Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sorry for the delay

I have just completed my move to Houston and will start posting in the next few days. Thanks for you patience and keep on subscribing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin's Churches and The Third Wave: New Video Documentary

From Huffington Post:

Sarah Palin's churches are actively involved in a resurgent movement that was declared heretical by the Assemblies of God in 1949. This is the same 'Spiritual Warfare' movement that was featured in the award winning movie, "Jesus Camp," which showed young children being trained to do battle for the Lord. At least three of four of Palin's churches are involved with major organizations and leaders of this movement, which is referred to as The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit or the New Apostolic Reformation. The movement is training a young "Joel's Army" to take dominion over the United States and the world.

Along with her entire family, Sarah Palin was re-baptized at twelve at the Wasilla Assembly of God in Wasilla, Alaska and she attended the church from the time she was ten until 2002: over two and 1/2 decades. Sarah Palin's extensive pattern of association with the Wasilla Assembly of God has continued nearly up to the day she was picked by Senator John McCain as a vice-presidential running mate. Palin's dedication to the Wasilla church is indicated by a Saturday, September 7, 2008, McClatchy news service story detailing possibly improper use of state travel funds by Palin for a trip she made to Wasilla, Alaska to attend, on June 8, 2008, both a Wasilla Assembly of God "Masters Commission" graduation ceremony and also a multi-church Wasilla area event known as "One Lord Sunday." At the latter event, Palin and Alaska LT Governor Scott Parnell were publicly blessed, onstage before an estimated crowd of 6,000, through the "laying on of hands" by Wasilla Assembly of God's Head Pastor Ed Kalnins whose sermons espouse such theological concepts as the possession of geographic territories by demonic spirits and the inter-generational transmission of family "curses". Palin has also been blessed, or "anointed," by an African cleric, prominent in the Third Wave movement, who has repeatedly visited the Wasilla Assembly of God and claims to have effected positive, dramatic social change in a Kenyan town by driving out a "spirit of witchcraft."

The Wasilla Assembly of God church is deeply involved with both Third Wave activities and theology. Their Master's Commission program is part of an three year post-high school international training program with studies in prophecy, intercessory prayer, Biblical exegesis, authority and leadership. The pastor, Ed Kalnins, and Masters Commission students have traveled to South Carolina to participate in a "prophetic conference" at Morningstar Ministries, one of the major ministries of the Third Wave movement. Becky Fischer was a pastor at Morningstar prior to being featured in the movie "Jesus Camp." The head of prophecy at Morningstar, Steve Thompson, is currently scheduled to do a prophecy seminar at the Wasilla Assembly of God. Other major leaders in the movement have also traveled to Wasilla to visit and speak at the church.

The Third Wave is a revival of the theology of the Latter Rain tent revivals of the 1950s and 1960s led by William Branham and others. It is based on the idea that in the end times there will be an outpouring of supernatural powers on a group of Christians that will take authority over the existing church and the world. The believing Christians of the world will be reorganized under the Fivefold Ministry and the church restructured under the authority of Prophets and Apostles and others anointed by God. The young generation will form "Joel's Army" to rise up and battle evil and retake the earth for God.

While segments of this belief system have been a part of Pentecostalism and charismatic beliefs for decades, the excesses of this movement were declared a heresy in 1949 by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and again condemned through Resolution 16 in 2000. The beliefs and manifestations of the movement include the use of 'strategic level spiritual warfare' to expel territorial demons from American and world cities. Worship includes excessive charismatic manifestations such as hundreds of people falling, 'slain in the spirit,' and congregations laughing, jerking, and shrieking uncontrollably.

In early 2008 an outbreak of those phenomena commenced at the palatial former ministry estate of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, recently bought up and restored by prominent Third Wave author and leader Rick Joyner's Morningstar Ministries. The (spiritual) "breakout" lasted for many weeks and was publicized in an extensive collection of video footage available on YouTube. Healing services in the Third Wave movement claim to heal the sick and injured through methods that in some cases can appear bizarre - including, as in recent cases involving Todd Bentley, the patient being head butted or kicked by the anointed healer. Recipients of such "spiritual" or miraculous healing make a wide range of astonishing claims - to have been cured of life-threatening illnesses, had joints repaired or replaced, been given gold teeth or gold fillings, regrown stunted limbs and even had deformed skeletal structures straightened and reshaped. Worldwide mission efforts of the movement are built around the idea of combating witches, warlocks, and generational curses, which prevent churches from being able to take root.

