The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped to fan fears about a Muslim arbitration panel serving the region's Muslim community. She and her allies have framed their stance as a response to the so-called threat of Muslim law, called Sharia, to America's constitutional order. The events in this case provide an example of how anti-Muslim sentiment arises in a community and comes to shape the political landscape.
"I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" - Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan (to Kim Klein of the Washington Post, 1970)
"if a man smite thee on one cheek, SMASH him on the other!" - Anton LaVey, from The Satanic Bible (Section III, paragraph 7)
Ayn Rand has long been the intellectual darling of many both on the secular right but also the religious right, and that's curious given Rand's writing is widely credited with having inspired Anton LaVey, founder of the Church Of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. Cited in the rather staid academic work Contemporary Religious Satanism: A Critical Anthology, Anton LaVey is quoted as having admitted that his religion was "just Ayn Rand's philosophy with ceremony and ritual added."
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been a rallying point for both groups. Still, the philosophical disharmony between Christianity and Objectivism (Ayn Rand's philosophy) has presented problems for anyone seeking to straddle the two worldviews. Just ask Paul Ryan.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the West" -- and reintroducing fears of witchcraft.
Igwe seems unaware that fear of witchcraft, here in the West, isn't being promulgated just by African immigrants but also by plenty of middle-class and well-to-do white people, especially in the Bible Belt, as part of the teachings of various leaders of the "New Apostolic Reformation."
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while normally poles apart, converge at one crucial point; Christian Zionism.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”
What a society we've become!
The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things change the more they stay the same. The more we pride ourselves on invention and the progress of civilized society and it’s technological wonders, the more our majority loses its innocence and the most vital aspect of living … imagination.
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post, where links to the rest of the series can be found. -- FC
Welcome to this sixth installment of my series on the Dominionists, one example of radical, theocratic Christianity. As we have seen in the previous installments, the Dominionists desire nothing less than the application of biblical law to every aspect of American society and government.
In this installment we will consider another essay by Thomas Wang, the editor of the booklet America, Return to God! This essay, entitled "Ambush Alert: The Barbarians are Here" traces the history of America's spiritual decline through the great intellectual movements of the past 600 years, framed in the context of the cosmic battle between God and Satan.
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured and torn by infighting, and the far right Tea Party faction as represented by Chris McDaniel is definitely not in a conciliatory mood.
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring notarization, one of the bank’s assistant managers claimed she couldn't witness the signatures or attach the State's official notary seal to the documents because of "personal reasons."
The Christians later related the story in a Facebook post saying, “Even though we had a valid, legal document and valid, legal identification —she was legally able to refuse me service.”
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years. Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible for that rightward swing. Last week, I mentioned that John Benefiel stopped by Cindy Jacobs' webcast show and claimed that the United States was under satanic control because ancient Egyptians came to North America and dedicated the entire continent to Baal. Well, just yesterday Benefiel stopped by again and claimed that for the last decade, he's been doing his part to reverse that curse in his home state of Oklahoma. People for the American Way got a clip.
Benefiel said that back in 2004, he and a team from his Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network were prayer-walking in the Oklahoma State Capitol and casting out demons. Wen the sergeant-at-arms of the state house found out what they were doing, he invited them to come into the state house chamber and pray over it as well. They spent an hour in there praying and "making our declarations about Baal." Later that year, the Republicans gained a majority in the state house for the first time ever--and according to Benefiel, much of that majority was made of "born-again, conservative Christians." They did the same thing just before the 2006 elections in the state senate--with similar results even as the Republicans were getting their heads handed to them nationally. Needless to say, Jacobs and her husband, Mike, were delighted.
They were even more delighted when Benefiel told them that the state's four highest elected officials--Governor Mary Fallin, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, state attorney general Scott Pruitt and state house speaker Jeff Hickman--all have longstanding relationships with him. He even claims that he helped lead Fallin in the baptism of the Holy Spirit several years back.
