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Today, what appeared to most folks to be an emergency management group held a talk on Al Quaida and the Iraqi insurgency with a Brigadier-General of the Air Force's Cyberspace Command--implying that all of Islam was out to get us, and warning about Islam's own version of dominionism.

There was a big thing about the group holding the talk that very few people noticed, though.

The group conducting the talks--the "ALERT Academy"--is connected to the most extreme branches of dominionism: a movement called "Joel's Army" or the "Joshua Generation", which has been especially promoted by Bill Gothard and which has even gone to setting up paramilitary training camps for its own...of which ALERT Teams happens to be one.  

And disturbingly, they seem to have gotten official sanction--by one of the heads of the very military department responsible for military satellites, surveillance, and watching the Internet for international threats.

The talk--covered in the Longview, TX News-Journal--seems innocuous enough on its face, if more than a bit jingoistic:

BIG SANDY — Islamic extremists have a 100-year plan for world domination, and Americans must be prepared for the long fight, a U.S. Air Force general told East Texans on Monday.

Speaking during a Veterans Day banquet in Big Sandy, Mike McClendon said extremists want to create an economic superpower with the biggest army and strongest currency, and they want half the world's population to reside in an Islamic state.

They plan to gain control of oil reserves and bankrupt Western countries, and they plan to create safe havens throughout the world, including some in Latin America, he said.

"They're willing to go as long as it takes, and they are making progress," said McClendon, who commands the Air Force's Global Cyberspace Integration Center in Virginia.

McClendon's office culled the information from extremist Web sites, he said. The general, a former teacher at the International ALERT Academy in Big Sandy, delivered the findings to about 450 people who attended ALERT's sixth annual Veterans Day event Monday night.
. . .
The ALERT Academy is home to the Air Land Emergency Resource Team, which trains young Christian men to respond to natural disasters and other crises throughout the world.

David Herring, who coordinates outside events, camps and conferences for ALERT, said the banquet recognizes veterans and active military members, as well as law officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and other people who ALERT students should emulate.

"It's important for every citizen to honor those people who have given for our freedom," he said. "It's a way to say thanks, a minor effort on our part to express our gratefulness."

Dwayne Harris, an Air Force veteran from Longview, said he was attending the banquet for the second time.

"It's an honor," he said. "It's fantastic."

This would be not seen as worrisome by most folks.  Pretty much everyone can agree Al Quaida is Bad News (though most people who study extremism in Islamic circles would quibble about lumping Iranian Shia revolutionary movements in with Al Quaida (essentially a Sunni "Islamic Nationalist" movement with a particular love of terror tactics), much less with the Iraqi insurgencies).

Those of us who've been researching dominionist and Christian Nationalist groups--in particular, the movement known as "Joel's Army"--are disturbed as all get out by this, however.

Why are we disturbed?  For one, ALERT Teams is not just your average Explorers Post EMT cadet squad.

And secondly, this is a sign of something finally getting some well-needed research--more evidence of a wholescale attempt at steeplejacking the very groups Americans entrust to keep them, and their country, safe.

A bit of backgrounder

The reason I have used the term "Dueling Holy Wars" to refer to this speech is because ALERT Teams is far from innocuous.  In fact, it can be argued they are among the "Extreme of the extreme" among Christian nationalist groups.

To give you some backgrounder, it's necessary to diverge for a wee bit and discuss a form of dominionism that--outside of a few people, such as Sara Diamond--hasn't gotten an intensive amount of research.

A lot of researchers into "Christian nationalist" movements in the US now agree there are three major branches--"Christian Reconstructionists" (popular in "independent fundamentalist Baptist" circles and also the subject of most research on dominionism to date), "ultramontaine" Catholicism (think Opus Dei), and a third group within neopentecostal churches that I have referrred to in my writings as "Joel's Army" dominionism or "neopentecostal dominionism".

Surprisingly, the neopente dominionists seem to have had the longest continuous push of all "Christian nationalist" groups (with the exception, of course, of segments of Catholic nationalist movements); they have also, especially in the past thirty years, become considerably more extreme in their tactics--both inside and outside of the churches where the movement lives.

Joel's Army essentially teaches that the "Saved" are a kind of ubermensch, and that everything is the subject of massive territorial battles between them and the "Armies of Satan".  They go much, much farther with this "spiritual warfare" meme than mainstream Christian groups or even evangelical Christians, though--many of the churches hold beliefs very similar to those in Scientology teaching that one can be essentially "infected" with demons and thus "lose God's blessing" by the most innocuous things, that one must constantly name and claim "spiritual" and physical territory (in fact, the impetus for neopentecostal dominionism can essentially be seen as an extension of "name it and claim it", and even other Christian churches are seen explicitly as "the enemy".  

Practices in "Joel's Army" groups have led to a staggering amount of forms of abuse.  In addition to the general tactics of spiritual abuse common in these groups (including a particularly nasty "Big Brother" system of "shepherding" common in cell churches within large megachurches), the antics of "Joel's Army" have increasingly turned to targeting others--including horrific involuntary "exorcisms" of walkaways, a substantial part of the engaging in acts of domestic terror and cooperation with extremist groups here in the States, calls for denationalisation and jailing of all non-dominionists, horrifically nasty and extreme political character assassination...and, increasingly, frank murders and assaults against LGBT people, as well as calls for progroms against LGBT people as well as Moslems and members of non-Abrahamic religions.

Lest one think that Joel's Army's wrath is restricted to those outside of it, kids are too often targeted--both in the horrible subject of religiously motivated child abuse and the "Bible-based boot camp" industry--which neatly intersects with one of Joel's Army's dirtier secrets.

Namely, Joel's Army--not unlike Al Quaida--has their own versions of "training centers" and religious indoctrination to breed kids in the group to be "blessedly violent".

Some of the "Bible-based boot camps" double as "Joel's Army madrassas"...and, often, paramilitary training occurs there.  Not only that, but there's an increasing trend to home-educate kids and then send them to paramilitary training facilities as part of the "Joshua Generation" that--in their mythology--is destined to sweep the land like a plague of locusts.  (To give you an idea, the "Left Behind" books--and especially the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game--are essentially fictionalisations of Joel's Army theology.)

And no discussion of this can be complete without focusing on Bill Gothard--an extremist, even within the extreme Joel's Army circles...and also the man behind ALERT Teams.

The man...and the Bible-based cult...behind ALERT Teams

Bill Gothard has been rather well known in neopente dominionist circles--especially within the Assemblies of God and its daughter churches--as a promoter of a form of "Joel's Army" theology that tends to even make some of the less hardcore members of "Joel's Army" a bit nervous.

Gothard was first brought to the attention of the world at large when WISH-TV in Indianapolis brought to light a series of horrific abuses at a reform school he ran for kids:

Tracking new Florida child welfare chief Jerry Regier's past has led to some pretty disturbing things: radical Christian groups, papers on parental discipline that condone bruises and welts, and a drive to give tax dollars to churches.Now, welcome to the prayer closet.

Inside a converted 300-room hotel, the prayer closet is a little room where kids are taken when they disobey staff at the Indianapolis Training Center (ITC). Once locked inside, the misbehaving youths are forced to sit and pray to Jesus, sometimes for days at a time. Some juvenile ITC residents have said the evangelical Christian teens and young adults who staffed the center sometimes forbade them from going to the bathroom, forcing them to sit in their own urine for hours. Some have complained of beatings with paddles by untrained staff that left bruises and welts. When not in isolation, the kids are forced to march and chant and pray, with gospel music playing almost constantly.

