Fundie Foundations

While gearing up for his appearance at a Christian Zionist prayer breakfast and a possible bid for the Presidency, Roy Moore has graced Boyle County High School in Danville with his presence at a “Foundations Festival”.

According to the Advocate Messanger, Moore told his listeners that

the Constitution of the United States was based on the “organic law” of God. He blamed “indoctrination in schools,” a liberal media and “hypocritical” judges for perpetuating the “myth” of the Constitution’s separation of church and state…He urged the audience to become active politically and support a bill in Congress, the “Constitutional Restoration Act of 2004,” which would limit the power of the judiciary in cases involving religion.

The Foundations Festival‘s website informs us that:

A classic definition of war is two mutually exclusive worldviews fighting for domination of a society.  The war on terror certainly reflects this definition, as does the clash of cultures that we witness in America today.

The foundations of our Christian worldview are under attack, and nothing less than the future of our children is at stake.  The battle is being waged for the minds and souls of our youth, and we can no longer stay on the sidelines.

So, whom should we compare with the Muslim terrorists? Well, obviously, it has to be liberals, scientists, divorcees, history teachers, people who don’t like Likud, and so on. The Festival saw Moore rub shoulders with the following speakers:

Grady McMurtry: With his science background, he “knows the lies of the evolutionists”, as well as, one assumes, the lies of the geologists, astronomers and linguists, as he takes a “young universe” position and asserts the literal truth of the Tower of Babel. As he helpfully informs us on his Creation World View website: “Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler formed many of their beliefs around the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest…As long as the KKK is around and as long as evolution is being taught in the classroom…the cancer will get bigger.”

Phil and Cindy Waugh: leaders of the Covenant Marriage Movement. According to the Waughs’ website:

The world views marriage as a legal contract between two or more individuals. Contracts are based on rights and responsibilities and are motivated by self-interests rather than on unconditional love…For the past 30 years, our nation has been wandering in the wilderness of “no-fault divorce” brought about by an acceptance of the view that marriage is simply a contract.

(Optional Covenant Marriage laws have been passed in Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas.)

Allen Quist: An educator, his website points out that Federal school education is too narrowly focused on job training. OK, but why? The Feds are censoring America’s heritage because it wants to bring in a “state-planned and managed economy similar to that of the former Soviet Union”. So does this mean Bush is a Communist?

Darrell Young: The Christian Zionist element. Interestingly, Young’s Focus on Jerusalem website shows how Christian Zionists may actually turn against Bush. As he warns us:

The involvement of the United States in enforcing the partitioning of the promised land conveys serious implications for our beloved country. Zechariah 12:2-3 indicates that all nations that become preoccupied with enforcing a world solution upon a reborn Israel, shall be cut to pieces. Joel 3:2 also indicates that the partitioning of Israel in the days when the God of Israel has restored her back into the land that he gave to the forefathers of Israel will cause destruction of all those nations who oppose the repossesion [sic] of the land by Israel.

Like other Christian Zionists, Young has nothing to say about the alternative, which would have to be equal citizenship of Jews and Palestinians in a bi-national state. Unless, of course, the history of the South points to other possible arrangements…

Other speakers include Mike Crowe, a minister who seems to spend his time writing letters to OutSmart, Houston’s Gay and Lesbian Magazine; Stewart Thompson, whose “Crossover” Ministry “ministers” to homosexuals; and black conservative anti-welfare activist (or “freedom fighter”, as she puts it) Starr Parker.  The whole event was sponsored by a local Danville group called Brothers in Christ.

On all of the above Bush has compromised: with his alleged Middle Eastern “peace process”; by not actually banning evolution; by allowing no fault divorce to continue; and by letting teachers train children to be cogs in the Communist machine. Run, Moore, run!

UPDATE (May 4): Fred Clarkson at Salon has just done a piece on Moore and the Constitution Party. It links to a long essay on the party’s website called “Why Christians Should not Vote for Bush“. Among the many reasons is Bush’s support for “pro-abortion, pro-sodomite Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger”.

