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On Friday, news reports started coming out to the effect that Hillary Clinton may be a member of a cell-church group run by the secretive "Family" nee "Fellowship" org; as the import of this is underappreciated by most (even by some researchers into dominionism), I posted a diagram of how cell groups work in "The Family".

There are actually a number of reasons--besides the obvious--why it should be a matter of concern that Hillary Clinton would appear to have been recruited into a religious pyramid scheme with strong political aspirations.  One reason I am gravely concerned for her right now is info I've dug up on the other reported members of her "cell church"--almost all of whom have strong history with dominionists...and it doesn't help that Hillary has also made some statements that point to her possible involvement in something very dangerous.

(An aside: For those unfamiliar with "cell church" groups--religious pyramid schemes that also have a very unhealthy tendency towards "Big Brother" activities that are used as a major tool in both recruitment and setting up "cuckoo congregations" in mainstream churches and political groups--please see my previous article on "The Family" and articles I've done in past on cell churches in practice.)

Hillary's fellow travellers in "The Family"--something to be concerned about

A glimpse on just why the concept of Hillary Clinton being in an actual Family "cell" (rather than merely attending the National Prayer Breakfast) is deeply concerning can be had in an article Jeff Sharlet has written for Mother Jones which may have been the first to report on the cell group in question:

When Clinton first came to Washington in 1993, one of her first steps was to join a Bible study group. For the next eight years, she regularly met with a Christian "cell" whose members included Susan Baker, wife of Bush consigliere James Baker; Joanne Kemp, wife of conservative icon Jack Kemp; Eileen Bakke, wife of Dennis Bakke, a leader in the anti-union Christian management movement; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat.

Here's a brief dossier on each of the members:

Susan Baker

Susan Baker may not be all that familiar a name to modern audiences, but those of us following anti-censorship initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s remember her quite well--Susan Baker and Tipper Gore were the co-founders of the infamous Parent's Music Resource Council, a pro-censorship group that actively tried to get the entire musical libraries of certain artists banned.  (Few people remember the PMRC wasn't originally pushing for the infamous "Tipper Stickers"--they wanted a ban, a complete ban, on distribution of certain artists and even after "Tipper Stickers" were widely adopted by the music industry attempted to have laws passed banning sales of "Tipper Stickered" albums to under-18s.  "Tipper Stickers" actually came about as a compromise.)

Folks who are children of the 80s may well remember the PMRC ranting against Twisted Sister and 2 Live Crew.  Less remembered, save among anti-censorship activists--and considerably less reported--is the fact that the PMRC was a major promoter of "Satanic Panic" and even funneled kids (who were unlucky enough to have censorious parents discover their collection of Metallica or Mötley Crüe albums) to one of the earlier and more infamous "Bible boot camps" in the dominionist "parallel economy" to legit mental health services (and in fact, the latter-day version of the infamous Love In Action/Refuge center recently shut down in Tennessee).

PMRC would often claim that "shock rock" artists such as Alice Cooper were active Satanists (amusing, since it's now widely known that Cooper is a Sunday school teacher at a Presbyterian church); as part of their promotion of "Satanic Panic", PMRC would actively promote a highly abusive "Bible boot camp" run by "deliverance ministry" promoter Bob Larson--the infamous "Back In Control Training Center"--in fact, rather extensively promoted, as documented in Dave Marsh's "Fifty Ways to Fight Censorship", documentation from the anti-censorship group Rock Out Censorship, and none less than Jello Biafra who was a very frequent target of the PMRC's wrath:

O for occult. Who is going to define what that is? In his first spoken word album, No More Cocoons, Eric Reed Boucher (who I will refer to by his stage name, Jello Biafra) notes one of the groups endorsed by the PMRC, called the Back in Control training center. This group was run by several Orange County based police officers, who among other things, published the Punk and Heavy Metal Handbook, which was sent out to police departments & parents alike. Among their list of occult related items and symbols were the following: black t-shirts, eagles (our national symbol), graffiti placed under bridges & in flood wash channels (in order to be closer to Hell and the devil), the Ozzy logo, the peace symbol (on the grounds that it is an upside down crucifix with arms broken to mock Christianity), and one of the most disturbing parts of this list, the Jewish Star of David. There is also a clip on Youtube titled "An Inconvenient Douche" from the early 90's when both Jello Biafra and Tipper Gore appeared on Oprah, where Biafra points these out as well.

"Back In Control" promised to "de-metal" and "de-rap" kids (just as "reparative therapy" groups promise to "de-gay" kids) and used almost identical tactics; Larson's facility promoted things like the claim that peace signs were "satanic symbols" and was a major promoter of the "Satanic Panic" which ended up ruining hundreds of people's lives due to false claims of "satanic abuse". An article from Kerr Cuhulain's "Witch Hunts" series (which is an expose of promoters of "Satanic Panic") details some of the FUD that "Back In Control" used to promote whilst in operation:

Another of the disturbing themes of America's Best Kept Secret is the idea that only Christian law enforcement personnel should be investigating "occult crime." "The law enforcement system in general is neither prepared nor equipped to handle the increasing amount of Satanic and occult-related crime in the US," Frattarola warns us, "Aside from Darlyne Pettinicchio, Sandi Gallanta (sic) in San Francisco, Dale Griffisss (sic) in Tiffin, Ohio, and an handful of other police officers around the country, law enforcement officials are frantically playing catch up."(47) Frattarola then quotes Sergeant Randy Emon extensively.

Frattarola's report was written before Emon re-examined the evidence and publicly recanted. Pettinichio, a deputy probation officer, is the founder of the Back In Control Training Center in Orange, California. She and her partner Greg Bodenhammer teach that heavy metal music turns juveniles into suicidal Satanists. Griffis is a retired police officer who set himself up as an "occult crime expert" and is a major disseminator of urban legends concerning Satanic crime. Sandy Gallant definitely has an interest in this subject but is well aware of the difference between Pagans and Satanists. Frattarola drops Gallant's name in America's Best Kept Secret but does not quote her or otherwise mention her. That Frattarola has misspelled Gallant's name is an indication that he doesn't know her very well. I have no concerns about Gallant or Emon.

Much of the rest of America's Best Kept Secret is a rant bemoaning the lack of evidence and support for Frattarola's beliefs.

The last two pages of the "Special Report" express the view of the Calvary Chapel that "The United States as a nation, has turned its back on God and as a result, has opened the door to, and even encourages Satanic activity by acting in bold defiance to the ways of God, dabbling in a practising things God's Word expressly forbids."(48) This is a common theme in works of this sort which exposes the purpose of such literature. It is intended to create the impression that Satanic cults are a widespread problem and responsible for many of the ills of society. At the same time it offers membership in the Church and persecution of non-Christian beliefs as viable solutions to this "problem".

(The latter is in reference to a "Special Report" given to police departments claiming that hundreds of secretive diabolist cabals have been found in the US and were operating large-scale murder and child-rape rings.  No reliable evidence of this has ever been found; in fact, the only reliable evidence of any form of systematic, organised religiously motivated child abuse of any sort has to a whole been centered in the dominionist community.)

Another example of "Back In Control" FUD is here:

Some suggest that they should be "de-punked" and "de-metaled" before it's too late.  More than 150 parents, teachers, probation officers,  psychiatrists and police turned out for an all-day conference in Pasadena earlier this month to discuss the potentially evil effects of the punk and heavy metal culture.  Punk and heavy metal paraphenalia was passed around.   Chilling stories were told,  like the one about the 15-year old "heavy metaler" who smashed all the furniture in his parents' house and beat his mother about the face.   A videotape called "Spikes and Studs" was also played showing young women tearing away their clothes and offering  theirbodies to the musicians.  (Ed. note:  As far as the women offering their bodies goes, remember, they did that to Frank Sinatra, too.)    

Titled "Sound and Fury," the conference--one of the first to be held on the punk-metal phenomenon--was sponsored by the Back In Control Training Center in Fullerton, which was started up recently by two  former Orange County probabation officers to teach parents what to look for and how to get tough with their children.  For center directors Greg Bodenhamer and Darlyne Pettinicchio, punk and heavy  metal--particularly metal--is public enemy number 1.  They maintain there is a direct link between the  aggressive music and lifestyle,  and teenage suicide, homicide and self-inflected wounds. "These kids have been totally brainwashed by this stuff.  They've got to be de-punked and de-metalized,"  Bodenhamer said.    

