Palin, Gothard, and dog-whistles to dominionists
Sarah Palin a Gothardite?
In my last post, I noted an article from the Cincinnati Beacon--a regular source of good investigative reporting regarding Gothard's various fronts--on Palin's links with Gothard. A recent article in Salon gives more detail--and more reason to worry.
Among other things, Wasilla is one of 200-plus cities in the US that have been recruited into a particular Gothard front--the International Association of Character Cities:
Sep. 18, 2008 | In April 2000, under the direction of then-Mayor Sarah Palin, the Wasilla City Council passed a resolution declaring itself a "City of Character." Adopted unanimously, the resolution pledged that the city would "do all in its power" to promote "positive and constructive character qualities which distinguish between right and wrong," which the resolution predicted could work a range of wonders, from reducing juvenile delinquency to increasing corporate profits.
It is not exaggeration to term IACC a recruitment front for what amounts to a very nasty "Bible-based cult" Gothard promotes. The Salon article does touch on this, but--as in most cases involving neopente dominionists and coercive activity in neopente dominionist groups--most of the writing has been in either apologetics circles, survivors' communities, or the small community focusing on this sub-segment of "Christian nationalism".
The first definitive bits of writing re Gothard's IACC and its role as a recruitment front (outside of those in apologetics circles) would be two articles--the second being an article on Talk to Action entitled Developing Dominionist Cities which is itself a summary of Silva Talji's "Cult of Character". I would strongly recommend people start out with those two articles as backgrounder.
One piece of backgrounder, too, that I would recommend would be an article I have written regarding experiences in several "Gothardised" cities who were members of IACC--the program is promoted as "secular", but in the actual seminars, there tends to be a rapid hard-sell to a specifically neopente-dominionist theology, and pointers to the "real content" being in the explicitly religious material.
Even more disturbing, IACC is part of what amounts to a multi-headed hydra of frontgroups linked with Gothard. One known front is Police Dynamics Institute, which promotes Gothardism to police, firefighters and EMTs; another is ALERT Teams.
The ALERT Teams linkage--which is actually quite close indeed with PDI and IACC--is especially disturbing, as it is one of the few Joel's Army groups that can be legitimately described as "Joel's Army With Guns" (complete with a paramilitary training facility). Even worse, it's a "Joel's Army With Guns" group directly linked with possible neopente-dominionist infiltration of the armed forces and potentially grave national security consequences; the head of the US Air Force's Cyberspace Command is a major supporter of ALERT Teams (as if the US Air Force didn't have enough issues with "God Warriors" and mandatory religious prosyletisation scandals!).
There is evidence that--at least in the particular case of Palin's involvement--there was even less pretense than usual on the program being supposedly "secular"--including a talk by David Barton of Wallbuilders, a major promoter of a form of historical revisionism popular in "Christian nationalist" circles claiming that the US was established as primarily a dominionist nation:
Palin, Menzel confirmed, learned how Wasilla could become a City of Character at an IACC conference held at IBLP's International Training Center in Indianapolis in April 2000. A conference brochure shows that Gothard and other speakers affiliated with IBLP taught several of the sessions. The conference included a videotape presentation on the separation of church and state by David Barton, a regular on the Christian right speaking circuit who argues that the separation of church and state is a "myth."
This gets very disturbing, very quickly--especially if you have an idea of just what Gothard promotes.
One thing Gothard is big on promoting is the concept of coercive "Bible-based" boot camps--in fact, one facility in Indianapolis was so horrific it was shut down by the state of Indiana. This is, alas, simply an extension of the religiously motivated child abuse he promotes as an extension of an entire system of abuse that actually manages to resemble Scientology's infamous Sea Orgs far more than any "church charity".