Thomas Muthee visited Wasilla Assembly of God and gave 10 consecutive sermons at the church, from October 11-16 2005. As both Palin and Wasilla AoG Head Pastor Ed Kalnins have attested, Thomas Muthee 'prayed over' Sarah Palin and entreated God to "make a way" prior to Palin's successful bid for the Alaska governorship. Muthee made a return visit to the Wasilla Assembly of God in late 2008. Thomas Muthee's Word of Faith Church is featured in the "Transformations" video which details an account on how Muthee drove "the spirit of witchcraft" out of Kiambu, Kenya, liberating the town from its territorial demonic possession and enabling a miraculous societal transformation. The "Transformations" video set is used as an argument for social improvement through spiritual instead of human means, and as the best method for fighting corruption, crime, drugs and even environmental degradation.

In the video, producer George Otis declares that after Thomas Muthee and his followers banished the "spirit of witchcraft" from the town, the crime rate in Kiambu dropped almost to zero, along with the rate of alcoholism, and according to Otis most of the residents of the town joined churches. The "Transformations" video has helped spark a network of 'Transformation' ministries and mission organizations and 'transformation' has become a buzz word for change based on supernatural instead of human efforts.

The Third Wave, also known as the New Apostolic Reformation, is a network of Apostles, many of them grouped around C. Peter Wagner, founder of the World Prayer Center. This center, which was built in coordination with Ted Haggard and his New Life Church in Colorado Springs, was featured in an article by Jeff Sharlet in Harpers, May 2005, "Soldiers of Christ." Sharlet was one of the first to write in the secular press about the World Prayer Center which is often referred to by those familiar with the Third Wave as the 'Pentagon for Spiritual Warfare.' It features computer systems that store the data of communities around the world, mapping out unsaved peoples' groups and spiritual mapping information for spiritual warfare. Wagner has his own group of about 500 Apostles in his council and each of these Apostles has ministries under their authority, sometimes hundreds or thousands. Recently various networks of Apostles came together to form the Revival Alliance. Leaders of the Revival Alliance including Rick Joyner of Morningstar anointed Todd Bentley whose Lakeland Healing Revival has recently been a controversial topic in the Evangelical world.

Wagner's top leaders often conduct spiritual warfare campaigns against the demons that block the acceptance of their brand of Christian belief, such as 'Operation Ice Castle' in the Himalayas in 1997. Several of their top prophets and generals of intercession spent weeks in intensive prayer to "confront the Queen of Heaven." This queen is considered by them to be one of the most powerful demons over the earth and is the Great Harlot of Mystery Babylon in Revelation. (The "Great Harlot [or 'whore'] of Mystery Babylon" theme also figures prominently in the sermons of Texas megachurch pastor and Christians United For Israel founder John Hagee, former endorser of John McCain's 2008 presidential bid.) Wagner and his group also claim that the Queen of Heaven is Diana, the pagan god of the biblical book Ephesians and the god of Mary veneration in the Roman Catholic Church. Following the 'Operation Ice Castle' prayer excursion which included planting a flag for Jesus on Mt. Everest, one of the lead prayer intercessors from the excursion, Ana Mendez, reported that there had been dramatic results including, "millions have come to faith in Asia... and other things happened which I believe are also connected...an earthquake had destroyed the basilica of Assisi, where the Pope had called a meeting of all world religions; a hurricane destroyed the infamous temple 'Baal-Christ' in Acapulco, Mexico; the Princes Diana died... and Mother Theresa died in India, one of the most famous advocates of Mary as Co-Redeemer."

Church of the Rock, led by Senior Pastor David Pepper, has taken their youth to participate in 'The Call, Nashville.' This event is held at various locations around the country under the leadership of Lou Engle, also featured in the movie "Jesus Camp." At these events youth are worked into a frenzy of anger and consternation at supposed national moral corruption. Engle, who shuffles while he preaches in imitation of Jewish prayer, is featured toward the end of the "Jesus Camp" video documentary.