The juvenile court system in Indianapolis has been sending kids convicted of minor crimes to the ITC for the past decade, but the extremist Christian creep show inside the center was exposed only earlier this year in reports by two Indy TV news stations.Those exposes, one of them titled "Dark Secrets," prompted a state investigation.

Gothard now tries to promote "Character Counts" courses in public schools, despite his own record of religious abuse (so extensive that most researchers classify his groups as Bible-based cults).  He's promoted the odd concept that Cabbage Patch Kids could cause your kids to be possessed by the devil:

Take for example Gothard’s "Cabbage Patch" flap. In 1986, he taught that the highly popular Cabbage Patch Dolls were causing strange and destructive behavior in children that could only be alleviated when the dolls were removed or destroyed.

In a letter from his organization, his followers were told by representative Ginger Jones that to enter into a written agreement to love a doll was a violation of the First Commandment. The threat as seen by Gothard was that by adopting a doll, children might not want to raise up their own godly children.8 Children may "love" dolls as they do other toys but this does not mean they worship them.

(8. Copy of December 8, 1986 letter on file with Personal Freedom Outreach, a Christian group highly critical of "Joel's Army".)

Gothard also promotes the concept of "generational curses"--a concept popular in "name it and claim it"/"prosperity gospel" circles that teaches that one's ancestors' actions can literally cause one to be "oppressed" or "possessed" by Satan--and literally sets up adoptees to be targeted for religiously motivated child abuse:

Gothard emphasizes sins visited "upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" and neither emphasizes nor explains the pregnant phrase, "of them that hate me." It is also regrettable that he does not properly consider verse 6 "But showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments." His view is novel and as far as I know cannot be found in any major commentary. Here Gothard parts company with good men. A quick glance at his materials on adopted children shows an extension of this error.10 Here he teaches that the new parents of an adopted child must research the sins of the "biological parents," confessing them and casting the consequences off the child. He says:

"Causes of Conflicts — Adopted children are affected by the sins of their natural parents, and these sins are usually very severe."

"Steps to Resolve Conflicts — If the child is too young to understand, pray for the child. Confess your sins and acknowledge the sins of the natural parents. Ask God to rebuke Satan and free the child from any unbelief or rebellion from the lives of the parents. Pray in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Then he goes on to say that if the adopted child is old enough, "Explain that just as physical weaknesses are passed down through parents, so are spiritual weaknesses such as pride, lust and rejection (see Exodus 20:5)." He then tips his hat to Exodus 20:6 and Ezekiel 18:20. But if these verses apply, what need is there of the "Step to Resolve the Conflict" in the first place? No such exorcistic ritual is ever hinted at anywhere in the Bible.

(10. Bill Gothard, Ten Reasons Why Adopted Children Tend to Have More Conflicts (Oak Brook, Ill., Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, 1982), pp. 1-2. 11. Marilyn Willet Heavilin, Roses in December, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), pg. 21.)

Gothard--in addition to promoting all this--also likes to promote an entire system of religiously motivated child abuse and indoctrination--there are indications that he largely pioneered the field of promotion of Bible-based baby beating in particular--and part of that system involves dominionist home education.  

It is in fact this home education system that is of particular interest to us, as ALERT Teams (itself a Gothard frontgroup) is essentially a "graduate school" for people educated using it.

A conservative Christian group critical of Joel's Army theology gives us some info about Advanced Training Institute, the home education curriculum in question:

IBLP operates with a paid staff of about 300 out of its Oak Brook, Illinois headquarters. The organization reported revenue of more than $19.4 million and assets of more than $34.7 million on its 1998 tax returns, the most recent report available. (Gifts have totaled $70 million through the first half of 2000, the largest being the use of a 2,200-acre former university campus near Tyler, Texas, used by Gothard's ALERT program). The Institute's highest-paid employee earns $47,880. Gothard himself reports having received just $12,000 in salary and $18,000 in expenses in 1998. In 2000, Gothard says he will make $15,000. (This information is sketchy and outdated, because Gothard does not make financial information readily available.)

In addition to the Basic Seminar, IBLP also runs more than 60 other ministries, including conducting an Advanced Seminar, Children's Seminars (1992) (ages 6-12 -- "The Children's Institute in Basic Life Principles"), the Anger Resolution Seminar, the Financial Freedom Seminar, the Marriage Oneness Seminar (Secrets to the Ultimate Marriage), and special Legislative, Medical, and special training for public and private school teachers [ATI (1984) -- Advanced Training Institute home-based education program]. In addition, IBLP has a home school curriculum (through ATI using the Wisdom Booklet series [52 booklets]);2 operates the Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy (1994); operates the Telos Institute (1997) (a post-secondary, distance learning degree program), Excel (training for young women), and Verity (distance learning undergraduate degree); conducts "All Day Ministers' Seminars";3 and publishes a quarterly journal, Life Purpose: A Journal of God's Power in Us. Community ministries include orphanages, the Log Cabin program for troubled youths, ALERT, CharacterLink, and Character First!. (See Note on IBLP programs and affiliated organizations.)

The footnotes are particularly illuminating:

2 To enroll in Gothard's ATI home schooling program, parents and enrolling children are required to complete the Basic and Advanced IBLP Seminars (and pay the yearly $675 per family tuition fee). Families must agree to many guidelines in order to be accepted into the school and continue in it. At the yearly ATI conference, the dress code is nearly a uniform consisting of a white shirt and navy blue pants or skirt. They must follow a dress code while they are homeschooling, and the curriculum itself describes in detail what is required for proper and modest dress and grooming. Beards are not allowed, but an exception is granted to those who have one because of religious conviction. Once in ATI, a family is sent the curriculum on a regular basis. The curriculum consists of 52 Wisdom Booklets, which provide nearly all that is required to complete the education. These booklets make a stack just over a foot high. When a family has completed all the booklets, they start again from the beginning. The curriculum is intended to be used for all ages simultaneously -- K-12.

Gothard claims that "As students explore information, it passes (consciously or unconsciously) through a grid of presuppositions in their minds. After the information is evaluated by this 'grid,' it is acted upon." (Emphasis added.) One of the goals of the training is "To identify each son and daughter's purpose in life and establish direction for their training." One of the "Tools" to accomplish this is a "Life Purpose Appraisal," which sounds much like personality testing! (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.) [Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of the origins, techniques, and goals of personality testing would be Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1992, 213 pages.]

3 These "All Day Ministers' Seminars" are purportedly for "senior pastors and Christian leaders" and their wives; it "addresses current issues facing ministers and Christian leaders and provides training and encouragement" (IBLP Internet web site, 10/00). A recent seminar covered the following topics: "(1) How to reach the heart of your listener by understanding his true needs; (2) How to respond to people who live by their own rules; (3) How to meet an urgent need in your church with new answers on Anger Resolution; (4) How to bring the light of Christ back into your public schools (A new opportunity!); (5) How to develop three unexpected qualities that God looks for in a leader He uses; (6) How to avoid defeat by understanding the five aspects of temptation; (7) How to have a prayer ministry that is guaranteed to get results in your community; (8) How to win the heart of a rebel (vital for parents); and (9) How to develop a passion for souls." (Emphasis added.) And for the pastor's wife: "(1) The key to finding inward rest (Elisabeth Elliot teaching); (2) How to help your husband be known in the gates." (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.)

