Michael Moore: Michigan Needs You To Fight the Religious Right
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Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 03:50:52 AM EST
Michael Moore - are you listening?

You know what a great job you do using your home state of Michigan to explain the ills of America. Well, can you head to the Great Lakes ... soon? Don't know if you've seen, but my eyes almost popped out when I read on Emily's List and Daily Kos about the announced Republican candidate for governor. You see it? 'Cause surely you know that if Richard ("Dick") DeVos wins, Michigan will have fallen prey to religious right fervor in the worst case scenario. You wouldn't know from the Michigan media, but the DeVos family, and Dick DeVos lock-step with them, are among the most prominent funders and fans of the religious right.

Dick DeVos? This is bad.

Pundits say Dick DeVos will spend $100 million to try to win the Michigan governorship.

The DeVos financing of the religious right and Republican conservatives is well documented. The family money comes from Amway, the direct sales cleaning product company, which was founded by Dick DeVos' father, whose name is also Richard DeVos. Several other companies -- Alticor, Access Business Group LLC., Quixtar Inc. and Pyxis Innovations Inc - followed and son Dick DeVos served as CEO until 2002 when he retired. The family also owns the Orlando Magic  

These business ties are frequently mentioned in the Michigan press.  Nowhere do I see the media in Michigan discussing DeVos' right wing ties and financing of the radical religious right that is trying to roll back America.

Michigan is major this electoral year. The religious right is aiming for a takeover. Political analyst Charlie Cook points to 36 states with governships up for grabs in 2006. People are paying attention to Ohio.

But few are watching the Wolverine state next-door, where the effort is underway to install a conservative religious right candidate and drive out liberal/moderate Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, who is standing for re-election for her second term. The right wing would also like to wipe out Michigan's Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Their eyes are clearly on 2008, when Michigan may be the new Florida/Ohio.

Dick DeVos is a diehard religious right candidate of the theocratic bent: anti-gay, anti-choice, pro-voucher and religious expansion. He would be a disaster on many fronts.

Women and gays will especially suffer. Gov. Granholm is pro-choice and has stood up to the right-wing as best she can. Only over her veto, did Michigan manage to pass one of the most oppressive anti-abortion laws in the U.S, basically trying to redefine birth to some time in the womb.  It has been challenged in court and tossed out. But pro-choice activists say they are constantly under pressure because of the well-funded anti-abortion campaign.

How bad is it in Michigan? This is an article from 2005, but 2006 is the same:

In Michigan, the legislative session had only been open a matter of hours on Jan. 12 before Rebekah Warren, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Michigan, was wrangling with the first anti-choice bill, a proposal to ban embryonic stem cell research.

"Michigan has one of the most active and best funded right-to-life movements," said Warren. "Things start here. We see bills introduced in Michigan popping up later around the country."

The DeVos family is to thank.

Richard and Helen DeVos (parents of candidate Dick DeVos) through a Foundation that bears their name, fund Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Coral Ridge Ministries, Foundation for Traditional Values, Traditional Values Coalition, Free Congress Foundation, Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, State Policy Network, Council for National Policy, Mackinaw Center for Policy Research, as well as to the Republican Party. And we're not talking pocket change -- they are top, major funders.

Son and candidate Dick is married to Betsy DeVos, former head of the Michigan Republican Party. Dick and Betsy DeVos, too, have a foundation, described here, which bears their name and invests heavily in the same theocratic causes, supporting, in particular, school vouchers and religious educational training. They are particularly fond of supporting stateside projects.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation provides funding to many of the same organizations as the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundatio.
In addition to their contributions to the Council for National Policy, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation also funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is "dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government."It prides itself not only on researching regulatory issues (e.g., environmental policies and antitrust legislation) but also on publicizing and advocating its analyses and ideas to the general public, policymakers and judges. Thus, as the organization is "engaged in many phases of the public policy debate," it plays an important role in influencing policy at the national level.

The National Center for Policy Analysis endorses privatizing Social Security, as well as the few remaining public components of the nation's health care, education, welfare, and criminal justice systems.


In addition:
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation also funds Calvin College, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Young Life.

Dick and Betsy DeVos have been leaders in the "school reform" movement. Dick DeVos served on the Michigan Board of Education in the early 1990s and strongly endorsed the use of school vouchers. Now, he and his wife work through organizations such as the Education Freedom Fund, Of the People, the Children's Scholarship Fund, the American Education Reform Council, and the Great Lakes Education Project to privatize public education. Dick DeVos sits on the board of the Children's Scholarship Fund (CSF), which provides scholarships to low-income families, so that their children may attend private schools.

And from People For the American Way:

Dick DeVos fought for vouchers as a member of the Michigan Board of Education in the early 1990s. Dick and Betsy DeVos have contributed $25,000, and the Helen and Richard M. DeVos Foundation gave $100,000 to the Mackinac Center, a State Policy Network member.

Betsy DeVos is chair of the Michigan Republican Party and active with the National Rgiht to Life Committee, serving as a founder of a subgroup called the James Madison Institute of Free Speech, which has made opposition to reform of campaign finance laws its mission and mantra, as I reported in this article.

People for the American Way had this to note about Betsy DeVos:

Betsy DeVos has been involved in other anti-public education efforts. She served as co-chair for Of The People, the group attempting to introduce parental rights amendments in the states. These state amendments would have provided disgruntled parents with a strong legal weapon for censoring public school curricula, weakened the ability of social service agencies to act effectively on behalf of children, and facilitated the adoption of vouchers for religious schools. She is chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and, according to the conservative Washington Times newspaper, is said to have close ties to Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, and James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family.

Dick DeVos named David Brandon as his campaign chair. Brandon, with plenty of ultra conservative connections himself, is the CEO of Domino's Pizza, which he was appointed to take over from outgoing Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino's, another major funder of the religious right.

Nowhere is the religious right influence being discussed in Michigan.  This discussion needs to be jump started, and now.

In his book Rediscovering American Values, Dick DeVos makes it pretty clear that he thinks "American" values are Christian values. But he manages to be good and vague about his views on his website. He states that he is pro-life, but does little else to articulate his far-reaching and radical religious views.

The site says:

Dick DeVos is pro-Life.

Dick is the only pro-Life candidate for Governor. He supports efforts to protect and promote a culture of life, from conception to natural death. Dick is the only candidate for Governor who supports a ban on the late term procedure known as "partial-birth abortion."

Dick DeVos believes that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman and will stand up to any future attempts to redefine marriage in the state of Michigan.

Despite this conservative soft-sell, electing DeVos would be turning over Michigan to a reactionary religious right.

This is alarming stuff! Michael Moore, please call home. Go home. With camera. A lot of light needs to be shed on what is at stake in this state, and, by extension, the rest of the country ... and fast.




Display:
Some thoughtful comments have been posted on this site by dogemperor.  Examples are:

here
and
here .


by cyncooper on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 05:15:33 AM EST

I was actually about to post some of the past articles I have done re the DeVos family and their connections to dominionism (both directly, and through Amway aka Quixtar aka Alticor aka whatever they're trying to call themselves this week).

