Bin Laden's Dead. But Look Who's Targeting American Cities Now
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon May 02, 2011 at 09:58:51 AM EST
"I wonder what new doors to evangelism might be opened in sophisticated, tolerant, politically correct America if Christians started expressing their faith by encouraging those who possessed artifacts of magic or unclean books to burn them publicly?" -- C. Peter Wagner, from The Book of Acts: A Commentary, 1994, Regal Books

"That was mere foreplay. Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." (German: "Das war Vorspiel nur. Dort, wo man Bücher , verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.") -- Heinrich Heine, Almansor (1821)

Small armies of volunteers now walk the streets of US cities, part of a movement whose leaders have written extensively about their belief that it is necessary to burn books and art, and other objects they consider blasphemous and idolatrous. The movement is not Muslim. It is Christian, and although this story covers only two initiatives, claims to have developing efforts in dozens of cities and towns across America.

[in the video below, a leader in the Jacksonville effort describes the use of computer databases and GIS mapping software to manage the thousands of volunteers expected to soon be "prayer walking" the streets of Jacksonville (for a definition of "prayer walking" and related movement terms, see here.) The video openly states, "one new tool that we have acquired in order to be able to capture the street adoption is Ed Silvoso's website, which features a Google Maps API integrated with volunteer registration data forms. Silvoso's website is gathering data from volunteers across the United States.]

So, what is this movement? First, consider the fate of the Buddhas of Bamiyan:

President Barack Obama's announcement, that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a top secret US special forces strike in Pakistan, has rocked the nation. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, Bin Laden had become a symbol of religious extremism, along with his former Taliban hosts who have become infamous for an act committed during the period when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan; destroying the 15 century-old Buddhas of Bamiyan, two nearly 20 story high statues of the Buddha carved at of a sheer cliff overlooking Afghanistan's beautiful Bamiyan Valley.

Meanwhile, a movement native to the United States is organizing entire armies of volunteers, in major US cities including Newark, NJ (see 1, 2), and Jacksonville, FL. On the surface it looks nothing at all like Islamic extremism but its leaders share many objectives in common with the Taliban, such as the need to destroy allegedly evil, blasphemous, or idolatrous objects including books, art, and religious scripture, and the imperative of wiping out all competing belief systems.

As shown in the video below, in Jacksonville this effort is led by the Potter's House church headed by pastor Vaughn McLaughlin, who declares himself to be the "spiritual son" of evangelist Ed Silvoso (who I'll go into later in this story), and Transformation Jacksonville now claims to field at least one volunteer for 12% of Jacksonville's 10,000 city streets.

By contrast, a similar effort in Newark, also inspired by Ed Silvoso and his Harvest Evangelism ministry, claims to field at least one volunteer for every one of the roughly 1,000 streets of Newark, New Jersey. At his 2008 yearly conference, Silvoso repeatedly likened enemies of his movement to rats that would be, when the time was right, exterminated (see conference video footage from Ed Silvoso's 2008 International Transformation Network conference, held in Mar Del Plato, Argentina: 1, 2, 3.)

This year, Ed Silvoso is holding a conference in Newark, NJ, from July 7-9, 2011. The videos embedded in this story explicitly identify the Newark and Jacksonville efforts as inspired by the writing and ideas of evangelist Silvoso.

[In the video below, these prayer-walking efforts are billed as crime reduction initiatives. The Newark effort boasts the active participation of the Newark city administration of Mayor Corey Booker.]

As the web site for Transformation Jacksonville states,

"The movement which has become Transform Jacksonville and NE Florida, began several years ago, influenced by Harvest Evangelism, and its founder, Ed Silvoso. Transform Jacksonville and NE Florida has embraced the vision of Harvest Evangelism, dedicated to serving the entire Body of Christ around the globe while instilling vision for city, regional and nation-wide transformation."