President Overcomes Fetish

Life President Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo has apparently survived a supernatural attack. According to the Ghanaian Chronicle

a delegation of penitent fetish priests from the local voodoo Anyigbaton Hunorgah fetish shrine of Klikor in the Volta Region of Ghana was shown making a pilgrimage to Lome, begging President Eyadema to free them from a demonic curse…Looking remorseful, the fetish priests, led by Togbui Soglohogah Amewuda Akumey, narrated how two well known Togolese opposition leaders had come to their shrine in Ghana to offer them some drinks and large sums of monies for the sole purpose of “the spiritual killing” of President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo…He said that… their rituals boomeranged and backfired into the nightmare of fatalities in which their children began to die, strangely one after the other every other day…“Since we performed the rituals to kill President Eyadema, our families have never known peace, with our children dying one after the other,” he said regretfully.

The President received them “unamused” but with “compassion” and forgave them, and so hopefully broke the curse.

Now, might this by any chance have been set up to some degree? You would think that travelling to Togo to tell the President that you have conspired against him is likely to be a one-way trip. But this kind of thing is just what Eyadema’s image is made from. As was noted by Charles Piot, summarised here:

In the mid-1970s, Eyadéma walked away from a plane crash, leading to stories of his invincibility and magical powers. Cleverly, Sarakawa, the site where the plane went down, was made into both a national shrine/pilgrimage site, and the name of a day of the week (in the north).

Once Eyadéma had acquired this reputation of invincibility, other events fed into it. A few years after the “miracle of Sarakawa”, an assassin entered the presidential palace and shot at Eyadéma from close range. In a ghostlike fashion, the president walked away unscathed when the bullet lodged in a small notebook in his breast pocket.

Also, confessing wrong-doing before Eyadema is bit of a ritual. Ebow Godwin, a Togo-based Ghanaian BBC correspondent who filed the Chronicle story, has reported similar events in the past:

When 29 people were found dead in a Togo lagoon six years ago, the local fetish priests carried the bodies to foreign embassies and cast spells against the Eyadema army…But now the priests said they were wrong…The priests chief concern was to be exonerated by the gods, but in the course of their “confession” they added that it was opposition leaders, not the Eyadema troops, who had killed the men in the lagoon.

And what’s more, a group of Togolese deserters confessed to attacking Eyadema in 1993. After the plot failed, one of the conspirators mused that “Maybe, it was an act of God that we did not succeed to assassinate Eyadema after all…We were manipulated by the politicians who were only hungry for power, we came back to ask President Eyadema for forgiveness, and pardon”.

Eyadema would seem to be a regular Buddha of compassionate forgiveness. Unfortunately, though, his “magical powers” don’t seem to have done much for the people of Togo.

Zweibon: Christian Zionists Will Turn Against Jews

Herbert Zweibon, head of Americans for a Safe Israel, warns in the Jerusalem Post that if

Israel withdraws from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, I think you will see anti-Semitism in America like you have never seen. These people [Christian Zionists] will see it as a betrayal of their own trust.

This is because the Christians will reason that

Why should they stand by [Israel], if the Jews don’t?

Zweibon is quite correct – I’ve heard Christian Zionists in effect say that anti-Semitism is God dropping a hint to Jews who don’t want to relocate to Israel, and other Jewish and Israeli commentators have voiced misgivings about Christian Zionists over their support for The Passion. But in Zweibon’s case, his admission that most of his allies (whom he is due to join at a prayer breakfast for Israel very soon), are, under the surface, anti-Semitic is astonishing, and why he thinks this will persuade more Israelis to embrace expansionism is beyond me.

(NB: The Post states that Americans for a Safe Israel is a “US Jewish organization fighting for a two-state solution”. This is incorrect, and I suspect a typo for “fighting against”. Zweibon is bitterly opposed to a Palestinian state, although he doesn’t speak in favour of the only logical alternative: a bi-national state.)

PS – I’ve updated my entry on Vanunu from two days ago.

A Christian’s Manhood

Salon’s Right Hook brings to my attention Doug Giles, Pastor of Clash Christian Church and His People Christian Church, Miami. Giles has just written a call for the return of Christian masculinity. He notes that

The masculine spirit being absent…has…weakened our nation’s morality.Put an end to preaching by cheesy, whiny, quiche eating, preening Nancy Boys…Hire a pastor who throws off a good John Wayne vibe instead of that Boy George feeling…The Church has got to eliminate its effeminate drift and re-establish a masculine base…Beware, young man, of parents and pastors who want to “mother” you.

