Ron Luce's "stealth evangelism" guide exposed (part 2)
Part 3 is where we get into the real meat of things--"bait and switch" evangelism in action. This section starts out laying things on thick:
Tactics of war are how actual strategy unfolds. This is where all the talk stops and the action begins. It is also where the fun begins. You are about to launch an invasion of the most holy kind. You are about to march into enemy territory and take it back.
Okay, first off they state that apparently not following the instructions in the book (some of which could get a kid suspended, as I'll note below) is Not Optional. Already they're back with the whole "God Warrior" imagery (now you see where Perrin gets it!).
What are these "non-optional" suggestions that kids should do "at least three or four" of a week? Let's see:
1. HIT LIST
Yes, the first suggestion is to compile a literal hit list of potential targets for harassment to the point of conversion. Charming, no?
Doing such a thing in most public school systems is liable to get a kid suspended and referred to an "alternative school" at best; many school systems even in 1995 would expel students known to be compiling "hit lists" for any reason. We won't even talk about how they're essentially teaching kids to stalk targets and arrange for mass harassment--much the same way poor women who go to a "women's clinic" for contraception or prenatal well-baby care are often viciously harassed by dominionist "pro-life" groups who think she's had an abortion. (In the modern versions, they probably even arrange for "flash mobs" and harassment via Internet, too.)
The next lesson is on the blatant misuse of apologetics (no, I'm not making this up) and the use of strawman fallacies to promote creationism:
2. EVIDENCE DEMANDS A VERDIC
Firstly, apologetics is far more rigorous (well, outside of the "Bible colleges" used by dominionists, anyways) in mainstream Christianity--to study apologetics takes years and often decades of serious study and work. The "doctorate of divinity" given at mainstream Christian seminaries requires a lot of hard work and is well earned.
It's almost insulting they mention apologetics, as entire apologetics sites exist detailing the extensive flaws in dominionism from an apologetics standpoint. (To add insult to irony, at least one of these sites--"Deception In The Church"--has some of the best info on the Internet regarding the history of dominion theology in specific reference to fighting it on an apologetics level.)
Also, the argument they're using is almost identical to arguments used in "intelligent design" promotion and teaching of frank creationism; in fact, talkorigins.org has detailed nearly every argument of this type attacking the basis of the scientific method and given specific rebuttals.
Tactic 3 begins what is an extensive portion of the book which uses parallels to the actual arrest, conviction and imprisonment of a criminal:
3. READ THEM THEIR RIGHTS
Absolutely charming, no? Certainly enlightening (with this and the entire "throw the b*stards in jail" metaphor the section uses) in regards to how dominionists think of the rest of us at any rate. (Incidentially, the Miranda warning they refer to is formal notification that someone is under arrest--not free to leave--and that they have the right to remain silent (thus not incriminating themselves) and that they have the right to legal counsel.)
Note the use of scripture-twisting. At least one of these verses (Matthew 6:33) has been very commonly used by "name it and claim it" and "prosperity gospel" hawkers to claim biblical authority for promoting God as a glorified pyramid scheme.
The imagery goes downhill from here:
4. BOOK 'EM
Yup, you read that right--they're advocating Random Bible Verse Bombing of random strangers picked because the dominionist "felt" they were the target.
The use of criminal indictment imagery continues:
5. WITNESS STAND
(Oh, joinks! Not philosophy!)
Yes, they're advising kids to do roughly the same thing televangelists do, or people who got thrown in prison and became "born again" and are now riding dominionist travel circuits (Ollie North, Chuck Colson, I'm looking at you) do...have a very specific script of how they were a horrible person and then "I saw the light". Conversion stories of people who engaged in the most horrific debaucheries imaginable, then became "saved" and are now circuit-stumping fire-and-brimstone preachers, are such a regular on the Assemblies traveling-pastor circuits as to be practically a parody of themselves; more often than not, the stories of debauchery are often "embroidered" at best and often outright false (note the case of Mike Warnke, who claimed to have been a "Satanic high priest" (and had made some fairly outrageous claims--for example, claiming he had sacrificed babies to Satan and whatnot) until he converted and became a "Christian Comedian"--when an evangelical Christian magazine actually did some research, it turned out Warnke was making the whole thing up).
