Archives For Third Wave

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. Some may believe I’m over-stating their influence, or that I’m being somewhat paranoid in my coverage,  so it’s always a good thing to have relatively level-headed media outlets to compare your own findings/suspicions with. Back in August the NPR interview program “Fresh Air” interviewed Rachel Tabachnick of Talk To Action, a leading researcher into this movement, and promised to follow-up interview with a NAR member for rebuttal/response. Today that promise is fulfilled as the show interviews C. Peter Wagner, one of key architects and Apostles of this movement. It is Wagner who articulated the movement’s battle against the “Queen of Heaven,” and penned several books on the subject of spiritual warfare.

While the audio and transcript isn’t up yet (though it will be up later today), they have posted some highlights from the interview that touch on some of the most controversial statements and beliefs held by New Apostolic Reformation members.

“The sun goddess [Amaterasu] is not a very nice lady. The sun goddess is a power of darkness, which is headed up by the kingdom of Satan. And so the sun goddess wants natural disasters to come to Japan.”

“An apostle, a friend of mine in Nepal, once told me that every Christian believer in Nepal that he knows of has been delivered from demons. That their former Hindu religion had implanted or the demons had gained access and that in order to become Christian believers, the demons had to be cast out. Of course, we have many examples in the Bible of the same thing.”

“What [Pastor] Thomas [Muthee] was probably doing, and he and I are friends also, what he was probably doing was speculating that there would be some people who practiced witchcraft and other forms of the occult who would try and take Sarah Palin down through certain rituals or curses or other techniques that witches have and try to destroy her through those things. And I think Thomas was praying a shield of protection around Sarah so that she would not be affected by them.”

There’s more, and probably much more in the interview itself, so I urge everyone interested in this subject to check it out. Wagner does try to soft-peddle accusations of theocratic ambitions, and the intentions of  the upcoming “DC40” prayer event. He also claims that they “respect all religions” (even Pagan religions?). I’ll let you decide whether this is still a movement you find problematic, or if you’ve been convinced that they have no untoward designs towards the rights of non-Christians.

[The following is a report from Cara Schulz at PNC-Minnesota on a message sent to Pagans from the organisers of “DC40,” a spiritual warfare event put together by leaders from within the New Apostolic Reformation movement.]

The Reformation Prayer Network, led by Cindy Jacobs, and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, headed by John Benefiel, have joined together to produce a nation-wide event called “DC40.″  The goal of DC40 is to effect “eternal change in our nation’s capitol so our elected officials can govern from a new position of uncompromising light and understanding as we change the spiritual atmosphere over Washington DC forever.” This effort is variously named DC40, Forty Days of Light Over D.C., and 51 Days of Reformation Intercession.

The change DC40 wants to make is electing leaders who fear the Christian God and “find that compromise is not the way” as it is impossible to “compromise with unrighteousness.” The “uncompromising light” refers to a statement released by Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, which says God’s word should be the legal authority in the United States and Christians should acknowledge no other,  “no power to purpose or accept any compromise of the promises of God, and we declare illegal in the earth any action or any people, Nation or nations that undertake what is contradictory to the Word of God.”

Pagans are pushing back against what they see as malefic magic aimed at erasing the separation of church and state and DC40′s attack on the goddess Columbia. Bloggers Hecate and Literata, both of whom live in the Washington DC area, are calling for Pagans to make daily devotions to the Goddess Columbia and to pray to Her to help this country preserve its foundational commitment to religious liberty.  “I will be spending this time making a daily devotion to her, not against these conservative Christians, but in hopes that they and I might find ways to live peaceably together in a nation that values religious pluralism,” writes Literata.    Hail Columbia is organizing positive interfaith responses to DC40 to counter their agenda.

In their latest newsletter, DC40 sent out this response to the Pagan community:

We are well aware of the websites and blogs rallying to try and curse our effort and counter it. Always remember, You can’t curse what God has blessed! Read Psalm 2. Remember also that Jesus is the light of every man. We have read some of your accusations and false perceptions of us, and we say “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We were once in darkness too, and we call you out of the darkness and into the light. We release the power of blood-covered light over you.

