Will Fresh Air Interview Spark Interest in Rick Perry Ties To "Book Burning" Movement?
While Republican presidential hopeful Perry is under heavy onslaught for alleged ties to racism, media scrutiny of the the overwhelming role that the NAR's apostles played at Perry's The Response prayer event has been, until now, thin. But coverage is mounting, from disparate geographic and media niches--on Friday September 30th, both the National Enquirer and the UK Daily Mail covered Rick Perry's ties to NAR apostle Alice Patterson. Now, public radio's elite Fresh Air has again weighed in as well, following up on an August 24th interview with Rachel Tabachnick.
NAR guru Peter Wagner's own responses to Fresh Air's Terry Gross, in the interview, powerfully corroborate over three years' worth of reporting on Peter Wagner's movement, and its intersection with politics, that Rachel Tabachnick and I began in early September 2008, with our extensive documentation of Sarah Palin's deep connection to Wagner's evolving NAR. But Palin is far from the only national US politician with such close ties.
On August 6th, 2011 Texas governor Rick Perry appeared onstage at a nationally broadcast prayer rally teeming with apostles from C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation, a radically sectarian religious tendency whose top leaders encourage their followers to burn books and scripture (including Books of Mormon), religious relics (such as statues of Catholic saints), and native art (such as Hopi Kachina dolls, and totem polls), and whose political initiatives (such as the Oak Initiative) demonize Muslim-Americans and promote the claim that, through fine-print clauses in Barack Obama's health care reform legislation, President Obama is secretly gathering a left-wing brownshirt army to impose Marxism on America.
This is the movement that pundits, from the op-ed pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, are trying to pretend does not exist, despite the flood of publicly available books by movement leaders and hundreds (possibly even thousands) of hours of conference video churned out every year by the apostles of C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation.
This is the movement that Rick Perry symbolically wed, on August 6th, 2011, at Houston's Reliant Stadium, before tens of thousands of followers gently swaying to the soft-rock of The Response.
[video, below: Texas Governor Rick Perry's full speech at The Response, August 6th, 2011. The Response website, along with footage of the over four hour, controversial event, has since been removed from the Internet. Flanking Perry is ICA apostle Alice Patterson, and Houston pastor C.L. Jackson. Introducing Perry's speech was ICA apostle Doug Stringer
Over the weeks since The Response, a growing chorus of mainstream media pundits--who present little to no evidence for their claims and demonstrate a shocking level of ignorance about C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation--has tried to dismiss the influence of Wagner's movement, and of dominionism generally, in contemporary American politics.
Examples of such typically fact-free, opinion-driven dismissals published in mainstream media can be found in the writings of Michael Gerson, Ross Douthat, and Lisa Miller, a religion writer at The Washington Post (journalist Bill Berkowitz examines such writing in a Buzzflash.net op-ed.)
The latest in this increasingly hyperbolic genre comes from religion writer Mark I. Pinsky who, in a USA Today op-ed, suggests, without substantiating the allegation, that concern about dominionism amounts to a "hysteric" obsession on the part of urban East Coast Jewish writers. Pinsky warns, darkly, that Jews risk demonizing evangelical Christians in the manner that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been used to demonize Jews. Sojourners founder Jim Wallis has just written a column praising Pinsky's piece (British scholar of religion Richard Bartholomew dissects Pinsky's USA Today op-ed here.)
One evangelist Mark Pinsky has covered with some enthusiasm, John Hagee (whom Pinsky discussed at length in his 2006 book A Jew Among Evangelicals: A Guide For The Perplexed), has in fact disseminated a close variant of the Protocols, a claim (which the Anti Defamation League identifies as a "classic anti-Semitic myth) that Rothschild bankers control the US economy, through the Federal Reserve.
Journalistic hyperbole, innuendo, or simple neglect, cannot make Rick Perry's "The Response" prayer event magically go away.