He and Pettinicchio point to some well-publicized cases over the past year:  Last October, 14 year-old Jennifer Newton was sentenced to 25 years in prison for  stabbing and bludgeoning her mother to death in Fullerton.   Prosecutors said Newton and her boyfriend were absorbed with  heavy metal music.  Last August, two teenage San  Bernadino boys, described by  authorities as "into the heavy metal scene," were accused of  murdering a 15-year old boy who was shackled to a heavy milk  crate near his home.  In January, one 14 year-old boy was found by his parents bleeding in his Santa Monica  bedroom after he sliced his knuckles and scrawled a giant "A" for anarchy on the wall.   He survived.  

Not everyone shares the somewhat alarming position that  surfaced at the Pasadena conference.  "I really don't think they're any big threat," Los Angeles Police Detective Harry Andrews said. "Sure, we arrest a few of them for dangerous weopons like attaching spikes on their hands.  But, really, you know, people thought we were crazy too (in the 60's)."

(Yes, in certain households, it could actually be dangerous to be a metalhead--you risked being sent to a coercive center which practiced thought-reform tactics, a literal "Jesus gulag", if they found your music stash.  I got very, very good at hiding my record and tape collection, needless to say!)

Much of the propoganda used for involuntary internment of metal fans to "Back In Control's" facility is almost, word-for-word, identical to the hate speech used nowadays against LGBT people.  The book "Sound Of The Beast" (a history of heavy metal in the US, including the attempts to censor metal in the 80s), also has a few interesting details:

Through the feeding cycle of misinformation, heavy metal became targeted as a problem, and broadly inaccurate propoganda soon became probable cause to detain and search any high-schooler in a Ratt T-shirt.  Companies like the Back In Control Training Center explicitly advertised their expertise in cult deprogramming techniques (not legit exit counseling--dogemperor) to "de-punk" or "de-metal" troubled teens and bring them in line with fundamentalist Christian beliefs.  "Once kids become part of the heavy metal or punk culture," said Back In Control's founder in the book The Satan Hunter, "there is an attitude they frequently pass on to the parents: 'I'm going to do what I want, the hell with you, leave me alone,' and with the metallers, in particular, better than 90 percent are involved with drugs."

(Of note, the series "Witch Hunts" has an extensive debunking of "The Satan Hunter".)

As it turns out, I'm not the only one who sees the resemblance to "de-gaying" (and, for that matter, the entire coercive "Bible boot-camp" industry, which largely got its start with "de-metaling" and "de-punking" centers).  No less than the book "Taboo Tunes" (a history of attempts at censorship of music due to "moral panics") also made that direct comparison: an approach similar to that employed by those who have established treatment programs in order to "cure" homosexuals by retraining them, various organizations (like the Back In Control Training Center based in Orange, CA) were founded as "de-punking/de-metalizing" brainwashing centers in the 1980s.

In fact, Susan Baker was effectively the dominionist liason for PMRC in practice--and throughout Baker's term as PMRC co-leader (the group is now operated by Barbara Wyatt), the PMRC not only actively partnered with dominionist groups but became increasingly dominionist in and of itself:

Also disturbing are their connections with the Religious Right and other blatantly pro-censorship forces. For example, Susan Baker has said that "God calls me to be his instrument," and frequently arranges prayer meetings for the Washington power elite, commenting that her goal in life is to "live out the gospel." She also sits on the board of James Dobson's Focus On The Family, which openly favors censorship, going so far as to denounce Calvin Klein ads as "explicit and deviant."

It's also come out that Tipper Gore has, on at least one occasion, been invited to speak at an Eagle Forum dinner. The Eagle Forum, created by Phyllis Schlafly, is one of the largest anti-feminist, pro-life, anti-gay and ultimately anti-free speech organizations in America, which makes one wonder about Tipper's portrayal as a progressive, pro-choice feminist.

Oh, yes, there's that, too--Susan Baker was a known FotF board member as of 1992 (the date of the Rock Out Censorship article in question), though she isn't listed as of 2005.  But during its period of maximum influence, the PMRC effectively operated as a frontgroup of none other than Focus On The Family--who did a lot of their early recruitment through PMRC newsletters.

Joanne Kemp

Joanne Kemp also tends to lean dominionist (subtly noting that the only people she really considers to be "Christian" are "born-again Christians"--code in dominionist circles for fellow dominionists):

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How would you describe the role of religion in your lives now?

JOANNE KEMP: I would say our faith is very important to me and to all of our family, which is, you know, it's a great joy to see our grown children putting faith central in their lives as well. And so we have a very faith-based family.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Are you a born again Christian?

JOANNE KEMP: Well, I consider that to be like stuttering. I'm Christian. That's like if you say born again, that's a Christian.

(And you better believe this is code.  Generally, dominionists--especially neopentecostal dominionists and members of steeplejacked churches--don't consider Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or even members of a lot of mainstream churches truly "born again".  In fact, in neopente circles, "born again" has a very specific meaning--namely, someone who has received "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and is speaking in tongues or otherwise "manifesting".)

In fact, Mrs. Kemp "leans dominionist" so much that she is on the board of directors of one of the major promoters of "faith-based coercion" in our prison system--Chuck Colson's "Prison Fellowship Ministries", recently banned from use in state prisons throughout the state of Iowa.

And yes, there's a very specific reason the US District Court roughly 140 pages of "No, you can't set up a neopentecostal tent revival in the prison system with taxpayer funds. Not Yours", too.

Stunts like this:

While these universal, civic values can logically be separated from the biblical context in which they are presented, the intensive, indoctrinating Christian language and practice that makes up the InnerChange program effectively precludes non-Evangelical Christian inmates from participating.Plaintiff-inmate Jerry Dean Ashburn ("Ashburn"), a self-described Reorganized Latter Day Saint, testified that, based on the reading of some of InnerChange's materials, he would not be comfortable joining the program. Plaintiff-inmate Bilal Shukr (a.k.a. Bobby Shelton) ("Shukr"), a Sunni Muslim, also read portions of the InnerChange curriculum and visited with the ISP chaplain to investigate whether InnerChange would be appropriate for him. The chaplain, a Dept. of Corrections employee, informed Shukr that the curriculum was strictly Christian-based and there were no opportunities for interfaith study in the program because there was no interfaith curriculum. Shukr testified that, as a Muslim, the teaching of the Bible was very important. What he could not countenance, as a Muslim, was that he would be in groups in which prayers would be offered to Jesus Christ as a deity, as God's son--something the strictly monotheistic religion of Islam would abhor. Shukr put it this way:

[T]here was no possibility for me, as a Sunni Muslim, to partake in that program without desecrating my faith, without me blaspheming God. We believe there's only one God, and he doesn't have any sons or daughters or partners. He's the supreme ruler over all mankind, and we are all brothers and sisters under one God. For me to embrace any type of curriculum contrary to that, I would be desecrating my faith.

Trial Tr. at 163. There are no similar community-based programs like InnerChange based on an Islamic model. For instance, while the Dept. of Corrections allows individual Muslim inmates to observe aspects of the holy season of Ramadan, there are no communal observations of Ramadan.

This fact, along with his other post-9/11 experiences of racial prejudice, Shukr testified, "just added fuel to the fire, mak[ing] it appear as though the state of Iowa has a partiality toward Christian-based programs, and not faiths of different sorts." Trial Tr. at 166. Inmate Troy Dewayne Redd ("Redd"), also a Sunni Muslim, keeps his faith through praying five times a day, making regular fasts, and attending Friday evening prayer service. For Redd, the act of joining InnerChange would be blasphemy--to do so a person "would have committed a sin against Allah, God." Trial Tr. at 292. InnerChange's own materials cast aspersions on non-Evangelical Christian faith groups.31 The Court found very credible Kevin Watson's testimony when he stated that, as a member of the Nation of Islam, he could not join InnerChange without compromising his faith. Indeed, Watson's Dept. of Corrections counselor informed Watson that InnerChange would probably not be for him.32

