Spiritual Warfare: Oiling the Wheels of Government?
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Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 01:41:34 AM EST
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJust over a year ago, a group of veteran spiritual warriors for the religious right -- including men who began their careers in the most radical fringes of the anti-abortion movement  -- sneaked into a Senate hearing room to "consecrate" the chamber with holy oil.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wondered about the legality of this holy trespass.

Do not be surprised if, at some point during next week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a trumpet blast is sounded in the hearing room, winged angels descend, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee turn into pillars of salt.

This undoubtedly would be the wish of the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. He held a news conference outside the Hart Office Building yesterday to announce that he would "consecrate Room 216 Hart" -- the hearing room -- in hopes of having, in the sacred words of Fox News, "a fair and balanced hearing."

"By dedicating it to God, we look to God to orchestrate and direct the activities that take place at that location," Schenck ... explained to the television cameras. It's unclear if this would violate Senate rules, which give Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sole authority to direct activities in the hearing room.

Rep. David Swinford, who nominally rules the Texas House State Affairs Committee, now has had his oversight coopted by the religious right as well. According to at least one Catholic anti-choice activist, the hearing room of Swinford's committee was given a spiritual inoculation against demonic pro-choice influences before its April 2 hearing on abortion-related bills.

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Both religious incursions into secular territory were apparently motivated by the same impulse -- assisting God in taking the reins of government. Mahoney (left) and Schenck (right) made no bones about it.

Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday.

Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name.

"We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington.

This was no priestly anointing, of which Exodus says, "This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. ... [W]hoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people."  Schenck and Mahoney performed a claiming ritual, pure and simple -- explained by dogemperor at Talk to Action as a territorial marking.

Generally, the "spiritual warfare" crowd--quite unlike the priests of Israel--quite literally see anointing an object with oil ... as a way to "bind" or "tie" an object--to leave a physical link to "claim the object or person for Jesus".

In Austin, the instrument of divine will was Regnum Christi member Katie Rose, and her substance of choice was not holy oil, but blessed salt: "Because of its exorcism and blessing, it is a powerful sacramental in keeping away demons."  Rose details her action at her own blog, St. Joseph's Vanguard and Our Lady's Train.

Exposition. Light on a Hilltop. Slam Dunk.

Yesterday, I sat in the Capitol committee room, E2.010 for 8 hours. I was thrilled and frustrated and proud and moved to tears.

You see, yesterday was the marathon committee hearing of the House State Affairs committee, which heard all the pro-life and pro-abortion bills-ten total, six pro-life and four pro-abortion. And, it was good clean fun from start to finish.  


The hearing began around 4:30p, with the chairman, David Swinford (R-Dumas), calling the committee to order. The first two hours were spent in testimony from the various representatives presenting their bills. It was rather boring and, also, frustrating, as one of the two pro-abortion members on the nine-person committee grilled the witnesses.

It is true that the sole woman on the committee, Rep. Jessica Farrar, is far too well-informed to swallow blatant distortions of the truth from avowed anti-choice lawmakers such as Warren Chisum, Bob Talton, Frank Corte or Geanie Morrison. So yes, Rep. Farrar had a number of courteously phrased but pertinent questions.

Then, at about 6:40p, the good stuff started, with woman upon woman sharing her abortion story. Abortion hurts women. The message was clear. It truly must have been 3:1 with regard to pro-life and pro-abortion witnesses; in fact, one of the representatives, Zedler, commented, "It used to be more of them (pro-aborts) than us. It's good to see more of us now."

There are more of them now, and every last one is dedicated to dragging women into deep water. Maybe that's why no one from House security, and no one else in charge of the hearing room, objected to what Katie Rose got up to before the hearing was called to order.

When I arrived around 4:00, I saw myriad pro-life groups in the Capitol hallway. One group was having a prayer meeting in the corner, calling all of heaven to witness and guard the hearing. Others were greeting old friends who have probably been coming to events like this for years. I, personally, snuck in a little stash of blessed salt and sprinkled it all around the room. That committee room was sanctified!

Blessed salt is widely sold and recommended as a protection against diabolical influences, and is commonly used in exorcism, as "an instrument of grace to preserve one from the corruption of evil occurring as sin sickness, demonic influence, or other manifestation."

Religious activists evidently now deem blessed salt necessary to claim and protect governmental functions against demonic influence, as well. Especially when the government in question is considering action on one of the religious right's pet issues, such as abortion.

Use of ritual markings to claim earthly territory for the kingdom of heaven is not confined to Catholic and evangelical activists alone. Pastor Pete Peterson's Scriptures for America (SFA), a Christian identity organization with close ties to the Ku Klux Klan, believes so strongly in the miraculous properties of this secret weapon [pdf link] that it has embarked upon an ambitious plan to anoint every courthouse in the United States.