One particular bit re the DeVos Foundation and Amway I've not seen mentioned yet--Amway itself is widely regarded as a coercive group and most exit counseling organisations actually have provided help to Amway walkaways.  (Possibly one of the better sites I've seen in regards to detailing the abusive tactics used in Amway business seminars is at http://www.amquix.info which has many, many links regarding this; the online book Merchants of Deception is also an excellent resource.  Rick Ross Institute, FACTnet,   Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind Institute, and multiple other exit counseling groups have specific sections on Amway, and in particular Steve Hassan has specifically classified Amway business groups as coercive groups according to the BITE model (an extensive "coerciveness" testing model he developed for exit counseling purposes).)

Amway itself (under its various names and guises including Quixtar, Alticor, etc.) can be considered not only a coercive group in and of itself, but also a form of affinity fraud; Amway is heavily promoted in dominionist communities as a "Christian alternative" to other companies.  (In some cases this has crossed over to probable libel; as one of my posts has noted, Amway distributors in the dominionist community are the likely source of a persistent urban legend (which has multiple mutations) that has existed for over thirty years in the "deliverance ministry" community claiming Proctor and Gamble are run by a cabal of diabolists who have dedicated the company to Satan.)

Amway itself is also often used as a tool for recruitment into dominionist churches, particularly the Assemblies of God.  Many Amway "uplines" are run by dominionists associated with the AoG or a particular AoG front-group, the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International (which, along with the "Fellowship" group in Washington, has a good claim at being the first modern dominionist organisation; the FGBMFI has been linked with dominionism in multiple countries, including (especially in Latin America) frank attempts at interference with and subversion of elected governments, and is a major force at spreading dominion theology to other non-pentecostal denominations--one of which may well have been the Southern Baptist Convention).  Assemblies of God members who have been linked with the dominionist movement and Amway (as in Diamond members of Amway--major distributors, fairly high up in the chain, regional heads) include Richard Wead (former campaign advisor to George W Bush who actually coached the latter on much of the "spiritual warfare" imagery used in his speeches and introduced him to dominionists in Washington) and John Ashcroft (yes, the same John Ashcroft whose father was a founder of one of the forty-plus national-level front groups the Assemblies of God operates, the same one whose last senatorial campaign had $20,000 donated to it by the AoG itself); I've written more on this here (both in the context of use for dominionist recruiting and in regards to Amway as affinity fraud) and here).

Not only is the AoG the only dominionist group involved in Amway; according to the book "Merchants of Deception", Jerry Falwell, possibly both George and George W Bush, Oliver North (who has spoken at AoG churches in support of premillenial dispensationalism and claiming Iran-Contra was "a mission from God", and a large number of other politicians, preachers and other personalities involved with the dominionist movement have links to Amway.  

Several walkaways from Amway who were in uplines affiliated with dominionists have reported that they experienced heavy pressure to convert to neopentecostal churches (either AoG or "nondenominational" neopentecostal churches like New Life or World Harvest Church) and many of the seminars were similar to "revival meetings".  Also, people attending these churches have been specifically targeted for Amway/Quixtar recruitment.  Steve Hassan in his BITE evaluation even notes this:

In fact, this characteristic can be taken a step further: distributors have been known to prospect people at their church. This would mean that the belief in the Amway business exceeds a person's belief in their (now previous) religion. I have heard many stories about how people have "gone through" their entire church congregation just to get new people for their business. When that congregation "dries up," the person switches to a new one... just so they can be around new people who haven't heard their sales pitch.

The book "Merchants of Deception" (which was written by a walkaway from Amway) also mentions this in an entire section:
A Godly Business
"From the very beginning ...Rich and I sought to run our sales organization according to biblical principles of integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness. ...A business without integrity
will be penalized in the marketplace."
- Amway Co-Founder Jay Van Andel, from "An Enterprising Life"

Something stirred deep within me. I would have given anything to have Kathy feel that way about me. Quite a few of the speakers would give praise, thanks, and glory to their Lord Jesus Christ. Even though we are Christians, these professions of faith in a business setting made us somewhat uneasy.


The same seminars would push how Amway was an option for "stay at home moms", and the section later details how the people were lovebombed and their worries for their children used to manipulate them into attending the seminars (wow, the same as dominionist groups tend to do with recruiting parents now).

by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:06:40 PM EST
Parent


Dominionist ideology in and of itself is explicitly taught in Amway seminars as well.  Again, quoting from the free online book"Merchants of Deception":
A New Line of Reasoning
We at Empower America are interested in bringing Democracy and freedom and entrepreneurial capitalism to the rest of the world. I've got a great way to do it. If we want to bring down Castro and bring down Communism in Cuba--send them some Amway distributors--that will do it!
- Jack Kemp

Without our knowledge, an educational indoctrination process had begun that would ultimately alter and control nearly all of our fundamental beliefs. Up to that point, politics had never been a real issue of interest to me. At this seminar and most that followed, we began to learn about the evils of liberalism and of the Democratic Party. It seemed that the liberals wanted to take from the hardworking, honest producers (us) and give to the lazy, nonproductive members of society (them). Even our taxation system was deemed to be incredibly unfair. It seemed that the rich (the producers) paid the great majority of the taxes, which ultimately benefited the lazy members of society who chose not to work. They tried to explain that logically there ought to be a tax on the poor. After all, it was the lazy poor who were the ones that were constantly draining the system that was supported by the hardworking families in America.

It certainly did not seem fair that hardworking families, like ours, supported the third and fourth generations of families that were non-productive by choice. This made me quite angry, once I began to understand. I went from having compassion for the poor to contempt for them. This did not happen overnight or over the course of one weekend. This type of information was continually reinforced through tapes, videos, seminars and training sessions over a period of years.

Unknowingly, distributors tended to develop and embrace a totalitarian we vs.they or us vs. them paradigm. This was most clearly evidenced a few years later at another Dream Weekend held in Washington, DC. As chance would have it, another group, called the Rainbow Coalition, was having a seminar at the same location. Jesse Jackson was there to either speak or lead the conference. They, too, were a very well-dressed, sharp-looking group of people. Their group also had tables where people could buy books and support materials. In fact, our groups appeared nearly identical with the exception of one clear distinction. They were Black Americans, and our group was almost entirely Caucasian. The Diamond leadership had a field day when one of our distributors spotted a book on "their" table for sale. The topic was something to the effect of how to get social security at any age.

This became a topic that several speakers addressed with lots of emotion. Here we were teaching people free enterprise, capitalism, self-sufficiency and the work ethic. It was hard to believe that they were in the same building, promoting how to leech off the government and the producers. It was portrayed in a manner that almost made it seem like a battle of good vs. evil, strong vs. weak or the diligent working vs. the lazy.

At this seminar in Washington, DC, we learned of another great evil that had the potential to inflict great harm upon our families and the American family unit, in general. It was the National Organization for Women (NOW). We learned that they were trying to redefine the role of women in America. It seemed as if they almost wanted to make women into men. They were described as "Femi-nazis." The exodus of women from the home and into the workplace was actually tearing at the very moral fiber of what made this country strong. Amway Diamonds would often make statements, "There is no amount of money that my wife could earn outside of the home that could replace the good she could do for the children within it." In a sense, I agree and still agree with the basic premise of this statement. Initially, this was an opinion that Kathy and I shared, but it is not a moral yardstick by which we cast judgment on others.

