Archive for Evangelical

Pat Robertson Says the Christian Thing to do is, “Destroy Your Friend’s Buddha Statue”

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by loonwatch

Everyone knows the Taliban are just the Afghan version of the Pat Robertson’s of the world, right? Pat Robertson was asked on air by a concerned Christian named “Jenny” about a moral quandary she had relating to her roommate’s “Buddha statue.”

Jenny: My friend who is a Christian has a Buddha statue next to her Christian ones. Is this ok?

Pat Robertson, who always speaks Biblically gave a pretty unequivocal answer, “Destroy it.”

Pat Robertson: No its not. Take it away and break it. Break it! Destroy it.

So the message is Christian statues are OK but not Buddhist ones, oh and don’t respect the property of other peoples!

Pat Robertson: Destroy Your Friends Buddha Statue

(WhatIfTheyWereMuslim.com)

Here at WITWM, we frown upon all acts of religious desecration. When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March of 2001 it was not only unIslamic but immoral on many levels. Now Pat Robertson is calling for similar measures, can one imagine if a Muslim Imam had said something similar? As of now there is barely a peep about this. (h/t Critical Dragon)

“He Who Spares the Rod, Hates His Son”: The Bible’s Justification for Corporal Punishment of Children Leads to Murder

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2011 by loonwatch

The Canadian case in which Mohammad Shafia killed three of his daughters and his first wife are being sensationalized in the Islamophobesphere as a clear cut instance proving Islam sanctions “Honor Killing.” There are all sorts of wily and convoluted attempts at stretching Quranic verse and Prophetic tradition to mean something they clearly don’t, as Ilisha makes clear in her most recent article.

The video below clearly demonstrates however that there are some Christians who are willing to use corporal punishment to put their children “back in place,” and they do this based on the Bible (hat tip: Omar Q.):

Needless to say such literalism can have deadly consequences, but should we now blame all of Christianity for these zealots? Should we say that their interpretation is the correct one, the one most in fidelity with scripture?

Paul Rosenberg: Exposing Religious Fundamentalism in the US

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Exposing religious fundamentalism in the US

by Paul Rosenberg

With Representative Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Ames, Iowa straw poll, and Texas Governor Rick Perry’s triumphal entrance into the GOP presidential primary, there’s been a sudden spike of attention drawn to the extremist religious beliefs both candidates have been associated with – up to and including their belief in Christian dominionism. (In the Texas Observer, the New Yorker, and the Daily Beast, for example.) The responses of denial from both the religious right itself and from the centrist Beltway press have been so incongruous as to be laughable – if only the subject matter weren’t so deadly serious. Those responses need to be answered, but more importantly, we need to have the serious discussion they want to prevent.

For example, in an August 18 post, originally entitled, “Beware False Prophets who Fear Evangelicals”, Washington Post religion blogger Lisa Miller cited the three stories I just mentioned, and admitted, “The stories raise real concerns about the world views of two prospective Republican nominees”, then immediately reversed direction: “But their echo-chamber effect reignites old anxieties among liberals about evangelical Christians. Some on the left seem suspicious that a firm belief in Jesus equals a desire to take over the world.” Of course, she cited no examples to bolster this narrative-flipping claim. More importantly, she wrote not one more word about the real concerns she had just admitted.

Dominionism is not a myth

“What In Heaven’s Name Is A Dominionist?” Pat Robertson asked on his 700 Club TV show, one of several religious right figures to recently pretend there was nothing to the notion. Funny he should ask. In a 1984 speech in Dallas, Texas, he said:

“What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours – I’m talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance – it’s going to be ours! God’s going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ.”

Furthermore, C Peter Wagner, the intellectual godfather of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), actually wrote a book called Dominion! in 2008. Chapter Three was entitled “Dominion Theology”. When pressed, Peter likes to pretend that his ideas are just garden-variety Christianity, based on Genesis 1:26, in which, before the fall, God gives Adam and Eve dominion over the natural world – a far cry from dominion over other people, who did not even exist at the time, as evangelical critics of this dominionist argument have repeatedly pointed out.

Dominionism is not new 

Dominionist ideas have circulated throughout the religious right for decades prior to Robertson’s 1984 speech. A primary source was the small but influential sect known as Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R J Rushdoony in the 1960s, which advocates replacing American law with Old Testament codes. Centrists like Miller make the mistake of thinking that the small size of Rushdoony’s core of true believers is the full extent of his influence. But this is utterly mistaken. As Michelle Goldberg wrote in Daily Beast, “Rushdoony pioneered the Christian homeschooling movement, as well as the revisionist history, ubiquitous on the religious right, that paints the US as a Christian nation founded on biblical principles. He consistently defended Southern slavery and contrasted it with the greater evils of socialism.”

A second source traces back to the roots of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s, long rejected by orthodox evangelicals because they contradicted scripture and denied primary agency to God – which is why they insist that Christians must actively establish church dominance over all of society, because God can’t do it alone.

The Latter Rain was denounced by the Assemblies of God – the largest American Pentecostal church – in 1949, not solely for dominionist ideology, but for a variety of related beliefs and practices. When similar teachings and practices re-emerged in the guise of the New Apostolic Reformation 50 years later, the Assemblies of God denounced them again in 2000.

This time, however, many Assemblies of God congregations have increasingly accepted the NAR influence. Sarah Palin’s long-time church in Wasilla is one such congregation. The most clear-cut example of NAR dominionism is the so-called “Seven Mountains Mandate”, which holds that dominionist Christians should control the whole world by infiltrating and dominating the “Seven Mountains” of culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.

Dominionism is not a left-wing fantasy 

A number of authors made charges similar to or derived from Joe Carter, web editor of First Things, who wrote: “The term [“dominionism”] was coined in the 1980s by [sociologist Sara] Diamond and is never used outside liberal blogs and websites. No reputable scholars use the term for it is a meaningless neologism that Diamond concocted for her dissertation.”

However, at the same time Diamond was working on her dissertation – published as the book Spiritual Warfare in 1989 – evangelical writer/researcher Albert James Dager was taking similarly critical aim, though from a different direction. In 1986 and ’87, he published a multi-issue essay “Kingdom Theology” in the publication Media Spotlight. In that text he also used the terms “Kingdom Now” or “Dominion” Theology. In 1990, Dager, too, published a book, Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion.

While his main focus was doctrinal error and non-Christian practices and influences, Dager’s work traced dominionism back to the 1940s and even earlier. Many more have followed in his footsteps since then. If you Google the words “dominionism” and “heresy”, you’ll get more than half a million hits. It should be obvious to anyone that conventional conservative Christians have big problems with dominionism – if only the United States’ establishment media could figure out how to use Google.

Dominionism is not an imprecise catch-all term

Despite lingering definitional differences that are common with relatively new terminology, those who study dominionism and related phenomenon in a political framework have an increasingly common and precise terminology that most writers and researchers share. Researcher Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates provided a very useful guide, “The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy”, which addresses issues of terminology from several different perspectives – for example, between “generic dominionism” and specific dominion theologies.

Berlet also draws a distinction between “hard” and “soft” dominionists. “Soft Dominionists are Christian nationalists,” he writes. “They believe that Biblically-defined immorality and sin breed chaos and anarchy. They fear that America’s greatness as God’s chosen land has been undermined by liberal secular humanists, feminists, and homosexuals … Their vision has elements of theocracy, but they stop short of calling for supplanting the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Hard Dominionists add something more to the mix: “They want the United States to be a Christian theocracy. For them the Constitution and Bill of Rights are merely addendums to Old Testament Biblical law.”

