Palin, Muthee, and the Witch - Journalists Miss the Major Story
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 05:17:55 PM EST
A continuation of the series on Palin's Churches and the Third Wave

The story of Sarah Palin's anointing by Bishop Thomas Muthee was posted on this site on September 5th, and in the related Bruce Wilson video. Muthee's testimony about transforming Kiambu, Kenya by driving out a witch has now been picked up by press around the world including the London Times and Countdown by Keith Olbermann.

[picture, right: Ed Kalnins & Thomas Muthee show off Rick Joyner books they distributed in Africa].

The most significant aspects of this story are being missed, especially policy impact of the 1999 "Transformations" video documentary originally discussed in the story. Some journalists have steered the emphasis on Palin's churches toward the denomination of the Assemblies of God and away from the Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation. This is unfortunate, as the significance of both Thomas Muthee and the other activities at Palin's churches does not concern the Assemblies of God or speaking in tongues, but is rooted in the growth of an independent apostolic network that is being rapidly institutionalized worldwide. To understand Palin's churches, attention should be turned toward the Third Wave and the New Apostolic Reformation.

The Muthee story was featured on a video, Transformations, produced in 1999 by George Otis, Jr. and the Sentinel Group.  This video, as well as later media produced by Sentinel Group, presented documentation for the effectiveness of some of the activities of the Third Wave. These activities included the use of spiritual mapping to expel territorial demons from their strongholds. This new tool for evangelical missionary work was popularized by Otis and C. Peter Wagner, former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary.  Wagner has continued in the years since to further institutionalize this movement and has given it the name, New Apostolic Reformation.  This movement has taken root in numerous Assembly of God churches around the world but is not synonymous with that denomination or any other. The movement is, in fact, drawing people from across the spectrum of Christianity. Leadership defines the movement as the independent, post-denominational, unified church of the end times.

Before describing the Transformations video and its significance, it is important to again note that this movement is not synonymous with the Assemblies of God or any other denomination. The burdensome terminology of Third Wave/New Apostolic Reformation is repeatedly used throughout this series of articles because the terms represent two slightly different meanings.  The term Third Wave was coined over two decades ago to describe a loosely linked network of groups that remained or were reemerging from a movement called Latter Rain that was denounced as heresy by the Assemblies of God in 1949.  In recent years these groups have coalesced into a much larger and more institutionalized structure.  A central figure in the movement is C. Peter Wagner, founder of Global Harvest Ministries and the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs. In the late 1990s Wagner gave the name New Apostolic Network to his organization which now includes over 500 Apostles under his authority, or Apostolic Covering, in the International Coalition of Apostles.   Some of these Apostles also have hundreds or even thousands in their own networks.  There are numerous other interconnected apostolic networks around the world tied to this movement by their common belief system and also interconnected activities, conventions, media, schools, and parachurch ministries.
[image above, right: Kalnins and Muthee show off John Bevere books they distributed in Africa]

Wasilla Assembly of God, where Sarah Palin attended until 2002 and continues to visit, and Juneau Christian Church, where Palin attends when in residence at the capital, have close links to major leadership and organizations in this movement. Ed Kalnins, seen in the above pictures with Thomas Muthee, is senior pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God. The books they are distributing are by Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries, and John Bevere. Wasilla Assembly of God has very close ties with Morningstar and uses curriculum in their Master's Commission program produced by Morningstar's prophecy director, Steve Thompson, and curriculum by John Bevere.

The Transformation I video features the story of four cities that the narrator, George Otis, Jr, claims have been transformed through the power of intercessory prayer and the expulsion of demons.  The video served the purpose of introducing the revolutionary new evangelizing methods developed by C. Peter Wagner and his colleagues.  The use of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare to expel territorial demons is facilitated by Spiritual Mapping and then intercessory prayer and fasting.  The World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs developed by Wagner and Ted Haggard houses the computer systems for organizing the prayer intercessors as well as the Spiritual Mapping media.  The video was based on the book Breaking the Strongholds in Your City:  How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted.See the second book review for a good summary.

The first Transformations video featured the successes of this spiritual warfare process in four cities - Cali, Colombia; Kiambu, Kenya; Hemet, California; and Almolonga, Guatemala.  The videos claim to show dramatic transformations in each of these cities after groups of born again believers target the source of the demonic influence and then use intercessory prayer to drive out the demons.

