OK

In yesterday's post--which I refer to as "The Big List, California Edition"--I recommended that people specifically not give to a number of "charity fronts" linked with the Assemblies of God.  Not only does the group have a history of coercive tactics (look throughout this diary for examples) but are also pretty explicitly dominionist.

There is another reason not to give money, though, even if the legacy of the walking wounded of "Joel's Army" and worries about dominionism aren't enough--it turns out that, even after the hate group "Watchmen On The Walls" was exposed--their Northwest regional head (who's called for all non-dominionists to be stripped of citizenship) has given them his official blessing...and this is, by far, not unusual at all for the Assemblies.

In other words, you may well want to add "I don't wish to support a hate group" to your list of reasons not to donate to the Bad Guys...

The strange case of Joseph Fuiten (or why it's especially bad that he's defending the "Watchmen")

Joseph Fuiten is beginning to get a rather disturbingly frequent mention in this journal, even compared to other Assemblies of God leaders.  Hence it's rather important, IMHO, to give a little bit of backgrounder on this to explain where I'm coming from.

Fuiten is a pastor of a rather smallish Assemblies of God church called Cedar Park Church--Cedar Park is a prototypical example of what I refer to as a "stealth Assemblies congregation" (in that it does not openly advertise itself as an Assemblies of God church and one must look in its statement of faith or in Assemblies directories to discover its actual denominational affiliation).

For being relatively small for an Assemblies congregation (and honestly, it is--it's only in the low 100s as far as American Assemblies churches go with a little over 1400 members as of 2004 (to compare, Phoenix First Assembly--Ted Haggard's home church--is the biggest Assemblies church in the US has over 9,500 members as of 2004, and the church I walked away from (number seven on the list) is close to 4800 members as of 2004)--it's quite influential.

Cedar Park, in many ways, is essentially the headquarters of the dominionist movement in Washington State.  Among other things, Fuiten was a founding chairman and CEO of a dominionist group called Faith and Freedom Network; FFN is one of the very, very few groups that actually acknowledges its official role as an Assemblies lobbying wing:

On November 17, 1993, after prayer and discussion, the Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government (WERG) was formed. The original members of the association were CRISTA MINISTRIES, CHRISTIAN FAITH CENTER, NORTHWEST UNIVERSITY, COVENANT CELEBRATION CHURCH, the N.W. DISTRICT OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, LIVING FAITH FELLOWSHIP and KENNETH I. TOBEY, INC.
. . .
In July of 2005, WERG changed its name to Faith and Freedom Network to better express their action to defend faith and freedom. They then merged the new organization with Faith and Freedom Educational Foundation, founded by Gary Randall in 2004. Gary Randall was named President and Executive Director of the new Faith and Freedom Network and Foundation. Faith and Freedom Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization. Faith and Freedom Network is a 501(c)4.

Bizarrely, FFN's website has no mention (in its staff) of its chairman, but it seems that's largely because he's now left the board of that group to found two other dominionist lobbying organisations:

I just got a recorded call from Joseph Fuiten, pastor of Ceder Park Church in Bothell and chairman and CEO of the Faith & Freedom Network.

(UPDATE: Fuiten e-mails to say that he is no longer heading Faith & Freedom, but is doing his "overt political work" through two PACS he operates, Committee for Religious Freedom and Committee for Judicial Restraint.)

He was talking too fast for me to take complete notes, but he was urging me to vote for John Groen, Steve Johnson and Jeanette Burrage. He listed several things that he said that if I didn't want, I should vote for his slate. I wrote down three, gay marriage, a judge who left the scene of an accident -- a clear reference to Justice Tom Chambers who's being challenged by Burrage -- and, curiously, driving drunk.

None of the incumbent judges up for election this year have been accused of drunken driving. Justice Bobbe Bridge was, and the Building Industry Association of Washington has attacked Chief Justice Gerry Alexander for saying the court supported Bridge following her arrest.