The notes also break down how the ALERT Teams are the "graduate program" for kids homeschooled using ATI:

Education: The Telos Institute, a post-secondary [distance learning] degree program that integrates Biblical principles and character training with life skills, has a current enrollment of 336. [Telos students may earn an associate of arts degree in Character Development Services, and an associate of arts degree in Child and Youth Character Development. Preliminary studies in mechanical engineering are also available.] Oak Brook College of Law, a four-year juris doctorate correspondence program that offers a legal education with a [supposedly] Biblical basis, had 21 graduates earlier this year [2000] in its inaugural class. Advanced Training Institute, a home-based education program focusing on moral, intellectual and spiritual development, has 12,800 students.
. . .
Air Land Emergency Resource Team (ALERT): Composed of male graduates of the Advanced Training Institute, the program is activated at the request of government officials and provides disaster relief and humanitarian aid, as well as aerial, land underwater search and recovery. The program is based on a 22-acre former college campus in Texas donated to the Institute. The program currently has 181 enrolled; it has 600 graduates.

Getting info on what exactly is taught in the ATI curriculum is notoriously difficult; much like Scientology has tried to keep the OT VII stuff from getting out, Bill Gothard claims all of his material is under copyright and as a condition of purchase prohibits families using the material from publishing it or even revealing its contents, and Gothard's companies are the sole distributors of their material.  Despite this, however, some information has managed to get out.  At least one site critical of Gothard managed to get a copy of the application form--not only are all spouses (including divorcees) and at least two pastoral signatures required, but the form itself indicates that all TV, most music (including most "Christian contemporary" music), all video games, etc. are banned and that people must attend Gothard's seminars to participate.  Sample questions include:

- On the married status: One option is "Rebuilder" (this is, of note, a code term in Gothard and Assemblies circles in general for "remarriage") - Are any of your children resistant to enrolling in ATI? - How has God led you to enroll in ATI? - Please check any of the following damaging influences in your home: (Video/computer games (hours per week:___), Sensual reading/viewing material, If any of these harmful influences are in your home, please explain on a separate sheet. - Do you have a TV monitor in your home? (Hours viewed per week: ___ For the sake of achieving spiritual maturity and academic excellence, are you willing to limit your TV viewing or remove the TV from your home? - Do you have Internet access in your home? (Hours used per week:) - To the father: How many hours per week do you work? Hours

Gentle Spirit, which is a site dedicated to inclusive homeschooling and fighting the "steeplejacking" of home education by dominionists, has an extensive section on Bill Gothard's ATI in part two of their "Homeschooler's History of Homeschooling":

Another person who has profoundly and deeply influenced the homeschooling movement is Bill Gothard, both through his Institute in Basic Life Principles and his Advanced Training Institute, which is his homeschooling program.
. . .
For the first 20 years of his ministry, his teachings received little public scrutiny, in part because the only way to get any of his books or materials, which were self-published, was by attending his seminars. They were not sold anywhere else in the country, including Christian bookstores. Only seminar attendees could obtain these materials, and each attendee could only buy one copy (IBLP officials kept records of who purchased what). Seminar attendees were also frequently discouraged from discussing Gothard’s materials or the material presented in the seminars outside of the seminars. In addition, the materials themselves were in outline form, and seminar attendees filled in the blanks as they heard Gothard’s teachings (which as a matter of policy were never taped). There was no body of published information attributable to Gothard alone; attended’ notes could be called into question, especially since sessions were never taped.
. . .
The foundation of Gothard’s teachings is submission to authority. He teaches that God has instituted "umbrellas" of authority for our "protection" and that if we move out from under those umbrellas, we place ourselves in danger. These umbrellas of authority include a husband’s authority over his wife, father’s authority over his children, pastor’s authority over those in his congregation, employer’s authority in his sphere of influence, and so on. Gothard teaches absolute obedience to these "authorities" in one’s life.  Although it is permissible to respectfully "entreat" an authority, the authority always has the last word and people are urged to "trust God" even if their "authority" makes a wrong or damaging decision.  Authority of parents over their children continues as long as the parent lives. This means that grown children must continue to seek their parents’ counsel in every major decision. For instance, those applying to participate in Gothard’s homeschooling program must first secure the approval of all living grandparents.

The article also reveals more about the mandatory requirements for the ATI program, including a mandatory shepherd (listed as an "evaluator") and at least three separate questionnaires to be filled out by participants and the shepherd.  Participants also must agree to a list of 49 "Character Qualities".

Part four of "Homeschooler's History of Homeschooling" continues:

As conservative Christian homeschoolers increasingly distanced themselves from homeschoolers whose beliefs were different, communication within the movement broke down. The left hand no longer knew what the right hand was doing. Those in statement of faith circles eventually stopped hearing about homeschoolers or homeschooling organizations which did not share their religious views, or if they did, the reports were suspicious, fearful, or negative. This generation of Christian homeschoolers had heard sermon after sermon, read book after book, about the dangers of "secular humanism." They had been warned repeatedly about the ongoing battle for the minds of their children between the forces of good and the forces of evil, and they had been repeatedly reminded that this was warfare, they were warriors, that if they did not protect their children from the schemes of the enemy, then God would hold them accountable. If their children
grew up and left the faith or shamed them in some way, they were told, their parenting practices and spirituality would be implicated. This resulted in parents who were anxious and fearful over how their children were "turning out," ever wary of the judgments of fellow homeschoolers. Christians who were skeptical of this mindset were often rejected as liberal or "worldly" or "carnal."

In addition, thousands of these Christian homeschoolers nationwide had attended Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles seminars where they were taught that obedience and submission to spiritual authority were required of the Christian, even when those in authority erred, resulting in an unwillingness to criticize those who held positions of leadership in the church and in the homeschooling movement, especially on the part of women, who had been taught that they were not to lead in the family or in the church but were to concentrate on their role as keeper at home, wife and mother.  At the same time, homeschoolers often heard and read rousing and inspiring
exhortations to Christian obedience and biblical lifestyles with
the promise that if they were faithful, they would enjoy the blessings of God on their families.

Another source on what goes on within the Gothard programs is, of course, what I refer to as the All-Too-Neglected Source: the first-hand accounts of walkaways like this escapee from Gothard's ATI program.

One of the proffered ATI courses is, in essence, an unaccredited course in Cosmetology As A Form Of Bait-And-Switch Evangelism:

Hair Design Workshop
Jan 26-27, 2006
Cost:
Phase One-$225 (Kit additional)
Phase Two-$800

Ladies attending the Hair Design Workshop can become competent and experienced in the skill of enhancing the outward appearance to the glory of God. This ministry may be used in the home to meet the needs of family members, friends, church members, and the elderly.

Phase One of the Hair Design Workshop will include two days of instruction on the attributes of hair, blunt and under cuts, advanced techniques in layers, tapers, stacking, male clipper cuts, and much more.

There are multiple other courses offered, including a surprising number of courses in both essentially Home Economics and setting up "parallel economy" bait-and-switch evangelism fronts...and, of course, the ALERT Teams.

The dark truth behind ALERT Teams

I specifically mention the stuff about Gothard's home education circles emphasizing the role of people as "God Warriors" because ALERT Teams is--quite bluntly and frankly--a paramilitary training center for dominionist youth being raised as part of the "Joshua Generation" in Joel's Army circles.