Suggestion 6 is actually an advert for Carman Ministries. (Yeah, real subtle there, folks.)
Suggestion 7 suggests people set up a miniature version of a "Hell House":
7. PDA (PUBLIC DISPLAY OF ANOINTING)
No, the allusion I made to a "hell house" isn't accidential. An Assemblies-based pastor invented the concept of a dominionist haunted-house which is advertised as a standard haunted-house attraction (which is, of note, not explicitly promoted as linked to the church) then--once people have paid their money and the doors are locked--they are taken through very graphic depictions of how people had died and gone to hell because of various perceived sins. At the end, hard-sell altar calls are done to get people to convert after they've been literally "scared straight". (The pastor now sells "hell house" kits to other churches within the pente and neopente movements.) A similar campaign, "Judgement Houses", are promoted within the Southern Baptist and "independent Baptist" communities as well.
Needless to say, these are controversial, none the least because they are designed as a classic form of bait-and-switch.
This is a smaller version of the same thing, and in fact, in the comments in the original the "hell house" concept is even more explicit.
Suggestion 8 and 9 advocate "love-bombing" persons who are depressed or otherwise having negative life circumstances, including even suggesting they stalk those individuals if necessary:
8. RESCUE 911
Notably, quite a number of other groups target people when they're down like this--groups like the Moonies and other spiritually abusive groups. (In fact, it's actually a tactic in most spiritually abusive groups to specifically target people in difficult life circumstances as they tend to be less resistant to coercive tactics and they are easier to recruit.) In fact, experts in researching spiritually abusive groups term the technique described here "love-bombing", and its use has been documented especially in "Bible-based" coercive religious groups. It's a very common way in which the Assemblies of God in particular recruits members.
No consideration is given, notably, to the real possibility that domestic violence issues or depression may be occuring because of a dominionist group.
Suggestion 10 is yet another advertisement for R.I.O.T. and Carman Ministries stuff. (So much for the church being apart from the world, eh?)
With Suggestion 11, we're back to the criminal prosecution suggestions. Here, it's recommended formally to get to know someone to get to know their weak points (and the best chance to prosyletise to them) and advocates getting to know folks for that sole purpose:
Yes, they're suggesting you establish friendships with people for the sole purpose of converting them to dominionism. (And people wonder why walkaways from some of the more spiritually abusive dominionist groups have such severe issues with trust of, well, anyone.
Chapter 12 continues both the criminal prosecution titles and the push to prosyletise, prosyletise, prosyletise at all costs (including the cost of losing pretty much all friends who avoid you now):
12. CROSS EXAMINATION
And thus we see the eventual goal of the love-bombing in suggestions 8 and 9 and establishing fake friendships with people in suggestion 11: to spring the trap and begin a hard-sell for them to convert, and get more warm bodies into the local dominionist church.
This is, sadly, surprisingly effective.
Suggestion 13 not only is handy for dominionist groups like the Alliance Defense Fund to have lots of fodder for lawsuits against public schools (when they crack down on idiocy such as is promoted) but for the parents of the young "God Warriors" when they get an F on their English paper for the following stunt:
13. CAPTIVE AUDIENCE
Something tells me that mentioning Jesus in one's trigonometry proof is not going to go well.
Let's see, how can we list the consequences of this:
a) Students no longer allowed to give speeches at all without prior review of school b) Students of different faiths suing the school system for what is, in fact, enforced prosyletisation c) the young God Warrior potentially being suspended or given a bad grade, thus resulting in God Warrior Jr.'s parents Mr. and Mrs. God Warrior suing the school system and bringing in the Alliance Defense Fund claiming they're "persecuting Christians" because God Warrior Jr. inserted an altar call in a paper on the Peloponesian War d) Public speaking in general being discouraged (already happening in public schools) e) A major "creation of hostile environment" lawsuit against the kid, the school system, and the teacher for God Warrior Jr's speech
Needless to say, at best God Warrior Jr. can expect never to be allowed to give a public speech for the rest of his school career if he tries this in most places. (In the places where this would fly, let's just say that Americans United, PFAW and the ACLU are working to stamp out this sillybuggers--as is Talk2Action.)