In our Amway experience, women who choose a career "over" their children were deemed to have a lack of values or were just plain stupid. Distributors would often hear other comments. "Why do you think she's working, because she hates her kids?" To not openly offend the un-indoctrinated, these types of remarks were often cushioned with a disclaimer such as, "I certainly understand the bad position that these women are in. Some are forced into the workplace, because they are married to a man that just isn't a man. I don't know about you guys, but I did not marry my wife so that she could pay her half of the mortgage." This would put tremendous pressure upon the men to be "real men," as defined by the system. The well-meaning husbands now had enormous psychological and emotional pressure to build this business aggressively to "bring their wife home" and prove theirlove, while retaining their manhood. If you could not accomplish this, it would cause a long term, psychological self-emasculation. Rescuing your wife from the workplace was something that every man needed to do and do quickly.

The Diamond leadership became aware of the fact that the National Organization for Women had rented the very same facility for a national conference the next weekend. Once again, we were faced with the conflict of good vs. evil. Who would protect our families? God certainly would if enough of us would rise up. One of the leaders led somewhere near 2,000 of us in prayer against the National Organization for Women and its leadership.

The only specific of the prayer that I remember clearly was that God was asked to create confusion and dissention at the meeting and among NOW's leadership. A couple of weeks later, we were joyfully informed that the meeting held by NOW had been a disaster. We were told that the president had announced that she was a lesbian, and there was a massive power outage in the middle of their conference. Certainly, God had answered all of our prayers and had provided protection for all of us who loved our families.

Another great evil that we had been unaware of was that of organized labor. Distributors were advised that unions generally used their clout to actually protect nonproductive people and reward them with a high pay scale. This was one of the great problems with America, and one of the reasons we, as a nation, may have had challenges in competing in a global marketplace. The "union mentality" was a subject of constant derision at seminars and training sessions. This was one of the reasons for the extremely high costs of putting on a major seminar in any of the cities that we attended. The American people "needed to be educated" on some of the fundamental principles of capitalism for the country to remain strong and survive.

The "entitlement attitude" that unions allegedly maintained was very harmful to our country. There were countless references to lazy people who made statements like "that's not my job." Complaints were voiced that, "a lot of people seem to stop looking for work right after they get a job." We needed to develop the strong work ethic, teach it to our children, and duplicate it throughout the country to make our nation strong once again. Distributors were advised that unions wanted to extract unlimited income from companies without any corresponding effort or benefit. This type of attitude could bankrupt companies and be the downfall of free enterprise.

It was presented that perhaps the worst of these unions was the National Education Association (NEA). This allegedly was a group determined to subvert our family values and Christian beliefs, in general. It was another liberal group that reportedly used its clout to do many bad things. First, it wanted to protect its poor teachers and non-producers by allowing them to hide behind tenure. If they were not good teachers, they should be fired! Forget tenure! This was not socialism or communism, which were topics that they were freely teaching our children. Distributors were also advised that teachers in this liberal system had free rein to teach our children homosexuality, sex education, and even Satanism, despite our wishes.

Once again, this set of beliefs was not created in one day or over one weekend. This paradigm was developed and nurtured in many tapes, seminars, and training sessions. Occasionally, a public school teacher in the organization would talk about some of these topics from firsthand experience. This caused us not only to fear public education, but also, eventually, to view it almost as a form of child abuse. As our family grew, we finally enrolled our children in a small Christian school to insulate them from this evil. Other distributors did the same or chose to homeschool.

Early on, the prayer and the pledge and all of this education about politics and unions seemed out of place in a business meeting. It was explained that we needed to be very knowledgeable in these areas to be able to vote correctly. A well-placed vote would protect the future that we were working so hard to build. Distributors were encouraged to do more than just vote; they were also to contribute financially to the campaigns of those conservative Republicans who were brought in to speak to us. It did not matter if they were not from our home state, as we were urged to get them in office in order to get the whole country right. We were thankful that our leadership had more concern for us than simply our financial success. It was refreshing to be around people that truly wanted to have their lives make a difference in the world. Once again, Forbes seemed to have a firm grasp on this movement when it reported:
In a world where many people find little satisfaction in the paychecks they receive from big companies or public agencies, such visions of financial independence are often compelling. But Amway goes a crucial step beyond mere money. It offers its recruits membership in a community of like-minded people--entrepreneurial, motivated, upwardly
mobile people who believe in their country, in God and in their family. "This country was built on a religious heritage, and we had better get back to it. We had better start telling people that faith in God is the real strength of America!" Richard DeVos writes in his book Believe!

Amway Distributors are bound by a set of shared beliefs reinforced by myths, icons and documents. They are expected to read self-improvement books (popular titles include Believe! and How To Be Happy Though Married). They purchase and listen to Amway-sponsored
inspirational cassettes (usually live recordings of their "upline" leaders' speeches and seminars). And they are expected to use only Amway products in their personal lives.

Amway rallies typically resemble a mix between a rock concert and a religious revival meeting. The evenings are often kicked off with inspiring music--the theme from Rocky, say, Chariots of Fire--followed by much audience hand-holding, singing, swaying and listening to testimonies. Some Amway leaders, such as Dexter Yager, are famous for working their crowds into Amway chants and for revving their audiences with inspirational speeches that last into the early-morning hours. If Amway seems like a commercial version of fundamentalist religion, DeVos offers no apologies. "For a lot of people, Amway is their only route out (of poverty)," he says. "So Amway relates right down to the grassroots, right down to where people live."(13)

We left our first Dream Weekend with total confidence in the knowledge that this was a good and honorable business and that we could succeed. More importantly, we could help our family and friends succeed in the process. Again and again, these words were used to reinforce the all-for-one and one-for-all propaganda: "A rising tide raises all ships."

Refs:
13) Forbes, December 9, 1991 p. Klebnikov

Funny--this sounds almost exactly like the dominionist claptrap I heard growing up in the AoG megachurch I ultimately walked away from (and which was heavily into the dominionist movement).

by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:26:38 PM EST

[ NOTE : this is NOT my comment !  This was a comment by dogemperor which had some llinks that made the page render weirdly. So, I deleted dogemperor's original comment and reposted it here in a version which doesn't disturb the page layout ]

Here's a section on Amway aka Quixtar (which is where Mr. DeVos made most of his money running a glorified pyramid scheme with strong cultic aspects) from a Dark Christianity piece I did on affinity schemes targeting the dominionist community (which is a worse problem than you'd expect):

