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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

23 September - Evangelism,Forced Conversion & Hegemony

A simplified chart of historical developments ...Image via Wikipedia
Taylor Swift @ Wembley ArenaImage by Tomodo Photography via Flickr
Almost all non-fundamentalist Christians and non-Christians identify missionary activity and evangelism as an activity detrimental to a healthy society and spiritual growth. Here are the most important reasons cited
( Some excerpted as samples )
Warfare not a spiritual experience  ( 4 items )
"Evangelism is a warfare, it is not a spiritual experience" is what evangelicals openly admit. Most of their literature talks about 'Winning souls and counting numbers, strategies etc..' In their planning they even use the military terminology such as 'blasting, bombarding, targets under control, targeted areas, preparing the warriors...' Many true Christians call it 'Bastardization of Christianity'.
Clash of Civilization  ( 14 items )
Evangelism/Proselytism is due to the fundamentally an expression of clash of civilization.  Since time immemorial western civilization has been trying to convert or annihilate whoever is different from them.  The core principle is 'whoever is not like us is disposable'.
Evangelism is a tool for territorial expansion  ( 3 items )
Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first elected Prime Minister (1963-1964) and President (1964-1978) said: "When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible." 
Evangelism means destruction of Cultures  ( 13 items )
Civilizations produced a wide range of cultures, thanks to missionaries most of the world cultures exist either in old history books or museums only. Read Conversion in any form is destruction of culture. Roy Brown explains his study in Fundamentalism as a destroyer of cultures 
Evangelism destroys Religious Diversity  ( 2 items )
The benefits of religious diversity go beyond simply keeping the world "interesting". If all Humanity had the same religion, even a peaceful one (which Christianity is not), we would lose most of our creativity and the capacity for philosophical insight. Religious diversity expands the mind; when a single belief system dominates a society, it limits the mind. This is dangerous even in a modern, scientific society because the scientists themselves need to be able to rethink their (culturally-conditioned) views of the universe. Otherwise, important discoveries (such as the heliocentric solar system or the evolution of life) are delayed even though the evidence may be readily available.
Churches are against population control  ( 3 items )
Evangelism produces more Christians.Church is a strong opponent of any form of Birth control which produced many orphans and malnutritioned children. INDIAN RATIONALISTS CRITICISE POPE ON POPULATION POLICY
 Evangelism is an immoral and unethical practice  ( 5 items )
From time immemorial most of the world's greatest philosophers, scholars and thinkers have been condemning 'Organised Religious conversion' as an immoral and unethical practice. Eminent scholars such as MV Nadkarni convincingly argues that Religious Conversion is an unethical practice. He takes leaves from the works of Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Syed Mohammad, Raja Ram Mohan Roy etc. Be sure to read the article titled "Ethics and Relevance of Conversions" and many more in this section
Evangelism: A Political game for hegemony  ( 5 items )
Western Church was never a religious or spiritual organization. Though it may start or sound as one but the ultimate motive is power and control of Governments.. Vijay Prasad in Eastward Evangelical Soldiers identifies American Evangelism as US foreign policy for global hegemony. 
There've been quite a number of good articles written regarding Ron Luce and his "BattleCry" gatherings, as well as his group "Teen Mania": Responding to the 'BattleCry' campaign: Introducing 'Acquire the Evidence'
"Battle Cry" Youth Rally in Massachusetts, Summer '04
Christ's Righteously Equipped Warriors
Battle Cry Last Weekend in Philadelphia
In a reply to one of the latest posts, I mentioned Luce's extensive connections to the scarier parts of the dominionist movement, specifically the "spiritual warfare movement" within dominion theology.  In that reply, I mentioned Luce having a history of promoting "bait and switch" evangelism--including the actual publication of a manual.
In this post, we're actually going to focus on this manual, which is actually a "blast from the past" all the way back from 1995--and to educate you, the reader, on the ways that Luce encourages youth to recruit kids to dominionism.
"Bait and switch" evangelism--often termed "servant evangelism" or "stealth evangelism" in the dominionist communities where it's promoted--is the concept of earning the trust of an individual, or holding an event, with the purpose of prosyletising to them--but without letting the target know at first of your intent to attempt to convert them.  It is actually a fairly major way in which the more pente dominionist groups recruit, and has direct implications with fighting dominionism (as I'll note below).
One common method for more organised groups is to hold "anti-drug rallies" at public schools, or to hold "dinner parties", or even run haunted houses, without ever revealing the connections to a dominionist missionary group; at the end, when the doors are locked and the money has been taken, the people are subjected to hard sell evangelism.
People are actively encouraged to find ever more creative ways to trick people into being subjected to a bona-fide pentecostal altar call (and no, the comment there isn't accidental; the Assemblies of God has been historically one of the biggest promoters of this particular method of recruitment other than the Moonies (who call it "heavenly deception"), as I'll note below).  This has included, notably, even infiltrating other Christian churches (the practice is termed "sheep-stealing", and the Institute for Religion and Democracy almost stole the tactics it uses for splitting and hijacking congregations fullscale from pente-affiliated "shepherding groups" who used this to plant "charismatic" cell churches within non-pentecostal denominations with the goal that the "cell church" would eventually take over the home church a la the Borg).
As I noted, this tactic primarily started within the more pente branches of dominionism, especially churches heavily into the "dominion theology" movement and its associated "spiritual warfare" theology. Possibly the first group I know of that has promoted this aside from the Moonies is none other than the Assemblies' own Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International--a group extremely active in dominionist movements both here and abroad, and one of the groups with the earliest documented history (dating back to the beginnings of the Cold War and the first major waves of promoting "dominion theology").
 Episcopal Cafe - The Lead

