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In yesterday's post we focused on how cell churches were originally invented as a tool of control in megachurches--and were later used to infiltrate mainstream churches.

Today we focus on how cell-church groups were used to infiltrate none other than the Republican Party.

The writer "Irishwitch" here on DailyKos has a good article in this vein--from the SBC side of things--on the process of how the SBC was hijacked from within.  That article, and this one, should hopefully give you a good idea on how church hijacks do occur (one being the view from inside the targeted church, and the other from the folks planning the hijack).

There is another very good article which details how these same tactics were used to hijack not only the SBC, but eventually one of the biggest hijacks of all--the literal subversion of the Republican Party from within:

The effort to build bridges between secular and religious conservatives was spearheaded by four activists with no background in the Christian Right community: Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus; John "Terry" Dolan of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC); Paul Weyrich of the National Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress; and Richard Viguerie, a major fund-raiser for conservative causes. The basis for coalition would be a frontal attack on "big government" as a threat to traditional religious and economic values. In response, the National Christian Action Coalition, the first national organization of the Christian Right, was launched in 1978. Television evangelist Jerry Falwell organized the most prominent of the new organizations, Moral Majority, in 1979. To reach into the Southern Baptist Convention, Ed McAteer started the Religious Roundtable, while Christian Voice, composed primarily of members of the Assemblies of God, concentrated on the western states.

The leaders of these movements embraced the issues that concerned secular conservatives, but they did so with a religious rationale. Increased defense spending, for example, was justified as a way of keeping the nation free for the continued preaching of the Gospel, and support for the government of Taiwan was defended as necessary to protect Christian allies from the "Godless forces of anti-Christ Communism." In practice, however, conservative social values drove the formation and activity of the New Christian Right (Glazer 1986; Wattenberg 1995).


(Ed McAteer is widely acknowledged as being a primary architect of the hijacking of the Southern Baptist Convention by dominionists. McAteer was also a member of the secretive Coalition for National Policy, and per some documentation may have even been explicitly premillenial-dispensationalist and tried to get official church support for these policies.  And yes, some of those other names are influential in dominionism even now--Howard Phillips is probably best known as being the person ultimately behind the Constitution Party (formerly the US Taxpayer's Party), an explicitly Christian Reconstructionist political party with connections to racist and militia groups (which we'll cover Monday and Tuesday), and Paul Weyrich is now known for having founded the Free Congress Foundation (a neoconservative group which often partners with the hardline dominionists).  Jerry Falwell is now not only a televangelist but runs a college--Liberty University--who trains future dominionist lawyers and judges (interestingly, one of Liberty University's two accrediting boards is widely considered to be an accreditation mill targeting dominionist groups and has been threatened in past with loss of the legal ability to accredit schools; a major source of funding for Liberty University is from none other than the Moonies).  And in a continuing pattern that has literally been around since the beginnings of political dominionism, we have the involvement of the Assemblies and other neopente groups.)

The now-defunct Institute for First Amendment Studies also gave more details in their magazine "Freedom Writer":

One catalyst for a Reconstructionist-oriented, shepherding-based movement has been the Coalition on Revival (COR), on whose steering committee sits top shepherds Bob Mumford and Dennis Peacocke, as well as Colonel Doner, and top Reconstructionists R.J. Ru shdoony and Gary North. COR is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California in Santa Clara County, near San Jose.

In September 1987, COR chief Jay Grimstead and his pastor Mike Kiley of the Home Church, organized a meeting of evangelical pastors in Santa Clara County. According to a tape of the meeting, their purpose was to set up a "pastors committee" for long-range social and political takeover. Grimstead proposed an experimental program to ground pastors in COR-approved theology and shepherding techniques over 18 months. They they would select 6-12 "elders, deacons, (or) staff" to become their personal disciples. When ready, they in turn would disciple other church members.

Grimstead enthused that with 25 churches so discipled, "we could create an army...of people who are ready to die for Jesus. And to die for your vision as a pastor."

Rev. Kiley described a discipleship program in which dissenters would be brought into obedience or expelled. He also said that when a city gathers enough disciples, "This is when Jay [Grimstead] comes in." He explained, "because once we raise up people, m any of them are called to areas of government... And we are able to filter them into the right type of places because they've been well-trained."

Grimstead explained that "several national groups of strategists are looking at 60 major cities" for long-term influence. This would include "replace[ment] of anti-biblical elected officials with biblically oriented candidates."

"So," he concluded, "we are launching today...an experimental effort to get a model for how that is to be done."