One can sympathise when he calls worship music “saccharine-laced slush”, and anyone who has dealt with some of the more creepy passive-aggressive Evangelical characters will most likely prefer a full-blooded Ian Paisley. Of course, we’ve had the Promise Keepers for a while now, and pictures of Jesus as a body-builder, but Giles would appear to be part of a new trend explored a few weeks ago in New York Times  (click here for bootleg copy):

The gentle, pacifist Jesus of the Crucifixion is sharing the spotlight with a more muscular warrior Jesus of the Second Coming, the Lamb making way for the Lion.

Stephen Prothero points out in the article that

When you see [Jesus] stand up at the end of [The Passion], he reminds you of Schwarzenegger. I think that movie shows more of a macho Jesus, who, in this case, is brutalized instead of brutalizing.

The Times also points out the Jesus of Glorious Appearing, who massacres the ungodly.

Giles’ His People Christian Church is described as targeting

the twenty something crowd with the purpose of getting the slack out of slackers. Doug giles is creative and a preteen, teen and adult audience hear is message and get restless and unsatisfied with status quo chrisitianity. This church is into christians taking the bible, philosophy, economics, history, law and just about everything else as seriously as god does. Don’t sleep on this church. The next generation of god’s warriors are coming out of this ministry.

The website for his Clash Church connects him with David Limbaugh (whose brother, we all know, was a real warrior in the 1960s battling the anal cyst), David Aikman (author of Jesus in Beijing, and whose views on Christianity in China I discussed a while back), and David Barton, Vice Chairman of the rather disturbing Republican Party of Texas.

For further hints on how to proceed with injecting Christendom with testosterone, Giles could check out the old muscular Christianity movement. Miss Poppy Dixon also makes available John Cross’s 1946 tract The Hard Road to Manhood:

I am acquainted personally with many young men who have voluntarily denied themselves all feminine companionship. … Instead of having a family of six or eight, they have thousands of boys who feel that these young men are like brothers or fathers to them. Many boys will grow up better men and fathers because these young men set everything else aside in life and devoted all their time to showing boys the pleasure and happiness that can be found by taking the hard road to manhood.

Meanwhile, for another all-American Christian warrior, may I commend Jesus’ General?

Russian Tattoos

The BBC has interesting pictures of Russian criminal tattoos. Many are anti-Communist and some anti-Semitic; some feature the word “Bog”, which means “God” but is also an acronym for “I shall rob again”. Number five is actually an icon of the Virgin Mary tattooed on someone’s chest, apparently for talismanic purposes. The pictures are from Danzig Baldaev’s new Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia.

We Don’t Need No Daily Worship

The law requiring a daily act of Christian worship in English (sic – laws are different in other parts of the UK) schools is under question by chief education inspector David Bell. Asks Bell:

How many people in this country, apart from schoolchildren, are required to attend daily worship?

But changing the law with bring to an end to a great British tradition – of hypocrisy. The fact is that most schools ignore the law, and have done so for years. As someone who went to school in the 1970s and 1980s I was lucky enough to see the decline first-hand. First, the hymns were dropped, as increasing numbers of kids could manage (or were inclined) only to mumble through the unfamiliar and obscure words – while a few would even stand defiantly with their mouths closed. One time the Headmaster of my high school (a well-meaning Evangelical) called a special assembly (causing panic and the widespread flushing away of contraband) to berate pupils for not saying the Lord’s Prayer, leaving the final “Amen”  in particular sounding very ropey, to no effect. Assemblies changed from worship to evangelism, but bringing in various bishops and evangelists to preach to us failed to turn the tide. Indeed, guitar-wielding Evangelicals and camp clergymen tended to evoke mainly laughter. What’s more, it was quite clear to us that only a minority of the staff were actually religious themselves, and often the assembly would have no religious content if a non-pious teacher was leading it. One time a staff member even ended his talk with “right. Oh, do you want a prayer? Nah…”

Meanwhile, the number of students whose parents exercised their right not to have their kids take part in the assembly on religious grounds increased. Making a lone Jehovah’s Witness stand outside the room was bad enough, but when several students from ethnic minorities were excluded the whole idea of the “school assembly” became a rather distasteful joke.

