The latest missive, or “Oak Leaf,” from the dominionist Oak Initiative is a scolding “Message to the Never Trump Voters!” from Rick Warzywak, head of Transformation Michigan and state co-director of the Michigan Oak Initiative. Warzywak chastises, “If even the Supreme Court was the only issue to vote for him that should be enough — the future of your children and grandchildren are at stake. He has given us his pro-life constitutional sound [sic] nominations!”
The Michigan Oak Initiative sponsored a three-day event in June with the theme “America Hanging in the Balance — Election 2016,” which featured the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, as the keynoter.
Warzywak, who identifies himself as a supporter of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, peppers Never Trump conservatives with a long, long series of questions, among them:
What has Donald Trump personally done to you to not vote for him? Have you picked up an offense from someone? Why are you so critical of this man? … Do you consider him your enemy? Do you believe he hates you; has he cursed you; has he spitefully used you; do you have bitterness in your heart toward him? How should one respond if you are a Christian conservative?
Warzywak uses these questions as set-ups for Bible verses about loving your enemies and forgiving those who have done you wrong. (Of course, Donald Trump’s personal theology is a little different, as he told Liberty University students in 2012: If someone does you wrong, you’ve got to “get even!”)
Warzywak warns, “Accusations, slander, and criticism is what nurtures division, especially in the body of Christ,” and suggests that Never Trump conservatives may be being led astray by Satan: “As a Christian have you ever considered that the enemy of our souls may be deceiving and using those who have hardened their hearts against Trump?”
He never explains why all these same questions might be asked about people who have hardened their hearts against Hillary Clinton, whose Christian faith is well-known, which is also the case with running mate Tim Kaine. Warzywak does say he will continue to pray that Hillary Clinton’s “eyes would be opened,” though he says she and President Obama “have chosen to harden their hearts it appears.” But he has more hope for Trump, who may be “a babe in Christ.” Writes Warzywak, “With Donald Trump I can see a veil being lifted and his eyes being opened. If we diligently pray for him and stop the accusations, the Scripture below will manifest because he is open to a biblical worldview paradigm.”
Warzywak has more than a few questions for those who say they will vote their conscience:
1. Does my conscience stand for a conservative pro-life U.S. constitutionally-based Supreme Court (Trump gave us a list of pro-life constitutionally sound judges that he would nominate)?
2. Does my conscience allow a candidate to take office who would most assuredly nominate liberal judges that would impact my children and grandchildren’s lives for the next forty years (look at Trump’s nominations)?
3. Does my conscience agree with restoring the rule of law and order in our nation (Trump will restore that)?
4. Does my conscience agree with protecting Christian liberties, our freedom of speech, and eliminating the 501(c)3 tax status so pastors could speak freely (Trump said he would do all of these)?
5. Does my conscience realize that our present open borders is allowing in gang cartels, ISIS, and Muslim extremists that endanger all American lives, including my own family possibly (Trump understands)?
6. Does my conscience allow NO vetting of refugees from nations who are predominantly Muslim (Trump will vet and stop this illegal immigration—Hillary will not and increase immigration)?
7. Does my conscience see radical Islam as a threat and realize it must be addressed? (According to Ret. Lt. General Jerry Boykin a Cruz campaigner said we must vote for Trump and has Generals advising Trump.)
8. Does my conscience see the plight of people in our inner cities and jobs needed to bring hope back to all minority groups (policies of last eight years have failed)?
9. Does my conscience support police, our military, and border agents who need our help and they overwhelmingly support Donald Trump?
10. Does my conscience realize that Common Core in our educational system is detrimental to our children (Trump would eliminate)?
11. Does my conscience see that Obamacare is destroying our health care system in America (Trump will repeal and reinvent new strategy)?
12. Does my conscience see a need to preserve our second amendment as it was designed to stop oppressive government (Trump said he would protect—endorsed by NRA)?
13. Does my conscience favor Socialism/Globalism or freedom (Hillary is a pure progressive socialist and globalist)?
14. Does my conscience value having a Christian on the Presidential ticket and Christians advising the President (Pence and a Christian advisory team has been assembled)? Hmmmmmmmmmmm
15. Does my conscience allow me to judge another person’s heart (Trump) when the Bible says only God looks at the motive and intents of the heart?
Warzywak is a close associate of Lou Engle and organized one of Engle’s “The Call” rallies in Detroit in 2011 to target the Muslim population in nearby Dearborn and the rest of the state. Warzywak is “Prayer Strategy Coordinator” for one of Engle’s projects, the “Moravian Night Watch.” The project recruits teams of people around the country to sign up for time slots between midnight and 6:00 a.m. when they will gather by conference call to pray for a Great Awakening and divine intervention for the nation.
A website about the project’s statement of purpose praises the International House of Prayer movement for promoting a global prayer movement around “the bridal paradigm” emphasizing “lovesick adoration for Jesus” and “the surrendered posture of the heart to God’s love as such” — which the Moravian Night Watch website calls “primarily a feminine mode of prayer.” That needs to be balanced, they say, with a more “aggressive” and “masculine” form of “contending” prayer:
Other dimensions of prayer are also vital, including more masculine expressions that wield the authority of Christ for the sake of war against dark powers, bringing transformation to society by breaking through in heavenly dimensions…Contending prayer is focused and aggressive. It realizes there is a mission and mandate to prayer, conflict to overcome, battles to engage, and victory to secure. This is done in a spirit of humility (not elitism!) and submission (not fleshly domination!) to advance the kingdom of God on earth.
We noted on Friday that a bunch of Religious Right figures were planning a seven-hour prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, while a 15-hour rally organized by dominionist Lou Engle was scheduled for Los Angeles. In advance of the event, organizers of United Cry DC16 called it a gathering of “30,000+ pastors and Christian leaders.” According to the event’s website, “Each time thousands of Christians gathered to pray in Washington, DC, our nation encountered significant events and God intervened.”
