Sandy the Snurricane

I wrote this post as the winds and the snow began. The angle that my building makes with another high-rise forms an interesting vortex such that precipitation will actually rise. Yes, DC really is weird: here, it snows up. There is also standing water on US 1 with waves in it being driven by the winds.

I want to use this moment to point out something that’s been bothering me for a while. I’m currently ambivalent about the extent to which magic can change or affect the material, physical world. (I am most certainly agnostic about the means by which it does so, as I find many of the explanations which justify it to be precisely as bad as the obnoxious New Atheists mock them for being.) At the same time, I’ve done magic which, by my standards, worked. Including weather work. I didn’t get a chance to do preparatory work before Sandy as I’ve done before, but I’ll be doing more tonight.

Anyone who has had much exposure to the New Apostolic Reformation and associated/similar kinds of Christians will have seen their claims to have worked what I would classify as magic. They describe it as prayer, and we can debate the interpenetration of those categories, but they say they make changes in the world. Many of their claims are clearly ridiculous, and the sources that follow them tend to report these claims as further proof of the NAR’s detachment from Planet Reality.

Of course, this is also something that causes a lot of mainstream thinking to dismiss all magic as “woo” and hence to think Paganism is entirely ridiculous. But I don’t think all of this is entirely “woo,” so let’s stipulate the possibility that the NAR, like other kinds of magic, can affect the “real” world. (Thank you, Hecate, for teaching me that it’s all real; it’s all metaphor; there’s always more.)

And given the context of this storm, if Jesus wants to help out moderating its impact, I’d gratefully take his help.

So I was asking myself why it bothers me so deeply when I see Cindy Jacobs asking her prayer intercessors to “rebuke” the storm. After all, I think my magic can make a difference, so maybe hers can too, and I’d be stupid to refuse help, right?

I think I found the answer in another headline from today: Hurricane Sandy is God’s Vengeance for (insert that Christian’s personal hobbyhorse – QUILTBAG rights, abortion, etc). Again, if you’ve been around these kinds of Christians much, you’ve seen these kinds of condemnatory headlines. In fact, they’re much, much more common than calls to ask their god to help potential problems that are developing.

Worst of all, they almost never show any sort of compassion for the people who are killed, hurt, or otherwise impacted by these disasters and tragedies. It’s the most despicable kind of appropriating others’ pain in order to “lesson” the rest of us about moral decay.

This isn’t just a failure of theodicy. It demonstrates a worldview with a propensity for bullying, a propensity learned directly from their twisted, malignant vision of deity. Even when they do issue calls to try to importune their god for help, I cannot escape seeing an implicit threat. “If you don’t do what we want, I mean, what HE wants, we might not be able to hold him back next time,” this cycle of pin-the-blame-on-the-sinner says to me.

Of course, it’s also a failure of theodicy. This is another aspect of the same incoherence that crops up when people try to square the circle of an omnipotent, omniscient god which doesn’t intend the rape but does very strongly intend the pregnancy that follows from it. There are coherent theological responses to this; I respect Christians who are willing to grapple with this with eyes open to the realities of the world they are trying to discuss, and some of them are fairly successful at it. But many aren’t, and too many of those are closer than we realize to the abhorrent, bullying view that makes my skin crawl even when they say they’re working for (my) good. This is all one worldview, and if you don’t think it’s a problem, you’re not paying attention.

But we can’t let our attention – or our intention – be occupied by that alone.

And now, having faced that little piece of my shadow (thank you, Samhain, thank you, people who have helped me do shadow work recently), I am going to sit with this amazing, awe-full and awful storm. I am going to reach out in love, with responsibility, and with my fear – of the storm, of the people who scare me and open old wounds, of the uncertain future that this storm makes all-too-apparent – with all of those, and work. For myself, for others, for the world, for all of us. Together. Here. Now.

There are birds taking flight off the roof of a building nearby. The clouds are so low that their wild flight in the face of the wind disappears almost immediately. I want to try that: what kind of flight would be possible in this unique storm that we could never think of in “normal” times? What kind of magic can ride in its wings?

What are you doing tonight?

Updated after the storm: We were safe and sound; although there were risks of flooding, none affected us. (Key safety tip: knowing when the full moon is and how it affects the tides is practical, real-world knowledge!)

My thoughts and prayers went out to those who were hurt by the storm.

