Quick Notes: NAR on Fresh Air, Tribal Recognition, and an Iowa Daycare goes Christian

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 25, 2011 — 17 Comments

Just a few quick news notes for you on this Thursday.

NAR on Fresh Air: I’ve written at some length on the Christian movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a group that’s been getting increased media scrutiny lately due to their proximity to presidential candidates like Texas governor Rick Perry. However, as the recent blowback over the term “Dominionist” proves, there’s quite a bit people don’t know about this increasingly connected religio-political network of apostles and prophets. A key figure in studying the origins and activities of NAR is Rachel Tabachnick of Talk To Action, who was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air.

“On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Rachel Tabachnick, who researches the political impact of the religious right, joins Terry Gross for a discussion about the growing movement and its influence and connections in the political world. Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take. For the past several years, she says, the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the “seven mountains of culture” from demonic influence. The “mountains” are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.”

If you’re looking for NAR 101, I would suggest listening to this program, or reading the full transcript. Tabachnick has also supplied a supplemental post of relevant informational links at Talk To Action. At the end of the interview host Terry Gross mentions that the program reached out to several NAR figures for an interview, though none said they could fit it into their schedules. However, Mike Bickle (famous for calling Oprah a forerunner of the Antichrist) of the International House of Prayer has agreed to come on the show in the near future.

What Makes A Tribe: Religion Clause points to a Christian Science Monitor article on the plight of unrecognized Native American tribes in the United States, and how their lack of legal status inhibits the free practice of their traditional rites, and silences their voices when it comes to redress for wrongs done to them.

“The profiles of some federally recognized American Indian tribes have grown in recent decades as they parlayed their sovereign status to create profitable ventures such as gambling enterprises. But there are many other tribes that – never having had a reservation or simply falling through the cracks of Indian policy – are unrecognized by the United States. Scholars estimate that more than 250,000 of the 5 million who identify themselves as American Indians belong to about 300 unrecognized tribes, making them almost invisible to federal Indian law.”

The article notes that unrecognized tribes wouldn’t be able to file for a grievance under the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, due to a position paper issued by the United States government saying they wouldn’t include them, and that the process to becoming recognized is largely viewed as a bureaucratic nightmare, with almost impossibly high bars of entry.

“Anthropologists and tribal members also argue that the requirement to show “continuous and distinct community” since 1900 is unrealistic given US history. “These people went through massacres, dislocations, and suffered all these horrible atrocities, and then the government demands, ‘Show us your continuous community.’ It’s absurd,” says Les Field, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.”

For tribes like the Winnemem Wintu in Northern California, who aren’t recognized despite clear documentation by the United States government that they do, indeed, exist, recognition could mean the difference between preservation of their identity or total eradication. Their difficulties in simply holding their rites is only the tip of the iceberg, as plans to raise the Shasta Dam would flood their traditional sacred places. It’s clear that the voices of unrecognized tribes aren’t being heard, and that the process to being heard is no guarantee of success. It should be the duty of the entire interfaith community, particularly those who care about the preservation of sacred lands, to raise up their own voices and put pressure on the federal government to do more.

When a Daycare Becomes a Christian Daycare: The WaukeePatch in Iowa reports on a long-running daycare, and the changes that happened when the church that was renting space to them took over.

A Waukee church is being criticized by angry parents for forcing child-care staffers to adhere to Christian principles, banning non-Christians, sexually-active singles, male-female roommates and practicing homosexuals from employment. […] Employees wanting to remain needed to reapply for their positions and agree to the new guidelines. These new guidelines were spelled out in a Christian Lifestyle Agreement included with employment applications. The agreement states that “every employee accept and follow a lifestyle commitment based upon Biblical principles.”

At least one employee wouldn’t be able to reapply for her job since she’s a lesbian. Parents were given no warning of the switch-over. Shocking as this may be, this move doesn’t seem too surprising considering the fact that Point of Grace church is now run by a pastor, Jeff Mullen, who is markedly anti-gay and recently hosted Michele Bachmann during an Iowa campaign stop. Now that the daycare formerly known as “Happy Time” is a religiously-run organization, what Point of Grace is doing is now perfectly legal. This may not be an issue in isolation, but what happens when an entire community is run this way?  What happens is that tacitly enforced “no-go” areas for non-Christians are created.  I’m not attacking Point of Grace for running a religious organization they way they want to run it, but I do think this is a good example of what can happen when a community’s social safety net is placed in the hands of the dominant religious body.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Keep on the NAR, glad you and WH were on the bleeding edge at getting the information out there to folks.

    • I agree! I listened to that interview yesterday. It was excellent & informative, but I don’t know that it said anything Jason hasn’t already been trying to get out there.
      Especially bothersome though, was to hear one of our major media outlets discussing that brand of spiritual warfare (summoning & banishing demons, etc.). Somehow for me made it even more frightening — not unlike listening to some of the foreign correspondents describe the threats looming about them.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    What happened to that day care is a variant of what happens when a secular hospital merges with a religious hospital.