The “crowd” at the Lincoln Memorial was far, far short of organizers’ hope that 30,000 “pastors and Christian leaders” would “be led to this historic event.” A few hundred attendees — at best — fit comfortably in the small plaza between the stage and the reflecting pool, the dozens of unnecessary porta-potties standing in silent testimony to the organizers’ unfulfilled hopes. The organizers of the D.C. event had sent an email on Thursday asking people to pray away the rain; those prayers were also not successful.
The gatherings in DC and Los Angeles were covered by GodTV, and WorldNetDaily wrote an upbeat article about the Lincoln Memorial event. The article never offered a description of the size of the crowd, and the headline — “Christians Occupy Washington in ‘Sacred Assembly’” — seems laughably overblown.
WND included video clips of a couple of the speakers praying for a spiritual revival and praying for God to put the right man in the White House next year. Of course, for Rafael Cruz, father of and campaign surrogate for Ted Cruz, there is no question who God’s choice is, even if he didn’t mention Ted by name. Rafael Cruz’s remarks were heavy on the David Barton and David Lane style Christian-nation rhetoric that also fills his recent book:
Father, you raised up America as a beacon of light throughout the world, a country that you set up on the word of God for the propagation of the gospel throughout the world. Father, Lord God, you command us to raise up righteous leaders…Lord God, you tell us to select able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, Father. Lord God, you have given us the prescription on who you want to lead our nation, Father. Father, Lord God, open our eyes….We have been asleep. We’ve been away from the political process, and we’ve allowed the unrighteous to govern us, Father….Father, because the righteous have not exercised their right to vote, the righteous have stayed at home, we’ve allowed the wicked to be elected and impose their wickedness upon We, the people….
Lord God, we have a responsibility before you, to preserve the freedom to worship you, to preserve the freedom to share the gospel unashamedly, Father, and we will fight against the forces of evil that are trying to impose upon us, Lord God, restrictions where our freedom of religion is being trampled upon, where our freedom to protect life is trampled upon….
Father we must shout it from the housetop that Jesus Christ is still Lord of this great nation!
The event closed with remarks from bestselling doomsday author and Messianic Jewish rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who also prayed for revival and asked participants to turn and lift their hands toward the Capitol two miles away, where he noted that in nine months, someone would be standing on the balcony being sworn in as the next president. Cahn’s remarks were also heavy on Christian-nation themes as well as the Religious Right’s defiance against the evils of the country. From Cahn’s remarks:
The answer lies in the name of Y’shua Ha Mashiach, the name by which America came into existence and the only name by which America can be saved…We resolve we will not yield to the darkness…We will not compromise. We will not desist. We will not step down. We will not be silent…
Two major prayer rallies organized by Religious Right figures are being held on Saturday —one at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and one in Los Angeles. The two events will be linked with a simulcast “Bridge to Prayer.”
The Washington event, United Cry DC 16, is scheduled to run for seven hours and will be broadcast on GodTV. It features an impressive number of familiar Religious Right figures, including Tony Perkins, Jerry Boykin, Harry Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez, Jim Garlow, Alveda King and E.W. Jackson. Joining them will be bestselling doomsday author and “Messianic” Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz and “Hour of Power” preacher Bobby Schuller.
Also in the lineup is Doug Stringer, the “apostle” who has hosted a number of “The Response” political prayer rallies organized by Christian nationalist political operative David Lane in recent years with Republican governors like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley and Pat McCrory.
WorldNetDaily is excited about the event, promoting it with a breathless story, declaring “what an assembly it promises to be.” WND even tries to put a good face on the lousy weather forecast, saying, “Perhaps the Almighty is already calling attention to the event by providing some freakish spring weather, with the possibility of snow in the forecast. But hardy souls will brave the elements because they consider the gathering a divine calling.” A Thursday email from event organizer Lewis Hogan was not so excited about the weather, urging people to pray away the rain.
This is not the first “solemn assembly” called by Religious Right leaders to put America on the right path during an election year. While the Great Awakening whose beginning is predicted at every Religious Right event hasn’t yet materialized, organizers believe it’s just around the corner. Meanwhile, they say, America’s embrace of marriage equality is just asking for God’s wrath.
In WND’s story about United Cry DC, Rabbi Cahn complained that America hasn’t heeded his warnings:
In the course of the last few years, America has not turned back to God but has grown much farther from Him. We’ve witnessed a rapid acceleration in the nation’s apostasy from God and His ways. We have called good evil and evil good. We are now at the threshold of persecuting God’s people as we celebrate godlessness. The Bible is very clear on the consequences. To any nation that has been given so much as America, much is required. If we don’t turn back to God, we are advancing toward judgment.
“The fact that it is also the year of a presidential election and a critical moment with regard to the Supreme Court, raises the stakes even higher.
On the same day as the United Cry rally in DC, Dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle and friends will be in Los Angeles hosting another in his multi-year “supernatural series of events” under the banner of “The Call.” In a video promoting the event Engel talking animatedly about the symbolism of speakers flying only on United Airlines so that America can be united.Engle has held a number of “Call” events over the last decade and a half, including one on the National Mall in September 2000 and one in 2008 in California focused in part on promoting the anti-gay Proposition 8. This one, called Azusa Now, is scheduled to run for 15 hours at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20th century, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Along with a number of members of Mattera's new group, who held a meeting during one break in the conference, Garlow invited NAR adherents including Mattera, Lou Engle (with whom he had worked to raise support for Prop 8), Dennis Peacocke and Lance Wallnau to speak to the event.
