Publicizing the existence of the NAR -- some suggestions
Some regular columnists here on Talk to Action have complained about difficulties in getting the mass media to notice the existence of a new but rapidly growing - and already highly influential - religious movement with theocratic ambitions, the New Apostolic Reformation.
I have some suggestions on publicity. For all I know, the regulars here may have pursued all these avenues already, but I figured I should mention them anyway, just in case at least one or two of my ideas have not yet been pursued.
I also have some thoughts of my own on why it has been so difficult to get the mass media to take the NAR seriously.
- Have the researchers here made contact with academic scholars of new religions? I would suggest contacting as many new-religion scholars as possible. In particular, be sure to share your research with J. Gordon Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religion. Note that new-religion scholars tend to avoid criticism of the religions that they research. But, at the very least, writings about the NAR by new-religion scholars would help to establish, in the eyes of mainstream journalists, the existence of the NAR, and hopefully some credible information about how big it is and how it is organized. If information about the NAR is ever to find its way into textbooks, or into any of the reference books consulted by religion journalists, it is absolutely essential that new-religion scholars be informed about it.
- Have the researchers here made contact with well-known "anti-cult" researchers such as Rick Ross? Though not as respectable as new-religion scholars, they've succeeded in shedding a mass media spotlight on other dangerous religious organizations and might be able to do the same for the NAR. (Warning: Some "anti-cult" researchers seem to be motivated by just plain religious bigotry, and they vary in how concerned they are about getting their facts straight. Look carefully for the better ones.)
- Way back in 1999, the Christian Science Monitor published the story Targeting cities with 'spiritual mapping,' prayer by Jane Lampman. Has anyone here contacted them about a possible follow-up story?
- Has anyone here written articles about the NAR for local mainstream newspapers -- which might be more receptive, at least to stories of local interest, than the big mass media outlets? For example, have any local New Jersey newspapers been contacted about "Pray for Newark"? Local newspaper stories - especially in locales outside the Bible Belt - might be a key stepping stone to getting a story noticed by the major mass media.
- Has anyone here written articles about the NAR for the gay press? The bigger gay periodicals might be another good stepping stone to getting the story noticed by the mass media.
- Someone here should research the question of whether Rubén Díaz Sr., who is a New York State Senator and also pastor of the (Pentecostal) Christian Community Neighborhood Church in the Bronx, has any connection to the New Apostolic Reformation. If he does, then this could be a story of major interest to the gay press, because Rubén Díaz was the leading opponent of same-sex marriage in the NY State Senate. It might also help persuade New York City-based journalists to take the NAR more seriously.
- Has anyone here contacted the authors of popular books and mass media articles about demons and exorcism? (An example is Michael W. Cuneo, author of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty.) They might very well be interested in the NAR from their own angle, given the NAR's emphasis on new forms of exorcism, e.g "strategic level spiritual warfare."
As for why the mass media aren't paying attention, I would concur with Rachel Tabachnick, as quoted in the recent Talk To Action post The New Apostolic Movement uncovered ... and un-covered by Bill Berkowitz:
Since "journalists can not access a textbook description of the NAR it basically doesn't really exist for many of them. ..."
This problem can be remedied only by contacting lots of religion scholars, as suggested above.
Another problem, I think, is the fact that the major mass media are based here in New York City. To many New Yorkers, especially the better-educated amongst us, the very idea of theocracy just seems utterly foreign. Here in NYC, especially in Manhattan, we're accustomed to people of many different religions, or of no religion, living side-by-side without so much as batting an eyelash at each other. So, to many New Yorkers, it seems that only a totally crazy total "loser" could possibly desire theocracy. It is hard for many New Yorkers to imagine that anyone that crazy could possibly have any real influence whatsoever, or be taken at all seriously by anyone in power.
And that, I think, may be the main reason why so many pundits are always pronouncing the religious right wing to be "dead."
Many New Yorkers have no idea what the Bible Belt is like. Here in NYC, Pentecostal and independent charismatic churches are largely confined to poorer neighborhoods, another reason why most New Yorkers tend to assume they must be unimportant and un-influential. Many New Yorkers assume that poor equals powerless and have no understanding of the role of grassroots political organizing in either left-wing or right-wing politics. Many New Yorkers also don't realize that, in other parts of the U.S.A., there are plenty of middle-class and well-to-do members of Pentecostal and "nondenominational" independent charismatic churches.
Ditto for evangelicals in general, here in NYC.
Here in NYC, as far as I can tell, most middle-class Christians are Catholics, most of whom ignore the Church's official teachings in birth control, etc.
Thus, many New Yorkers have a hard enough time imagining how even those religious right wing leaders who are already household names could possibly have any real influence at all, let alone that there could possibly be any reason to take seriously any leaders or groups who haven't yet been featured prominently on the evening news.
Note to the owners of this site: The link to "guidelines" on the story submission form does not work. I hope this post is within the guidelines as I vaguely recall them from the last time I posted here.