Even the press on Gothard's website re the ALERT Teams isn't as innocent as portrayed in the newspaper article:

The ALERT program focuses on training men in Biblical disciplines and character within the framework of learning skills for crisis response and ministry support.

The goal of the ALERT program is to build men who are known not only for their excellent skills, but also for the Godly character and servant’s hearts with which those skills are executed—not primarily for personal advancement, but for unselfish ministry to the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of others.

When a man learns to place his life in God’s hand, for God’s direction and purpose, God raises him up and uses him. ALERT is an intensive training program, spanning two years, which provides an opportunity for men ages 17 and older to learn character, discipline, and skills to meet the needs of individuals in crisis and to support their present and future ministry.

The overview is even more explicit as to the fact it operates as a "Bible-based boot camp" and military training facility for Joel's Army:

What is ALERT?

ALERT (Air Land Emergency Resource Team) is a training program with a military-type structure for men ages 17 and older.

Basic Training

The first phase of ALERT is the 10-week Basic Training, which is similar to a military boot camp, but with an intense focus on the Lord. Training elements include:

   * Leadership Training—Leadership by example
   * First Aid—Wilderness applications
   * Physical Work—Techniques of strength and endurance development
   * Rope Work—Knots and river crossing
   * Outdoor Survival—Orienteering and fire and shelter construction
   * Character Training—Responsiveness to authority
   * Personal Disciplines—Bringing thoughts and actions under control
   * Rappelling—Introduction to high-angle rescue
   * Sawyer—Proper use of the chain saw
   * Evangelism—Sharing faith in Christ with others
   * Memorization—The book of I Peter

Advanced Training

Those that complete Basic Training are qualified to go through Advanced Training, where they take multiple courses to prepare them for disaster response, such as:

   * Counseling—Training in proven Biblical concepts
   * Search-and-Rescue—Land search-and-rescue techniques
   * Open Water SCUBA Diving—Entry-level diving with certification from NASE
   * High-Angle Rescue—Rope-rescue techniques
   * Structural Collapse—Structure stabilization, shoring techniques, and patient extrication
   * Firefighting—Basics of structural fire fighting

During Advanced Training, ALERT men also choose an area of vocational training they would like to major in, such as:

   * Aircraft Maintenance—Airframe and power plant apprenticeship
   * Aviation—FAA-certified ground school and flight instruction
   * Auto Mechanics—Basic engine repairs at home or in the workplace
   * Construction—Classes and experience in various construction trades
   * Emergency Services Operations—Fire Academy, EMT (Basic and advanced rescue skills)
   * Emergency Medicine (Paramedic)—Advanced professional emergency care
   * Leadership and Management—Managing people, materials, and property
   * Law Enforcement—Biblical principles and practice of law enforcement

Of note, the page itself offers pictures of military drills, as does the ALERT Academy website noted below.

The ALERT Teams also have a separate webpage (which does not advertise so much of its linkage to Bill Gothard), which provides a bit more info.  The Basic Training page here is, ironically, a bit more revealing:

Character Training
ALERT provides a quality alternative to young men considering military service, as it imports the best features of the U.S. military. As such, ALERT should not be confused with church camp or recreational outdoor programs.

Training in Godly character is organized into clusters, the chief cluster encompassing the area of compliance. The principle of authority is taught with a view to differentiating between obedience, submission, honor, and loyalty.

Within the context of compliance training, recruits master the elements of basic obedience (rote compliance motivated by consequences) and balance that with responsible boldness in learning appeal techniques. Moving on to the second level, submission is learned in light of phileo (brotherly love) and mutual trust. The third and highest level of compliance, honor, is imbued with the agape (God’s love) understanding that we die to self as we strive for the success of a God-appointed authority.

The Basic Training environment is very effective in revealing resistant attitudes and rebellion in young men. Responsiveness is ALERT’s byword, and as an ALERT Responder, a good employee, or a faithful son, the recruit must demonstrate the qualities of dependability, diligence, and thoroughness. Meaningful projects allow men to develop these qualities along with punctuality and accountability, to achieve a mature level of responsiveness.

Similar qualities are clustered around persistence (endurance, determination, patience), confidence (boldness, initiative, decisiveness), and readiness (vigilance and attentiveness).
. . .
Skill Training
Skill training is threaded throughout Basic Training as a foundation for subsequent areas of training. Many of these training opportunities have an element of adventure and provide incentive to complete ALERT Basic Training. Among these are camping skills, survival skills, and outdoor skills.

The realm of search-and-rescue requires Responders who are competent in all varieties of outdoor terrain and who will not be liabilities to themselves or to the mission. Living off the land, group sheltering, and outdoor living have been proven elements to teach our men to thrive in austerity while delivering valuable services. Such conditions are useful in preparing men for foreign missions or the coming perilous times.

Introductions in map and compass skills support later training in search-and-rescue, diving, and aviation. Elementary ropework, practiced in river crossings and rappelling in Basic Training, leads to high-angle rescue. First Aid essentials covered in Basic Training eventually yield to instruction in emergency medicine in Advanced Training. Problem-solving exercises give a practical forum for team-building and leadership practice, and by the time Basic Training is completed, the young men have been knit together into a cohesive team that depends first on God’s strength. They are then ready to confront new challenges in ALERT Advanced Training.
. . .

Discipleship
Discipleship is what the Christian life is all about. But how do we know when we are true disciples? And how do we know when we have trained someone else to be a disciple? The answer is found in the Great Commission: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). So what were all the commands of Jesus? A survey of the Gospels will produce about forty-nine general commands that every believer should follow. This, then, is the curriculum for carrying out the Great Commission and being a disciple. We will attempt to cover 8–9 foundational qualities needed in the life of an ALERT Responder.

Advancement Standards
A recruit is evaluated closely throughout his nine weeks of Basic Training, based on the following criteria. Note that the Advancement Standards are also listed in Appendix A of the Basic Training Regulations Manual.

To advance into the battalion for ongoing training:

   Demonstrate discipline in personal devotions and Bible study
   Demonstrate a willingness to serve
   Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team
   Wear the ALERT uniform properly
   Demonstrate proper care for personal items (faithful in the little things)
   Demonstrate proper care for buildings and equipment (faithful in another man’s ministry)
   Complete the hikes:
        • Solo Hike
        • Endurance Hike
        • Responder Challenge
   Demonstrate competence in the following skills:
        • Evangelism
        • Manners
        • Field work, including camping, navigation, and outdoor survival
        • First Aid
        • Search and Rescue
        • Rope work
        • Drill and ceremony

Promotion:*

   Pass the ALERT physical training test:
        • 42 push-ups in 2 minutes
        • 52 sit-ups in 2 minutes
        • Run 2 miles in less than 15:54
   Recite the entire book of I Peter (KJV) with the unit upon promotion.
   Satisfactorily demonstrate key disciplines:
        • Faith
        • Wisdom
        • Endurance
        • Dependability
        • Character
        • Self-control
        • Obedience
        • Love

* During the next stages of training, these standards are required in order to earn the rank of Responder.

As if this weren't enough, the group also runs their own alternative to Scouting as "ALERT Cadets"; essentially, their guide details on how to set up one's home as essentially a small military school.