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
Just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his 2012 presidential bid with a prayer rally called “The Response,” fellow Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is set to lead his own “Response” prayer event this Saturday in Baton Rouge. Many of the pastors and conservative activists who backed the 2011 rally credited Perry’s actions with various miracles, raising the bar for Jindal’s event, which is being organized by the very same people.
Unfortunately for Perry, the various miracles produced by his prayer rally did not include producing even a single delegate in his disastrous presidential campaign, but it did save Texas from the scourge of Native American cannibals, at least according to Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who endorsed both “Response” prayer rallies.
Jacobs said that Native Americans who “ate people” produced a “curse” in Texas, until it was healed by Perry’s prayer rally:
Another evangelist who joined Perry at “The Response,” Lou Engle, noticed evidence that God blessed Perry’s bid for president. According to Engle, God sent rain to Texas in response to the governor’s campaign announcement.
“I heard that actually the day that Governor Perry announced that he’s running for president, and this is not an endorsement I’m giving here, it simply it rained I believe he said for five hours, it poured,” Engle said on a 2011 conference call. “And people think that that could’ve been a sign, I don’t know. I think that was a historic prayer gathering for a governor to call a true Joel:2 solemn assembly. You don’t always see an immediate answer to these kinds of prayers but God does, God sees and responds and I believe we’ll look back at that gathering as a historic moment in American history and that’s what I’ve got to believe.”
Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas conservative activist, also claimed that Perry’s prayers ended a drought during a conference call for his 40 Days to Save America campaign. Texas Republican leader David Barton agreed, adding that Perry’s prayers also controlled the BP gulf oil spill:
Scarborough: Our Governor here in the state of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting last May. We were at the height of a drought that meteorologists were telling us was part of a cycle that would last perhaps for a number of years and that it would take us years to get our lake levels back up and so forth. It occurs to me that, not immediately, but after that prayer event that thirty thousand people participated in, we started getting rain and in less than a year, our lakes are full, our fields are brimming. A lot of people seem not to connect the dots on that, but we've got a fresh illustration of how God honors prayer.
Barton: Yeah, that's one of those many things that historians will looks back upon and say 'look at the correlation.' But I look back over the last few years at Sonny Perdue of Georgia who called, in the middle of their drought - that was an unprecedented century drought that they had there - he called for prayer and within three days they had rain falling in Georgia again. They're back in good condition.
I recall what happened with the oil spill in the Gulf, how all the Gulf governors except for Charlie Crist of Florida got together and called for a time of prayer that God would mitigate the damage of that and cause that thing to be sealed. And guess what? All the expected damage along the shorelines to all the wildlife, it didn't happen.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is following in the footsteps of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and kicking off his possible presidential campaign next month with a stadium prayer rally organized by radical religious right activists. As Brian reported on Monday, the virulently anti-gay Christian nationalist American Family Association, influential Religious Right leader David Lane and Doug Stringer, a self-proclaimed “apostle” from Texas who has blamed America’s rejection of God for the September 11 attacks, are spearheading Jindal’s Baton Rouge rally.
These activists are the perfect ambassadors for the Christian nationalists that Jindal appears to be courting. In a letter introducing the rally — printed on official governor’s mansion stationary — Jindal warns of “a new world order of chaos…being driven by militant Islam seeking to impose Sharia Law worldwide” and domestic epidemics of “fatherless homes,” “drugs and crime in our inner cities” and “a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism,” problems for which Jesus Christ “is America’s only hope.”
Jindal’s prayer rally appears to be so closely modeled after Perry’s that its organizers are even reusing materials from the 2011 Texas event, including a prayer guide contending that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God’s displeasure with the “alternative lifestyle” of homosexuality, marriage equality, legal abortion, and Internet pornography.
The prayer guide listed on the “resources” page of the website for Jindal's rally includes suggestions for seven days of prayer leading up the event. It appears to be exactly the same as the guide disturbed to participants in Perry’s event in 2011 — it hasn't even been updated to include the increased number of states that are bringing God’s judgment on America by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry:
Day 2 - Locust plagues
In Joelʼs day Israel experienced the destruction of a massive locust plague. The nationʼs economy was crippled because of the decimation of the agriculture. The reason these plagues came was because of the peopleʼs negligence to worship and serve God with their whole heart. Because the people grew cold and eventually departed from God, they experienced incredible hardships. The result of their inner departure was multiple external crises.
In America today we face a similar crisis. We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available ondemand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation “under God” it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity.
This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless.
Furthermore, because of mismanagement and greed, our national economy is in incredible disarray, with our national debt topping 14 trillion dollars. We have effectively mortgaged our childrenʼs future, while spending money we do not have on entitlements as we search in vain for “the American dream”. The first “wave of locusts” has begun to descend upon us and many are oblivious to the fact that destruction has come and is still coming.
God destined America to be a gospel beacon to the rest of the earth – a nation under God who declares His goodness, truth and mercy to a world desperately in need.
The Jindal rally’s prayer guide also includes the 2011 guide’s plea to conservative Christians to save the United States from “debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.”
There is much at stake for the church in America. In many ways we are at a crossroads of two divergent paths. Either the church will turn to the Lord with her whole heart, sparking a great revival and reformation in our nation, or she will continue in compromise, keeping the status quo as we watch our nation turn to debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.
(Emphases are ours.)
Both “Response” rallies are modeled after the “Call” rallies organized by Religious Right leader Lou Engle. The leadership team of Perry’s rally included a number of officials from the International House of Prayer, a ministry closely associated with Engle that promotes the dominionist theology that calls for evangelical Christians to gain control of all parts American culture and government.
As Religious Right activists descend on Washington, D.C., for this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, dominionist and self-described apostle Tim Sheets is calling on God’s chosen ones to be ever more bold and aggressive. Sheets is an Ohio-based pastor who, like his brother Dutch Sheets, is a partner of self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs. And while the Sheets brothers and Jacobs are not on the Values Voter Summit agenda, VVS host Family Research Council has partnered with their ministries in the Freedom Federation and its Awakening conferences, and in a 2012 campaign meant to influence the 2012 elections.