But Fuiten's message would leave the clear impression to someone not familiar with the court that a justice running this year had faced a charge of driving while drunk. That seems pretty misleading.

The article goes on to discuss Fuiten sending out similar robocalls to much of the Seattle area--at least one of which was transcribed below:

Joe Fuiten here on why your vote matters.

If you believe your property belongs to you and not the government, if you don't want court-imposed gay marriage, if you don't want courts changing the definition of parenthood, if you don't want justices who drive drunk, leave the scene of an accident or don't follow the law, then please vote for John Groen, Stephen Johnson and Jeanette Burrage for the Supreme Court.

They wont legislate from the bench. Groen, Johnson and Burrage are not activist judges. They'll protect the constitution and follow the law,

This message paid for by the Committee for Judicial Restraint. Top contributor, Committee for Religious Freedom.

Fuiten has been a major rallier in Washington State for not only removal of recognition for same-sex partners, but he has pushed DOMA type bills including when he was head of Faith and Freedom Network--this would not only strip protection from LGBT domestic partnerships but could lead to situations such as exist in Virginia where it is technically illegal for two same-sex partners to share an apartment due to it being a "status similar to marriage" (VA also has anti-cohabitation laws).

Fuiten has, among other things, organised large GOTV drives including voter registration for dominionists (of note, the article relies on Fuiten's claim of 5,000 members of the church in 2004; Assemblies churches are known to greatly exaggerate their membership in their external advertising, as the Assemblies' own records for 2004 show only about 1,400 regular members and it is not uncommon in "outside advertising" to list attendance figures during revivals); Fuiten has also led re-election campaigns for George W. Bush in the state of Washington.

Fuiten's most recent political dominionist foray is with Family Policy Institute of Washington, a Focus on the Family state affiliate where he is presently a board member; among other things, he is calling for a major GOTV campaign for dominionists due to the 2006 win by Democrats (he blames it in large part on neopentes not voting).

It's not just politics where Fuiten is influential, though--it can literally be stated that he in large part steers the policies of the entire denomination.

. . .

In this same article, Fuiten is (along with being quoted as claiming Hollywood was ultimately responsible for the 11 September attacks) noted as being part of a multigenerational family of Assemblies preachers:

Fuiten grew up the youngest of four siblings to parents who were both Assemblies of God ministers.

For years, the family lived in the parsonage attached to a church in Butte Falls, Ore., the boys' bedroom separated from classrooms by a curtain. They said prayers before each meal and held a half-hour family devotional each evening.

The article notes the fact Fuiten has been known to engage in politics from the pulpit:

Still, there are those who say Fuiten's political involvement this year may cross an ethical and even legal line.

Though federal laws don't prohibit pastors from talking about issues and whom they plan to vote for — which Fuiten does unabashedly — churches that actively participate in partisan politics could lose their federal income tax-exempt status.

Berendt, the state Democratic Party chairman, contends there's no way Fuiten could persuade thousands of conservative Christians to register to vote without getting evangelical pastors to push a partisan message.

"You can't register 60,000 people and not be aggressive," said Berendt. "The only way evangelicals can do that is by getting right in the churches and being political in a way that crosses the line, both legally and ethically, in my view."

This...could be especially problematic in Fuiten's own case, seeing as he's a regional head of the Assemblies of God and has served on multiple Assemblies steering committees--at least if his bio at Cedar Park's website is to be believed:

In 1972, Joe entered formal church ministry as a Youth Evangelist and thereafter as a Youth Pastor.  He has served as an Associate Pastor in Aloha, Oregon with Rev. John Fuiten and as Associate Pastor with Dr. Fulton Buntain at Life Center in Tacoma, Washington.

In 1979, he was elected Director of Christian Education for the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God, with responsibilities in Church Growth, Christian Schools, and Sunday Schools for the 370 churches of the Northwest District Council.
. . .
Joe earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry in 1995.  He has served as a faculty member of the Graduate School, now called Bakke University, and as an adjunct faculty member for Northwest University.  Joe is a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.  He has served the denomination on the Ministerial Enrichment Committee, US Missions Committee, and other committees of the General Council. He is an Executive Presbyter of the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God and a General Presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God.  He is also the immediate past president of the Eastside Pastor’s Association.

