Christ's Righteously Equipped Warriors
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 09:49:39 PM EST
Last weekend 25,000 youth descended on San Francisco to attend a BattleCry event. The purpose of BattleCry is to save today's youth from a "sinister enemy" that is "ravishing their hearts." From christianbooks.com:

A sinister enemy marches across our land leaving in its path the ravished hearts and minds of America's youth. Giant corporations, media conglomerates, and purveyors of popular culture have invested billions of dollars and endless hours of effort to seduce and enslave the souls of our youth. And so far, they have succeeded.

Last weekend's event had strong military overtones as in this slogan on a T-shirt: Christi's Righteously Equipped Warriors. "I attended the Battlecry event," wrote Debra Hubert of the War Resister's League in an email to me, "and witnessed its military metaphors, completely ignoring Jesus' prohibition of violence. I saw Navy Seals pumping up nationalism and the wars in the middle east."

As reported in The San Francisco Chronicle

Military metaphors abound in Luce's descriptions of the struggle. He tells young people of how "an enemy has launched a brutal attack on them." At a pre-Battle Cry rally Friday afternoon on the steps of City Hall, Luce told his mostly teenage audience that "terrorists of a different kind" -- advertisers -- were targeting them and that they were "caught in the middle of the battle."
"Are you ready to go to battle for your generation?" he asked, and the young people roared "yes!" and some waved triangular red flags flown from long, medieval-looking poles.

BattleCry is an outgrowth of Teen Mania founded by Ron Luce, author and host of  "Acquire the Fire TV" cable television program. Luce is also a President Bush appointee to a federal anti-drug-abuse commission. If this post has you good and scared, consider that Ron Luce is also scared. His Acquire the Fire web site reveals some interesting statistics -- whether or not they are reliable is unimportant. They underscore a real fear:
There are over 33 million teenagers in America alone. Experts predict that at the current rate of evangelism, only 4% of tomorrow's generation, today's teens, will hold core Biblical beliefs (Thom S. Rainer, Bridgers). Studies also show that 77% of people who become Christian do so before the age of 21 (Barna Group).

This is our window of opportunity. If we don't reach them now, we will lose them forever.

Teens are less and less likely to believe in absolute truth, let alone a God who loves them. Relativism is on the rise with the slogan, "believe what you want, as long as you don't offend anyone else." This trend will have devastating effects on the entire country if it continues unchecked. Only 35% of today's adult generation hold core Biblical beliefs. What will 4% look like?

Ron Luce's book, BattleCry for A Generation describes "The Enemy's Arsenal."  I share Ron Luce's concerns about some of the "arsenal." Item number one is television. As a former first grade teacher, I despair of the impact television has on our young ones.

Luce also mentions advertising: "With more than $128 billion in their pockets, this generation has been targeted by corporate America." Again, I couldn't agree more about the adverse affect of advertising, and the extreme consumerism that is a trademark of our society.

But Luce relies on a polemic that is simplistic at best and dangerous at worst. A) The youth of today are victims of corporate greed. B) The problem is our secular society. C) We need "God's Army," a generation of warriors, to right the excesses of our secular society run by corporate greed.

This thinking is simplistic because it assumes that only people who subscribe to Luce's form of Christianity are bothered by corporate greed and excessive materialism -- which he sees as by-products of a secular society. But concerns about corporate greed and consumerism are regularly heard in the environmental community. Ironically, a group just formed in the San Francisco Bay Area, where BattleCry was staged, who have made a vow to not buy anything new in 2006.

Luce's polemic is dangerous because it glorifies violence and war. History is full of examples of wars fought in the name of "God" that have devastated whole populations.

Less obvious, but just as important, is the habit of tying all the world's problems to secularism. It assumes that secularism means anti-religion. Our founders understood the dangers of one religion dominating government, so they omitted the word "God" from the U.S. Constitution. A secular government means a form of government in which all religions can flourish, or no religion for that matter.  As retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner wrote in one of her final opinions,

Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?



Display:
I should mention that Luce's concern about television is quite different from mine. I wonder about the impact that watching hours of television daily has on our youth's minds, bodies, and social relations. I also abhor the violence it fosters.

Luce doesn't mention any of those concerns. He has only one: the access young people gain to sexual content.

by Joan Bokaer on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 07:10:21 AM EST

TV is what I call a 'stupifier'. It totally dulls your mind, and overindulging in it makes you stupid.

Doesn't matter what's on- be it a frothing evangelical or some crime drama, the effect is the same.

I wish that people would get as riled up about violence on TV as they do about sex. Watching violence is a lot worse than watching sex. (I'd rather avoid both, to be honest.)

by Lorie Johnson on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 10:17:23 AM EST
Parent



As I noted to someone on Dark Christianity who attempted to be an apologist for Teen Mania/BattleCry:

a) "Spiritual warfare" by definition promotes recruitment, and in fact often promotes recruitment by unethical fashions (often through "bait and switch" evangelism targeting youth).

b) By your definition, pretty much all of the deceptive, spiritually abusive things that the Assemblies of God has done--up to, and including, the very invention of the theological basis of dominionism itself that is used to justify this crap--is "church stuff" and "not dominionist".

(And before you even try to start--let me explain very bluntly.  I am a survivor and walkaway from one of those churches that promotes this "Battle Cry" stuff.  In fact, they pretty much started it (both the targeting of youth, and the emphasis on this "spiritual warfare" nonsense) with a little group called "Youth With A Mission" that--surprise surprise--is regarded as a de facto Bible-based cult by practically every organisation doing active research into spiritually abusive groups.  Let's just say I've heard the "it's just a church thing" so many times I could scream; what folks like you don't realise is we know good and goddamned bloody well that much of the dominionist movement IS "church groups".)

http://www.victorious.com/BRMagazine/youth.htm is an example of one of those groups from the specific flavour of dominionist church I escaped (Assemblies of God churches into the "Third Wave" stuff).  The "Third Wave" and "Brownsville" Assemblies churches are probably the most *hardcore of the dominionists in that denomination--again, I can say this with quite a bit of authority because I survived a church into the "Brownsville" stuff a good thirty years before Brownsville.