From DC 40 to Chicago 50

The NAR is at it again, and this time they’re coming for Chicago.

The email announcement reads:

Chicago 50 – Fifty Days between Passover and Pentecost
April 9 – May 28
For more information visit: www.chicago50.com

From Passover through Pentecost we will worship in Chicago, Illinois. Father has a dream for Chicago. Chicago has a destiny, and isn’t to be the most corrupt city in the nation! It is gifted to be an exhorter city, and has grace to proclaim to the earth that there is NO KING BUT JESUS.
We will pray again as one nation under God.
Beginning Monday, April 9, Delaware will raise the torch of eternal intercession and lay the axe to the root of corruption in the nation. Standing on behalf of our nation, we will “AS ONE” address the corruption by appropriating the Blood-bought victory of the cross, and for 50 days release light into the structures of darkness that have ruled Chicago. We will use this most corrupt gate to agree for corruption to be dealt with throughout the nation.

The website linked there only has a splash page for now. The reference to “Delaware” makes me think they’re probably going to try to organize another 50-state day-by-day prayer pattern.

How do people in Chicago feel about this? Do folks there want to organize a response the way we did with Hail Columbia for DC?

This doesn’t seem at first to be quite as personal as the attacks on Columbia and the entire concept of secular government, but keep in mind that when they talk about “structures of darkness,” modern neo-Paganism is included. And I for one resent the implication that only Christianity (and presumably Christians) can fix corruption.

Speaking of DC, the email also mentions that they’re selling DVDs about the DC 40 campaign as part of their fundraising efforts, plus they’ll be in DC next week for a handful of small events.

Personally, I’m going to keep making devotion to Columbia for protection against all these malefic attempts to install theocracy.

Beliefnet shows anti-Pagan bias

They reported on the upcoming Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom, but managed to do so in a tone that presents Pagans as weird, fringy characters who probably just don’t like God, prayer, America, and apple pie. I commented there, and used the “send feedback” function, but I doubt either will ever see the light of day, so I’m reprinting it here:

This article was openly contemptuous with its anti-Pagan tone. It was an insult to Pagans and a discredit to Beliefnet’s pretense of being open to all religions.

The word Pagan should be capitalized, just like Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or any other tradition name. This and things like putting “Samhain eve” in quotes – as if you’d never heard of it before, when it’s explained elsewhere on your own website – subtly denigrate Paganism and make it seem like you don’t actually believe or understand what you’re writing.

The “prayer campaign” that we are reacting against is not simply “for America.” That statement is so disingenuous it’s not even funny. Would you write that the Occupy Together movement is demonstrating against people who are “for the economy?” The DC40 campaign is very, very specifically a prayer campaign aimed at recreating the US as a theocracy of conservative Christians. That’s not “for America,” it’s against the fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution.

Finally, the he-said, she-said style of reporting (“the pagans say is ‘preaching that all feminine forms of deity are demonic'”) makes you look lazy and stupid. If you want to report on this, do some research. Multiple sites have documented exactly what the New Apostolic Reformation preaches in great detail. It would take you about ten minutes to verify this statement.

The fact that you don’t bother to research it further adds to the impression that you find this Pagan event a rare oddity to be commented on from a distance but unworthy of real engagement.

I would be happy to help you revise this article so that it does credit to Beliefnet’s stated mission.

Yeah, I bet they’ll take me up on that last offer when the hell I don’t believe in freezes over. The real question, to me, is how the Pagan community ought to react to mistreatment like this from a supposedly interreligious site. I wonder how Gus DiZerega, for example, is feeling about this being on the same site as his blog.

At what point does continuing participation in interreligious projects that continue to misrepresent our religion start doing more harm than good? To me, it’s one thing when individual commenters at Patheos slam Paganism; this comes from a “senior editor,” which to me means that Beliefnet ought to take some responsibility for it, and if they don’t, it makes me seriously concerned about an institutional bias.

I know that participating in interreligious efforts is one of the ways we can work to counter this kind of bias, but I also think it’s fair that we demand a certain level of respect from projects we participate in – otherwise we risk giving a semblance of approval or support to those who are perpetuating the problem. (But some of my best friends/co-bloggers are Pagan!) I don’t have any answers, but it’s a question I’m going to continue to keep in mind.