Here is our prayer for you:
“Father, through the faith of Your Son and through the power of His Blood, we come on behalf of those who would curse us. Because of their actions toward us, we have legal spiritual access and we take it!

We release perfect Blood-covered love into the core of your being!
May eternal light flood your hearts this day with the revelation of who you really are, and, more importantly, who God really is! We also pray that this revelation will dismantle and refute all arguments, theories, reasonings, and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God. Your ladder has been placed on the wrong wall. We call you to your right mind through the finished work of the cross.

You see, there is no DC40 Prayer War. It is finished, you just haven’t come to the truth of it yet. However, if you are reading this, it is too late – we release the arrow of blood-covered truth and convicting power of Holy Spirit into the core of your being, and release grace for you to SEE in Jesus’ Mighty Name!”

We don’t hate you, we love you – you were created by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for greatness. “

DC40 plans to have teams in the capital cities of all 50 states and Washington DC linking state capitals to the nation’s capital to help harness the intents and wills of thousands of Christians for this working. They have also released a new app called “Bell 333,” which refers to a Bible verse where God reveals “great and mighty things.” The mobile device app will play the sound of a ringing bell every hour during the event to help affect the spiritual atmosphere in our nation’s capitol.

“I think the idea of ringing the bells on the hour throughout the day is an effort to get people who are involved to pray more frequently and consistently. It is a magical technique to increase the power of their intent through repetitive reinforcement. Even if Christians say that they are petitioning their god to act, this kind of working is functionally equivalent to an effort to use magic on their god’s behalf.” – Hail Columbia blog post titled “DC40 Writes: “The point is our intent. Intent is a force.”

The 51 day events start in Hawaii on October 3rd and moves to each state in reverse order of its entry into the union and continues until November 22.  Christians in the state for the day are to “take point” in praying for the District of Christ, the repudiation of Columbia and other non-Christian deities and religions, and the election of Christian God-fearing candidates.  The rest of the country is to pray that the point state “Fullness of its destiny.”  The group will have Christians by act in concert using a 51Day Prayer Guide to be released on their website.  Minnesota is scheduled to be a point state on October 21st.  The Facebook event “Minnesotans for Liberty and Religious Freedom: Stop the Bigotry of DC40″ can be found here.

Columbia is considered by some Pagans to be the patron goddess or genius locii of the United States.  She is a guardian of freedom and a generous granter of plenty.  In early depictions of Columbia, she wears the cap of freedom and holds a cornucopia.   The eagle and the rattlesnake are sacred to Her.

[For more on the New Apostolic Reformation and DC40, check out The Wild Hunt’s coverage. If you’d like to see what Cindy Jacob’s message to adherents of indigenous religions might be, you can get a preview of that here.]

The English-language site for the Arabic news outlet Al Jazeera recently featured an editorial by Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor of Random Lengths News, on the neo-Pentecostal Christian network known as the New Apostolic Reformation. In the piece Rosenberg compares NAR with Islamist militia group the Taliban.

“Prior to 9/11, the Taliban government in Afghanistan did not register very much on American radar screens, with one notable exception: when it blew up two colossal images of the Buddha in Bamiyan province in early 2001. But destruction of treasured artifacts isn’t just limited to the Taliban. There’s a right-wing politico-religious presence centred in the US, but with a global reach, engaging in similar practises, destroying religious and cultural artifacts as a key aspect of its ideology of “strategic level spiritual warfare” (SLSW). Until recently a fringe evangelical movement, warned against as deviant, “spiritual warfare” is rapidly positioning itself within America’s mainstream political right. It’s well past time for political journalists to start covering what this movement is up to.”

Is the New Apostolic Reformation really comparable to the Taliban? I dislike making such comparisons because it clouds the issue. It gets people debating about Islam, terrorism, and comparing movements primarily based in the West with movements primarily based in the Middle East. It produces more heat than light. That said, I entirely agree with Rosenberg that reporters should take “a long hard look at the NAR figures endorsing Rick Perry’s prayer event on August 6.” So far most investigation of this group has come from specialty sites like Talk to Action, Right Wing Watch, and Religion Dispatches, along with a number of evangelical Christian critics, who see NAR’s practices as heretical. Even figures within the American Family Association have criticized the group, though political expedience has led them to cover that up.

