More info comes out on Palin and dominionism, Armageddon, and book bans
Palin conveniently answers the "Does being a 'Joel's Army' member mean I want to nuke Moscow?" question
A few days back, I wrote an article on the implications of "Joel's Army" endtime theology regarding Russia in relation to Susan Palin--an article that has apparently made it all the way to none other than fark.com and which I wrote, in part, based on my own observations as a walkaway from a "Joel's Army" church and my own post-walking-away research.
Unfortunately for us and the rest of the world, Palin may have just answered that question.
The definitive DailyKos diary on this subject was written a few days ago by Rock Strango, but it's also worth looking at the original quote as well. After a fair amount of backpedaling on her commentary re Gulf War II being essentially a holy crusade (an idea that is actively promoted in "Joel's Army" circles, incidentially--including the very Assemblies of God church she claims to no longer be a member of but did guest preaching at as recently as June 2008, as we'll see below), she let slip that she'd be quite willing to go to war with the Russians--and furthermore promoted the concept of first strikes against any country that is seen as a potential threat:
* Gibson then brought up Russia's recent invasion of Georgia, an act roundly condemned by the Bush administration and by McCain himself. He asked Gibson if the US would be compelled to answer militarily under the NATO treaty if Russia again invaded Georgia. Palin answered, "Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help."
This is quite a bit disturbing, seeing as:
a) As we went over in our last post, an end-time nuclear war has been a big part of end-time theology in Assemblies churches (and particularly those at the heart of the "Joel's Army" movement) pretty much since the time that nuclear weapons have been around.
b) Russia and the US still have enough nukes, between the two of them, to pretty much send the planet back to the Permian/Triassic boundary as far as the planetary ecosystem goes. (For those unaware, the P/T boundary is an event known by paleontologists as the Great Dying--the end-of-Permian extinction is the largest ever recorded, so thorough that only thirty percent of land vertebrates and only four percent of all sea-dwelling life survived; it is estimated that at least 90% of all species on the planet at the time went extinct. For fully twenty to thirty million years into the Triassic, life was dominated by a handful of "disaster taxa" in the closest thing this planet has known to a truly apocalyptic event.)
c) At least some stumpers for Palin have tried to claim her supposed "leadership of the Alaskan National Guard" (debunked by its actual general, by the way) qualifies her re foreign policy because "Alaska is right next door to the Russians".
. . .
If this were a case of severe foot-in-mouth disease (akin to Ronald Reagan's infamous accidentially-broadcast mike-test quip about "signing legislation outlawing Russia: we begin the bombing in five minutes"), it'd be bad enough.
Unfortunately, tied into apocalyptic imagery we know that her churches have supported, it becomes (as tvtropes.com playfully puts it) "Unleaded Nightmare Fuel".
Palin's official handlers have claimed she hasn't attended a neopente dominionist church since 2002. Despite this, however--and in an indication she may well have started attending Wasilla Bible Church (a still very dominionist, if not overtly neopente, church--but still (outwardly) "God Warrior Lite" compared to her previous congregations) as an attempt to cloak her true denominational allegiances--Palin has attended both Juneau Christian Center and has done official speeches for both Wasilla A/G's "teen ministerial Jesus Camp" (Master's Commission) and for the Alaska District of the Assemblies of God as recently as June 2008--fully six years after she claims she up and quit.
In fact, there are strong indications that Palin's relationship with the Assemblies--and misuse of Alaskan state funds to pay for trips to "revivals"--went on close to the date that McCain picked her as his choice for VP. Bruce Wilson, a noted co-researcher on neopente dominionism, has noted:
Along with her entire family, Sarah Palin was re-baptized at twelve at the Wasilla Assembly of God in Wasilla, Alaska and she attended the church from the time she was ten until 2002: over two and 1/2 decades. Sarah Palin's extensive pattern of association with the Wasilla Assembly of God has continued nearly up to the day she was picked by Senator John McCain as a vice-presidential running mate.
Needless to say, it is extremely unusual, if you are truly switching denominations, to attend two churches like this--much less do the majority of your public speaking to congregations at the church you supposedly left. And it is still more unusual yet to have the pastor of your supposed "former" church doing a very specific type of blessing which is only conducted in neopentecostal churches--which includes, of note, imprecatory prayers against enemies and much nattering in tongues. (This, of note, is why I take Palin's claims of no longer being Assemblies with a grain of salt the size of a Taurus. Whether the Taurus in question is a bull, a Ford, a giant robot, or the actual constellation is up to the reader.)
This is especially true if you left the group because you claimed they were becoming "too extreme" (as some spin-doctoring for Palin has alleged)--most people I know who are walkaways from the Assemblies (and from "Joel's Army" groups in particular, and yes, this specifically includes people I know who are attending non-dominionist evangelical churches) tend to avoid their former congregations like the plague. (And yes, this is one of those areas where being a walkaway is uniquely enlightening.)
