Will Samuel Rodriguez and a Rebranded Religious Right Save Perry's Controversial Prayer Event?
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:34:33 AM EST
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council is scheduled to speak a few hours from now at Rick Perry's prayer event. The old guard of the Religious Right, including James Dobson, Richard Land, and Tony Perkins, will also be there and are anxious to unify behind a single presidential candidate for 2012. They know that political success could depend on expanding their tent to include African American and Hispanic evangelicals, and for this they have turned to Charismatic and Pentecostal leadership. Despite the bad press prior to the event, many of these Charismatic leaders are quite politically savvy and are working to rebrand the Religious Right.  

Rodriguez has a public persona as a moderate and for encouraging evangelicals to soften their stance on immigration.  Simultaneously, he is a fire-breathing culture warrior and Vice President of the Oak Initiative, an organization on a crusade to save Christendom from the enemy -  portrayed as a  Marxist/Leftist/Homosexual/Islamic coalition.

Rodriguez has been courted by Democrats and Republicans, including both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the presidential primaries.   Jim Wallis wrote the foreword to Rodriguez 2010 book, stating,

"He is the only Christian leader I know who has led immigration reform rallies but has also been the commencement speaker for Liberty University.  Christianity in our country will never be the same."

Rodriguez advertises himself as having advised Pres. Obama and claims that the Oak Initiative is nonpartisan, but the Oak Initiative has produced videos claiming that Obama is leading the nation into the clutches of Marxism. Rodriguez supports pluralism and tolerance when he writes for major publications, but the Oak Initiative is partnering in the "The Call Detroit" on 11/11/11, described as "ground zero" in spiritual warfare  against Islam.

Rodriguez met with Pres. Obama in July, as part of the Circle of Hope coalition of evangelicals dedicated to helping the poor, but the Oak Initiative is a "teavangelist" organization, whose leadership has virulently opposed healthcare reform and government social services. Rodriguez himself has ranted against being "enslaved by government" and claims that Jesus, not government, is the answer to social justice.

Rodriguez was a co-author of "Come Let Us Reason Together," an initiative to bring evangelicals and progressives together on social issues, but he also shouts about "radical Muslims, radical homosexuals, radical abortionists," and "sissy Christians, Oprah Winfrey Christians."  ( Video embedded in article.)

Nevertheless, Rodriguez continues to be portrayed in the press as a moderate evangelical in pursuit of social justice.

Coincidentally or not, Christianity Today published an article this week titled "A New Kind of Pentecostal" and featuring Rodriguez.  The article is subtitled, "It's no longer just about raising a hand to God. It's also about reaching out a hand to the needy."

A quote from Rodriguez is highlighted on page 3.

"The new Pentecostals 'stand at the nexus of both dynamics--salvation and transformation, covenant and community, righteousness and justice, Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King.'"

Also quoted is Jack Hayford, former head of the International Foursquare Gospel, (a Pentecostal denomination) who states,
"There is a huge awakening for social concern today."

But both Rodriguez and Hayford are part of a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which teaches that charitable efforts are a step in taking Christian control over society and government in preparation for the end times.  Charity and racial reconciliation activities (that initially sound quite progressive) are taught as part of "Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare" techniques.  

The goal of these faith-based initiatives is "dominion," as clearly spelled out in the writings of the major thinker and organizer of the movement, C. Peter Wagner.  The movement teaches that the cure for societal ills - poverty, corruption, crime, and even environmental degradation - is mass evangelization and Christian dominion.  They believe that prayer events like the Rick Perry-initiated event, which bring together large numbers of people at one time for "corporate repentance," supernaturally advances their agenda.  

A video of Wagner, who also endorsed Perry's prayer event, drew national attention to Wagner's claim that a slump in the Japanese economy  was due to the emperor sleeping with the Sun Goddess.  This was part of a 1993 training course in spiritual mapping titled "Breaking Strongholds in Your City" and was introduced by Jack Hayford, who is also the "apostolic authority" over an international network of centers that specialize in  demon expulsion.  The video, including Hayford's introduction, is embedded in an article by Bruce Wilson. Some of the Pentecostal social services touted in the Christianity Today article also engage in the practice of expulsion of demons.

Following the broadcasting of the video on the Rachel Maddow Show and other venues, most journalists dismissed NAR leaders as fringe, but many of these same NAR apostles have gained credibility and the admiration of some progressives through the marketing of their faith-based social services, emergency response and Homeland Security services, racial reconciliation ceremonies, and proclamations of their commitment to justice.

Samuel Rodriguez describes these efforts for justice in the video "What is the Oak Initiative?" from the Oak Summit in February, 2010. Other board members, Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, and Bob Weiner, can be seen in the video as Rodriguez states,  

"We need a new Christian movement in America. That's what we need.  That's why the Oak Initiative is so important. It's not the Christian Right. It's not the Moral Majority.  It's not the Christian Coalition.  It's a Kingdom-culture, multi-ethnic, multi-generational  righteousness and justice movement dedicated to the Lamb.

After expressing his disgust with feminism, government enslavement, and the sin-tolerant church, Rodriguez describes the confusion that their brand of social justice will cause to those outside their movement.

"We desire to offer a counterculture narrative where biblical truth confronts moral relativism on every single platform... This is a justice movement.  This is what makes this different.  We've never seen this before.  We've never seen a movement that is black, white, brown, yellow; committed to both the verticle and the horizontal; that can reconcile  Dr. Billy Graham with Martin Luther King, Jr.; that is committed to both righteousness and justice.