Notably not covered (in great detail) in ALERT Team's promotional literature is the fact that the military training goes into more than the usual rappelling, emergency, survival, and orienteering training expected of a back-country rescue organisation.

For one, legitimate back-country rescue groups don't tend to set themselves up as paramilitary organisations:

Gothard's "Army"

Gothard operates what appears to be a paramilitary-like training school for teenagers on a 2,200-acre former college campus in Big Sandy, Texas, as part of his ALERT program (Air Land Emergency Resource Team) -- purportedly for domestic missions work via the providing of disaster relief and humanitarian aid (see second paragraph of Endnote #9). Gothard states that "ALERT is an intensive program in which young men [male graduates of ATI] ages sixteen and older are trained in Biblical principles, Godly character, and practical skills. ALERT utilizes military disciplines to train young men to restore life, rather than take it, and to bring peace and encouragement to those in distress. The present program involves the following phases: (1) Discipline: in physical strength, endurance, and self-control; (2) Skills: in a wide range of vocational specialties; and (3) Emergency Services: in response to calls from cities, states, and nations." (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.) As of July, 2000, the program had 181 enrolled and 600 graduates.

Since the hyper-spiritual warfare motifs of the Latter Rain movement are beginning to take a sinister shift towards actual military, Gothard's involvement in paramilitary-like things causes us to wonder if there is a connection. Don't forget that Joel's Army has a "chosen seed" (the coming generation) to carry out its purpose on earth, which is dominion (both physical and spiritual). In this context, Christians should have some grave concerns about Gothard's activities.

Along these lines, Gothard has clearly bought into the "Christian America Myth" (ATI Wisdom Booklet 53). He believes that "Christian" conviction can be equated with Biblical faith. But, all religions offer some form of moral basis for society. Christian conviction cannot save a nation that continues to reject true faith in Jesus Christ. America flourished upon a "Biblical ethic" that has sustained it until recent years. But a Biblical ethic is not necessarily evidence of a Biblical faith.
. . .
The state of Arkansas is one of 14 states that have required character training in the schools. Moreover, Arkansas has mandated Gothard's CharacterFirst! character training program be used: "The plan calls for teaching character in all their public schools and, at the same time, enrolling thousands of outstanding high school boys in an 'Arkansas ALERT Program' (Air Land Emergency Resource Team). These young men would learn personal disciplines, character qualities, practical skills, and basic life principles. They would respond to needs throughout the state and enlist welfare recipients to work with them on special projects. A superintendent of a school district in Arkansas has offered his schools for a totally new approach to education. We would restructure his schools around age-integrated learning teams rather than the traditional age-segregated classes. The older student team leaders would be trained to be role models and to work with younger students on their teams. Teachers would be guides, academic consultants, and professional tutors working to serve the parents, who would accept primary responsibility for their children's education and facilitate further teaching in the home." (Source: IBLP Internet web site, 8/97.)

Yes, you're reading this right--the group "holding the talk about Islamic extremism" is a brother in arms to them in a sense--embracing neopente dominionism rather than Wahhabist islamist thought, but all the same promoting the concept that people should be converted--forcibly, if necessary.

A further sign of targeting of the military by dominionists

Bruce Wilson here on DailyKos has written some very good articles--as part of an ongoing research effort in conjunction with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation--into dominionist groups targeting the military for "conversion from within" (something which has had rather creepy historical parallels in the case of the coup by Efrain Rios Montt in particular); I've written some on Campus Crusade and with Assemblies men in general--and the Assemblies has especially embraced "Joel's Army" since Paul Yonggi Cho ran the denomination for the better part of a decade.

It would appear that Bill Gothard's groups are now part of this as well--which is something with very disturbing implications in both the case of our military and with emergency services here in the US (a lot of military folks go into law enforcement and emergency management and rescue post-military).  As noted in the article, Gothard's group is apparently frankly inviting military personnel to speak to ALERT teams as an official part of their recruitment and training--and also encouraging ALERT members to join the military itself.

The 2007-2008 Schedule of Events in the group's newsletter notes the military recruitment (as part of a "Veteran's Appreciation Day"), and the same newsletter has a "Sergeant Major's Bulletin" for his "battalion"; their advertisement for the "Veteran's Day Banquet" notes the attendance by McClendon.

And yes, this is--sadly--yet another case of folks high up in the military promoting Joel's Army stuff.  Brigadier-General Mike McClellan happens to be commander of the Global Cyberspace Integration Center--the division of the Air Force that maintains things like the GPS system, the various military satellite systems, and most of the Air Force's military reconnaissance and monitoring of threats to military network and Internet infrastructure.

It also appears that the good Brigadier-General can't feign innocence here--he actually has a bit of a history of this sort of thing.  Among other things, he is known to have given the commencement speech at Heritage Christian Church, a church (which does not even have its own building--it uses the building of a Nazarene church) which is part of a small neopentecostal denomination known as Fellowship of Connected Churches.  (It is also quite a young denomination--all of ten years old.)  FCM is an explicitly Joel's Army denomination; it promotes the "Fivefold ministry" (a giveaway sign of "Joel's Army" groups, particularly those connected to the Brownsville Revival) and states it promotes a "Kingdom worldview"--a codeword denoting promotion of neopente dominion theology).

Originally posted to dogemperor on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 02:03 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  A small suggestion if you want more (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, bronte17, dogemperor, Joelarama

      traffic for your diaries - either make them shorter or turn them into a series of shorter pieces.  I know this isn't always an easy thing to do and most of my diaries also suffer from the same failing of being too long for readers here.  Tough call to decide between putting up a superficial widely read diary or one with more depth and few readers.

       

      What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

      by Marie on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:04:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not a tough call at all (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody, bronte17, dogemperor, Joelarama

        This is an enormously important issue. It needs a lot more attention. And the only way to get that attention is covering one focused aspect at a time. That's not being superficial.

        "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:13:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Understood... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe, Ice Blue

          ...my problem here is that I'm writing about a subject that--even in circles that have studied Christian nationalism--hasn't gotten too much in-depth looking at so far (most of my sources on research have ended up being apologetics sites in some cases, because they're one of the few sources that HAS documented this stuff--the one big tome regarding neopente dominionism of the sort I write about is with Sara Diamond's works, and she is no longer actively researching dominionism--she got burnt out, and understandably so, as she was pretty much the expert at the time on it).

          As I noted, too, in a way I'm fighting myself--especially with stuff like this, my urge is to get as much info out as possible now, and there is a part of me that fears if I break something up into ten or twenty parts it will be too late to do anything about what I'm writing about.  (This is likely the PTSD talking.  I know it is likely the PTSD talking.  In part, I write because it's me doing something to warn people about this stuff and keeping from going into a fullblown panic attack over it--and I have gone into those, especially before 2005 when pretty much most people writing about this stuff were dismissed as Chicken Littles.)

          I also do not admit to being a skilled writer.  (I went into engineering in college :D  And if anything, my writing is restrained compared to how I can rant if I'm really in a terror of something. :P)  I know all too well that my writing is often the literary equivalent of spaghetti code. :P  My fear is that if I don't get it out ASAP that it won't get out at all (and as much as I try to quiet that fear, it won't shut up).  Hence, hints appreciated.  If you all are writing on stuff like this, how do you all break it up, seriously?

          •  Don't edit or stifle while writing -- (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Woody, Catte Nappe, dogemperor

            get it out.  Get it all down.  Then take a break to rest up and later look at it to see if the text has natural "chunks."  Like short chapters in a book covering a single topic/issue.  