A dumb, depressing document from Peter Akinola and his Church

Hat Tip  Talk2Action - Shadow War
Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans has received a five-page document (PDF here), signed by Peter Akinola and submitted by the Church of Nigeria in support of legislation that would outlaw same sex marriage, which is already illegal. It is a chilling document, especially the part where Akinola weighs in on just how long the prison sentences for the witnesses of gay marriages should be.
Why does the Anglican Communion continue to attempt to accommodate a man who, by his own admission, has very little use for human rights, and who has yet to answer pressing questions about his knowledge of a well-planned massacre of some 660 Muslims? Pluralist's suggestion is looking better all of the time: Expel the Nigerian Church--Time to Move On
Changing Attitude has also responded. Still waiting to learn whether some of the high profile members of Akinola's American congregations like Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson support this bill.
Hat tip to Changing Attitude for all of its hard work on this
Throughout Africa -- mainly in Christian countries -- vast numbers of children have been abandoned by their parents, or worse, often maimed or tortured, on suspicion of being "witches." The witch hunts aren't just a resurgence of indigenous beliefs.  They are part of a new and rapidly growing worldwide religious movement within the Pentecostal/charismatic branch of Christianity.
Aggressive crusades against alleged malevolent "witches" are encouraged by the "spiritual warfare" doctrines of some major leaders of one of the world's fastest-growing international religious movements, the "apostolic and prophetic" wing of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity.

One well-known adherent of this movement is Sarah Palin, about whom see Sarah Palin's 'Witchcraft Problem' Is Bigger Than Christine O'Donnell's 'Witchcraft Problem' by Bruce Wilson, September 21, 2010, on Talk To Action -- the blog which first broke the story of how, when Sarah Palin first went into politics, she was "anointed" by Thomas Muthee, an internationally recognized (within at least one sector of the Pentecostal/charismatic world) "apostle" who gave her a blessing to protect her against "witches."  Other, even more explosive aspects of this story have not yet reached the mass media, though they are well-documented here on Talk To Action.  Among other things, Thomas Muthee has acted as a witch hunter in Africa. 

Every year, there are hundreds of documented efforts to restrict or outright ban books from school and public libraries. Many of those responsible for such efforts are groups and individuals affiliated with the Religious Right. The annual list of banned or challenged books run the gamut from Harry Potter to Huckleberry Finn.
Fortunately, for more than 25 years, the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Foundation for Freedom of Expression, among others, have sponsored Banned Books Week to highlight the importance of the Freedom to Read. Both the ALA and the ABFFE have many resources and access to opportunities to participate in Banned Books Week.

Luis Palau  General Teachings/Activities

Luis Palau (pronounced pahl-OW), is an Argentinean-born (1934, to Roman Catholic parents) international evangelistic preacher with immense popularity in South and Central America. He claims to have been born-again at age 12, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1960. Palau is the author of 44 books and booklets, and has written more than 100 articles published in Charisma, Christian Herald, Christian Parenting Today, Christian Reader, Christianity Today, Decision, Discipleship Journal, Focus on the Family, Moody, The Plain Truth, Pursuit, World, World Vision, Worldwide Challenge, and many other periodicals. 

