis to ensure this), and its hair must be absolutely straight (to ensure that it has not previously been yoked). To be deemed worthy, a red heifer must not have more than three white or black hairs on its body.
And that’s where Reverend Clyde tried to pitch in – he attempted to raise a unique herd of red heifers that satisfies the required conditions. It all started in September 1990, when he was ‘prompted’ by God to find out more about the red heifer spoken of in Numbers 19. As he tried to imagine where these cattle came from and exactly what they looked like, he came into contact with Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute. The two men spent the next couple of years laying the groundwork for what would soon become the red cattle program for Israel.
Through the program, Reverend Clyde connected with a Nebraska farmer and began breeding red cows. He then shipped plane loads of them (140 heifers per load) to Israel in the late 1990s. He even set up a non profit corporation called ‘Canaan Land Restoration of Israel’ to conveniently oversee the shipments.
The premium cattle were by no means cheap – each cow came with a whopping $1,000 price tag. A scheme was set up through which supporters of the cause could gift cows to the organisation – they could purchase one or more, or pay for half, quarter, or even just the plane fare, which was $341 per heifer. Unfortunately, so far, none the cows actually satisfied the Rabbis’ conditions in Israel. The Temple Institute twice announced the discovery of kosher red heifers, in 1997 and 2002, but they were both disqualified, eventually.
There isn’t much information available about the current status of the program, although some internet sources indicate that the farmer who worked on the project was going broke in 2000 because he wasn’t being reimbursed for the cows. Reverend Clyde, of course, explained that the devil had held up all the money!
In recent years, journalists made several attempts to contact Clyde Lott, but, apparently, the numbers they had had all been disconnected.