Rushdoony’s Christian Reconstructionists clearly fall into the hard dominionist camp. But the NAR seems to straddle the soft/hard division. On the one hand, they clearly do claim that conservative Christians are ordained to run the world, not just US society. Thus, the Seven Mountains Mandate. On the other hand, Wagner and others have argued that the Seven Mountains is compatible with democracy. The state of Hawaii shows how: Early in the 2010 election cycle, both the Republican and the Democratic frontrunners for governor were associated with the NAR. That changed when long-time Congressman Neil Abercrombie joined the race on the Democratic side, and eventually won the race handily. But for a while, the NAR came tantalisingly close to realising their dream, at least in one state – not just to win power, but to occupy all the possible paths to power.

What’s more, in a recent article at Talk2Action, Rachel Tabachnick draws attention to another hedge on Wagner’s part, quoting from Dominion! In a section entitled “Majority Rules”: “If a majority feels that heterosexual marriage is the best choice for a happy and prosperous society, those in the minority should agree to conform – not because they live in a theocracy, but because they live in a democracy. The most basic principle of democracy is that the majority, not the minority, rules and sets the ultimate norms for society.”

This, of course, is utterly false in a liberal democracy, such as the United States. Liberal democracies combine majority rule as a general governing principle with a framework of rights protecting individuals in political minorities from persecution, political repression, and the like. The fact that Wagner so utterly misunderstands the foundations of American democracy shows just how dangerous such “soft” dominionism can be. This same lesson can be drawn from Uganda as well, where several different strains of dominionist theology have combined to bring that nation to the verge of passing a law that will make homosexuality punishable by death. Such is the nature of illiberal dominionist “democracy”.

Europe’s bloody theocratic wars

This brings us, finally, to the serious discussions that dominionists and their enablers, like Miller, are trying to prevent. The first of those is about the very nature of American democracy. For nearly 200 years, Europe was torn apart by a series of religious wars and their bloody aftermath – the major reason that the United States was founded as a secular republic. We’re potentially on the verge of forgetting all that history and suffering through it again, just as we’re now suffering through forgetting the lessons of the Great Depression. Those centuries of war began with the German Peasants’ War of 1524-26, in which more than 100,000 died; continued through the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War on the European continent; and lasted until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). This was the bloody European history of religious intolerance and strife that many, if not most, American colonialists were fleeing from when they came to the New World.

It was also this bloody history that gave rise to the development of classical liberalism, affirming the individual right to religious liberty and replacing the top-down theocratic justification of the state with Locke’s concept of the bottom-up social contract, based on the consent of the governed. The ideas that Locke perfected took generations to develop. Religious tolerance, for example, began as simply a matter of pragmatism: unless people stopped killing each other for differing religious beliefs, war in Europe would never end.

But gradually, the idea took hold that tolerance was a positive good, and key to this new perspective was the recognition that torturing someone to change their beliefs could not produce the desired result of a genuine heartfelt conversion. Thus, the moral rejection of torture – another feature of classical liberalism – had its roots in the evolution of the idea of religious liberty. The idea of utterly forgetting the prolonged bloody history that the United States was born out of is no laughing matter.

The same could be said of the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, with laws based on the Bible. Of course most Americans were Christians at the time, but the leading intellects were decidedly less so, much more influenced by Enlightenment thought. There were many, such as Jefferson, who were better described as Deists, who believed that God had created a rational universe, but did not intervene supernaturally thereafter. They deliberately used terms like “the Creator” and “Nature’s God” to affirm their distinctive, non-Christian view.

Moreover, God was not mentioned at all in the Constitution, and religion was only mentioned to exclude its influence, stating that no religious test should be required for office. Finally, US law was based on British common law, not the Bible. The Supreme Court itself is a common law court, following common law precedents and practices. And British common law traces back to Roman law, which first came to England centuries before Rome adopted the Christian religion.

Of course the intolerant religious right wants us to forget this. How else could they ever gain power, except through massive forgetting of who and what the United States really is? Not to mention who and what they are: the most fundamental enemies of the United States, who would, if they could, return us to the centuries of blood before the US was born, the nightmare out of which the United States awakened.

Theocratic thinking threatens the US today

There are very immediate consequences that flow from the theocratic mindset. You’ll note, for example, that the “Seven Mountains” of culture do not include science. That’s not because dominionists intend to leave science alone, but rather because they see no need to dominate what they can simply cut off, ignore and deny. If science tells them that homosexuality is an inborn trait, why fight that in the realm of science when politics, the media, religion and education offer much, much better places to fight? After all, who says that education has to be based on facts? The same holds true for evolution and global warming as well, not to mention the workings of the economy.

One rightwing denier of dominionist influence, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, even framed his attack as “An unholy war on the Tea Party, while another denier complained that instead of describing the Tea Party as a movement united around concern about big government, many journalists seem to be trying to redefine the colour red by overlaying religious intent and purpose on the movement.

Yet the dominionist connection to the Tea Party goes far beyond just the two candidacies of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Ron Paul, whose extreme anti-government positions helped to fuel the emergence of the Tea Party, has much deeper dominionist connections than either of the two new darlings. During his first term in Congress, one of his aides was Gary North, Rushdoony’s son-in-law, and a leading Reconstructionist in his own right, who has written extensively on so-called “Biblical Capitalism”, an ideology profoundly at odds with traditional Biblical-based teachings on economic justice.

While libertarians once traced their descent from John Locke, and more recently from the deeply anti-Christian Ayn Rand, Reconstructionism represents an increasingly important foundation for their views. A recently released sociology study, “Cultures of the Tea Party”, found that Tea Party supporters are characterised by four dispositions: “authoritarianism, ontological insecurity, libertarianism, and nativism”. Since traditional libertarianism was purportedly the opposite of authoritarianism, this highlights how radically libertarianism has changed – a conclusion that’s echoed by the 2011 Pew Reaserch Political Typology Poll, which found that religious and economic conservatives had completely merged into one single group since 2006 and all previous polling.

What this means in the long run is far from clear. But it strongly suggests a solidfying outlook with deep Reconstructionist sympathies that actually looks at government failure to deal with major issues, such as restoring the economy, as a positive good. If faith in American institutions collapses entirely, then who wouldn’t give Biblical law a shot? The more loudly such people proclaim themselves patriots, the more loudly they cheer for US collapse. It’s not just Obama they want to fail. It’s the very idea of America.

Paul Rosenberg is the Senior Editor of Random Lengths News, a bi-weekly alternative community newsletter.

You can follow Paul on twitter @PaulHRosenberg

Threat to America’s Freedom? It’s Not Islamic Law

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by loonwatch

Imagine, for a minute, that Muslims in America were openly advocating at meetings and conferences to take control of major sectors of public life, such as the government, media, and the law.

Imagine further that Muslims had built law schools, accredited no less, with the agenda to teach its students that America should be governed by Islamic law.

And imagine a little further that the leaders of this Muslim movement to Islamicize America were openly calling for America to become a Muslim nation.

And just imagine that all of the above was being absorbed into a major American political party and that some members of this Muslim mission were in Congress and were also looking to become the next President of the United States.

Of course, there would be mass hysteria and panic at such a notion. But none of the above is actually happening. Instead, replace Muslim with Christian and that is precisely what is currently occurring in America.

But of course, certain Islamophobes would have us worry about an imagined threat from Muslim-Americans–who make up a measly 2% of the U.S. population–rather than the Christian groups out there who are actively working to Christianize America, and who have been working at this for over three decades with the aid of one of the two main political parties.

Many of these evangelical Christian groups are actively looking to restrict the rights of women, members of the LGBT community, and to force their religious viewpoint on to the rest of the country.  Worse yet, advocates of Christian dominionism call for world conquest, to subjugate the infidel nations of the world to Christian domination.

Here is an excellent article from Sarah Posner on dominionism (emphasis added)–just imagine how utterly insane Islamophobes would go if Muslim were substituted for Christian here:

The Christian right’s “dominionist” strategy

by Sarah Posner

An article in the Texas Observer last month about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s relationship with followers of a little-known neo-Pentecostal movement sparked a frenzied reaction from many commentators: Dominionism! Spiritual warfare! Strange prophecies!