The alarm clock of heaven is now ringing on the night stand of a sleeping church; time to rise, time to rise to the occasion, time to get up! The Lord says, "I have lions hidden in My remnant, not wolves. They will now rise to patrol and remove the defeated ones, wolf packs, that have come to scatter My flocks. My lions will be fierce, bold, aggressive and unintimidated. They will not flinch when adversaries advance. They will stand strong," says the Lord, "and fearless.
"A new roar will be heard from My tribe announcing territorial dominion. A roar claiming geographical and spiritual jurisdiction shall now sound from My remnant; a roar establishing that the throne of the territory is occupied and guarded. A rule against hell's power shall be sounded. A roar of authority in My Name shall come against hell's intrusions. My called-out ones, My sent ones, will now become step-forward ones.
"They will move forward in My power. They will manifest their rights as sons and daughters of God ruling and reigning with Me. As intended, My heirs are stepping from the shadows of cultural bondage. They shall now display disdain of enemy princes, mights, thrones, dominions and rulers of darkness. No longer will they compromise in shared rule; no longer settling for cohabitation, no longer accepting shared occupancy.
For people not familiar with this kind of rhetoric, it is at the heart of the dominionst notion of a new generation of anointed followers “ruling and reigning” with God. Tim’s brother Dutch Sheets preaches that the church is meant to be God’s government on earth. Lou Engle, who has gained infamy for traveling to Uganda to “encourage” anti-gay leaders there, has said,
“The church’s vocation is to rule history with God…The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high…We’re God’s rulers upon the earth…We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit…We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!”
That’s the same Lou Engle who introduced Rep. Michele Bachmann at the Family Research Council’s 2009 “prayercast” that called on God to defeat health care reform.
Back to Tim Sheets’ new column, where he channels a God who is ready to clear the decks of humanism and anti-Christ dominions:
"Passive appeasement has now been replaced with backbones of steel, lips set on fire with Holy ingots, and a shout of the King is in their voice indeed. Jericho's shout decree is in their mouth. Determined faith shall now be seen in My faithful ones as they march to remove demon philosophies and doctrines of devils from the land. No shared rule," says the Lord.
"My rule, My rule shall prevail. My words shall prevail. Power to prevail is being poured out. Power to prevail is soaking My remnant. Power to overcome hell's strategies; power to overcome demon doctrine and rebel government; power to more than conquer demon tactics is being released. Those who stand with Me shall see hell's fire misfire.
"So arise and rule. Rise and roar with My authority. I will fill your enemy's mouth with sand and their hearts with quicksand. They will find themselves stuck in their own mire. Roar with My freedom. Roar with My liberty. Let rejoicing roar out of Zion. March in to battle with confident peace.
"Great revival fire will now begin to burn through intercession-soaked regions as My awakening begins to roll. The regions will now become activated by My glory. My shaking has come. I am shaking earth. I am shaking heaven. Walls, strongholds, obstacles and hell's defenses are being shaken down, and My remnant is being shaken free. My shaking will open ancient wells of revival. The revival in the womb of My intercessors will now be birthed.
God, writes Tim Sheets, is also “removing arrows” of betrayal, deceit, and gossip from his “royal priesthood” in preparation for the coming battle:
"I am now coming to My remnant. And I am now coming as Lord Sabaoth-Lord of Angel Armies. Because of alignment with My purpose, I will now align My hosts to assist aggressively. There is now a convergence of the angel armies and the church's prayer army into a divine coalition; the coalition of My willing; those who run to battle, not from it.
"My earth and My heaven's armies will now challenge thrones of iniquity, thrones of idolatry, thrones of rebellion, thrones of witchcraft, thrones of humanism and antichrist dominions. Battalions are dispatched and await the decrees of My word through the saints to overthrow iniquitous thrones so My saints can sit with Me.
"My greatest campaign on Earth is due. Decree it," says the Lord. "Align your words with Mine, and angel forces shall align with you. Align with angel forces in your regions, and I will accelerate an alignment within your nation. Yes, revival is now. The harvest is now," says the Lord. "Victory is now," says the Lord. "Arise and pursue My cause. Arise and roar. Arise and fight. Arise and shine. Your light has come, and the glory of your God shines upon you."
“God Loves Uganda,” a documentary about American evangelical involvement in inflaming anti-gay sentiment in that country, made its debut at last year’s Sundance Festival and reached a broader audience through this week’s broadcast on public television. The attention from this week’s broadcast has provoked a response from the International House of Prayer (IHOP).
Filmmaker Ross Williams was given extensive access to IHOP leaders, including evangelist Lou Engle, who believes Uganda has a special prophetic destiny. The documentary includes footage of Engle at a rally with supporters of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act, where he tells the crowd he was “called” to encourage the Ugandan church for standing up for “righteousness” in the face of international pressure to drop the bill. IHOP now says it has never supported the anti-gay law.
Charisma Magazine’s Jennifer LeClaire writes that IHOP and Lou Engle are being “falsely accused of ‘demonizing’ homosexuals in Uganda.” IHOP’s response says that while it believes all sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful, “We honor the dignity and rights of all whose opinion differs from ours” and that IHOP is “open to civil dialogue and mutual respect.” The filmmakers, says IHOP, “pursued a deceptive means to achieve a hateful, polarizing result.”
In fact, Engle is a remarkably polarizing figure who has frequently describes those who disagree with him on abortion and marriage as being in league with Satan in a confrontation between good an evil. “God Loves Uganda” includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam.” In 2011, he organized an event in Detroit that was pitched to local pastors as a unity event for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s economy when its actual purpose was to “invade Dearborn” and convert followers of “demonic” Islam to Christianity.