Likewise, Dept. of Corrections inmate Glendale More, Jr. ("More"), a member of the Lubavitch Jewish faith, practices his faith by not shaving his beard, wearing a yarmulke (although not yet allowed at the Newton Facility), performing mitzvahs, and staying kosher during high holy days (he pays for all his own kosher meals), praying, and staying in contact with his rabbis. To join a group praying to and worshiping Jesus Christ, as required by InnerChange, would violate his religious faith. The Court found credible the testimony of witnesses who stated that non-religious persons were often characterized by InnerChange staff as "unsaved," "lost," "pagan," those "who served the flesh," "of Satan," "sinful," and "of darkness." Native American inmates who enroll in InnerChange face obstacles as well. Benjamin Burens, a Native American Dept. of Corrections inmate, characterized his religious life as living the sweat lodge ways everyday. He does not believe Jesus Christ is God and does not use the Bible. Like many Native American prisoners, Burens participates in the sweat lodge ceremony on a regular basis. The costs of the sweat lodge materials--rocks, wood, etc.--are paid by those inmates who participate. While InnerChange has provided permission to the few Native American participants in the program to practice the sweat lodge ceremony, InnerChange makes clear that a non-Christian religious observance is not considered part of the InnerChange treatment program and may only be done at InnerChange's discretion. The Court found credible Burens' testimony that, during one-onone sessions with an InnerChange teacher, Burens was asked whether he was saved, whether he was a Christian, and whether he believed in Jesus. Trial Tr. at 758-59. Burens was also asked "what was I doing going out there to the sweat lodge ceremony." Id. at 759. Burens was told the sweat lodge ceremony was basically a form of witchcraft, against the Bible, sorcery, and worship of false idols. The InnerChange Field Guide in use during the time Burens was in the program stated: "As you are transformed into the image of Christ, you have more and more integrity." Pls.' Ex. 74. Not surprisingly, Burens did not last in the InnerChange program. The listed reasons for Burens' expulsion from InnerChange were that, because Burens received a visitor on a Friday, he missed a Friday revival by twenty minutes; that Burens was not growing spiritually; and that he did not "step up" in the community meetings, i.e., he did not fully participate in the services, instead remaining seated while others shows their involvement by singing songs, standing, and raising hands. Trial Tr. at 762-63.

One factor was definitely the promotion of Scientology-esque deliverance ministry, up to and including distributing the "deliverance ministry" manual "Bondage Breaker" as required reading.

Another factor was the fact prisoners had to attend mandatory revival meetings in order to be considered "participating"--and could not only have privileges removed (Prison Fellowship Ministries participants were given preferential housing and privs) but subject to sanctions for failure to complete a drug treatment plan--and, alas, Prison Fellowship Ministries' "InnerChange" (which had been promoted falsely to the Department of Corrections as ecumenical) was the only "drug treatment plan" available (no Rational Recovery, no visits by imams or rebbes or Native American traditional religious authorities).

Oh, and another major factor why it was shut down--a study by the court found the program didn't work and actually had worse recidivism than no treatment at all.

Eileen Bakke

Eileen Bakke is not as familiar as a name to most folks--Bakke (and her husband) are best known now for "charter school" initiatives, but both parties are also the heads of a dominionist grant program known as the Mustard Seed Foundation.

As amazing as it sounds, the very name of the org is a codeword--specifically, the name comes from a very selective quoting of Mark 4 (the story in which Jesus exhorts people to listen, comparing good words of God to tiny mustard seeds that grow into big things), specifically Mark 4:30-32:

[30] And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
[31] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
[32] yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

(Revised Standard Version)

A much more common "selective quoting" involving mustard seeds--and one which is backhandedly referred to on the main website for Mustard Seed Foundation--is used in "name it and claim it" circles, where it's claimed that God's blessing is to be given to people who "have faith as a mustard seed" (and in fact it has been known, as a method of soliciting funds above and beyond normal tithes of ten percent, to distribute mustard seeds in neopentecostal dominionist churches--in fact, the actual term "seed faith offering" for "tithes" of thirty to fifty percent of pre-tax income comes directly from this misuse of the parable of the mustard seed).

Mustard Seed Foundation is almost entirely a grant program targeted at neopentecostal dominionist churches (including a "Messianic Jewish" congregation); there is also apparently a scholarship program in place for students attending dominionist colleges.

As for their finances, they do seem to be more open, but even their disclosure gives much reason to worry--a good portion of their efforts are primarily aimed at conversion of other "people of the book" (including not only Jewish and Moslem people, but mainstream Christians (especially Roman Catholics) as well), and practically all of the grants and grant programs they have participated in have been for neopente dominionist church programs (including multiple grants to Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" churches worldwide, so much that "Mustard Seed Foundation" can be genuinely seen as a funding-front for the Assemblies in unusually blatant manner).  Their "theological grants" are given entirely to international "ordination mills"--not one organisation in North America or Western Europe are grant recipients (probably because of strict legal requirements).

The Bakkes also promote dominionist "Christian business" schemes extensively, including at seminars; their fortune has been primarily in the energy market, as Dennis Bakke was a former CEO of major international energy company AES.

As for their charter schools, it would appear the owners have taken great pains to hide...well...*everything* of note that could point to a dominionist origin.  The only state Imagine operates charter schools in is Arizona.

However...following the link to Dennis Bakke's homepage starts hitting paydirt.  In a remarkably similar manner to how Bill Gothard uses "secularised" versions of his material to recruit folks to the religious (and highly coercive) core group, Bakke uses a somewhat sanitized book called "Joy At Work" to lead people to his religious page.

The excerpts from the "Joy At Work Bible Study Companion" are particularly telling.  The excerpts (which are a little extensive for me to extensively quote here, so my apologies for referring you to the page) pretty much state that he actively sees the "Saved" as "God's stewards" or "God's regents"--terminology that has been used in both Christian Reconstructionism and "Joel's Army"/"Joshua Generation" theology; some of the phrasing indicates he may lean towards the "Joel's Army" version, with some subtle references to "fivefold ministry" (and not-so-subtle references to explicitly using the nonprofit sector as a bait-and-switch evangelism front).

The wedding of neoconservative hypercapitalism and dominion theology is so close, in fact, that Dennis Bakke pretty much stated in Christianity Today that God wants people to set up "cell" structures of "covering" in businesses:

A lot of Christians say to me, "This is just a management style." I think giving up power, sharing power, and allowing people to make decisions is just part of how God made us. Obviously, out in the secular world, it's an option. But I don't think we as Christians have an option. We do not have an option to control everybody's life. We do not have an option to take over all the important decisions. At least that's how I read the Parable of the Talents. And in Genesis I read that bosses were not supposed to be the ones making all the decisions. In fact, I don't think management is a really good thing. You manage systems and you manage money, but people ought to be led.

(He also explicitly refers to the Parable of the Talents elsewhere as apparently being a Biblical mandate for bosses to delegate duties; in truth, the Parable of the Talents was an admonition to not squander one's gifts but to grow them.)

In the same article, he advocates not only setting up front businesses for charity (rather than having them be run directly by a church) but also advocates having dominionist churches explicitly target CEOs and the like:

What should be the local church's relationship to the business world?

We prize lifestyle and workplace evangelism as being very important, which they are. But God cares just as much about the economics. When was the last time your church prayed to commission the carpenter or an executive?

I don't think churches should run social services or businesses. They shouldn't own clothing stores to serve the community or run food pantries. Churches are usually terrible at running them. They're not economically sustainable, and they don't really help the poor as much as if you just had a really good business. Churches should send their people out to start businesses to serve people's needs.

The church does not pay much attention to the mission we have to steward resources and to meet needs in the world and, along the way, meet our own needs. The pastor ought to be figuring out how we are going to equip somebody to go be the president of AES or the secretary at AES. And how you're equipping them is not teaching them the skills. Your mission is just like Daniel's mission and Joseph's mission, and you ought to be doing it as unto the Lord. This is not primarily for evangelism, but for delivering services to others. You are there to do the stewardship mission, the Genesis mission. As a church, we're all called to both discipleship and stewardship.

Of particular interest--the "sanitized" book is promoted both by Bill Clinton and by Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries, possibly giving a bit of a clue as to whom may be the "shepherd" in the cell.

Grace Nelson

Grace Nelson is probably the only notable cypher as far as dominionist connections go in that list--I expect she, like Hillary, may well be in the process of being "shepherded".  

And quite interestingly, Mrs. Nelson was also the only person in the cell willing to give a statement regarding what goes on there.

Sharlet's article notes Mrs. Nelson's commentary:

We contacted all of Clinton's Fellowship cell mates, but only one agreed to speak—though she stressed that there's much she's not "at liberty" to reveal. Grace Nelson used to be the organizer of the Florida Governor's Prayer Breakfast, which makes her a piety broker in Florida politics—she would decide who could share the head table with Jeb Bush. Clinton's prayer cell was tight-knit, according to Nelson, who recalled that one of her conservative prayer partners was at first loath to pray for the first lady, but learned to "love Hillary as much as any of us love Hillary." Cells like these, Nelson added, exist in "parliaments all over the world," with all welcome so long as they submit to "the person of Jesus" as the source of their power.

Throughout her time at the White House, Clinton writes in Living History, she took solace from "daily scriptures" sent to her by her Fellowship prayer cell, along with Coe's assurances that she was right where God wanted her. (Clinton's sense of divine guidance has been noted by others: Bishop Richard Wilke, who presided over the United Methodist Church of Arkansas during her years in Little Rock, told us, "If I asked Hillary, 'What does the Lord want you to do?' she would say, 'I think I'm called by the Lord to be in public service at whatever level he wants me.'")

