The big news, obviously, in the blogosphere today is John McCain's surprise pick for the Republican veep nominee--a relative unknown by the name of Sarah Palin, whom--at least in the more conventional political circles--would appear to be a complete cypher.
Unfortunately, if one digs just a bit deeper, Palin is found to have some very interesting--and very disturbing--connections...among them, being potentially the first Assemblies-linked VP candidate and having a number of links to dominionist groups targeting kids via "bait and switch" evangelism.
Sarah Palin's connections that McCain want you to know about
There are quite a number of extremely troubling links between Sarah Palin and neopentecostal dominionists--enough that, in truth, she may be ultimately as much of a "dream candidate" for the dominionist movement as Mike Huckabee was. Even worse, she's running in a manner that has been frighteningly successful for dominionist groups since the early 80's--specifically, as a "stealth candidate".
Palin's Assemblies linkage
The first link in and of itself is a doozy--and one of the most damning indeed. No less than the official newsletter of the Assemblies of God of Alaska promotes her proudly as one of the denomination's own, and she was actually feted at an official function of the Assemblies' Alaska District as recently as this year:
The opening night banquet of the 2008 Alaska District Council was honored to have Governor Sarah Palin address the delegates and guests. Governor Palin spoke of her appreciation for the Assemblies of God and requested that the Council pray for both her and the State of Alaska. Superintendent Ted Boatsman, who was Palin’s junior high pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, along with Pastor Mike Rose of Juneau Christian Center, where Palin presently attends church when in Juneau, laid hands on the Governor and led the Council in prayer.
Palin, who was elected Governor in 2007, is Alaska’s youngest governor and the first female governor of the state. She just recently gave birth to her fifth child, Trig. Palin spoke of the faith challenge she faced when learning that Trig would be a Downs Syndrome child. However, she and her husband, Todd, believe that every child is a gift of God, deserving of life, and that God was asking them to accept His will for their lives. The Alaska District Council believes that the State of Alaska is blessed to have a woman of faith and courage as Governor.
A look at the home website of Palin's church tends to be revealing. Among other things, a particular Assemblies buzzword associated frequently with Hillsong A/G and New Zealand Assemblies churches shows up ("Destiny", here, is a buzzword for "Joel's Army", and is being preferred even as the phrase "Joel's Army" is getting enough negative spin that even the Assemblies is now having to do some rather massive spin control); cell churches are promoted (of the same sort that are linked to short-term and longterm psychological damage and are among the most coercive tactics ever documented in spiritually abusive groups). The church, like a number of other large Assemblies churches, is the center of a dominionist broadcast TV center whose programming is carried across multiple channels in Alaska.
In a trend that has been recently documented by no less than Southern Poverty Law Center (in its recent report on the Joel's Army movement), the church operates a Seven Project-esque targeted recruitment campaign aiming at teens (this is common across the Assemblies and across "Joel's Army" groups in general; fully a third of the documented national-level front groups operated by the Assemblies target teens).
And...believe you me, Palin's church is definitely "Joel's Army".
Mike Rose, pastor of Juneau Christian Center (Palin's church), is noted to be connected with the "Third Wave Movement"--a movement in neopente dominionist circles that is the major theological home of "Joel's Army". In fact, he's quite closely connected with Rodney Howard-Browne, a major (in fact, for some years, the major promoter) of "Third Wave" neopente dominionism, and actively promotes this insanity in his church:
- Mike Rose
Mike is an AOG pastor in Alaska's capital, who had Rodney Howard-Browne minister in his church four years ago. At that time, they had a congregation of 200, but over the last 4 years, they have seen it grow to 600 in a community of 35,000.
The format that Mike uses is one which gives a balanced approach to church life, allowing for worship and the Word, ministry to the unsaved as well as impartation of the Holy Spirit.
To do this, he has followed a fairly traditional Sunday morning worship service with worship, communion and preaching of the Word, as well as all the other activities which occur in our morning services, such as dedications and so on.
If there are two or three people who are perhaps crying or laughing uncontrollably, the ushers will gently lead them into the prayer room where they can continue to enjoy the presence of Jesus without affecting those around them.
However, he is also open to the possible occasions when the Holy Spirit will just sweep over the service and the majority of the people will be either laughing, crying or worshipping at one time.
His Sunday evening service generally lasts for three to four hours, compared to the morning one of around two hours. At the conclusion of the evening evangelistic endeavour, people are invited to open up their hearts and hunger for a fresh touch of the Spirit. It was during these times that the powerful manifestations will take place and, having observed what has been happening in our Adelaide meetings over the last few weeks, these times have a great similarity to the old time Pentecostal camp meeting or tarrying services where people received a fresh touch of God.