Perhaps the most laughable statement in IHOP’s response is this:
Our primary mandate as an organization is prayer and humanitarian action; it is not political. We are not involved in U.S. politics, let alone politics in another nation.
Not involved in US politics? Where do we begin?
"The church’s vocation is to rule history with God...The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high....We’re God’s rulers upon the earth...We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit...We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!"
Engle has been intensely involved in US politics, hosting “The Call” prayer rallies in election years to denounce legal abortion and politicians that support it. He worked hard to mobilize support for anti-gay Proposition 8 in California.
In 2008 he passionately opposed the election of Barack Obama and declared that by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain had “gone to war for America, for our families, and for our children. And this war, we cannot afford to lose.”
More recently IHOP and its leader Mike Bickel were at the center of organizing dominionist leaders to put on “The Awakening,” a 2011 prayer rally that served as the launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign. Bickel served as the event’s MC. The head of IHOP’s Tallahassee branch, Pam Oslen, was on the Perry campaign’s Florida leadership team.
Nothing like putting things in perspective.
At the end of a week in which Religious Right leaders, cable TV pundits, and conservative politicians acted as if freedom were being destroyed because a rich TV star was suspended for making offensive racist and anti-gay comments, the Parliament in Uganda passed a bill that threatens gay people with life in prison.
And with that vote, all the alarmist bluster about persecution from Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and every Religious Right leader who saw a chance to boost year-end fundraising by jumping on the martyrdom bandwagon was made to look ridiculous.
This week’s news gave us plenty of evidence about real persecution, and it had nothing to do with Duck Dynasty. The face of persecution is not Phil Robertson, but the terrified LGBT people in Uganda who fear that they are about to be hunted. Persecution looks like gay teenagers in Russia being beaten by thugs, and like gay parents who have the ability to leave Russia fleeing because anti-gay political leaders are threatening to take their children from them. Persecution looks like LGBT people all over the globe whose lives and freedom are threatened by new laws that enshrine discrimination and define them as criminals. Persecution looks like LGBT teens in Jamaica facing vigilante violence. And on and on.
Newsweek reported a week ago that Ethiopia had declared war on gay men this year, noting, “A representative from the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality announced that the council was making ‘promising’ progress in convincing the government to introduce the death penalty to punish ‘homosexual acts.’”
How do American conservative religious and political figures respond to this kind of persecution? Not with shouts of outrage but with enthusiastic cheering. It is no small irony that many of those most loudly screaming "persecution" over Robertson's suspension have been equally vocal supporters of international efforts to literally criminalize homosexuality.
Brian Brown, Pat Buchanan, Matt Barber, and a sad parade of other religious conservatives fawn over Russia’s violently anti-democratic strongman Vladimir Putin as if he were Christendom’s new Defender of the Faith. Putin, in Barber’s words, is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” (Of course many American Christians want nothing to do with Barber or his interpretation of the faith.)
And to their lasting shame, American Religious Right leaders’ financial and political support have been inflaming anti-gay passions in Uganda for years. Lou Engle and Scott Lively actually traveled to Uganda and helped rally support for the bill. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who takes such umbrage at FRC’s designation as a hate group, dismissed criticism of the Uganda law in its earlier and more sinister incarnation, calling the proposed law an effort to “uphold moral conduct.”
There’s no indication that the Uganda bill’s passage is causing any noticeable soul-searching among the far right. Far from it. The American Family Association’s always-repellant Bryan Fischer invoked the Duck Dynasty flap in celebrating the passage of the anti-gay law in Uganda: “Uganda stands with Phil. Makes homosexuality contrary to public policy. It can be done.”
Actually, as offensive as Phil Robertson’s statements were, they pale in comparison to Fischer’s. Robertson hasn’t suggested, as far as I know, that gay people should be arrested and put in prison for life. And I seriously doubt that Robertson has ever traveled to Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, or Australia to promote legal discrimination against and criminalization of LGBT people or anyone who advocates for equality, the way right-wing figures like Engle, Lively, Brown, Mat Staver, Peter LaBarbera, Paul Cameron, and others have.
No worries about the Olympics on the American Right. In fact the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about having its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit in Moscow, which they see as a new stronghold for “traditional values” against the secular moral squalor of Western Europe.
Conservative activists were prepared to see Phil Robertson as a victim of religious persecution because they’ve been primed for years with the “religious liberty” narrative being pushed by Religious Right leaders and their conservative Catholic allies. They portray criticism as persecution. They equate being on the losing side of policy debates with being under the heel of oppression. And when courts and legislatures struggle with the challenge of balancing religious liberty with other constitutional values like equality under the law, they see only black-and-white battles between good and evil.
Their rhetoric cheapens and distorts the meaning of terms like tyranny. Anti-religious persecution is a violent, heartbreaking reality for Christians in many parts of the world. But not for the privileged and powerful figures in the United States who wrap themselves in the mantle of martyrdom.
The next time you hear some talking head on Fox talk about persecution, think about people in the Central African Republic who are caught in sectarian violence verging on genocide. Or think about LGBT people whose lives and freedom are threatened every day in the name of Christian values.
An anti-gay law championed by evangelical Christians in Uganda with the enthusiastic backing of Religious Right leaders in the U.S. has passed parliament and is awaiting the president’s decision on whether to sign it. The bill as passed apparently no longer includes the death penalty provision but makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison. LGBT activist Frank Mugisha says his colleagues are panicking, fearing that “there is going to be a hunt.”
Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan minister who has pushed the bill for years, and has been praised by Religious Right leaders like Matt Barber for his strident anti-gay stance, tweeted “Let Freedom Ring!” and posted a celebratory picture of himself with David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor.