Here's another link from the very seminary of the Assemblies of God showing promotion of Luce's group:
http://www.agts.edu/syllabi/ce/2006fall/pthb640nagato_fall06_aic.pdf

Here's another link from the Assemblies of God's own website showing association:
http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200101/0101_008_cpaturing_heart.cfm

Here's an Assemblies church promoting it:
http://www.newlifews.com/youth/index.html

Here's a link showing associations with Assemblies frontgroup (and group widely recognised as a bona fide Bible-based cult) Youth With A Mission:
http://www.faithnews.cc/articles.cfm?sid=6343

Here's more links between Luce and the Assemblies:
http://www.christianpost.com/article/ministries/1113/full/youth.workers.energized.at.national.confer ence/1.htm

Here's a promotion from Assemblies-linked groups:
http://www.youthchurch.com/profilearchives/profiles9.php

Here's a link from a dominionist conference that has links to the Assemblies:
http://www.urbana.org/ns.ms.agency.cfm

Here's promotion by a church associated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (which is the name the Assemblies of God operates under in that country):
http://www.dundascla.org/resources.htm

(And before you try to tell me that the Assemblies aren't dominionist, I've got a nicely researched history of dominionism within the pentecostal movement you may want to read.  As it is, the Assemblies aren't just dominionist, they actually invented dominion theology itself and since at least 1953 have been exporting it like a virus outside the church.)

If the links with the Assemblies aren't enough, here's a nice history of Luce's activities which show he's been promoting dominionism to youth for over 10 years (via Teen Mania Ministries) and also show his links to known dominionists like Ted Haggard's New Life Church:
http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/03/1809715_comment.php

Here's a link from a dominionist church listing him along with a group of churches--almost all of whom are blatantly dominionist and several of which are at real threat for losing their tax exempt status:
http://www.2timothy22.org/Resources/Links_nonframes.htm

Here's a link from a page for an annual conference Exodus International (a group promoting "de-gaying" therapy--which is nearly universally regarded by legitimate psychological and social-work groups as gravely harmful to mental health) that notes one of the speakers is linked with Teen Mania:
http://www.exodusfreedom.org/freedom/Featuring.cfm

Here's a link listing Teen Mania as a "supporting ministry" for "See You At The Pole", an event where people have been documented as literally cursing people in the name of Christ by nailing their names on crosses and "praying" that they will become suicidal unless they become converts:
http://www.syatp.com/info/supporting.html

Here's a lovely archived copy of a "bait and switch evangelism" manual given to teens that details some of the tactics used and which specifically mentions Teen Mania:
http://www.barf.org/archive/carman_ministries/01/riot-part3.html
(full manual at http://www.barf.org/archive/carman_ministries/01/index.html)

Or, hell, look at Acquire the Fire's own website and see how they're featuring known dominionist Ted Haggard at one of their conferences:
http://www.acquirethefire.com/stadiums.php?pageid=82

Yeah.  We have a group that is not only dominionist but showing the same bad behaviour as the Seven Project, Youth With A Mission et al.  (The links with the Assemblies are especially troubling, especially as "battle cry" IS a codeword for "spiritual warfare" in that denomination and in "Third Wave" pentecostal circles is actually a "warrior annointing" "manifestation".)

by dogemperor on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 05:34:26 PM EST

This is a link to Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox TV featuring Sunsara Taylo who protested the BattleCry event.

by Joan Bokaer on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 07:35:19 PM EST
Parent

My brother and sister-in-law were YWAM missionaries in Amsterdam and also in Brazil.  He seems sensible, or at least as sensible as a religious person can seem to a perennial disbeliever like me.  He does believe in casting out demons, though, which has always been difficult for me to take.

Do you have any references to the connection between YWAM and the Assembly of God?  (Is that Garner Ted Armstrong's old group, or have I confused my fundamentalists?  Maybe we need fundamentalist trading cards, like baseball cards, to help keep them straight.)  Either internet sites or else books would work for me.

Thanks.  I'm interested in this.  If you want to email me, I think my email is on this site somewhere.  If not, I'll try to get it to you somehow.

Ĝis la venko.

by guleblanc on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 05:48:06 PM EST
Parent

I spent an evening with a group called the Children of God in the very early seventies, in Texas.  I think it was at an anti-war rally in Houston in about 1971.  I must admit I really loved being there, and was charmed by their enthusiasm.  I was completely convinced that my soul had been saved, and that I had found my real family.  Eventually the psychic inebria wore off, and I realized that, despite my ardent desire to believe, to be saved and to belong, I just didn't believe it.

The point behind this otherwise pointless comment is that it's very seductive to be a member of a group.  This is especially true if the group advertises itself as being out of the mainstream, and a little bit persecuted for it, and the seducee is 18 years old.  One of the best things my UU church does for our kids is have a powerful Youth-run Youth group.  The youth organize their own worship services, have their own conventions at which they spend a weekend locked in a church together, with a lot of discrete adult supervision, and discuss their feelings and beliefs, and how they relate to UU beliefs in general.  I must admit, I only know this by report.  I don't actually know what they discuss, but I know it gives them their own place to work through their angst, and I think they are better for it.


by guleblanc on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 06:01:20 PM EST
Parent





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