When you fight reality, you lose

This is how the world is supposed to work: When you say something false, and you are corrected on it, you recognize that you have to conform to the facts, not the other way around. If you really screwed up, (even if it was done without malice), you apologize, and you work to correct yourself. Anderson Cooper did what was right, and I appreciate it. If more journalists would follow his example, I’d be more impressed with what passes for news in this country.

The inimitable Fred Clark has a post up on the opposite behavior, and then explores how a conservative Christian goes about defending blatant liars. Because of issues like this, another glaring inconsistency in conservative Christian rhetoric has become increasingly clear to me: extremely conservative Christians are the real post-modernists.

(Digression: I am using post-modernist to refer to a specific genre of thought that responded to the modernist critiques of modernity by concluding that we can’t know anything for sure, it’s all relative, etc etc etc. Think of the Sokal hoax. I think that most of the academic disciplines have made great strides since the 1950s in responding to the post-modernists and re-understanding themselves and the world with much more nuanced epistemology and ontology at their core.)

Extremely conservative Christians (ECCs, for short – I don’t care if they call themselves fundamentalist, evangelical, or plaid, they’re a discernible subset) insist on young earth creationism and insist that it is really, literally, true. They also tend to like to wave their arms and shout until they’re red in the face about how evil, evil liberal learning and science are teaching our children that everything is relative, there is no basis for morality or ethics, we can’t know anything for sure. ECCs claim that the rejection of young earth creationism leads directly to what they call “post-modernism,” and which they claim is responsible for most of the behavior they don’t like – abortion, homosexuality, etc. ECCs insist that they are defending Reality and Truth from those who would willfully deny the facts.

In the ’80s, I saw a lot of these ECCs who were very wrapped up in Ken Ham’s kind of pseudoscience, and some of them were perfectly convinced that non-ECC science was a giant evil conspiracy pushing this silly “relativism” stuff as facts. But today, I see more and more ECCs who know – they demonstrably know – that science and young earth creationism cannot coexist. Some of them have stopped trying to hijack scientific methods and are blatantly stating that for them, the Bible trumps the facts.

These people are the real post-modernists. They claim that your worldview creates your reality, to such an extent that nothing science proves is relevant or applicable to them. Their original description of post-modernism was a straw man, because even the publishers in the Sokal affair had to be embarrassed. But now the ECCs have mutated into that straw man – they insist that physics can’t disprove them, and that deep down, physics can’t “know” anything.

They are the real post-modernists. And that, to me, explains a lot of why they are despairing and desperate. They know, deep down, that when you fight reality, in the long run, you lose.

Pagan Protest in DC: October 30th

On October 30th, Pagans will gather in DC to celebrate the Divine Feminine and to protest the increasing efforts of religious fundamentalists to influence government. I’ll see you there!

DC Pagans to Hold Halloween Ceremony Countering the New Apostolic Reformation Cursing Prayer Campaign

On October 30th in Lafayette Square Park

Silver Spring, MD, October 19th, 2011   Priestesses and priests from the Washington, DC Pagan community will hold a Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom in Lafayette Square Park across from the White House on Sunday, October 30th, 2011, as a protest to the New Apostolic Reformation’s 51-day prayer campaign targeting Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, and other Goddess-worshipers nationwide.

The New Apostolic Reformation is a Dominionist group of Christians preaching that all feminine forms of deity are demonic.  The NAR is engaged in a 51-day campaign of imprecatory prayer to create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the USA.  Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are influenced by the NAR agenda.

Reverend Barry Lynn, United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “Some people think the Dominionists and the New Apostolic Reformation are a newfangled movement. I call them what they are: the Religious Right in a new gown. They’re not fooling anyone. This is the same old bunch of theocrats we’ve been dealing with for more than 40 years. It’s the same crew that believes only its narrow version of Christianity is acceptable and pleasing to God. It’s the same collection of people who believe their religion gives them the right to run everyone else’s lives.”

Rev. Lynn went on to say, “I have news for them: Wiccans and Pagans are part of the American religious mosaic, and they’re here to stay. Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us religious liberty – and that means religious liberty for everyone. The followers of nature-based faiths are going to use it because they don’t want to lose it. What could be more in keeping with the great American tradition?”