“…leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, a heretical movement that sprang from the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, claim that they hear directly from God, Jesus and angels. They even encourage their followers to contact angels despite the fact that Scripture expressly forbids contacting the spirit world because Satan and his demons can appear as an “angel of light” to deceive people. (2 Cor 11:14) Like the apostles who established the early church, these “restored apostles and prophets” believe they are called by God to lay the foundation and government for the new earthly Kingdom. Moreover, they believe that soon they will take dominion over government and dominate the world politically and spiritually.”

Some have questioned whether I am exaggerating, misunderstanding, or distorting NAR’s intentions. My only answer is that I truly hope so. I would rather be exposed as alarmist and have to eat a bit of crow than be proven right on this issue. But all the digging I’ve done, all the research I’ve done, points to disturbing trends and intentions within this network. Ever since they first came to my attention during the Sarah Palin witch-hunter blessing controversy, all I have ever found from them is uniquely focused dislike of Pagan and indigenous religions. Even if it were only dislike, I would not be worried, lots of Christians dislike Pagan and indigenous faiths, but their adherence to a doctrine of spiritual warfare in conjunction with that dislike is, in my mind, a dangerous mixture. They spread lies and misinformation about our faiths, believe that their prayers against “demons” are literally killing people, have taken credit for the earthquake in Japan, and claimed to have moved God to blind and give cancer to a Wiccan chaplain. That isn’t colorful exaggeration on my part, let’s quote the prayer warrior in question.

“In 1995, Mary mobilized a prayer network for Alaska’s prisons and began experiencing spiritual warfare as never before. She had received word that a witch had applied for a job as chaplain of the state’s prison system… Mary recalls, “As we continued to pray against the spirit of witchcraft, her incense altar caught on fire, her car engine blew up, she went blind in her left eye, and she was diagnosed with cancer” … “Ultimately, the witch fled to another state for medical treatment. Soon after, revival visited every prison in Alaska. At the women’s correctional facility in Anchorage alone, 55 of 60 inmates found Christ. “Ask largely,” Mary says. “Intercessory prayer is making a major difference in North America.”

This is not generalized prayer to convert the world to Christianity, this is willfully malefic. If you truly believe that God would blind and give cancer to a Wiccan through intercessory prayer, that’s “black” magic. Nor is that the end of it. They brag about burning Native art, and thought that the upside of the Haitian earthquake was that it broke the “strongman of the occult’s” back.

Even taking all that into account, I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss. There are lots of crazy groups out there, I’m not going to worry about all of them. But in the last decade or so they have made massive inroads into political politics, and are trying to mainstream themselves by holding events at places like Harvard. That the endorsers list of the upcoming Texas prayer event The Response reads like a partial who’s who of the New Apostolic Reformation is disturbing, not simply because Governor Rick Perry might be sympathetic to them, but because it means this “Third Wave” has succeeded in becoming a part of the mainstream Religious Right. Anti-Pagan attitudes, plus spiritual warfare tactics, plus political power is the formula that worries me. That keeps me writing on this subject.

So when I mention their latest prayer initiative, DC40, on this site, it is through this lens that I analyze it. They have been crystal clear in their goals, and in naming their enemies. They don’t try to hide it. Simply scratching the surface of their quest to bring “light” to Washington DC exposes the underbelly of their ambitions. To pretend otherwise is to simply ignore what they themselves claim to want. Again, perhaps some of you will disagree with me that this group, this network, isn’t something to worry about, or pay attention to. That I’m being sensationalist. I hope you’re right. I hope they are simply an aberration that will fade away, but I’m not sure. I think they are gaining in influence and popularity. I’m not asking anyone to engage in spiritual or magical “battle” with these people, what I’m really asking is that we stay informed, and press our mainstream media to pay attention to the politicians who accept their endorsements, emerge from their churches, or woo them for votes. I’m asking for hard questions, for direct and informed questions. That we shine the “light” they so crave back on their own activities.