At least one promoter of MLM schemes--Amway aka Quixtar aka Alticor (which itself can be considered a type of affinity fraud, due to heavy targeting of dominionists including AoG)--is a major bankroller of dominionism.  Rich DeVos has been listed as a member of the Coalition on National Policy (a dominionist think-tank), and more than a few websites have reported on the fact that DeVos is one of the major bankrollers of dominionist and Christian Reconstructionist groups:


http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheSwiftAdvanceOfaPlannedCoup.htm
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/3/22/93155/7030
http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/2005_04_10_cernigsnewshog_archive.html
http://orlandodirectaction.us/arena articlecrusadersRS.html
http://www.mediatransparency.org/pdastory.php?storyID=1
http://www.mediatransparency.org/storyprinterfriendly.php?storyID=1
http://www.mediatransparency.org/funderprofile.php?funderID=17 (the funder profile--as an aside, they apparently also own the Orlando Magic, among other things)
http://www.seekgod.ca/cnp.sn.htm (CNP info)
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Arthur_S._DeMoss_Foundation (links with Arthur S DeMoss Foundation, a major bankroller of dominionist causes and also a group practicing "stealth evangelism" using sports personalities, among others)
Mediamouse.org : A critical look at the ppilanthropy of Andel and DeVos
http://www.detnews.com/2005/politics/0507/15/pol1-241985.htm (apparently he's running for political office now in MI)
http://www.publiceye.org/ifas/fw/9701/amway.html
http://www.aclu-wa.org/Issues/religious/3.html
http://www.villagevoice.com/blogs/bushbeat/archive/000734.php (shows links between AoG, AmWay, and the Bush administration; apparently one of the major funders of political campaigns for AoG-connected politicians has been AmWay, and both Ashcroft and Wead have heavily promoted AmWay in the AoG; according to the article, Wead has actually been blatantly mentoring Dubya, meaning the AoG IS DE FACTO essentially telling the President what to do)
http://villagevoice.com/blogs/bushbeat/archive/000731.php (more on Weadand AmWay links, by extension Bush & AoG & DeVos links)
http://villagevoice.com/blogs/bushbeat/archive/000732.php
http://www.gailsheehy.com/Politics/polimain_bush3.html
http://www.mediatransparency.org/story.php?storyID=4

...and tons, tons more if you care to look on a Google search.

Amway/Quixtar/Alticor itself is considered by most major exit counselors to be a coercive group.  In fact, AmWay no longer promotes itself as AmWay but as Alticor because there have been so many reports of coercive tactics (occasionally with doses of good old fashioned "name it and claim it" and generally dominionist coercion). (Alticor is the third name it operated under--it operated formerly under Quixtar, but many walkaways pointed out it was AmWay renamed.)

Info as follows:


http://www.amquix.info/ (and in particular http://www.amquix.info/amway_cultism.html)
http://rickross.org/groups/amway.html
http://www.ex-cult.org/Groups/Amway/
http://www.factnet.org/coerlink.htm#1
http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/a/amway/
http://www.merchantsofdeception.com/ (VERY good resource, from an AmWay walkaway who also details links with dominionist groups and the present political administration)
http://www.mlmsurvivor.com/ (and in particular the link below)
http://www.mlmsurvivor.com/falwell.htm (regarding links with AmWay and dominionist Liberty University from a site for walkaways from MLM schemes)
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=21105&mode=nested
http://amway.robinlionheart.com/ (and in particular the links below)
http://amway.robinlionheart.com/amwaygospel.htm
http://amway.robinlionheart.com/gospelfilms.htm (on links to dominionist groups)

Very interestingly, many of the same coercive tactics used in AmWay itself are used in dominionist religious groups (including the AoG, which seems to have many a link with AmWay); shepherding, deception (it is widely acknowledged that AmWay was the original source of the persistent urban legend regarding Procter and Gamble's association with diabolism: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/weekly/aa061098.htm), heavy pressure to recruit and "sell", encouraging "stealth" in selling/prosyletising, etc.

In fact, the internal structure of many dominionist churches is in essence a multilevel marketing scheme, especially those churches that have "cell churches" like many megachurches do; a "cell group leader" reports with other leaders, who report with others, up to the pastor himself (http://www.bright.net/~1wayonly/pyramidscheme.html mentions it, ironically).  More info below:

http://www.piney.com/Shepherding.html
http://newsletters.cephasministry.com/dominion1.99.html
http://www.etext.org/Politics/Arm.The.Spirit/Antifa/cell-church.structure
http://www.barf.org/boardarch/0011/ (in the context of dominionist "pregnancy counseling centers"; gives more info on these for those wishing research)
http://www.therealchurch.com/articles/houses_that_changed_the_world.html (warning: dominionist) (from a group promoting "cell churches")
http://www.touchusa.org/cellchurch/arch<wbr>ives/volume7/issue2.htm (warning: dominionist) (from another group promoting "cell churches"
http://www.gochurch.info/why_cell_groups.htm (warning: dominionist) (from yet another group promoting "cell churches")
http://www.cephasministry.com/pandoras_box_3.html
http://www.rickross.com/reference/icc/ICC279.html
http://www.cultwatch.com/saseries.html
http://www.cultwatch.com/superapostles.html
http://www.howcultswork.com/
http://www.caicusa.org/biblebase/abuse/shep12ab.htm
...and, well, plenty more.

Now, whether Amway got its Bad Behaviour from coercive dominionist groups (like Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International) or the other way around may be a chicken and egg question--both groups actually started around the same time--but I'd bet both got their bad behaviour from the underlying "dominion theology" movement which was even then active within pentecostal and some "independent Baptist" groups.


by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:58:10 AM EST
Parent



Yes, I know, I'm spamming the devil out of this thread. :3  Seriously, though, there is a TON of information out there re DeVos and dominionism.

Again, there's another article I've done on Talk2Action on corporate funding of dominionism, but for reference sake here, I'll just post the DeVos section:

Amway (also dba Quixtar and Alticor)

Amway in and of itself, especially the "training sessions", has been noted as being a highly abusive and coercive group to the point that many exit counseling groups list Amway as a cult.

What is less well known is Amway has connections with the dominionist movement on at least two different levels.

The first level is that the founder of Amway is a direct corporate sponsor of the dominionist movement--the DeVos Foundation almost exclusively funds dominionist groups, and is a multi-billion-dollar corporate sponsor of dominionism that is largely funded from proceeds from a barely legal pyramid scheme. Another group that the DeVos foundation funds is the Coalition for National Policy--a highly secretive, invitation-only planning committee for dominionist causes that has been the focus of exposes first by the (now dead) Institute for First Amendment Studies and (more recently) People for the American Way. Theocracy Watch has some documentation on the CNP--suffice it to say that the CNP is the largest of, and possibly the most influential of, the three major think-tanks of dominionism (the two others being the Coalition on Revival and the Arlington Group). In fact, the links between DeVos and dominionism run so deep that I've made a specific post on it.

The second level is the close level of relationship between Amway itself and dominionists, especially within the Assemblies of God. Multiple politicians and political figures associated with the Assemblies, and in particular the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, are also Amway Diamond members (a fairly high ranking in the pyramid); these "Assemblies Diamonds" include John Ashcroft and Doug Wead.  Amway itself is heavily promoted in Assemblies of God churches, especially by FGBMFI members, as a "Christian alternative" to secular companies; of note, dominionist Amway distributors may be the ultimate source of a persistent urban legend (stretching over thirty years at this point, if not longer) claiming that Proctor and Gamble's service mark is a Satanic symbol and that P&G are run by diabolists.


While I was unaware of it at the time (hadn't yet read "Merchants of Deception"), apparently dominionism itself is promoted in Amway seminars (as detailed in my previous post).

by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:39:14 PM EST
My question: Lots of evidence, lots of information, and you have gathered an incredible wealth of it.

Why are these concerns not being addressed in Michigan, at least not much and not recently?

What should be done to get more attention to this incursion?  Especially since this could affect the presidential election of 2008, as well as cause other extensive damage?

If people want to make a difference in electoral politics on the issue of theocracy or dominionism or the religious right, Michigan is the perfect place to take a stand.  But who is going to do it?  And how and what and when?