Suggestion 14 may well, in the modern mall environment which generally prohibits solicitation in general, set the world's fastest record for a mess of dominionist kids being thrown out of a mall:
14. MALL BLITZ
The mall cops would be right in this case--if the mall has a general "no soliciting" policy, they can generally throw you out and even ban you from the mall; as it is, the behaviour promoted is in fact so disruptive that a lot of private mall owners would likely throw the kids out for being a general disruption. We also will not talk about what stores would likely do in regards to seeing a mess of kids deliberately messing about with the store merchandise (putting tracts in mannequin's pockets, for example, is VERY likely to have the Wrath of Mall Cop and a permanent ban from the mall follow shortly).
This is one of those tactics that, in municipally run mall spaces, could even potentially get a kid arrested.
Step 15 encourages the mass rental of pagers and handing out of flyers--as a sort of "dial-a-prayer" line. (Not likely to be effective, and likely even at that time to have gotten kids suspended--even as far back as 1988, the public school I attended had a district wide policy of prohibiting the possession of pagers by any student who was not part of an Explorers police or EMS post or part of a fire and rescue cadet program. Some schools have expanded this to cell phone usage, in part because of the use of pagers in drug deals and the general disruption of cell phones.) One expects that the modern version promotes the use of frank net.abuse like spamming and SMS spamming as well.
Suggestion 16 is--at best--likely to have all the students involved having very long discussions with their guidance counselors, and could even lead to criminal prosecution now for frank stalking and harassment:
6. STING OPERATION
Yes, you're reading that right. They suggest having a literal mob of people target one specific person to harass to the point of conversion.
At best, this is very likely to lead to a formal complaint to school authorities if the person finds the efforts unwelcome or threatening. Increasingly, stunts like this have lead to actual lawsuits and court orders preventing contact with the person targeted; many schools have "zero tolerance" policies on harassment this would fall under as well (which would mean that the offenders would be expelled or sent to an alternative school). The efforts here also fall very close to the legal definition of harassment, and in fact people have successfully sued and won against dominionists who've used these types of tactics. In some states, this would even fall under the legal definition of stalking.
Yes, they're actually proposing potentially committing a felony offense for purposes of harassing individual targets into converting.
Suggestion 17 suggests, in very similar fashion to suggestions 8-9, establishing fake friendships between people of different races and cultures for the sole purpose of prosyletising to them.
Suggestion 18 is actively training kids to practice sheep-stealing:
18. BEHIND ENEMY LINES
I should note, as an aside, that practically all non-dominionist churches are considered "cults" by dominionists. "Sheep-stealing" is a tactic that is considered highly unethical by practically all mainstream Christian denominations, is often considered a tell-tale warning sign of a "Bible-based cult" in and of itself by experts in spiritual abuse, and is actively encouraged in some dominionist groups (particularly the Assemblies and other pente and neopente groups highly influenced by "spiritual warfare" theology). Catholicism is often considered a cult by these groups too, as are Episcopalians.
Suggestion 19 is a familiar standby in dominionist circles, and in fact, with spiritually abusive groups in general (the Scientologists especially love this one)--target a celebrity, convert them, and they'll do your advertisement for you:
19. POINT MAN
Again, this is a very old and very common tactic--the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International has used a variant of this tactic for at least sixty years, and the FGBMFI's own parent Assemblies of God was using it as early as the 20's-30's in converting baseball celebrities to dominionism. (In a non-dominionist context, the Scientologists have also done this with Hollywood celebrities.) Dominionists even have entire groups of friendly sports celebrities who have held altar-calls in public schools disguised as "anti-drug talks", so they are well aware of how a celebrity friend can help out. (It's gotten them, at this point, control of very nearly the entire United States government.)
The sidenotes are also interesting here as they describe their parent church setting up a gym as a front for "bait and switch evangelism".