All the attention came in the weeks before and after “The Response,” Perry’s highly publicized prayer rally modeled on what organizers believe is the “solemn assembly” described in Joel 2, in which “end-times warriors” prepare the nation for God’s judgment and, ultimately, Christ’s return. This “new” movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, is one strand of neo-Pentecostalism that draws on the ideas of dominionism and spiritual warfare. Its adherents display gifts of the spirit, the religious expression of Pentecostal and charismatic believers that includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and a belief in signs, wonders and miracles. These evangelists also preach the “Seven Mountains” theory of dominionism: that Christians need to take control of different sectors of public life, such as government, the media and the law.

The NAR is not new, but rather derivative of charismatic movements that came before it. Its founder, C. Peter Wagner, set out in the 1990s to create more churches, and more believers. Wagner’s movement involves new jargon, notably demanding that believers take control of the “Seven Mountains” of society (government, law, media and so forth), but that’s no different from other iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter these fields so that they are controlled by Christians.

After Perry’s prayer rally, Rachel Maddow featured a segment on her MSNBC show in which she warned,

“The main idea of the New Apostolic Reformation theology is that they are modern day prophets and apostles. They believe they have a direct line to God … the way that they’re going to clear the way for it [the end of the world] is by infiltrating and taking over politics and government.”

Maddow’s ahistorical treatment of the NAR, however, overlooked several important realities. For anyone who has followed the growth of neo-Pentecostal movements, and in particular the coalition-building between the political operatives of the religious right and these lesser-known but still influential religious leaders, the NAR is just another development in the competitive, controversial, outrageous, authoritarian and often corrupt tapestry of the world of charismatic evangelists.

Before the NAR came along, plenty of charismatic leaders believed themselves to be prophets and apostles with a direct line to God. They wrote books about spiritual warfare, undergirded by conspiracy theories about liberals and Satan and homosexuality and feminism and more (my own bookshelves are filled with them). They preached this on television. They preached it at conferences. They made money from it. They all learned from each other.

Before the NAR, Christian right figures promoted dominionism, too, and the GOP courted these religious leaders for the votes of their followers. Despite a recent argument by the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg that “we have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before,” it’s been there since at least 1980. Michele Bachmann is a product of it; so was Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan pandered to it; so did both Bushes; so does Perry.

In 2007, I saw Cindy Jacobs and other “apostles” lay hands on Shirley Forbes, wife of Rep. Randy Forbes, the founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which boasts some Democrats as members and many of the GOP’s leading lights. “You are going to be the mother of an army,” they told Forbes, prophesying that she would “speak the power of the word into politics and government. Hallelujah!”

The idea that Christians have a sacred duty to get involved in politics, the law and media, and otherwise bring their influence to bear in different public spheres is the animating principle behind the religious right. If you attend a Values Voters Summit, the annual Washington confab hosted by the Family Research Council, you’ll hear speakers urging young people to go into media, or view Hollywood as a “mission field.” That’s because they insist these institutions have been taken over by secularists who are causing the downfall of America with their anti-Christian beliefs.

A few days ago, the Washington Post’s religion columnist, Lisa Miller, took Goldberg and Maddow to task for overhyping dominionism as a plot to take over the world. Miller, though, misses the boat, too, by neglecting to acknowledge and describe the infrastructure the religious right has built, driven by the idea of dominionism.

Oral Roberts University Law School, where Bachmann earned her law degree, was founded with this very notion in mind: to create an explicitly Christian law school. Herb Titus, the lawyer converted by Christian Reconstructionism who was instrumental in its launch, describes his mission in developing a Christian law school as a fulfillment of a “dominion mandate.” After ORU was absorbed into Regent University in the 1980s, Titus was the mentor to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who last week was elevated to chair of the Republican Governors Association and is widely speculated to be a possible vice-presidential pick.

Christian Reconstructionists, and their acolytes of the Constitution Party, believe America should be governed by biblical law. In her 1995 book, “Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States,” Sara Diamond describes the most significant impact of Reconstructionism on dominionism:

“the diffuse influence of the ideas that America was ordained a Christian nation and that Christians, exclusively, were to rule and reign.” While most Christian right activists were “not well-versed in the arcane teachings” of Christian Reconstructionism, she wrote, “there was a wider following for softer forms of dominionism.”

For the Christian right, it’s more a political strategy than a secret “plot” to “overthrow” the government, even as some evangelists describe it in terms of “overthrowing” the powers of darkness (i.e., Satan), and even some more radical, militia-minded groups do suggest such a revolution. In general, though, the Christian right has been very open about its strategy and has spent a lot of money on it: in the law, as just one example, there are now two ABA-accredited Christian law schools, at Regent (which absorbed the ORU law school) and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. There are a number of Christian law firms, like the Alliance Defense Fund, formed as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU. Yet outsiders don’t notice that this is all an expression of dominionism, until someone from that world, like Bachmann, hits the national stage.

John Turner, University of South Alabama historian and author of “Bill Bright and the Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America,” said that the NAR’s “Seven Mountains” dominionism is “just a catchy phrase that encapsulates what Bright and many other evangelical leaders were already doing — trying to increase Christian influence (they would probably use more militant phrases like ‘capture’) in the spheres of education, business and government.”

Bright, like Perry’s prayer cohorts, believed America was in trouble (because of the secularists) and needed to repent. One of the most well-known evangelicals in the country, Bright had agreed to let Virginia Beach preacher John Gimenez, a charismatic, organize the rally, despite evangelical discomfort with charismatic religious expression. In his book, Turner describes the Washington for Jesus rally of 1980:

From the platform, Bright offered his interpretation of the source of the country’s problems, asserting that “[w]e’ve turned from God and God is chastening us.” “You go back to 1962 and [196]3 [when the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer and Bible-reading],” Bright argued, “and you’ll discovered a series of plagues that came upon America.” Bright cited the Vietnam War, increased drug use, racial conflict, Watergate, and a rise in divorce, teenage pregnancy, and alcoholism as the result of those decisions. “God is saying to us,” he concluded, “‘Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!’” … “Unless we repent and turn from our sin,” warned Bright, “we can expect to be destroyed.”

Unlike Perry’s rally, Ronald Reagan the candidate wasn’t present at the Washington for Jesus rally. At a 2007 gathering at his church, Gimenez recounted how he and Bright later met with President Reagan, and Bright told him, “You were elected on April 29, 1980, when the church prayed that God’s will would be done.”

In August 1980, though, after Reagan had clinched the nomination, he did appear at a “National Affairs Briefing” in Texas, where televangelist James Robison (also instrumental in organizing Perry’s event) declared, “The stage is set. We’ll either have a Hitler-type takeover, or Soviet domination, or God is going to take over this country.” After Robison spoke, Reagan took the stage and declared to the 15,000 activists assembled by Moral Majority co-founder Ed McAteer, “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.”

That was also a big moment for Huckabee, who worked as Robison’s advance man. It was even imitated by then-candidate Barack Obama, who met with a group of evangelicals and charismatics in Chicago and repeated Reagan’s infamous line. Obama’s group included publisher Stephen Strang (an early endorser of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential bid) and his son Cameron, whose magazines Charisma and Relevant help promote the careers of the self-declared modern-day prophets and apostles. Huckabee appeared with Lou Engle at his 2008 The Call rally on the National Mall (like Perry’s, billed as a “solemn assembly”) in which Engle exhorted his prayer warriors to battlesatanic forces to defeat “Antichrist legislation.”

When I interviewed former Bush family adviser Doug Wead for my 2008 book, “God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters,” he gave me a lengthy memo he compiled for George H.W. Bush in 1985, to prepare him for his 1988 presidential run. In the memo, he identified a thousand “targets,” religious leaders across the country whose followers, Wead believed, could be mobilized to the voting booth.