The section on Kiambu, Kenya features the story of Thomas Muthee who brought together over 200 born again Christians to drive a witch from the city.  Link here to the article and video for more on that story, including extensive documentation, and here for the Christian Science Monitor article on Muthee.

George Otis, Jr., the narrator states that the witch claimed to be a Christian and had a sign for the Emmanuel Clinic on her property.  Muthee believed that God had pointed out this woman as the source of witchcraft and spiritual oppression that was keeping the town from receiving the gospel.  The movie shows celebrating believers in the streets after the woman has been driven from town.  Otis claims that after the believers took authority over the town, all the bars were remodeled into churches, crime and alcoholism were reduced, and the town began to enjoy a new prosperity.

The third town featured in the movie is Hemet, California.  Otis and two local pastors  narrate the supposed transformation of this Hemet/San Jacinto area from a center of Satanism, witchcraft, Moonies, Transcendental Meditation, and Scientology.  He reports that Hemet had serious gang and drug problems.  In this segment Otis describes how Spiritual Mapping was used to direct the prayer intercessors in fighting the strongholds of the enemy. Pastor Bob Beckett of the Dwelling Place Church organized intercessory prayer to save the city. Otis reports,

"The Transcendental Meditation center was literally burned out.  Shortly after the intercessors prayed for its removal, a brush fire started on the mountain on the west side of the valley.  It burned only the Transcendental Meditation facility and didn't touch any of the buildings on either side."

Consequently Otis claims that the drug trade dropped 75% and many gang members as well as other residents have been saved.  Beckett states that the city now has "a professing mayor, a professing police chief, a professing fire chief, and a professing city manager."  

The mayor, Debbie Cornett, is interviewed and states,

I feel that God called me to this...I see him opening doors to more churches, more Christians, to really bring them together and say you want Christians in leadership."

Pastor Beckett adds that the city now has an exceptional number of high school teachers, coaches and principals that are believers and that now nearly 85% of staff candidates are Christians. (Beckett also authored a chapter in C. Peter Wagner's book, Breaking Strongholds.)  Pastor Gordon Houston states that God has turned the school system around.  

The last city segment features Almolonga, Guatemala.  Otis begins this segment by claiming that Almolongo is now 80% born again after the transformation of this town of about 19,000.  Again he tells of a town in the grip of demonic strongholds, this time the demons of folk deities and syncretism.  He states that previously the gospel could not take hold and evangelical Christians were a despised minority.  Again a group of intercessors prayed and "after many signs and wonders and deliverances from demonic possession" the town was transformed.  Otis then catalogs the miraculous changes in this once poor town plagued with crime and alcoholism.  He claims that all four jails have been closed as there is no longer crime. Two dozen evangelical churches have replaced 36 bars and cantinas.  The streets and buildings have been renamed after biblical places.  But more remarkably Otis claims that this spiritual transformation has healed the land and revived the agricultural economy.  Harold Cabelleros, founder of El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City, claims that Almolonga farmers now have three harvest per year, and that once God came to town, the harvest time for a radish dropped from 60 days to 40, and then 25.

He continues to say,

"There is a parallel between people's faith and improving the soil.  At the same time people started believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the vegetables started growing."
 Gigantic vegetables are shown as evidence of the transformation.

Mell Winger adds,

"The wisdom that God gave the farmers in Almolonga produced a better crop than the scientific method yielded."
 The Protestant churches are described as very active and very militant with many members still fasting as often as three times a week and continuing to assault the forces of darkness.

Cabelleros also contributed to Wagner's 1993 book, Breaking Strongholds in Your City.  Mell Winger was the director of the Bible Institute at El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City and later served with Ted Haggard at New Life Church, which shares the campus of the World Prayer Center. See Richard Bartholomew's Notes on Religion.

This video has been shown all over the world and has helped to popularize the idea that spiritual transformation through spiritual mapping, intercessory prayer, and the expulsion of demonic influences is the only effective method of transforming society. Transformation became a buzzword that was used by not only the Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation movement, but by those who believe that only faith-based transformation and placement of born again Christians in leadership results in true societal change.