To give you a better idea here of just the regional scale of things--the Northwest District Council covers all of Idaho and Washington.  In other words, at least two states are his personal fiefdom.

Not only that, he's been directly influential in their seminary program, several major denomination-wide initiatives, and is technically in the "line of succession" if present Assemblies president Thomas Trask retires.

As an aside, it should be noted that the Assemblies is not a small denomination.  No, it's not the size of the SBC; however, an accurate estimation of five or six million members in the US is not unlikely (the Assemblies had a claimed membership of over 2,500,000 people in 1998, of which Washington state was in the top ten in both numbers of Assemblies members and percentages of Assemblies members as part of the total population; a bit of math based on a recent Pew Forum survey and July 2007 population figures of 301,139,947 gives a rough estimate of 6,022,790 based on roughly two percent of the population being admitted Assemblies members in the US).

Of note, part of his influence has been in an official Assemblies seminary course on setting up front groups as "ministries".  The Assemblies' website describes the telecourse:

Fuiten detailed Cedar Parks’ network of ministries (including a thrift store, an auto mechanics ministry and a counseling center) all of which have developed in unconventional ways and in a variety of locations.

The basic premise of multi-site ministry is that growing one large group is not always the optimal method for connecting with a community. Multi-site leaders believe in moving the church closer to the community by creating several smaller services in different locations and/or several styles of worship in one or more locations.

All of the presenters encouraged the 100 participants to think in Kingdom terms about the local congregation. Joe Fuiten, for example, explained his "Cathedral Church" concept as meaning that the church is not based on his vision so much as on helping people to realize God’s vision in their lives. "If you can do that, you are doing God’s good purposes...If you can do that, you’re a great pastor."

(Side note: "Kingdom terms" relates to dominion theology and essentially promoting the development of not only theocracy but "Joel's Army" theology in general.)

The Assemblies has even promoted the spectacle of Fuiten literally leading fertility prayers in its Pentecostal Evangel magazine (the official magazine of the denomination):

A decade ago, Pastor Joseph Fuiten and Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, Wash., began dedicating a Sunday to pray for couples desiring children. Since then more than 100 couples have seen God answer their prayers, and some have experienced undeniable miracles.

Every year the special service has grown and expanded to other churches. Next Sunday more than 20 churches in the area, including Cedar Park Assembly, will hold special services.
. . .
"It started when I set aside a year to follow the life of Christ and use it for my personal devotions, attaching any event that I could to the calendar," Fuiten says. He integrated his findings into his sermons. "On a Sunday night in January, ‘Epiphany Sunday,’ I preached on Jesus’ water baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit. I invited people to come forward and be anointed with the Holy Spirit like Jesus was. Quite a few people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that night."

Three weeks later, Fuiten focused on Christ’s presentation by Joseph and Mary at the temple. "I invited couples to come forward to be prayed for concerning issues of infertility," he says. "Two couples came forward and braved the public attention. A few months later, one of the couples came back and said, ‘By the way, we’re pregnant.’"

Since then the number of couples requesting prayer has grown. In 2000, Cedar Park coordinated a multichurch emphasis across Bothell. About 150 couples came to be prayed for; another 150 couples received prayer at other churches in the area.

The article later literally demonises all non-dominionists in claiming that essentially only neopente churches have sympathy for mothers who have miscarried:

Spiritual struggles are a common thread among couples who come forward at Cedar Park, according to Sue Timpe, director of the church’s bereavement ministry, which includes offering ministry support to couples wanting children. Their discouragement in the wake of childless years can overwhelm their faith, she says.

