Broward County Mayors Show Off Anti-Gay "Spiritual Warfare" Troops
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:12:26 AM EST
GuiceNumerous websites have commented on the recent bizarre scene in Fort Lauderdale, where embattled Mayor Jim Naugle decided to show that the community supported his anti-gay policies by inviting a representative of a religious group dressed in military fatigues to address the press at city hall:

...Elder Mathes Guice of the Koinonia Worship Center in Pembroke Park said the county tourist council's marketing targeted to gay visitors "led the spiritual community on a collision course with Satan."

The senior pastor of the Koinonia Worship Center is a fellow Broward County mayor, Eric H. Jones of the City of West Park, and the military outfits were introduced a few months ago.

The Broward Times in June noted that
The men's ministry of the Carver Ranches-based Koinonia Worship Center will begin canvassing the drug-infested neighborhoods and crime-riddled streets of Deerfield Beach, starting this weekend. Dressed in camouflaged military fatigues, Deacon Mathes Guice, and other members of the ministry, will join the Rev. Nathaniel Knowles and other pastors there to begin the process to address crime and violence in the city.

According to a note from one of Mayor Naugle's opponents, published by Pam Spaulding, they also appear to have branched out into security:

I've never heard to this group before, the ones in military dress. They concern me a great deal. When I entered City Hall yesterday evening to observe the press conference the Mayor had called with them. Two of them escorted me from the front doors on the north side of the building to the elevators and then stood and took up 'posts' in the elevator lobby.

Spaulding notes that Koinonia has a web presence on My Space. An audio message there uses a lot of the "spiritual warfare" language typical of the conservative Christian "men's movement" (see this essay by Jeff Sharlet for an overview), but aimed specifically at African-Americans (there are a number of US churches that cater to the needs of black Americans; Barack Obama is associated with one, to the outrage of conservatives).

A commentator to Spaulding's website notes some further details about Guice:

Yahoo people search turned up one Mathes Guice in FL, age 61. A Mathes Guice received an acknowledgment of 15 years service to the Broward Co. Sheriff's Office in 2004 (pdf). Someone by this name was also VP of the Ft Lauderdale NAACP and apparently has also been active in working to re-integrate ex-convicts back into society via a tax-exempt organization...

The commentator also found this announcement:

If you have a felony criminal record, you cannot get a job, or even obtain a license to cut hair, until you have had your rights restored. Rev. Eric Jones is collaborating with the Broward Public Defender's Office, State Rep. Perry E. Thurston, Jr., the Broward State Attorneys Office, and a number of other organizations to hold the Broward Redemption Workshop. The workshop will assist those who need their rights restored. It will take place at Jones' church, Koinonia Worship Center...

Christians are making a public stand against homosexuals in various locations around the world just now; I noted a rally in Uganda a couple of weeks ago, while Protestant Christians in Ukraine are currently planning a march supporting "criminal penalties for homosexual propaganda and popularization".

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

That's all I can say. Well, maybe I can say a little more...

I've found "militarized pastors" of various sorts popping up here and there lately, and I don't see evidence, so far at least, of any direct federal encouragement, from the Bush Administration. Rather, I'd say it might be an authentic, local, indigenous expression of the newly ramped-up "theology of war" which has long been, of course, latent but has reached the status of cultural malignancy during the years of George W. Bush. Militarized Christianity seems in the zeitgeist, and why not ? - if Christian organizations, as promoted by the Bush Administration under the "faith based" initiative, can play quasi-governmental roles, why can't they play quasi-governmental military roles as well ? Of course, there are pesky First Amendment issues, yes, but the Bush Administration has proved capable of sidestepping and circumventing those, to establish precedent on the ground. It's no wonder that such self-appointed, "militarized ministries" are popping up, and the choice of uniform seems somehow quintessentially American - casual, and practical. No brown or black shirts : khaki is the uniform of choice.  

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:32:28 AM EST

Pastor John Hagee stated, to Terry Gross in a 2006 Fresh Air interview,m that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on New Orleans, for a gay parade held not long prior to the hurricane disaster.

I wouldn't be surprised if Guice began to spout that line, to predict an immanent hurricane hit as punishment for the county's pro-gay marketing.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 09:55:13 AM EST

I remember urban legends spinning  hurricanes differently.

by Rusty Pipes on Mon Sep 10, 2007 at 03:27:17 PM EST

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