Link to all articles and videos in the series:

investigated the film's claims about the other three towns targeted with spiritual mapping?  Did Hemet's gang and drug problems really clear up and stay that way?  Have the two dozen new churches really eliminated 36 bars and cantinas in Almolonga and how is the agriculture there these days?  And what were the claims about Cali, Colombia?

by Rusty Pipes on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 07:01:18 PM EST
There are quite a few sites online that claim to have done research to debunk the video's claims.  I can not vouch for these sites and do not agree with all of the statements of these authors, but here are the links:

Note that the first author claims that the videos were circulated to 80,000 churches and organizations by YWAM, the National Prayer Committee and the World Prayer Center.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 07:28:23 PM EST

The other thing that disturbs me about this whole incident is that Muthee and the Third Wave seem to want us to return to the sixteenth century, with a belief in witches and community scapegoating. Such scapegoating of usually poor, uneducated and abandoned women had lethal results for the women involved.

by khughes1963 on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:51:38 PM EST

I don't know how George Otis, Jr. was able to claim that Hemet was a "transformed" city, considering that then (as now) the Church of $cientology has a huge complex on the north side of town. Maybe because "Gold Base" isn't exactly within the borders of Hemet, it doesn't count. But during the time of this video, literally hundreds of "Sea Org" members (people who had signed "billion year" contracts to serve $cientology from lifetime to lifetime) were living in apartment complexes in Hemet.

Based on my personal experience with Hemet, CA and $cn, I'm going to assert that probably the rest of the cities on the "Transformations" video are just as much a crock as Hemet.

by mirele on Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 10:56:42 PM EST

There are studies which indicate that Almolonga farms are involved in the extensive overuse of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers.  Kiambu, Kenya, a suburb area of Nairobi, is still a violent place with a high rate of crime.  UNICEF, the Kenyan Human Rights League, and others have written about the ongoing violence there.

Hopefully the point is made in my article about the possible dangers of witch hunting and demon expulsion as a form of community transformation.  The video and the use of this video in the years since, demonstrate the movements' goal of taking control of the physical realm in their battle with those they see as evil. Also, this example clearly demonstrates that this particular brand of spiritual warfare does not remain in the spiritual domain.  They are acting on these beliefs in concrete and physical ways that affect the lives of others.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sun Sep 21, 2008 at 08:30:46 AM EST

Having been accused of following witchcraft because I practice the Way of the Square Ground (to the best of my ability)- a traditional Native American form of religion, I wonder what the person talked about actually did.

Maybe that person was following traditional ways (anathema to the fundies/dominionists).  Maybe they  chose this person because they didn't go along with the steeplejacking of their village?

Maybe the woman had a pet cat that she loved??? (The jackleg preachers that regularly try to offend people into the "Kingdom of God" at my school have even said that talking to your pets will send you to hell!!!  Another person who visits this blog can verify that!)

This is as clear an example of the need for separation of church and state as I've seen in a while- persecuting someone based upon religious prejudice/belief SHOULD be against the law!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 12:26:50 PM EST

Yes, this demonstrates the importance of complete separation of church and state!  The fact that this movement is excited about the burning of the TM center building and brags about it on video is quite startling.  There are many other Transformations testimonies that are equally frightening.  

Much of their work to transform communities is directed against Roman Catholics who they believe are held back from "true belief" by a powerful territorial demon called the "Queen of Heaven." They befriend Catholics and work closely with them in order to convert them, while at the same time teaching that they are under the influence of this demon and therefore a major obstacle to the purifying and transformation of these cities.

It is important to understand the movement because they have some distinct differences from other groups who are fighting to tear down the wall of separation. The Third Wave allows women to have leadership roles including role of Prophet.  One of Wagner's most trusted leaders is Cindy Jacobs who heads Generals of Intercession.  Also they embrace people of all different races and ethnicities and from all different segments of Christianity as well as different nations,as long as the participants embrace their belief system.  They view their mission as a global battle between the godly and the ungodly and no other divisions matter.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 04:11:43 PM EST

I know people keep wanting others to see a difference between the groups, but I disagree.

Doing away with separation of church and state- "My way or the Highway"- coercive (and deceptive) evangelizing- "spiritual warfare"... all of the other stuff IMO is window trimming.

The damage they do to PEOPLE is what matters to me- that and the threat to FREEDOM.

Some groups may be worse than others- but IMO they're all just different shades of an ugly color.

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by shaka22 on Mon Jun 17, 2019 at 03:40:23 AM EST

to women in leadership roles (at least in the formative stage of a movement) among those Christian groups whose main focus is spirtual gifts than those whose focus is Biblical literalism or Church tradition.

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