Teacher friends tell me that school assemblies today tend to consist of general moralising rather than religious worship or indoctrination, although a local religious figure might be invited in to chat from time to time. A few Christian Religious Studies teachers use the event as a bully pulpit (1), but they tend to annoy the other teachers as much as the children.

It’s an interesting fact that a country that has compulsory religious education and an established church is actually a lot less religious than the USA.

******

(1) A friend of mine who teaches recalls seeing a teacher eating cornflakes at the school assembly. He then told the pupils: “If you told your parents that I was eating cornflakes here today, they wouldn’t believe you. That’s just like the disciples telling people after the Resurrection, but it was true”. I don’t think even Josh MacDowell has tried this Argument from Cornflakes.

The Christian Israelis

Released after 18 years in prison for revealing to his fellow Israelis and the rest of the world that Israel possessed nukes, Mordechai Vanunu announced that

he had been treated harshly because of his conversion to Christianity and he no longer had any secrets to publish.

The latter seems likely – the Israeli restrictions placed on him would only punish him after he revealed something new, and Israel would hardly risk that if he knew anything important. One would like to see some evidence that his harsh treatment was down to his religion (and he’s not just claiming abuse by anti-Christian guards, but something more systematic), but his identification as a Christian does highlight the existence of Christian Israelis beyond the Israeli Arab minority.

According to a Jerusalem Post report from last year (discussed by Caspari) there are

7,000 “Jewish converts to Christianity” in Israel, half of whom are Russian.

Also:

250,000 Jews have embraced Jesus over the last 25 years.

This first figure seems rather low. Russians make up a sixth of the Israeli population, and a good number of these are either religious or nominal Orthodox Christians with some Jewish ancestry, who have decided to take advantage of the Law of Return to move away from Russia (often helped by Christian Zionists keen to move Jews to the country where God wants them to be, like it or not); many others are Roman Catholic, in part prompting the recent creation of a Hebrew-language Roman Catholic bishop. Israel, worried about the birth rate of Israeli Arabs, turned a blind eye to the religious backgrounds of many of these Russians, but according to the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, the Russians are

hundreds of thousands of Gentiles flooding the land with pork, prostitution, impurity and filth.

Although there are Israeli Jewish members of other Christian denominations (Vanunu is Anglican), most of the rest are Messianic Jews, who worship Jesus in a Jewish idiom and keep Jewish traditions. Although hated by the likes of Shas and disliked by many other religious Jews, their Christian Zionist beliefs make them at least partly acceptable, and Israeli Messianic Jews enjoy freedom of religion.

As for non-Israeli Jewish converts to other religions, despite the Russian experience these are not eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship; the Falashamura of Ethiopia have only recently been admitted, and other individuals have had problems. There is also anti-missionary legislation: in 1977 a law was passed making it an offence to provide an advantage to someone to facilitate their conversion; a harsher law proposed in 1998 failed to get through.

Meanwhile, Palestinian refugees refused entry back into Israel proper remain more than a little annoyed that converts to Judaism (including 80 indigenous Peruvians rushed through in 2002) are allowed to live in Israel while they remain in exile…

UPDATE (24 April): I’ve just learnt that Thursday’s Maariv newspaper ran with the headline in Hebrew “Mordecai Notzri”, meaning “Mordecai – Christian”, and showed Vanunu with two Anglican clerics. This headline does not appear the English language edition and so it would seem that the Vanunu case is being used to bash Israeli Jews who are Christian. It also suggests that Vanunu’s accusation should not be dimissed out of hand.

 

 

Peoples’ Front of Judea

The Saraya wal Mujahideen, one of the groups fighting the US in Fallujah, have a new strategy (well, new for this particular group, anyway) for striking a blow against the occupiers: er, attacking other Iraqis:

The group threatened to destroy churches in return for U.S. attacks on mosques, assassinate or kidnap priests, and target Christians if killing of Muslims did not stop.