Book burning

On page 50 of his book That None Should Perish, Ed Silvoso described burning allegedly evil objects, at an evangelism crusade in the Argentine City of Resistencia:

"a 100-gallon drum was set up to the left of the [stage] platform for new converts to dispose of satanic paraphernelia. As people come forward, they dumped all kinds of occult-related items into it. Before praying for the people, gasoline was poured in the contents of the drum, a match was struck and every evil thing inside went up in flames."

C. Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso's acknowledged mentor, wrote the forward to Silvoso's book That None Should Perish. In Wagner's book Hard-Core idolatry: Facing the Facts, Wagner describes the same incident, in Resistencia, and details what sort of objects he and his fellow leaders, including Ed Silvoso, burned:

"Doris [Wagner] was preparing to travel to Argentina with Cindy Jacobs for the climactic evangelistic campaign. As she was reading scripture the morning she was to leave, the Holy Spirit told her that in Resistencia they must burn the idols, like the magicians did in Ephesus. Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacob and the Resistencia pastors agreed. So the evening before the evangelistic crusade, all the city's believers came together for prayer. The leaders explained how important it would be to do spiritual housecleaning in their homes before they came to the meeting. They began mentioning the kinds of material things that might be bringing honor to the spirits of darkness; pictures, statues, Catholic saints, Books of Mormon, pictures of former lovers, pornographic material, fetishes, drugs, Ouija boards, zodiac charms, good luck symbols, crystals for healing, amulets, talismans, tarot cards, witch dolls, voodoo items, love potions, books of magic, totem poles, certain pieces of jewelry, objects of Freemasonry, horoscopes gargoyles, native art, foreign souvenirs, and what have you.

...They were to wrap each item in newspaper to protect privacy, and then cast the objects into a 55-gallon drum set before the platform the following night. The drum was heaped to overflowing! They poured gasoline on it and set it on fire." - C. Peter Wagner, Hard-Core Idolatry - Facing the Facts, 1999, Wagner Institute of Practical Ministry"

In her 2001 book Deliver Us From Evil (Regal Books, from Gospel Light), on page 224, Cindy Jacobs describes the same incident, and refers to it as a "book burning":

"Years ago, when Doris Wagner and I were in Resistencia, Argentina, the Lord gave her the idea that we should have people bring their occult objects, light a fire, and burn them, following the example recorded in Acts 19:19. Scripture says that after the objects were burned in Ephesus, the Word of the Lord grew mighty and prevailed.
  The leaders of the meeting in Argentina decided to burn the objects in a big metal drum...


The leaders poured gasoline into the drum and then lit it with fire. What happened next was startling! As the occult objects burned, some of the people actually screamed and cried out in anguish as demons manifested themselves.


...I think church leaders today should have similar book burnings. Pastor Jim Marocco did this when he planted a church on the island of Maui. He had people bring and burn occult items, specifically objects that were worshiped as part of their native religions. After the objects were destroyed, his church experienced great growth."

On the back cover of Cindy Jacobs book Deliver Us From Evil is an endorsement from Peter Wagner,

"Cindy Jacobs has done a magnificent job in providing the Body of Christ with a timely and strategic operator's manual for using our weapons of spiritual warfare with increased power and effectiveness. Deliver Us From Evil will help you, your family, your church and your community!"

The Movement

Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, and Cindy Jacobs are three of the top leaders in a new, maximally politicized movement within charismatic Christianity that Wagner, in 2001, announced to be a second Reformation: The New Apostolic Reformation.

The International Coalition of Apostles is one of the main organizations in this movement, and as described on the ICA's web site, Ed Silvoso is the leader who convened the 1999 meeting that led to the ICA's formation. The ICA is a dues-paying organization which has listed, as apostles, C. Peter Wagner (who headed the ICA from 2001 into 2010) Jim Ammerman, Cindy Jacobs, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The art and book burning described in the books of Silvoso, Wagner, and Jacobs is not a thing of the past. At an October 2008 conference held by Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs declared (video link),

"Pastors, sanctify your people! You go and you tell 'em, if you have any idols in their homes we're gonna to burn 'em! If you have any witchcraft items in your homes, you bring 'em Sunday and we're gonna burn 'em! We're not gonna have witchcraft in this church!"