Suggestion 20 is another of those "very likely to get you arrested" tactics, as it involves the literal faking of someone choking to death (in a scene reminiscent of bad dominionist "scared straight" theatre--more on that later) as a chance to prosyletise:
The purpose of street drama is to invite people into your world. They stop and watch you because they want to see what you're about. During those moments when you have their attention, you can make your time count.
The last I checked:
a) you do not treat choking by CPR but by use of the Heimlich maneuver (please, whatever gods there are out there, if I am ever misfortunate enough to be in the food court and end up choking on a piece of bourbon chicken from the Chinese take-out kiosk, do not let one of these people try to render aid by performing CPR) b) increasingly, falsely causing EMT personnel to be called can be considered legally on the same level as a false fire alarm (among other things, if done in a school or in a mall, this could result in people calling real life emergency personnel to help) c) increasingly, this could be potentially fatal to the student in question faking choking (quite a number of malls and even some schools have portable defribulator units for use in case someone has a heart attack, and personnel trained in their use; at best, a trained first responder may try actually performing the Heimlich maneuver or CPR, resulting in cracked ribs)
Note the promo for Teen Mania again.
Suggestion 21 gives the bright idea of kids faking a video documentary for the purpose of prosyletisation:
Here is another unique tactic for getting into people's hearts. Take your R.I.O.T. Squad out with a video camera and do interviews at the mall, at school, at a ball game or at a local hangout. Walk up to a group of people and tell them you're making a video program. You aren't lying - just don't say it's going to be on T.V. Ask them if you can videotape them. Most people will agree.
No, it's not technically "lying", but it is deceptive. Also, it's one of those things squarely in the category of "likely to get one sued", as generally there are strict legal requirements for the likeness of people being used for advertising (like, oh, say, getting formal written consent from the person in question). I know if I'd had my likeness used in that manner, I'd be suing for every red cent and then some.
In another entry in the "Let's Get The Whole Damn School System Sued" category (and yet more fun with criminal prosecution imagery), they also promote abuse of the school announcement system in Suggestion 22:
22. APB (ALL POINTS BULLETIN)
Uhm...unless the school system is in a highly dominionist portion of the country, there is roughly about as much chance of the school allowing such an announcement as, say, Mephistopheles has of buying the New Jersey Devils and starting the first infernal NHL franchise in the City of Dis in downtown Hell.
The reason this is incredibly unlikely is that school systems have been sued for this--it's been ruled that, among other things, a student giving prayers across a school PA system is considered state sanction of religion, which is illegal. (Bible clubs can meet as long as teachers aren't organising it. Use of the PA system requires participation by the school.)
If a school DID allow it, anymore they'd be hit with a lawsuit, and deservedly so.
Suggestion 23 is a redux of all the John 3:16 banners you always see at practically every sporting event known to man, likely including the infield at the Kentucky Derby (and what a wonderful den of scum, villany and flagrant alcohol abuse, gambling and the occasional streaker trying to climb the flagpole that the Kentucky Derby infield is).
Suggestion 24 is traditional tract-handling in skater drag.
Suggestion 25 is another that is likely to get people permabanned from an event (and also yet another abuse of police imagery):
25. S.W.A.T. TEAM
Yes, and when your group is explicitly banned from school-sponsored events as a result, you can go crying to the Alliance Defense Fund at that time. (Not to mention if your school decides to start abandoning allowing student-run clubs because you decided to harass the members of the local Gay-Straight Alliance or because you tried to canvass the entire senior prom with pamphlets.)
Suggestion 26 is not only another case where love-bombing is actively encouraged as well as frank harassment of "at risk youth", but where bad police imagery is abused:
26. HIGH-SPEED CHASE
Again, this can legally be considered harassment, and even potentially stalking; if the person is "at risk" because of suffering religiously motivated abuse (not impossible; in fact, I was severely depressed as a teenager specifically due to religiously motivated abuse) this can even potentially drive someone over the brink to suicide.