“There is no essential difference between sticking pins into a wax image of an enemy and burning candles in front of a wax image of the Virgin. You may think that both these practices are gross superstition, but you can hardly think that one is real and potent and deny reality and potency to the other.” Dion Fortune, Psychic Self-Defense

Yesterday I covered an ambitious spiritual warfare campaign that’s being planned by New Apostolic Reformation leaders. The campaign, “DC40,″ which aims to “lay siege” on Washington D.C. and bring about “the advancement of the Kingdom in the earth.” The New Apostolic Reformation, a neo-Pentecostal movement, is extremely anti-Pagan in its orientation. They call Washington D.C. the “District of Christ” because Columbia is an aspect of the Queen of Heaven, essentially the feminine divine in all its many forms, from Isis to Mary. They are obsessed with this (in their minds) demonic figure, and have devoted talks, written several books, and performed coordinated prayer campaigns against her.

The event starts on October 3rd, places special emphasis on Samhain/Día de los Muertos, and continues through most of November. It’s very clear that they expect real-world political dividends from this action, including the end of “compromise” and a return to Christian dominance in the United States. At the end of my post yesterday I asked what our collective response should be, could we continue to simply ignore them, or was some sort of working/action necessary to counter the energies being raised by this network? So far, several Pagans have weighed in, starting with Pagan blogger Hecate, who says that “this time it’s personal,” and proposes defending Columbia by warding the Capitol against their intervention.

“So what does that mean: to defend her? Well, I propose (and thanks to Literata for the suggestion) to seriously ward my Bit of Earth, my own tiny temple to Columbia. I propose to, a number of times between now and November 11, 2011, circle the United States Capitol, sprinkling, inter alia, rosemary (that’s for remembrance) and warding the beautiful statue of Columbia that presides over, and directs energy into, the United States Capitol. I propose to write to my Senators and Congress person, on paper that I’ve charged and with ink that I’ve mixed with sacred herbs, and ask them to disavow this hateful group of Dominionists. I propose to ask my own Circle if we can do some protective magic. I propose, as Summer slips into Autumn and as the Veils Between the Worlds begin to thin, to call upon all of my ancestresses and ancestors, especially those who have worked to make America the Home of the Free, and ask them to block what the Dominionists are doing to this country and to my beloved City on a Hill. I’m an urban Pagan and I propose to do magic to sustain my urban area.”

Another Pagan bloger, Literata, is making a daily devotion to the American personification of Liberty.

“In response to this, I have made a commitment to the personification of Liberty. You may call her Freedom, as in the statue crowning the dome of the Capitol building, or you may call her Columbia, patron goddess of the district, or you may know her as the ideal of religious toleration that Thomas Jefferson worked so tirelessly to embed in Virginia’s laws and which became part of America’s Bill of Rights, the very fabric of our legal existence.”

PNC-Washington DC has a statement from the locally-based Open Hearth Foundation.

“The Open Hearth Foundation will take precautions that are necessary in preparing for Samhain festivities in the light of this new campaign.  We recommend that Pagan groups who are holding festivities in the DC area during this time take extra care and make sure to have a plan in mind with what to do if protesters or dissenters showed up at their events.  While it is not likely that they would confront us in the physical, we could only be so lucky that dissenters would give us this kind of warning before arriving.  We will stay alert and informed, making sure to monitor the situation and make adjustments to our plans as deemed necessary for the safety and security of all.”

At the Patheos Pagan Portal,  Star Foster has announced that she’s working to create “an interfaith project devoted to more positive ends.” Foster also notes that “spiritual warfare Is essentially black magic.”

“Labels do not define our morality. They do not evaluate our character. It is not calling yourself a Pagan, Christian, Witch, Evangelical, Thelemite, Catholic or Wiccan that identifies you as a good person, it’s what you do. If what you do is declare spiritual warfare against others, if you devote your time and energy to harm, destroy and  confound others, then you are not a good person. You soul is blackened and corrupt.”

Finally, Hawaiian Pagan Lamyka has taken offense at this group kicking off their initiative in Hawaii, and is rallying Hawaiians for a “Hawai’i Against Hate” response.