And some of the abuse of children in particular is extreme. A correspondent whom wishes to remain anonymous forwarded info from a now-defunct mailinglist for support of "Gothard parents":
Lori-We learned about spanking babies. WE learned about disciplning a child with a rod at the age of 6 months, when the weeds are very little we pluck them out. We use a 1/4 inch wooden dowel when they are 6 months. If you ignore those weeds then by the time they are toddlers you have to do something drastic. WE learned that if we started when they were babies, they were so much more obedient in coming and sitting and being quiet. OUr goal
(And yes, the rest of the thread is just as bad.)
Of note, this is probably the most extreme religiously motivated child abuse I've seen documented yet; even Tedd Tripp and the Pearls, who formerly held the title of "worst of the worst", don't recommend using that thick of a rod to whack a six-month-old. :P
Gothard's system of abuse is in part based on enforcing a particularly extreme version of the coercive "discipling and shepherding" model common in abusive neopente dominionist churches--the same "cell church" model, of note, in use in John Hagee's church, in Wasilla A/G, and others. This is also the same cell-church model documented to cause short and long-term personality changes--in some cases, in as short as three days.
Little documented is that Gothard's "coercive neopente dominionism-plus" system has a heavy emphasis on not just the abusive "cell church" model (including a requirement people be under the "covering" of a shepherd) and some especially horrific child abuse, but also a very heavy emphasis on another oddity in neopente dominionist circles--namely, the concept of "deliverance ministry". "Deliverance ministry", boiled down, claims that literally anything can be "demonised" or "open doorways for Satan" and cause one to be "oppressed" or even frankly possessed by the Devil; in practice, it strongly resembles some of the worst practices in Scientology regarding "body thetans", "engrams", and "suppressive persons".
In similar manner as have been documented at some of Palin's churches, Gothard promotes the idea that illnesses are caused by "generational curses"--or even by things as innocuous as Cabbage Patch Kids or "Troll" dolls.
Combined, the two practices amount to one of the most coercive systems ever documented--and Gothard's system is far more extreme than even the infamous coercive chunderfest at Hagee's church documented by Matt Taibbi in his book "The Great Derangement".
As if this weren't enough, Gothard will in general not discuss his tactics unless you have been recruited into his programs (a dead giveaway we are dealing with a frank cult here), and promotes "Quiverfull" stuff in his own way by claiming in essence that "God will provide" for women having extreme amounts of kids and that parents shouldn't have Caesarian sections (and again attributes infertility to having Cabbage Patch Kids in the house)...among other things. In addition to this, one of Gothard's known fronts is a completely unaccredited "college" that includes classes on "Christian midwifery", and Gothard has even been known to encourage women to not register home births at all.
In addition to all the other fun stuff I've mentioned, Gothard is also very explicitly dominionist (as if you hadn't yet guessed this), has encouraged others to set up incredibly abusive "Bible boot camps" not unlike his Indianapolis misadventure, and attempted to suppress publication of a guide critical of his tactics.
Gothard's teachings have in fact been described as those of a Bible-based cult--which I am inclined to agree with, having grown up in a coercive group where Gothard's writing was heavily promoted and having written on the subject of abusive dominionist groups throughout most of my diary entries on DailyKos. My experiences aren't unique--apparently Gothard's stuff is heavily promoted within the Assemblies of God in particular (which is the denomination I am a walkaway from); disturbingly, Gothard is also heavily promoted within the dominionist "home education" movement.
...and yes, that would be the same Assemblies in which Palin was, and has been up to June 2008, heavily involved in...including in an official policy as state governor.
And this, after Cincinnati's commissioner has called for an investigation of IACC due to its heavy support of religiously motivated child abuse.
More on that "Deborah" dogwhistle
I also reported the other day on how J. Lee Grady--a Joel's Army promoter who is editor of the site "Fire In My Bones" and who has hailed fellow Joel's Army promoter Todd Bentley as a modern-day prophet--literally compared Sarah Palin to the Biblical prophetess Deborah.
This is a prime example of how many of the promoters of "Joel's Army" theology tend to drop code-words and overt "scripture twisting" as dog-whistles to their parishoners--and the "Deborah dogwhistle" is a particularly nasty one indeed, as we'll get into.
