CNN's groundbreaking series "God's Warriors"--in which promoters of Wahhabist Islam, Haredi Judaism, and "Christian" dominionism are revealed--has caused up quite the stir; dominionists in particular are wanting Christine Amanpour's head in part because she pointed out just how much the Freudian slip of "Joel's Army" is showing.
Much has been made of John Hagee's appearance on the program as well as Ron Luce's Joelkorpjugend; far less well publicised--and which SHOULD be as worrying to Americans, in my opinion--was the statement by the third Assemblies man (Joseph B. Fuiten) on the program:
You see, he doesn't think non-dominionists should be considered citizens...or have rights. At all.
To quote Genesis, "It's no fun being an illegal alien"
It appears the wonderful Orcinus blog, and specifically walkaway and reporter Sara Robinson, were among the very few who caught that particular missive:
If you go over to Youtube and do a search on "God's Warriors," a disproportionate number of the video clips will show the segment covering Ron Luce's "Battle Cry" movement (which we've discussed at length here in the past). This isn't surprising: "Battle Cry" rallies are designed to have all the visual drama of the Nuremburg Rally -- an apt analogy on all too many levels. The sight of America's own nascent Hitler Youth movement raising their arms and declaring their commitment to the war against secular society makes for great TV. It's also a spectacle that every American should find chilling.
But absolutely nobody has picked up on another little segment I found at least as horrifying -- even before I found out it had a local Seattle angle.
The clip above is Rev. Joe Fuiten, pastor of the Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA. In it, he carefully explains that Christian-based social conservatism is the way it's always been in America. And anyone who disagrees with that assertion or thinks it should be otherwise, is, he says -- flat out -- an "illegal alien here."
Considering how the GOP has been using "illegal immigration" as an excuse for the demonization of brown people and the suspension of all kinds of civil rights, this characterization should give us at least as much pause as the "Battle Cry" footage does. We've been arguing recently that the Christian right no longer even tries to make a secret of the fact that it considers itself a master race, endowed by the Creator with rights and privileges that exceed -- and even negate -- those of non-believers.
Now, we have the pastor of a large regional mega-church right there on national TV, asserting that those who disagree with his theology are defacto aliens in their own country. Yep. That's right. If you're not a born-again fundamentalist Christian, you can just turn in your passport and your sample ballot now. And don't bother trying to collect on any of the public services your taxes pay for, either. You don't have any more right to be here than someone who spent two days and nights crawling across the Rio Grande to pick strawberries. In fact, according to Rev. Fuiten: you have no rights worth respecting at all.
Lest the Youtube link above and the Orcinus article be doubted, the CNN transcript has it damningly in black and white:
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Turissini was working for a group called Positive Christian Agenda.
FUITEN: And what do we need Danille to do here, to round up the troops?
AMANPOUR: That's her boss, Joe Fuiten, a politically-minded pastor who leads one of the state's most influential mega-churches.
FUITEN: We're trying to hold back the barbarians who want to encroach upon the empire, if you will. And we're saying, no, the values of Christianity should be in the marketplace of ideas. They should be out there for all to see and to contemplate.
Well, congregation, let's dedicate Hannah (ph) to the lord.
AMANPOUR: Fuiten was instrumental in the fight to define marriage in Washington State as one man, one woman. And, although American law prohibits him from endorsing candidates from the pulpit, he gets around that by referring parishioners to a personal Web site to see his "Pastors Picks."
FUITEN: The secularists always say, you're trying to set up a theocracy. You're trying to put your values on us.
And I say to myself, hey, wait a second here. This is the way it's always been in America. You come along with your secular agenda. You're the ones trying to put your values on America, not me. Our values are native here. It's yours that are foreign. You're the illegal alien here, not me.
Yup, Joel's Army slip is showing quite a bit...for once, they revealed on national television that they don't consider non-dominionists Americans at all.
A bit of backhistory on Fuiten and his church
As I noted, Fuiten is one of no less than three separate Assemblies-linked pastors on the program; he is, admittedly, probably the most obscure of the three.
