As one of my continuing "side series" (along with the Gothard research), I've been writing up on the virulently anti-LGBT "Joel's Army" group "Watchmen At The Walls"--a group linked with no less than one death and multiple assaults as well as an attempted progrom against a Pride parade in Riga, Latvia, and which is now officially listed as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.
One thing I've focused on is the rather disturbing official support by Assemblies of God regional head Joseph Fuiten--and those of you who've read my previous articles know Fuiten is far from the only virulently anti-LGBT leader in the Assemblies.
Now comes disturbing news that the Assemblies of God may be embracing hate as a whole--it turns out the Latvian head of "Watchmen" was front and center at a major conference of Assemblies preachers in Atlanta recently. (Apologies to readers--we do have a lot to cover here, so pardon the length.)
A history of hate
I've noted before that "Watchmen's" public face is, sadly, just publically showing what the Assemblies has promoted rather privately for decades (I myself remember involuntary public outings and "exorcisms" of LGBT youth who were unfortunate enough to be born to dominionist parents in the church I escaped from). This includes one of the truly nastier practices, that being not only "pedo-smearing" LGBT people but using frank Holocaust revisionism to do so (the book "The Pink Swastika", published by Scott Lively's Abiding Truth Ministries (also newly listed as a hate group by SPLC), claims that not only were LGBT people not targeted for extermination in the Holocaust but that the Nazis were all gay and the actual architects of the Holocaust and that LGBT people are inherently criminal and corrupt; other books by Lively published by Abiding Truth Ministries have gone on to claim that Al Quaida (and Islam in general--neopentes tend to lump all of Islam together with Islam's own equivalent of dominionists) and practically every despotic regime since the time of Christ was part of a "gay conspiracy" against the rest of humanity--yes, he's trotting out pretty much the same bogus claims that were made against Jewish people in "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", but replacing "Jew" with "gay").
It's bad enough that this sort of thing gets promoted in megachurches and on a regional level. However, Richard Bartholomew (of Bartholomew's Notes fame) recently has noted on Talk to Action how support for hate seems to be getting quite official support on a fairly wide denominational level.
Specifically, Bartholomew had noticed this little blurb in the AFA's official press agency on the "Synergize" evangelism conference--what "Synergize" is, is a conference held in Atlanta by the pastor of "God's Embassy Church" for neopente and neopente-friendly pastors and other folks.
For those of you unaware, God's Embassy Church is the largest neopentecostal dominionist congregation in Ukraine; they quite explicitly promote themselves as promoting "Joshua Generation" stuff for "reformation of society"--Joel's Army codewords for rasslin' up a posse of God Warriors to convert the country, and eventually the world, to a theocratic dictatorship where such crimes as not being able to spout the appropriate shibboleths may well result at best in having your citizenship revoked and you ending up interned in a camp somewhere--and among their own, they do speak of the possibility of "cleansing with the sword", so to speak.
The pastor, Sunday Adelaja, is originally from Nigeria (the same country, of note, which is in a belt of countries in sub-Saharan Africa where literally thousands of children are being driven out of their homes and beaten under the accusation of being "witches" after revivals by neopentecostal dominionist preachers); he operates a small Joel's Army denomination which has been reported to use coercive tactics and (incredulously) has claimed credit for the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine (the "Orange Revolution" was much more of a spontaneous "velvet revolution" movement which broke out when the incumbent president essentially tried to steal the vote and poison the opposition). Adelaja has connections with New Life Church in Colorado Springs (Ted Haggard's former stomping grounds and a supposedly independent neopente church that maintains such close connections with the Assemblies that it is hard to determine if it is in fact an "Assemblies daughter" or a "stealth Assemblies" church); Adelaja also happens to have connections with none other than Alexey Ledyaev--the primary ringleader behind the virulent "Watchmen At The Walls".