The ministry staff at Cedar Park are personally connected with the pain of childless couples. Fuiten and his wife have four children, but they endured numerous miscarriages early in their marriage. He speaks from experience when he says, "One of the most painful things for a couple is to want to have children but to be unable to." He remembers his own cries to God when he stands before new couples each year and prays, "Lord, I ask You to bless these couples with a child."

"When I miscarried," Timpe says, "I was not allowed to grieve because those around me didn’t acknowledge that child. I grew up in a non-Christian home, and to my family my miscarriage was never a child. So beyond our ministry to couples praying for children, we also want to reach out to those who have lost children. I would like to see an area at churches where people could put a brick or a stepping stone as a remembrance of their child."

This demonisation isn't uncommon at Cedar Park--or in the Assemblies--as we'll soon see.

Assemblies preachers say the darndest things

So we now know Fuiten directs policy and educates pastors in a denomination known for involuntary exorcisms, the birth of modern "Christian nationalist" dominionist movements, and other coercive tactics and practices--one that has something like two percent of the US population as adherents.

That knowledge is plenty disturbing in and of itself--especially if you consider that deacons of much larger Assemblies megachurches have engaged in some pretty frank demonisation and hate speech against LGBT people--but Fuiten as a part of his official role has made some pretty outrageous statements.

Among other things, he's literally blamed 11 September on the motion picture industry:

On Sept. 11: "Hollywood bears as much responsibility for 9-11 as Muslims. They've portrayed us as a degenerate society--as all we're interested in is drugs, sex and violence. In (Muslims') view, they want to restrain American culture, which they view as a Christian culture, from coming to their countries."

He also raises the spectre of the Mussulman Horror in regards to Iraq, describing it in terms of a religious crusade (which is more than a little frightening):

Fuiten believes the Iraq war is part of a larger, longer war between Christianity and Islam, instigated by Muslim extremists. Although not all evangelical preachers would agree with him, he thinks Islam is, in a way, a false religion, since the prophet Mohammed took three of the five central pillars of Islam — prayer, fasting and alms-giving — from Christianity.

He says Hollywood is "bringing the wrath of Islam on America" because it's portraying the country as a degenerate society.

Apparently Fear of Islam is a major, major component of the preaching there (as is the case in most Assemblies churches, where Islam is directly equated with Satan worship and the Antichrist); a recent sermon on the subject gives one an enlightening view on what they're teaching their own.

According to Fuiten, LGBT people should be forcibly converted and "de-gayed":

"Right and wrong will be a part of it. Is this a behavior we ought to protect or we ought to cure? I would say homosexuality is something that ought to be cured."

Fuiten literally equates people calling for Fairness in civil partnerships to anarchists in an interview:

The thousands of same-sex newlyweds who have tied the knot in San Francisco's City Hall in recent days are anarchists, to the mind of Pastor Joseph Fuiten.

"This shows a high disregard for America. When you have leaders of government, as in the mayor of San Francisco, flaunting the law, we call that anarchy. This is really an anarchists' movement," says the 54-year-old senior pastor at Cedar Park Assembly of God Church.

This is still not the most outrageous thing called for in public by Fuiten.  Until very recently, that honour had to go to Fuiten calling for the literal denationalisation of all non-dominionists and their classification as "illegal aliens" on CNN's "God's Warriors" programme:

FUITEN: The secularists always say, you're trying to set up a theocracy. You're trying to put your values on us.

And I say to myself, hey, wait a second here. This is the way it's always been in America. You come along with your secular agenda. You're the ones trying to put your values on America, not me. Our values are native here. It's yours that are foreign. You're the illegal alien here, not me.

We thought it would be hard for Fuiten to top a call for literally stripping non-dominionists of citizenship, but...unfortunately...we were wrong, and a sad day has come to America.

On October 20th, 2007, Joseph Fuiten--a major Assemblies of God leader and thus effectively representing the denomination--effectively gave its official blessing to hate crimes against LGBT people and frank Holocaust revisionism, and declared war on America...and in this act, finally made it public what the Assemblies of God has been preaching in private for decades.