Oct. 3rd, spread the word to every Kahu, Kahuna, & Kumu to use our Mana to block their sickness from the world! You don’t need to be the same faith you just need to believe that hatred has no place in Hawai’i or anywhere else in this world. If you want to pray before the 3rd, on the 3rd, and after the 3rd that’s also very welcome! As a suggestion let us all simply pray. “Let the hate spread by the DC40 group and likeminded individuals be stopped and returned to them. Ho’i no ‘ai i DC40!”

For more, I would also suggest you check out the comments section of my post from yesterday, which contains some intelligent discussion on what the proper response should be. I’ll be keeping track of reactions to this campaign by the New Apostolic Reformation, and update as necessary. For all of my coverage on the New Apostolic Reformation (also known as the “Third Wave”) check out this link, and this link.

ADDENDUM: Here’s a report on this from PNC-Minnesota.

I’ve written at some length about the upcoming prayer rally “The Response” and its problematic organizers and endorsers, and I have also devoted quite a bit of time to the New Apostolic Reformation, a neo-Pentecostal Christian movement that regularly engages in spiritual warfare tactics, displays a disturbing anti-Pagan emphasis, and has intertwined itself with Perry and his prayer event. While I use the terminology “spiritual warfare” quite often, I think that it’s hard to envision what this practice is like among the Christians who engage in it. I’ve mentioned that it is, in essence, malefic magic, but that’s often a difficult picture to square with the usual harmless image of devout Christians with heads bowed and hands clasped. But an upcoming New Apostolic Reformation-led event, brought to my attention by fellow Pagan blogger Hecate, does an very good job of illustrating how “spiritual warfare” works in their context.

The above video is from an upcoming prayer-war event called “DC40” which will “lay siege” on Washington D.C. to change the “District of Columbia” into the “Disctrict of Christ” (they even issued a faux-legal “divorce decree”). This initiative is being co-led by Cindy Jacobs (who managed to find the spiritual bright-side in the Japan and Haiti earthquakes) and John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network (HAPN), both influential figures in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, and both are national endorsers for Rick Perry’s “The Response.” In anther video, organizer and “prophetic artist” James Nesbit makes clear that the goal is to return Washington D.C. to Christ, and to eliminate compromise in our government.

That animus towards compromise isn’t an aberration. Benefiel’s HAPN released a “Declaration of Light” that made it very clear that they have “no power to purpose or accept any compromise of the promises of God, and we declare illegal in the earth any action of any people, Nation or nations that undertake what is contradictory to the Word of God.” In short, if it isn’t God-sanctified, it doesn’t apply to them.

Now many see these sorts of things and simply scoff. But for a large number of modern Pagans the focused intent of will, the use of prayer to achieve goals, the harnessing of intent towards a shared goal is taken very seriously, we call it magic (or magick). If we believe that groups of Pagans working towards some shared spiritual goal is effective, then by extension we can’t help but take an initiative to harness the wills and intents of thousands of Christians towards a goal that would marginalize or harm our faiths seriously. These prayer warriors make plain that their “struggle is not against flesh and blood” and that they “do not curse those deceived,” but disclaimers do not make malefic magic positive. These groups have made it very, very, clear that our gods are their enemies.

The question is how do we respond? Some want to respond with their own magical action, but would that simply feed their spiritual warfare paradigm? As the New Apostolic Reformation climbs the ladder of influence and power within politics, organizing their massive group spells, simply ignoring them seems to be quickly fading away as an option.

My latest response at the Washington Post’s On Faith site is now up.

Here’s this week’s panel question:

Texas Governor, and possible GOP presidential candidate, Rick Perry has endorsed ‘The Response’ a prayer event scheduled for August 6 in Texas. “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy,” Perry wrote on the event’s official Web site. Perry’s critics are concerned about his distinctly Christian approach to public prayer as well as his association, through ‘The Response,’ with several problematic pastors, among them John Hagee, controversial for his comments on Israel, the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, and C. Peter Wagner, who has suggested that the Catholic veneration of saints is an evil practice.Should politicians be judged by the religious company they keep?

