An informative expose of a BattleCry event
The articles--which all focus on a recent BattleCry rally held in Philadelphia--are incredibly telling as to what goes on at the typical gathering. And to say that it's ugly is probably a gross understatement; many people, rightfully so, have compared it to the Hitlerjugend.
The articles show why these comparisons occur. Starting with the Daily Kos article:
BattleCry Philadelphia was certainly as vulgar and manipulative as anything I've ever seen from Howard Stern or Freddy Mercury. A two day carnival of militarism, racism, and loud, boring rock music, we were treated to a "sex expert" named "Lakita Garth" who mixed her scare routine about sexually transmitted diseases and the need to remain abstinent until marriage (she's in her late 30s and recently married) with hateful impressions of stereotypical dumb teenagers designed to make us all feel superior. It didn't work. I'm not a young black male and I'm not a California valley girl, the two main targets of her "satire", but her routine left me feeling angry and depressed anyway. There were the usual ridiculous "Christian Rock" bands, a group that kind of looked like Duran Duran, one that kind of resembled Godsmack or Pearl Jam, and another reminded me nothing so much as a bad imitation of Matchbox Twenty.
Taylor gives more info on this "dominionist satire" show:
Next up on the agenda--woman bashing. If you think the world needs an alternative to the worst misogynist heavy metal or hip-hop, but you still want to see women degraded, insulted, and dehumanized, Luce has got just the thing for you.
If that's not offensive enough, how about a literal "wild man of the woods" show straight out of Boardwalk "freaks-and-geeks" shows in the 1900's? From the Daily Kos article:
There was a spectacularly offensive segment about the Ecuadorian Indian tribe that was recently the subject of the movie "The End of the Spear". I hope I never have to suffer through anything like this again. It resembled a Victorian imperialist freak show from the 19nth Century complete with the simpering, tamed native, once violent but now gentle, friendly and willing to serve the white man after his conversion to Christianity brought up on stage like a trained pet while they read passages from something called "The Pidgin Bible". Hey mon. You find Jesus. You feel good.
The World Can't Wait article from Taylor confirms the "Pet Savage" stunt (all too common and straight from the neopente "tent revival" handbook; "wild Indians" and "savage African tribesmen" and "former Papuan headhunters" who converted to pentecostalism are a stock staple in the traveling-preacher and "revival" circuits):
Early on the second day, a tribal drumbeat filled the stadium and a voice boomed out "the most violent people in human history."
This is despite the fact, mind, that part of the reason the Ecuadoriam tribe in question (the Waorani people) were largely forcibly converted and are still one of the most endangered cultures on the planet thanks to the very missionaries (of the subject of the movie "End Of The Spear") having opened the path to oil exploration and the loss of Waorani lands.
In fact, up to the 1980's, Waorani were largely being isolated by missionary groups, and traditional Waorani had no voice to the outside. It is not coincidential that the missionary groups have been in support of oil exploration in Waorani lands. As it is, missionary contact has directly led to the Waorani population dropping to one-tenth its levels pre-missionary-contact (from 25,000 people strong to 2000--largely through epidemic diseases carried by missionary groups).
As if literal "wild man of the Amazon" shows weren't enough, Taylor's article notes the charming manner in which the attendees are addressed:
"Do you care more about the pigs around you or God?" BattleCry leader Ron Luce asked the crowd of more than 17,000 youth gathered at Wachovia Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia on Friday, May 12. No, this wasn't a metaphor. After reading a passage from Luke 15 that mentions pigs, he actually had a bunch of those big, oinking, pink, farm animals on stage with him! Get it, you either get with Luce's hateful, hyperpatriotic, woman-bashing, racist god, or you're a... pig?
Interestingly, I've heard remarkably similar things--only in reference to sheep, not pigs (talking about how sheep are nasty, smelly, half-flyblown creatures that crap everywhere and would drown in the rain if it weren't for the shepherds).
The rally went from there from the merely tasteless to the downright disturbing. Again, from Taylor's article:
After what amounted to a celebration of genocide against Native Americans, and a pep rally for death by STDs, things got really gory.
The "AIDS is punishment from God" is actually a very old--and very homophobic--line; in its original iterations, dominionists in the "spiritual warfare" community stated that AIDS was God's way of "smiting the fags" (to put it indelicately). (No matter that a sizable number of folks were getting it through things like blood transfusions and blood based products for haemophilia. Not shockingly, they weren't claiming "God Hates Bleeders".) This is also why I state that dominionist groups will likely fight tooth and nail to prevent an HIV vaccine from ever seeing approval; sadly, we have precedent for this (with dominionist fights against hep-B vaccination recommendations and now the fight against approval of the HPV jab).
The "Babylonian" reference is subtle unless you're familiar with the latest trends in premillenial dispensationalist urban legends. One of the recurring comments that has been made re Iraq since Gulf War I in "dominion theology" churches is that Iraq is either being controlled by the old standby bugaboo (Russia) or that Iraq is the actual land of the Antichrist (in other words, the references to Babylon (historically located in Iraq) in Revelation are being taken literally), and there has been subtle hints that Saddam Hussein is the Antichrist or at least an agent of the Antichrist. These people literally see themselves as Holy Crusader God Warriors, and the inevitable opposition as people directly opposed to God.