            Again not an easy task -- I throw away or never post 90% of what I write and still my diaries are too long.

            What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

            by Marie on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 04:32:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Good advice (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie, bronte17, dogemperor

        OR - submit to ePluribusMedia.org with the length and it might get published as a Journal piece over there.

  •  I appreciate your efforts (5+ / 0-)

    ..to educate us about these dangerous religious extremists, but think that diaries like this may be too long and not sharply enough focussed to get the attention they deserve. I couldn't read it in full depth; I have to go back to work in half an hour, and have other things I want to look at. Tipped your jar, but wish this had been a smaller chunk of info.

    Who you gonna call?

    by Ahianne on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 02:50:58 PM PST

  •  Very important issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, Joelarama

    As usual, the diary is waaaaaaaaay too long :)

    When you flood people with information they end up absorbing none of it. If you could only pick out one or two key points to focus on in any one diary; and back them up with just a few links each.

    The main story here is the briefing, and that it was done by ALERT. Without linking to every branch and twig of their connections - are there maybe two or three original sources that would let us know why these may not be the best people to be briefing our military on Islam and the M.E.?

    "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:08:26 PM PST

    •  The problem is, the issue IS in the connections (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bronte17

      Quite frankly, the reason I do go into extensive background with posts (and why they do tend to be longish) is because, quite frankly, there are very few people who are pretty much putting the puzzle together, and the pieces are in general spread out all over the damn place.

      At least in my case I can point out previous research on Bill Gothard to show why it's a bad thing that ALERT Academy is getting official governmental support; there are some researchers looking into this (Bruce Wilson on the military end of things, Midwest Outreach and Rick Ross Institute on tying together all the Gothard fronts) that are pretty much having to do completely original research and interviews with escapees.

      I also tend to suffer from wanting to get info out ASAP--as it is, many of my articles I've done in past have been long and even then were chunked down into three- and four-part articles; if I chunked things down to smaller articles, I'd not even be talking about steeplejacking of churches yet :P  I fear losing coherency, in part; in part, too, much of me is scared that it won't get out fast enough for people to do anything.  (This is, most probably, my own PTSD kicking in.  Spending the better part of twenty years talking about this stuff and being dismissed as a kook because "you didn't have hard proof you could show" tends to have a bit of an effect on you--as does seeing the country's government increasingly taken over by the very group you walked away from.)

      In the particular case of this article, the original post was inspired by someone writing to Dark Christianity noting about the talk and asking if ALERT Academy had dominionist links--this led to me (in my own all-too-disorganised fashion) rolling up a ball of evidence that "yes, this is really, really incredibly bad, you have no idea how bad this is". :P  Very often with me, that IS how articles get written--I find out about something, and by the time I'm done it turns out to be an introductory course in that subject :P

      If you folks (who are regular writers here) have hints on how I COULD have trimmed this whilst keeping the relevant information intact--especially for someone coming into this who doesn't know Bill Gothard from Adam (and very few people do, unless they research neopente dominionism or read stuff from researchers on neopente dominionism)--I am honestly all ears, though.  This is something I am trying to learn (striking a balance between getting the necessary info out now and readability).  I don't claim to be anywhere near there yet. :D

      •  I'm grateful fot the in depthness, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, dogemperor, eru

        and suggest writing a shorter, punchier version that invites people to read this dairy for more depth.

        Instead of the lengthy blockquotes you could paraphrase their content with bullet points, emphasing the religious indoctrination and authoritarianism as being equal to the emrgency responder training.

        I'm curious what the implications would be for the people in need of help during disasters if these ALERT teams are the ones sent in by the government to 'help'. Will they selectively help their own kind and refuse to help 'others', perhaps going as far as coralling the 'others' into detention camps with official license?

        Thanks for your service, getting the word out.

        •  Actually, we might've had a taste of that in NOLA (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe

          There are indications that Blackwater explicitly blocked other relief agencies from coming in to NOLA because they were the "only ones with a contract to do so"--so it's not unlikely that state or local agencies sympathetic to dominionists might give ALERT teams an "exclusive contract" of that sort.

          And seeing as these groups do pretty much preach to their own about not only corralling but killing non-dominionists, utterly destroying resistance in a desperate bid to "cleanse the US" to "keep God's blessing"...anything is possible.  (And yes, that includes convert-or-starve aid assistance such as happened with multiple dominionist charities that were far less radical than ALERT Academy.)

          BTW, thanks for the tips--one minor question: part of why I include the stuff is for purposes of proving my point (some people won't believe it unless you quote 'em, and sometimes not even then).  What do you suggest there?

          •  I agree that the in-depth quotes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dogemperor

            are important....for those of us who want to take the time to read what you've so thoughtfully researched and pared down to the nuggets. But most people just don't have the interest or time for that, and prefer a straight narrative format. So perhaps you could do the punchy, brief post here on the same day that you post the lengthier version at T2A, and link to that, then post it here the following day (assuming you don't have another diary to post then), and edit in the link to the in-depth post on the punchy diary.

            It's amazing to me how much time you must spend with your search engine, and reading through all of this. It's also hard, still, even after reading yours, Bruce's and Fred's diaries for the past two years, to comprehend that such a conspiracy could be growing with such frightening potential. The only parallel that comes to mind is the Rwandan genocide.

      •  Trimming (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor

        Yes, all the pieces are important. But not all in one diary. In this case we didn't need to know this:

        A lot of researchers into "Christian nationalist" movements in the US now agree there are three major branches--"Christian Reconstructionists" (popular in "independent fundamentalist Baptist" circles and also the subject of most research on dominionism to date), "ultramontaine" Catholicism (think Opus Dei), and a third group within neopentecostal churches that I have referrred to in my writings as "Joel's Army" dominionism or "neopentecostal dominionism".

        That section, and many others like it, are a good way to get people's eyes to glaze over.

        I would have excerpted pieces of the Longview article - about McClendon, his presentation, and his connection with ALERT.

        Then I would have questioned whether we really want our top military leaders connected with ALERT, one of many of Bill Gothard's projects. And I would use excerpts and links like the following on why we should care about Gothard and his innocuous looking character building and training programs.

        ALERT is a 51-week training and service program for Christian young men..... the ALERT Program strives to instill in young men foundational disciplines, positive character qualities, and a mind-set of service to God and others.

        The men learn practical life skills that will prepare them for greater opportunities to serve communities and government leaders on the national and international levels.

        http://www.alertacademy.com/...

        Gothard discourages listening to contemporary Christian music and encourages homeschooling; IBLP publishes its own homeschool material[6]; and, according to one follower, claims borrowing money for any reason, even a home mortgage, is wrong.[8] According to one critic, Gothard protested against the Cabbage Patch Kids because Cabbage Patch Kids or Treasure Trolls could lead to difficulties in conceiving or giving birth to a child[9], and has discouraged the use of contraceptives or other family planning.[10][11]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        How the ‘secular’ Character Training Institute is working to build evangelist Bill Gothard’s vision of a First-Century Kingdom of God—one city, one state, one school board, one police force and one mind at a time.

        Again, here is the fundamental premise: what the IBLP hopes will come of these myriad efforts on secular and religious fronts is a patriarchal, hierarchical Christian government that truly has no place for dissent, for disbelievers, or for those whose character qualities fall short of expectations. Government, from this viewpoint, is akin to the right hand of God: Nothing or no one should stand between the two entities, or question their right to rule over our lives.

        http://www.inthesetimes.com/...

