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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 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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