In his acclaimed 1995 book Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality And The Reshaping Of Religion In The Twenty-First Century, noted scholar of religion Harvey Cox acknowledged C. Peter Wagner as one of the founders of the so-called Third Wave of the Holy Spirit movement that, according to World Christian Trends AD30-AD2200 (which Cox has referenced in his writings), by the year 2000 encompassed an estimated 295 million Christians worldwide.

C. Peter Wagner's 2008 book Dominion! - How Kingdom Action Can Change The World provides an updated figure for this megablock of global Christianity: 420 million. Wagner is now the leader emeritus of a new apostolic movement coalescing out of the Third Wave, and he promotes the Seven Mountains mandate encouraging his followers to achieve societal transformation by seizing control of seven key sectors of society: education, business, government, media, arts & entertainment, family, and religion.

On page 166 of his book, Wagner introduces fin-de-siecle 15th Century Florence as an inspirational example:

"To show that it can be done, I like to go back in history to Florence, Italy, where Girolamo Savanarola led a notable example of transformation. I have told the story in other books, but it is so encouraging that I want to repeat it again:

The wicked city government [of Florence] was overthrown, and Savanarola taught the city people to set up a democratic form of government. The revival brought tremendous moral change...

Huge bonfires were made of worldly books and obscene pictures, masks, and wigs. A great octagonal pyramid of worldly objects was erected in the public square of Florence. It towered in seven stages sixty feet high and 240 feet in circumference. While bells tolled, the people sang hymns and the fires burned.

Though Peter Wagner's description of Savonarola's "Bonfire of the Vanities" reads a bit like the concluding scene of Dr. Suess' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, in which the Whos (down in Whoville) joyously sing 'round a fire in the town square, he neglects to mention reports that among the burned objects were pieces of fine art including, by some accounts, statuary and one or more paintings by Botticelli--allegedly tossed into the flames by Savonarola himself.  

More importantly, Wagner also omits to mention that by some descriptions Florence had been, like contemporary San Fransisco, a haven for homosexuals and that one of the first legislative acts promulgated  under Savonarola's Florentine republic was to make sodomy a capital offensive.

But there is reason to believe Wagner's choice of Savonarola's Florence as a model for "transformation" was a sly suggestion to his movement, on the need to stamp out homosexuality. As C. Peter Wagner wrote in Dominion! - How kingdom Action Can Change the World (Chosen Books, 2008) on page 59, "The practical theology that best builds a foundation for social transformation is dominion theology, sometimes called "Kingdom now." Its history can be traced back through R.J. Rushdoony and Abraham Kuyper to John Calvin."

No Longer Without Sheep

R.J. Rushdoony was the founder of extremely influential movement known as Christian Reconstructionism, which includes in its agenda the need to eradicate homosexality, through stoning to death if necessary. For an excellent overview of the movement, see Christian Reconstructionism: Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence, by Frederick Clarkson, who writes,

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.

Reconstructionism has expanded from the works of a small group of scholars to inform a wide swath of conservative Christian thought and action. While many Reconstructionist political positions are commonly held conservative views, what is significant is that Reconstructionists have created a comprehensive program, with Biblical justifications for far right political policies. Many post-World War II conservative, anticommunist activists were also, if secondarily, conservative Christians. However, the Reconstructionist movement calls on conservatives to be Christians first, and to build a church-based political movement from there.

For much of Reconstructionism's short history it has been an ideology in search of a constituency. But its influence has grown far beyond the founders' expectations. As Reconstructionist author Gary North observes, "We once were shepherds without sheep. No longer."