[in my video, below, C. Peter Wagner lays out his view on the "Dominion Mandate" which, according to Wagner, "has to do with control" as well as "rulership", "authority", and "subduing". The video also shows Wagner apostle Dutch Sheets declaring that their movement has apostolic networks all over America and the world, and has apostles placed "everywhere", including in government and the military.]
Viewed by countless Americans, The Response was funded by the American Family Association--whose chief spokesperson Bryan Fischer has made a name for himself, as exhaustively documented by People For The American Way's Right Wing Watch, comparing (literally) gay rights activists to Nazis. Fischer has also claimed that the "the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" of Native Americans, as well as their pagan beliefs, disqualified them from control of their own native lands.
This October 7-9, 2011, an astounding array of Republican Party heavyweights, including most of the pack of GOP presidential contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, will gather in Washington DC for the yearly Voter Values Summit. Speaking at a morning plenary session after Mitt Romney will be AFA spokesperson Bryan Fischer. People For The American Way has issued a challenge, to Republican speakers at the event, to condemn Fischer's hate speech.
Beyond the AFA, who were Rick Perry's chosen religious allies at his The Response ? The answer to that question suggests that Perry's prayer event may have had no parallel in American national politics:
In their more overtly political efforts, NAR ventures such as the Oak Initiative produce videos and hold conferences promoting the Tea Party's extreme laissez faire economics and claiming that president Barack Obama is gathering a leftwing army of brownshirts, for an immanent takeover that would impose a Marxist regime upon America.
In publicly available, very often free, video footage (a good deal of which gets broadcast internationally via "God TV"), from their endless conferences and rallies, New Apostolic Reformation leaders can be seen discussing the threat of "Illuminati", trying to heal HIV/AIDS through prayer, and stressing the imperative of re-taking "the land" and conquering the "Seven Mountains", the societal sectors of business, education, media, arts and entertainment, religion, "the family" and also, needless to say, government.
Then, there's the "book burning".
As I document, with extensive quotations from top NAR leaders' own books, in Burning Buddhas, Books, and Art: Meet The New Apostolic Reformation,
"Top NAR leaders, including C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Ed Silvoso and, Chuck Pierce, have repeatedly emphasized in their writings the need for believers to destroy or neutralize, by burning, smashing, or flushing down toilets, objects deemed to be unholy, including profane books and "idolatrous" religious texts (such as Books of Mormon), religious relics (such as statues of Catholic saints, the Buddha, or Hindu gods), and native art (such as African masks, Hopi Indian Kachina dolls, and totem poles.)
[note: for some recent media perspectives on the NAR, see Forrest Wilder's August 3, 2011 Texas Observer story Rick Perry's Army of God and Fresh Air's August 24, 2011 interview with Rachel Tabachnick, The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare.]
As the New Apostolic Reformation's intellectual godfather C. Peter Wagner acknowledged in an interview with journalist Jerome Socolovsky, for a September 7th, 2011 Voice of America story. "several" of Wagner's apostles were up onstage with Rick Perry at The Response. "Several" is a very flexible term.
As I've documented in my story Rick Perry's 'The Response' Boasted How Many Wagner Apostles? Let's Count, fully 17 of Peter Wagner's apostles (current and former), from his International Coalition of Apostles and his Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, were either onstage with Perry at The Response, were listed as leaders of the event, or endorsed it. Moreover, employees working in the ministries of Wagner apostles played a key role in organizing and scripting the event, so that the Wagner influence was far greater, even, than the roster of Wagner apostles associated with The Response would indicate.
Two weeks ago, the official website for The Response vanished from the Internet. All that remains of the site, which featured hours of video footage from the nationally controversial event, are a few pages culled by the Internet Archive-such as the Leadership page, which lists Perry as the "initiator of The Response."
It was not the first time Peter Wagner's apostles have been tied to national politics or a presidential election.
In early 2001, the presidency of George W. Bush was publicly consecrated by a close movement colleague of C. Peter Wagner, Jack Hayford, and another close movement partner working with Wagner, former National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard--who described having, as head of the NAE, weekly phone chats with Bush White House officials.