Mike encourages his people to hunger and has taught them along that line. He helped them to understand and develop a new sensitivity to the ways of the Holy Spirit. His observations were:* You cannot sustain a move of the Spirit without hunger. * Corrections need to be made from time to time. * Don't just get fascinated by the move of God, but rather keep your eyes on Jesus. * Mission giving and outreach evangelism should be a prominent part of this move and the churches which don't reach out soon dry up.
He encourages us not to hype it up and that there needs to be a continual emphasis on holiness and that only qualified people should lay hands on those who have come for prayer.
Mike is also an adviser on Rodney Howard-Browne's Revival Ministries committee, along with three or four other AOG pastors in the USA. He informed me that he had sat in over 110 of Rodney's meetings and been impressed by the lack of pressure and hype, but by the powerful anointing of the Spirit which accompanies this young man.
As to why Howard-Browne's involvement is distressing--well, this previous article should give some pointers, but suffice it to say that another notable church he's had close connections with is the very church I am a walkaway from--hence how I know some of this up close and personal.
Some of the fun includes literal imprecatory prayers and curses against critics and literally accusing critics even within pentecostal circles of literal blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:
Rodney Howard-Browne gave this 'prophesy' last year at New Life Center: 'Do not compromise. For if you compromise, you shall not only lose the anointing that I placed upon you, you shall lose your life.'" [T.A. McMahon, "Experience-Driven Spirituality," The Berean Call, May 1995, page 4]
. . .
"I'm telling your right now," [Rodney Howard-Browne] hissed, "you'll drop dead if you prohibit what God is doing!" Dramatically he gestured toward the crowd [at Melodyland Christian Center, Anaheim, CA, 1/17/95] and warned them
that those like me, who would dare to question that what he was doing was of God, had committed the unpardonable sin and would not be forgiven in this world or the next." [Hank Hanegraaf, "Counterfeit Revival" (1997), page 22]
Bad news...but it doesn't stop there.
Palin's links to "Feminists" For Life, a deceptive anti-abortion group
As if the Assemblies links weren't enough (and between this diary and the stuff that has been reported re John Ashcroft--much less George W. Bush's consistent support for Assemblies frontgroups--that should be a pretty big damn danger sign right there!), there's still more to indicate Sarah Palin may have been put in as a "stealth dominionist".
Among other things, Palin explicitly promoted "teach the controversy" by calling for the misnamed "creation science" to be taught in public schools (as now well documented in Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District, it's known that "creation science" is nothing more and nothing less than a method of putting young-earth creationism in public schools).
It also appears that Sarah Palin is a member of a misnamed group called Feminists for Life. FFL in fact engages in "cultural appropriation" of women's suffrage icons to promote a very woman-unfriendly agenda that--despite attempts to sound "not like those crazies in Operation Rescue"--would not only criminalise abortion but the IUD and hormonal birth control methods, and potentially everything outside the rhythm method (the term "abortifacient birth control" is a codephrase in the dominionist "pro-life" community for hormonal birth control--partly due to a unique urban legend claiming "the pill" and other hormonal birth control causes abortion and partly because of a unique definition of pregnancy beginning at conception rather than at implantation (the latter is what most mainstream OB/GYNs use) and thus making anything preventing implantation potentially "abortifacient").
FFL promotes such fun bogosities as "post-abortion syndrome" (the idea that having an abortion will inevitably lead to PTSD and insanity), and promotes mandatory waiting periods and misinformation guidelines that can be insurmountable for poor or rural women--even those forced to make the most heartbreaking choice because of a nonviable pregnancy. In fact, one of their biggest causes isn't feminist at all--they actively promote the idea that the best choice for women is to stay home as fulltime mothers, and it can be well argued that the only traditionally feminist viewpoint they really support is women's suffrage!
One of the big things FFL promotes is deceptive "pregnancy counseling centers"--where pregnant teens are forced to essentially listen to an altar call on how "abortionists want to murder their children" whilst a pee-stick test clears--and if she tests "yes", she gets a hard-sell to keep the child or to check herself into a dominionist-run "halfway house for teenage moms" where she will ultimately be forced to sign her kid over. (Yes, there is an entire private adoption industry in the dominionist community--mostly focusing on adopting out the infants of poor teenage mothers who have been forced to give their kids up and who have been either scared into it or checked into such facilities by their parents.)