In my book, I examined the theology and politics of the Word of Faith movement (also known as the prosperity gospel) and how Republicans cultivated the leading lights of the movement. Primarily because of television, but also because of the robust (and profitable) speaking circuit these evangelists maintain, they have huge audiences. All that was in spite of — just as the scrutiny of NAR figures now is revealing — outlandish, strange and even heretical theology. What’s more, Word of Faith figures have endlessly been embroiled in disputes not just with their theological critics, but with watchdogs and former parishioners who charge they took their money for personal enrichment, promising that God would bring them great health and wealth if they would only “sow a seed.”

At Gimenez’s 2007 event, Engle and the other “apostles” were not the stars; rather, the biggest draw was Word of Faith televangelist Kenneth Copeland. In 1998, writing to Karl Rove, Wead called Copeland “arguably one of the most important religious leaders in the nation.” At Gimenez’s church, Copeland, who has boasted that his ministry has brought in more the $1 billion over his career, preached for two hours. The sanctuary was packed, with the audience hanging on every word. Gimenez introduced him as “God’s prophet,” and Copeland urged them to “get rid of the evening news and the newspaper,” study “the uncompromised word of the Holy Ghost,” and take “control over principalities.”

The commenters who have jumped on the NAR frequently overstate the size of its following. Engle’s events, for example, are often smaller than advertised, including a poorly attended revival at Liberty University in April 2010, where one would expect a ready-made audience. When I’ve covered these sorts of events, including smaller conferences by local groups inspired by figures they see on television, it’s often hard to see how the often meandering preachers are going to take over anything, even while it’s clear they cultivate an authoritarian hold on their followers. I meet a lot of sincere, frequently well-intentioned people who believe they must be “obedient” to God’s word as imparted by the “prophets.”

Most chilling, though, is the willingness to engage in what’s known in the Word of Faith world as “revelation knowledge,” or believing, as Copeland exhorted his audience to do, that you learn nothing from journalism or academia, but rather just from the Bible and its modern “prophets.” It is in this way that the self-styled prophets have had their greatest impact on our political culture: by producing a political class, and its foot soldiers, who believe that God has imparted them with divine knowledge that supersedes what all the evil secularists would have you believe.

Last week CNN’s Jack Cafferty asked, “How much does it worry you if both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have ties to dominionism?” That worry crops up every election cycle. If people really understood dominionism, they’d worry about it between election cycles.

However, it’s the Moozlums we’re supposed to worry about.

To clarify though, LoonWatch is not pressing the panic button: the threat from the religious right is very real, but we don’t think it’s a doomsday situation.  All we’re saying is that the threat from the Christian right is certainly greater than this imaginary threat from Muslims and all this Sharia-nonsense.

Murfreesboro: Attorney Vows to Maintain Fight against Mosque

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by loonwatch

(hat tip: Eric Allen Bell)

ISLAMIC CENTER LAWSUIT: Attorney vows to maintain fight against mosque

The attorney representing residents suing Rutherford County over a proposed mosque solicited the public Friday for help — and money — while pledging to continue the court fight.

“The plaintiffs fully intend to continue to gather facts and evidence and proceed to a final hearing,” Murfreesboro lawyer Joe M. Brandon Jr. states in a “response” sent to media. “It is anticipated that the final hearing will occur after the full completion of discovery. This should be some time over the course of the next year.”

Brandon is representing plaintiffs Kevin Fisher, Lisa Moore and Henry Golczynski who filed suit after the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro acquired site plan approval May 24 from the county’s Regional Planning Commission to build a 52,960-square-foot community center with a mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro’s city limits.

The lawsuit challenges whether the county provided sufficient notice to the public about the agenda item and also questions whether Islam is a religion and should be afforded land use rights as with other churches.

Chancellor Robert Corlew Jr. concluded after several days of testimony spread over three months this fall that “Islam is in fact a religion” and found no grounds to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the mosque’s construction.

Brandon, though, notes in his letter that at the conclusion of the temporary hearing, the trial court ruled, ” … we are startled to find that the case advocated by the Defendants as the authoritative holding that Islam is a religion was actually a case wherein the Supreme Court held that display of aChristmas tree with an angel proclaiming ‘Glory to God in the highest’ on the stairway of a county courthouse had the effect of endorsing a Christian message.”

The trial court went on to state, “[w]e stress in our holding that there is a distinction between a legal finding that Islam is a religion compared with a religious finding that Islam is a religion. The religious scholars may debate for a lengthy period of time whether Islam meets their definition of a religion.”

Brandon argued repeatedly during the hearing that the Islamic Center poses a threat to the community based on the tenants of Shariah Law, and therefore should not be deemed a religion. It’s a point that Brandon says he will continue to challenge at the full hearing in the case.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, meanwhile, has been charging ahead with its building plans on 15 acres. The congregation hopes to submit more detailed plans to obtain a building permit by March or April, said Saleh Sbenaty, a planning committee member for the Muslim congregation.

“We’re just finishing up the grading,” Sbenaty said during a Friday night phone interview. “The grading is taking more time because of the weather. After the grading is done, we will send the whole package for the building permit.”

Phase I of the building plans will be in the 10,000- to 11,000-square-foot range and include a reception hall that will also serve as a prayer area, an office for the imam (religious leader) and a small meeting room that can also serve as a nursery.

If enough money is available in Phase I, the ICM will also seek to build two outdoor pavilions and a playground between the two, added Sbenaty, an 18-year MTSU professor who teaches courses in electronics and computers for the Engineering Technology Department.

Long-term plans include a formal mosque area for worship, classrooms for weekend religious study, a gym, indoor pool, more offices, a multipurpose sports field, a basketball/tennis court and a private cemetery for ICM members.

Brandon, in addition to vowing to continue efforts to halt the project, implored anyone with information relevant to the case to forward it to his office.

“Additionally, should anyone feel led to make a donation toward attorney’s fees or other mandatory related costs, please give me a call, wherein, these matters can be discussed in depth,” Brandon states.

 

Bradlee Dean: Keith Ellison Pushing Sharia Law through Homosexual Agenda

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by loonwatch

Say what? First it was the Quran swearing controversy, then Ellison was accused of being more dangerous than AlQaeda and now…this.

And can you believe it, Michelle Bachman and other politicians are fundraising for these guys.

Bradlee Dean: Keith Ellison is advancing Sharia law through ‘homosexual agenda’

By Andy Birkey |(Minnesota Independent)

Bradlee Dean of the religious ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International believes Rep. Keith Ellison’s support for LGBT rights is part of his strategy to bring Sharia law to the United States. On his radio show Saturday, Dean said that members of the LGBT community are fools for supporting Ellison and that the Minnesota Democrat is “adamant about overthrowing the United States Constitution.”

Sharia law is the sacred law of Islam and derives its condemnation of homosexuality from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, as do fellow Abrahamic traditions Christianity and Judaism. As with Christian and Jewish approaches to LGBT issues, Muslim interpretations of  Sharia laws on homosexuality vary widely, ranging from full support to prescribing a death sentence for it.

“I said time and time again that there is a correlation between the Muslims and the homosexual agenda, and we have a couple of fools in the state of Minnesota that are putting a rope around their neck and they just don’t realize it,” said Dean http://below. “Here, let me give it to you this way: Keith Ellison is a Muslim.”

Dean said that Ellison’s support for protections for LGBT people from hate crimes and for same-sex marriage is part of an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and implement Sharia law.

“Why is he so adamant about overthrowing the Constitution as it is right now? Because if you pay attention to the plow he’s planting the seed,” Dean said. “He’s trying to come through with Sharee [sic] law.”

Raising his voice, he urged his listeners, “Does somebody want to talk to the homosexual community in the state of Minnesota and tell them what he is doing? Go online, folks! You love the homosexuals so much then why don’t you tell them who they’ve appointed as their chairperson? He’s a Muslim!”

He continued, “Hello? Why is he after it? Because he wants to bring in Sharee [sic] law through the homosexual agenda!”

“They are using the homosexuals as a political battering ram to bring forth what? Sharee [sic] law.”