Our Lord has an armory, an arsenal of spiritual weapons to use against the wicked. "The Lord has opened His armory and has brought forth the weapons of His indignation. Jeremiah 50:25

He has made known one of those weapons. It is the anointing and un-anointing oil. ... The Gideon Guerillas are using it now and anointing the courthouses and other buildings as well. We recommend you read that article, order that oil and do your part. When you anoint a building, let us know so we can report it on the website. Note--the enemy can always give us a false report of an anointing, so if there is a building within your anointing reach that is reported as anointed, check it out and anoint it again if necessary.

It shall come to pass in that day That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, And his yoke from your neck, And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. Isaiah 10:27 NKJV

All 254 Texas courthouses already have been anointed by SFA operatives along with dozens of other suspect edifices such as Masonic lodges, hospitals, museums and the office of the odd tax assessor.

In Michigan, SFA's campaign led to prosecution of John Curtis Ridgeway, accused of causing three people -- County Assistant Prosecutor Amanda Swanson, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police Sgt. Jerry Smith and bailiff Hector Latorre -- to become ill after he shook their hands, presumably as an adverse reaction to anointing oil present on Ridgeway's hands.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn the witness stand for about 45 minutes, Ridgeway (right) admitted to "not necessarily" telling the truth to Mt. Pleasant Police Detective Paul Lauria following his arrest Dec. 22, 2005, about ever anointing people with the oil, which was blessed by a radio minister in Colorado.

Ridgeway told Lauria he had never anointed a person, but wrote in an e-mail to Pastor Pete Peters, who runs Scriptures for America, that he anointed two attorneys at the Kalkaska County Courthouse prior to the Dec. 21 trial in Isabella County.

Ridgeway also wrote in the e-mail that he would continue to anoint courthouses and other buildings to rid them of evil but "will move with more stealth and avoid the snares of the enemy."

Ridgeway's e-mail was a response to an item in "Dragon Slayer," a newsletter published by Scriptures for America, in which Peters chastised Ridgeway for being open about his mission as one of "Gideon's Guerillas."

Peters rebuked Ridgeway for not following "the rules of silence," Kushion said.

Kushion also asked why Ridgeway would anoint attorneys at the Kalkaska County Courthouse when the purpose of the oil is to rid buildings of demons, and asked Ridgeway if he believed the attorneys were "tares," or in Biblical terms, "children of the wicked one."

"I would say maybe not all of them," Ridgeway responded.

Kushion also asked Ridgeway about an e-mail to Peters in which the two men suggested that Swanson, Smith and Latorre became ill after shaking his hand because they are demons.

Whose God is being invoked in claiming rituals, and whose are the diabolical influences to be vanquished? And how many other religiously motivated operatives of any denomination are -- unlike veteran activists such as Schenck, Mahoney and Ridgeway, or relative amateurs such as Rose -- carrying out clandestine anointings, saltings and other "consecrations" under "rules of silence?"

No matter the particular belief systems of the instigators, politico-religious claiming rituals -- whether they rely upon the powers of holy oil, blessed salt or Coca-Cola -- are an unseemly intrusion into the working of any government that claims to represent all the people. In the United States Senate or in the Texas House of Representatives, the politico-religious actions of Christian right activists far exceed the bounds of civic responsibility and societal tolerance.    

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Besides, Rep. David Swinford is still the Chair of State Affairs, and he might like to have his committee back . . . or, considering his own support for the aims of the religious right, maybe not.

[Title image: New Pentecost Catholic Ministries

Mahoney/Schenck: J. Scott Applewhite, AP from the Washington Post

Ridgeway trial: Victor Fitzsimons for The Morning Sun]

I tell myself that; really I just want to cry.
Thanks so much for this, moiv, and good to see you.

by Margot on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 02:24:06 AM EST
You know, over the years I've grown accustomed to dodging sprinkles of holy water on my way into the office -- but I don't work in the Capitol, either.

by moiv on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 02:39:42 AM EST

Such biblical illiteracy! St Paul said that "we battle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities". Trying to bully a political grouping into anything is not a spiritual battle in any Biblical sense. In fact I hold that their attempt to control by means of religious symbolism is the sin of witchcraft ( which I define as the underlying motive of attempting to control anything by appeal to any supernatural means, either real or imagined) and is therefore a serious basphemy against the Name of the Lord God

by strefanash on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 08:32:02 PM EST

It sounds like the spaces need a smudge stick to clear the air of the aura of the holy warriors.

As time goes on and they figure out that none of their candidates for pres. are going to measure up, what will they do then?

In the mean time there is SO much work to be done to reclaim our justice system from the theocrats that have been infecting it.

So much work to be done.

As always, moiv, excellent writing! Thank you.

by RevDeb on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 09:12:46 AM EST

In which case he'd be as liable for assault as someone who used pepper spray as an offensive weapon.

Isn't Pete Peters a Christian Identity white supremacy / militia type?

by NancyP on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 01:24:16 PM EST

Peters is a leading christian identity minister and a white supremacist.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 01:35:32 PM EST

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