Katrina Messenger, a writer, teacher, blogger, poet and Washington, DC native, will be the main celebrant in Lafayette Square Park.  Ms. Messenger said,  “The methods used by the NAR and other Dominionists are founded upon hate, fear, and ignorance.  Their demonization of our Gods and Goddesses uses inflammatory language that can lead to violence and discrimination against followers of minority religions.  We have choices in how to respond to this threat to our freedom and our faiths.  Many are resorting to prayer, some to writing letters, and some to defensive strategies.  We decided to honor the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess Inanna, in a public space, and demonstrate the very freedoms the Dominionists seek to destroy.”  Ms. Messenger is the founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School in Petworth.

Event organizer Caroline Kenner is a Washington, DC-born shamanic healer and teacher who now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.  “Nationally, many in our community are appalled by the scurrilous lies about our Goddesses spread by the New Apostolic Reformation.  We Pagans are proud American citizens entitled to all the religious freedom granted by the Founders of this country in our Constitution.  We are dismayed by the hate-filled rhetoric the New Apostolic Reformation uses, and we wish to show the public that our Goddesses are beneficent and peaceful deities.”

The event in Lafayette Square Park begins at noon and ends at 5pm on Sunday, October 30th, Samhain eve to many Pagans, leading into one of the most holy days of the Pagan year. “Samhain, or Halloween, is the Feast of the Ancestors in some of our Pagan religions.  We will invoke the Founding Fathers and Mothers of our nation during our ceremony, along with a multitude of Goddesses from pantheons both ancient and modern.  Among our Goddesses will be Lady Liberty and Columbia, the Goddess who stands guard atop the Capitol Building,” said Ms. Kenner.  “The New Apostolic Reformation people would topple Columbia from Her pinnacle, and rename DC the District of Christ.”

There will be a number of people offering prayers during the ritual, including a Unitarian Universalist minister and celebrants from several Pagan faiths.  After the religious ceremony, there will be drumming, dancing, chanting and energy raising designed to protect people in all fifty states and DC who support freedom of religious belief and practice for everyone.  People of all faiths or none are welcome to join the event.

Sacred Space, an annual conference on metaphysics, mysticism and magick, now in its 22nd year, is the sponsor of the celebration in Lafayette Square Park on October 30th.  Supporting organizations include Connect DC, Reflections Mystery School and Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism.  Individual supporters include Washington, DC Pagan bloggers Hecate Demeter, Literata and David Salisbury.

For more information or to read the NAR curse against Pagans, visit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2011/09/the-new-apostolic-reformation-message-to-pagans.html

CONTACT:    Caroline Kenner

301-384-8455
301-412-1760

mythkenner@aol.com

Christian Dominionist bingo

More Friday fun with bingo! Click the image for larger size. Bonus points for using both arguments in the same-colored square.

Many thanks to Grafton again.

Authority and apocalypse

The interesting thing in Wagner’s interview on NPR that is pretty obscure to people who haven’t been intimately acquainted with this subculture is the view of authority. I’ve mentioned before that the NAR is obsessed with legalisms (almost as much as with sex). That comes from a foundational concern about authority. The NAR and Christian Dominionism in general are all about authority and power.

They operate off some fundamental assumptions that are seldom stated explicitly but that frame everything – absolutely everything – that these believers think about and do. Here I am trying to put these pre-rational beliefs into words, based on personal experience, so don’t expect to see these kinds of things stated explicitly by members of the groups, especially not in open fora. If you doubt my explanations, take some time to see whether they fit the overall worldview expressed by Christian Dominionists, especially when they’re being more honest (sermons, speaking privately, etc).

First, everyone is in hierarchical power relationships all the time. All relationships have a power dynamic and that power dynamic is dictated by their god. A disrupted power dynamic is the source of most evils and needs to be corrected immediately.

Second, those power dynamics aren’t just metaphors. They are, deep down, about force. Mostly spiritual force, mostly allegiance, but if necessary, force. Again, military metaphors run deep in this rhetoric because they’re not just metaphors. They are often taken literally. (This lack of metaphorical thinking is not unique to Christian Dominionism, but it takes on an especially dangerous tone here.)

In this worldview, democracy is sort of a surface phenomenon. It can be used as a kludge when not everyone accepts their god-given place in the power dynamics (especially unbelievers). It can be used as a compromise, or a temporary expedient. But it’s not a long-lasting solution. It’s not a fundamental idea, it’s not something to work for, and ultimately, it’s un-biblical.

With that in mind, read what Wagner has to say about the roles of self-proclaimed apostles and prophets in the NAR:

WAGNER: The Bible teaches that apostles – related to prophets and also teachers – should form the basis of the government of the church. Now, up till now, recently, most churches in America functioned on a democratic system, so that the authority in the churches and the authority in the denominations resided in groups of people.