In part three of his article, originally published in the March/June issue of The Public Eye magazine, from Political Research Associates, Clarkson noted the migration of Christian Reconstructionist ideas into charismatic Christianity.

The political organizing efforts in Newark, NJ, Jacksonville, FL, and other major US cities, are the culmination of that trend, and so far the movement has received almost no media notice whatsoever. But the nature of the movement is clearly laid out, in the in-print books written by its top leaders, notably Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, and Cindy Jacobs.

Sarah Palin is closely connected to Wagner's movement, as is former Hawaii Lt. Governor James "Duke" Aiona, who ran for the Hawaii governor's seat in the 2010 election. US Senators and Congress members have participated in events led by Peter Wagner's apostles and prophets and even shared a Washington, DC condo with one, who also could be found during the summer of 2009, blessing Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee at a Virginia megachurch.  

As I wrote in my August 25, 2010 story They Cast Out Demons, Burn "Witchcraft Items," and Field Gubernatorial Candidates,

They claim to be able to raise the dead and cause miracles, such as the multiplication of Thanksgiving turkey dinners. They burn "witchcraft items" and "idols." They hold mass exorcisms to cast out alleged evil spirits they say cause lust, pornography, addiction, homosexuality, bisexuality, and perversion. They claim to be able to heal HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, Glaucoma, and cancer, and to break "generational curses" and "witchcraft curses." Who are they? Here are a few overviews (1, 2, 3.)

They compare opponents of their movement to rats that will be exterminated and one of their leaders has predicted that the regime they're working to create will initially "seem like totalitarianism". They're closely tied to the notorious, so-called "kill the gays bill" before Uganda's Parliament. They're behind Sarah Palin and one of their "prophets" has become the de-facto prayer leader for the Republican Party.

for an overview of entities within Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation, and more suggested reading, see here

is  The section on dominionism/reconstructionism is at:

Many years ago I had been convinced by people like this that having anything from the Masons would lead to our destruction because they were satanic, and I burned a history of Masonry book, and other books and items.  I'm now ashamed of it because from what I understand, those came from my G Grandfather and my G Grandmother's family.

People can be brainwashed into doing really stupid things.  Including destroying works of art and history.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon May 02, 2011 at 11:49:41 AM EST

The targeting of freemasonry has become quite extreme. Freemasonry was stressed in C. Peter Wagner's original training videos on spiritual mapping.  Leading "spiritual mappers" like Apostles Cindy Jacob and Martha Lucia have taken followers on tours around the country and other nations, pointing out the monuments and buildings which they claim are demonic because of Masonic histories.  I have seen freemasonry sites targeted in spiritual mapping done by these and other apostles from Israel to India!

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:27:59 PM EST
My understanding of Freemasonry is that it was based upon equality and in a sense democracy, and that it went against the standards of the day by not assigning higher status to the rich and powerful (over the poorer and working class people).

So it would make sense that they'd really hate Freemasonry, because it goes against some of their main beliefs/values.

The fact that it's a more-or-less secret society probably doesn't help things.  I know that was one of the main reasons why the people I listened to claimed to not like it ("worshipped the devil and denied Christ"), and I now believe it is/was like so many other things - they hate what they don't easily understand or can't control.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon May 02, 2011 at 01:47:50 PM EST

I am a conservative Eastern Orthodox Christian, and I decry these efforts to foist the opinions on my church, which has promulgated christianty for two millennia, in spite of the Muslim domination of Orthodox nations.

They are saying in effect that our venerating of the holy icons is idolatry, and that our worship is void.  Where were the so-called Evangelicals when Christianity was almost abolished in Communist Russia?

by rdrjames on Sun May 08, 2011 at 08:46:24 PM EST

I used to be involved in prayer walking and "spiritual mapping" stuff, so it is interesting to hear how things have developed. Describing Savonarola's purge as a "transformation" is beyond appalling.

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