Then, in 2008, the movement came closer to the fore. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a running mates in the 2008 election will probably remain forever shrouded in mystery. But, as I have documented, Hispanic evangelical adviser to the McCain presidential campaign Mark Gonzales had ties to Peter Wagner's apostles going back at least to 2006 and has since been granted status of being both an apostle and a prophet in Wagner's movement.
In early September 2008, my colleague Rachel Tabachnick and I uncovered Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's extensive ties to C. Peter Wagner's movement (now covered in Joe McGinniss' newly released book on Palin, The Rogue.)
Palin's NAR ties included friendships with two close movement colleagues of C. Peter Wagner, ICA and ACPE apostle Mary Glazier and apostle Thomas Muthee, both of whom have headed regional divisions of Peter Wagner's prayer warfare networks.
As Mary Glazier told C. Peter Wagner, and other assembled New Apostolic Reformation leaders, on July 13, 2008 at a conference held at the Sonrise Chapel in Everett, WA, near Seattle, Sarah Palin had joined Glazier's personal Wasilla prayer group around 1990. Glazier went on to state, in her speech at the conference,
"There is a tipping point at which, because of the sin of the land, the people then have to be displaced. But while this measure of wickedness is rising, the measure of faith in the church is rising. God is preparing a people to displace the ones whose sin is rising so that then they tip over and the church goes in - one is removed and the church goes in and takes the territory.
Both Glazier and Thomas Muthee had also publicly boasted of vanquishing witches.
To the New Apostolics, "witchcraft" isn't just about broomsticks and pointed hats. More importantly, it's about "rebellion"--against their movement; to the New Apostolic Reformation's leaders, a "witch" can be any individual who disagrees with NAR doctrine.
That's where the destruction of books, scripture, religious relics and art comes in (The Response endorser Cindy Jacobs gives it the generic term of "book burning.") Like the infinitely flexible accusation of "witchcraft", Jacobs' "book burning" is an expression of the NAR's religious and ideological supremacy--all other belief systems are wrong and must be crushed, and objects associated with those belief systems must be destroyed.
The Romans, through their damnatio memoriae, expressed a similar imperative by destroying carvings and statuary of leaders fallen from grace; in Stalin's Russia, Politburo members fallen from grace and sent to Siberia or simply executed were airbrushed from official photographs; in the New World, the Catholic Church was known for razing pre-Christian temples and using the stones to construct churches over the destroyed sites of worship.
So, the New Apostolic Reformation's doctrine, on the need to erase cultural and historical objects associated with its ideological foes, is nothing new. What is new is the fact that a man who could become the next president of the United States, Rick Perry, has openly allied himself with such as tendency.
While Sarah Palin did not advertise or confirm her ties to Peter Wagner's apostles, Perry has flaunted his before a national audience.
Playing master of ceremonies at The Response was ICA apostle Doug Stringer. Standing alongside Texas governor Perry at The Response, before Perry's opening speech, was ICA apostle Alice Patterson, who in her 2010 Bridging The Racial and Political Divide, identified ICA apostle Ed Silvoso as her "spiritual father."
Silvoso wrote the forward to Patterson's book, which is published by a division of his Harvest Evangelism ministry, and Patterson is scheduled to speak at Silvoso's upcoming yearly conference this November 2011, in Hawaii.
Ed Silvoso, one of the top NAR leaders, convened the 1999 Singapore meeting that led to the formation of the International Coalition of Apostles in 2001, one of the NAR's biggest apostolic networks. C. Peter Wagner then headed the ICA for most of the following decade.
In his book Transformation: Change The Marketplace and You Change The World (2007, Regal/Gospel Light), in a clear expression of dominionism, Ed Silvoso discusses the "discipling" of nations:
The discipling of nations is our primary task on Earth... To disciple someone means to turn that person into a follower of the teachings you espouse...
In his 2008 book Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Transform The Word (2008, Chosen Books), on page 59, leading NAR theologian C. Peter Wagner traces the "dominion" or "kingdom now" theology of his movement through the writings of R.J. Rushdoony, intellectual founder of Christian Reconstructionism, writing,
"The practical theology that bests builds a foundation under social transformation is dominion theology, sometimes called "Kingdom now." It's history can be traced back through R.J. Rushdoony and Abraham Kuyper to John Calvin."