LGBT leaders in the United States are “ignorant,” Dean said, for allowing Ellison to serve as co-chair of the House LGBT Caucus.

“What is Keith up to? I think we have to ask the question, Keith,” said Dean. “I’m just asking the gay communities what’s up with Keith Ellison because they are so foolish, blind and stupid not to figure out that their vice chair is a Muslim. This is no hidden secret, folks. This is in America. Who is this guy working for?”

“Why is this guy advocating the overthrow of the United States Constitution in the state of Minnesota?”

Dean then played an audio clip of an unidentified Muslim who said that Sharia law calls for the execution of homosexuals.

“I would say to the homosexuals: You better keep your eyes peeled. You are playing the fools. I knew there was a correlation. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. And the homosexuals are using the Muslims to do it, and the Muslims are using the homosexuals to do it. The homosexuals are playing the fool to the Muslims.”

He continued, “That’s how foolish these homosexuals are in Minnesota. God is not mocked. You can’t spit against heaven and not expect to fall upon your own back. And that’s exactly what’s happening to those that want to play the devil’s advocate.”

To Ellison, Dean said, “Keith you can call me any time. Let’s see how much of an American you really are.” He added the Ellison’s office has not returned his calls. Ellison’s office has not yet responded to the Minnesota Independent’s query about whether Dean has called or to offer comment on Dean’s statements.

Ellison has been forthright about his beliefs about Islam and homosexuality, and he has repeatedly said that Islam has taught him the importance of civil rights and social justice.

Earlier this year, Ellison addressed the Unitarian Universalist National Convention in a speech that covered themes of faith, love and abundance. “There’s enough for the straight and the gay,” he said. “There’s enough for the people who were born in America and the new immigrants. There’s enough for the blacks, there’s enough for the whites, there’s enough for the Latinos, there’s enough for the Asians, there’s enough for the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus! There’s enough, everybody!”

And in an interview with the Muslim Peace Fellowship he stated unequivocally that he opposes violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

“I’m not asking people to embrace homosexuality,” he said. “I’m saying it’s wrong and immoral to kill them, beat them or exclude them from working. You don’t have to like them. Leave ‘em alone. Let them live their lives and let God decide if He will judge them, as He will judge us all. That’s all I’m saying.”

The Minnesota Independent emailed You Can Run But You Cannot Hide for clarification on Dean’s statements about Ellison and whether the group believed Ellison would try to implement Sharia law that would call for the execution of homosexuals.

“Due to the fact that the Muslims are the ones who would enforce Sharia Law and execute homosexuals, and being that Keith Ellison is a Muslim, you should be asking him that question,” a spokesperson replied. “That is our point.”

“I think the problem here is that Bradlee is trying to warn you of your sin before God for your good, and time and time again, you treat Bradlee like he is your enemy for doing so,” the email continued. “He has stuck his neck out for you many times. Bradlee’s heart is out of a sincere and real love to turn all men from sin to God.”

“You should be writing an article about what the Muslims are saying, since they are the ones who want to execute homosexuals. We are here merely to look out for you in that sense. Why do you turn on those who warn you?”

But Dean seemed to applaud Muslims that call for such executions. On his May 15 radio show, Dean said:

“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.”

Dean and his ministry have close ties to the Republican Party and GOP elected officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State and current state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, and state Rep. Dan Severson. Rep. Michele Bachmann has fundraised for the group extensively in recent years as well.

 

Fischer: God Honors Those Who Inflict “Massive Casualties” Because “Christianity is Not a Religion of Pacifism”

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by loonwatch

Fischer says inflicting “massive casualites” is Christian. He cites massacres in the Old Testament as his proof. Does this mean Christianity is a violent religion that supports massacres? Imagine if a Muslim had said what Fisher said.

Fischer: God Honors Those Who Inflict “Massive Casualties” Because “Christianity is Not a Religion of Pacifism”

(Right-wing Watch)

Bryan Fischer responds to the latest outrage he has provoked with his recent blog post decrying “the  feminization of the Medal of Honor.”

As he typically does in these situations, Fischer reacts by accusing everyone else of intentionally misrepresenting his point and then proceeds to “clarify” it by reiterating his position in such a way that it makes the extent of his extremism all the more obvious, as if the problem was that somehow people just misunderstood him the first time.

And so we end up with posts like this in which he explains that all he was saying was that we as a nation need to start honoring soldiers who kill lots of people because such actions are greatly pleasing to God:

The Scriptures certainly know nothing of such squeamishness. Remember what drove King Saul into a jealous rage was when the women of Israel commemorated David’s exploits in song:

“Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7).

And this was not the last of David’s exploits in just wars. He went down to the town of Keilah where he “fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow” (1 Samuel 23:5).

Then he went after the Amalekites, and we are told that “David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who mounted camels and fled” (1 Samuel 30:17).

Again, “David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer” (2 Samuel 5:25).

Further we read in 2 Samuel 8, “David defeated the Philistines and subdued them…he defeated Moab…David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah…David struck down 22,000 men of the Syrians…and the LORD gave victory to David everywhere he went…and David made a name for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt…and the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went” (vv. 1,2,3,5,6,13,14).

And this, remember, was “the man after (God’s) heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

Christianity is not a religion of pacifism. Remember that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers who came to him to lay down their arms, even when they asked him directly, “what shall we do?” (Luke 3:14).

War is certainly a terrible thing, and should only be waged for the highest and most just of causes. But if the cause is just, then there is great honor in achieving military success, success which should be celebrated and rewarded.

The bottom line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process. What I’m saying is that it’s time we started imitating God’s example again.

I guess you could say that Fischer is more of a Psalm 137 Christian than a Matthew 5 Christian.

 

Pat Robertson’s Organizations Persist in Calls for Probe of Congressional Muslim Staffers

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by loonwatch
Pat Robertson

Robertson’s Organizations Persist in Calls for Probe of Congressional Muslim Staffers

by Sarah Posner (ReligionDispatches)

Under the headline, “Calls Rise to Probe Capitol Hill Muslim Prayer Sessions” yesterday, Pat Robertson’s news channel, CBN News, was able to offer only one organization that has called for a probe of the Congressional Muslim Staff Association: Robertson’s own American Center for Law and Justice.

As I’ve reported here and here, after Fox News ran a report claiming that speakers with terrorist ties spoke at Congressional prayer meetings, the ACLJ called for a Justice Department investigation of the CMSA. Suhail Khan, a Muslim Republican who has worked as a staffer for a Republican Congressman and as a political appointee in the Bush administration, and who currently serves on the board of the American Conservative Union,called the Fox report nothing but “anti-Muslim bigotry”and noted that Robertson is “notorious for anti-Islamic comments.”

On its Newswatch program, CBN attempted to create the impression that calls for law enforcement to intervene are somehow on the rise. Yet the only source for the story was Jordan Sekulow, the ACLJ’s Director of International Operations.

“The media didn’t want to report this,” Sekulow asserted, claiming they feared being called Islamophobes or bigots if they reported that the CMSA was hosting terrorist speakers. “When we started talking about this,” said Sekulow, “immediately the left and the kind of pro-Islamic world immediately cries bigot and says, why do you want to investigate? The reason you want to investigate is of course because we’re Muslims.” Sekulow went on to claim that individuals with terror ties were invited to prayer meetings, which, as Khan told me earlier this week, are not official CMSA functions, but are run under the auspices of the House Chaplain. (See theHouse Chaplain’s website for evidence of the prayer meetings being open to the public, like other religious meetings held under the Chaplain’s auspices.) What’s more, neither Fox nor ALCJ have produced evidence any of these individuals were invited by the CMSA; as Khan noted, the prayer meetings are open to the public.

