Repent Amarillo's Spiritual Mapping and Vigilantism
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:56:19 AM EST
Repent Amarillo, a Texas ministry which refers to itself as an "Army of God,"  is making news for its spiritual warfare and vigilante tactics.  The ministry has "spiritually mapped" the city targeting businesses deemed as evil, Masonic Lodges, the Islamic Center, a Buddhist Temple  and even an Episcopal church accused of being "gay friendly."  (I have looked at the map several times but just noticed the shooting sounds that start after the music ends.)

Repent Amarillo is headed by David Grisham, a part time pastor and security guard at a nuclear facility, but the ministry is part of  RAVEN International headed by Troy Bohn whose RAVEN Amarillo site takes credit for the spiritual mapping and other activities. According to their biographies at RAVEN (which stands for Restoring A Vision & Evangelizing Nations) both Bohn and RAVEN leader Alex Hill were part of Amarillo's Dayspring Dream Center affiliated with the LA Dream Center led by Matthew Barnett.  Bohn and Hill developed Dream Center ministries in Amarillo such as "Adopt-a -Block," before starting RAVEN International as an evangelizing arm of the ministry.

 Pastor Hill describes their Dream Center Adopt-a-Block program.

"This servant evangelism ministry served as the life-blood of Dayspring as it mobilized a small army each Saturday for a time of invading an area encompassing forty-eight adjacent city blocks surrounding the church."

Like most para-ministries today, RAVEN is described as non-denominatinal, but both Troy Bohn and Alex Hill list their ordination from Church of God (Cleveland). Bohn is now based in Daytona Beach and RAVEN International has expanded to include ministries in New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and several Texas locations.

Repent Amarillo's tactics have been reported at Right Wing Watch, Think Progress, and Pharyngula, among others.   Also, thanks to bloggers Dogemperor and ArcheoBob for their additional information.

See coverage by the local NBC affiliate, KAMR, at this link.

Repent Amarillo's spiritual mapping and militant spiritual warfare tactics have drawn attention, but they are not much different than those being practiced by "prayer warriors" all over the country.  The spiritual mapping techniques are the same as those introduced by C. Peter Wagner and other New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) leaders.  Pastor Bohn actually appears to disagree with much of the NAR theology but, like many aggressive ministries, has adopted their unorthodox methods nevertheless.

Tommy Barnett, of Phoenix First Assembly of God, and his son Matthew started the LA Dream Center which was a joint project of the Assemblies of God and the International Foursquare Gospel.  

There are now 130 of these Dream Centers which combine urban social services with "city transformation," missions, and spiritual warfare. The Atlanta Dream Center's Master's Commission program website describes participation in their supernatural practicum,

"We take teams out on to the streets of down town Atlanta to cast out demons, heal the sick, and demonstrate the power of God...

...We have seen many people get healed from aids and broken arms and legs restored. We also do outreaches at churches and schools. Our goal is to bring unity to the church through God's power and healing. We go out at least three days a week to invade the streets with the Kingdom, while living a lifestyle that is surrendered to our King."

The Master's Commission programs were also initiated in 1985 by Tommy Barnett at his Phoenix Assembly of God.  This is now an international program for post-high school students with a curriculum in discipleship, evangelism, and spiritual warfare.  In June 2008 Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker at the Master's Commission graduation ceremony at the Wasilla Assembly of God.  At the end of the ceremony the graduates were given samurai swords. The Wasilla Assembly of God subsequently partnered with the Alaska Assemblies of God District Council to open Alaska's first Dream Center.

Spiritual mapping and associated spiritual warfare techniques were pioneered and introduced into the evangelical world as a way to "take territory" by C. Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs, Ted Haggard, and Harold Caballeros. George Otis, Jr., producer of the Transformations series of movies, and Youth With A Mission's John Dawson are considered the authors of the definitive texts on spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare for taking control of cities.

The Transformations series of videos demonstrate essentially the same techniques as those being used by Repent Amarillo.  The targets of the spiritual mapping done by Repent Amarillo are also the same categories as those taught in the training books and videos viewed by millions worldwide.  While there may be some readers who would not have much sympathy for the ministry's harassment of sex businesses, note that this is just one of many categories targeted in the spiritual mapping reconnaissance.  

The institutions of other religions are targeted as well as Christian churches that are considered too liberal.  Most spiritual mapping that I've seen targets anything believed to be tied to Freemasonry including some of the major buildings and monuments in our cities and in Washington D.C.. Cindy Jacobs has targeted the Indian mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument which she links to the "current abortion crises" and the New Age Maharishi Movement headquarters in Fairfield Iowa.  Taliesin West, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has been targeted in spiritual mapping and prayer walking by Arizona Call to Prayer "intercessors," because of Wright's Unitarian background and his friendship with Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.  A "homosexual bed and breakfast" was also included in this particular prayer journey to rid Tucson of demons and curses.