It will mess up every blogger.  It will mess up the media.  They'll have no idea where to label us.  They'll have no idea if we're right-wingers, left-wingers.  They'll have no idea what we are.

... The answer to justice is Christ."

There is much that is appealing about Rodriguez's speech and his insistence that both Republicans and Democrats are failing to address social justice.  However, the intent of Rodriguez and the other Oak Initiative leaders is made clear in their actions.

The Oak Initiative

During the 2010 elections the organization widely disseminated a video titled "Marxism in America," in which board member Ret. Lt. Gen. William Boykin claims that under Obama's leadership the nation is in the grips of a growing Marxist insurgency. See full transcript.

At the 2011 Oak Initiative Summit, Boykin claimed that many Jews can't identify with the Republican Party because they mistakenly believe that Hitler was on the political right. Boykin claims that Hitler was an "extraordinarily off-the-scale-leftist."   He then implies that Pres. Obama is preparing for a security force similar to Hitler's brownshirts.

At the same summit, Rick Joyner, founder and president of the Oak Initiative, and Boykin claimed that the economic collapse was a plot of a nefarious cabal that wants to create a global government, including George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Oak Initiative has also produced video claiming that Obama's administration targeted for closing the GM and Chrysler dealerships owned by contributors to the Republican Party. This conspiracy theory had been thoroughly debunked months before, including by the conservative The Heritage Foundation and by Fox News.

The Oak Initiative is marketing a book by board member Nicholas Papanicolaou titled Islam vs. the United States and posts videos about "Shariah law taking over the world."    Another Oak Initiative production features Kamal Saleem, one of several phony "ex-terrorists" speaking at venues around the country about the evils of Islam and the need to pass laws limiting the activities of Muslims.  

Boykin has been speaking in Michigan in preparation for The Call Detroit, which will be supported by the Oak Initiative and Transformation Michigan.  He speaks regularly about applying his "nine principles of war" to fighting the Islamic enemy, warning audiences not to "wait until they build a mosque, get out ahead of it."

Boykin and Saleem also spoke at a Texas branch of the Oak Initiative, claiming that Muslims are dedicated to destruction of the Constitution and the American way of life.  The Texas branch then tried (unsuccessfully) to stop a Presbyterian organization from allowing a Muslim youth group to use their camp.  The Texas Oak Initiative coordinator worked with Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and a representative from Eagle Forum, to help Texas legislators prepare House Bill 3027 to ban Shariah law in Texas courts, a senseless effort being repeated in states across the nation.

This past June, Rick Joyner, who also lead MorningStar Ministries, claimed that Hurricane Katrina was an act of grace by God to stop  gay events in Key West and New Orleans.  Joyner, who frequently discusses his association with state and national politicians, claimed to have been contacted by a U.S. Senator asking if Katrina was judgment from God.

Oak Initiative board member Louis Sheldon is founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, currently flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The organization launched a series called the "Homosexual Urban Legend Series" for the purpose of providing "reporters, editors, and other opinion leaders with accurate information on the relationship between homosexuality and the molestation of children."  Sheldon is author of  The Agenda:  The Homosexual Plan to Change America.

The Oak Initiative list of strategy and objectives includes:

"to raise up effective leaders for all of the dominant areas of influence in the culture, including: government, business, education, arts and entertainment, family services, media, and the church."

This is a reference to the "Reclaiming the Seven Mountains" campaign promoted by the NAR in order to take "dominion" over  arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion.  They are supposedly being reclaimed from the demonic forces which the NAR leaders say have taken control over societal and government institutions.  

Lance Wallnau, another NAR apostle and a primary public relations figure for marketing the Seven Mountains campaign, is also a board member of the Oak Initiative.

The Response

Chances are it will be the compassionate conservative face of the movement that shows up at The Response event a few hours from now.  There won't be accusations about the Statue of Liberty being a demonic idol or about Oprah Winfrey as the precursor of the anti-Christ. Dominionist lingo will be used but will be incomprehensible to many observers.  In fact, many journalists and viewers may be surprised to find that the messages of this latest reincarnation of the Religious Right are quite appealing - if you don't look too close.

Hopefully those covering the event will do their homework and discover what is behind the rebranded Religious Right's proclamations of racial reconciliation and social justice.  




Display:
This article answers a paradox my friend and I have been trying to fathom for a while now. That is reconciling the "sell all that you have and give it to the poor" and what one hears out of the mainstream christian right which has more to do with Ayn Rand than Christ. As it turns out they do have a plan for helping the poor, so long as they are "true christians". Scary Stuff.

by Hirador on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:41:38 PM EST

Turns out Rodriguez played a relatively minor role with a prayer against abortion.  This was an event "for the choir" and they did not seem to care how it came across to others.  Don Finto openly called for the conversion of Jews and Bickle made sure that we know they view all other religions as illegitimate.

The event turned out to be a replay of The Call events, right down to Bickle's role.  There was very little discussion of fighting poverty and social ills, although there was a lot of emphasis on racial "reconciliation."  The political messages were also "for the choir" only, and only would be noticeable to those who already know the narrative of the role that C.L. Jackson and Alice Patterson have played in advancing Perry's career.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 02:17:29 PM EST



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