Cedar Park Church is a prime example of what I have described in past as a "Stealth Assemblies megachurch"--it does not reveal its denominational affiliation out in the open, but one has to go to its doctrinal statement to find out that it is in fact an Assemblies of God church. (This is very, very common with large Assemblies megachurches--and even not-so-large ones like Cedar Park.)
If this is to be doubted, the Assemblies happily lists them in their directory and even notes that there are satellite congregations in a number of other towns.
In fact, Fuiten is not only an Assemblies man but--much like John Ashcroft--is part of a multigenerational family of Assemblies preachers--and has become surprisingly influential:
Joseph B. Fuiten was raised in rural Oregon in the home of a mother and father who were both Assemblies of God ministers. As a youth he was active in sports, music, debate, student government, and politics. His youthful dream was to go into law and politics. Pursuing that dream led him to attend Willamette University and obtain a B.A. in Political Science.
At Willamette University, Joe pursued politics, being elected Chairman of the College Republicans of Oregon, Student Body President of Willamette, and National Student Representative. His internship was as a lobbyist in the Oregon Legislature working on the Oregon Motorist Information Act of 1971. He also worked as a chauffeur for Clay Meyers, Oregon’s Secretary of State.
A call to the ministry resulted in a changed direction. Licensed as a minister while still a student, Joe began preaching to youth during the "Jesus Movement" of the early 1970’s, and helped start the Willamette Christian Body on campus. He also helped start the Jesus Festival Movement by founding the "Sweet Jesus, Prince of Peace, Rock Festival," in 1971 at McCullough Stadium in Salem.
In 1972, Joe entered formal church ministry as a Youth Evangelist and thereafter as a Youth Pastor. He has served as an Associate Pastor in Aloha, Oregon with Rev. John Fuiten and as Associate Pastor with Dr. Fulton Buntain at Life Center in Tacoma, Washington.
In 1979, he was elected Director of Christian Education for the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God, with responsibilities in Church Growth, Christian Schools, and Sunday Schools for the 370 churches of the Northwest District Council.
He has served as Senior Pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, Washington since 1981. Since that time, he has established an organization of eight branch churches, Washington State’s largest private school in six locations with over 1800 students, six campuses, a funeral home, cemetery, mechanics shop, Center for Ministry Preparation, a thrift store, studio, school of the arts, and state licensed counseling centers in Kenmore, Issaquah, and Bellevue. There are currently four hundred employees who work for Cedar Park.
Joe earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry in 1995. He has served as a faculty member of the Graduate School, now called Bakke University, and as an adjunct faculty member for Northwest University. Joe is a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. He has served the denomination on the Ministerial Enrichment Committee, US Missions Committee, and other committees of the General Council. He is an Executive Presbyter of the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God and a General Presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. He is also the immediate past president of the Eastside Pastor’s Association.
Joe helped found a number of organizations including Channel 20 in Seattle, a Christian television station now owned by Trinity Broadcasting Co. and Mission of Mercy, a Colorado based missions fundraising organization generating about fifteen million dollars per year. Joe also helped found Mainstream Ministries, a national Youth Pastor’s training organization.
His interests in the community have been reflected in hosting television and radio talk programs, coaching Little League, serving two Governors on the Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and serving on a variety of boards. He is President of the Committee for Religious Freedom, a political action committee. Until July 2006 he served as President and Chairman of Faith and Freedom Network, successor organization to Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government, a political lobbying organization. He is also the convener of Positive Christian Agenda, a collection of Christian organizations that coordinate political action in Washington State. He has served as state chairman for the John Ashcroft for President committee and on the state steering committee for the Bush-Cheny '04 campaign serving as state director of Social Conservatives for Bush-Cheney.
So let's review--this guy is not only an Assemblies preacher (rather scary in and of itself due to the extensive history of the Assemblies and dominionism), but is very high up in the Assemblies hierarchy (a regional director and also a director of content for their Sunday school program at a time when Assemblies churches were preaching the evils of abortion to six year old children) and is not only a dominionist leader but actively ran state steering committees for John Ashcroft and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign.