Interestingly, at least one site also mentions rather specifically the role of "cell churches" within the COR:
One of the most influential members of COR is the Rev. Dennis Peacocke, a leading proponent of shepherding/discipleship cell structured churches. While purposely NOT a well-known public figure on the Christian Right scene, Peacocke's influence is felt primarily through his extremely low-key, Strategic Christian Services ministry, in Santa Rosa, CA.

During the Reagan {and} CIA contra war throughout Central America in the 1980's, Peacocke was responsible for legitimizing the genocidal regime of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, in Guatemala. Bob Weiner, "shepherd" of the disbanded Maranatha Ministries, was another leading Christian Right figure who did much to support the Reagan administration, through campus-based mobilization and political action.


(In the previous entry I made on the history of dominion theology, I go into detail on Rios Montt's connections with the FGBMFI and dominionist groups in the States.)

The Institute for Religion and Democracy to this day uses the same playbook--meeting with a few "friendlies", then "breeding" dominionist-friendly congregations within the present congregation--with the goal of eventual hijack.

Originally posted to dogemperor on Sat Oct 07, 2006 at 08:36 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (27+ / 0-)

    Monday, a series on racist groups and dominionism begins--all too relevant in regards to recent revelations with Kenneth Blackwell's links to militia group promoters.

  •  Once again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Christin

    brilliant!

    things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

    by terrypinder on Sat Oct 07, 2006 at 11:07:12 AM PDT

  •  Yes...Outstanding. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oscarsmom

    Thank you - as a former Evangelical Christian, I'm facinated by these kind of diaries.

  •  I experienced many of these things (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Halcyon, Joy Busey, mango, Naniboujou

    I went to an Assembly of God for several years, mostly because I liked the modern music and style of worship, and that it wasn't dry ritual like the denomination I had grown up in. But the pressure to join a cell group was great, as was the pressure to vote Republican. Before every election, they'd hand out "voter guides" that had a check mark next to all the Rethugs' names and demonized each Dem. They also spent a good amount of time on intercessory prayer before the elections that the Rethugs would all be elected.

    The last time I ever set foot in a church was when I was visiting a cousin right before Bush's reelection. It was a charismatic church of some sort, and they spent an entire half hour praying for Bush's victory. I felt like I was going to throw up. I wanted to run out of there but was trapped out of courtesy to my cousin.

    •  *nods* (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chantedor, Halcyon
      In the Assemblies church I escaped from, it was just as extreme if not more so (the state affiliate of the American Family Association is in fact essentially based out of the church, and the head deacon runs it and a group (formerly a 501(c)4, recently changed to a PAC) that does blatant electioneering; they literally have aforementioned deacon handing out voter's guides, doing the stuff you describe, and also give the AFA head and deacon free time on their television station and network).

      I'll be adding you onto my watch list--perhaps you could share some of your stories on how you escaped?

      •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

        for the compliment. I don't think I'll be writing much on it, other than a comment here and there, because it makes me feel ill to think about what I witnessed and experienced. The main reason I stopped going was the judgmentalism of the people there--against me and anyone else who didn't toe their legalistic line. I saw too many cruel things said and done to visitors or others who didn't completely fit in.

      •  I've been followi this series with great interest (0+ / 0-)

        and appreciate all the work you've obviously done. In past diaries you mentioned you would be telling your own story at some point. I may have missed it if you already wrote about it, but I am looking forward to reading about your personal experiences in more detail. Are you still planning to add a diary like this?

  •  Thanks once again, dogemperor! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, moiv, Mad Mom, Halcyon, oscarsmom

    I read all this documented information about wannabe mind-tyrants with interest, and get the feeling the cult mind-control techniques perfected over the course of the 20th century have been honed to an art form by now. Yet there are still Scientologists and Jehovah's Witnesses and Moonies and Krishnas and Amish and Opus Dei... on and on and on. Obviously, there's a hefty segment of humanity that needs to be told what to think and how to act, and is more than willing to cede control over every aspect of their lives to someone else. This is part of that third of humanity I mentioned before.

    There's just nothing to be done about them other than to keep 'em within the law as much as possible. They spread themselves at both ends of the bell curve - leftist authoritarianism is just as notorious. But sheep aren't the people you're indicting here - you're talking about wolves, and they, too have always been among us. Such is human nature, and will-to-power on planet Earth.

    So as you get deeper and deeper into this project (which will no doubt make a fine book), I'd like to cut to the chase for just a moment...

    What, precisely, is it you think needs to be done about people who are fearful that their culture, values, and way of life are under attack, so they won't be tempted to join reactionary cults and support nefarious power plots they don't really understand? Or, conversely, what do you think should be done about wolves who create, fund, lead or otherwise enable the nefarious activities of cults? What's to be done about cultism itself, since it's really just a manifestation of the psychology of fear? How will that translate to religion in general, which has always existed as a response to the psychology of fear?

