Dominionists and recruitment of youth
The Purpose Driven Life Takers focuses on an increasing--and somewhat disturbing--trend, that being, the promotion of "spiritual warfare" theology to kids via video games. (The game featured is essentially a version of "Grand Theft Auto" for the dominionist set, where players earn points for conversion or killing of non-dominionists.)
The game parallels some disturbing trends among racist groups (in that games are being used as tools for recruitment), and--more disturbingly--Rick Warren, author of "A Purpose Driven Life" (one of the more popular books in the evangelical community), has the director of his church sitting on the board of the company developing this game:
The international director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.
Warren does have links to dominionist groups--most notably in the "spiritual warfare" communities, like Ron Luce's "BattleCry", and by his own admission is a promoter of "stealth evangelism":
In order to build this earthly kingdom, Mr. Warren plans marketplace ministries - business ventures with a veneer of missionary compassion that slip into a country in order to transform it systematically through the governmental, corporate, and social sectors. And that is why Mr. Warren calls himself a "stealth evangelist" - because he wishes to cloak his dominionist agenda, which is the establishment of an earthly kingdom that reflects his skewed vision of Christianity.
This leads us to entry the second (well, technically, second through fourth) of our anthology:
If you want to get an idea what is meant by "stealth evangelism", there is probably not a better source than to go straight to the horses' mouth. This three-parter is an in-depth look at an actual "stealth evangelism" manual published by Ron Luce and distributed by "Christian contemporary" singer Carman back in 1995. The viewpoints promoted are frightening:
Later on, the "See You At The Pole" events are promoted as a good example of "RIOT Action". This, too, is a subtle reference to "spiritual warfare"; Religious Tolerance, a site based in Ontario, has documented multiple reports of a particularly disturbing tradition at SYATP events:
Part 1 focuses largely on theology and mindset; parts 2 and 3 are an expose of tactics. And such things are being promoted even to this day in groups like "BattleCry".
Blurring The Line Between Faith and Fighting is a very good article that exposes the military imagery in "spiritual warfare" groups like BattleCry:
Why all the military imagery and terminology? Isn't spiritual warfare enough? Why does it appear that many churches are more than ready to take the next step, and take this 'warfare' out of the churches and into the streets? And why the warlike emphasis on teen evangelicism? Battlecry is one of the most overt examples of the use of military imagery and martyrdom to fire young people up into some kind of crazed fury. Their use of military terms is the most overt, and the use of SEALS in their latest mass rally is disturbing on many levels- not the least of which is the tie-in with military recuritment in the real-life armed forces.
Christian Wars is another excellent piece on BattleCry and the "spiritual warfare" imagery therein:
But things have changed again- for the worse. The war imagery pendulum is swinging back from the spiritual realm to the real world, a place that should be of concern to moderate Christians and non-religious people alike. Instead of the Christian version of 'jihad' or 'struggle' against the internal adversaries of spiritual practice, the struggle has been moved to the outside world and its perceived adversaries- all nonbelievers- including fellow Christians. The constant and urgent message is this: Christians are being attacked. There is a war against Christianity. Christians must go on the offensive and fight back." This message is constant and unrelenting. In spite the fact that they are currently in power, there is still a war against them going on, and battles to be fought against a nebulous and often changing enemy. That enemy is now 'the flesh, Satan, and the world'.
One of the first, and still one of the better, articles on BattleCry itself is Christ's Righteously Equipped Warriors (referenced in above article). Joan Bokaer does one of the better exposes of BattleCry that I've seen; the comments also include specific info on links between BattleCry and other groups promoting "spiritual warfare" theology, notably Ted Haggard's New Life Church and Assemblies-linked "spiritual warfare" promoters.
Bokaer also touches on the links to the present administration:
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.
(As a side note, the "RIOT Manual" I did an expose of was published by Teen Mania.)
An interesting look at what actually happens in those "BattleCry" meetings is available at "Battle Cry" Youth Rally in Massachusetts, Summer '04:
From their website:
Again, the comments are particularly telling in this post, giving a lot of good backgrounder info.
Another expose of a "BattleCry" rally is at Battle Cry Last Weekend in Philadelphia:
The militaristic imagery was abundant. Throughout Ron Luce's speech, a loud crowd from the back of the stadium would periodically erupt, "We are warriors!"
There have been groups monitoring and warning against Ron Luce, Teen Mania, and BattleCry for some time. One is Biblical America Resistance Front, which has started a new campaign called "Acquire the Evidence"; Responding to the 'BattleCry' campaign: Introducing 'Acquire the Evidence' details more:
I've been part of a team that's been aware of Teen Mania and its founder, Ron Luce, for some years.
The article also gives an interesting expose on how Luce is reliant on secular promotion (as there are no promotion companies within the dominionist community capable of handling both the levels of production required and the crowdspace needed for the typical BattleCry rally), and again, the commentary provides some very good backgrounder.
And finally, whilst not related to BattleCry directly, there are other groups that are closely tied to Ron Luce--including the Assemblies of God and Bill Gothard's "character education" groups--that do their own stealth recruitment of youth for "spiritual warfare" groups. This reply thread details one of these projects--the "Seven Project" operated by the Assemblies of God (one of the top promoters of "spiritual warfare" theology, as noted in the article I've written on "dominion theology") and promoted in public schools as a program for at-risk youth. (Kids are actually recruited quite commonly to things like "BattleCry" through groups like the Seven Project.)
It's important to be aware of this, because the roots of this are in the scarier "dominion theology" communities--and there is evidence that the "Army of God" rhetoric has spawned domestic terrorism (in fact, a dominionist domestic terrorist organisation calls itself the "Army of God"). It's also part of an increasing tendency to bring up dominionist kids as "Joel's Army" from birth--using abusive childrearing tactics from the time of infancy, raising them in dominionist households where they are correspondence-schooled and their heads filled with "spiritual warfare" theology (it doesn't hurt that at least one of the major "homeschool" curriculum authors is tied to honest-to-God militia groups), sent to dominionist alternatives to Scouting with particularly heavy emphasis on "spiritual warfare" and even frank paramilitary training, end up in groups like "BattleCry" as teens (and if they don't fit in the dominionist mold, being sent to dominionist-run reeducation camps), sent to dominionist-run colleges where they are schooled in the fine art of hijacking the government or to religious schools where they are taught how to perfect "stealth evangelism" in hijacking mainstream Christian churches, occasionally end up recruited into spiritually abusive pyramid schemes as adults when the MLM is promoted as "spiritual warfare", practice drive-by "territorial pissings" with Wesson oil as a form of "spiritual warfare" (and go on to things like harassing pagans), and go on (at least this is the hopes of dominionists) to conquer the world and hold it under a Pax dominionista, elect pro-dominionist candidates as a form of "spiritual warfare", and end up covering the planet as "Joel's Army" (interestingly, a scripture-twisting which is a reference to an army comparable to a plague of locusts and which utterly destroys the land it has conquered) including subjugating non-dominionists. Most recently, I've written an article--An informative expose of a BattleCry event--that is based on two recent articles (one from an attendee who is a regular on Daily Kos, the other being from well known watchdog Sunsara Taylor) being separate expose's of the recent BattleCry rally in Philadelphia. The separate reports detail things as disparate as the old "AIDS Is God Smitin' Fornicators" canard, a literal "Wild Injun of the Amazon" presentation straight out of "freaks and geeks" Boardwalk sideshows, and "spiritual warfare" theatre produced by a dominionist military group--in an almost complete full circle of the "spiritual warfare" game promoted.
Dominionists and recruitment of youth | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
Dominionists and recruitment of youth | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)