An informative expose of a BattleCry event
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Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:48:33 PM EST
The poster "WorldCantWait", who is a regular on both Daily Kos and Raw Story and operates their own domain, has written a chilling description of a BattleCry rally that should honestly give most of you the heebie-jeebies.  In addition, a post from famous BattleCry watchdog Sunsara Taylor (who recently debated Ron Luce on "The O'Reilly Report") is worth noting in this regard.
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.

Lakita Wright, self-proclaimed "sexpert" who has spoken to nations, Congress, and more than half a million young people this past year, stepped up to preach the "naked truth" (get it?) about abstinence and purity. Her specialty seemed to be shamelessly promoting racist and sexist stereotypes that only a Black woman trying to outdo Bill Cosby might be able to get away with.

She began with a parable that portrays "Lies" as female and "Truth" as male, then launched an attack on all the established truths about safe sex and resurrected all the oldest stigmas against those, especially women, who would engage in sex outside patriarchal marriages.

She reserved special derision for the "stupid" young women whose lives are disrupted because they have a baby. "Don't blame him [the baby]. It's your fault. You should have zipped it up. Locked it down. Clank. Clank." She drew chuckles from many men when she "slipped" and called women "flea-males," saying, "Did I say that? Well, if you lie down with dogs..."

Wright led a call-and-response about hundreds of sexually transmitted diseases and listed, with great drama, all the pain and disfigurement they can cause. Then, while claiming to care about these diseases, she went on to assail one thing that is proven to prevent them: "Condoms don't work."

Wright bemoaned the fact that judges in the U.S. today aren't required to study the Mosaic books of the Bible. These are the parts of the Bible that celebrate taking your enemies as slaves, killing their babies, and forcing women to be concubines (sex slaves), traded and controlled as possessions, and subject to the most horrific of abuses.

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."

Grainy images appeared on the stadium screens of indigenous Ecuadorians running and throwing spears. Proof of their "barbarism"? Never mind that their land was destroyed by oil development and their way of life undermined, these "savages" had killed five missionaries who came to destroy their belief systems decades ago. One of the supposed killers is brought on stage. He's been "civilized" by the Bible and calls on the youth to sign up for mission trips to go and convert others like him.

News flash to Luce's audience: These indigenous people, whose very existence is hanging by a thread--threatened by the encroachment of the "modern world" of exploitation, racism, environmental destruction and cultural genocide--are at least a hundred million people short of being "the most violent people in human history," even if they did what he accused them of.

The reality is that over a hundred million indigenous people were killed by the Europeans who followed Columbus to the "new world." And let's not forget that the genocide against Native Peoples was blessed by people carrying Ron Luce's Bible.

Finally, after being programmed with these racist lies, Luce's flock flooded down to the floor of the stadium to sign up for missions this summer--to Africa, Latin America, the urban U.S., Australia, the Mideast and beyond. As they went, Ron Luce offered odd encouragement, "You guys are freaks of a whole different breed...You guys are a bunch of wild animals. Man!"

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?

And it became clear during the BattleCry rally, all the talk of battles, warriors and war is not metaphor either.

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.

A featured speaker, Franklin Graham, who is credited with converting George W. Bush, was introduced. He implied that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God. "We get outside of marriage and there are consequences."
. . .
The "heart" of Graham's speech was a call for holy war. He preached about the "battle for souls of men and women from North to South, East to West, over the entire earth." There is, he declared, "No way to God but through Jesus Christ."
. . .
Graham told the biblical story of Daniel "taming the Babylonians." After celebrating the U.S. troops who are killing in Iraq right now, he preached that there is "no difference between the Iraqis today and Babylon 1,000 years ago." In the Bible Babylon is the epitome of evil and decadence. All manner of bloodlust and plunder against it is not just condoned but celebrated. As Psalm 137:9 spells out, even the babies are to be dashed to death against the rocks!

While calling on the youth present to engage in this "battle for the souls of men," he exhorts them, "No souls can be saved without the shedding of blood. Blood must be shed!"

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.

Fireworks exploded and flames billowed as Ron Luce greeted, bragging that all of these men have been involved in real battles. They are part of FORCE Ministries, which conducts Bible studies at military bases around the world and is made up of current and retired SEALs, law enforcement, and other military who preach the Gospel. Among those on stage, one is a SEAL just back from Afghanistan and another was a member of a police SWAT team. All of them are trained to kill and do so believing God is sanctioning them.