In other words, even Mrs. Nelson has (more subtle) dominionist connections--with the Florida equivalent of the "National Prayer Breakfast", specifically picking who'd get recruited on as "Family" state contacts.

And possible signs of influence--or why I'm worried about what Hillary's gotten into

Another thing notable in the Jeff Sharlet article is a particular bit of phrasing from Clinton that is ringing major alarm bells for me in regard to her potential level of involvement--and what may well be going on in her "cell group":

After a glancing shot at Republican "pharisees," Clinton explained that, of course, her "very serious" grounding in faith had helped her weather the affair. But she had also relied on the "extended faith family" that came to her aid, "people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me."

This could be bad.  Very bad.

For one, I have never, never ever ever, heard the phrases "prayer warriors" or "prayer chains" outside of a neopentecostal dominionist context.  You don't even hear that stuff in SBC churches unless they are under heavy neopente influence.

In fact, there's only one place I've ever heard the term "prayer warrior"--within Joel's Army/Joshua Generation circles.

Lest I be accused of paranoia, I did a Google search for "prayer warrior" as a reality check just to be sure the PTSD wasn't flaring.

I'm afraid it wasn't just the PTSD.  Link after link after link after link in the Google search goes to various "Joel's Army" promoters--with one of the very few exceptions being a link to books published by the SBC's Lifeway; the SBC itself is becoming positively infested with "Joel's Army" promotion, sadly, so this doesn't really make it mainstream.  The search for "Prayer chain" (which is just a linked network of "prayer warriors") was a little less worrying, but not by much.

One of the more disturbing links--and I think this should be a telling summary of the entire concept--is a link to the website of the infamous "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game (a Starcraft-esque tactical RPG fictionalisation of Joel's Army/Joshua Generation endtime theology where you get points both for converting people--and for killing "sinners" who won't convert); apparently there is a "prayer warrior" class in the game that gives bonuses for conversion.

Another telling link as to the reality of "prayer warriors" is the story of a walkaway and survivor of involuntary exorcism who eventually had to break off almost all relations with his family (who are neopentecostal dominionists) after daring to come out as a gay man.

The very term "prayer warrior" seems to have been invented by Joel's Army promoter C. Peter Wagner (who publishes books on not only "prayer warrioring" but "prayer shields" as well)--it is a very specific terminology, and--in neopentecostal dominionist circles--it is explicitly and tactitly known that "prayer warrior" activities can include not only prayers to bless but to curse.  

Yes, imprecatory prayer is alive and well in these circles.  In fact, Ken Hutcherson--yes, the same one linked with the violent Joel's Army hategroup "Watchmen At The Walls", actually called up his network of "prayer chains" of "prayer warriors" to do imprecatory prayers against the participants in the Day of Silence.  More examples of imprecatory prayers are presented in this online submission for "prayer warriors" to do "prayer chains"--including a request for imprecatory prayers against "occult enemies", multiple requests for imprecatory prayers against non-dominionist relatives including a particularly disturbing request for imprecatory prayer against a daughter who came out as gay, an imprecatory prayer request against someone named "Martha", a request for imprecatory prayer against all opponents of the coercive Assemblies frontgroup Teen Challenge--and that's just in the first few.  (And yes, this sort of thing is so common as to be the norm in these groups.)

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary...just what the devil have you gotten yourself into? :(

Secondly, Hillary Clinton is in an unusually vulnerable area as far as recruitment into cell groups go--she's had a rather extensive history growing up under authoritarian groups.  Her pastor when she was growing up (a pastor of a mainstream United Methodist Church) has noted she had interest in conservative theological writing even as a teen and that her high school history teacher was "to the right of the John Birchers"; Hillary's grandmother Hannah Jones Rodham (even by Mrs. Clinton's own acknowledgement in her autobiography) was also infamously authoritarian, being known locally in the Scranton area as more than a bit of a holy terror.  At least one DailyKos writer has written rather extensively on Hillary's relationship with Hannah Jones Rodham--including notes that Hillary apparently quite admired her grandmother.

Even more disturbingly, it looks like Clinton may be in the process of being graduated to a formal "member" (which, in "Family"-speak, is actually closer to being an initiate into the "inner circle"), per Sharlet's article:

These days, Clinton has graduated from the political wives' group into what may be Coe's most elite cell, the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast. Though weighted Republican, the breakfast—regularly attended by about 40 members—is a bipartisan opportunity for politicians to burnish their reputations, giving Clinton the chance to profess her faith with men such as Brownback as well as the twin terrors of Oklahoma, James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, and, until recently, former Senator George Allen (R-Va.). Democrats in the group include Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, who told us that the separation of church and state has gone too far; Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is also a regular.

There is also a note earlier in the article that also strongly indicates Hillary is being actively groomed towards "Membership", if she's not nearly there already:

Clinton, says Schenck, has become a regular visitor to Coe's Arlington, Virginia, headquarters, a former convent where Coe provides members of Congress with sex-segregated housing and spiritual guidance.

"Schenck" here is Robert Schenck, who is an Assemblies of God pastor (in fact, pastor of the National Community Church, a large Assemblies megachurch which John Ashcroft has been an attendee of) and who is a former head of the infamous anti-choice group Operation Rescue.  Schenck promotes his Jewish origins and claims to have converted in Assemblies "missions" targeting the Jewish population; he is also an extremely well politically-connected preacher, not only running a national de facto political action committee of dominionist preachers (largely Assemblies of God) which can literally be said to comprise some of the "worst of the worst" in the Assemblies, but also is partnered with and/or runs numerous dominionist political initiatives nationwide (including a frontgroup of the largely-Assemblies-dominated "National Clergy Council" called "Faith and Action" which has been known to engage in illegal electioneering).

Schenck is rather infamous for, among other things, sneaking into the Senate chambers and "annointing" the seats in cooking oil to "name and claim" the Senators in an bizarre imprecatory prayer attempt to hex them into voting for Samuel Alito during the hearings on whether Alito should become a Supreme Court Justice; Schenck also quite explicitly cursed the families of the Sago, West Virginia mine disaster and claimed that "God would rebuke them" for a statement made by a family member of " wonder if there is such a thing as a God anymore" (for those who don't remember, initial reports had indicated only one of the 12 miners had died, and this was thought to be a miracle; sadly, reports were corrected and it turned out only one miner had survived).

To say that Schenck would know whether or not anyone is being inducted into the inner workings of "The Family" is an understatement--if there is a dominionist initiative in Washington, Schenck or an associate certainly has his finger in the pie at some level.

There's also some disturbing evidence that Clinton may have been initially recruited--and that other politicians are being targeted across both major parties--specifically for the opportunities involved in working with the Oval Office on things like legislation.  "The Family" expressly considers itself "kingmakers for God", and the Sharlet article also notes this explicitly:

Coe has been an intimate of every president since Ford, but he rarely imposes on chief executives, who see him as a slightly mystical but apolitical figure. Rather, Coe uses his access to the Oval Office as currency with lesser leaders. "If Doug Coe can get you some face time with the President of the United States," one official told the author of a Princeton study of the National Prayer Breakfast last year, "then you will take his call and seek his friendship. That's power."

"If you're going to do religion in public life," concurs Schenck, a Jewish convert to fundamentalist Christianity who's retained his sense of irony, Coe's friendship is a kind of "kosher...seal of approval."

In other words...if she's not a "Member" yet, she is almost certainly being groomed towards that end, and by people who make the "Washington Wives" seem like a Sunday brunch in comparison.  Even more disturbingly, she may have been recruited under pretences that may have seemed like a political necessity.

Based on this information, I think it is especially important that Hillary--and for that matter, all politicians--come clean regarding their relationships with "The Family".

Not just because we worry about "The Family", mind.  We're worried about them, too.

Originally posted to dogemperor on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 01:59 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (41+ / 0-)

    After reading more on the actual folks involved in the cell...well, colour me disturbed.  Especially as she's apparently being initiated even deeper.

    I am very honestly worried for Hillary at this point--especially as there are a lot of folks in her cell group that explicitly have promoted things like dominion theology (and especially "deliverance ministry") very specifically, I'm worried as hell just WHAT she's gotten herself into. :P

  •  Blech (11+ / 0-)

    The Eagle Forum and the Tipper Sticker people are probably one of the worst things to come out of our revolting marriage between church and state.

    The Star of David as an occult symbol... ugh.