That's what my 'shout out' to Michael Moore is really about. How to stop this one train BEFORE it runs us down?


by cyncooper on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 07:08:50 PM EST
Parent

As to why it's not gotten press, I honestly have no idea.  (Then again, I would think that a lot of info re dominionism--like, oh, how certain dominionist groups have targeted the military and are even working towards paramilitary groups--would get more press, honestly.)

With Amway, one reason it's been hard to get press on it is that Amway has had a habit of filing SLAPPs against critics (much like Scientology and other coercive groups)--Steve Hassan has been threatened with lawsuits, among others, as have multiple groups exposing Amway.  (In fact, the author of "Merchants of Deception" has been targeted for lawsuits as well; due to DeVos' love of SLAPPs he is publishing the book as a free PDF and under a pseudonym.)  

One thing that would help a great deal is getting all of this info out in the open; most people think of Amway as "annoying" at best, maybe a bit cultic.  They don't realise they're a multi-billion-dollar bankroller of dominionism, promote dominionism and dominion theology explicitly in their seminars, effectively are a business wing of some of the most spiritually abusive groups in the dominionist movement, and are a spiritually abusive and coercive group themselves.

I do not think it exaggeration to state Amway's business programs are in and of themselves a de facto dominionist group, based on what I'm reading.

I think, too, much of the reason (well, besides DeVos actively trying to silence critics) is the same reason that the promotion of dominionism and spiritual abuse within, say, New Life Church or World Harvest Church or the Assemblies isn't terribly well known--most of the good info on it is from walkaways, and for years walkaways have been ignored as "making it up" or "exaggerating" because peole didn't think there were such things as "business cults" or "Bible-based cults" (and even now, a lot of so-called liberal groups claim people who are trying to warn about dominionism are essentially Chicken Littles).

Nobody really wants to think about the elephant in the room.  The trick is to make people think about it before aforementioned elephant ruins half the room with a smelly mess from its rear end. :P

Part of why I'm posting all this is in hopes people can get the word out and start organising, to be honest.  (I'll admit I'm unfortunately a better researcher than organiser :P)

by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:17:07 PM EST
Parent

... misses these issues, even when otherwise interesting.

This is a generally thoughtful column about DeVos' candidacy ... and not a mention of his connection to the Religious Right. He is only seen as a successful businessman. The column, which much of which compares DeVos to Romney, is from the Toledo Bladeby Jack Lessenberry, a member of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Dick DeVos, a Grand Rapids native who retired a few years ago as chairman of the Alticor (formerly Amway) Corp., is hoping to do much the same to Gov. Jennifer Granholm this year.

That won't, however, be easy.

He has a few advantages: the Republican leadership settled on him as their candidate for governor very early, which means he won't have to face a bruising primary fight. His family is immensely rich, and he can self- finance an expensive campaign with ease.

But the polls show that while most residents are none too happy with the state's economy, the governor is still personally popular, and runs far ahead of Mr. DeVos in most surveys. That's partly because many voters don't yet know who the 50- year-old businessman is. When George Romney burst into politics, he was already a household word...

and...

Mr. DeVos is a bit shy by nature, though he is fit, tall, and has an engaging smile.

In fact, for years he was politically in the shadow of his wife, Betsy DeVos, who until last year was a very vigorous and controversial chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

and ...

Yet Dick DeVos has a few things going for him. Michigan faces a profound economic crisis that can't be cured by a mere upturn in auto sales, something that is gradually dawning on the state's citizens.

That will define the main thrust of Mr. DeVos's campaign.

"The economy has to be the main issue," he says, adding that the main goal of a DeVos administration would be to attract new business to the state, and change whatever laws are needed to make Michigan a more attractive place to relocate. "We need to attract small and medium-size businesses; everyone agrees that they are the wave of the future."

and ...

What the race may come down to is whether the voters blame Jennifer Granholm or George W. Bush more for Michigan's economic woes.

If they blame the governor, the question then becomes whether Dick DeVos is offering something better over the next four years -- and whether they believe he can really deliver on that promise.


and..

Look for a long and vastly expensive campaign that, for once, may be fought on serious economic issues and competing visions of how to reinvent Michigan's badly needed future.



by cyncooper on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:38:54 AM EST
Parent




I've written on how "word faith" theology, aka "name it and claim it", is a core part of the theology of certain dominionist groups in the pentecostal community.

Imagine my surprise reading (yes, I get surprised sometimes!) specific mention of "name it and claim it" and good old Assemblies of God-style "Dominion Theology" being promoted in Amway seminars as a business tactic:
(again, source is "Merchants of Deception")

Profess It, Confess It, Possess It
Cults use Christian terminology, but redefine terms to suit their own belief and practices.
(a)

Freedom was the big dream for most distributors we worked with. We talked about it constantly. At seminars and training sessions, we often related our dreams to each other, describing the joy we would feel when we handed a resignation letter to our boss. Some described smashing their alarm clock with a sledgehammer. Some young Pearls or Emeralds spoke of the day they left leaving work in either a limousine or a helicopter. We dreamed of having the lifestyle of six Saturdays and a Sunday. It was all we could think of. We had to learn to focus our mental resources in this direction. From the books, tapes, and seminars we learned that as humans, we could move clearly in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.

If we could control our thoughts and keep them positive and focused on our objectives, we would succeed. Distributors were even encouraged to keep a negative jar in the kitchen. When the husband or wife would speak any statement with even the slightest hint of negative, they would have to put 50 cents in the negative jar. We were instructed that professing only purely positive was biblical. Diamonds would repeat the phrase "what-so-ever ye sayeth shall come to pass," a loose translation of Mark 11:23.(b)(c)

To speak negatively was not only harmful, it was against God's word. The book "What You Say is What You Get!" is devoted almost exclusively to that topic.(d) This book was strongly promoted and sold to members of our rapidly growing organization. Building the business was not easy. It was often difficult and challenging. Although I did not consider myself to be very spiritual, the principles we learned in this book seemed to help in both our business and personal life. Because I did not know the Bible very well, the following scriptures and the description of their real-life applications seemed very helpful.

Never Again will I confess "I can't," "I can do all things through Him
who strengthens me" (Philippians 4: 13 NAS).
(e)
Never Again will I confess lack, for "My God shall supply all your needs
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19 NAS).
(e)
Never Again will I confess fear, for "God hath not given us a spirit of
timidity, but of power and love and discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7 NAS).
(e)
Never Again will I confess doubt and lack of faith, for "God has
allotted to each a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3 NAS).
(e)
Never Again will I experience weakness, for "The Lord is my light and
my salvation. Whom then shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1 NAS)
(e) and "The people that know their God will display strength and take action" (Daniel
11:32 NAS).

Never Again will I confess supremacy of Satan over my life, for "Greater
is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4 NAS).
(e, f)
Never Again will I confess defeat, for "Thanks be to God, who always
leads us in triumph in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14 NAS).
(e)
Never Again will I confess lack of wisdom, for "But by His doing you are
in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness
and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30 NAS).
(e)

Not to agree with these principles is to disagree with God. The author further explains this:

We must agree with God that we have what He says we have: His name, His nature, His power, His authority, His love. Through His Word, we own these things already--but we must take possession of them by our spoken words. We possess what we confess. (g) Like Joshua and Caleb, we are the rightful owners of what God has already given us in His Word --but we have to take possession of our "promised land" by faith.(1)(f)

It was exciting to learn these principles. We got into this business simply to make extra money, and now even our spiritual life was benefiting. It amazed us that people criticized the Amway business and its leaders. These were the godliest people I had ever personally known. It was no wonder that they are so successful. They were living by and applying God's laws, weren't they? We taught these principles not only to members of our organization, but to our children as well. Our children were not allowed to say the word "can't." In challenging situations, they learned to say, "I'll try." Kathy and I were even becoming better parents, as a result of the business. We were both very thankful to learn godly principles that we could teach to our children.

