Sarah Palin a Gothardite?
In my last post, I noted an article from the Cincinnati Beacon--a regular source of good investigative reporting regarding Gothard's various fronts--on Palin's links with Gothard. A recent article in Salon gives more detail--and more reason to worry.
Among other things, Wasilla is one of 200-plus cities in the US that have been recruited into a particular Gothard front--the International Association of Character Cities:
Sep. 18, 2008 | In April 2000, under the direction of then-Mayor Sarah Palin, the Wasilla City Council passed a resolution declaring itself a "City of Character." Adopted unanimously, the resolution pledged that the city would "do all in its power" to promote "positive and constructive character qualities which distinguish between right and wrong," which the resolution predicted could work a range of wonders, from reducing juvenile delinquency to increasing corporate profits.
Thanks to Palin's efforts, Wasilla is now among roughly 200 cities nationwide (and others in 27 countries around the world) that have committed themselves -- in name, at least -- to following the teachings of the International Association of Character Cities (IACC), an organization that purports to be secular but is modeled on the evangelical teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).
Palin's personal connection to IACC, and her efforts to bring its agenda to Wasilla as mayor, sheds new light on her connections to the Christian far right, as well as her willingness to infuse government with its ideals rooted in religion. Her championing of IACC principles raises further questions about Palin's views on running government, including the hiring and firing of government employees, an area in which she has come under intense scrutiny in part due to her involvement in "trooper gate."
It is not exaggeration to term IACC a recruitment front for what amounts to a very nasty "Bible-based cult" Gothard promotes. The Salon article does touch on this, but--as in most cases involving neopente dominionists and coercive activity in neopente dominionist groups--most of the writing has been in either apologetics circles, survivors' communities, or the small community focusing on this sub-segment of "Christian nationalism".
The first definitive bits of writing re Gothard's IACC and its role as a recruitment front (outside of those in apologetics circles) would be two articles--the second being an article on Talk to Action entitled Developing Dominionist Cities which is itself a summary of Silva Talji's "Cult of Character". I would strongly recommend people start out with those two articles as backgrounder.
One piece of backgrounder, too, that I would recommend would be an article I have written regarding experiences in several "Gothardised" cities who were members of IACC--the program is promoted as "secular", but in the actual seminars, there tends to be a rapid hard-sell to a specifically neopente-dominionist theology, and pointers to the "real content" being in the explicitly religious material.
Even more disturbing, IACC is part of what amounts to a multi-headed hydra of frontgroups linked with Gothard. One known front is Police Dynamics Institute, which promotes Gothardism to police, firefighters and EMTs; another is ALERT Teams.
The ALERT Teams linkage--which is actually quite close indeed with PDI and IACC--is especially disturbing, as it is one of the few Joel's Army groups that can be legitimately described as "Joel's Army With Guns" (complete with a paramilitary training facility). Even worse, it's a "Joel's Army With Guns" group directly linked with possible neopente-dominionist infiltration of the armed forces and potentially grave national security consequences; the head of the US Air Force's Cyberspace Command is a major supporter of ALERT Teams (as if the US Air Force didn't have enough issues with "God Warriors" and mandatory religious prosyletisation scandals!).
There is evidence that--at least in the particular case of Palin's involvement--there was even less pretense than usual on the program being supposedly "secular"--including a talk by David Barton of Wallbuilders, a major promoter of a form of historical revisionism popular in "Christian nationalist" circles claiming that the US was established as primarily a dominionist nation:
Palin, Menzel confirmed, learned how Wasilla could become a City of Character at an IACC conference held at IBLP's International Training Center in Indianapolis in April 2000. A conference brochure shows that Gothard and other speakers affiliated with IBLP taught several of the sessions. The conference included a videotape presentation on the separation of church and state by David Barton, a regular on the Christian right speaking circuit who argues that the separation of church and state is a "myth."
Although Menzel and the IACC's materials insist that the program Hill launched at his company is secular, IBLP's Web site boasts that as a result of Hill's efforts, Kimray "benefited from the application of Biblical principles." Menzel admitted to the Texas Observer two years ago that "these are biblical principles." Hill has ties to Gothard dating back to 1974; he served on IBLP's board of directors from 1993 to 2005, and is currently on its "board of reference."