Friends, this is a BFD. The NAR believes that it can bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world. A major part of that task is taking control of government--one of the "seven mountains" that influence our society. So a significant number of Oklahoma's elected officials may be in bed with an overt fascist. And not only that, one who thinks the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol, that homosexuality is an Illuminati plot and that the 2012 DC earthquake was divine punishment for Masonry. Even for a state that has foisted the likes of Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn on us, this is freaking scary.
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures. One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle." He heads up the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, one of the numerous prayer networks that is at the grassroots of the NAR. Among other things, he thinks that the Statue of Liberty is an idol, that homosexuality is being used by the Illuminati to control the world and that his prayers caused DC to be hit with an earthquake in 2012 to punish us for the influence of Masonry. Well, this weekend he paid a visit to Cindy Jacobs, the mentally unhinged "prophetess" who is one of the NAR's top leaders. Benefiel claimed that the entire North American continent, including the United States, is under satanic influence because ancient Egyptians dedicated it to Baal. People for the American Way got a clip.
Benefiel and the Jacobses were talking about the need to do "spiritual archeology" in order to better understand how to break demonic curses over our nations. Benefiel then discussed an "assignment" that God had given him. He claims that thousands of years ago, ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians came to North America and left scads of rock art, or petroglyphs, claiming it for Baal. One problem--Baal was not an Egyptian god. I know that these fundies think that anyone who isn't a Christian is a closet satanist, but this is ridiculous. Watch the whole thing on Vimeo, if you can stand it.
PFAW thinks that Benefiel may have based a lot of his "research" on the findings of Barry Fell, a marine biologist who delved into the origins of numerous inscriptions found all over North America. Fell claimed that several of these inscriptions are proof that several Old World civilizations visited North America years before Columbus. That claim has been completely debunked by several better-versed scholars, and some of his claims have been called outright fraudulent.
That being said, I have to wonder--is this claptrap being taught in Christian schools and Christian homeschool curricula? Wouldn't surprise me if it was.
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble. Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half a century. He was one of the pioneers of the Christian homeschooling movement, but is probably best known to us as one of the leaders of the Quiverfull movement. Indeed, the most famous Quiverfull family of them all, the Duggars, are big fans of his. He's rubbed noses with the likes of Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Sonny Perdue. Back when Sarah Palin was just the mayor of Wasilla, she attended one of Gothard's conferences and had Wasilla adopt his "Character Cities" program.
The allegations against Gothard dovetail with financial woes. In recent years, IBLP’s net revenue has dropped significantly, and the ministry is losing money. In 2009, it reported a net income loss of $1 million. It lost $4.1 million in 2011, and $3.5 million in 2012, according to its most recently available tax forms. Its net assets dropped from $92 million in 2010 to $81 million in 2012.
Since it started as a class at Gothard’s alma mater, Wheaton College, in 1961, more than 2.5 million people have gone through his “basic seminar” training on authority, success and other issues. IBLP held 504 seminars in 2010, but that number dropped to fewer than 50 in 2012.
The financial decline came around the same time that the whistle-blowing website Recovering Grace was formed in 2011. A string of allegations has been posted on the website, including one alleging Gothard molested a woman who was underage in the early 1990s. Four articles allege Gothard engaged in sexual harassment, and four articles allege his failure to report child abuse to Child Protective Services.
Calls placed to IBLP Thursday and Friday were not immediately returned.
Some of the stories are absolutely gut-wrenching. Among them:
"Ruth," who worked for Gothard from 1970 to 1980--the last seven years as his personal secretary--reports that Gothard not only interfered with all of her relationships, but also frequently peeked in on female staffers in their nightgowns on retreats. She died of breast cancer in 1994, and her husband Larne shared her story.
"Lizzie,"who worked for Gothard from 1994 to 1998, claims that Gothard touched her, stroked her hair and played footsie with her on numerous occasions. She also claims that Gothard had been warned as early as 1997 by his own board about taking girls as young as 15 on trips and acting inappropriately on those trips--and yet, his behavior didn't change.