Ssempa got plenty of help from American Religious Right figures like Lou Engle and Scott Lively, who is facing a human rights lawsuit brought by Sexual Minorities of Uganda. “This human rights crisis was made here in the United States,” says Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director at Political Research Associates.
Given that American Religious Right figures had praised the bill in its even more draconian form – Tony Perkins called it an effort to “uphold moral conduct” – it is sadly unsurprising to see some of them cheering. American Family Association hatemonger Bryan Fischer connected the law’s passage to the controversy in America over Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Fischer tweeted:
Uganda stands with Phil. Makes homosexuality contrary to public policy. It can be done. http://t.co/QeEvVkfBGa— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) December 20, 2013
So much for “live and let live.”
Earlier this week, The New York Times posted an excerpt from a new Roger Ross Williams documentary on how the Religious Right in the U.S. is shaping anti-gay activism in African countries like Uganda. The documentary includes interviews with International House of Prayer (IHOP) leaders Lou Engle and Mike Bickle, whom we have followed closely here at Right Wing Watch, along with footage of IHOP missionaries at work in Uganda.
Engle organizes the anti-choice and anti-gay The Call rallies, which regularly feature Republican and Religious Right leaders. In 2010, he brought The Call to Uganda to help promote the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would have made homosexuality a capital offense. (He later backpedaled after facing scrutiny.)
In the film, Episcopal priest Kapya Kaoma makes a reference to Seven Mountains Dominionism, the belief that fundamentalist Christians have a mandate to take control of the seven major spheres of society: government, business, education, media, arts and entertainment, the family and the church. As Engle explains, there are “seven mountains of influence” that right-wing Christians must “reclaim” in order to win over society.
Engle and Bickle are also key players in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement of self-appointed prophets and apostles who believe they are spokesmen for God on Earth. Bickle has claimed that gay people are the targets of “flaming missiles” from Satan and has warned that the “gay marriage agenda” is a sign of the End Times as it is “rooted in the depths of Hell.” At one IHOP service, Bickle also claimed that Oprah Winfrey is the harbinger of the Antichrist:
In 2008, Engle held massive rallies to encourage Californians to pass Proposition 8, which banned marriage equality, arguing that legalizing same-sex marriage “will unleash a spirit more demonic than Islam, a spirit of lawlessness and anarchy, and sexual insanity will be unleashed unto the earth.” His rallies have focused on creating a “movement” of ex-gays to stop a Satanic “homosexual tornado” that will “destroy America.” (He specifically targeted Ellen DeGeneres for “conversion.”) In addition, he has warned that the separation of the separation of church and state and gay rights are putting the U.S. on the path to Nazism:
While Engle and Bickle have extended their influence to nations like Uganda in order to export their anti-gay politics, they have continued to increase their clout in America’s Religious Right.
In August of last year, Texas Governor Rick Perry organized and hosted a large public prayer rally featuring a host of Religious Right activists along with various self-proclaimed "prophets" of the New Apostolic Reformation. For the most part, other elected leaders stayed away from the event, with the notable exception of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who spoke and delivered a prayer from the stage.
It was no surprise that Brownback would have no qualms about sharing the stage with these sorts of modern-day prophets, as he had a long history of working closely them and speaking at their events back when he was serving in the US Senate and even lived with Lou Engle for several months. In fact, Brownback's close ties to Engle became a bit of an issue when he was running for Governor in 2010.
And just as it was no surprise that Brownback would appear at "The Response," it is also not surprising that he has now publicly endorsed a similar prayer event that is taking place in Topeka, Kansas this weekend called Reign Down, organized by a group that began "in July of 2005, [when] God woke up a 31-year old stay-at-home mom to give her a vision" of then-President George W. Bush "repenting on behalf of the nation, culminating in a movement of God's hand across America to bring healing, restoration and unprecedented unity and prosperity."
When Reign Down organized a prayer event on the National Mall in 2008, severe thunderstorms threatened to cancel it ... until their prayers held them off:
Leading up to the four-hour event, a massive storm with life-threatening tornadoes, heavy rain and winds, and lightning was heading straight towards the gathering at the National Mall in D.C. The National Park Service issued one warning, saying that after three warnings—or the first bolt of lightning—they were going to pull the plug and the event would not happen. Realizing it was beyond their control, with less than an hour until the event was to start, ReignDown USA's leaders and intercessors knelt behind the stage and cried out for God to divert the storm to the North and the South. They called upon the power of the Holy Spirit for the winds to shift from the West to the East and blow the storm away. As they cried out on their knees and begged God to move…He did! The wind shifted! The Park Service, watching the weather radar, said that somehow the storm cell was shifting its course and heading to the North.
And this weekend, Reign Down - which has partnerships with groups and leaders like Lou Engle, The Call, Cindy Jacobs, GodTV, the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and Rep. Trent Franks - will host a prayer rally in Kansas that will be simulcast across the country, and Gov. Brownback has not only filmed a video announcing his participation and support but issued a proclamation calling on citizens to "collectively repent of distancing ourselves from God and ask for His mercy on us" and declaring Saturday to be a "day of restoration":
TO THE PEOPLE OF KANSAS, GREETINGS:
WHEREAS, the State of Kansas will host the national simulcast of REIGNDOWN USA in Topeka on December 8, 2012, bringing thousands here from across the country; and
WHEREAS, people from across America will join the millions from around the world on TV simulcast live from MacLennan Park, in the heart of America; and
WHEREAS, the first REIGNDOWN celebration was held 2008 in Washington DC, on the Capitol Grounds, introduced by proclamation of the President of the United States of America, with millions participating on site, on TV, and by computer; and
WHEREAS, regional REIGNDOWN events continued until the need was seen for the gathering to be held in the heart of our Nation; and
WHEREAS, many of our families have slid into poverty, endangering out next generation of citizens, our lands are parched by drought, our quality jobs are scarce, business and industry are struggling to expand, and many of our people have fallen into despair; and
WHEREAS, our Nation’s greatest leaders have called on a merciful God for favor during troubled times, such as:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.” - Abraham Lincoln, 1863.