Gothard's teachings, and his implementation of them, are highly controversial even among evangelical Christians. Based on seven "non-optional" biblical principles, Gothard demands obedience to "God-ordained authorities, such as parents, government, and the church."
This gets very disturbing, very quickly--especially if you have an idea of just what Gothard promotes.
One thing Gothard is big on promoting is the concept of coercive "Bible-based" boot camps--in fact, one facility in Indianapolis was so horrific it was shut down by the state of Indiana. This is, alas, simply an extension of the religiously motivated child abuse he promotes as an extension of an entire system of abuse that actually manages to resemble Scientology's infamous Sea Orgs far more than any "church charity".
And some of the abuse of children in particular is extreme. A correspondent whom wishes to remain anonymous forwarded info from a now-defunct mailinglist for support of "Gothard parents":
Lori-We learned about spanking babies. WE learned about disciplning a child with a rod at the age of 6 months, when the weeds are very little we pluck them out. We use a 1/4 inch wooden dowel when they are 6 months. If you ignore those weeds then by the time they are toddlers you have to do something drastic. WE learned that if we started when they were babies, they were so much more obedient in coming and sitting and being quiet. OUr goal
was that they be able to sit quietly for 2 hours on Sunday morning. Now it has been a joy.
I have learned that just one whack on a baby's bottom is not enough, it is 5 or 6 whacks. I found I was spankiing my children a whole lot less when I did it right the first time.
(And yes, the rest of the thread is just as bad.)
Of note, this is probably the most extreme religiously motivated child abuse I've seen documented yet; even Tedd Tripp and the Pearls, who formerly held the title of "worst of the worst", don't recommend using that thick of a rod to whack a six-month-old. :P
Gothard's system of abuse is in part based on enforcing a particularly extreme version of the coercive "discipling and shepherding" model common in abusive neopente dominionist churches--the same "cell church" model, of note, in use in John Hagee's church, in Wasilla A/G, and others. This is also the same cell-church model documented to cause short and long-term personality changes--in some cases, in as short as three days.
Little documented is that Gothard's "coercive neopente dominionism-plus" system has a heavy emphasis on not just the abusive "cell church" model (including a requirement people be under the "covering" of a shepherd) and some especially horrific child abuse, but also a very heavy emphasis on another oddity in neopente dominionist circles--namely, the concept of "deliverance ministry". "Deliverance ministry", boiled down, claims that literally anything can be "demonised" or "open doorways for Satan" and cause one to be "oppressed" or even frankly possessed by the Devil; in practice, it strongly resembles some of the worst practices in Scientology regarding "body thetans", "engrams", and "suppressive persons".
In similar manner as have been documented at some of Palin's churches, Gothard promotes the idea that illnesses are caused by "generational curses"--or even by things as innocuous as Cabbage Patch Kids or "Troll" dolls.
Combined, the two practices amount to one of the most coercive systems ever documented--and Gothard's system is far more extreme than even the infamous coercive chunderfest at Hagee's church documented by Matt Taibbi in his book "The Great Derangement".
As if this weren't enough, Gothard will in general not discuss his tactics unless you have been recruited into his programs (a dead giveaway we are dealing with a frank cult here), and promotes "Quiverfull" stuff in his own way by claiming in essence that "God will provide" for women having extreme amounts of kids and that parents shouldn't have Caesarian sections (and again attributes infertility to having Cabbage Patch Kids in the house)...among other things. In addition to this, one of Gothard's known fronts is a completely unaccredited "college" that includes classes on "Christian midwifery", and Gothard has even been known to encourage women to not register home births at all.
In addition to all the other fun stuff I've mentioned, Gothard is also very explicitly dominionist (as if you hadn't yet guessed this), has encouraged others to set up incredibly abusive "Bible boot camps" not unlike his Indianapolis misadventure, and attempted to suppress publication of a guide critical of his tactics.
Gothard's teachings have in fact been described as those of a Bible-based cult--which I am inclined to agree with, having grown up in a coercive group where Gothard's writing was heavily promoted and having written on the subject of abusive dominionist groups throughout most of my diary entries on DailyKos. My experiences aren't unique--apparently Gothard's stuff is heavily promoted within the Assemblies of God in particular (which is the denomination I am a walkaway from); disturbingly, Gothard is also heavily promoted within the dominionist "home education" movement.
...and yes, that would be the same Assemblies in which Palin was, and has been up to June 2008, heavily involved in...including in an official policy as state governor.