The reason I say "surprisingly influential" is that--at least in terms of Assemblies megachurches--Cedar Park is comparatively tiny. It is listed as the 107th largest Assemblies church in the US in a 2004 statistical report put out by the Assemblies, with only 1,412 members (probably not counting its satellite congregations--at least eight exist). By comparison, Phoenix First Assembly (which is where Ted Haggard now attends) has over 9,500 members, and the church I escaped had almost 4800 members (yes, I am a walkaway from one of the biggest churches in the denomination, so I can safely say this sort of stuff is usual in the Assemblies).
Cedar Park's lobbying wing: "Positive Christian Agenda
Much like larger Assemblies megachurches, Cedar Park is quite active in political dominionism; unlike larger Assemblies megachurches, instead of using the "plausible deniability" of having a deacon run the lobbying wing, they have the pastor run it.
Positive Christian Agenda is a major dominionist lobbying group in Washington state; among other things, they give out advice that can potentially endanger the tax-exempt status of churches by encouraging illegal electioneering.
Interestingly--in a manner almost unlike any other dominionist organisation I have investigated--PCA does not attempt to use any tax-deductible status and is not registered in any federal or state registry of nonprofit groups. (In other words, it seems to be operating purely as a political action committee.)
In a method similar to the general operation of cell-church groups in the Assemblies at large, PCA promotes dominionist "activist cells"--specifically, through a group setup called the "Citizen Response Network". In general, there are six people in a "cell" (counting the network leader), and recruitment--and distribution of "action alerts"--operates in almost the same way that instructions from On High work in an Assemblies cell-church or in a "make money fast" pyramid scheme:
PARTICIPATION IS EASY:
- Become a key contact at your church.
- Establish a Citizen Response Network in your church.
- Register your name/group, so we will know who to alert
when a response is needed on important votes or issues
before the State Legislature.
- Establish an Citizen Response Network in your church or
group by recruiting at least five committed people to respond
when action is needed. (See form on reverse. Additional
forms available upon request.)
- Keep your entire church family informed.
Especially in Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" churches which use "cell church" groups anyways, it is extremely easy to recruit a pastor or an influential deacon who essentially can recruit most of the church into dominionist political activism (via the existing "cell church" network); cell-churches conducting steeplejacking attacks on mainstream Christian churches can likewise be recruited.
And just for the record, yes, this occurs on quite a routine basis in Assemblies "cell church" networks.
This is particularly disturbing, seeing as the head of PCA has literally declared all non-dominionists "illegal aliens". The various platforms don't do much to soothe the nerves, either; they are a particularly major supporter of "Moral refusal" clauses (which can lock non-dominionists out of healthcare entirely) and in general support the usual anti-sex-ed, anti-reproductive-health, anti-LGBT agenda of political dominionist groups in general.
Their proposal to extend the general requirements for post-release sex offenders to all people who have ever been convicted of a felony is particularly telling in this regard:
House Republicans continue to offer solutions with the goal of keeping the public safe. Since the House Majority Democrats have refused to give HB 2084 a hearing, Rep. Kirk Pearson has introduced a similar measure, HB 2393, to again address this urgent matter. Following are the provisions of this bill. You decide for yourself whether these provisions are too tough on felons or if they just make sense.
• Makes legislative findings that offenders on community custody have the same expectation of privacy as offenders in confinement, and that requiring offenders on community custody to submit to random, unannounced inspections is therefore reasonable under the federal and state constitutions.
• Requires courts to mandate as a condition of community custody that offenders must submit to random, unannounced inspections of their person, residence, automobile, or other personal property.
• Requires offenders to submit to unannounced inspections of their person, residence, automobile, or other personal property even without reasonable cause to believe the offender may have violated a condition of community custody.
• Requires DOC to perform random, unannounced inspections of the person, residence, automobile, or other personal property of all offenders who are under DOC supervision pursuant to a term of community custody.
• Requires DOC to inspect the person, residence, automobile, or other personal property of offenders on community custody whenever DOC has reasonable cause to believe they may have violated a condition of
• Authorizes DOC to impose on offenders who violate conditions of their community custody a sanction of total confinement for any period of time that does not otherwise exceed their remaining terms of community custody.