“The propitious [favorable] smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” - George Washington, 1789.
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” - Thomas Jefferson, 1787; and
WHEREAS, we collectively repent of distancing ourselves from God and ask for His mercy on us:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sam Brownback, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, do hereby proclaim December 8th 2012, as a
Day of Restoration
in Kansas and ask every citizen of our state to join in asking a Holy God to bring healing and restoration – help in mending broken lives, bringing peace to our families, our communities, and this land.
DONE: At the Capitol in Topeka
under the Great Seal of the
State this 23rd day of
November, A.D. 2012
BY THE GOVERNOR: Samuel Brownback
Earlier this week Kyle reported that Lou Engle is discarding his pledge not to vote for any candidate who either supports abortion rights or opposes them but has exceptions for cases of rape or incest, which would include Mitt Romney. Engle explained that he can still support Romney because his friend had a “compelling dream” proving that “Romney was clearly favorable from a divine perspective.” While he did not offer details about the dream, a fellow prophet who co-authored with Engle The Call of the Elijah Revolution writes in Charisma that four years ago he was visited by God in a dream and He spoke to him about Romney and America’s future.
James Goll says God told him in a dream that “liberalism will reign for a season” but will ultimately succumb to “true conservatism.” After waking up and watching a baseball game on TV, Goll recounts that “the external voice of the Lord came to me saying, ‘When the nation has been thrown a curve ball, I will have a man prepared who comes from the state of Michigan and he will have a big mitt capable of catching whatever is thrown his way.’” According to Goll, than man is none other than Mitt Romney!
What I am about to share is to be discerned and prayed over as is the case in all revelatory experiences. It was only in recent months, after I re-listened to a recorded word given to me by a trusted prophet in January 2010, that I realized the magnitude of the word given directly to me by the Holy Spirit. This prophetic person stated that I had been given a visitation in early 2008, which was for the country and was governmental in nature. I had thought it was for then, but the Lord said it was a word for what was about to come.
I searched through my materials and realized, I did have a visitation in early 2008. It was governmental in nature and for the United States of America. (Maybe my getting it wrong and then getting it right will encourage some of the rest of you in your three-stage journey of revelation interpretation application.)
I was alone sleeping in a downstairs room in my home in Franklin, Tenn. Michal Ann was still with us at the time, though very ill with her long-fought battle with cancer. We had 'round-the-clock home caregivers with her—whether in our bedroom, at the hospital or in the rehabilitation unit. We slept the last two years of her dear life apart, as she was constantly being taken care of.
I was desperate and seeking the Lord that night in a little hideaway room down in our basement. That night the Lord gave me a vivid dream followed by a waking vision and an experience where the external audible voice of the Lord came to me.
In the dream, I saw the nation on a teeter-totter tipping back and forth going to and fro with great instability. We were going up and down and up and down and it seemed there was no relief in sight. The United States was reeling from fatigue of wars, corruption and economic uncertainty.
Then the voice of the Lord came in the dream, Liberalism will reign for a season in the land and then it will become popular for moderacy to rule, which could ultimately lead to true conservatism. It was not the word I honestly wanted to hear from the Holy Spirit at the time but it came very succinctly to me anyway. Sometimes, we have to remove our own preconceived prejudices with our tainted filters to be able perceive a clear word from the Lord.
Suddenly, I was awakened from the dream and the basement room was tangibly filled with the presence of destiny. I then saw in the seer realm a baseball game in action. A young pitcher was throwing a ball to the plate with great force and seeming agility. It was a curve ball that appears to be a strike but instead it was not a ball for the batter to swing at. Another player was squatted behind the plate with a huge catcher's mitt. He caught the off-target ball as it pounded into his glove.
Then the external voice of the Lord came to me saying, When the nation has been thrown a curve ball, I will have a man prepared who comes from the state of Michigan and he will have a big mitt capable of catching whatever is thrown his way.
But the Lord said there would be a man prepared who would come from the state of Michigan who would have a big mitt. Little did I know at that time that Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was born in the state of Michigan. Little did I know, when I received this in 2008, that he would win his party's primary for the 2012 national elections!
In a new opinion piece, Lou Engle explains that that he has always had a strict principle that he will not vote "for anyone who by legal decree supports the shedding of innocent blood, believing such a vote would make me an accomplice to the act" and always "to reject the compromise of simply voting for the lesser of two evils, believing that my allegiance is given to a higher King and a higher kingdom, therefore my no-vote actually becomes a prophetic act, a vote of conscience, not abdication."
Engle's position also included "no exceptions for rape and incest, understanding that life begins at conception" ... but like so many other Religious Right activists, Engle too has found a way to justify voting for Mitt Romney; in his case because a close friend had a dream that showed "Romney was clearly favorable from a divine perspective" and other "prophetic experiences [that] seemed to indicate that Romney was a sort of window of mercy to America":
At about this time of crisis in my own thought processes, my closest friend (and a true prophet in my life) had a compelling dream concerning Romney's viability as a candidate. In the dream, Romney was clearly favorable from a divine perspective. After this, the substance of my friend's dream was immediately confirmed by another prophetic encounter from another well known prophetic voice.
Now hear me, this election is not about Romney being the great answer to America's problems. Rather, these prophetic experiences seemed to indicate that Romney was a sort of window of mercy to America on several fronts, but chiefly the dividing of Jerusalem. The thought of protecting that ancient covenantal bond of God shifted my paradigm dramatically. I found myself having to peer into another biblical principle that I heretofore had not pondered with the same intensity as I had the life issue.
