Becoming Aware about AWARE
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:50:06 PM EST
Talk to Action contributor John Dorhauer alerted me to a situation in Singapore that some people had found to be analogous to steeplejacking that he has written about here.  (Dogemperor has researched the situation, here.)

Apparently what happened was that the members of a fundamentalist church systematicaly joined a womens rights organization for the purpose of taking it over.  The well laid plan resulted in the election of the Christian slate, whose purposes were at odds with the mission of the organization.

In the end, the membership rallied itself and ousted the hijackers.

Inflitrating an organization, or joining it for purposes of disrupting or taking it over is a very old ploy.  Democratically run organizations are often vulnerable to this kind of attack, particularly as recent history has shown, unwary churches.

It is always incumbent on those who value democratic organizations, democratic values, and democracy itself, to be wary. Not everyone shares these values, and see the openness of democracy as a vulnerability to be exploited rather than a value and a strength to be preserved and defended.

This is both a story of why churches and democratic organizations SHOULD be alert to infiltration, and a story of an organization that fought back. This deserves our close attention.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Sat May 02, 2009 at 07:36:19 PM EST

I was out today, and was delighted to get this wonderful news when we got home.  I knew that the dominionists had tried to steeplejack AWARE, and the fact that the regular membership woke up and kicked them out was quite a relief.

This could be used to open the eyes of people who think "it won't happen to us!"  I've seen an amateur radio group get steeplejacked, heard of others, and three of the Episcopal churches we attended were steeplejacked (I think most people here know the abuse that followed each steeplejack!)

ANY group is subject to steeplejacking!!!  I can speak from experience- the dominionists believe that ALL groups and EVERYTHING must be "taken over for God"- i.e., steeplejacked.

It is especially telling that they ALWAYS use lies and deception to do so.  They seem to forget who the father of lies really is.

by ArchaeoBob on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:53:27 PM EST

As someone who's actively been trying to help out some of my Singaporean friends with this (I originally found out about this via a friend whom is in an anime community with me), I am REALLY encouraged to see that AWARE's Old Guard took things back from the steeplejackers.

(And FWIW--actually the situation was even a little more serious than you report.  All indications in fact point strongly to an NAR church closely connected to the infamous Hillsong A/G in Sydney having essentially attempted a hostile takeover (Despite being supposedly "Anglican", Church Of Our Saviour is a "Hillsong lineage" Australian A/G aka "Community Church" in all but name, and was likely taken over from within by leaders of a "daughter church" of Hillsong in Perth); archives discovered of an "email chain" run by the church indicate the attack on AWARE was planned from the ground up and was being actively implemented as early as December 2008.  

(Of note, there does seem to be a particularly aggressive attempt by NAR groups to infiltrate Singapore and in fact all of the East Indies including Malaysia and Indonesia as well; this is, ironically, something those of us researching NAR/Joel's Army groups stumbled upon some months back, so the eventual tracing-back to NAR-linked orgs isn't too surprising in context.)

(In addition to extremely strong NAR/Joel's Army linkage, there are also strong linkages to Focus on the Family's Singaporean affiliate, and there are indications that Church Of Our Saviour is in fact the de facto home of FotF in Singapore.)

by dogemperor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:17:53 PM EST

At least a few people (particularly folks "on the ground" in Singapore that I've talked with on this) have noted a distressing similarity to what was attempted with AWARE to another notable hostile takeover--specifically, Scientology's hostile takeover of the Cult Awareness Network in the mid-90s.  

For those who aren't aware, CAN was--at one time--one of the most outspoken exit counseling organisations reporting on coercive tactics; they were among the first to break news of not only abuses within Scientology but a fair number of "Bible-based" groups (including the International Churches of Christ and--relevant to this community--the "Third Wave"/NAR movement).

Scientology, of course, was not happy about this; CAN had an open membership, and so Scientology attempted to have no less than 150 of its own members join en masse (in an attempt to "steeplejack by numbers").

Fortunately, CAN had been warned and rejected the apps.

Unfortunately, Scientology decided to have all 150 people sue--not in a class action, but in individual lawsuits, with the purpose of bankrupting CAN.  In addition, they managed to contact an ICC member who was willing to claim CAN tried to refer him for involuntary deprogramming (of note, exit counseling groups don't generally support this anymore).

CAN ended up being bankrupted, and Scientology promptly bought up the name and assets (including an attempt to buy out the entire archives of correspondence with CAN--including an entire list of ex-Scientology walkaways).

I myself do see this similarity, and have been disturbed enough that I did contact the people with We Are AWARE to warn them of this possibility (fortunately, it seems the laws in Singapore are rather less friendly to SLAPPs of this sort).  Similar legal tactics have been documented (including in the case of ex-Assemblies walkaway Laura Schubert--whose case regarding an involuntary NAR-style "exorcism" and the resulting PTSD is now being appealed to the US Supreme Court and may end up setting national case law in support of the right to be free from religious coercion--as well as with other NAR groups).

The tactic of how AWARE was briefly steeplejacked is also remarkably similar to how the Republican Party was essentially taken over from within by dominionists--particularly via Ralph Reed's strategy of using "stealth candidates" who only revealed their mask once they had a critical mass and had secured power.  

Texas' GOP convention is a particularly disturbing example of just how effective this tactic is--the state convention platform (here, specifically in appendix F) differs very little from that of the state Constitution Party platform (here in full); the latter calls for going back to the gold standard, but other than that, there is little substantial difference, and in some ways the Texas GOP state convention platform manages to be a wee bit more blatant about its theocratic content.  (Texas is important, of note, because it was one of the very first state GOP conventions explicitly targeted for "takeover from within" via the same strategy of "cuckoos" used for takeover of churches.)

by dogemperor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:36:56 PM EST

I've got my own article up on this here (and I'll likely be mirroring both NewsVine articles over here over the next few days)--it turns out that AWARE may have dodged a hell of a bullet.

Long story short/tl;dr version: Apparently the steeplejackers attempted to move the conference to the same location as a major, yearly NAR convention ("Transformation 2009", which featured none other than Ed Silvoso as a speaker--my fellow researchers know why this is Bad News; Silvoso focuses on "Seven Mountains" strategy and specifically the steeplejack of businesses and NGOs as a form of "naming and claiming" the financial and social services sector for Joel's Army) that was to be held literally the very day after the emergency meeting--specifically so NAR "friendlies" could pack the meeting, most likely (there's archives of sermons where the pastor of Church Of Our Saviour was explicitly encouraging female members of his congregation to pack the meeting).  

Thankfully the Singaporean Police did the rough equivalent of what cops will do with Fred Phelps protests (namely, refuse to issue a permit for the forum move on grounds of "we can't assure your safety" ;3).

by dogemperor on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:06:40 AM EST

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