    Realignment (and it feels so good)

    by droogie6655321 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:03:01 PM PDT

  •  Dominionists are scary bad, but HRC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, dannyinla, Pris from LA

    at their prayer events doesn't spook me. The first-ladies-sent-where-others-fear-to-tread thing may not always apply in war zones, but I think it DOES apply in schmoozing the wives of prominent leaders of the opposition.  In other words, I would see that as very much an association of expedience, not of faith.  

    The Clintons as practicing Methodists, I'll buy, but as believers, I doubt.  I strongly suspect that in their hearts they're humanist agnostics just like me.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:11:31 PM PDT

    •  Practicing? (5+ / 0-)

      Actually, there's some confusion as to just where the Clintons attend church these days.  I first saw a reference to it in a writeup about the current pastor of their former church defending Rev. Wright.

      Ah. After a brief Google-fest, here it is on HuffPo:

      Snyder, it should be noted, was not the pastor at Foundry during the Clinton years. That was the previous minister, J. Philip Wogaman. Moreover, there seems to be confusion as to exactly what church Clinton now attends. Her campaign did not return requests for comment.

      However, Foundry was cited on numerous occasions as a steady presence during the first couple's time in the White House. And in January 2001, Bill Clinton gave a farewell speech to the congregation, thanking the church for its work in the city as well as for its "courage" to welcome gay and lesbian Christians.

      So where does she go to church?  I'd like to find an answer, becuase remember, these cell-based groups usually recommend their members eschew studying actual Scripture.  

      •  Well, that's consistent my take (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor, Pris from LA

        in that I doubt church has ever been much of a priority for the Clintons.  Perhaps that leaves more time for covert "cell" activities ... or perhaps it simply means that church was a public obligation of limited priority.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:32:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My understanding is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dogemperor, lgmcp

          that the Clintons regularly attended church while they were in the White House--in marked contrast to our current "Christian-in-Chief" who rarely attends. I don't know what they do now.

          Happy the man and happy he alone--he who can call today his own ... John Dryden

          by ohiolibrarian on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:46:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cathy Willey, dogemperor, lgmcp

          They both came from church-going families and continued to belong to their own denominations after they were married.

          From the comments I have heard from Hillary over the years, I have had the impression that she was a fairly traditional mainline protestant who seemed fairly devout, but didn't wear it on her sleeve or tout it in public.

          Bill was always more demonstrative. He may be more liberal, but he was always a Baptist boy at heart.

          But for both of them, I always saw their faith as more of a personal commitment than a public obligation.

          Well fuck it all, I'm still not leaving. I'm too goddamn mean and stubborn to be run off by a swarm of annoying insects.

          by homogenius on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:57:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, wishful thinking (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            homogenius, dogemperor

            on my part, perhaps. I'd like to see someone who thinks like me, even more than 'looks like me', in the White House.

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 03:02:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  in Little Rock... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, dogemperor

        ...Hillary was a Methodist church member; Bill was a Baptist church member. Don't know about now.

        •  Apparently no one does (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But this Schenk character attests that she meets with Coe at The Family compound.

          •  Yup. (0+ / 0-)

            Honestly, if anyone would know, it would probably be Schenck; he's a highly influential preacher in the area, and has his own "ins" with "The Family" (and is trusted enough within "Family" circles he could probably be one of the few folks to waltz in to have a convo with Doug Coe).

            This is very disturbing, in part because Sharlet has confirmed to me (and will be discussing in far more detail in his new book "The Family") that Coe apparently explicitly instructs people in more "elite" circles to not attend mainstream churches at all and to have as their sole "church" the cell-churches "The Family" runs.  (In other words, and I'm going to put this bluntly, the cell-churches operate as a de facto Maranatha-style or Campus-Crusade-style "parachurch"/quasi-denomination in and of themselves.)

            Not only that, but Coe actually apparently discourages members from reading the Bible independently--he apparently hands down appropriate scriptural quotations himself as "shepherd".

            I don't think I need to tell anyone who was familiar with Maranatha in the 70's and 80's just how dangerous as hell this is.  This sort of thing screams "RED ALERT" to anyone who is an escapee from a group using abusive cells or even who is familiar with coercive "cell groups" (or even the history of Maranatha, etc.).

    •  The problem is, it goes deeper than that. (5+ / 0-)

      The "prayer groups" that most people would think of (well, when they think of prayer circles and the like) are much closer to the National Prayer Breakfast than what goes on in the cells, that is. rather considerably deeper.

      Firstly, there is compelling evidence (which Sharlet has published some info on so far, and more which will be written about in his upcoming book) that the very origins of the abusive "cell church" structure used in neopente dominionist churches are very closely related to (and in some ways may even be descended from) almost identical tactics used within "The Family".  

      Secondly, there is now evidence that once one is in the cell groups that these are inherently coercive (they can turn around and say "I can cut off your access with the President if you don't get in tune").

      Thirdly, practically everyone who was surrounding Hillary in the cell-group--and she has apparently moved on to an even more inclusive cell-group within "The Family" since--are linked, very very firmly, with coercive religious practices:

      a) Susan Baker was, at the time, a board member of Focus on the Family as well as a co-founder of a pro-censorship group that regularly referred kids to coercive facilities to "de-metal" and "de-rap" them that are models of abusive facilities now used in "tough love" and "de-gaying" facilities for kids.  "Back In Control Training Center" in many ways started the whole "Bible boot camp" industry where literally hundreds to thousands of kids are subject to abuse, every day, often in offshore facilities.

      b) Joanne Kemp was and is a board member of a "prison ministry" (which has promoted itself falsely as an ecumenical program) that was so coercive that a Federal court banned its use--in part because other people "of the book" were accused of Satan worship, practices that are nearly identical to extremely abusive practices in Scientology (practices that have been documented to cause mental breakdowns requiring inpatient hospitalisation on psychiatric wards and that are linked to at least one recent murder-suicide when the target finally snapped), and participation was mandatory for parole.  (Incidentially, "Prison Fellowship Ministries" is also known to use a potentially abusive "cell church" model.)

      c) Eileen Bakke is the principal director of a group that operates as a grant fund for Assemblies churches (which, if you read the rest of my diary entries, you will find there is a very disturbing history of coercive practices rife within that denomination and most of its "daughters" to boot; among these, not only the promotion of Scientology-esque "deliverance ministry" but the use of cell-church techniques that have been proven in a 10-year study to cause longterm psychological harm) and her husband actively runs seminars that act as recruitment fronts for dominionist theology (in a remarkably similar manner to how Bill Gothard's "Character Cities" initiatives serve as fronts for his extremely coercive religious group--also linked to the above murder-suicide).

      d) Grace Nelson is linked possibly on an organisational level within "The Family".

      Literally everyone Hillary was with in her supposedly "tight-knit" cell was involved heavily with highly coercive groups.

      Fourthly, there is evidence (from Sharlet himself, who will be writing on this extensively in his upcoming book) that--especially in the more "elite" levels--people are explicitly told not to attend any religious functions outside of "The Family's" cell-churches and that Douglas Coe apparently dictates what is considered "scripturally sound".  This is a major, major, major danger-sign of a potentially abusive group, one that every legitimate exit-counseling group agrees on.  (This is also why cell-church groups are in general considered dangerous by exit-counseling groups--there is very much an authoritarian, top-down structure where leaders cannot be opposed without grave consequences.)

      Fifthly, there is evidence that Hillary Clinton may be in the process of grooming to being a full "member"--a condition which, in most cell groups (and I have confirmed with Sharlet that "The Family" operates in a standard way here), requires a certain level of indoctrination and perceived trustworthiness.  Among these bits of evidence is that she has apparently been moved to an "elite cell" (per Sharlet's commentary in the article) and that Coe himself may be actively mentoring Hillary at this point.

      Sixthly, much of this information is being confirmed not just by Sharlet but by an extremely well-connected neopentecostal dominionist preacher (who also has a history of promotion of extremely abusive tactics, both in his denomination and with political dominionist groups he's worked with).

      Sorry, the more I read, the more I am frankly fucking afraid for Hillary at this point.  Pretty much all of my alarm bells are ringing, ringing bigtime, and on multiple levels (not just the cell-church thing!) that she has gotten herself into something very, very bad.  I'm kind of feeling right now like the guy watching a horror movie where the kids are about to go necking into the forest, blissfully unaware that Jason Voorhees is about to slice and dice them into itty pieces. :P

      •  Hmmm, well, I go with most of this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in that I think you bios of those prominent right-wing women are on-target, and your assessment of their intentions.  And I also agree that this kind of pyramid-scheme membership is inherently coercive and promotes mind control.  