• Eliminates 50% and 33% good time for offenders (leaves 15% and 10% earned early release as is).
• Requires DOC to develop a performance review whenever offenders on community custody are convicted of a new crime to determine whether the department contributed to the circumstances that allowed the crime to occur, and to submit copies of the reviews to the governor and the legislature.
• Requires DOC to submit an make report to the governor and the legislature on the number of offenders on community custody, the number of offenders who violated a condition of their community custody and the number convicted of new offenses that were committed while on community custody, and to conduct a study to determine whether DOC has the capacity to adequately supervise all offenders who are on community custody.
• Provides DOC and its employees who supervise offenders in the community immunity from civil liability unless they are grossly negligent, and requires clear, cogent and convincing evidence of gross negligence in order to prevail in any civil action against DOC or its employees.
• Includes an emergency clause since the bill is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public safety.
Seeing as the group also wants to make providing or assisting a woman in obtaining abortion services one of these "felonies" and even goes to the point of promoting bizarre "snowflake baby adoption" schemes ("snowflake babies" are the dominionist term for unimplanted embryos left over from IVF treatments, and one of the growing schemes in the dominionist community is offering "embryo adoption"), I'm not exactly comforted.
Especially considering that being an "undocumented alien" is technically a felony (especially if the undocumented alien comes back to the US a second time), as is bringing in undocumented aliens and hiring undocumented aliens.
And the Rev. Fuiten has already made it quite abundantly clear that he considers anyone who isn't a dominionist in the category of "undocumented aliens". :P
Some of PCA's electioneering definitely steps across both a legal line and a potential line of coercion. The Seattle Times described a recent call to oppose a bill in the Washington legislature to mandate both abstinence and birth control education in state sex ed programs--because birth control was covered at all:
Fuiten said the scientifically accurate "designation is a pseudo-intellectual cover for getting rid of abstinence, which presumably isn't scientifically accurate." He also objects to the bill because it covers private schools, too, including church schools like the six Cedar Park operates:
So the Legislature is going to require me to teach their version of sex education. We have a top of the line sex education program but that's not good enough for the state. Not the greatest separation of church and state when the state mandates what the church must teach. The arrogance of that is astounding.
Fuiten's message to supporters included a "prayer alert" asking people to share a special prayer with "your pastor and church and/or organization prayer chains or prayer groups." It says in part:
Please pray that God will give the righteous legislators patience and wisdom and that those who claim to be Christians yet vote against Biblical principles will have their eyes opened.
Sara Robinson probably puts it best herself in summing up the danger here:
But it's not just a bad interpretation of the past that makes Fuiten's statement so dangerous. It's what this kind of logic can lead us to in the future. Fascism requires purity crusades against an out-group that's seen as polluting the national body politic. The line between pseudo-fascism and the real deal is crossed at the point where the state sanctions the use of violence in furthering that crusade, as it did on Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany.
Asserting that non-fundamentalists are "illegal aliens" in their own country -- the one that our own ancestors fought, paid taxes, and worked all their lives to build; or risked everything to get to and start over in -- is a potent statement of that exact kind of purity crusade thinking. It's the same libel Nazis told the Germans about their native Jews: We are something other, something less than, something not-American (and thus potentially treasonous), and perhaps not even quite human. We are not like the good volk of the heartland; we are decadent urban intellectuals who seek to corrupt all that is good. Our very presence desecrates the pure soul of the nation. We have been ejected, in their minds, from the protection of American law and the community of American citizens.
For that reason, we don't belong here; and this country does not belong to us. And, underlying it all, there's the hint of a threat that as soon as the theocrats consolidate their grip on power and finish dismantling those pesky rights (they're oh, so close now), they will be fully justified in putting us behind barbed wire, removing us from "their" country by force, or simply dispatching us on sight like the vermin we are.
To put it bluntly: Fuiten's little toss-off statement is giving his fellow-believers a fresh rationalization -- pre-loaded with more connotations that I can reasonably list here -- for a cleansing campaign of eliminationism targeting anyone who doesn't share their beliefs.