    Satan himself had a 33% approval rating even as he was booted out of heaven.

    by Joy Busey on Sat Oct 07, 2006 at 12:20:15 PM PDT

    •  What to do about dominionism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Halcyon

      There's a few things I think would actually be helpful (in cutting to the chase):

      a) The IRS getting much more aggressive on investigation and especially prosecution of churches that violate their tax-exempt status by blatant electioneering.  (Among other things, a lot of how these groups are able to operate due to getting tax exemptions.)

      Ideally, this would go beyond individual churches and expand to denominations that have a pattern group-wide of illegal electioneering, but I doubt seriously this would happen.  With some groups like the Assemblies, it'd almost be necessary, though.

      b) Similar enforcement on removing tax-exempt status of the dominionist groups themselves--no offense, but it'd send a huge message if, say, Focus on the Family had their tax exempt status yanked and it'd put a major crimp in their activities.  (The Christian Coalition actually ended up being largely neutered when it lost its 501©3 status.)

      c) Education of kids, possibly starting in elementary school and definitely in highschool and college, with the specific aim of "cult-proofing" kids (not talking about saying "X group is bad"--more on educating kids how coercive groups work, danger signs of abusive groups, etc.)  This wouldn't just be in public schools, either--mainstream Christian churches could adopt this too.

      d) Much better vigilance in mainstream Christian churches of tactics of groups that infiltrate these churches for sheep-stealing and "hijack from within"--and not being afraid to disfellowship people who are trying to pull this stuff.  (Sadly, part of how the IRD and such are able to operate is because pastors pay little attention to what goes on in their congregations.)

      e) Americans in general who are not dominionists educating themselves about this stuff, and practicing the "eternal vigilance" necessary to protect freedom in the US.  (The First Amendment limits in practice what can be done, but we can certainly make sure we elect non-dominionist candidates not willing to exempt dominionist groups from following the law of the land.)

      f) Educating people about the front groups used by some of these groups, and educating businesses about charity affinity abuse by these groups.  (This, too, will deprive them of a considerable amount of their income.)

      g) Lobbying the FCC to close the "Translator Hole" that dominionist "godcasting" groups have used to set up large, translator-based networks of dominionist radio stations nationwide.  (Nonprofit stations are exempt from an FCC rule that restricts translator stations--repeaters meant for areas of low signal coverage--from being operated within a 50 mile radius of their target station.  Hence you get radio networks that consist of literally thousands of translators--some of which are literally across the country from the station being translated--and which dominionist groups have abused.)

      Likewise, getting the FCC to enforce its own rules in regards to shortwave radio stations targeting domestic audiences (long story short: shortwave broadcasters aren't supposed to target people in North America, but non-government radio stations--almost all of which are owned by "godcasters", and six of which are in a network owned by the dominionist church I escaped from--do so, quite illegally in fact, and the FCC does not enforce its own laws in regards to this) would also crimp these groups' style.

      h) Wider recognition of the fact that these dominionist groups are in fact spiritually abusive--including greater assistance services for walkaways from these groups.  (Complex PTSD is a common sequelae of being involved, and this is an area that improved mental health care would seriously help with.)

      i) Not allowing dominionist "alternative certification" boards to get certified for medical board licensure.  (There is a considerable dominionist "parallel economy"--including dominionist friendly pediatricians and "counselors"--who are trying to get dominionist-run accrediting bodies like the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and even NARTH registered as alternative certification boards for licensure of doctors and social workers.  This is because, increasingly, legitimate groups like the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and even the American Medical Association itself are realising that dominion theology (and in particular its emphasis on "deliverance ministry" and "de-gaying therapy") is incredibly harmful--in fact, most groups now consider promotion of "de-gaying therapy" a literal ethics violation for which accreditation (and licensure) can be stripped.)

      In other words, people largely have to learn how these groups operate, teach OTHERS how they operate--and put their foot down and say NO when these groups try to bend the spirit of the law into a Gordian knot.

      •  Thank you for posting (0+ / 0-)

        over here, dogemperor. I had discovered your T2A diaries last winter and am so impressed with your research and exposure of this cabal intent on (and succeeding at) destroying our 130-year-old experiment.

        Here's another diarist who recognized the connection to 'Kingdom Now' in the Jesus Camp movie: Christian Dem in NC posted "Jesus Camp" youth pastor directly linked to fascist brand of charismatic movement   yesterday.

        Side note: Please continue appending the 'Religious Right' Tag on all of your diaries, so future researchers will be sure to find the whole series (assuming they don't know to Google 'dogemperor' for the definitive compilation on dominionism!).

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