R.J. Rushdoony is widely considered the intellectual father of the Christian Reconstructionism movement. In his landmark 1994 Public Eye/Political Research Associates article Christian Reconstructionism - Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence, journalist Frederick Clarkson provided a concise definition:
Generally, [Christian] Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of "Biblical Law." Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. Women would be generally relegated to hearth and home. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that it would extend capital punishment beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality.
There are significant distinctions to be made between Christian Reconstructionism, as a movement, and C. Peter Wagner's form of charismatic evangelicalism. Moreover, Wagner emphasizes his view that his movement can achieve dominion within a democratic framework. But the emphasis I have documented, within the New Apostolic Reformation, on the need to destroy objects associated with competing belief systems, raises serious questions on whether Wagner's NAR is truly committed to pluralism and respect for differing beliefs.
[image, below: Wagner's ICA apostle Tom Schlueter, head of the Texas Apostolic Prayer Network, anoints governor Rick Perry, in a ceremony in Perry office at the Texas state house, September 28, 2009]
But, what's the incentive for Rick Perry to openly partner with such people? Even if he is a true believer of New Apostolic Reformation doctrine, wouldn't it be smarter to keep some distance from the movement? Here are two answers to the question:
First, Perry may be betting that the New Apostolics, with their extensive communications and social networks (prayer networks), and their nonstop revival event itineraries, can power him through to win the Republican Party presidential nomination.
On March 3, 2011, speaking at Sarah Palin's most significant Alaska church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, Cindy Jacobs outlined her plan, of raising up in advance of the 2012 election, an army of one half a million intercessors, ten thousand per state.
It's an ambitious goal, to say the least, and in the case of such a heavily politicized movement as Jacobs' and Wagner's, on the eve of a presidential election no less, we can reasonably assume that such intercessors could also function as political volunteers. In the end this is probably not as much about numbers as it is about energy, and Perry has sent true believers an unambiguous message; he is their man.
Come the general election, another strategy would come to the fore. As Alice Patterson describes in her book Bridging the Racial and Political Divide, Patterson was part of an effort, as early as 2002, to reposition Perry and the Texas GOP, to woo African American, Latino, and other ethnic voters away from the Democratic Party.
Writes Patterson, in her book, "while the national average is just 9 percent of the Black vote for Republicans, Gov. Rick Perry has been successful in getting 16 percent of the Black vote."
Along with her friend Susan Weddington--a fellow Christian conservative culture warrior and former head of the Texas GOP, David Barton--the notorious American history revisionist and former Texas GOP vice chair, as well as C.L. Jackson--who very publicly changed party allegiance (from Democrat to Republican), in 2002 at a State Republican convention after blessing Rick Perry, Alice Patterson has helped build a prototype for ethnic outreach that may soon come into play in the 2012 election.
Mark Gonzales, Alice Patterson, C.L. Jackson, David Barton, Susan Weddington, and others who have helped pioneer and develop Rick Perry's Texas ethnic outreach strategy would likely help shape the Perry campaign's national ethnic outreach effort, but they also may be on call in the increasingly likely event that Perry's presidential bid goes down in flames.
And, whichever candidate emerges from the current fray as the Republican Party presidential nominee in 2012 will be confronted with the reality that Peter Wagner's prayer warriors and apostolic networks, and his stream of evangelicalism, will not go away. Wagner's movement plays an increasingly prominent role in the politicized Christian right, which, in turn, forms the core of the GOP's electoral base.
In short, we are stuck with Peter Wagner's apostles and prophets. Let's hope mainstream media follows Fresh Air's pioneering lead, to give the apostles all the attention and scrutiny they deserve.
Will Fresh Air Interview Spark Interest in Rick Perry Ties To "Book Burning" Movement? | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
Will Fresh Air Interview Spark Interest in Rick Perry Ties To "Book Burning" Movement? | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)