Mike Rose, senior pastor of Juneau Christian Center has a long relationship with Rodney Howard -Browne, credited with being the instigator of the outbreak of 'Holy Laughter' around the world, including the Toronto Airport Revival.

The Third Wave movement is cross-denomination and is not synonymous with any specific denomination, nor is it synonymous with Evangelical or Fundamentalist. Although the movement emerged from Pentecostalism, it draws its support from a variety of denominations and religious streams. They believe they are forming a post-denominational church to take the world for the end times. To date, all of the writing and objections to this movement have emerged from other Evangelicals and Fundamentalists who believe the movement to be unbiblical. Also, it is other conservative churches that refuse to embrace the 'outpouring of the Spirit' that are targets of much of the anger of the movement.

You can find more information on the Third Wave movement and additional links to the activities of Palin's churches on www.Talk2action.org in the following articles:

Ban on Political Endorsements by Pastors Targeted

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 8, 2008; A03

CHICAGO -- Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

"For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church," ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. "It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It's not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."

Yet an opposing collection of Christian and Jewish clergy will petition the IRS today to stop the protest before it starts, calling the ADF's "Pulpit Initiative" an assault on the rule of law and the separation of church and state.

Backed by three former top IRS officials, the group also wants the IRS to determine whether the nonprofit ADF is risking its own tax-exempt status by organizing an "inappropriate, unethical and illegal" series of political endorsements.

"As religious leaders, we have grave concerns about the ethical implications of soliciting and organizing churches to violate core principles of our society," the clergy wrote in an advance copy of their claim obtained by The Washington Post.

The battle over the clergy's privileges, rights and responsibilities in the political world is not new. Politicians of all stripes court the support -- explicit or otherwise -- of religious leaders. Allegations surface every political season of a preacher crossing the line.

What is different is the Alliance Defense Fund's direct challenge to the rules that govern tax-exempt organizations. Rather than wait for the IRS to investigate an alleged violation, the organization intends to create dozens of violations and take the U.S. government to court on First Amendment grounds.

"We're looking for churches that are serious-minded about this, churches that understand both the risks and the benefits," Stanley said, referring to the chance that they could lose their coveted tax-exempt status or could set a precedent.

Stanley said three dozen church leaders from more than 20 states have agreed to deliver a political sermon, naming political names.

"The sermon will be an evaluation of conditions for office in light of scripture and doctrine. They will make a specific recommendation from the pulpit about how the congregation would vote," he said.

"They could oppose a candidate. They could oppose both candidates. They could endorse a candidate. They could focus on a federal, state or local election."

Such endorsements are prohibited by a 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Code that says nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not "participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

In a Sept. 3 letter to two United Church of Christ pastors in Ohio who are organizing the challenge to the ADF, Stanley appealed to them, "as one Christian brother to another," to abandon their criticism. He asserted a "constitutional right to speak freely from the pulpit" and said IRS rules "stifle religious expression."

Former IRS lawyer Marcus S. Owens, however, opposes the ADF's strategy and its legal reasoning. Working with the Ohio-based clergy, he contends that the Supreme Court would be unlikely to overturn appellate court rulings on the issue or a related precedent of its own.

Owens also criticizes ADF and its lawyers for "actively advising churches and pastors that they should violate the tax law and offering to explain how to do that. The tax system would be shut down if you allowed attorneys to counsel people on how to violate the tax law."

Owens, a former director of the IRS office that regulates tax-exempt organizations, will ask the tax agency to investigate ADF lawyers for "this flagrant disregard of the ethical rules." He is joined by former IRS commissioner Mortimer M. Caplin and Cono R. Namorato, who headed the office of professional responsibility at the IRS until 2006.

The two Ohio pastors, the Rev. Eric Williams and the Rev. Robert F. Molsberry, have called for hundreds of clergy to preach on Sept. 21 about the value of the separation of church and state.

Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, calls "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" a "stunt" that is part of an effort by the religious right to build a church network that will "put their candidates into office. It's part of the overall game plan."

"This is an extraordinarily reckless scheme that they are promoting," Conn said. "The federal tax law is clear. Churches are charitable institutions that exist to do charitable things. That does not include politics. Political groups do politics."

The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal consortium that considers itself the antithesis of the American Civil Liberties Union. It spends more than $20 million a year to underwrite legal battles and train lawyers to push the country in socially conservative directions.