        I guess the part where I diverge is whether the group really IS so very "tight knit".  An ongoing association can be for mutual convenience and political leverage -- they wanted access to the White House, the White House wanted to neutralize or mollify the born-again machine whereever possible.  

        If you're right and she really DOES have a strong emotional attachment to this group, that would be disturbing.  But isn't lack of warm or loyal feelings part of what gets her pilloried on this site in the first place?  

        It's easy for me to see their group as pernicious, but hard for me to see HRC as an actual adherent.  Even parroting the "prayer warrior" syntax sounds cynical and affected to me.  

        I'm pretty much going on intuition here, and I admit I don't have your background in exhaustive research.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:48:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Political expediency? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          highacidity, dogemperor, lgmcp

          Or true believer partnerships?
          Hard to say

          You’re not supposed to think about lofty spiritual affairs in terms so temporal as their political importance. But among the prayer groups, one holds special status: a tight-knit gathering of about a dozen senators which still meets every Wednesday morning for prayer and discussion, led by Douglas Coe himself. Each week, someone starts the meeting by giving personal testimony, secure in the support of the audience. Once, Senator Dan Coats stood before the group and sang "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know."

          The roster of regular participants has included such notable conservative names as Brownback, Santorum, Nickles, Enzi, and Inhofe. Then, in 2001, just after the new class of senators was sworn in, another name was added to the list: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

          One spring Wednesday, a few months into the term, Senator Sam Brownback’s turn came to lead the group, and he rose intending to talk about a recent cancer scare. But as he stood before his colleagues Brownback spotted Clinton, and was overcome with the impulse to change the subject of his testimony. "I came here today prepared to share about this experience in my life that has caused great suffering, the result of which has deepened my faith," Brownback said, according to someone who watched the scene unfold. "But I’m overcome now with only one thought." He confessed to having hated Clinton and having said derogatory things about her. Through God, he now recognized his sin. Then he turned to her and asked, "Mrs. Clinton, will you forgive me?" Clinton replied that she would, and that she appreciated the apology.

          "It was an extraordinary moment," the member told me.

          This repentance fostered an unlikely relationship that has yielded political bounty. Clinton and Brownback went on to cosponsor one measure protecting refugees fleeing sexual abuse, and another to study the effects on children of violent video games and television shows. "That morning helped make our working relationship," Brownback told me recently. "It brought me close to someone I did not ever imagine I would become close to." Since then, Clinton has teamed up on legislation with many members of the prayer group.

  •  I've been waiting patiently (8+ / 0-)

    for this madness to hit the MSM. I can't wait 'til Olbermann does a special comment on the "Family".  Maybe this diary (all should recommend!) will help push it there faster. Thanks!!!

    •  I agree MSM at least Olbermann expose this (5+ / 0-)

      Great job on this dairy and I hope KOS keeps bringing this up. There is a reason the founders wanted to keep church and state at a distance. It seems people of power in Washington chip away at The Bill of Rights and Constitution everyday in the name of their version of God. How much longer before "The Family" comes for you and me? I think they already are!

    •  NBC, amazingly enough, mentioned this last week (4+ / 0-)

      I posted this in an Open Thread.

      MSM in front of a story - HRC & the Fellowship

      Strange story on the NBC Nightly News tonight and Douglas Coe and the Fellowship - the same folks that do the annual Prayer Breakfasts in DC.  Apparently the story was a book tie-ie to Jeff Sharlet's new book about the group previewed here in Mother Jones). It was a strange story in two ways. One it discussed Coe's influence on DC and his use of speeches about Hitler... and it linked Coe to McCain, Obama, and especially Hillary. Two - the fact that it even aired is strange - it's not like this is getting much press in the blogs (I found no tags about Coe or the Fellowship). Brian Williams spun it as fair game since Rev Wright was critiqued, that HRC and Bill should be critiqued for their connections to Coe.  It all smacks of conpspiracy theories (and, indeed, the wiki page points to a lengthy Wayne Madsen piece). I still can't believe I saw it on the network news.

      by dannyinla on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 07:45:39 PM PDT

  •  Tipped & Recced (6+ / 0-)

    It's well past time to pull back the curtains in The Family's glass house.

    Thanks for doing so.

  •  I'm still concerned about this. (9+ / 0-)

    You are presuming that this accusation about Hillary is correct. Frankly, I find it hard to believe. This is at odds with both her religious history and her behavior.

    I understand that there is one report that she belonged to this cell, but what do we have to corroborate it? The Mother Jones article was from last September. But what is it based on, where do you come up with the notion that she attended this "cell" for eight years?

    I just find this to be an awfully big leap and I really don't think it's justified at this point. It's one thing to investigate it further, or question her campaign about it. But I'm really uncomfortable with you writing about this as if it is an established fact. That's what your headline implies. You state that on Friday reports started to come out, but the only source you cite is Mother Jones.

    DE, I really appreciate the work you have done on this subject. But I think we need to be extremely careful with this. Hillary's religious history has been very mainstream, and personal. I find it hard to believe that she is really involved with these people, especially since dominionists have been rabidly anti-Clinton.

    Well fuck it all, I'm still not leaving. I'm too goddamn mean and stubborn to be run off by a swarm of annoying insects.

    by homogenius on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:16:09 PM PDT

  •  relevant youtube (5+ / 0-)
    zappa on crossfire

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:24:38 PM PDT

  •  Dominionism defined... (6+ / 0-)

    I recently browsed a book that explained who Dominionism differed from evangelicals and the broader Christian Right.  Here's an excellent linkby the author with this excerpt.


    The Reconstructionist movement, founded in 1973 by Rousas Rushdooney, is the intellectual foundation for the most politically active element within the Christian Right. Rushdooney's 1,600 page three-volume work, Institutes of Biblical Law, argued that American society should be governed according to the Biblical precepts in the Ten Commandments.

    He wrote that the elect, like Adam and Noah, were given dominion over the earth by God and must subdue the earth, along with all non-believers, so the Messiah could return.

    Let's not from the flimsy evidence presented on this diary come to the unwarranted conclusion that any individual, even those we politically oppose espouses this goal.

    •  Fair enough (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, lgmcp

      And while it is possible that Hillary Clinton does not personally espouse those views, the fact is that Coe and The Family do.

      The Family avoids the word Christian but worships Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the "meek." They believe that, in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as The Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power--cultivating it, building it and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

      •  Scary stuff.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, dogemperor

        I am disturbed that, with the exception of Mike Gravel, not a single of the Democratic candidates for president refused to respond positively when asked about their praying to God.

        I must say, even though such expression is sinful on Dailykos, that John McCain, by refusing to discuss his religious beliefs is a notch above the Democrats on this area.

        Of course, the actual policies, such as faith based initiatives will make more of a difference that campaign rhetoric.  But I would be much happier if Obama would take a stand that he would reverse the movement against the separation of church and state that has happened under this administration.

        •  McCain? Really? (6+ / 0-)

          He may not discuss it, but he has changed denominations to make himself more palatable to the fundies (from Episcopalian to Southern Baptist, and claimed he always was Baptist).  And has started sucking up to some of the most distasteful evangelical preachers around (e.g. Hagee).

          I am somewhat of the opinion that John McCain doesn't discuss his religious beliefs because his current beliefs happen to be whatever stands the best chance of getting him votes.  What a shameless, pandering asshat that man is.

    •  This is an area in flux. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, Cassandra Waites

      Firstly, I wouldn't call the evidence entirely "flimsy".  If you are familiar with these sorts of tactics in dominionist groups (and, as I'll note below, I'm using a definition differing from Christian reconstructionism et al), or in coercive religious groups in general (outside of dominionist or "Christian Nationalist" groups), there are definite alarm bells ringing.  (I can say truthfully that if there were similar links found between Hillary--or Obama--and Scientologist orgs, I'd be raising just as much cain.)

      Secondly, the term "dominionism" has been used for "Christian Reconstructionism", but also as a general term for "Christian nationalism" and also in reference to a specific strain of "Christian nationalism" outside of Christian Reconstructionism.

      The vast majority of research into "Christian nationalist" groups has been on Christian Reconstructionism, which is a movement that ultimately is postmillenial and has much of its origins within "independent fundamentalist Baptist" churches.

      However, Christian Reconstructionism is not the only strain of "Christian Nationalism" nor is it the only version referred to as dominionist.  There are no less than three distinct strains (theologically) of "Christian Nationalism", and the common usage (especially in the past four years or so) has tended to lump these in together.