Book footnotes:

1) Don Gossett, "What You Say Is What You Get!" (See notes below on Gossett.)

Dogemperor's notes:

a) "Profess it, Confess It, Possess It" is actually a term used in "word-faith" theology.  For a thorough discussion of the apologetics of "word-faith" theology there is an entire section at Deception In The Church for those wishing to research the subject.

b) This is a classic example of "Scripture Twisting" (which is a practice frequently abused in coercive "Bible-based" groups in general, including dominionist groups).  Etext has the complete texts of the RSV and King James versions of the Bible side-by-side for comparison; a review of John 11 in both versions shows the lifted verse (John 11:23) is part of a larger narrative occuring just after the one documented episode of the Bible where Jesus was moved to wrath (where Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the Temple) and is meant to reassure the Apostles that everything would work out in the end if they just "kept the faith".  (It most emphatically was not a teaching that God was a divine sugar-daddy!)  

It is actually somewhat ironic in this that dominionist "word-faith" preachers use this as an apparent divine formula for riches (and encourage donation of large "seed-faith offerings") when in the actual Biblical context Jesus is telling his apostles not to be afraid of the possible retribution for throwing one of the major moneymaking sources for the Temple out on its ear and incurring the ire of the dominionists of his own time.

c) One term that has also been used in dominionist circles is "Positive Confession"--one of the major practitioners of this has been David Yonggi Cho nee Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea (a large AoG megachurch which is the ultimate source of the "Third Wave" movement in this denomination, and also very closely associated with the FGBMFI; of note, Yoido Full Gospel Church has been linked with spiritually abusive tactics and may be a major source of spiritually abusive tactics spreading throughout the Assemblies of God worldwide.)  This site has a much more in-depth discussion of "positive confession" in "name it and claim it" circles.

d) "What You Say Is What You Get" is a name-it-and-claim-it manual by Don Gossett which also includes aspects of deliverance ministry (in other words, pretty much dominion theology as taught in pente circles).  Gossett is an author unfamiliar to most outside the dominionist movement (and even some within it), but is a major author of various books on name-it-and-claim-it theology.  Gossett has quite a bit of a televangelism empire and in fact several of his books he largely based on writings of the person widely credited for popularising "name it and claim it".

At least one review on Amazon.com's listing for the book notes that nothing on the outside indicates it is in fact a dominionist or "Christian" book and it is only once one reads the book that one finds it is essentially a manual on "name it and claim it".

The book is specifically referenced in Wikipedia's article on the Word-of-Faith movement.

e) More examples of "scripture twisting".  As these are numerous, I'll give brief overviews of actual context (looked up at http://etext.virginia.edu/frames/bibleframe.html again):

Phillipians 4:13--in larger context of letter to the Phillipian church in which Paul is stating that God is giving him strength to survive through good times and ill times and in response to a letter from the church expressing concern for his wellbeing.

Phillipians 4:19--ibid, specifically in response to a gift given by the church.

2 Timothy 1:7--in context of letter from Paul to Timothy instructing him to "keep the faith" and expressing wishes to see Timothy soon, and telling Timothy not to be ashamed of speaking out (noting that Paul himself was recently imprisoned).

Romans 12:3--in much larger context of teachings to the early church that members are to keep themselves holy in thought and deed, that all members of the Church have a purpose even though they may perform different functions, and that they are not to wish ill upon others.  (In fact, this is actually "Scripture Twisting" of a fragment of a verse--the entire verse is "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him." (RSV))

Psalms 27:1--in larger context of what is essentially a warrior's prayer by King David to God asking for help in overcoming persons attacking him.

Daniel 11:32--in larger context of a long prophecy involving a king (of a set of two kings) who would profane the very High Temple of Israel and eventually subjugate most of the ancient world.  Again, this is "Scripture Twisting" involving only a fragment of a Biblical verse; the full verse (which shows the clear context) is "He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant; but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action." (The covenant in this case being the covenant of Israel.)  Interpretations of the meaning of Daniel 11 in general are highly controversial; dominionists, especially premillenial dispensationalists, tend to fit this in with their own rapture and tribulation theories, whilst other have attempted to link this to Alexander the Great's rise to power.

1 John 4:4--in a much larger context regarding discernment (testing to see if a spirit is of God or not) and various tests for discernment.  (Very interestingly, the major test is if a spirit promotes brotherhood.  Dominionists would actually largely fail the test in 1 John 4:20.)  A great portion of the chapter's context is that of the Golden Rule--love your brother as you would love yourself.

2 Corinthians 2:14--in context of a letter from Paul to the Corinthian church apologising for having caused pain to the church and preaching that man must forgive his fellow man and give him comfort.  Part of the chapter (in which the verse occurs) also emphasises how the actions of the members of the Church carry the spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 1:30--in a much larger context of Paul admonishing the Corinthian church regarding early theological disputes that threatened to split the church apart (among other things, there were arguments over "Paulists" versus other early flavours of Christian thought).  The major part of the letter is to remind the church that what was not important was the messenger so much as the message.

f) This touches on a peculiarity of word-faith teachings and dominion theology in general in pentecostal sects--specifically, when Adam fell, it is taught in these groups that Satan gained dominion over the world at that point (hence the whole push in dominion theology to essentially "take dominion back", the major emphasis on "spiritual warfare", etc.)  In fact, "the world" is explicitly equated to "Satan" in these groups based on this.  

The "dominion theology" as taught in these groups expressly teaches that the "saved" are to "take dominion" of all things, and "name it and claim it" and "spiritual warfare" movements within dominionist churches (including the "Third Wave" movements, "deliverance ministry" movements, "Joel's Army", etc.) expressly teach this extends to personal possessions, people's souls, nations, etc. and blame failures on either "demonic oppression", insufficient faith, or some factor (either an innocuous object or item, or a "generational curse" caused by the actions of an ancestor) having "opened a doorway for Satan in your life".  Dominion theology is a movement with a very early history of spiritually abusive tactics, in some instances indistinguishable from those practiced in better-known spiritually abusive groups, and the particular variants promoted in the pentecostal community in particular are increasingly seen as gravely harmful.

g) This is almost a direct quote from E. W. Kenyon, widely regarded as the "inventor" of name-it-and-claim-it theology (see this article for details).

by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:07:21 PM EST


Just when you thought things couldn't get any more broken (or any more creepily similar to my experiences in the AoG) with Amway, again I'm thrown for a loop.

Apparently, according to Amway, people not buying from you are agents of the Devil himself trying to "oppress" you (wow, haven't I touched on the spiritually abusive aspects of that before?)

Not only that, apparently there's yet more evidence of Amway being explicitly used as a tool of "stealth evangelism".  (And here, you get an extremely rare look on how that actually works in practice.)