And this, after Cincinnati's commissioner has called for an investigation of IACC due to its heavy support of religiously motivated child abuse.
More on that "Deborah" dogwhistle
I also reported the other day on how J. Lee Grady--a Joel's Army promoter who is editor of the site "Fire In My Bones" and who has hailed fellow Joel's Army promoter Todd Bentley as a modern-day prophet--literally compared Sarah Palin to the Biblical prophetess Deborah.
This is a prime example of how many of the promoters of "Joel's Army" theology tend to drop code-words and overt "scripture twisting" as dog-whistles to their parishoners--and the "Deborah dogwhistle" is a particularly nasty one indeed, as we'll get into.
The specific dogwhistle in question:
When McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate, I was reminded of the biblical story of Deborah, the Old Testament prophet who rallied God’s people to victory at a time when ancient Israel was being terrorized by foreign invaders. Deborah’s gender didn’t stop her from amassing an army; she inspired the people in a way no man could. She and her defense minister, Barak, headed to the front lines and watched God do a miracle on the battlefield.
In her song in Judges 5:7, Deborah declares: "The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel" (NASB).
The use of the New American Standard Bible is somewhat unusual (most neopente dominionists tend to use the NIV), but despite the version, the message is clear...and disturbing.
The Song of Deborah describes a particularly vicious battle against the Canaanites during the pre-royal period of Israel--when the judges ruled the country along with the priesthood. It is worth noting Judges 5:6-5:8 in particular in the NASB version:
6 "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted,
And travelers went by roundabout ways.
7 "The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel,
Until I, Deborah, arose,
Until I arose, a mother in Israel.
8 "New gods were chosen;
Then war was in the gates.
Not a shield or a spear was seen
Among forty thousand in Israel.
It's also noteworthy what appears in the New International Version, the version that most neopente dominionists are more likely to be using:
6 "In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned;
travelers took to winding paths.
7 Village life [c] in Israel ceased,
ceased until I, [d] Deborah, arose,
arose a mother in Israel.
8 When they chose new gods,
war came to the city gates,
and not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.
([c] or "Warriors"; [d] or "you".)
It's also worth noting some other minor dogwhistles. BibleWiki notes:
Name of the triumphal ode found in Jdg 5:2-31 and ascribed in the title (Jdg 5:1) to Deborah; it celebrates the victory in the plain of Megiddo over Sisera and his army.
For those unaware, Megiddo is of course the traditional site upon which the Final Battle will be fought--Armageddon. At least some groups do directly equate the two.
Then again, seeing as one of the persons fighting with Deborah was named Barak, this may not be as significant as one thinks--unless one counts that Barak ultimately failed at assassinating Sisera, and was beaten to it by a woman.
Oh, and the scene of aforementioned assassination is also noteworthy, one of the more spectacularly gruesome offings in the Old Testament that was not the result of direct divine intervention:
24 "Most blessed of women is Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Most blessed is she of women in the tent.
25 "He asked for water and she gave him milk;
In a magnificent bowl she brought him curds.
26 "She reached out her hand for the tent peg,
And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer.
Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head;
And she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 "Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay;
Between her feet he bowed, he fell;
Where he bowed, there he fell dead.
Ironically, Judges 6 is not mentioned--in which Deborah reigns, and the people go to evil ways resulting in Midian occupation for seven years before Gideon takes over:
1 Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.
And yet there is deeper meaning in this particular dogwhistle. One thing being heavily promoted in the Joel's Army community is the concept of a "Deborah Anointing"--that is, essentially a "women's corps of Joel's Army". An example from a site promoting "Joel's Army" theology explains succinctly:
THE DEBORAH ANOINTING
King David prophesied in Ps. 68:11-12, "The Lord gives the word (command); the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host; Kings of armies flee, they flee; and she who remains at home will divide the spoil!" The book of Judges declares Deborah as the 5th and last judge of Israel who resided under a tree, where she spent her days and nights alone with God, and received the strategic war plan to defeat Israel's enemies while being outnumbered. As a wife, judge, prophetess and strong military leader, Deborah saved her nation from bondage and tyranny, and sang of being a mother in Israel and dividing the spoil of her conquered enemy, Sisera (Judges 5). Her commander of the troops, Barak, and the scribe of Issachar (who knew and read the times of Israel) refused to engage in war without her. Why? Because of the anointings that rested upon her. The DEBORAH ANOINTING will be released upon women's ministries and housewives, birthing new ministries releasing higher seats of power, authority and the prophetic. High-ranking commanders of God's Army will not engage in battle without them. The vast majority of front liners and trench diggers are women, and the scars of battle are evident. However, this anointing will birth a new song in the hearts of many women who proclaim the Word of the Lord.