Before his downfall, Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, was using spiritual mapping and harassment techniques in Colorado Springs.

"He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches--in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation "prayer-walked" nearly every street of the city...He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church; his whole congregation pitched itself into invisible battles with demonic forces, sometimes in front of public buildings."

(From Jeff Sharlet's 2005 Harper's article, Soldiers of Christ: Inside America's Most Powerful Mega-Church.)

In his 1995 book Primary Purpose Haggard claimed that his church's activities decreased the number of witch's covens in town and that there was subsequently a decline in "cattle mutilations."  A few pages later Haggard describes the "strongman" in Colorado Springs that was resisting his efforts to transform the city. In spiritual warfare lingo, "strongman" or "stronghold" refers to the demonic spirits or their human counterparts which control entire territories and  "prevent the manifestations of God's kingdom."  Haggard wrote, "Just as demons have wicked plans for individuals, so I believe more powerful ones have assignments to infect entire communities."   In this case the strongmen were  gay rights groups, those who objected to New Life Church's activities in public schools, and the economic development council of the city once it "quit encouraging Christian ministries to move to Colorado Springs."  

In his book Victorious Warfare Harold Caballeros states that the "strongman" is not only a reference to the demon, but also to the humans in covenant with the demon who have been given control over a territory.

Spiritual warfare against the "strongman" was the topic of Apostle Mary Glazier's speech  to a New Apostolic conference in June 2008 in which she also stated that Sarah Palin joined her prayer warrior network when Palin was 24 years old.  Also in June 2008, Palin gave the keynote speech at Wasilla Assembly of God's graduation ceremony of its Master's Commission Class, the same program which was originally initiated by Tommy Barnett at Phoenix Assembly of God.  At the end of the ceremony the graduates were given samurai swords. Wasilla Assembly of God subsequently joined forces with the Alaska Assembly of God District Council to open Alaska's first Dream Center.

Haggard continued in his book Primary Purpose with C. Peter Wagner's description of "strategic level spiritual warfare" against demonic powers and relates an elaborate story of battling demons in Albania.  Haggard claims that the Christian population increased by 600% in the year after his spiritual warfare excursion.  

Repent Amarillo could be described as fringe, but Haggard was not a minor figure in the evangelical world.  He served from 2003 -2006 as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 30 million Americans, and reported that he spoke with President George Bush or one of his advisors every Monday.

Haggard's career ended abruptly but his colleagues continue in the spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare business.  Haggard's book Loving Your City into the Kingdom: City Reaching Strategies for a 21st Century Revival, was co-written by Jack Hayford, former head of the International Foursquare Gospel who also is the authority over an international network of deliverance centers and promotes spiritual mapping.  The book includes a section on essentials for spiritual warfare by C. Peter Wagner and also includes "citywide strategies" from Ed Silvoso, Tony Evans, pollster George Barna (also featured in one of the Transformations movies), George Otis, Jr., and Paul Cedar, head of Mission America Coalition.

After Haggard's downfall in a gay sex and drugs scandal, Jack Hayford and Tommy Barnett were part of his apostolic oversight team. Haggard failed to comply with his overseers and was quoted in Charisma magazine in late 2009 as having a new group of pastors to whom he is accountable.

The leadership team of Repent Amarillo has been active in the Texas town for many years and has the endorsement of a number of local churches.  But the recent tactics of the group has resulted in a backlash including Freedom Amarillo and Citizens Against Repent Amarillo, groups who have formed to oppose the activities of the ministry.

Although the overtly militant tactics of Repent Amarillo are drawing attention, E.D. Kain at True Slant describes the group as relatively harmless and marginalized and the media coverage as "overblown."  I disagree.  I think we can expect to see more of this type of vigilante behavior now that spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare are spreading throughout our communities.  

For more information on spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare see:
 Spiritual Mapping and Spiritual Warfare, Muthee and the Transformations Franchise

Author's Note:
The LA Dream Center church is in the historic Angelus Temple, founded by faith-healer and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, one of the most famous women in Pentecostal history and founder of the International Foursquare Gospel. McPherson was known for her racially integrated audiences and charitable programs but she was also famous for her dramatic antics in her war against modernism and liberalism and for her disappearance and faked kidnapping in 1926 followed by charges that were later dropped. Sharon Falconer in the 1960 movie version of Sinclair Lewis' novel Elmer Gantry was clearly modeled after McPherson, complete with her costumes and Angelus Temple.  In the movie, many of McPherson's real life antics, like using a live monkey in sermons to ridicule belief in evolution were protrayed the Elmer Gantry character, played by Burt Lancaster.  