And, of course, that’s what we’re used to politically in America, so that fits in very well with our culture. But in terms of the role of the apostle, one of the biggest changes from traditional churches to the New Apostolic Reformation is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. And the two key words are authority and individuals, and individuals as contrasted to groups. So now, apostles have been raised up by God who have a tremendous authority in the churches of the New Apostolic Reformation. And I think this is the most radical difference between the old and the new.

When he says, “that’s what we’re used to politically in America,” I hear the unspoken statement, “but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.” When he talks about how the NAR’s authority structure is a “radical difference,” I connect that to the kind of “transformation” that he wants to see in American culture and American politics.

Wagner also made a point of saying that the NAR is “working with whatever political system there is” in each country it’s engaging. But he strictly disavows any mention that they want a “theocracy,” which he specifically links to states like Iran or like Constantine’s Rome. He is telling the truth there, but it’s a specific kind of truth based on his ideas about authority.

I believe him that he doesn’t want a “theocracy” where there’s an institutionalized church that runs the institutionalized state. He wants to meld the two, indistinguishably, because his religious ideas about authority and power are so all-encompassing that they would make a separate institutionalized government redundant.

It is irrelevant to him that this is exactly what I mean by “theocracy.” He has redefined the word, so he can be truthful. You have to know how to listen to this new vocabulary in order to make sense out of his double-talk.

And his double-talk is attractive: he wants to make a world “characterized” by “the blessings of heaven:” “We don’t want racism. We don’t want poverty or divorce or corruption or child abuse or crime.” When the host points out that most of his compatriots also don’t want homosexuality, Wagner hems and haws and says that some other things are more important first.

But that’s precisely the problem. Wagner is imagining heaven on earth – and he does literally believe that if he and his followers can make these changes take place, Jesus will return and the world will end. But like so many people who are utterly fixated on another world, he completely ignores the realities of this one. His biggest victory in the NPR discussion was avoiding talking about how all these changes are going to take place.

Because they won’t. They can’t. In his tradition, this is called original sin: there will always be things wrong, there will be people who are hurting, who hurt others, there will be sickness, and death, and fear, and anger, and all the ills resulting from them. Wagner wants to pretend that when people convert to his flavor of Christianity, they become perfected and none of these things ever happen any more – divorce becomes unnecessary, child abuse nonexistent, homosexuality a fiction. (Ted Haggard can speak to that last one, and his wife can speak to the first one.)

Wagner wants a post-apocalyptic heaven without going through (or talking about) the apocalypse.

Many of his fellow enthusiasts, however, are aware of this, and have actually thought and talked about how to get from here to there, and their conclusion is that it’s up to them to make it happen. The ones who are truly committed to this believe that it is their heavenly mandate to make that apocalypse happen here on earth, using all means of power available to them. In fact, they think that restoring the correct power dynamics – men over women, Christians over non-Christians, prophets over scientists, and so on – is the first step to making that apocalypse happen.

They’re not sitting around waiting to be taken away in the Rapture. They’re bringing heaven to earth – for those eligible for their heaven. And they’ll get rid of those who aren’t. Call it reverse-Rapture.

That’s what they mean when they talk about re-instituting Biblical law. They have realized that they can’t just wish away or pray away all the gay people. After taking a long, hard look at this situation and their perceived god-given roles, they have concluded that the solution is stoning.

If that’s what it takes to get to their imagined holy land, they’ll do it. They’ll do it with what they think is love in their hearts, a psalm on their lips, and blood on their hands.

Founder of NAR tells some of the truth

C. Peter Wagner, one of the founders and leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation, was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air program recently. While he partially succeeded in deploying some new vocabulary as damage control after Rachel Tabachnik’s previous interview on the same program provided an expose on the NAR, he also confirmed some of the key points that Tabachnik and others have been trying to bring to light.

Wagner, like many conservatives and evangelicals, is fascinated by sex. He spent several sentences alluding to and trying to imagine exactly how the sun goddess has sex with the Japanese emperor. He did successfully suppress this later and managed to take the focus off of QUILTBAG issues for most of the rest of the interview, but the host did remind him about that a couple times.