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

We would be foolish to ignore how a politician’s religious beliefs, and which religious figures they rely on for support, shapes their policy decisions. It is especially dangerous for religious minorities who have been rhetorical and practical targets of politically active conservative Christian leaders to pretend that people like Rick Perry won’t be beholding to them should he run for, and subsequently become, president. Due to the unique “bully pulpit” power possessed by our Commander in Chief even comments made before a politician becomes president can later be interpreted into policy by his administration. There is a strong indication this happened during the presidency of George W. Bush, who famously remarked in 1999 that “I don’t think witchcraft is a religion, and I wish the military would take another look at this and decide against it.” In this case “it” was allowing Pagan soldiers to freely practice their religion at Fort Hood in Texas, but nearly a decade later the Washington Post reported on a case involving grave markers for fallen Pagan soldiers where Barry Lynn of Americans United said that discovery documents showed “references to Bush’s remarks … in memos and e-mails within the VA.” In Lynn’s opinion “the president’s wishes were interpreted at a pretty high level.” In short, rhetoric, especially when you go on to lead the world’s most powerful nation, does matter, as does the rhetoric of those who have played king-maker during the election.

I hope you’ll head over to the site and read my full response, and the other panelist responses, and share your thoughts.

My post on Wednesday talking about the anti-Pagan bigotry of Jacksonville, Florida City Council candidate Kimberly Daniels has sparked quite a bit of shock, outrage, and discussion. One reoccurring question is how did Daniels end up on the Democratic ticket, and make it to a run-off, when she held rather retrograde views on gays and non-Christians.

“Is this one of those districts that always votes Republican and the only reason the election is close is because this particular Democrat is a wing-nut and is actually pulling voters from the right of a more main-stream republican candidate? Or is there a viable democratic party that swings this way regularly? Putting it another way, is this a fluke for the region, or a trend? Some context would be lovely.”

Providing that context is Brandi S., a Jacksonville resident and Pagan who initially voted for Daniels.

“She’s running in an At-Large City Council race, which is city-wide. While there are more registered Democrats in Jax than there are Republicans, the initial race was 76% Republican candidates to just 16% Democratic candidates and 8% running with No Party Affiliation. Daniels was one of just 10 Democrats running in the first election in March. Two Democrats won their races decisively in the initial election (one of whom ran as a fiscal conservative and one of whom ran in a contest where his only opponent was another Democrat in what I presume is the city’s sole liberal voting precinct). Most races in the March election had multiple candidates, so 40% or more of the vote was required to win decisively, and there were run-offs in 8 different races city-wide. TWO of those races have Democratic candidates – the mayoral race, with a candidate who has major Democratic endorsements, and the At-Large Group 1 race, which is the race Kimberly Daniels is running in.

She got enough of the vote to make it through to the run-offs (including, admittedly, mine, as I knew that she was religious but had no idea about her bigotry, hatred, and ignorance at the time of the election), and her opponent is a Republican running on a slogan of Faith * Family * Fiscal Responsibility, so he is definitely a more mainstream Republican capable of getting the Republican votes. Jacksonville has a large African-American population which may swing the vote in Daniels’ direction because she is one of the few African-American candidates running, and the issues she talks about in interviews and on her webpage are things like tackling substance abuse, which is a big problem in Jacksonville, plus she’s a military veteran in a heavily military town, and Jacksonville also has a very disenfranchised Democratic voter base who may not know all of this about her radically right-wing religious views (as I did not until last week – I knew only that she was a church pastor but not what that particular church preached) or may not care simply because she’s one of the only Democrats running in a heavily Republican city, so she may actually stand a chance of winning on that basis alone. I won’t be voting for her this time around, but I won’t be voting for her opponent either. In fact, I’ll be leaving every race on my ballot blank except the mayoral race because there are no candidates in the other races that I can even think of voting for in good conscience.

However, other Jacksonville voters may not feel the same way. Religious views and church participation factor in heavily in Jacksonville elections, and nearly every single candidate is using his or her religion as a selling point in their bid for election. Also, despite having more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, the votes go overwhelmingly to the Republican candidates (and the fact that there are almost nothing BUT Republican candidates running in most races probably helps with that as well). I moved away from Jacksonville for 16 1/2 years after graduating from high school and only recently returned to help care for my elderly grandmother, but I would never, ever choose to live here again for any other reason than that because it feels like being stuck in a time-warp between the pre-Civil Rights-era 1950s and a heavily Republican and Tea Party-influenced present.