The movie received several Academy Awards but was also condemned as being anti-religious.  It succeeds in capturing some of the conflicts of a movement that which included racial reconciliation and charitable program led by those who simultaneously indulged in their own personal indiscretions and aggressively challenged modernity and others who they deemed as sinful.

This GREATLY concerns me, as an anthropologist/archaeologist AND as a Native American.  I would like to find out more.  Are the mounds themselves in any danger (such as vandalism/destruction)?  Are they advocating the destruction of the mounds???

They'd better not mess with them...

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:28:00 PM EST

While a team of 40-50 worshipping warrior intercessors gathered at NE Metro Christian Fellowship to stand watch and engage in intercession, a team of state, regional, national and international leaders went on-site to fulfill the mandate of the Lord to wage war against the ancient powers that had been imbedded in the land as places of worship to Baal, Queen of Heaven, and Leviathan.

The first stop was at the Cherokee's "Center of the Earth" monument near Hartwell, Georgia, where Ap. Jay led out in a prayer of repentance for the ancient iniquities of the Cherokee people who had inhabited the land in previous times and in intercession for the ensuing curses to be broken.  This was done with the blessing and authorization of Cherokee tribal leaders with whom he has relationship and had requested the right to do this on the behalf of their people. icleid=46382&columnid=2084

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:21:21 PM EST

Blessing of STEEPLEJACKED tribal leaders maybe???

There have been tribal leaders put to death for allowing people to do things in the name of their people (such as signing away our lands/heritage).  Our (my tribe's) traditional ways are a form of Christianity- and I learned that Teyose (Jesus) taught us what became our way of the Square Ground.  So those idiots are wrong in so many ways that it would be funny- if it wasn't so offensive.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 09:09:38 PM EST

This movement finds a few "leaders" and plugs them in over and over again in ceremonies held literally on different continents. Thus, apostle Jay Swallow has lent his aura of pseudo legitimacy as a native American leader to rituals held in Hawaii, Baltimore... Argentina... (and so on).

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 02:00:12 AM EST

Praying on tribal grounds and lands held sacred by others I can understand and, at least in a secular manner, forgive. Digging up (and presumably removing) offerings from the base of stones is both a secular and a sacred trespass.

When people feel they have a God-given mandate to trample on the rights and prayers of others, to treat others as less than themselves, then their religion has become a danger to others and acts committed in its name should be as subject to criminal prosecution as any others, not exempted as a form of religious expression.

The danger is growing as the belief in the mandate is growing. It is growing in the quiet, out of the public eye -- and seeming trivial in the eyes of law enforcement. But it is there, and it is growing --

-- into conspiracy to deprive others of their rights

-- into conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution of the United States -- or at least the First Amendment thereof

-- into incitement to riot and/or break laws

-- into an even nastier misrule than the Taliban.

And, yes, I know I am singing to the choir.

Is there anywhere in American law enforcement or oversight that is aware and following these trends?

by Khalila RedBird on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 01:14:12 PM EST
I don't know how aware (or CARING) American law enforcement is, but I do know that if they mess with a archaeological site, there are quite a few laws that will be broken, especially a federal lands site.

If they disturb my ancestors, the number of laws broken multiplies.  You do NOT disturb a grave.  Period.  Even if it's accidental and on your own property, you HAVE TO report it.  It doesn't matter if it's white or Native American, or how old it is.  You stop where you are and whatever you're doing and let the authorities know- so that things can be handled properly (and documented).

That doesn't even get into the religious/spiritual aspects of deliberately harming sacred areas.  Let's just say it's not a good or wise idea.

I find it ironic that they don't even like US praying (or leaving gifts of tobacco) at our own sacred sites, and yet these yahoos are threatening to damage/destroy those sites?

Let's see how it's handled.  They're essentially advocating the breaking of Federal law.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 02:10:16 PM EST

Bruce, please email me (the most recent I have for you no longer works.)

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:56:54 AM EST

So far the threats of destruction appear to be mostly talk, although the Transformations movies and other media make claims that spiritual warfare has succeeded in supernatural destruction of icons, buildings, and artifacts of other religions and belief systems.  This includes the claim of destruction of Catholic icons, damage to cathedrals, and the burning of a Transcendental Meditation center.