Palin's ongoing relationship with Wasilla A/G becomes especially worrisome in this light--her little speech to their missionary training camp in June 2008 is worrying enough, but it appears the pastor has also done quite a bit of promotion of Perpetual Spiritual Warfare With Actual Military Armament, based on several videos and reports:
The church runs a number of ministries providing help to poor neighborhoods, care for children in need, and general community services. But Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."
At one point, Pastor Kalinin actually makes a call remarkably similar to the calls made by the Taliban for people to sacrifice themselves for God, and further confuses Jesus Christ for John Rambo rather than the ultimate pacifist:
What you see in a terrorist -- that's called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what's going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. ... We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. ... Jesus called us to die. You're worried about getting hurt? He's called us to die. Listen, you know we can't even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. ... I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say "war mode." Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he's like the good shepherd, he's loving all the time and he's kind all the time. Oh yes he is -- but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.
(Of course, if you want the unleaded version of the madness, the sermons have remarkably not been scrubbed yet. I recommend archival before they catch on.)
More indications of theology influencing policy--this time with censorship
In one of my earlier reports, I had noted Palin's links to book censorship--namely, the attempts to remove several books from the Wasilla Public Library system (despite fake lists floating around based on the American Library Association's lists of most frequently challenged and banned books, we still do not know specifically what books were targeted) and an attempt to sack the librarian who refused to play along.
We now have a documented effort at both spin control and evidence that there seems to have been definitely something amiss with how the situation went with the attempted book ban.
One of the claims going around in GOP circles is a claim that no list exists of books Palin attempted to ban, but this doesn't mesh with both the report from the librarian and reports on librarian sites. There's also been evidence that one challenge was found--but only one: an attempt to remove the book "Heather Has Two Mommies" (frequently challenged by dominionist groups due to positive portrayal of lesbian parents).
This leads to two separate, but equally disturbing possibilities: that records have not been kept properly in the Wasilla library system (or may have been scrubbed) re book challenges, or that Palin herself may have been attempting more direct censorship or at least probing for vulnerabilities.
To recognise why this is a possibility, it's important to know how most public library systems handle things like book challenges. Typically, a formal complaint must be filed with the library and investigations conducted as to whether the book should be kept, moved to a different section of the library (reference or adult sections) or removed entirely. The library system the Wasilla Public Library is a part of does in fact follow these procedures.
There are indications from the very article mentioning the ongoing attempts at spin control by the GOP that Palin herself was considering banning books at first--preemptively, without benefit of library patrons filing complaints:
According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper, Emmons did not mince words when Palin asked her "how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library" on Oct. 28, 1996, in a week when the mayor had asked department heads for letters of resignation.
A look at the article in question--which dates from 1996--gives more details, including indications that Palin specifically instructed the librarian to go outside of normal policy regarding book challenges:
"This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy," Emmons stressed Saturday. "She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library."
Interestingly, this matter came up with a call for revision of Wasilla Public Library's book challenge policy at the time:
The timing of the issue comes at a time when Emmons is trying to get the book-challenge policies of the Wasilla Library and of the Palmer City Library in line with the Mat-Su Borough policy, revised in December of last year.
And there is some disturbing evidence to suggest that, again, "Joel's Army" theology may have directly influenced Palin's probing and ultimately her attempt to sack the librarian in question.
It appears that the Assemblies shows up yet again--this time, as one of the major proponents of book-banning in the area. In fact, it appears local Assemblies churches were trying to get not only books challenged but banned from bookstores around the time Palin became mayor--and Palin herself was working to get the book in question banned:
Gay book raises flap
This apparently was an organised attempt at book censorship by the Assemblies locally:
Palin's church at the time, the Assembly of God, had been pushing for the removal a book called "Pastor I Am Gay" from local bookstores, according to the book's author Pastor Howard Bess, of the Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, Alaska.
Palin even asked at one point if the librarian at the center of the controversy would be willing to brave a picket by angry dominionists to preserve books:
According to coverage in the local newspaper, the Frontiersman, Palin asked the librarian at a meeting "if she would object to censorship even if people were circling the library in protest about a book."
And very interestingly, the very article noting GOP spin control has noted Wasilla A/G's central role:
The Rev. Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in the nearby town of Palmer, said the church Palin and her family attended until 2002, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was pushing to remove his book from local bookstores.
Of note, the disappearance of the copies of "Pastor, I Am Gay" from the library (at the same time that "Heather Has Two Mommies" was also apparently challenged) points to a method of book censorship that is becoming more popular in dominionist circles--so-called "censorship by theft", where books are checked out and never returned (despite library fines) as a method of keeping them out of circulation.
And, as we'll see, book censorship--and worse things done to books--are a regular feature of "Joel's Army" and Assemblies "spiritual warfare".
. . .
As it turns out, the Assemblies has a long and ignominious history of not only book-ban attempts but literal book burnings (and you thought this just happened in "Farenheit 451" or at times of history that risk invocation of Godwin's Law!).