Yet Sekulow went on, “Why we’re calling for an investigation — who was picking these people to speak is what we want to know.” He went on to claim — something already disputed by Khan — that the Council on American Islamic Relations chooses the speakers. “This group,” said Sekulow, referring to the CMSA, “meets under the United States Capitol dome, they actually meet at the United States Capitol, at taxpayer expense. If CAIR is running prayer meetings there, and bringing in known terrorists, the American people deserve to know about it.”

As the interview went on, it became clear that Sekulow’s goal is to end the Muslim prayers at the Capitol by portraying Muslim organizations as necessarily having ties to terrorists, a common smoke and mirrors routine used by the right. “We see now,” he said, “that when we scratch the surface of most Islamic organizations we find something that we don’t hope to find. we find that if you bring in speakers, they’re connected to terrorism.” He identified this as “a problem within Islam. As Christians, we can’t change what’s happening internally in Islam, but we cannot be afraid of exposing the truth of what is happening here in our US Capitol. Our hope is that the truth comes out, that people see the associations here, and that this group isn’t able to meet anymore.”

As I noted on Friday, the vice-president of the CMSA (which, as Khan pointed out, doesn’t organize the prayer meetings but there is overlap between its members and people attending the prayer meetings, obviously) is a staffer for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sekulow is a prominent Republican activist — he was the National Youth Director for the Bush-Cheney in 2004, and was a consultant to Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign, to which his father, Jay, the ACLJ’s Chief Counsel, also served as an advisor. Yet Sekulow is claiming that group for which a staffer for the ranking Senate Republican serves as an officer has ties to terrorists. McConnell’s office still has not responded to a request for comment.

 

Jews on First: Special Report from the CUFI Conference

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics, Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by loonwatch

Jews on First has an excellent report on the CUFI Conference that is a must read.

Inside CUFI’s 2010 Washington “Summit”

Christians United for Israel’s (CUFI) fifth annual Washington Summit, held this past July 20-22, 2010, highlighted once again the persistence and institutionalization of CUFI as the American Christian Zionist organization. As with its previous Summits, it was repeatedly emphasized that t

he support and love that CUFI and its members have for Israel and the Jewish people – to be sure a very particular kind of support – was based on the Biblical mandate of Christians to do just that. Of course, this is not to be dismissed as afalse reason for its support. Indeed the proliferation and popularity of the “prosperity gospel” in contemporary conservative Protestantism has ensured that the repeated refrain of Genesis 12:3 (I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you) resonates among the (Christian) leaders of CUFI and its members. This is because it funnels the belief in personal “blessings” (which are almost always considered in financial terms) and national blessings (the furtherance of a conservative social agenda and American global dominance) into the ultimate investment: Israel.

This point was emphasized within the first hour of the opening night of the conference by Diana Hagee (wife of Rev. John Hagee) who pointed out that: “we need to spend more time praying for Israel and less time praying for our personal needs. Life is going to get a whole lot better for us, and trust me, all those other things (one’s personal desires) are going to be taken care of [if we bless Israel correctly].” While not false reasons for support (irrespective of how misguided they might be), it was evident that the repeated invocation also served a didactic function for those in attendance – many of whom, as in previous years, cited the importance of Israel in the end-times as reasons for their support – to let them know how they should be responding to questions regarding their support for Israel.

Despite this, the subtle invocations of symbolic eschatological language and logic were evident, not only in the words of the speakers, but also in the jubilant responses from the audience when such symbolism was used. And really, in the context of CUFI, symbolism is all that is needed to convey the eschatological underpinnings of its goals and their mission, despite the sustained refrain to the contrary. This is because the particular end-times message has been around long enough and is more comprehensively conveyed in other mediums that allusion is sufficient to engender the desired understanding from the audience, while not alienating those who don’t understand or share the same beliefs.

The use of symbolic language, in a particularly religious context was most evident in the opening session of prayer, in which attendees were instructed on how to effectively pray for Israel, and taught the purpose of their mission. Significantly, the opening prayer session was used as a moment to consecrate the conference and the role of attendees as God’s divine agents at a particular point in history (the history of the future), and that they would be blessed accordingly for serving God in this way. In Diana Hagee’s words: “God use me, ’til I draw my last breath or better yet till the trumpet sounds!” (That is, until the rapture occurs).

Diana Hagee further elaborated CUFI’s prophetic mission when she likened her husband to a modern day prophet:

Watchmen can see into the distance, and there have been three people in history with this prophetic power. Theodore Herzl – although being an unlikely candidate for God’s will (as a secular Jew) fulfilled it (and it was made clear that this was concomitant with the help of early Christian Zionists) by pushing for the creation of modern Israel. The second person was Ze’ev Jabotinsky for calling Jews out of Europe prior to the Holocaust. The third is John Hagee. Four years ago, John Hagee called together over 400 leaders to start CUFI and at the time things were good; we had a Christian who supported Israel in the White House and there was little trouble. But he said that in its fifth year we “will know why we are here.” And now we are in our fifth year and we know why we are here.

The implication of this – which was not lost on the audience – was that now, the Obama Administration is serving the cause of evil. It is applying further pressure on the Israeli administration to negotiate peace with its Palestinian neighbors, while also attempting to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world – two things which are themselves considered to be harbingers of the end-times because of the “false peace” brought about by the antichrist, and also the establishment of a one-world government, to which international cooperation and diplomacy are frequently portrayed as precursors.

The opening night of the conference coincided with the start of Tisha B’av, the Jewish commemoration and mourning of the destruction of the first and second Temples. It is difficult to discern whether or not Tisha B’av was taken into account prior to the organization of the conference. When asking whether attendees knew what it was, Diana Hagee claimed a willful ignorance, relating that when Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg used the words “Tisha B’av”, she didn’t know what it was and thought he could have just as easily been “ordering a sandwich.” Although the comment was meant to be light-hearted it seemed to betray a distinct lack of respect for Jewish tradition from an organization that emphatically portrays itself as an embodiment of modern philo-Semitism (admiration for Jews). Nevertheless, the customary reading of the Book of Lamentations proceeded to the delight of the Christian attendees. This commemoration of Tisha B’av at the conference seemed to perform another function: It further consecrated the event, as an historical one of the coming together of Christians and Jews, but more importantly it defined the Jewish speakers at the conference as “real Jews,” conferring to them a much greater sense of legitimacy and authority because of their religious devotion. Such adulation is in keeping with our report and reflections on the 2008 Summit (which can be found here.)

The religious and motivational significance of this opening night should not be underestimated. It set the tone for the rest of the conference, which was slowly emptied of overt theological reference to focus on politics and the more practical reasons that Christians need to be supporting Israel, instilling the belief that they have been brought up by God for a mission “at such a time as this.” It conveyed to the Christian attendees that they were “walking in the mantle of Esther” – a reference to Queen Esther who saved all the Jews from annihilation, as celebrated during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Importantly for today, the parallel is rendered even more effective due to the fact that the Book of Esther is set in ancient Persia – modern Iran – the current thorn in the side of neoconservatives and also a country with a prominent role in the eschatology of Christian Zionists. Therefore the neoconservative message they received at the various tutorials during the proceeding days became imbued with a sacred meaning despite the very worldly hegemonic goals of those espousing them.

Israel 101: The Basics of the Arab Israeli Conflict
At one of the educational breakout sessions entitled: Israel 101: The Basics of the Arab Israeli Conflict, Gary Bauer opened the session, highlighting the salience of fear and emotion used to garner support and to frame issues within a wider cosmic battle by using his time to speak explicitly about 9/11. The central thrust of Bauer’s argument, was that “the attackers on 9/11, thepeople causing havoc throughout the Middle East were not created by poverty or social injustice, they grew out of radical Islam.” Palestinians were further painted with a broad brush as extremists, while strains of thought that gave the Palestinians a sense of humanity were similarly disparaged when Bauer later noted that:

It is has become an accepted fact among America’s elites that the great majority of the Palestinian people want to live in peace, side by side with the Israeli people – I’m sorry, somebody needs to prove it to me… The reality, ladies and gentlemen is this: evil men, who worship death, they brag about. Evil men who worship death, at this very moment are planning for you and for me, and for Israelis and for free men and women all over the world, sorrows unimaginable to us.