        And probably wrapping up with the question again - are these the influences we want informing our military thinking about Islam and the Middle East?

        "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 04:37:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ah, I see (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe

          Understood--okay, point taken and noted :3  (In my own case, I was trying to avoid some of the criticism that has been launched against Bruce Wilson's writing on dominionism in the military--he is pretty much embargoed in a lot of his writing, because MRFF is using his research in lawsuits, and people have screamed "WHERE'S THE BEEF?" on things.  I think I may be providing an excess of beef, if I'm reading right :D)

          •  Oh, and if (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dogemperor

            I were better with the tech stuff, I would certainly have included the graphic of that cute eagle logo ALERT uses. Picture's worth a thousand words, and that image on a religious organization's site tells much of your message right there.

            "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

            by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 04:48:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Beef vs sizzle (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dogemperor

            You need the sizzle if you want other people to get interested enough in your issues to care if there is any beef to be served. Like tha hamburger stands at the fair fry onions to get your appetite's attention.

            "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

            by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 04:50:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I really appreciate the huge amount of work.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor

        that you have given to this. It is hard for most people to grasp the concept of how deeply intertwined the Theocratic Right is in our government and the corporate culture... Once you begin to see it - it just boggles the mind.

        And they don't really even try to hide it anymore...

  •  This guy Gothard, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor

    where did he dig up the name?

    What is he: a gay porn guy wannabe?

    Don't look for Sodom in the actions of others. Check your own heart. As we all must.

    by grada3784 on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:12:52 PM PST

  •  Texas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor

    time to start a secessionist movement.  What's good that has come from texas?  Except for maybe Lubbock

    Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

    by Eiron on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:29:47 PM PST

  •  so these guys were there in new orleans,san diego (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor

    haiti, the caribbean... they're down there right now helping the more than 300,000 homeless in the tabasco mexico flood? risking their sacred lives and limbs, using all their training to do god's work?

    bringing food, building shelters, pulling people and animals from the flood waters, flying rescue helicopters, setting up first aid stations? tending to the terrified, the sick, the dying?

    no? not god's plan for them?

    meh.

    •  And likely pushing their agenda even then. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, eru, Kingsmeg, old wobbly

      The thing is, these groups are also well known for "convert or starve" evangelism--namely, they won't even render aid unless you convert and listen to sermons.

      Sorry, but ANY of Bill Gothard's groups should be kept far away from, same as with Scientology or the Moonies--Gothard literally runs a cult (and I am not exaggerating on that note, sadly).

      Also, most aid groups do not engage in paramilitary training.

      Let me repeat that.

      Most aid groups do not engage in the sort of paramilitary training that ALERT Academy does.  No, not even the Eagle Scouts.  Not the Explorers (I would know on that--was involved in the Explorers, just before they split from the Boy Scouts and became a separate org).  Not the Red Cross.  Not any of a large number of legitimate, inclusive Christian aid agencies.

      The ONLY groups I know of that are claiming to be "assistance groups" and engaging in paramilitary training are the Royal Rangers (an Assemblies frontgroup), Youth With A Mission (another Assemblies frontgroup) and in particular Mercy Ships, some Campus Crusade for Christ groups within the US military, the Sea Orgs (in Scientology), Blackwater (which has extensive links to both Focus on the Family and the AmWay/"Assemblies Diamond" complex of dominionist funding), and ALERT Academy.

      That's it.

      Those are literally the only groups I know of doing this that engage in frigging boot camp training, aside from the National Guard (which you expect the National Guard to do so, because they're the National Guard for chrissakes).

      There is, quite bluntly, no legitimate reason for the groups to be engaging in paramilitary training if they're merely aid organisations.  Most other aid groups, including international rescue organisations, seem to get away with not doing this (and in fact, quite a few internationally respected Christian groups--notably, Friends and Mennonite charities--prohibit their members from joining the military and are even recognised by the US Government as conscientious objectors).

      There isn't a legitimate reason for paramilitary training even if they're going to be doing live rescue work (last I checked, neither the local VFW nor the local EMS required paramilitary training as part of their job description; and for the record, yes, I do know people who work in fire and rescue via my local amateur radio Skywarn net who tend to be first responders in the event of emergencies).

      It's also pretty goddamn funny that pretty much all the groups claiming to be "aid groups" that do paramilitary training have links to either dominionists (and "Joel's Army" dominionists at that!) or dominionist-esque coercive religious groups (Scientology has some extensive parallels in more than one way--they also have a "clear the planet" philosophy that calls for world governments to be converted to Scientologist theology, too).

  •  The revealing nature of projection (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nu, Catte Nappe, dogemperor

    BIG SANDY — Islamic extremists have a 100-year plan for world domination, and Americans must be prepared for the long fight, a U.S. Air Force general told East Texans on Monday.

    Speaking during a Veterans Day banquet in Big Sandy, Mike McClendon said extremists want to create an economic superpower with the biggest army and strongest currency, and they want half the world's population to reside in an Islamic state.

    They plan to gain control of oil reserves and bankrupt Western countries, and they plan to create safe havens throughout the world, including some in Latin America, he said.

    "They're willing to go as long as it takes, and they are making progress," said McClendon, who commands the Air Force's Global Cyberspace Integration Center in Virginia.

    Some of this is eerily familiar from my own study of the western "Christian" dominionist movement itself.  The only thing that doesn't particularly surprise me about the fact that they're essentially describing themselves -- in startling detail -- is that they often do this, partly due to their tendency to think in black and white logic and view anyone they feel is an "enemy" as a simple negation of their own movement, same organization, same structure, just different authority at the head.  The things they reveal by these projections are sobering and disturbing ..

    •  Glad to see you on here :3 (0+ / 0-)

      (Yes, this is one of my peeps from Dark Christianity.  Make him feel welcome :D)

      And yeah, there is much projection--or, more properly, both groups use the same damn tactics (Al Quaida has in fact been described by exit counselors, notably Rick Ross and Steven Hassan, as a coercive religious group; these are also the two main exit counselors that have done hard research on coercive tactics in "Bible-based" groups).

    •  It's also projection. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Coherent Viewpoint

      They see in others what they tehmsleves practice. It's why they go nuts over Harry Potter and WIcca, even though we Wiccans DON'T proselytize because we believe all Paths are One, all Gods are One, and that peopel are on the Path that is theirs this tiem around.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 02:41:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Suggestion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Lefty Mama, dogemperor

    Sometimes fiction conveys more truth than does 'factual' writing. And writing that evokes the five senses can make more of an impact on the reader than does writing about abstract concepts or making lists of events.

    You have a story you want to tell (I've read your diaries when I've come across them) but you aren't getting as large an audience as the topic may deserve. One of the reasons I persevere through the end is that one of my Grandmothers was Assembly of God. I would go with her to her small town church when I'd get to stay with her on vacations. And one image that has stayed with me was a series of evening services (I seem to recall it was plural, a revival, I think) where the emphasis was on faith healing.

    Most of the healing requests were pretty standard. But one farm family kept bringing their daughter in what appeared to be a large baby carriage (not a pram, maybe a stroller) with her arms and legs dangling haphazardly over the sides. If she was aware of her surroundings, she gave no indication. She was in a baby carriage and she was older than me. And I could see the love and the heartache on the faces of her family. And they wanted so badly for her to be healed. But she wasn't healed.