As I sought the Lord concerning these various biblical truths and prophetic words, it was as if a light began to shine into my heart. I sensed the Lord saying, Will you stand with Me in my covenantal faithfulness? Will you stand for my ancient covenant with My people? A deep abiding "yes" began to conquer my arguments.
With that said, I am declaring my best, personal understanding of the Lord 's heart in this hour: that in this election, America 's future is on dangerous ground, facing judgment not only over abortion and other key issues, but most definitely over the high possibility of breaking faith with God's covenant with Jerusalem, the land of Israel, and His covenant people. President Obama has publicly called for the return of the land of Jerusalem and Israel to the pre-1967 boundaries. I can't go there. I won't. My heart had been opened to another great theme: The Life of the unborn has called me and God 's covenant to the Jewish people restrains me.
I am voting for Romney.
In clean conscience,
Back in February, we reported that pastor Anne Gimenez was in the process of recreating the 1980 Washington for Jesus rally, which she led with her late husband, Bishop John Gimenez. The new election-oriented prayer rally, called America for Jesus, is scheduled to be held in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall in September and has already received the endorsements of far-right dominionists including Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, Jim Garlow and Harry Jackson.
But as with Rick Perry’s The Response and Lou Engle’s The Call prayer rallies, it was only a matter of time before more mainstream Religious Right leaders linked arms with their more openly dominionists brethren.
The latest America for Jesus solicitation mentions support from not only New Apostolic Reformation leaders like Che Ahn, Rick Joyner, Chuck Pierce, Doug Stringer and Barbara Yoder, but also from David Barton of WallBuilders, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel. Even televangelists Kenneth Copeland, Gordon Robertson and John Hagee have endorsed the event.
In promotional materials [pdf], the event’s organizers use language closely centered around Seven Mountains dominionism, which calls for conservative Christians to take dominion over the seven spheres of society: family; arts and entertainment; business; education; religion and the church; media; and government. They also dabble in some Christian Nation revisionist history, using two fake quotes attributed to founding fathers George Washington (“It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible”) and James Madison (“We have staked the future upon our capacity to sustain ourselves according the Ten Commandments of God”).
The Bible provides guiding principles for all spheres of society: government, family, church, science and technology, economics and business, education, media and communications, and arts and entertainment. Every book of the Bible gives us instruction and principles on how to establish God’s kingdom purposes on earth.
If we live by His commands in our own lives, we will impact people around us and their spheres of society. And if Christian leaders in these spheres will uphold God’s principles in their positions of influence, God’s blessings will be multiplied in a healthy and wealthy society….God’s kingdom purposes will come forth on earth as in heaven!
Lou Engle is redoubling his efforts at building a prayer movement to stop the “homosexual tornado” before it destroys America, and told members of The Ramp, an anti-gay youth ministry, that he had dreams of 100,000 gays and lesbians becoming part of a “first wave” of ex-gay preachers who will bring about “radical salvations and healings of AIDS.” He led a prayer for “asking God to loose a movement, a divine breakthrough, 100,000 gay and lesbian men and women, loose a sound that DC can’t contend with, loose a sound that the media can’t contend with, overflow the media with the sound of revival.”
While addressing the Alabama-based youth ministry group, The Ramp, Lou Engle urged the audience to go see “The Avengers” in order to learn about how to fight demons: “The Avengers is a must-see for spiritual warfare.” “I want to be the Hulk,” Engle declared, “I was so moved in that movie when the music’s going and Hulk’s coming—boom, boom—I start weeping in the movie I am so moved by the Holy Spirit, now you really think I’m crazy.”
In March, Kyle reported that Rick Scarborough of Vision America was launching a new effort, 40 Days to Save America, to rally conservative voters before the November election and stop the “daily deluge of sinful activity”:
We fully understand and are grateful for the fact that America was birthed first in your heart. We acknowledge that America has been a blessed nation above all the nations of the world. Hallelujah!
But we also acknowledge that we have forgotten as a people that it was you and your laws that made this country the land of freedom and opportunity that has been the envy of the world for more than two hundred years. Dear Lord, forgive us of our pride and apathy that has allowed men to call good, evil; and evil, good. We acknowledge that we have grown calloused to the daily deluge of sinful activity, degradation and speaking that has become the routine in American life, and we repent.
Reignite our love for purity and holiness, and create in us a will to initiate the changes in our society that will allow you to once again bless our beloved America.
Scarborough is now unveiling endorsements of the effort from Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Todd Akin, Doug Lamborn, Duncan Hunter and Louie Gohmert, and major Religious Right groups like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Family Research Council. Dominionist organizations including Lou Engle’s The Call and Cindy Jacobs’ Generals International have also signed on, along with Janet Porter’s Faith2Action, Jerry Boykin’s Kingdom Warriors, Sam Roriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Jim Garlow’s Renewing American Leadership.
The board of directors appears to be a who’s who of leading conservative activists and pastors:
40 Days for Life
General Jerry Boykin
Harvest Prayer Ministries
Dr. Jim Garlow
Renewing American Leadership
Bishop Anne Gimenez
Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA
Bishop Harry Jackson
Hope Christian Church
Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX
Concerned Women for America
Father Frank Pavone
Priests for Life
Family Research Council
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Dr. Rick Scarborough
American Family Association
Preaching at The Call: Virginia last month, Lou Engle insisted that “the homosexual agenda can be broken.” If not, he warned, America may be doomed. Engle, who promoted the prayer rally by calling on attendees to channel Confederate generals to “restrain” the demonic powers behind the “homosexual agenda,” said that they can succeed “not because of our boastfulness or our greatness, but because of our repentance, because of a great revival and maybe even a great shaking and judgment that brings us to rubble so we finally get desperate enough to return to the Lord.”