One of the SEALs told about boot camp and being forced to surrender his entire will to the demands of his instructor. Luce stepped in to tell the audience, "That is your youth pastor. He's going to make you a SEAL for Christ." Of course, the great Commander of this religious army is God who issues his foot-soldiers armor--"a shield of faith, a belt of truth, and boots of preparedness"--as well as "offensive weapons" like the "sword of the spirit" and the "word of God."

This merging of "God's Army" and the U.S. military returns full circle to the event's opening when a letter of greeting and blessings from George W. Bush was read. After that, a minister had led thousands to bow their heads and thank the lord for giving them George Bush, who coincidentally is the U.S.'s Commander-in-Chief.

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.

Finding myself bored with this, I went back into the atrium of the Wachovia Center and was approached by a young Asian man in his 20s for a project called "The Bridge of Hope," a campaign designed to convert the Indian untouchables (a doe eyed uncharacteristically light skinned example of an "untouchable" graces the cover of their pamphlet) and eventually all 2 billion people in Asia to evangelical Christianity. I chatted him up for awhile. (Got anybody in Pakistan? Nope. But we hope to. How about Iraq? Soon. The Muslims really need the Bible to overcome their wicked, satanic religion. How about Israel? Not at the moment).

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.

Finding myself, at long last, in Orthodox Jewish Crown Heights, then Godless, secular Park Slope, I almost wept for joy. But I didn't. We're much closer today to Belfast than we were in 1981.

(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.)


by moiv on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:43:16 PM EST

a voice boomed out "the most violent people in human history."

Should I make the obvious joke about the audience that day?

Abu Ghraib: Hell House of the Religious Right II
by sendtoscott on Wed May 31, 2006 at 02:36:50 PM EST

The more I read up on this Ron Luce character, the more he and his tactics scares the jumping Jeremiah Jehosephat out of me.

Now I've heard this from some of my friends in various residence hall government positions back at my university, but it seems that dominionist ministries are activley encouraging their young members to apply for RA positions when they go off to college.  Does anyone here have more details about that?

by JonathanChance on Wed May 31, 2006 at 03:34:03 PM EST

My college had an incident where the Christian Student Union was taken over by a fundamentalist "discipling" group, and one of the things the advisor to the group did was encourage most of the membership apply for RA positions around campus.

Many of those resulting RAs got ditched after their first year because they ran afoul of the "RAs are not allowed to recruit their residents for any student group" rule (which was originally in place to keep RAs from feeding the Fraternity/Sorority system...).

That group was very surreal for my tenure at school.  I was on a student/faculty committee that was promoting religious and ethnic tolerance on campus... We had long talks about how this group operated, and how we wanted to curtail this group's cult-like operations, but did not want to look like we were being intolerant, nor put undue restrictions on other student groups...

There are tons of information on the web about desctructive Christian student groups on College/University campuses... The sheer magnitude of the issue astounds me, even though I lived through it myself...


by EmilyWynn8 on Wed May 31, 2006 at 05:47:12 PM EST

Not only do dominionists specifically push the students attending non-religious unis to be RAs, but for something like thirty-plus years a major strategy for dominionist groups has been to target pretty much anyone in authority (including sports figures on campus) for conversion and use as recruiting tools.

Not only that, but dominionist groups--particularly the highly abusive "shepherding" groups--also target colleges specifically.  Campus Crusade for Christ practices shepherding (and is well known to most); Maranatha (which reorganised and renamed itself Morning Star International and then Every Nation) was (and is) an extremely spiritually abusive group which heavily promoted "shepherding" (and frankly introduced it in some ways to neopente groups) and was in fact so abusive it was literally banned from several college campuses.  

Less well known groups recruiting college students are numerous neopente groups using the "Alpha Course" to "bait and switch" people into membership, as well as Chi Alpha--a frontgroup of the Assemblies of God which organises itself as a pseudo-fraternity, has occasionally had extremist dominionists on campus (including young-earth creationist Ken Hovind, who is linked with the militia "tax protester" movement and even racist groups, up to and including selling racist literature on his website) and was founded by none other than John Ashcroft's father.

by dogemperor on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 08:24:17 AM EST

She's finally getting some! I remember her from my own fundie days--over a decade ago--and thinking she must be terribly frustrated. Seriously, this scares me. I hope the kids realize they're being lied to, and quickly.

by GreenEyed Lilo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 05:33:05 PM EST

...Especially since Ron Luce's "Battlecry for a Generation" (or Nation or I can't remember) is the curriculum for the church's youth group.

...Should we get our passports ready?

by Jordi on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 03:21:42 PM EST

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