Fuiten speaks out in defense of poop-flinging, murderous hatemongers...and declares war on these United States

I've written some on the "Watchmen On The Walls"--a neopentecostal hate group (and no, this is not just my opinion; Southern Poverty Law Center has officially announced they will be classified as a bona fide hate organisation, just like the Klan) that has been linked to not just literal poop-flinging but nastier things like beating a gay man to death and promoting Holocaust revisionism that claims that LGBT men were the architects, not victims, of the Holocaust (and that LGBT men are apparently in a grand conspiracy with Moslems to destroy God Fearing Christian Folk--in purple prose that looks to be almost directly cribbed from Mein Kampf and Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in parts).  "Watchers on the Walls" does have historic links to the Assemblies; the Russian and Latvian churches that are a part of it are essentially Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" churches planted during two brief periods where missionary activity was allowed, and a number of their supporters have had very close links to the Assemblies.

There was some debate--after a lot of good folks started shining some light on "Watchmen On The Walls"--whether Joseph Fuiten was to attend.

It turned out that he not only did so, but literally declared war on Non-Assemblies America:

One of those rattled was Pastor Joseph Fuiten -- who in the past has argued that non-Christians should be considered illegal aliens -- who in addressing the audience Saturday chose mostly to complain about coverage of the Watchmen and claim that they're just benign Christians standing up for decency:

When Channel 5 reported tonight that you have declared war on homosexuals they are inciting people to violence. Have you declared war? War is violent! Channel 5 accused you of being violent and many will believe their accusation.

How many Russians have been killed over the years by atheists?

Stalin killed at least 20 million in the name of atheism but no one ever says that secular people are violent.

Hitler was a pagan, and apparently a lot more. He killed probably 8 million in his gas chambers and caused the deaths of millions more.

Do they ever object to pagans, occultists, and whatever else?

The "whatever else," in case you're wondering, happens to be homosexuals. One of the key figures in the Watchmen organization on the West Coast (and internationally) is Oregon's Scott Lively, author of a work of Holocaust revisionism titled The Pink Swastika,
which posits that Hitler and other Nazis were secretly homosexuals, and that indeed both the Nazi regime and the Holocaust were products of a homosexual conspiracy. Lively attended the convention in Lynnwood and spoke to reporters outside.

(The "And apparently a lot more" is also a reference to The Pink Swastika and specifically the claim Hitler was gay.  Also of note, Adolf Hitler was not as involved in occultism as other members of the party, and actually saw his anti-semitism as Christian.)

Mind, this is a speech to a group that not only has literally thrown poop at Pride Parades and beaten people marching in them, but also is linked to at least two literal gay-bashings--Mocah Painter and the fatal assault of Satender Singh--here in the States.  Eli Sanders has done a particularly good article in regards to the connection of "Watchmen On The Walls" and neopente Slavic groups with Micah Painter's beating.  (In what is a particularly sad and telling irony, Micah Painter himself was apparently a walkaway from a neopentecostal church (called The Granary Church) in Seattle; he was (among other things) subjected to religiously motivated child abuse for having secular music tapes (something I too experienced and had a fear of as a kid), received little help from social welfare agencies, and eventually had to run away from home permanently for his own protection.  This is, sadly, not an uncommon scenario for gay kids in Assemblies households.)

Fuiten not only called for literal war at the conference, he literally whinged at length about people calling hate what it is--hate--and even trying to stir up hate against the community at large:

I was going to speak on the topic of civic involvement and voter registration. However, once I saw the media lynching of your group I felt I needed to respond to that.

The City of Lynnwood was reported by Channel 5 tonight as not supporting your message.

Your message that marriage is limited to one man and one woman is the law of the land upheld by the State Supreme Court. Does the Mayor of Lynnwood not support that law?

Your message that normal relations between a man and a woman reflects the way we are created is apparently not supported by the Mayor.

The Stranger, Seattle's homosexual newspaper, quoted the Mayor of Lynnwood, Don Gough, as calling you Russian-American citizens "bad guys" and "fairly weird."