As I've noted previously in this series, the Assemblies--and especially the "Joel's Army" folks--are big, big believers in "deliverance ministry"--the concept that pretty much anything can be possessed by demons, can cause one to be possessed or "oppressed" yourself, and can only be cured by exorcism and removal of the offending item. (Why, yes, you have heard of this concept before--it's pretty much identical to a lot of the same harmful concepts as exist in Scientology. And yes, it does tend to mess people up just as badly mentally. Seriously--replace "enturbulation" with "demonic oppression", "Suppressive Persons" with the "Serpent Seed", "Sea Orgs" with "Joel's Army" (or "Children of Destiny" or "Elijah's Army" or whatever they're calling it this month), "introspection rundowns" with "deliverance services", "body thetans" with "demons", and "Xenu" with "Satan" and it's pretty much the same bucket of toxic stew.)
And in their own version of "mocking up their reactive mind", erm, "conducting spiritual warfare"...books and other media are very, very frequently targeted. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling are a favourite target of censorship, due to their magical references (and despite the fact that both authors were Christians); C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle (who in part incorporated Christian apologetics explicitly in their works, especially Lewis) are also frequent targets for similar reasons. (Yes, it may surprise you to realise that the Narnia Chronicles have been challenged and even burned in pyres by Assemblies-linked groups; it happens, though.)
A brief list (and this actually is a brief list) of Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" book-burnings (as in the literal kind, not the metaphorical kind) are as follows:
First Assembly of God (Minot, ND) book-burning, September 2006
Of note, in the case where Harvest Assembly of God went on its book-burning spree, "deliverance ministry" was specifically invoked:
"It's just something a little different. We're not trying to create a riot or anything. Cleanse your house from ungodly items and idols. It's time to deal with ungodly and demonic books, tapes, videos, statues and any other thing that gives demons the opportunity to traffic into your life."
Some of the calls for the destruction of books go right to the point of calling for the neopentecostal equivalents of fatwas against fictional characters. One of the more infamous examples of this occuring in an Assemblies-linked group was in the movie "Jesus Camp"; a scene occurs where a pastor is calling for Harry Potter to be put to death (of note, whilst not well documented in most media, the "Jesus Camp" of motion picture infamy was run out of an Assemblies of God church).
For similar reasons to why Harry Potter et al are targeted, books giving non-condemnatory views of LGBT people are also targeted explicitly. The official viewpoint of the Assemblies (and yes, this is in fact an official position paper, one of two separate ones) is that LGBT people are going to hell, should be "degayed", and are a part of a vast conspiracy to convert everyone to being gay (no, I'm not making this up: the second link actually all but comes out and says this).
And this is actually understated, compared to what often goes on in Assemblies megachurches. Assemblies megachurches are often horrifically anti-LGBT both officially and politically, to the point of dead-agenting of LGBT groups in attempts to smear them, involuntary outings and "exorcisms" of LGBT youth and shipment to abusive facilities for "degaying", denomination-wide support of vicious anti-LGBT hate groups including endorsements from denominational leaders, and even the use of literal Holocaust denial in regards to LGBT folks to excuse promotion of hate (specifically via the promotion in many Assemblies churches of an execrable work called The Pink Swastika as true history; the book claims that not only were LGBT people not killed in the Holocaust but were its primary architects and are ringleaders in a worldwide Satanic conspiracy).
Small wonder in this, then, why books on LGBT issues are among the most frequently targeted for book bans.
And in cases where book bans are not successful--such as, thankfully, what seems to have been the case in Wasilla--neopente dominionists in particular are resorting to decidedly more direct methods of censorship. A recent report from the Kennebec Journal notes the increasing problem with dominionists all too willing to violate the Eighth Commandment in the name of censorship:
This is by far not the only case of "censorship via theft"; a book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin has also been the target of "censor-theft" due to people objecting to the idea of homosexual penguins, the book Sandpiper has been the target of censor-theft, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate have also been victims of censor-theft (targeted because they are books concerning same-sex relationships aimed at younger kids), books supporting decriminalisation of marijuana have been targeted for censor-theft, a book discussing children around the world--including Cuban kids--in a positive light was targeted, and so on and so on. (Sadly, the disappearance of "Pastor, I Am Gay" from Wasilla-area libraries would also fit the pattern of "censorship by theft"--especially as there was an organised effort by Wasilla A/G to have the book removed from bookstores as well as libraries.)
It's in fact a severe enough problem that librarians are now having to address the specific issue of book theft as a form of attempted censorship and libraries nationwide are starting to compile most frequently stolen books lists--among other things, to track an increasing epidemic of "censorship via theft" in public libraries.
Disturbingly, dominionist groups are also increasingly embracing the concept of "censor-theft". Family Friendly Libraries, a dominionist pro-censorship group that has had a history of pushing for censorship of Harry Potter books and which has promoted "reparative therapy", has also promoted the tactic of deliberately misfiling library material.
So between her "Let's go to war with the Russies" comment and her documented attempt (fortunately, one which met with epic fail) to backdoor book censorship in Wasilla (at the same time what is likely her real church attempted an organised book-ban campaign against a book on LGBT folks and faith issues!), we already have answers to one of the big questions:
Yes, unfortunately, Sarah Palin is likely to let her "Joel's Army" convictions override the rule of law. :(
All the more reason never to let her near the Presidency...or a heartbeat away from it.
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