  • I grew up with parents who helps start a now infamous 16-branch megachurch in Austin, TX. Their influence on local politics and mindset is palpable, though just a part of a much larger issue here in the South. Drawing attention to the dangerous agendas of such groups should be of vital importance, as should making it clear that our own community is newsworthy and relevant. Most of Texas represents the reality of an NAR-influenced state. As much as I love it here, I think we can all agree we really REALLY don’t want a nation that looks uniformly like Texas.

    • Nick Ritter

      ” As much as I love it here, I think we can all agree we really REALLY don’t want a nation that looks uniformly like Texas.”

      Being from Texas myself, I can fully agree with you there.

  • I volunteered at what was, at the time, our local Allegheny Indian Center in northeast Ohio when I was younger–which is also part of my tribal ancestry. The man in charge spent a great deal of his time and life trying to get the center recognized by the state (because it was explained that he has to be locally recognized before he could apply to be federally recognized). At that time, my mother was able to trace a long part of our maternal lineage and we became recognized by the center so that when (more appropriately, if) the center became recognized as well, we would be included. Suffice to say, it never became recognized locally or federally and the center had to close ending a great service to the area.

    Many Native Americans do not even have a local tribe to attempt to join in order to try and learn their fragmented history and culture–if there are remnants of these cultures left. Even the names that are given to many tribes are vague at times, especially when looking back to trace your ancestry. Munsee, Delaware, Algonquin, for example.

    It would be a beautiful day when peoples who know and feel their ancestry can be fully recognized by their government, society, and can find their heritage with greater ease.

  • Cara

    A private business (example: a daycare center) is not a community safety net. Usually I can see why a story was included and what point you’re going for, but this time…I’m not sure.

    Looking at the article itself, it’s unclear if Happy Time day care went out of business or what. The church leased space to Happy Time, and then Happy Time announces it’s closing and Point of Grace Children’s Academy is opening in its space.

    I’m not happy about POG’s requirements, but they probably wouldn’t be happy about my hiring requirements if I owned a religiously focused daycare. (I wouldn’t – children that age are far too moist)

    • I think (I could be wrong, perhaps) that Jason is referring to the result of a public community safety net being eroded away or removed and replaced with private (and in the case of Point of Grace), religiously focused/run daycares,charities, etc.

      • It’s actually a huge problem in health care, where Catholic organizations buy up what is the only hospital in many communities.

      • Cara

        But the day care was already a privately owed business, correct? That’s what is confusing me. It was a privately owned non-religious daycare that changed to a privately owned religious daycare. It was not a social service like Head Start.

  • Kilmrnock

    I agree completly, we need to keep a quite close eye on our Dominoinist, NAR friends and the politicians that are aligned w/ them. One thing i’ve heard alot about is new republican representives that have signed oaths to these ppl. We must know exactly what these ppl within our government are up to . My belief is that if we’re not careful we may loose this nation to the right wing religous extremists .These extremists definatly have an adjenda to retake our country and make it a theocracy again , is if it ever was one .The seven mountains policy shows just exactly what they have in mind . Candidates like Bachman and Perry have ties to these groups. From what i’ve heard Bachman has signed such an oath, not sure about Gov Perry , but i wouldn’t be too surprised if he had too.We just need to be careful and vigilant Kilm

    • Pent69

      Retake our country??? Our country was founded on multiple things, starting with freedom of & from religion

    • “take our country” would be more appropriate. “retake” is buying (if unconsciously) into their narrative. Also…
      “…our Dominoinist, NAR friends..” Friends is a /very/ loose sense. On the other hand, as they say, a FIEND is a FRIEND without the R. 😉 So I suppose we have lots of R-challenged friends among the Dominionists and NAR people, eh?

  • Lori F – MN

    Okay. I feel like a outsider. What are you talking about with Unicorns?

    • Lori F – MN

      oops. wrong post.

  • I like how the Tribal article fails to mention the various tribes of Native Americans who like/don’ feel they need to be recognized by the government. Or the rampant corruption found in pretty much every tribal council that runs a Native American Tribe in this country. Visit a reservation and see how poor the NA are? Yeah, it’s not for lack of funds (Most tribes get millions on millions of dollars in Government aid). It’s because all that money runs through the tribal councils who decide who gets what. Say one of the Council member’s niece likes your house. Congrats, you’re kicked out and she gets the house. There’s no incentive to make things better, because no one owns anything accept the Councils.

  • Rua Lupa

    The Day Care change over thing is totally illegal in my eyes. It is too reminiscent of the “NO BLACKS” signs that used to be on every business.