This is also a tactic that is commonly used--and is explictly advocated in the guide--to specifically stop people who are having doubts about a spiritually abusive group from leaving. The specific types of techniques noted (parodied in the movie "Saved!") have even led to churches literally being sued by persons leaving--and in the walkaways winning lawsuits for unlawful imprisonment and harassment.
Suggestion 27 is another entry in the "People will go ice skating in Hell first"/"Opening Up Your Public School For A First Amendment Lawsuit In Three Easy Steps" contest:
27. R.I.O.T. MOVIE
To quote an anonymous humorist--this is going to go over like a lead balloon.
Firstly, unless this is done by means of explicit deception most public school systems are NOT going to allow religious films like this to be shown. (There is perfectly good reason for this--it opens them up to lawsuits because of illegal promotion of one religion over others.)
As it is, dominionist groups that specialise in "bait and switch" evangelism targeting public schools and disguised as "anti-drug" groups--like Seven Project, Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and so on--very rarely if ever explicitly note their connections to dominionist groups and generally never, ever reveal the fact they are planning to hold what is essentially a pentecostal tent-revival in the school auditorium--because school systems would not, and could not, legally permit such a thing. (In fact, school systems have already been sued over the Seven Project's prosyletisation of this exact sort, and many school systems have been sued over similar stunts by Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (in fact, multiple ACLU state groups have sued FCA, and the ACLU of Alabama's formation was founded in part because of such stunts), Power Team, and others.
Lest people doubt that these are explicitly religious films, let's take a look at just one of the movie producers mentioned, Mars Hill Productions.
Mars Hill's specialty is "scared saved" films--basically the video equivalent of "hell houses" that are shown in Assemblies youth-groups and church meetings nationwide in order to--quite literally--scare the hell out of kids. The notes at christianfilms.com regarding the movie is telling:
Six teenagers leave a party and get in an automobile accident. Four of them die and are suspended in space between heaven and hell. Where will they spend eternity? This film packs a powerful punch and brings forth the reality that eternity is coming. Is your reservation in heaven confirmed? This movie is a wake up call to any viewer!
At least one other promoter of "scared saved" films sells all three of the Mars Hill movies as a trilogy, advising parents not to let children see the third lest they have a negative image of parents. At least one dominionist website even has streaming video of the movies in question.
China Cry is also a cult-classic of the dominionist community, largely because the subject of the movie is involving a Chinese Christian woman tortured in a Red Chinese labour camp; its major promotion is still in dominionist movie circles.
Gospel Films is another major promoter of "scared saved" movies (among other "Christian" titles including the first "Christian children's show", Davey and Goliath) and--interestingly--is directly funded by the DeVos Foundation (DeVos, of course, being the founder of AmWay which itself is dominionist and is used as a dominionist recruiting front to boot); reportedly, Gospel Films has a large number of links to AmWay and specifically to the "Yager downline" of Diamonds. (Of particular note, the Yager downline is especially connected to the promotion of both "name it and claim it" and dominion theology proper within AmWay; in fact, the writer of Merchants of Deception (available both in PDF and in HTML format) is an escapee from the Yager downline, has thoroughly documented the promotion of dominion theology in that downline, and has a specific case study of Yager available.) The connections don't stop with Yager, either; reportedly Richard DeVos himself has served as chairman of the board for Gospel Films. Gospel Films' directors have also spoken at AmWay events. Yet another link shows almost a complete overlap between the board of directors for Gospel Films and at the very top levels of AmWay itself--a statement still true, based on Gospel Films' board of directors from their own website. (It may in fact not be that much of an exaggeration to term Gospel Films a division of AmWay, the links are so close!)
Needless to say, this is incredibly disturbing, especially in light of the fact that AmWay (aka Quixtar aka Alticor aka whatever DBA it's operating under this month) is almost universally considered a bona fide cult by experts in spiritual abuse--and is also likely the single largest corporate sponsor of dominionism in the United States. A real concern does come to mind of backdoor recruitment of teens into AmWay (and a major recruitment source for AmWay is dominionist churches, so this fear is well founded).