A veritable "Joel's Army" powwow
Anyways, back to the conference. The list of attendees includes not only Ledyaev--who apparently is not officially listed (probably due to the publicity in Bartholomew's Notes; just to show they can run but they can't hide, here is the original version courtesy of the Wayback Archive of the speaker's list--complete with Ledyaev listed as doing a conference on "Developing Political Leaders")--but a veritable who's who of dominionism.
It is not a terribly huge shock to me to find the very pastor of the church I am a walkaway from at this conference (who has not only spread anti-LGBT santorum but has helped his deacon Simon do so as well) was a major speaker at the conference; the conference he hosted was "Turning Obstacles into Opprotunities" (aka "How to conduct spin control"). Other conference speakers were Truett Cathy (head of Chick-Fil-A, a major corporate funder of dominionism; Pat Williams, owner of the Orlando Magic (who play in the recently-renamed AmWay Arena--*not* noted in that brochure is that Williams is very high up in the AmWay Hierarchy, second only to DeVos himself--yes, this would be the same AmWay that is not only the largest corporate funder of dominionism in the US but which (in particular with the Dexter Yager upline) acts as a "Siamese twin" with the Assemblies with both groups cross-recruiting for each other); Ron Luce, head of Teen Mania Ministries (who has connections with Hobby Lobby, a company that effectively operates as a funding front for the Assemblies' international ministries, via his "Wild Injun" promotional shows for Bearing Fruit Communications; he's led rallying parties for young "Jesus Camped" God Warriors and has even published a "Joel's Army" manual for youth which includes tactics on how to literally harass and stalk people as well as get into dangerous situations for the purpose of harassing people into conversion); the president of Daystar Communications (a dominionist television network and an increasingly large part of the already large dominionist "parallel economy" of media); the heads of no less than three steeplejacked churches (including the head of the SBC in Nigeria--a very dangerous sign, and one which gives very ill portent in regards to the steeplejacking of the SBC here in the States), and no less than thirty Assemblies and Assemblies-daughter churches. (No, I was not making things up. Literally every pastor or person otherwise hosting a talk at that conference has a first-degree link back to the Assemblies.)
The partners list is also interesting--as if you needed any more reasons not to eat at Chick-Fil-A, it would appear that conferences where leaders of hate groups (and general "Joel's Army" powwows) get paid for with those chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. No less than two dominionist TV networks (The Inspiration Network--which is pretty much the old PAX TV--and Daystar), a passel of Assemblies fronts (including several targeting Jewish people for conversion to "Messianic Jews"), one mutual insurance company (Add "Brotherhood Mutual Insurance" to your "do not do business with" list), and (disturbingly) the Israeli tourist board (whom I presume is grateful for the tourism dollars, but the Israeli government is starting to get a little concerned about the devil's bargain that has been made to get those tourism bucks from neopentes going on "Bible tours" and using the time to try to convert the Jewish population).
And I honestly wish I could say that it was just localised Assemblies support--a megachurch here, a megachurch there.
Unfortunately, I'd be lying.
Official Assemblies sanction for hate?
Possibly one of the more disturbing things about this conference--where Ledyaev apparently was leading a talk on how to politically organise "Joel's Army"--was the number of official Assemblies regional and national heads who gave talks, much less those giving official support otherwise.
Amongst the minor herd of Assemblies-linked attendees was Zollie Smith--who is head of the US Missions office of the Assemblies of God (the US Missions office is basically the "man behind the curtain" behind the literally tens to hundreds of Assemblies of God frontgroups nationwide; their portfolio includes Royal Rangers (an Assemblies-run "Christian alternative" to Scouting who has had members protesting along with Fred Phelps against Gay/Straight student alliances (you thought Watchmen At The Walls, Family Research Institute, Traditional Values Coalition, and Abiding Truth Ministries were the only SPLC-listed hate groups the Assemblies partners with?) and which has operated a paramilitary training camp for its equivalent of Eagle scouting), Chi Alpha (an Assemblies-run "fraternity, but not really" founded by John Ashcroft's father--yes, that John Ashcroft, Mr. "I got Wesson oil smeared on my head in a neopente mockery of King David's coronation when I became US Attorney-General" Ashcroft, Mr. "Covering up Lady Justice's bewbs" Ashcroft...yeah, him), and Teen Challenge (an Assemblies "faith based rehab" that led to the near-total deregulation of "faith based" children's homes including "Bible boot camps" when Dubya essentially gave a "get out of jail free" card to them; Teen Challenge's facility in Texas was at threat of being shut down due to repeated allegations of abuse and failure to meet minimum standards for education)...oh, and they also pretty much program the official material for Sunday schools, "Jesus Camps", and the official newsletters and magazines for pastors here in the States).