Luckily, Bush’s people have all the tact needed to ensure the Islamic fundamentalists do not get widespread support: a

March 3 letter, which Bush-Cheney Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot sent to new campaign charter members in Florida, lauded the Republican president for “leading a global crusade against terrorism”.

Apocalyptic Breakfast

Alabama Justice Roy Moore is to present the keynote address at a prayer breakfast to “honor Israel and Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”, according to a press release carried by ASSIST Ministries. This is not the New York event discussed back in March, but a Memphis-based affair that has been going on for 23 years. The release tells us that Moore is

this amazing man, this faithful servant of America, who regularly hears from the God of the Ten Commandments.

(Some may be hoping that God of the Ten Commandments tells him to run against Bush, as rumoured)

The organiser is Ed McAteer, a Memphis businessman with longstanding influence in the Christian Right. McAteer’s gushing over Moore is not surprising, given that Moore (along with Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee) had pushed for him to be US Ambassador to Israel in 2001. McAteer explains that

The principal purpose of our breakfast is to show our unconditional love and solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People.

Well, not quite so unconditional, it turns out. One of the attendees will be Herbert Zweibon, Jewish head of Americans for a Safe Israel. In a statement reported by Ekklesia today, Zweibon complains that

In order to shore up his flagging political fortunes, Israel’s Prime Minister has betrayed the Zionist principles on which he served the nation as general and on which he ran for public office.

That’s right: Sharon is just too damn liberal. It doesn’t matter that he’s managed to get Bush to reverse 35 years of US policy on Israel, to support settlements in the West Bank and to reject the right of Palestinian refugees from Israel proper to return to their homes. The fact is that even talking about any sort of compromise is blasphemy: God has a particular plan for Israeli Jews, and any Jew who fails to go along with that plan, whether anti-Zionist, “soft-Zionist”, conservative or even (as in Sharon’s case) reactionary is a traitor. Israelis have a religious duty to expand Israel to its Biblical dimensions, and whatever bloodshed this may cause on either side is beside the point. Forget “blessed are the peacemakers”: holy war is inevitable, and at the end of it all those Jews still alive will see Jesus return and will convert. And Israel doesn’t need to worry, because, as LaHaye and Jenkins describe it, Jesus will dispatch all Israel’s enemies – including horses:

Men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood…It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin…Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated

(As an aside, Bush’s backing for Sharon’s plan does back up the view of those, such as The Revealer, who have said that Bush is less apocalyptic than some have suggested)

As well as various Israeli diplomatic figures, the breakfast in Memphis will bring together Christian Zionists such as Adrian Rogers, Gary Bauer, Thomas Ed Steele, and Bill McCartney (founder of the Promise Keepers), all of whom are vehemently against either a Palestinian state or equal rights for Palestinians in a bi-national state.

The event will also be graced by Holocaust survivor. I’m sure that none of the Christian Zionists will be tactless enough to say what I know many of them think: that the Holocaust was God’s punishment for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, before He restored them to Israel.

Christian Group Eyewitness in Fallujah

While the most-reported foreign Christian groups in Iraq concentrate on annoying local Eastern Christians in lieu of not being able to convert many Muslims, it’s refreshing to read about a Christian group with another agenda. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an international concern based in Chicago, and brings together Mennonite, Quaker and Brethren traditions in volunteer “violence reduction” activities and assisting groups such as Doctors Without Borders. Oddly, the mainstream media seems to be ignoring them, despite the fact that their members were eyewitnesses to the latest incursion into Fallujah. As reported by Ekklesia:

Christian peacemakers in Iraq have reported harrowing scenes including the killing of women and children by US forces following an overnight humanitarian mission to Fallujah…Marine snipers were “shooting at anyone who moves”.

The report includes accounts of a hospital being taken over as a military base, cluster bomb injuries and an ambulance coming under attack from US snipers as it tried to reach a woman in labour. However, according to a second report, the CPT is now moving out to Amman:

CPT’s “most trusted Iraqi partners” have urged the team to leave, saying that the current situation will make it impossible for the team to engage in normal, honest engagements with Iraqis or fulfill their mission to deter violence.

They have also suggested that CPT’s presence might actually endanger their local Iraqi partners in the emerging violent chaos.