      One particular strain not related to Christian Reconstructionism is "ultramontaine" Catholicism--Opus Dei and Tom Monaghan's "Ave Maria" stuff and the like; they partner a lot with the other two branches, but it is a separate and independent strain of "Christian nationalism".  (In general, I don't write too much on this version.)

      Another strain--which pretty much does not have a standardised name in any community (even its practitioners just refer to it as "kingdom theology", "dominion theology", "restoration theology", "Joshua Generation", "Joel's Army", and so on and so forth) is a particular form of "Christian nationalism" that has its ultimate origin in neopentecostal denominations (primarily the Assemblies of God and denominations and "independent" megachurches descended from it).  This particular branch of "Christian nationalism"--which stems from much of the core theology of this particular branch of the Pentecostal movement and has since the early 1910s or so--is what I refer to as "neopentecostal dominionism" (because its origins are related to variants of "dominion theology"; for that matter, "name it and claim it" and "prosperity gospel" also come from the same fount, and versions of "prosperity gospel" are actively used to promote forms of "Christian Nationalism" in these groups).  It is quasi-premillenial (they do believe in a Rapture, but that things must be "named and claimed" and purged of "territorial spirits" in order to secure blessings for the US until then, and do believe they will return to earth at the end of the Tribulation to destroy all non-"Saved"), comes from a different theological strain, and at this point probably is the majority of the hardcore "Christian Nationalist" movement in the US; many (if not most) reports of coercive and spiritually abusive activities within "Christian Nationalist" groups come from this segment, and has been woefully under-researched (other than myself and a few other folks who've done recent research within the past five years or so--Troutfishing is among one of my fellow compatriots here--most of the body of research on these groups has come from two individuals, Sara Diamond and Skipp Porteous).

      All three things have been lumped together--generally, if I use the term "neopentecostal dominionism" I am referring to a sense of "dominionism sensu stricto (referring to groups that do have a basis of "dominion theology" and specifically "Manifest Son of God theology", as practiced in the "Assemblies family" of neopentecostal churches); if I use the generic term "dominionist", I'm using it in terms of  "dominionism sensu libre"--in the more modern usage of Christian Nationalism as a whole (and I've been trying to get away from the generic term, to avoid confusion).

      This is a matter of debate even among us researchers at times--it's an area where even the terminology is still evolving.  Do bear with us. :3

      If this isn't confusing enough, there's also debate on what Fred Clarkson has termed "soft" and "hard" dominionism--I am not a fan of those terms, and prefer the use of the terms "theological dominionism" (in regards to stuff promoted by the Assemblies and Christian Reconstructionists--where "Christian nationalism" has become integral to the core theology of the groups) and "functional dominionism" (groups like Focus on the Family which appeal to folks on the general basis of a "Christian Nation" without explicit appeals to the core theology of a denomination).

      This should, I hope, give you an idea of how "fluxy" this sort of thing is in practice (in discussing various groups of "Christian Nationalists" who often are from different theological streams but will cooperate together in common goals).  I focus on a specific subset. :3

      Thirdly, no, we are not lumping in evangelicalism as a whole.  "Christian Nationalist" movements are far different than evangelicals, and many of the most strident opponents of "Christian Nationalist" movements have been evangelicals (for example, an evangelical group has been keeping up the archives of connections between Coalition for National Policy members since IFAS folded in 2000, and much of the very best research on neopentecostal dominionism in the past five years has been via conservative evangelical groups opposed to "Christian Nationalism" and the steeplejacking of the entire evangelical movement by neopentecostal dominionists and Christian Reconstructionists).

  •  I'm as anti-Clinton as it gets (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    homogenius, dogemperor, lgmcp, arodb

    but it fits in the Clinton pattern, pure opportunism.

    I believe that Clinton truly believes in the "Family" values as much as I believe that Obama truly believes in the worst of Rev. Wright's rantings.  Whis is to say , not at all.

    "The era of Scooter Libby justice, Brownie incompetence and Karl Rove politics will finally be over this year" Reject Marc Rich justice and Mark Penn politics.

    by IhateBush on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:28:16 PM PDT

    •  I think she may well have started out like that. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, lgmcp, willb48

      One of the reasons I do really worry re Hillary is that I do think she got into this as a form of opportunism.  I have two separate sets of worries for her in that regard:

      a) Due to her history of growing up with authoritarians--and especially if there's a lot of "love-bombing" and pressure being put on in the cell-group (and there are some hints this could be the case)--she could well be starting to swallow the Flavor-Aid.  (People are recruited into groups like this via promises of power or sometimes via flat-out deception; they never get the full bill of goods starting out.)

      b) Hillary may be playing "smile and nod", and if so, she is eventually going to be burned and burned severely for this; "Christian Nationalist" groups do not in general survive for over 70 years as a successful group without some form of sledgehammer to bring down on their political enemies.

  •  Would that Frank Zappa... (4+ / 0-)

    ...was still alive to call the former Washington Wives on their current BS. Then again, considering the direction America has gone since Zappa's death in 1993, I would think the direction we're headed would cause him a great deal of distress. Maybe it's better he's not around to see life during the Cheney administration. :P

    We must defeat John McCain. Period. End of story.

    by Pris from LA on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:35:25 PM PDT

  •  Once again, excellent work, (7+ / 0-)

    dog.  I have read all of the comments posted so far and one theme seems to be that she does not "really believe" the dogma.  I posit the following question:

    Which is worse, actually believing the dogma and taking action, or not to believe it and thereby pander to its leaders?  In my book, either is equally bad, at least for the Constitution.

    Please keep up your efforts.  Warmest regards, Doc.

    Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

    by Translator on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:40:24 PM PDT

    •  Sucking up to theocrats is really bad (5+ / 0-)

      but being a true-believer-one-of-them is far, far worse, because it heightens the probability of fanatical and dangerous action. No points for sincerity in service of a vile ideology.

      Just my two cents, as one of those sinful queers they'd like to eliminate.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 02:55:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At the same time, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor, lgmcp, Translator

        appearing to be one of them well enough for them to count you as part of their numbers might increase the chance of the same action through feeling that they have the numbers to pull it off.

        When the SBC counts their member churches' membership numbers, and uses that number to say 'we are this many strong', anyone who like me has left without transferring membership out yet is going to be counted in that number.

        That's without doing anything to active aid them, just simply being one more private citizen they think supports them.

      •  Either is bad, and I see (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor, lgmcp, Cassandra Waites

        your point.  The rationality aspect of things.  W appears by his actions to be a nonbeliever, but that has not turned out well.  I just think that when one cavorts with this element, for whatever reason, one will end up doing at least some of their bidding.  Warmest regards, Doc.

        Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

        by Translator on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 03:19:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Question, dogemperor (5+ / 0-)

    It's also come out that Tipper Gore has, on at least one occasion, been invited to speak at an Eagle Forum dinner.

    Did she accept the invitation?

    That asked, I think Tipper's censorship activities was another thing that subtly dug in the back of my mind and kept me from being thrilled with Gore in 2000.

    I have heard the terms "prayer warrior" and prayer chain, but I think the lingo leached out into conservative churches generally.  I belonged to a country Baptist church, therefore conservative, but there was no tie to Joel's Army and that shit.  But I do remember aspects of the satanic panic making the gossip rounds - but that is where it stayed in my (ex) congregation  - gossip and speculation.

    Kucinich did NOT bankrupt Cleveland.

    by zett on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 03:03:54 PM PDT

    •  In regards to Tipper (0+ / 0-)

      The article doesn't go into detail, but I would not be surprised if she did--there were known alliances between PMRC and Focus on the Family (for starters), and there were also known alliances between PMRC and Eagle Forum at the time.

      As far as "prayer warrior" stuff--that has, as I had noted, leached a lot into the Southern Baptists in particular in the last ten to fifteen years (primarily after the major steeplejacks); over the past two to three years there is more overt promotion of the more disturbing parts of neopente dominionism in the SBC (in particular, the use of imprecatory prayers and the explicit training up of kids to be "God Warriors" of various sorts--sometimes including military recruitment in churches--as well as increasing promotion of "name it and claim it"/"prosperity gospel" including concepts of "generational curses" and whatnot).  

      I should also note that, increasingly, "Joel's Army" isn't referred to that name within the circles that promote it (in part due to some very good exposes by conservative evangelicals exposing this that were picked up by researchers).  "Joshua Generation" seems to be the favoured term anymore for "Joel's Army", as is "Kansas City Pastors".

      •  It has been more than 20 years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        since I was in the Baptist Church and I still think I heard the terms prayer warrior and so forth...but then again, maybe I picked it up on TV in passing or something.  I live in WV, so its throw a rock in any direction and hit a Baptist...or some other sort of conservative church, so I could have heard the term anywhere, I suppose.