In fact, many of the most interesting points in the interview weren’t what Wagner said – because Wagner didn’t come on the program to say anything. He came on the program to not say things. “I didn’t put that in my list.” “I can’t endorse her statement.” Etc.

Many of the most interesting points were when the host correctly stated NAR positions and Wagner confirmed them:

GROSS: … and also that you believe that the figure that is perceived as a goddess in the Shinto religion is actually sent there by the Satan of the Christian faith to delude people? Do I get that right?

WAGNER: That’s our premise.

 

GROSS: So I want to get back to the idea of dominionism, of – that people in the New Apostolic Reformation see it as a major goal to take dominion over the, quote, “seven mountains,” business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family and religion. Now, again, correct me if I’m wrong, because, you know, you are part of this and you can help explain it. So if I make a mistake, you correct me. One of the tools, it’s my understanding, is spiritual mapping.

I think one of the goals of the reformation, as I understand it, is instead of evangelizing one by one by one, one person by one person, to kind of evangelize a whole community, a whole neighborhood or a whole city, and that one of the ways of doing this is to find the demons that are preventing that from happening, expel those demons, and then you have, you know, an area that is ready to receive Christ. Is that kind of an accurate description?

WAGNER: That’s a – yeah. That’s a – I don’t need to correct you.

 

GROSS: But at the same time, Alice Patterson is one the people who – her mission is to bring the views of the New Apostolic Reformation into government. Correct me if I’m wrong on that.

WAGNER: That’s right. No, you’re right.

 

GROSS: So in this respect, in terms of making inroads into government, would Rick Perry’s prayer rally from August be considered by people in the New Apostolic Reformation as something of a victory?

WAGNER: Yes.

Those statements pretty much speak for themselves.

“Breaking Curses” a fundamental characteristic of “Apostles”

We’ve been hearing more and more about the New Apostolic Reformation lately, led by “apostles” such as Cindy Jacobs, John Benefiel, and C. Peter Wagner. In a book by Wagner about what it means to be an “apostle” today, he lays out “12 characteristics displayed by many (if not most) apostles,” although not all “apostles” have all twelve characteristics.

Number eleven on his list is “Breaking curses of witchcraft,” and in his explanation of a Biblical example, he equates witchcraft with divination and demonic possession. Number ten on his list is “Casting out demons,” by the way, so these ideas are intimately related in this present-day “apostle’s” mind.

Things get even more interesting when I read the actual Bible verses cited as examples of “breaking curses of witchcraft.” In the first one, Acts 16:16-18, a female slave who is possessed by a spirit that allows her to do divination, from which she earns money, follows the Apostle Paul and his companion around, announcing that they are exactly who they say they are: servants of “the Most High.” She urges people to convert to Christianity. Finally, Paul becomes annoyed and casts out her demon.

The message I take from that is that today’s “apostles” are supposed to be aggressive even towards people who claim to be Christian or to be working for the same goals. They are supposed to turn on their allies and coworkers if those people are doing things in an unacceptable way. They will even deprive their allies of a livelihood. I can’t help but think that this is also another example of misogyny: a female slave can’t be allowed to upstage the Apostle Paul, even if she’s telling the truth.

So if you’re Christian but you think a Magic 8 ball or even, gasp, Tarot cards (full of Christian symbolism) might be acceptable, think again. And if you do divination for money, especially if you’re a woman? Forget about it. The NAR are explicitly announcing that they are coming for you.

The second instance, Acts 13:8-11, is when Paul is trying to convert a local government official, but the local “sorcerer” is trying to prevent it. Paul responds by cursing the sorcerer with blindness. Of course, the government official converts, because he sees how powerful the Christians are.

This is the model the NAR wants to follow. This is their stated goal: offensive spiritual warfare with real, physical consequences.

Edited to add: To clarify, I don’t think their spiritual warfare is going to cause physical harm. But they do, and they want it to, and we should take that seriously. If they don’t get the results they want through curses, they might take more direct action.

They certainly want to use government to enforce their narrow subsect of Christianity. That’s what DC40 is all about. And don’t think this is solely about spiritual issues: very few people are talking about it, but their prayer networks in every state could easily be converted into networks for taking political action. Now that Perry has officially joined the Presidential race, I believe those networks and their involvement in “The Response” are intended to be a part of his campaign.