Again, from "Merchants of Deception":

In light of the results we were getting, we were afforded the opportunity to counsel more and more with Zack and Molly. We discussed these letters with them and Molly told us that she and Zack received letters like that almost constantly. This further fueled our desire to become Diamonds. We would more positively impact an even larger group of people. Zack was very clear in letting us know that we were now more accountable to God than we had ever been. It was a powerful responsibility that we needed to take very seriously. Now, we fully understood why there was a prayer before every seminar and training session. We were God's messengers. The Business was just a vehicle we used to improve people's finances, while we reached them for Christ. It was a bait and switch situation, but in a good sense.

Many speakers spoke of being "tricked" into getting into The Business to make money. Now they said their finances were great, they had a closer walk with the Lord, they were better parents and had a strong, loving marriage, all as a result of the teachings in The Business. They joked about what a terrible trick we [upline] played on people.

This was described as one of the main reasons why Amway and Amway distributors received criticism and bad press. Whenever God was going to use people to do His will or something good, Satan would do all in his power to try to destroy the efforts. We had to stick together, stay faithful to the system and our upline, and not think negative thoughts. Optimism and positive thought came from God. Fear and doubt come from the depths of Hell itself.

To doubt was a sign of weakness and demonstrated a lack of faith. For our own benefit, we were trained to shut these thoughts out immediately upon recognizing them. Leaders throughout the system spent a great deal of time training us to program our subconscious mind with positive affirmations. Satan wanted us to doubt and not reach more people for God. He would make us feel too tired or lonely when we were away from our families. He would tempt us to quit just before we achieved the Diamond level and won the ultimate victory for the ones that we loved the most. All of this was happening on one level of our lives. On another deeper level, I felt as though things were falling apart. Oddly enough, the doubts rushed in a few weeks after that moment of our first great success in achieving the Pearl level.


When the author found out that (instead of making the promised $100,000) he was only making $20,000 a year before taxes, he was heavily pressured--including actual religious bullying--to stay in the program:
I cannot tell you how many times I heard this type of message:

This is the purest form of capitalism and free enterprise on the planet. We are all paid the same based upon performance, not skin color or office politics. If you don't like your income, go perform. You are morally obligated to your group to make a lot of money to build their belief. You are an example and only you can decide if it is to be a good one or a bad one. Don't you love your wife enough to get the job done? Somebody is taking his or her kids to Disney World this week, why not you? I don't think they would hate you for  taking them there. Back yourself in a corner where you have to perform and tell your kids when you are going. Faith is seeing and believing in the unseen. How will your children ever learn to have faith if they never see you step out and proclaim it? Be a leader. It
is what America needs the most. America needs men who are men, not wimps but leaders who can lead. You can be that great husband, father and leader that your wife, your children, your church, your community, your country and your God needs.

Believe me, the propaganda and moral blackmail were very effective. We were taught that if we were concerning ourselves with the success or income of another, it was no wonder that we were not making what we wanted to make. According to the teachings, it must be that my focus and my heart were all wrong. Jealousy and envy do not come from God. They were tools the devil used to distract us from our own victory. Someone that concerned himself with the income of another would never make much himself, due to that character flaw. It was socialism to want to have something that someone else has earned. Socialism has never worked in a single country, because it steals the incentive from the producer. We were instructed that Socialism only worked in theory, on the liberal college campuses, where misguided philosophers taught it. Here, when you produced, you reaped the harvest. It was not like a job where someone else controlled your income. You were in complete control and should be both elated and thankful to have unlimited opportunity to live your dreams.

I felt so conflicted. Here, we were being held up as heroes and successes on stage at large seminars. Tapes of our seminars were being made and sold by the thousands. Inside, I felt like such a failure, because my income did not match what we were told other Pearls were making. I really felt like we were living a double life. Something was missing. I read many of the faith books promoted and sold by our upline. Books by Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale made me think that I had to strengthen my faith to truly succeed in all areas of life. At a large Dream Weekend seminar for Amway distributors, there was an emotional Sunday service that ended with an altar call. Hundreds began to move forward. I wanted to go up, but at the same time, I felt paralyzed by fear.

At the last minute, I left my seat and went forward and recommitted my life to Christ. I was working so hard but something was wrong, because I seemed to be the only person not making a strong income to help my family. From the indoctrination, I believed that I had a spiritual problem: a lack of true faith that was blocking me from being the husband, father and provider that I was called to be.

This was to be the first of several trips I made to the altar over the next few years. Each experience was more emotional than the last. I felt completely drained, not knowing why I was not succeeding. I was desperate to find the solution. Surely, God would hear my prayers. I was spending far more time serving His people than with my own family.


(As a minor side note--Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale are preachers popular in "word-faith" circles; Peale was also responsible in part for the invention of "cell churches" used in coercive shepherding movements that are still practiced in large AoG and "non-denominational" neopentecostal megachurches as well as Promise Keepers.)

Dominionist home setups (specifically the strict hierarchial setup of God over leader over man over woman over child) are also promoted in Amway:

We were told of some former Diamonds that were now broke and working jobs. They had broken another "rule" of success. Some of them weren't real men and listened to their wives "bitching" and complaining. It was a paradox. On stage, men were implored to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church so much that He gave His very life for it. However, in person at high-level leadership `men-only' meetings, we were directed not to listen to our wife's complaints. We needed to be strong enough to overlook their feelings for now, and they would certainly thank us for it later. If you loved your wife, you would listen to your upline instead of her and provide well for her. She would be thankful later that she was married to a real man, not a wimp. I would not recognize this skillful manipulation of loyalties and values until far too late.

Some former Diamonds, we were told, had committed the ultimate sin of disloyalty to their upline. Zack told us how years ago, he had had a group of Diamonds that got together and decided that they knew more than Dexter. They represented a large portion of Zack's organization and came to his house for a meeting. They had decided to split off from Dexter and create their own system of seminars, etc. They told Zack his choice was to come with them or lose most of his organization, or so we were told. He remained loyal to Dexter, and they did their own thing. Eventually, they lost nearly their entire organization and now had jobs (the ultimate degradation). Zack told us, with a smile, that they could have their own Dream Weekend now in a phone booth. We all got a good laugh out of their stupidity and could not understand how they could be disloyal to an upline who had helped them so much.




by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:48:26 PM EST

As I've mentioned before, there are quite a few people that one may or may not recognise in the world of dominionism--John Ashcroft, Doug Wead, a number of others--who are quite dominionist and are members of a dominionist church (full disclosure--one that I myself am a walkaway from, hence why I can give the goods, so to speak).

What you may not know about them is that they and several other dominionists were--or are--"Diamonds" in Amway's pyramid structure (a very high level, essentially the highest level reachable by mere mortals).

The author of "Merchants of Deception" gives some descriptions of these "Diamond" meetings, which are full of "dominion theology" teachings:

We received a warm welcome from this group, the inner circle. We were told that over $100 million dollars of Amway's annual volume was generated through this small group of Zack's leaders. These were the best of the best. The leaders at this level were very family-and- faith-oriented and spoke often of our business as fulfilling the great commission to reach others for God. Many often quoted Scripture. They were always impeccably dressed and appeared extremely wealthy. The real motivator for us was that they had each helped many, many others succeed as a prerequisite for their own personal success. The greatest servants had become the greatest leaders, and we were among them. Prodding at us in the background was our very real desire to be well-paid servants. We had yet to see much of the promised income.