        I had never heard the term Joel's Army until I came to Daily Kos (prolly one of your diaries)I am just saying my ex-congregation did not exhibit the tendencies of a Joel's Army mindset.

        My current pastor (I'm UCC these days)ripped into that prosperity gospel crap a few Sundays ago.  Loved it.

        Kucinich did NOT bankrupt Cleveland.

        by zett on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 05:28:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I worry about this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cathy Willey, dogemperor, lgmcp

    We really, really do not need a president who feels "called by God" to leadership.  Seven years+ of that is bad enough.

    It could explain why she is so desperate to be president that she'll stoop to any lengths to achieve her aim.  Obama, in her view, might be a force preventing divine will from having its way.  

    Of course, her membership in the group might be merely cynical - and her campaign the same.

  •  guilt by association not useful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of my theology profs used to say, "Church is where we're brought into fellowship with people we never dreamed we'd be in fellowship with." Jesus got criticized for eating with tax collectors (Roman collaborators) and other sinners. The church at its best includes all sorts of folks. (I can't speak for synagogues, mosques, and other forms of worship, & will leave that to others.) I am not particularly impressed by trying to smear someone based on the faults or associations of the other people in their religious community. If your criteria for joining a church is, "Is there anyone here whose lifestyle, politics, or occupation might embarrass me or upset the media if they found out?" you may as well just sit home alone.

    In the late 1960s people kept writing to Richard Nixon's Quaker meeting to demand that he be thrown out. The leader of the meeting wrote an open letter in response, saying words to the effect that "Our mission is to heal the sick people, not just the healthy ones -- we don't throw you out just because you're not perfect."

    The other articles about the Family have focussed on its leader/pastor, which seems appropriate in light of HRC's claims that she would never stay in a church whose pastor preached bad stuff.

    •  In this case, I'm advising investigation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, Deoliver47

      I do understand the concerns re "guilt by association"--but again, we're not dealing with Jesus hanging out with sinners or people wanting to expel Nixon from the Quakers.

      The group Hillary has associated herself with--and to be very honest, whether by "true believer" fervor or "smile and nod" expediency may not be exactly important at this point--has several characteristics we should be worried about, not just for the nation, but for Mrs. Clinton as a person and in particular her safety:

      a) The group she is in has a documented history of using cell groups that, as part of their operations, isolate people from contacts outside the group that could be used to calibrate "bullshit meters".

      b) The group has a known authoritarian leader who apparently dispenses theological interpretations from on high.

      c) The group has a documented history of using a particular pyramidal-style organisational structure that has a well-documented history of being not only coercive but documentably harmful in practice--in particular, causing longterm personality changes in participants trending towards a very specific "herdable" context (More on the study that showed the demonstrable harm of "cell" type discipling-and-shepherding groups in a future post).

      d) The particular circle Hillary is in has a membership entirely consisting of members who have promoted not only documented coercive cell-groups but other documentably harmful methods of coercion as well (one being a major referral agent to coercive "Bible boot camps"; one being a major funder of churches within a denomination increasingly recognised as coercive in practice; one being a promoter of coercive "cell" groups in literal prison-cells, etc.).

      e) All of the promoters also have actively promoted coercive practices (relating to concepts regarding demonic possession and "oppression" and impromptu "exorcisms") that have not only been documented to cause psychiatric injuries requiring hospitalisation in their native context but in analgous contexts in a coercive group extremely well known for their heavy emphasis on secrecy, shepherding, differentiated levels of info within the group, and similar concepts of "demonology" and "exorcism" (namely, Scientology).

      f) There are indications that these coercive practices may well have been set in place within the cell group (the use of "prayer warrior" groups in particular is a pretty reliable giveaway that e) above was definitely in effect)

      g) There are indications Hillary has since been moved into a higher level of involvement within the group and is directly being "shepherded" by Doug Coe.

      As to why these are bad:

      a) Cell groups are sufficiently infamous for isolating members from outside influence, placing undue pressure (including threats) against members, and having a "big brother" setup (where, among other things, the "shepherd" cannot be questions and can essentially work with the rest of the "flock" to bring pressure upon a "sheep" to confirm) that exit counseling orgs increasingly see them as abusive in practice.  (Studies have also shown longterm personality changes--showing that the pressure is so effective it can literally change someone's personality type.)

      b) Authoritarian leaders who cannot be questioned are generally regarded as a danger-sign of a potentially abusive group.  (Even the Pope can be falliable.)

      c) As noted in a) above, cell groups in practice tend to be coercive; in addition, "The Family" in its cell groups has the power to literally destroy the political career of anyone who may desire to leave the group (probably making it very dangerous, politically, for Hillary to back out; this also makes the group pretty well coercive by default).

      d) The very specific forms of coercion promoted (involuntary committment to "degaying"/"de-metaling"/"de-rapping" centers to be subject to extreme coercion, "deliverance ministry", etc.) are pretty much the "worst of the worst" of abusive tactics.  These are among the very few tactics to literally have caused death and maiming (via suicide attempts), longterm and on occasion permanent psychiatric injuries (via PTSD and complex PTSD), etc.  (This is an area I do speak with some personal experience in, as a survivor of an abusive group into cell churches and "deliverance ministry" who has been in therapy for complex PTSD resulting from religiously motivated child abuse.)

      e) See above.  (This does not count the reported ten to fifteen cases of "exorcism"-related death; this number is probably underreported by at least a factor of ten, and does not include deaths by suicide, drug overdose, etc. resulting from psychiatric injuries directly caused by "deliverance ministry".)

      f) See above.  I don't think any of us (no matter how you may feel about Hillary Clinton as a candidate) like thinking about the mental strain she may well be under just being in that group.

      Also, as an aside, there are specific terminologies that are used within coercive groups that can often be a dead giveaway that there are strange things afoot.  "Prayer Warrior" is one of those terms--it's only used in groups that either a) are part of a particular neopentecostal lineage with multiple reported cases of spiritual abuse or b) groups that have been heavily influenced (and are under steeplejacking attacks) by neopentecostal groups within that particular "family".  You don't expect to hear the term "Prayer Warrior" in a mainstream UMC or UCC church, the same as you wouldn't ever expect to hear about "Operating Thetans" or "Clears".

      g) In general, the level of coercion in abusive "cell groups" increases as one moves up the pyramid.  This is true in AmWay; this is true within cell churches in large neopentecostal megachurches.  The fact she's being mentored directly by Coe now as a "shepherd" is also a warning sign that we may have a very similar setup here--and Sharlet has confirmed there does seem to be distinct hierarchies of "membership" within "The Family".

      I'd really like it if I was being a worrywart about this for nothing, believe you me.  Unfortunately, I'm seeing a whole lot of danger signals and not a whole lot to reassure me it's just an oversensitive alarm. :P

  •  Religion in our Government (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dogemperor, Deoliver47

    Jeff Sharlet did an article in Rolling Stone about Sam Brownback entitled "God’s Senator." In it he covered Brownback’s membership in The Family. It was the first time I was aware of this frightening group.

    The other thing that bothers me a great deal is the influence of religion in the Pentagon and in the government in general. This group called The Christian Embassy has free rein in the Pentagon and in the halls of our government.  Check their website. They have programs for Capitol Hill, for diplomats, for presidential appointees, and for the Pentagon.

    Here’s an article by Sharlet about Christian Embassy.

    In Sharlet’s article in Harper’s, Through a Glass Darkly, he says:

    The most striking example is a short video on faith and diplomacy made in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, by Christian Embassy, a behind-the-scenes ministry for government and military elites. It almost seems to endorse deliberate negligence of duty. Dan Cooper, an undersecretary of veterans’ affairs, announces that his weekly prayer sessions are "more important than doing the job." Major General Jack Catton says that he sees his position as an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a "wonderful opportunity" to evangelize men and women setting defense policy. "My first priority is my faith," he says. "I think it’s a huge impact. . . . You have many men and women who are seeking God’s counsel and wisdom as they advise the Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs] and the Secretary of Defense." Brigadier General Bob Caslen puts it in sensual terms: "We’re the aroma of Jesus Christ." There’s a joyous disregard for democracy in these sentiments, for its demands and its compromises, that in its darkest manifestation becomes the overlooked piety at the heart of the old logic of Vietnam, lately applied to Iraq: In order to save the village, we must destroy it.

    How the hell did this happen? Why isn't there more concern about this?

    Dogemperor thanks for all the research. It will make for interesting reading.

  •  Thank you for doing this research (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I hope it will get a broader readership.

    Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 05:04:20 PM PDT

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