As to your first question about how she became the democratic candidate, I honestly don’t know. There was another Democrat running as a fiscal conservative in another local race who won his election decisively in March and I would never have considered him a Democrat based on his running platform and I wrote the local Democratic Party to complain about how few Democrats were running in the first place, and the fact that those that were included conservatives who should have more rightly been running on the Republican ticket. I never got a response, so I never found out quite how this was allowed to happen, but my guess is that candidates just had to file to run – they didn’t necessarily need their party’s endorsement to run as a member of that party. It probably helps, as with the mayoral candidate, but it can’t possibly be a requirement with candidates like this running on the Democratic ticket.”

Thanks to Brandi for providing some context on this election.

On May 17th a run-off election will be held for a City Council seat in Jacksonville, Florida. One of the candidates is part of the radical New Apostolic Reformation, has drawn the ire of LGBT advocacy groups, and commonly makes rather critical statements about President Barack Obama. Oh, and that’s the Democrat in this race.

The people of Jacksonville need a fresh breath. They need to know who they are voting for. I am not going to play the political games of pretending to be someone or something else to get elected and then having to spend four years living a lie. Everyone seems to be afraid of the word change because of the promises of other politicians who put a bad taste in the mouths of the people. Well, I must say that without change…things will stay the same! We just need the right kind of change. Before our cities can change, the hearts of men must change. When my heart was changed, everything around me fell into place. A lot of people talk about change, but my life is an example of it. By voting for me you will get a leader that is relevant, holds a high standard of morality and integrity is a shaker and mover that can make things happen in this city and does have a heart and mind to work FOR THE PEOPLE.

But when Democratic candidate Kimberly Daniels says she’ll work “for the people,” does she mean the non-Christian people? Daniels has made a truly dizzying amount of anti-Pagan (and anti-any-religion that isn’t her brand of Christianity) public statements.

“At Spoken Word Ministries, we have church members who have had sex changes, participated in high-level occult rituals, witnessed shape-shifting (the changing of human beings into animals), and many other sinful problems.” – Kim Daniels, page 11, Delivered To Destiny (Charisma House, 2005)

“We have experienced much success in one-session deliverances [exorcisms]… However, there have been times when I have personally walked homosexuals, ex-witches and drug addicts through sessions that took place over a couple of years.” – Kim Daniels, page 151-152, Clean House, Strong House, 2003, Charisma House

“Lord, expose the work of every witch, sorcerer, spiritualist or person from the dark side operating through [Barack Obama’s] cabinet members or through anyone else closely associated with him. We block the power of the influence of the Yoruba religion and all other groups of black people who worship their ancestors, in Jesus’ name. We put barriers around the Unites States that will bind and block the witchcraft coming from Kenya to influence our president in Jesus’ name. Let the power of every dedication of his past be broken, in Jesus’ name” – Kim Daniels, Charisma magazine, A Prayer For Barack Obama, January 19, 2009

I’m not exaggerating when I say that is only a sample of the rhetoric Daniels uses on a regular basis. She even takes a page out of good-ol’ Jack T. Chick and gives us the cursed candy Satanic Halloween narrative.

“The key word in discussing Halloween is “dedicated.” It is dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season. During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure. […]  Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference. […] During this season witches are celebrating the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. They give praise to the gods for the demonic harvest. They pray to the gods of the elements (air, fire, water and earth). […] While the lukewarm and ignorant think of these customs as “just harmless fun,” the vortexes of hell are releasing new assignments against souls. Witches take pride in laughing at the ignorance of natural men (those who ignore the spirit realm).

So when Kimberly Daniels talks about binding, exorcising, and waging spiritual warfare against “witches” she isn’t being metaphorical, she means us. How would you like Daniels representing your interests in Jacksonville? A lot of commentary and response has been focused on her anti-gay remarks, and what appears to be an anti-Semitic comment about Jews “owning everything,” but even if  we somehow contextualize all the statements that are currently getting press, it doesn’t erase her blatantly obvious opposition to modern Paganism. Does anyone honestly think she’ll erect some illusory theological firewall when making policy decisions? Kimberly Daniels isn’t getting any real heat for her anti-Pagan slurs (“sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood”, “orgies between animals and humans”), but it is there where the depth of her extremism is truly laid bare.

