You are hereAl Jazeera: America's own Taliban

Al Jazeera: America's own Taliban


A fast growing right-wing politico-religious presence plans to implement an end-times, Christian theocracy in the US.

-by Paul Rosenberg

July 28, 2011- 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.

As an example, leaders have bragged online about the destruction of Native American religious artifacts, which their twisted ideology somehow sees as a liberating act, promoting "reconciliation" between estranged groups of people. Critics, however, see it as reflecting an eliminationist mindset, while traditional conservative evangelicals have denounced the ideology as un-biblical. Some even claim it is actually a form of pagan practice dressed up in Christian clothes, according such artifacts a spiritual power that the Bible itself denies. 

The ultimate goal is to replace secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as "dominionism". The supposed purpose is to "purify" the world for Christ's return - again, strikingly similar to what the Taliban believe, but also significantly at odds with more common, long-standing Christian beliefs about the "end times", as well as the nature and purpose of prayer, and the roles of human and divine power. 

This description might seem utterly fantastical, but copious evidence for it is hidden in plain sight, scattered across the internet, in books, on YouTube, and tracked by a small community of researchers at sites such as  Talk2Action.org and RightWingWatch.org, as well as by evangelical critics. The question is: When will America's mainstream media catch up?

The missed story in the 2008 campaign

Known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a term coined by its intellectual godfather, C Peter Wagner, this movement surfaced in the 2008 campaign, with video of one of its most prominent practitioners, Kenyan witch-hunter Thomas Muthee, anointing Sarah Palin - but the mainstream media largely missed the real story on a number of counts.

They generally failed to realise that Muthee was part of a Western-based movement, indeed, he starred in the first "Transformations" video, a pseudo-documentary series advancing SLSW, advertised as having been seen by 200 million people in 70 languages.

Media also overlooked clear evidence that Palin herself was part of an Alaskan group involved in SLSW, dating back to when she was just 24 years old. More basically, media failed to grasp the radical nature of NAR, and its departure from earlier evangelical practice. This is so new that many academic experts haven't caught up with it.

Additionally, many in the media relied on Charisma magazine for guidance - a publication deeply aligned with the NAR. Add this to the media's general skittishness when accused of bias by Palin and her supporters, and the result was a perfect storm of story suppression, much of it seemingly quite reasonable. 

A rare exception, which did not occur until very late in the campaign, was Laurie Goodstein's October 24 story in the New York Times, "YouTube Videos Draw Attention to Palin's Faith", which did discuss spiritual warfare and Palin's involvement, but barely brushed against the underlying agenda of dominionism and its more troubling implications.

The story this time

This election cycle, the media will have another chance to get the story right. The NAR has made great strides since 2008, and already, NAR figures are deeply involved in organising for Texas Governor Rick Perry's August 6 prayer meeting, "The Response". 

On July 12, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a segment highlighting some of their more bizarre claims in a series of video clips. These included Wagner saying that the Japanese stock market collapsed because the emperor had sex with a demon (the sun goddess), another leading NAR figure, John Benefiel, calling the Statue of Liberty "a demonic idol", and a third figure, Mike Bickle, calling Oprah Winfrey "a forerunner to the Harlot movement", or, as Maddow put it, a "harbinger of the antichrist".

But these aren't just a collection of random bizarre claims. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick - who's been studying NAR since 2008 - wrote the day after: "These video clips should receive much more national exposure, but they need to be viewed in context of the movement they represent."

Not your father's religious right

Encompassing a variety of organisations and networks of activist groups, the NAR is not just concerned about particular issues, such as abortion or gay rights, or even about so-called "values", which is the impression that even Goodstein's 2008 story left with readers.

Rather, the NAR is committed to replacing democracy with a religious dictatorship, which it sees as a necessary prelude for Christ's return to earth.

Consequently, the NAR is also openly dedicated to destroying religious and cultural groups who do not share their beliefs - even including others on the Christian Right. They openly denounce Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as demonic, but in the end all Protestant denominations are seen as impediments to creating one unified religious establishment which should in turn control all of society, entirely replacing America's secular democracy, and bringing about their own version of "one-world government". 

This is explicitly articulated in terms of what's known as the "Seven Mountains Mandate", which seeks to establish Christian dominance over seven culture-shaping spheres of activity: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion. On one of Muthee's several visits to Sarah Palin's church in Wasilla, he spoke for about ten minutes about the Seven Mountains Mandate.

The NAR's non-church, non-denominational apostolic/prophetic organisation is key to its recent rapid growth and its relative invisibility to outsiders, but it also departs significantly from traditional scriptural teachings long held dear by evangelicals, as do many of its teachings.

Indeed, in August 2000, the Assemblies of God, America's largest Pentecostal denomination, adopted a statement warning against a number of tendencies, under the heading "Deviant Teachings Disapproved", including, but not limited to, some prominent elements involved in the NAR. However, Tabachnick informed me that "unfortunately many in the Assemblies of God have changed their tune on this and embraced the NAR".

Yet many have not changed, and the warnings still serve to highlight how this latest development is not the same religious right wing as in your father's day.

One tendency warned against was dominionism itself, which the document called "unscriptural triumphalism". It also warned against "the problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels", and against "excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits". These are all major aspects of NAR theology, as is the concept of "generational curses", which the document also warns against.

In short, the NAR may be gaining substantial ground on the religious right, but in doing so, it is profoundly undermining a raft of biblical teachings that the vast majority of evangelicals have staunchly clung to until quite recently. This is, indeed, not your father's religious right. It is arguably destroying your father's religious right.

FULL STORY HERE:

Partners

National Hispanic Media Coalition
Democrats.com
After Downing Street
Progressive Democrats of America
Justice Through Music
National Association of Latino Independent Producers
The Backbone Campaign
Voters For Peace
Chelsea Neighbors United
Locust Fork News Journal
Liberty Tree
People's Email Network
Hispanic/Latino Defamation Coalition SF
DialogueMakers.org
ProsecuteThemNow.com
BuzzFlash.com
ePluribus Media