He later went on to state that he does not believe “any peace process will work in the Middle East, until this evil philosophy has been defeated. And then – and only then – Israel will be secure, America will be secure, and we, thank God, will have avoided another dark age.” This statement furthered a theme that was evident throughout the conference, which began with the divine mandate given to CUFI by its leaders on the opening night: America and Israel are engaged in a cosmic battle between good and evil, the success of which must be ensured to continue to curry God’s favor for the West. Moreover, it subtly shows the continued hostility that CUFI has towards the peace process, preferring to focus on defeating “this evil philosophy”, which appeared to be code for an unabated continuity of the “war on terrorism.”

Bauer was followed by AIPAC’s Jeff Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn opened his speech using language that spoke directly to the eschatological hopes and dreams of many Christian Zionists, describing Israel as “not just a Jewish issue, it is [also] a Christian issue, it is an American issue, it is an issue of importance to the Western world – and I think ultimately, it is an issue of great importance to all of civilization.” That is to say, Mendelsohn was engaging Christian Zionists in their belief that Israel is the key to end-times prophecy and the place where God’s millennial kingdom will be established after the tribulation; it is the epicenter where civilization will continue after the current world has been rid of evil.

The Iranian Threat
As in previous years enmity towards Iran maintained a strong foothold throughout the conference. During the second breakout session, The Iranian Threat, self-described CUFI “repeat offender” and former Reagan official, Frank Gaffney, described Iran as being “probably within months of operationalizing” its “incipient nuclear capabilities.” Gaffney then told the audience that Iran could use one of these weapons against the United States in a “catastrophic attack that could literally destroy the country” through the use of electromagnetic pulse (EMP), a favorite line that John Hagee has also towed in his numerous books on prophecy. 9/11 was again intoned to remind attendees of the threat purportedly facing the United States and to link Iran to those events, whenGaffney described jihad as “the violent form of terror that we have all come to know particularly since 9/11 but that actually, arguably, was first waged against us back in 1979 by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

While reminding the audience of this ominous threat, Gaffney quickly altered his focus to the more subtle (and potentially more fear-inducing) threat of “stealth jihad” and the notion that Iran and the rest of the “Muslim world” were unequivocally bent on establishing a global theocracy that would rule over each one of us.

The idea that Iran and other more generic threats from Islam were “stealing a march on us” through this stealth jihad was discussed in terms of the availability of “Shariah compliant finance” as an insidious threat to our way of life: “It is afflicting freedom loving people not just in the Middle East, but Europe, Canada, Latin America, and yes here in the United States as well. We must do what we can to save our country, to save Israel, from these assorted threats. We need to be informed about this one most especially.”

The “Ground Zero Mosque” was highlighted as the most ominous characterization of this threat, and elicited the most emotional response from the audience. In Gaffney’s words:

Right now, there is a fight brewing over whether we will accede to the latest assertion of Shariah’s dominance of our ultimate, inevitable submission to this program, within what I like to call ‘spitting distance’ of what is arguably for most Americans today, the most sacred ground in this country. I’m talking about Ground Zero. There, in keeping with the traditions of Shariah…. adherents to Shariah, people who have made it absolutely explicit they intend to bring it to America, are now proposing to build within 600 feet within the World Trade Center site, a 13-story building, $100 million for Shariah…. It is part of this supremacist agenda of symbolically and for all time demonstrating the triumph of this Islamic program, on our most sacred soil. I say to you ladies and gentlemen, it is not about faith; Shariah is a totalitarian, political program. It is about conquest. It is about the destruction of freedom of religion, and indeed all civil liberties … those who adhere to it are our absolutely immutable enemies! They must be defeated!

Clifford May, president of the conservative “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies”, also appealed to the attendees’ belief in their divine mission, letting them know during the opening of his talk that they were “doing God’s work.” His talk, followed a similar line to Gaffney’s, warning the audience of the goals the Iranian Mullahs’ desires to bring the Western World under the control of an Islamic Caliphate. May further entrenched Gaffney’s point that “once shariah get its nose, its camel’s nose, in the tent, the beast will follow.” May then spent most of his talk, traversing quickly between statements by Iranian officials and other leaders in the Muslim world about their purportedly unified effort to bring down the West.

Controversial and incendiary comments about a pre-emptive strike on Iran – which many ChristianZionists see as a catalyst for an attack on Israel purportedly prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39 – that have been made by John Hagee at past conferences were notably absent from this year’s Summit. However, May was able to effectively promote the idea by putting the words into the mouth of the ambassador for the United Arab Emirates, as May paraphrased him:

We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. By we [the ambassador] apparently meant the more moderate countries of the Middle East. He went on to add that if sanctions failed to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons military force will be the only option left, and it must not be ruled out.

In describing the Iranian threat of nuclear capabilities, Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, also created a sense of urgency. Like the speakers before him, Satloff used some vague terms that are familiar to Christian Zionists regarding the end times, suggesting that the short time needed for Iran to achieve nuclear capability meant that it was “five minutes to midnight.” Anyone familiar with John Hagee’s book From Daniel to Doomsday or other literature on prophecy will know that certain prophetic events are often demarcated based on their length of time from midnight.

To Satloff’s credit he did speak on the importance of the Green movement in Iran and the reality that the country itself is divided, rather than portraying the country as a unified force where the enitre population seeks to destroy the West and Israel through any means necessary. However, this assertion was undercut by Gaffney later during the question and answer period when Gaffney argued that: “Time is running out to support the Greens. We had best be about the business of preparing for military action,” to which the crowd responded far more enthusiastically than they did to Satloff’s suggestion of the potential to reach out and help the Green movement.

Lobbying Congress
During the “Civics 101″ session CUFI’s Executive Director, David Brog took time to steer attendees down a particular path: appeal to American civil religion, but don’t reference your explicit beliefs. He instructed attendees to “tell your congressman that you are a Christian and you are here for onereason and one reason only: Israel…. It’s a Christian issue, and more importantly, it’s an American issue.” Something that again subtly speaks to the belief among Christian Zionists that their, and America’s, failure to support Israel in the way that CUFI defines support will result in divine punishment for America.

Intent on ensuring that an effective and professional group was representing CUFI to their congressmen and women, while also understanding the true issues that motivate CUFI members, Brog was even more specific:

Please stay on the issue of Israel…. If you care about the issue of life, that’s fantastic, but come another day. If you care about the issue of marriage, that’s important. Call them another day. We are here for one issue and one issue only. [tell them] ‘I’m your constituent, I’m a Christian, I’m here for Israel.’ Please don’t stray from the talking points…. When in Rome, do as the Romans do … it is important to speak to policy makers in a language that they understand, and that is the language of policy. Our faith informs and inspires our activism. We’re all here because of our faith. But with sadly limited exceptions, most of those guys on Capitol Hill, don’t speak the language of faith. With sadly limited exceptions, most of the guys on the Hill are driven by policy considerations, not considerations of faith. So, I ask you this quite seriously. When you go up to a congressman, and you start quoting the Bible, quoting the scripture, talking about a vision you had that’s been very important in your life … they just don’t speak that language, and they’re not going to be swayed by that language. So unless you know your member well, and you know he’s a man of God, we strongly and respectfully request you speak to them in a language that they will understand, the language of policy.”

While asking members not to express the specifics of their faith openly, Brog quickly emphasized that he understands and shares the views of the attendees, speaking inclusively, he stated: “We are here because of our faith, but we’re doing something important for God if we get these men of power to stand with Israel … let’s speak their language, that’s how we will best serve God tomorrow.”

Diana Hagee also made a brief appearance during the session as a way to remind attendees of their prophetic mission as a parallel to Brog’s more practical requests: “we are chosen for such a time as this to be watchmen on the wall. We’re all building our portion of the wall; we’re all doing a good work. We have a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other….”