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Religious Right watchdog site Talk to Action recently noted that the Harvard Extension Service & Leadership Society is hosting the 2011 Social Transformation Conference on April 1st and 2nd. HESLS wants to reassure us that this conference is a positive, diverse, and hate-free event.

“This conference is focused not on drawing lines of division, but on providing an opportunity for students and the community at large to explore how we can transform or improve our society. We have been assured by our speakers that they have not supported any hatred directed towards any group, and that allegations to the contrary are untrue and/or misinterpreted.”

The only problem with this statement is that it isn’t even remotely true. You see, the backers and speakers at this conference are members of the New Apostolic Reformation (aka the “Third Wave”), a neo-pentecostal Christian group obsessed with waging a spiritual war against indigenous religions, Pagan religions, homosexuality, and even Catholicism! Three of the featured speakers have publicly inveighed against the dangers of Witchcraft and “New Age” religions, spurring Bruce Wilson at Talk to Action to note that “it’s been a few years now since witch hunting was in vogue in Massachusetts, but an upcoming conference to be held at Harvard this April 1-2 could help rekindle the practice.”

The staff of the Harvard Crimson have also weighed in, strongly criticizing HESLS’s defense of the event, noting that if some of the participant’s “expressions do not seem like hatred, we are hard pressed to understand what does.”

“By hosting a panel discussion whose participants will merely voice their opinions without being called upon to justify their past incendiary remarks, the event seems to accept incredibly offensive opinions without providing any internal challenge. In a sense, the intellectual integrity of the entire Harvard community is consequently on trial with this coming conference. Regardless of their subject matter, conferences must nevertheless be held to basic standards of intellectual honesty and accountability, and we simply cannot imagine what value the Social Transformation Conference will bring to our community.”

For those who haven’t been following my coverage of this extremist Christian movement, they have taken credit for the crisis in Japan, and blamed Shinto for God’s wrath, praised the Haitian earthquake for breaking the “strongman of the occult’s” back, provided Sarah Palin a religious mentor who claims to have given a Wiccan chaplain cancer through prayer, believes Japan’s emperor literally slept with a demonic succubus, thinks worship is a weapon, gives fiscal aid to African witch-hunters, burns indigenous/Native art, and are obsessed with destroying the “Queen of Heaven”. In short, they are consumed with a theologically-driven hatred of indigenous and Pagan faiths. Oh, and I think it goes without saying they are rabidly anti-gay.

Let me echo the Harvard Crimson and say that these individuals have the right to believe as they do, and the First Amendment right to air their opinions in the public square, but for them to go unchallenged here, using Harvard to legitimize and paint a veneer of respectability over their almost cartoonishly nefarious goals seriously endangers “the intellectual integrity of the entire Harvard community.” As for the New Apostolic Reformation, their conceptions of resistance to this conference are typical.

“Today, however, Harvard is known as one of the most liberal universities in America.  Recently, a student felt a leading of the Lord to host a Christian marketplace conference on social transformation.  Little did he realize the level of opposition that would come against him.  It wasn’t long before this conference was met with real opposition from a gay activist group that is seeking to prevent the event from taking place.  This group has been effective at causing the Dean to question the merits of such an event.  We believe the root of this concern is simply spiritual forces seeking to keep Christ off this campus and fear caused by the gay activists.

One wonders if all it takes to have Harvard host a hate group is a willing student and a heavily edited press packet. By hosting this group, a message is being sent to religious minorities, indigenous groups, and GLBTQ individuals that they aren’t safe at this campus. That claims from extremists that they in “no way seek to convey any negative message about any group,” are taken at face value despite obvious evidence to the contrary. This isn’t the usual debate about conservative speech being allowed at liberal college campuses, or even conservative Christian speech, this group’s theology and mission transcend the usual left-right debates. This is a group on a mission, one that should concern anyone who doesn’t fit into their very narrow Christian paradigm.