"Annette" was taken in by Gothard after fleeing from an abusive environment at her home. She claims Gothard took advantage of her in a sordid and despicable way--touching and petting her in much the same way that "Lizzie" experienced.
""Charlotte" writes that not long after she started working for Gothard at age 16, he began playing footsie with her. It progressed to hand-holding and hugging, and then to touching her breasts. On one occasion, they were coming home from a conference, and he put his hand up her legs and felt her all the way up. Incredibly, this was actually the second time she's been molested like this--her preacher father had been molesting her since she was seven years old. Two fellow staffers, "Dixie" and "Ryan," corroborated Charlotte's account of what happened to her.
"Grace" writes that soon after she came to work for Gothard in 1999, he deliberately tried to get her to play footsie with him. It continued for her entire yearlong commitment to work for him. When she told her parents--who had been devoted to Gothard's teachings since she was six--they didn't believe her. As she put it, "they chose to believe that the man they followed and trusted with their lives — and the life of their first-born daughter — was infallible."
"Rachel" says that when she went to work for Gothard, he stroked her hair, rubbed her legs and played footsie with her. She said that what happeed to her was similar to what other girls experienced, and can also vouch for what happened to "Charlotte."
IBLP board chairman Billy Boring says that the board will respond "at an appropriate time" once the review is complete. The only acceptable response, if it hasn't happened already, is to call the police. And if this is at all true--and there's little reason to doubt it is, based on reading what Recovering Grace has gleaned--it doesn't matter if Gothard is 79 years old. He needs to go to prison.
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job. Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate of the United States. You may remember that he stole a wedding picture and used it on anti-gay flyers in Colorado two years ago. At last report, a lawsuit against both Delgaudio and his organization is still pending. But Delgaudio may have concerns nearer and dearer than that lawsuit. Since 1999, Delgaudio has been a member of the Board of Supervisors (county commission) in Loudoun County, representing the Sterling area. But several of his constituents are trying to use a little-known Virginia law to have him removed from office for gross misconduct--including using county money to run Public Advocate.
The story began in September 2012, when one of his former aides, Donna Mateer, claimed Delgaudio forced her to raise money for his campaigns on Loudoun County's dime. She also claimed Public Advocate footed the bill for several courses she attended, as well as fundraising lists she was told to use. She also claimed that at one point while she worked for Delgaudio, Public Advocate essentially took over his office. Mateer also said the working environment in that office was extremely hostile--to the point that several people quit.
Mateer's allegations were serious enough to trigger a criminal investigation by Theo Stamos, the commonwealth's attorney (district attorney) for nearby Arlington County. The investigation concluded last June. Ultimately, the grand jury declined to indict Delgaudio--but only because Loudoun County supervisors serve part-time, and therefore aren't covered by state laws governing misuse of public money. Read the full report here. When Delgaudio's colleagues on the all-Republican Board of Supervisors read the report, they dropped the hammer on him. Delgaudio was formally censured, stripped of his committee seats (though he got one of them back in January) and lost control of his district budget to the full board. One of the supervisors, Ralph Buona, said--rightly--that Delgaudio had only escaped being brought up on criminal charges due to a technicality.
That didn't go far enough for several of Delgaudio's constituents. Two weeks ago, a group called "Sterling Deserves Better" filed a petition asking the Loudoun County circuit court to remove Delgaudio from office. Under Section 24.2-233 of the Virginia Code, constituents can petition a court to remove an elected official from office for "neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office." The text of the petition largely echoes the grand jury's findings. In essence, Sterling Deserves Better is saying that even if Delgaudio's actions didn't technically break the law, based on the grand jury report he is manifestly unfit for office. The case is currently on hold because the judge slated to preside over it wants the entire bench of Loudoun County recused.