The specific dogwhistle in question:
When McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate, I was reminded of the biblical story of Deborah, the Old Testament prophet who rallied God's people to victory at a time when ancient Israel was being terrorized by foreign invaders. Deborah's gender didn't stop her from amassing an army; she inspired the people in a way no man could. She and her defense minister, Barak, headed to the front lines and watched God do a miracle on the battlefield.
The use of the New American Standard Bible is somewhat unusual (most neopente dominionists tend to use the NIV), but despite the version, the message is clear...and disturbing.
The Song of Deborah describes a particularly vicious battle against the Canaanites during the pre-royal period of Israel--when the judges ruled the country along with the priesthood. It is worth noting Judges 5:6-5:8 in particular in the NASB version:
6 "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath,
It's also noteworthy what appears in the New International Version, the version that most neopente dominionists are more likely to be using:
6 "In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
([c] or "Warriors"; [d] or "you".)
It's also worth noting some other minor dogwhistles. BibleWiki notes:
Name of the triumphal ode found in Jdg 5:2-31 and ascribed in the title (Jdg 5:1) to Deborah; it celebrates the victory in the plain of Megiddo over Sisera and his army.
For those unaware, Megiddo is of course the traditional site upon which the Final Battle will be fought--Armageddon. At least some groups do directly equate the two.
Then again, seeing as one of the persons fighting with Deborah was named Barak, this may not be as significant as one thinks--unless one counts that Barak ultimately failed at assassinating Sisera, and was beaten to it by a woman.
Oh, and the scene of aforementioned assassination is also noteworthy, one of the more spectacularly gruesome offings in the Old Testament that was not the result of direct divine intervention:
24 "Most blessed of women is Jael,
Ironically, Judges 6 is not mentioned--in which Deborah reigns, and the people go to evil ways resulting in Midian occupation for seven years before Gideon takes over:
1 Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.
And yet there is deeper meaning in this particular dogwhistle. One thing being heavily promoted in the Joel's Army community is the concept of a "Deborah Anointing"--that is, essentially a "women's corps of Joel's Army". An example from a site promoting "Joel's Army" theology explains succinctly:
THE DEBORAH ANOINTING
In other words, folks seen as having a "Deborah Anointing" are seen explicitly as God Warriors In Dresses--basically the WACS of Joel's Army, as it were.
Last night in the 'wee small hours' I agonised over wondering if I had made a terrible mistake in the word the Lord gave me for Wales. I know full well that Deborah did not slay Barak, indeed it was Jael who slew Sisera and yet somehow I did not 'see' what I had written at the time of testing/posting. I prayed about it, repenting if was in error, not understanding why the prophetic word for Wales, spoke of Deborah slaying Barak. I asked the Spirit of God to show me in His Word the explanation for the use of such terminology. I believe the Lord in His Wisdom permitted me to remain 'blind' in order that He might bring forth the following revelation. The Lord led me to a specific page within a book on the Welsh revival and I believe this is what He has shown:
(Of note, the "Wales revival" in question was a Joel's Army/Third Wave revival occuring in 1999.)
This is far from an isolated reference. Specific references to "Deborah Anointing" occur on multiple Joel's Army sites, including this one (linked with Hillsong A/G in Sydney, Australia--a particularly infamous Joel's Army congregation that is the home of the Family First political party) as well as this site, and a major Joel's Army promotion site (Fresh Fire Ministries) promotes it as "the mantle of Deborah".
There are indications that the term may well have been used in Joel's Army circles as early as 1998 or earlier, based on its use in Guatemalan "Joel's Army" churches. (Guatemala has suffered possibly more than any other country the sad reality of neopente dominionist regimes...in particularly genocidal fashion during the reign of Gen. Rios Montt.)
A subtle dog-whistle indeed--and not likely that anyone outside the Joel's Army movement would catch the full import of it.
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