Yes, this would in fact be the same US Missions office where Joseph Fuiten (yes, the same Joseph Fuiten who is head of the Assemblies in the northwest US and also has links to "Watchmen At The Walls") gave seminars on how to set up front groups for "bait and switch" evangelism.
And by no means does the official Assemblies endorsement stop there (though, short of an endorsement by the president of the denomination, it's hard to get much more official endorsement than by the home missions office).
The conference is held technically by a frontgroup calling itself Second Billion (this being a reference to how it is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide are members of a Christian denomination). That site lists as partners Assemblies of God regional heads in Texas (Stephen Banning), Virginia (Larry Hickey), Fiji (Sani Matalomani), and Kenya (Peter Njiri).
In addition, the head of the largest Assemblies of God church in the US is listed (Dan Briles, linked with First Assembly in Phoenix--Ted Haggard's present congregation). In addition to that, pretty much all of the top ten largest Assemblies megachurches in the country are linked (including the church I am a walkaway from).
In addition, several "Assemblies daughters" are represented--the group has official sanction from International Foursquare as well as Rhema Church (a "Joel's Army" denomination in South Africa) as well as the head of the Alpha courses (developed by a pastor of a steeplejacked CoE church--the church in question was steeplejacked by Vineyard and Assemblies members into the "Toronto Airport Revival", is essentially a "Joel's Army" church, and the Alpha "parachurch" ministry is best qualified as an "Assemblies daughter" operating primarily through cell churches). A few notable steeplejacked congregations (including the head of Nigeria's branch of the SBC, apparently totally steeplejacked by the Assemblies to a far more extreme manner than even the ongoing conversion of the SBC to a neopente dominionist denomination) are also listed--but again, save for maybe four or five churches (and that's counting the Assemblies daughters), practically every church listed is an Assemblies church (generally a large Assemblies megachurch) or are actual regional or national heads of the Assemblies' operations worldwide.
And even more damning here is a link that the parent org didn't expurgate--it would appear that Alexey Ledyaev (yes, Mr. "Watchmen At The Walls" himself) would appear to be prominently noted as head of Global Media for Second Billion (and disturbingly also indicates he and his Nigerian buddy may largely be the face of neopentecostalism in eastern Europe; he claims 100,000 members via satellite churches, though this is likely inflated).
And the rest of the board of directors shows even more terribly damning info that the head of "Watchmen" is only part of what amounts to an Assemblies powwow group for theocracy and hate for all--and one with an impressive amount of very official Assemblies of God support. No less than Michael Chowning, the head of the Assemblies of God in Russia is involved (with Western Russian ops), as well as Larry Hickey (district head of the Assemblies' operations in the Potomac region--disturbingly, he is listed as head of ministry ethics for Second Billion), (again) the head of the Assemblies in Kenya (East African ops), and the head of Christian Men's Network (a known Assemblies front).
And--if there is a single person out there still using Real Media for anything--here's a reason to drop it; it would appear that Real Media is one of the larger fronts for dominionism funding. (Martin Schwartz of Real Media is listed as head of technology operations for Second Billion. He is also senior officer at Real Media.)
It would also appear that this is not going to be the last of this by any means--Second Billion has a second site where it lists its conferences, including several conferences where Ledyaev will be attending.