Ironically, FFL itself is rather a "stealth" organisation in and of itself--yes, even the dominionists admit this. Interestingly, despite their claims of being more "moderate" than most anti-abortion groups, very few real solutions are offered on how they intend to fund such things (which can be boiled down to "CHOOSE TO BREED").
Palin's links with Campus Crusade frontgroups
Palin's linkages don't stop there. In Kaylene Johnson's book Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down (2008, Epicenter Press) it's mentioned that Palin was head of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes branch in her school--up to and including leading team prayers.
It is helpful to know a bit of FCA's past history to know why this is a matter of concern. FCA is, in fact, a known frontgroup of the coercive dominionist group Campus Crusade for Christ--yes, the selfsame Campus Crusade that has such close links to the Assemblies of God that it can be described as a "conjoined twin" of the Assemblies and the same one documented as having links to an ever-widening prosyletisation scandal in our Armed Forces. FCA also gets quite a lot of cash from de facto Assemblies funding-front Hobby Lobby--a chain, of note, that has bailed out a neopente university and has even funded paramilitary "Joel's Army" groups targeting teens.
The links between FCA and a particular Hobby Lobby frontgroup, Bearing Fruit Communications, are particularly close. At least one member of Bearing Fruit's board of directors (T. Ray Grandstaff) is a former Senior VP for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Regarding FCA itself, the group has been linked to dominionism in numerous ways; they are well known for "bait and switch" evangelism (in fact, they and Athletes in Action are among the two groups most frequently banned from public school campuses due to bait-and-switch "altar calls" marketed as anti-drug talks to the school administration). More info here. (Such tactics are a favourite of dominionist groups explicitly targeting youth.) It's also well known (and, apparently, explicitly by design) that Fellowship of Christian Athletes rather aggressively "dominionist-ises" any team they are let into (this tends to be bad even within the NFL, but even more so within FCA groups run in colleges and high schools).
Of particular note, FCA has close links with the US Air Force Academy religious coercion controversies (and is but one of multiple Campus Crusade frontgroups documented by Military Religious Freedom Foundation as involved in military religious coercion scandals), and the ACLU has had to fight them since the 60's because of religious coercion (in particular, Jewish people tend to be targeted, according to the anti-cult group Rick Ross Foundation); in addition, it is explicitly supported by dominionist groups, and explicitly partners with other dominionist groups targeting youth (including Chi Alpha (an Assemblies of God frontgroup), Campus Crusade for Christ, and even scarier groups like "See You At The Pole" (infamous for, among other things, nailing people's names to crosses and "praying" over them to essentially curse people in the name of Christ to convert or suffer) and Council for National Policy).
And finally, the dominionists themselves like her
As expected, many if not most of the dominionist groups in the US have given explicit approval for Palin on her anti-abortion bona-fides alone--including Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, and a pack of the more extreme dominionist anti-abortion groups.
I'm not the only one to have noticed the rather extensive dominionist bona-fides--Pastor Dan over on Street Prophets has noted this as well. Frederick Clarkson over on Talk to Action has also noted salutations from two other dominionist leaders--one being Kenneth Blackwell, who was the "dream candidate" of neopente dominionists in his home state (fortunately, he lost the gubernatorial election).
Chip Berlet has also noted on Talk to Action a further endorsement from Eagle Forum--the oldest dominionist political group aside from "The Family" and the Assemblies-linked FGBMFI.
In addition, it would seem she may well have quite a bit of approval from dominionists in general--that is, if the barometer of the Texas GOP Convention is to be believed. (The Texas GOP is one of the most thoroughly steeplejacked GOP conventions in the US; many of the official party platforms are indistinguishable from Constitution Party platforms.) The Houston Chronicle reports:
"It's a slam dunk. I think that people who are concerned about 'How conservative is Mr. McCain' are now going to say, 'If he can make a choice of Sarah Palin, then he can be trusted with our conservative ideals,' " said delegate Cathie Adams, Republican National Committeewoman-elect and president of the Texas Eagle Forum.
. . .
"I always thought he needed to pick a woman," said Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, former president of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. "I think Hillary Clinton's campaign stimulated a lot of interest among women voters, and I think this is going to hit a chord."
But Kaufman added: "I look forward to learning more about her." She also noted that Palin is considered to be against abortion rights, and McCain "thought he needed to satisfy that wing of the party."
Here's hoping this article starts shining a little bit of light on the subject--the last thing we need a literal heartbeat away from the Presidency is a ninja dominionist.