In the face of this effort, it is vital for us to work peacefully to protect our rights in all the ways available to us.

h/t to Right Wing Watch for the book excerpts

More on DC40

It’s not clear exactly what DC40’s “siege” of DC is going to involve, but from the few clues on their website, here’s what I can gather:

If they have “worship teams” or other gatherings in DC itself, they may be planning to gather at The Gatepost, a site that apparently hosts several different Christian-based community efforts. The Gatepost’s website doesn’t have any information about upcoming events associated with DC40, but if they are hosting it, the good news is that The Gatepost is in southeast DC, across the Anacostia from major downtown sites and the Jefferson Memorial.

The Jefferson Memorial is particularly important because as David of CapitalWitch pointed out, one of the big events highlighted on the cryptic timeline for DC40 is “Drums in D.C.” on October 28th. That’s the date of this year’s annual Samhain drumming at the Jefferson Memorial, a longstanding Pagan DC tradition.

The other thing listed on that date is “Georgian Banov,” which turns out the be the name of a speaker and worship leader. He and a few other like-minded individuals are listed on their website as leading something called “The Shift” in Washington DC during October 22-29. Are they planning on a competing event? Trying to disrupt the Pagan drumming? They don’t give details, but I’ll keep working on it.

Another confusing timeline entry reads “Bill Suddoth, Freemasonry, Islam,” on October 7th, which is, as they note, also Yom Kippur. Suddoth is the leader of “Righteous Acts Ministries,” which opens its statement on “Deliverance Ministry Training School” by saying “Our society is steeped in violence, witchcraft, and perversion.” Suddoth’s ministry apparently specializes in “deliverance” from issues like this. His own itinerary states that he’ll be in Maryland on Oct. 5th as part of his “50 State Freemasonry/Islam Tour,” so it is possible that he’ll put in an appearance in DC around that time.

Suddoth’s news page has a letter from him to supporters which reads in part:

I believe the Lord has revealed this new strategy and this assignment of a 50 state Freemasonry tour so a major blow can be made and a real turning point take place in dealing with the spirits of Baal, Jezebel, perversion, witchcraft, antichrist and other spirits affecting this nation. The Lord has given me several confirmations and I am dedicating this year to this seemingly monumental task.

Recently in researching and dealing more with Islam, I have discovered an amazing link between Freemasonry and Islam. In fact, I’m now convinced that the Masonic is the open door in our nation to the spirits behind Islam which is one of the biggest threats to our nation’s security and our Christian heritage and freedom.

Elsewhere, Suddoth claims to have discovered that Freemasonry is “witchcraft” and worship of the Christian Devil, and that it causes its initiates to be possessed by demons, and places them, their families, and their descendents under a curse or demonic influence, which he says correlates with a pattern of child molestation as well.

Ironically, many Founding Fathers whom Christian Dominionists claim to revere were Masons; the Masonic Memorial to George Washington is clearly visible on the Arlington, VA skyline. Inside, the memorial tells how Washington brought over Masons from the England and Scotland to work on the White House and other construction projects in DC, and how Masonic lodges have been in existence in DC since its very beginnings.

In his article on witchcraft, Suddoth claims that:

Wicca is to witchcraft, as marijuana is to the drug culture. It’s the entry level to Satanism and the occult. Wiccans consider themselves to be “white” witches or for lack of a better term “Good” witches. The problem with that is God hates all witchcraft. … God so hates witchcraft that the children of Israel were instructed in Ex 22:18 to kill any witches found among them.

Suddoth mixes in a few mentions of Gardner, describing the rise of Neo-Paganism as an “attack against our society and our Christian values.” He goes on with the same old lies about Satanism, orgies, drugs, and that “Though Wiccans claim not to be involved with any type of animal or human sacrifice. Witchcraft has always been associated with the letting of blood.” (sic) He implies that this might even mean human sacrifice. These people are willing to lie and given the chance will fan the flames of another “Satanic Panic” like there was in the 1980s.

He has the support of Cindy Jacobs, John Benefiel, and others involved in DC40 in this effort, so it’s likely that they see this as a convenient opportunity to help him advance his cause as well. Other parts of his letters show that he is fully committed to the “7 Mountains” strategy of Christian Dominionists to take control of what they have identified as seven key areas of life. This movement is striving for all-out theocracy. They are not kidding, they are not joking, and they are dead-set against Paganism and Wicca.

They are also very, very serious and experienced about raising and throwing around large amounts of energy with specific intents against their targets. I’ll be writing more about potential responses to that soon.