But what happens when large numbers of people have been taught that it is correct and holy for them to pray for this destruction?  I am very concerned that it is just a matter of time.   The Transformations movies show dramatizations of  native artifacts being burned in repentance ceremonies.  Throughout their media they identify icons and artifacts which they claim should be destroyed.  You may have seen my reference to C. Peter Wagner's statement that Savonarolo, who instigated the bonfire of the vanities in late 15th century Florence, is one of his models for city transformation.  (This reminded me of the report by Frank Schaeffer that Pat Robertson burned a Modigliani in his fireplace.)

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 07:07:21 PM EST

...whereas, Third Wave and New Apostolic ministries describe mass incineration of religious and cultural relics in Africa. And, of course, they might be lying be I suspect not. So, indeed.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 02:02:33 AM EST

I googled, and came up with this: 608-call-to-prayer/

Boy, they can sure stretch coincidence into support for their ideas. But they think there are altars to Baal in some Native American burial mounds????? That's really a stretch.

by phatkhat on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:24:51 AM EST
I couldn't access the link- could you do a summary of it?

(It looks like a link to a dominionist site- and I find their nonsense to be too triggering!)

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:44:53 PM EST

ArcheoBob, try this link -call-to-prayer/.  Scroll down through the newsletter for references to the Effigy Mounds.  Also note that in this same newsletter they are promoting "racial reconciliation" while targeting native history and artifacts as evil.

This is the newsletter for Cindy Jacobs' Generals International.  She leads the Reformation Prayer Network of the NAR.  From this introductory page you can link to a list of the fifty states and leaders.  Note that Cindy Jacobs also works closely with Ed Silvoso and speak at his International Transformation Network conferences, as seen in Bruce Wilson's video on Uganda.  She was also one of the original pioneers of spiritual mapping with Silvoso, Wagner, Caballeros, Dawson, and others NAR leaders.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:22:15 AM EST

The focus on "spiritual mapping" and "marking territories" it is the same concept as the neopagan practice of circle casting and drawing down power and to protect against evil spirits The dominionists are aping the movements which they are truly against! Even more odd- Imprecatory prayer is nothing but dominion-ese lingo for "holy hexing". [More on Wicca's "casting the circle"] [and these neopentecostal NAR dominionist guys are really insane- how would they feel if some crazy loon would go to the graveyards of their ancestors and spraypaint and desecrate their families' graves? ]

by zowie on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:10:05 PM EST
At least Wiccans mind their own business and don't try to push their beliefs on others.

by Sam Davis on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:05:18 PM EST
I think it depends if they're for real or not.  I've had new-age "Wiccans" try to force their beliefs on me.  Some were invited to one of our ceremonies (I was present) and aggressively tried to take it over "because you're doing it all wrong" - the first time in our history where people were asked to LEAVE a square ground (they were wanting us to do nonsense things).  Some of the college-age "Wiccan" kids I've encountered at school tried to teach nonsense about us (that we had similar beliefs and common practices) - and were horrified to learn that one of our laws was death for witchcraft (they were relieved to learn that we meant trying to bring harm to others by supernatural means).  I've also caught "Wiccans" who tried to teach others that (1)all of our medicine people were gay, and (2) that we were vegans and our eating of meat was because we were forced into it by whites.  Both of those are totally wrong (archaeology clearly disproves the second, - backing up what our elders/ancients teach)!  As far as gay people, they existed but were relatively rare- and were considered a bit strange (rather like someone with some brain damage).  They weren't persecuted or looked down on, but being gay was not part of being medicine either.

The few real Wiccans I've met were actually fairly easy to get along with (although a couple had some easily-fixed misconceptions).  The newager ones have given the rest a bad name among many Native American groups (and we have BIG problems with newage) because of the things they do- claiming to be Wiccan.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 11:47:32 AM EST

Neopagans don't seek to recruit people into their religious practices and are tolerant people.

by zowie on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:11:06 PM EST

As usually happens with nutcase groups like Repent, some member will go too far (not that they haven't already) and someone will get hurt or killed.  Then the supporters of Repent will recoil in horror and temporarily dissociate themselves from the perpetrator.  It would be nice if some group like Southern Poverty Law Center could get involved in a civil action to go after the group and the churches that support it.

When I was still a member of the Southern Baptist Church I heard more than one member express feelings to the effect, "I don't condone killing abortion providers but I certainly could understand how someone could feel that way."

by Sam Davis on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:14:06 PM EST

Updated: Sep 15, 2011 10:07 PM EDT

Repent Amarillo reaching out to area students ing-out-to-students?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default& clipId=6257128#.TnKTSqgw1_w.facebook


Amarillo Citizens Against Repent Amarillo arillo/210413812023

by MIJ6VI on Fri Sep 16, 2011 at 04:38:51 AM EST

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