In regards to other dominionist connections, the website for Gospel Films is co-hosted by Salem Communications, a major player in the radio religiocasting field. Gospelcom.net has itself been listed as being essentially a joint venture between Salem Communications and Gospel Films by multiple sources; a formal press release by Salem Communications further bolsters this. Gospelcom.net actually provides services for a plethora of dominionist organisations.
Suggestion 28 becomes an example in obnoxiousness and a possible advert for home theatre systems all in one:
28. POST-MOVIE BLITZ
If people stood in front of the movie theatre and made announcements of this type before a movie (at least in the movie theatres I attend) that would be a good way to not only be thrown out handily by the ushers, not only banned from the movie theatre, but banned from pretty much ALL but one of the theatres in town that are not "dollar" movie theatres. (For once I have a reason to be thankful for the effective duopoly that National Amusements and Cinemark have in town--and were it not for the three Cinemark theatres (one of which is the local arthouse movie theatre, the other of which IS the "dollar movie" theatre) it'd be a monopoly.)
Theatres are running thin margins as is, and generally are prone NOT to tolerate disturbances of this sort in their theatres. (If anything, they're trying desperately to keep the viewers they have--prohibiting kids under 13 in R-rated films after 6 pm in the Cinemark theatres, having beer on tap and a bar in both of the National Amusements megaplexes here as well as the Cinemark arthouse theatre, having showings in IMAX, etc. At my hometown movie theatre (a National Amusements theatre about a mile from my house) it is quite possible to watch "V for Vendetta" in IMAX, with reserved seating, having a nice glass of wine and real food at the theatre--and gods, but it's nice. :) If they pulled this stunt at the movie theatres around here, after the first two instances they'd have to resort to hitting the last drive-in within a 40-mile radius because they would be permabanned from every National Amusements and Cinemark theatre in town.
(Now, I know that most areas do not have it as good as, say, Louisville does--outside of major cities, that is. I seriously doubt that any movie theatre would tolerate a bona fide altar call during the credits outside of a viewing of, oh, "Passion of the Christ".)
In yet another creative way to get yourself expelled, I give you suggestion 29:
29. LOCKER INVASION
Let's see, this could be, oh, problematic in many ways:
a) Increasingly, schools don't even have lockers (because school officials are petrified that people could Stash Contraband in them like guns, bombs, or what Monty Python's Flying Circus poetically referred to as "certain substances".
b) Practically every single student code of conduct I have found on the Internet that addresses lockers states quite clearly that the lockers are school property and the school Very Much Frowns upon misbehaviour with them. A standard line is that only school related material is allowed in lockers (see Sandusky County OH Schools Handbook for example).
c) A report of people stuffing things in multiple peoples' lockers would arouse suspicion by both students and staff and would likely result in an investigation (and probable suspension) of the student--this because of legitimate concerns of students occasionally planting drugs in the lockers of other students. There are also recorded cases of students placing weapons in the lockers of other students, as well as harassing notes.
Needless to say, someone doing this would shortly find themselves in most public schools on a short path to what used to be referred to as "reform school" and is now referred to as "alternative educational placement".
Lest you think this too bizzare, they advocate prosyletising in the can, too:
30. BATHROOM REVIVAL
In the immortal words of Dave Barry, "I swear I am not making this up". Tract-handling in the crapper. sighs
Mind, a lot of restrooms in schools don't even have doors on the stalls, and only certain periods where people are allowed to go do their business, so they might be restricted to tract-handling with the toilet paper.
(The time it would take to roll up tracts in the typical industral toilet paper rack, the fact that most toilet paper rolls in public schools are of the very large industrial kind which are locked, the fact you have to let the toilet paper touch the floor (ewwww) which is quite inconsiderate of those who follow to use the bathroom, the limited amount of bathroom time available, and the definite lack of amusement of the custodial staff is not considered. Nor is the real possibility that disgruntled users of the bathroom who are thorougly sick to death of the constant God-warrioring may use the tracts in lieu of toilet paper (and as a dorm of indelicate protest, thus causing even MORE problems for the custodial staff, who is still cleaning up tracts on the floor and in the lockers) considered.)
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