And it's via a look at the listed founder of Second Billion--a James O. Davis--that we go even further into linkages between the Assemblies and Ledyaev. It appears that not only is James. O. Davis heavily connected with Campus Crusade for Christ (specifically its frontgroup Global Pastors Network, but apparently officially has taught courses at the Assemblies' seminary on theology and practice and is yet another major Assemblies head (specifically with the National Evangelism office)--specifically, he was "professor" of some of the Assemblies of God's infamous mail-order "seminary" courses.
Again, short of the president of the denomination himself being a member, it's very difficult to get much more official.
In addition, another Assemblies regional head shows up--this time, Greg Beggs (the East African director for the Assemblies, and Peter Njiri's superior officer).
Another sad example of the SBC being borged by the Assemblies is apparent official SBC involvement as well--specifically with the North American Mission Board for the SBC and its national strategist. (This could be a sign of very bad things to come as far as the SBC is concerned. If the NAMB is steeplejacked, so goes the denomination.)
And a little more on "Second Billion"
Now, all that is pretty damning in and of itself. But there's more.
Second Billion is, at its heart, essentially a "denomination within a denomination" of explicitly Joel's Army churches in Assemblies and Assemblies-daughter churches (as in even more so than the typical neopente dominionist church). In part, it exists as a brotherhood of extreme churches within a hard-dominionist community.
Much of the group's stated plan is to get explicitly "Joel's Army" churches in every community by 2100 (this should give you all a concept of just how far in the future neopente dominionists plan for--and why we can never say in our lifetime, or our children's, or their children's, that "the religious right is dead"). The fact that they have political organisation committees--and have a head of one of the most violent neopentecostal dominionist groups ever documented as director of their media communications--would strongly indicate that they are not above the use of takeover of countries to force "winning souls" by gunpoint if necessary. They certainly don't object to the tactics taken by "Watchmen At The Walls"--and if some of their own literature is any guide, they hope to expand the poop-flinging and literal gaybashing to both other countries and other populations seen as evil.
The group is even kind enough to note what cities they plan to focus on particularly aggressively (in part because of the existence of large "Joel's Army" churches there).
And make no mistake--they are highly political. A sermon off Second Billion's page makes that abundantly clear--one of their "Three battles we can't afford to lose" is apparently against the entire of Iraq, with the head of the org even going to the point of stating that Iraq should have had the bejeezus blasted out of it in Gulf War I:
One of the many lessons we have learned from the recent Iraqi war is that we could have taken care of this global issue more than a decade ago. Often times, human nature tells us that "it will go away" or "someone else will take care of it" or "it will not become any worse than it already is." We have learned a hard lesson that says, "Do not pick a fight that you are not going to finish." If a fight is not worth fighting tomorrow is most likely not worth fighting tomorrow. We must chose our fights carefully, taking into account all
of the issues.
It is one thing to begin to apply the principles for victory in the Christina life; but another thing to follow through to complete victory. I am thankful to be able to say that president George W. Bush and enough tenacity to see us through this war.
(And now you know why there is a 19% "approve" rating for Dubya; those "nineteen percenters" are almost all Joel's Army faithful.)
It gets worse. Not only is there almost a constant reference to Joshua in here (which is in line with the present rebranding of "Joel's Army" to the "Joshua Generation"), but apparently they proceed to slag off Joshua for not having committed genocide against the entire population of Gaza in the past:
Also, in Gaza, Samson ripped the gates of that walled city down. Then, the took the post and iron bars and carried the gates more than 20 miles away—up a mountain. However, it was in Gaza that Samson went from victor to victim; from being an overcomer to becoming overcomed; from hero to zero.
He met his match in the life of Delilah. No doubt you know the story. There were several warnings that preceded his defeat. We must always remember that sin will bind you (Judges 16:21), will bind you (Judges 16:21), and will bury you (Judges 16:22-31).
Even though I believe that I will meet Samson in heaven, he failed to master himself while he was endeavoring to master others. Yet, if Joshua had follow through to completely conquer Gaza, and then most likely this story would have never happened.