Night To Honor Israel
While Brog emphasized the importance of speaking in the language of policy, rather than prophecy, to the elected officials,speakers at the culminating Night to Honor Israel reversed the trend and reinvoked the symbolic, eschatological language that opened the Summit.

As in previous years, Sentator Joseph Lieberman referred to John Hagee as a “man of God” just like Moses. Similarly, Gary Bauer, after again disparaging the catastrophic threats awaiting Israel and the West proclaimed, “It is for such a time as this, that John Hagee has become a watchman on the wall for Israel who never sleeps.”

During his speech John Hagee quickly divided the world into two groups: “those who support Israel, and those who don’t. There is no middle ground.” Hagee continued to claim, “The free world is at war with radical Islam. Without victory there is no survival. Not for America, not for Israel.”

Immediatly following Hagee’s speech, his wife Diana took the stage to put pressure on attendees for financial donations. “Our future does not depend on our economy,” stated Diana, “our future depends on our obedience to the living God. And if we give, and if we honor God, we can trust him to honor us. Our cause is Israel. Our cause is just. Our cause is right. Our cause is good, and our cause is holy.”

Critical Reflections on the 2010 Washington Summit
Throughout the conference a number of observations can be made. Firstly, now in its fifth year, CUFI has evolved and seems to have tightened it grip on some of the more stark language that can be easily attacked by its critics. Violent language calling for preemtive strikes on Iran were softened, and terms like “Islamofascism” – favorites of John Hagee in other mediums and previous Summits – were notably absent. Even Frank Gaffney who is openly hostile towards Islam corrected an attendee who referred to Islam as “Islamofascism” preferring to call it jihad. However, the emphasis on these issues and the preferred action to be taken against them remained the same as in previous years. There was also a strong sense that despite CUFI’s obvious purpose being the support of Israel, the interest among many of the Summit attendees was the salvation of America. Standing with Israel was always framed as an “American Issue.” Senator Joseph Lieberman, after once again comparing John Hagee to Moses, stated “Support of Israel is as American as apple pie and baseball.” It is this issue that helps confirm the eschatological worldview of participants and leaders as well. Their absolute belief in Genesis 12:3, combined with a belief in the imminence of divine judgement propels them to support Israel, ultimately it would seem for many, to ensure America survives.

 

Fathima Rifqa Bary: Pastors Knew they Broke the Law, ex-church official says

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2009 by loonwatch
Fathima Rifqa BaryFathima Rifqa Bary

It has now been revealed that the pastors of the Florida Church, Beverly and Blake Lorenz had knowledge of what they were doing before hand, and they also knew that they were breaking the law.

Fathima Rifqa Bary: Pastors knew they were breaking the law

A former administrator at an Orlando church told investigators that the church’s pastors who took in a teenage runaway this summer knew that they were doing something unlawful.

In a sworn statement filed this week in Ohio, Brian Smith stated that “many lawyers” told pastor Blake Lorenz he was “breaking the law” by aiding the teen, Fathima Rifqa Bary.

Smith is a former administrator of Global Revolution Church, a church founded by husband and wife pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz.

Rifqa, then 16, ran away from her home outside Columbus, Ohio, in mid-July and hopped a Greyhound bus to Orlando.

She sought shelter with the Lorenzes, whom she met through an online prayer group.

Rifqa said she feared her Muslim family would harm her or kill her because she converted to Christianity. Her parents have denied the teen’s claim, and investigators found no proof of it.

According to the affidavit, Blake Lorenz told Smith that Lorenz and another church member went to the Orlando bus station and bought Rifqa a ticket under a false name. Before she arrived in Orlando, Lorenz also asked Smith for church money to pay some of her expenses, including the cost of a bed and a disposable cell phone.

Also in his affidavit, Smith said Blake Lorenz refused to call Florida’s Department of Children and Families when he was advised by police and others to report that Rifqa was living with them. Rifqa’s parents had reported her missing to Ohio authorities.

Prosecutors to make charging decision

Florida law says people cannot shelter an unmarried minor for more than 24 hours without the consent of their parent or guardian, or without notifying a law-enforcement officer of the child’s name.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the pastors’ role is complete, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks said.

In upcoming weeks, FDLE will submit its case to the State Attorney’s Office, which will review the file and soon will make a charging decision, Banks said.

“I wish I could respond,” Blake Lorenz said Wednesday of Smith’s sworn statement. “The truth’s going to prevail. I’m not worried.”

He referred questions to lawyer Mat Staver, who was critical of Smith’s statement.

“There’s a lot of allegations in that affidavit that I know personally are not factual,” Staver said. “I’ve known the Lorenzes for 20 years. The last thing they would do is intentionally violate the law.”

Staver did not point to any specific charges that are incorrect but called Smith a disgruntled former employee.

Reached Wednesday, Smith said his sworn statement is truthful based on the information he had been told. And he said he “absolutely” is not a disgruntled former employee.

In an earlier interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Lorenz said he did call DCF. A DCF spokeswoman earlier confirmed the agency received four calls related to Rifqa’s case, but wouldn’t say who made those calls. The calls were received July 29, Aug. 6, and two on Aug. 7.

Rifqa’s story turned international

Rifqa stayed with the Lorenzes for more than two weeks before she was ordered into DCF custody by an Orange County judge.

Fearful that Rifqa would be sent back to her parents in Ohio, the Lorenzes in August alerted the Orlando media about a custody hearing.

Rifq’a story then turned into one of international intrigue with religious factions lining up against each other before and after custody hearings in Orlando.

Rifwa eventually was sent back to Ohio to live with a foster family.

The Lorenzes reorganized Global Revolution Church after their role in the Rifqa affair was disclosed. They now lead a congregation under another name.

In Smith’s sworn statement, he said he told Lorenz he was “very uncomfortable” with the Rifqa situation and spoke to his personal lawyer.

“My lawyer explained to me that they were in violation of several laws and to immediately hang up, call Blake and tell him to call DCF immediately,” Smith said in his statement. “She quoted several laws to me and the seriousness of them.”

“I called Blake and informed him of what the lawyer said. I implored him to call DCF immediately. He said he wouldn’t because they would just return her to her parents.”

Rene Stutzman of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Amy L. Edwards can be reached at aledwards@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5735.

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel

 

Rod Parsley:”The Devil Stole My Money”

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by loonwatch

rod_parsley

You might remember Rev. Rod Parsley from the 2008 election when Sen. McCain was forced to repudiate his endorsement due anti-Islamic comments.

From Mother Jones:

Rod Parsley, a fundamentalist pastor who John McCain praised as a “spiritual guide” during the 2008 presidential campaign, is in big trouble—demonic trouble. Parsleyhas claimed that Islam is “the greatest religious enemy of our civilization and the world,” and argued that the historic mission of America is to see “this false religion destroyed.” (You can watch a video highlighting those comments here. After weeks of controversy, McCain finally repudiated Parsley in May 2008.) But it’s not Islam that’s causing Parsley problems these days. It’s Satan himself. The Columbus Dispatchreports that Parsley is saying his ministry is under a “demonically inspired financial attack.” Here’s the clip from his television program, “Breakthrough”:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d0jUTxf2Go&feature=player_embedded 300 250]

The proximate cause of Parsley’s trouble, it seems, is a $3 million deficit for the fourth quarter and a $3.1 million legal settlement over a 2006 incident in which a two-year-old child in a Parsley-affiliated daycare center was spanked so hard that his “buttocks and legs were covered with welts and abrasions”:

The boy, then 2, said he was spanked with a “knife” by a substitute teacher. His parents, Michael and Lacey Faieta, believe it was a ruler…. The Faietas said Parsley refused to meet personally with them and that the church did not apologize or take accountability for the beating…. Mr. Faieta said he and his wife were “disgusted” and “saddened” by Parsley’s words.

The devil works in mysterious ways.

(h/t Right Wing Watch)