...Palau is a graduate and member of the Trustee Board at the neo-evangelical/psychologically-oriented Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon (now Multnomah Biblical Seminary). He is commonly called "the Billy Graham of South America." The title is fitting, for he has followed Graham's new evangelical policies in his crusades and has been willing to join hands with liberals, charismatics, and Roman Catholics. His ministry has not been confined to South America, however. He has had crusades in such diverse places as Aberdeen, Scotland; New Zealand; Managua, Nicaragua; and Peoria, Illinois (New Neutralism II, p. 67).

-  Since Palau's first crusade in 1966, an estimated 14 million people in 69 nations have attended 414 of Palau's cross-denominational crusades and rallies (now termed "Festivals") -- he has preached on every continent except Antarctica, and was the first evangelist to hold stadium evangelistic meetings in the Soviet Union (1989). In addition, tens of millions more have been exposed to the Palau message through radio and TV broadcasts in 104 nations. His radio programs are broadcast each weekday on more than 500 stations in North, South, and Central America (200 in the U.S.).

Urvashi Vaid

Ideas needed to defeat the Right

What was striking about the Glenn Beck rally was its familiarity, not its strangeness. Everything about it was a repetition of messages and ideas reinforcing the version of American tradition that ‘imagineers’ on the right have promoted for decades. A national identity erased of color or class or gender or religious plurality. A restoration fantasy of “taking this country back” (to the pre-civil war 1850’s at least, if not the 1760’s). The banal invocation to “do good” while acting really badly against anyone defined outside of the Christian nation.
In a similar vein, Jane Mayer’s expose of the Koch brothers in the New Yorker was also eerily familiar — another excellent analysis of the strategic funding and ideological commitment of right wing donors. How many times have we read this story? Yet, each decade it seems that mainstream and even progressive minded people newly “discover” the Right. We are reminded (again) that they have built a comprehensive totalitarian infrastructure (from ideas to action to communication). Liberals are shocked to realize how much money the ideological Right commits to consolidating its political power. People bemoan the collapse of a moderate wing of the Republican party. Alarms are sounded and everyone goes on as usual.
Sadly, there is a shortage of ideas about how to respond to and how to defeat the Right wing culturally and politically. This column is an effort to think about progressive strategy and invites others to offer their experiences.
Let’s leave aside the liberal denialist response of those – including our President — who think it possible to work “rationally” with an opposition that is arming itself to destroy them. (Remember the heady delusion of “there are no red states or blue states, only the United States of America”)? Progressives have tried at least three approaches to defeat the Right over the last four decades: 1) research and document the enemy, 2) build infrastructure to challenge their influence on a wide range of fronts, and 3) play hard-ball politics. Each of these approaches remains necessary, but must go deeper and be supplemented with new ideas.
Research and documentation
One certainly has to know whom one is up against. Research and analysis is critical. Research on the right has shown how religious conservatives married cultural conservatism to economic conservatism; links between the intelligence communities and the right; links among hard right militias and racist elements in this country; funding trails between mainstream donors and fanatic shock jocks; links between US religious groups and global missionaries whose actions result in terror and violence against LGBT people. The research shows us an ideologically broad coalition that effectively unites across class through its nationalism, racism and misogyny.(1)
But our research is not sophisticated enough to help us develop our vision of the future and put it out to America. Our think tanks fail in developing ways to communicate beyond a narrow elite base. We need to think how we can address the worries and anxieties of the rank and file followers of the Right – even the ones who are falling for racist and misogynist appeals with our very different message. To defeat the right, we are going to have to offer a coherent and inviting vision, a different kind of nationalism.
The ordinary person today is not my mommy or daddy’s generation of racist or sexist or even homophobe. S/he believes that women and racial minorities have made progress, that opportunity can be theirs too if they work hard for it, that the system is not as rigged as we on the elite left believe it is. How do we respond to this world view?
I think middle class America wants to feel better about itself and listening to progressives does leave them feeling good or inspired at all. The white working class feels blamed and burdened. It is resentful of the elites because it feels looked down upon by them. It longs to be rich and buys up lots of lottery tickets to gain entry to the land of Oz that capitalism promises. People of color in the middle class are also not immune from racism or bias – they are bought into the system and they fear the loss of their hard-earned status. And gay people have proved that we are just as bland and defensive in our dreams and desires as straight people – the experience of outsiderness does not necessarily make us understanding of other outsiders.
Instead of a sneering condescension towards the middle class attitudes we face in each community (white, black, gay, immigrant), instead of hiding behind the inaccessible analytic of “intersectionality”, we need to embody the embracing pluralism we represent and communicate widely.


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