. . .

When the Southern Poverty Law Center and homosexual groups accuse, and the Everett Herald amplifies the charge of Christians being violent, how come they never mention the homosexuals or the atheists?

(Perhaps because, last I checked, atheists and LGBT people aren't literally beating the snot out of people just for being neopentes?  The worst I've heard of was with ACT-UP disrupting church services back in the early 80s, and pretty much the entire LGBT community condemned their antics.)

The whingefest and Two-Minute Hate continues:

When Channel 5 reported tonight that you have declared war on homosexuals they are inciting people to violence. Have you declared war? War is violent! Channel 5 accused you of being violent and many will believe their accusation.

How many Russians have been killed over the years by atheists?

Stalin killed at least 20 million in the name of atheism but no one ever says that secular people are violent.

Hitler was a pagan, and apparently a lot more. He killed probably 8 million in his gas chambers and caused the deaths of millions more.

Do they ever object to pagans, occultists, and whatever else?

Mao killed at least 30 to 35 million in China as an atheist.

The campaign of secularists in China continues against free speech. They don't even want our President to speak to the Dali Lama. I guess I missed the report of the Southern Poverty Law Center on that.

The Moslems have killed millions in the 20th century and show no signs of letting up.

A local Muslim imam from Seattle, writing in the Seattle Times, recently blamed the Holocaust on Christians.

He conveniently forgot that a number of the Muslim nations were aligned with the Nazi's. Did Equal Rights Washington object to that?

(As an aside, Fuiten in this last bit is directly referring to stuff in The Pink Swastika claiming that the Gay Nazis and Moslems were in a partnership to wipe out all Jews and Christians worldwide.  Scott Lively's writings, in fact, have even claimed that the very creation of Islam is part of the "Gay Conspiracy"--no matter that Wahhabist Islam is probably the one religion on the planet even less tolerant of gay men than neopentecostal dominionism!)

It gets better, even--at the end, he literally compares everyone who has protested "Watchmen On The Walls" to the KGB--knowing damn well that many of the people who are members of the org escaped the Soviet Union in its Bad Old Days and do equate the KGB with Satan--even more so, of note, than Assemblies of God theology in general.

Personally, I've seen this stuff promoted in the Assemblies practically my entire life.  I myself can never come out to my parents as a bi man (in a woman's body), for much the same reason Micah Painter could never come out to his parents as being gay--we're both survivors of religiously motivated child abuse, and if we did we'd be subjected to worse abuse, possibly even gaybashing in the physical rather than the metaphorical sense.  We're both walking wounded from what we experienced as is.

Fuiten, and "Watchmen On The Walls", have just finally stated in public what the Assemblies has been saying in private for quite some time now.

Maybe now, people will realise us walkaways aren't making this up.

David Neiwert, of the Orcinus blog, put it best:

"Today, disagreement means hate. If I disagree with you, I hate you. Evidently, God is the biggest hater in the world. The first thing we Christians need to take back is the right to disagree."

Of course, if it were only disagreement -- and not condemnation and eliminationism -- that Hutcherson and the Watchmen on the Walls were proffering this weekend, no one would have minded. But it wasn't.

The odd thing about hearing this kind of lame rationale from Hutcherson is that he is an African American man. As it happens, I've listened to a sermon that used nearly identical logic -- that discrimination isn't about hate if God commands it in the Bible -- at least once before. It was delivered by the late Rev. Richard Butler at an annual Aryan Nations Congress in Hayden Lake, Idaho. And he was talking about black people.

It was realising that sort of thing that was one of the big steps in walking away--and should be something everyone should remember.

All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men not to resist it.

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

--Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor who was eventually interned at Sachsenhausen and Dachau for being a member of the Confessing Church Movement...the Christians in Germany that refused to Nazify the church.

Originally posted to dogemperor on Thu Oct 25, 2007 at 01:57 PM PDT.

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