    That's an image that informs me when I read your diaries. This was not a mega-church. Based on the overalls her father wore, and the red-clay productivity of the surrounding farmland, I doubt if much money was involved. But the family and the people in the church at least seemed genuine in their beliefs - and in their pain. So when you write about the wolves that have infiltrated such flocks, I find it very important.

    On dkos, though, the flocks seem to not be given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps one way to increase your readership would be to contrast the villains with - if not heroes - at least some sympathetic characters.

    best,

    john

    jabney co-writes - at www.thecodes.net

    by jabney on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 05:59:20 PM PST

    •  I remember stuff like that too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Mama, jabney

      I remember stuff like that--the kids who were vegetables being brought, the lady who had no fingers or toes (she might've been a Thalidomide baby for all I knew), hell, I would fall under that category to an extent (I have a permanently bum eye that is the result of my mother relying on "faith healing" rather than getting the surgery recommended for it when I was two; it is pretty much uncorrectable below 20/60, which always makes it entertaining to go to the DMV--just blind enough to require specialised notes from my optometrist to even go for permits and to pretty much prevent any sort of depth perception, not blind enough to qualify for paratransit).

      I will also admit that with some of the members (especially those caught up in the "name it and claim it" stuff) I...well, it's not so much pity but pretty much I shake my head at the whole mess; with a lot of it, though, I do have a lot of anger (and not all of it repressed).  

      Of course, I was also a survivor of religiously motivated child abuse and suffer no small amount of pain for that and as being a bi, pagan trans-man in a family full of people who would probably want me dead if they knew I was a bi, pagan trans-man.  (No, I have not had The Operation.  Don't want to legally invalidate my marriage to my partner, and it's iffy that it'd even be legally recognised in my state anyways.)  I saw a lot of people hurt, and if anything, people being taken advantage of (like the parents who were hoping their kid in the persistent vegetative state would up and walk) like that is one of the things that pisses me off the most about what goes on there.  (That, and the flat out lying to people about stuff.)

      •  In ME, your mariage isn't invalidated (0+ / 0-)

        I have a TG m to f friend who is still happily married to her wife--she was there for her wife during breast cancer.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 02:39:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  And I have a story or two for you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lefty Mama, jabney

      My mother liked to especially target people on their deathbeds, claiming they'd be "miraculously healed", having the pastor come in and push the same thing.

      I saw it twice myself--once with my grandfather, who by the time he passed was out of his mind from glioblastoma (a particularly nasty kind of brain cancer)--they got the deathbed confession out of him even as he thought he was seeing my dead grandmother and wondering who the hell my dad was.

      The second time was with my uncle, who died of adrenal cancer--now, my uncle was never into organised religion and was in fact against it, felt that everyone had to have their own path.  He was the only relative I had whom I was honest about in following the old ways, and he was the one who began research on our Cherokee ancestry.  But I digress.

      My mother saw his impending death as a Major Missionary Activity to get her black-sheep brother converted...harassed him, tried to "drive the demons of cancer" out over the phone, kept on telling him he was going to get a "miraculous healing" even as the doctors told him he was terminal after his second or third debulking to relieve pressure on his spinal cord (the cancer was at that point destroying his spine, and he had failed the one investigational drug available to treat it--adrenal cancer is rare enough that there are no formally FDA approved treatments that aren't in investigational trials).

      At one point, my uncle admitted to me that he smiled and nodded with my mom to basically shut her up--he wasn't counting on any miracles, he had made peace with his God when the doctors likely told him it was terminal, and he appreciated that I respected that...

      Before my uncle died, my mother literally browbeat my aunt (by marriage) to take him to one of the endless "revival services" on Sunday mornings, kept on pushing that he was going to have a "miraculous healing" even though the morphine wasn't cutting the pain, he had noted to me he'd be glad to pass on soon, and was essentially confined to a wheelchair (less than a week later, he'd be bedridden until his death).

      He died a month later.  As best I know, he did not have a deathbed conversion like my grandfather.

      My mother--who had recruited most of the rest of the family into her Assemblies megachurch (the same one that's the home of that asshat Frank Simon I keep writing about)...well, she arranged the funeral.  Had the pastor over there, who went on a bizarre Assemblies altar call (my husband, who was raised SBC, said it was the "most fucked up thing he'd ever heard, and that's counting the Jehovah's Witness funerals" (roughly half his family is SBC and the other half is JW Posse)--the pastor ranted on about the soul apparently coming out people's necks, bullshat about him being a "brother" to them even though my uncle told me to the time of his death that he felt organised religion was the thing that had fucked up Christianity in the first place...sickening).  The funeral was pretty much everything my uncle would have been aghast at. :(

      Me and my husband, after the Assemblies crowd had left, held a very informal and impromptu blessingway sending him to his ancestors in the Darkening Land and apologising for the funeral (which I did, and still do, feel was spitting on his grave--hell, the whole bit where my mom was trying to recruit him into Joel's Army from the time he was diagnosed up to his final breath was nothing short of disgraceful).  My uncle would have appreciated it--he'd been researching the old ways himself, had integrated some of it before he died.

      This is why, I've vowed, I'm never letting my parents know if I'm in hospital.  (Thank the gods for HIPAA.)  This is why I'm being really damn careful to preplan my funeral, to have a locktight living will and power of attorney.

      ...because I'm fuckin' petrified that if I end up in hospital, I'll become the next target for that crap :(

      •  Fictionalize It Perhaps? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor

        One of the things that I really enjoy about writing lyrics is that a little of it can be about me, and some can be about not-me. And only I know which is which. (My co-writer is pretty good at figuring out the difference, though.)

        If you're communicating in order to validate your own feelings then an autobiographical voice is fine. But if you are trying to change the world for the better or to keep the world from becoming worse, then sacrificing your personal stake may help you make a better case.

        Strong stories can be weakened by the reader's (or in a lyricist's case, the listener's) perception that the writer is simply airing personal woes. One of the reasons that, "Anne Frank The diary of a Young Girl" is so powerful is the contrast between the hope and the horror. Small details - details that a reader can identify because he or she can imagine sensing them - can take a story beyond a simple (or complex) laundry list. You have the research skills, so now, by adding some characterization and drama, maybe it's time to do like Emeril says and, "kick it up a notch."

        best,

        john

        jabney co-writes - at www.thecodes.net

        by jabney on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 08:15:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  On hijacking funerals (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        irishwitch

        This wouldn't be the first account of such a funeral-hijacking I've heard, and I've seen a couple myself, one for a teen/young adult relative who was quite literally hounded to actual suicide by her "born-again" father and enabler mother and a few other very fundamentalist relatives, where said father and mother took over her funeral and threw out all of the plans she had made with the few friends she had managed to hang onto in the last years of her life, and turned it into an SBC service at the "family's" Baptist church .. and the other a funeral for my determinedly agnostic father-in-law who wouldn't have darkened the door of a Catholic church to save his life, which was taken over by an extremely overzealous and somewhat tasteless RCC deacon who painted a picture of someone who "loved the rosary", etc.  Those are relatively mild forms of this sort of thing, and I can only imagine how bad it can get in the neopente version.

        I agree .. in my case, I mainly need to make sure I outlive my remaining parents ..

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