As if that's not enough "spiritual warfare" imagery for you, things heated up with a bit of dominionist theater brought to the show by Navy SEALS affiliated with FORCE Ministries (a major promoter of "spiritual warfare" theology that holds literal military extravaganzas in dominionist churches). From Taylor's article:
Then, a group of Navy SEALs are projected on the large screen above the stadium as they make their way from backstage. Dressed in camouflage, carrying automatic weapons, kicking down doors and firing blanks into empty rooms along their way, they looked like the house-to-house raids and indiscriminate killing seen in rare footage out of Iraq.
The Daily Kos article backs up this frightening spectacle--all too scary, when you realise some of the same folks promoting "spiritual warfare" are now promoting games of which the point is to kill non-dominionists for points:
But BattleCry Philadelphia was more than just a vulgar carnival designed to suck donations into the coffers of Ron Luce's corporation "Teen Mania". Indeed, it had a point, to recruit the future elite "warriors" in the coming battle against the separation of church and state. It turned dark and frightening on Saturday afternoon. After Franklin "Islam is a Wicked Religion" Graham came out to thunder against the evils of homosexuality and the Iraqi people (whom he considers to be exactly the same people as the ancient Babylonians who enslaved the tribes of Israel and deserving, one would assume, the exact same fate) we heard an explosion. Flames shot out on stage and a team of Navy Seals was shown on the big TV monitors in full camouflage creeping forward down the hallway from the locker room with their M16s. They were hunting us, the future Christian leaders of America. Two teenage girls next to me burst into tears and even I, a jaded middle-aged male, almost jumped out of my skin. I imagined for that moment what it must have felt like to have been a teacher at Columbine high school. 10 seconds later they rushed out onstage and pointed their guns in our direction firing blanks spitting flames. About 1000 shots and bang, we were all dead.
Incidentially, fear tactics are used in "real life" thought reform programs--specifically to make people too frightened to think critically. In fact, Amnesty International and other experts in researching torture have noted that "Stockholm Syndrome" is largely bred by scaring the wits out of a torture victim and then offering that the torture will stop if they only cooperate. (Even in colleges and the military, this hazing is increasingly frowned upon.)
It's also interesting the comparison to human rights abuses in Iraq. Quite a number of dominionists--including Gen. Boykin, directly connected with the Assemblies of God and largely responsible for the flooding of chaplaincy positions with dominionists--has been specifically linked with being the possible mastermind of acts of torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the informal system of gulags recently uncovered in third countries. There are other confirmable reports of some of the torture of persons interred at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo being religiously motivated.
This of course led to further recruitment calls:
I then followed the select group of Christian youth out into the corridor into the tent where we were told about Teen Mania's "Honor Academy", some type of Christian fundamentalist boot camp designed to replace the first year of college for 600 dollars a month. This is about the same price that I paid to go to Rutgers way back in the 1980s, but considerably less than it would cost to a decent private university today. I'm assuming this is half the point, that the kids who wind up attending the "honor academy" will be evaluated according how useful they'll be to the Christian right. The select will be given some type of financial help going to college. The financially well off will be fine in any case and the rest will be funneled into the military, Walmart, and various places where they can thump the Bible and act as the foot soldiers in the army for the coming Christian revolution.
Interestingly, per part three of Taylor's report, the "Honor Academy" is apparently completely unaccredited and has disturbingly coercive tactics in line with such unaccredited dominionist colleges as Patrick Henry College and Pensacola Christian College (the latter being the home of A Beka):
BattleCry is a part of the evangelical organization Teen Mania, and you can learn a lot about the kind of society that Teen Mania is fighting for by reading up on its Honor Academy, a non-accredited educational institution that offers directed internships to 700 undergraduate and graduate youth each year. Among the academy’s tenets: Homosexuality and masturbation are sins. Interns are forbidden to listen to secular music, watch R-rated movies or date; men can’t use the Internet unsupervised; the length of women’s skirts is regulated. The logic behind this—that men must be protected from the sin of sexual temptation—is what drives Islamic fundamentalists to shroud women in burkhas!
And to show the effect of this sort of programming on attendees, the Daily Kos article notes the following ancedote:
I ended up in a shouting match with a large, ex con who showed me his scars, talked about his days as an addict (yeah, just the kind of guy you'd want watching over your teenage kids), and kept grabbing me and screaming in my face that I was a "salad bar" every time I brought up the fact that Ron Luce seemed very uninterested in the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount (which was never mentioned the whole weekend) or about why Franklin Graham spent so much time talking about the wicked Babylonians and not, for example, the Parable of the Good Samaratin. This man had a real bad concept of personal space since he couldn't really understand it when I kept asking him to let go of my arm. It was getting to the point where there was only going to be one possible outcome, him getting kneecapped or me getting lynched, so my companions pulled me out of the debate and we beat a hasty retreat to my car where we sped up the New Jersey Turnpike back to New York.
(The "Salad Bar" epithet is one that is prevalent primarily in "Full Gospel" circles--like the Assemblies of God--claiming that mainstream Christian groups "pick and choose" portions of the Bible to follow, like an a la carte salad bar. (No matter that their interpetation of Scripture is even more selective and features sometimes mere sections of Bible verses twisted, in some cases, almost 180 degrees away from their contextual meaning!)
At any rate, it shows that--if anything--Ron Luce and crew have gotten even worse since the days of the "RIOT Manual". :P (And, as reported by at least one Talk2Action regular, BattleCry has taken down its message boards entirely rather than allow criticism of the group (claiming, falsely, security concerns); fortunately, Google Cache has preserved some of the discussion, including some of the dead-agenting of critics, criticism of the article and calls for the admins to shut the boards down merely because of a wish to debate.)
An informative expose of a BattleCry event | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)
An informative expose of a BattleCry event | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)