Therefore, the wealth that the Amway Diamonds openly displayed put us off and motivated us at the same time. The Amway Diamond-level distributors had an enormous amount of jewelry, particularly diamond jewelry. This was a visible outward sign of their economic success and symbolic of their achievement of the Diamond level in the Amway business. Most Emerald-level distributors wore diamonds. Coming into the business, I did not think it was a manly thing to wear diamond rings. It certainly had not been a goal of mine, but in The Business, it was a symbol of manhood. It was a symbol of servanthood. It symbolized reaching your full potential for your God, your family, and the people in your organization that you loved.

The high-level distributors would often take off their diamonds and other jewelry and pass them around for us to try on. Molly had a six-carat diamond ring, and Zack sported a ten-carat ring. We were told that it was a nearly perfect investment grade stone valued at over $100,000. He also sported a presidential Rolex with a face, bezel, and band nearly completely diamond encrusted. Molly had a large collection of gowns, shoes, and furs. Zack often spoke of getting into The Business, wanting to have a good car, and at one point owning over a million dollars in vehicles alone. They lived in what was described as a 10,000 square foot home, appraised at over a million dollars. It had been purchased from a non-believer. (Speakers would teach us from stage that God made these sorts of things for His kids, not Satan's.) It was very important to know that there was no mortgage on this home or on any of the other homes that Zack and Molly owned. If we just followed the principles we were taught, we too would one day live debt free and stress free. What a joy that would be for us!


Ah, yes, fun with the private face of the dominionist.  Yes, dominionists (to their own, anyways) actually teach that those who aren't fellow dominionists are literally Satan's children.  This is the sort of thing that the dominionists don't want you to see--might hurt recruitment efforts, you know.

The links to dominionism continue in the book; televangelist Robert Schuller (a major promoter of "name it and claim it" theology) lauds Amway.

Amway even provided for "spin control" regarding concerns of it being a coercive group (in almost identical manner as "Third Wave" churches) and media was demonised in almost the exact same manner as we see dominionist groups demonising the mainstream media:


We would, on occasion, run into a prospect or family member of a distributor who thought Amway was a cult. Amway a cult? That was the most moronic thing I had ever heard. I could not even understand why someone would say something so stupid. Here is a business where people open every seminar with a prayer and a pledge to the flag. I had never been around more godly people of integrity. These people, particularly the Amway Diamonds, worked tirelessly as servants to their organizations to help them succeed. Here we have former Presidents of the United States and key religious figures endorsing Amway with glowing praise, and some nuts want to call us a cult. It was ludicrous, but it is a fact that this topic came up on occasion. (Several years later, I myself would have to spend days with a renowned cult expert and over a year in recovery to begin to be deprogrammed from my involvement in an Amway motivational cult.)

We were taught how to address this issue. In one leadership training, Zack spoke on this subject. He mocked anyone stupid enough to even repeat something this foolish. He explained that in a cult, everyone does what the leader says to do. If that were the case, we would all be rich! We all laughed and took the point well. If we all could follow his direction more closely, we would be wealthy. In spite of the automatic cultic response, I could not comprehend why someone would even mention cultism. It must be some perception of Amway from 20 years ago that followed it around like an urban legend of sorts. We were constantly reminded that the average person would criticize above average achievement to justify his or her own laziness and lack of success.

The media was routinely blasted as an enemy of sorts. We learned, and later taught our group that the media was a business. What sells, the truth or the sensational? Sensationalism sells, even if it is completely devoid of all truth. The media, with its liberal slant, was an effective, powerful tool in destroying the efforts of conservatives, who wanted to make this country a better place for our children's future. Key players in the media were often maligned as idiots.

In one talk, Geraldo was referred to as Geronimo, Rikki Lake was called Wikki Wake and Oprah was called Dope-rah. These derisive terms were ones that I would later repeat, as I taught large organizations around the East Coast on the evils of the media. We needed to control our psychological environment. Our minds were very much like a computer - garbage in, garbage out. We move in the direction of our most dominant thought, so we had to control what we thought about on a regular basis. This is why the system was so vital in keeping us focused. We needed to listen to at least one tape every day.


Much as Amway may have promoted urban legends regarding Proctor and Gamble, it appears Amway also promoted several urban legends in circulation re the First Family when Clinton was in office:
Dexter started out slowly and seemed to be relating rather well. He told many stories of the old days when he and Birdie struggled. His talk soon shifted with incredible force into his political agenda. This was a pattern we would soon become accustomed to. At one of these meetings, with thousands of distributors in attendance, Dexter informed the audience that he had distributors in The Business in high levels in the government. He even told the group present that he had connections with Secret Service agents that worked in the White House. These agents had advised him that Hillary Clinton was a lesbian and that she slept in her own private bedroom--separate from Bill's. The agents, he said, had told him that our tax dollars were being used to shuttle Hillary's lesbian lovers in and out of the White House. We would hear this saga repeated often by both Zack and Dexter at other leadership meetings.

At this meeting, and many others, Democrats were often characterized as mindless idiots, bent on socialism and the destruction of the moral fabric of this country.  We lost a good amount of distributors after this seminar. If you did not eventually change your way of thinking from Democrat to Republican, there really was no room for you in Amway. To stay in Amway and remain a Democrat would subject you to almost constant derision and mockery. I do not ever remember hearing any Amway Diamond speak who was anything but a conservative Republican. It almost seemed like a requirement.


Shades of the dominionist church I walked away from. O_o


by dogemperor on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 10:15:49 PM EST

I am what you would call a member of the "religious right", and am a Republican but I am APPALLED that the GOP has nominated a CROOK for the governorship of Michigan.

I would suggest that everybody here read the stunning expose of the inner workings of this Amway Cult :

MERCHANTS OF DECEPTION

THIS ATROCITY HAS CONTINUED FOR 3 DECADES.  

I just don't get it!!!    How has the media not made this a front-page story???!!!

There is also a blog by Eric Janssen - QUIXTAR BLOG

that has been exposing this fraud for the last three years.

If the ongoing FBI investigation of this  Atrocity goes to its inevitable conclusion without any political pressure, I will bet you that this will go down as the BIGGEST CONSUMER FRAUD IN AMERICAN HISTORY!

Check out my personal web-page, I have been carrying out my own personal crusade against this fraud for the last few years:

QUIXTAR-AMWAY INFILTRATOR

by perceptive on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 01:20:46 PM EST


For the Record: Dick DeVos lost big in his bid for the governship of Michigan in the November 2006 election.

As reported in the Toledo Blade:
Money not enough for DeVos
.


WHATEVER your politics, there has to be something encouraging about last week's election results in Michigan, if only for one reason: they proved you still can't buy an election.

Amway billionaire Dick DeVos certainly tried. He broke all records for spending. Though final numbers aren't in, it seems likely that Mr. DeVos spent close to $50 million on his campaign, perhaps $30 million of it his own money, most of it on slickly packaged TV commercials.

Despite all that, he lost in a landslide, racking up the second-worst showing by a Republican candidate for governor in modern Michigan history. At the end of the day, he had two insurmountable problems: the national disappointment in President Bush and the Republicans, and the fact that he was, well, Dick DeVos. In other words: not ready for prime time.



by cyncooper on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 10:58:50 AM EST


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