Founded in 1994 by Christian conservatives including James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family and William R. Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, the ADF has challenged same-sex marriage initiatives, stem cell research and rules that limit the distance protesters must keep from abortion patients. It helped the Boy Scouts ban gay Scout leaders.

Defining its latest mission, the ADF declared that pastors have "too long feared" the loss of tax exemptions.

"We're not encouraging any congregation to violate the law," Stanley said. "What we're encouraging them to do is exercise their constitutional right in the face of an unconstitutional law."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm Strictly a Private Matter.

From Levi Johnston's MySpace page, (since has been removed) listed him as being in a relationship, but under his "children" status, Johnston said "I don't want kids." He describes himself as a "redneck" who likes to snowboard, ride dirt bikes, go camping and "hang out with the boys." He also enjoys fishing, and warned that, if you mess with him, "I'll kick [your] ass.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wash. rampage suspect in court: ‘I kill for God’

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - "I kill for God. I listen to God," a man accused of a northwest Washington shooting rampage said Friday at a hearing where six charges of first-degree murder and four of first-degree assault were filed against him.

Isaac Zamora made the chilling comment twice at the brief hearing in Skagit County District Court while investigators wrapped up their work at eight crime scenes. The 28-year-old is being held on $5 million bail in the wake of Tuesday's rampage, which left six people dead and four injured.

District Court Judge Warren Gilbert read each charge and the penalties, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. That doesn't mean the death penalty is off the table, according to the Skagit County prosecutor.

"Do you talk about it? Sure you talk about it," Prosecutor Rich Weyrich told the Skagit Valley Herald. "Where it goes, it's way too early to decide that."

Zamora was not required to enter a plea Friday. The charges filed in District Court allow Zamora to be held in custody for 30 days. He will later be formally charged in county Superior Court.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 3.

Killing spree
The affidavit for probable cause, which details in support of the charges, remains sealed for 10 more days while the investigation continues.

The attacks began near Zamora's mother's home near the tiny town of Alger, 70 miles north of Seattle, and continued on Interstate 5. After a high-speed police pursuit, Zamora surrendered at a sheriff's office in Mount Vernon, about 20 miles south of Alger.

Among the dead was Skagit County Deputy Sheriff Anne Jackson, who had gone to check on Zamora after his mother called authorities.

Also killed were a man shot at the same location as Jackson; two male construction workers shot nearby; a 48-year-old woman found a few houses away; and a 64-year-old motorist killed along I-5 near a rest stop, authorities said. Two people were wounded near Alger — one by stabbing — and two were wounded on the freeway, including a state trooper.

Zamora, who has a long record of run-ins with the law, had been admitted several times to hospitals for mental health treatment and attempted suicide several times, his friends and family said.

Jon Stewart Exposes the Idiots on the right.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When average isn’t good enough - Sam Harris

By Sam Harris

LA Times

So let us ask the question that should be on the mind of every thinking person in the world at this moment: If John McCain becomes the 44th president of the United States, what are the odds that a blood clot or falling object will make Sarah Palin the 45th?

The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office. Needless to say, the Reaper’s scything only grows more insistent thereafter. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain’s medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.

As many people have noted, placing Palin on the ticket has made these final months of the already overlong 2008 campaign much more interesting. Is Palin remotely qualified to be president of the United States? No. But that’s precisely what is so interesting. McCain not only has thrown all sensible concerns about good governance aside merely to pander to a sliver of female and masses of conservative Christian voters, he has turned this period of American history into an episode of high-stakes reality television: Don’t look now, but our cousin Sarah just became leader of the free world! Tune in next week and watch her get sassy with Pakistan!

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the “Who would you like to have a beer with?” poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages – and loses – both necessary and unnecessary wars.

McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him. He has so little respect for the average American voter that he thinks this reckless and cynical ploy will work.

And it might. Palin’s nomination has clearly excited Christian conservatives, and it may entice a few million gender-obsessed fans of Hillary Clinton to vote entirely on the basis of chromosomes. Throw in a few million more average Americans who will just love how the nice lady smiles, and 2009 could be a very interesting year.

Tune in next week and watch cousin Sarah fuss with our nuclear arsenal … .

Sam Harris is a founder of the Reason Project and the author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.”