In other words, folks seen as having a "Deborah Anointing" are seen explicitly as God Warriors In Dresses--basically the WACS of Joel's Army, as it were.
The same site gives some rather disturbing insight as to what they thought of the biblical Barak:
Last night in the 'wee small hours' I agonised over wondering if I had made a terrible mistake in the word the Lord gave me for Wales. I know full well that Deborah did not slay Barak, indeed it was Jael who slew Sisera and yet somehow I did not 'see' what I had written at the time of testing/posting. I prayed about it, repenting if was in error, not understanding why the prophetic word for Wales, spoke of Deborah slaying Barak. I asked the Spirit of God to show me in His Word the explanation for the use of such terminology. I believe the Lord in His Wisdom permitted me to remain 'blind' in order that He might bring forth the following revelation. The Lord led me to a specific page within a book on the Welsh revival and I believe this is what He has shown:
. . .
Barak almost made a grave mistake. When he first heard the Lord's instruction to go and fight the enemy commander and his army, his initial response was not faith but fear and denial of the power of God. Through Deborah the Lord was instructing Barak to go and take on the 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun and to lead the way to Mount Tabor.
BARAK TO DEBORAH --"I'LL ONLY GO IF YOU GO WITH ME"
Barak was not prepared to enter the battle trusting God. He replied to Deborah "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." Judges 4:8
The spirit within Barak did not believe in a conquering God who was able to defeat all opposition. Barak placed more belief in Deborah by his side than in the Lord God of Hosts as his strong deliverer. He had no revelation of the battle belonging to God, nor of the power that was in him being greater than the power in this world. Further, Barak was concerned for his flesh. The Lord is bringing together an end time army who will "love not their own lives unto death".
This is the revelation within the prophetic word for revival in Wales that we must understand. Without our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus as the risen victorious Christ, we will not be able to be used in the Lord's army against his enemy's.
. . .
The end time army will be a fearless, anointed army with no trace of the 'spirit' and rights to self within Barak. To be anything less that completely focused on the Lord and His awesome power will mean we are in danger of missing the commission set before us. It must be in His strength alone and completely dependent on Him that we move forward into revival. There are 'giants' that must be slain and it is only hidden in Christ and abandoned to His precious Spirit that we may be used to re-enforce the victory of Calvary.
Within God's Holy Word we come to understand how the enemy commander Sisera was killed by Jael - we are shown the defeat of the 'enemy without'. The Lord in His loving mercy is giving us a further 'key' - in studying Barak's responses and actions we are given some insight into the 'enemy within' - our sinful concern for our flesh, and our carnal doubts and lack of faith and belief in the nature and character of God as the Lord of Hosts.
WE MUST REPENT OF THE SPIRIT OF BARAK
I therefore believe we must repent of the sins that Barak walked in and ask the Lord for forgiveness. The Spirit will bring this conviction and through the Deborah anointing He will release those with a similar spirit to Barak. The end time army must march out in faith having sought the Lord with all of their heart, for there is no time for half hearted commitment or poorly shod armour or any amount of self-reliance.
(Of note, the "Wales revival" in question was a Joel's Army/Third Wave revival occuring in 1999.)
This is far from an isolated reference. Specific references to "Deborah Anointing" occur on multiple Joel's Army sites, including this one (linked with Hillsong A/G in Sydney, Australia--a particularly infamous Joel's Army congregation that is the home of the Family First political party) as well as this site, and a major Joel's Army promotion site (Fresh Fire Ministries) promotes it as "the mantle of Deborah".
There are indications that the term may well have been used in Joel's Army circles as early as 1998 or earlier, based on its use in Guatemalan "Joel's Army" churches. (Guatemala has suffered possibly more than any other country the sad reality of neopente dominionist regimes...in particularly genocidal fashion during the reign of Gen. Rios Montt.)
A subtle dog-whistle indeed--and not likely that anyone outside the Joel's Army movement would catch the full import of it.