(Yes, you read that right--the writer blamed the seduction of Samson on Joshua not having had the sense to exterminate every man, woman and child in Gaza. Also, nice scripture-twisting of Judges 16:21-31 (which is where Samson asked to feel the pillars and proceeded to squish a few hundred Philistines to death with a large building collapse in what amounted to an early version of a suicide bombing, "World's Strongest Man" style).)
The author also proceeds to blame Joshua not genociding the population of Gath for the event where David needed to slay Goliath in the first place:
II. WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE PLACE OF DEFIANCE (I Sam. 17)
Here is another familiar story to most of us. It is the story of Goliath and David. Goliath was raised in a Gath, a city that Joshua failed to completely conquer during his lifetime.
During Joshua’s day, a small militia could have defeated Gath. However, since Joshua and succeeding generation were content to allow the enemy to live within their boundaries, there came a time when an entire Israelite army cowarded before one man, Goliath. For many years, God had been preparing David for the battle between him and
(No matter that it would have been rather doubtful that David would become a founder of what was known as the greatest dynasty in Israel's history--and one which Christians trace Jesus Christ's lineage back to--had he not whacked Goliath with a well-aimed rock to the head. More scripture-twisting here, of the story of Goliath getting aforementioned high-velocity rock to forehead and falling down going boom.)
Joshua is also blamed for the entire Diaspora (and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant) because he didn't exterminate every non-Israeli in the Arabian Peninsula and Levant, and it's warned that if "Joel's Army" isn't arse-deep in blood by the time things are over with that the US will be even more screwed:
III. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO THE PLACE OF DEFILMENT (I
There is one place where God will not work. He will not work in "second place." At this time Israel wanted what God could do for them, not what they could do for the Lord. They made a false assumption (vv. 3-9). They believed that they could live any way they desired and that God would deliver them. If we want God to give us victory in every area in our lives, then we must have a heart after God. Israel lost their most sacred object, the Ark of the Covenant.
The false assumption led to a fatal affliction (vv. 10-18). This affliction affected Israel’s people (v. 10), provision (v. 11), and priests (vv. 12-18). It has been said time and time again, that sin will take us further than we want to go, cost us more than we want to pay, and will stay longer that we want it to stay.
Then, on the heels of fatal affliction came fierce abomination (4:19-5:2). God’s anointing departs and the ark is defamed. This is the account of the lowest time in Israel’s history. God had called them to change their world but they had chosen to allow their world to change them. The Glory of God departed and someone wrote, "Ichobod."
Can you imagine what history would have recorded if Joshua had defeated Ashdod? Would Israel have ever lost the Ark of Covenant? What would the world be like today? Joshua never imagined what the outcome would be because he failed to follow through on his commitment to God.
(Again, the pattern of some pretty rampant defense of wholescale genocide, and some pretty inventive scripture-twisting. Not noted is the part after 1 Samuel 5:4 (where the Philistines had a statue of Dagon repeatedly faceplanting when the Ark was placed by it), nor the minor cancer outbreak and mouse plague that occured in Philistine lands afterwards, and ending up with the Philistines begging the Israelis to "take back their ark already" and aforementioned Philistines being made to pay the rather bizarre tribute of 5 golden tumors and 5 golden mice per Philistine lord as a guilt offering to stop the plagues. Also rather glossed upon is the killing of Phineas--no relation to the Phineas back in Numbers 25, who is considered a Good Example in both Joel's Army and Christian Identity circles due to his shish-kebabbing an Israeli who dared introduce his Midianite girlfriend to the family and the aforementioned girlfriend.)
Yes, if you're curious, this *is* pretty much the general tone of the sermons by James O. Davis. This includes the Joel's Army view of the end of the world (recently fictionalised in the "Left Behind" books), and in particular a "Journey to Victory" organisation manual (which again heavily plays upon Joel's Army/Joshua Generation imagery).
Needless to say, this is extremely distressing and extremely disturbing--the "private face" for many years is becoming increasingly public, and if people do not organise in time, we may well be too late to stop the ultimate steeplejack.
And having lived in such a world...trust me when I state that this is a place you do not want to go to.