Goat Song

One of the most interesting journalists working today is Jon Ronson, whose book Them and TV series The Secret Rulers of the World brought readers and viewers close-up with some of the most manically ingenious and alarming conspiracy-mongers and fanatics around today. Now his original and consistently left-field analysis turns to prisoner abuse in Iraq. This is from The Men Who Stare at Goats, as extracted in The Guardian in two parts (one, two):

And so, in 1977, [Lieutenant Colonel] Jim [Channon] wrote to the vice chief of staff for the army in the Pentagon, saying he wanted the army to learn how to be more cunning. He wanted to go on a fact-finding mission. The Pentagon agreed to pay Jim’s salary and expenses.

…He returned from his journey in 1979 and produced what he called First Earth Battalion Operations Manual [see here]…The new battlefield uniform would include pouches for ginseng regulators, divining tools, foodstuffs to enhance night vision and a loudspeaker that would automatically emit “indigenous music and words of peace”.

There was, Jim accepted, a possibility that these measures might not be enough to pacify an enemy. In that eventuality, the loudspeakers attached to the uniforms would be switched to broadcast “discordant sounds”. Bigger loudspeakers would be mounted on military vehicles, each playing acid rock music out of synch with the other to confuse the enemy…

It turned out that songs blasted at prisoners [at al-Qa’im] included the soundtrack to the movie XXX; a song that went “Burn Motherfucker Burn”; and, rather more surprisingly, the I Love You song from Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s show, along with songs from Sesame Street…I had no doubt that the notion of using music as a form of mental torture had been popularised and perfected within the military as a distortion of Jim’s manual…

“So the idea of blasting prisoners with loud music,” I said, “definitely originated with the First Earth Battalion?”

“Definitely,” said [Major General Albert Stubblebine III, a parapsychology enthusiast and one-time commander of the Military Intelligence unit Lynndie England claimed to have been taking orders from]. “No question. So did the frequencies.” Frequencies, he said, dis-equilibrate people. “There’s all kinds of things you can do with the frequencies. Jesus, you can take a frequency and make a guy have diarrhoea, make a guy sick to the stomach. I don’t understand why they even had to do this crap you saw in the photographs. They should have just blasted them with frequencies!”

Ronson discusses the possible part played by PsyOps at Abu Ghraib, and concludes:

…Perhaps this is the way it happened: in the late 1970s Jim Channon, traumatised from Vietnam, sought solace in the emerging human potential movement of California. He took his ideas back into the army and they struck a chord with the top brass who had never before seen themselves as New Age, but in their post-Vietnam funk it all made sense to them. Then, over the decades that followed, the army, being what it is, recovered its strength and saw that some of the ideas contained within Jim’s manual could be used to shatter people rather than heal them. Those are the ideas that live on in the war on terror

OK, but it would have been more impressive had Ronson’s sources not mostly been obvious crackpots (an impression strengthened by internet searches) or people trying to evade responsbility. There is an interesting interview with a pseudonymous ex-night guard from Abu Ghraib, now under threat of court martial:

You ever see The Shining?…Abu Ghraib was like the Overlook Hotel…It was haunted…It got so dark at night. So dark. Under Saddam, people were dissolved in acid there. Women raped by dogs. Brains splattered all over the walls. This was worse than the Overlook Hotel because it was real. It was like the building wanted to be back in business…Yeah, the beast in man really came out at Abu Ghraib…There was a darkness about the place.

Perhaps, but I suppose someone trying simultaneously to rationalise and mystify their involvement in war crimes would say that, wouldn’t they?

Tommy Tenney to Perform Miracle Recovery on Luke Goss

Unexpected news from The Guardian:

The last time they met on screen, Omar Sharif was a small dot riding out of a desert mirage to join Peter O’Toole, the dashing and rebellious British army office TE Lawrence. Now, 42 years after the release of Lawrence of Arabia, widely hailed as one of the greatest films ever made, the two veteran actors have teamed up for a second time to make another historical epic.

One Night with the King tells the story of the Biblical figure Esther, who became the queen of Persia, and, according to myth and movie, saved the Jewish nation from annihilation…One Night with the King features former Bros star Luke Goss as King Xerxes and Tiffany Dupont as Esther. It also features Lord of the Rings stars John Rhys-Davis and Noble, and Indian actor Aditya Bal. The script is based on a novel by Tommy Tenney, and the director is Michael Schaeben [This seems to be a garbled version of “Michael Sajbel”].

I only just about managed to get past 80s British pop-singer “Luke Goss as King Xerxes”. But, of all people, Tommy Tenney? That’s the neo-Pentecostal evangelist, although the Guardian writer doesn’t seem to know it. Bethany House explains further:

Both a palace thriller and a Jewish woman’s memoir, Hadassah brings the age-old story of Esther to life. This historically accurate novel layered with fresh insights provides a fascinating twist on a pivotal time in religious history, and readers will find it bursting with page-turning drama.

During in-depth research on the life of Esther and its setting in ancient Persia–contemporary Iraq and Iran–Tenney discovered a compelling, heart-stopping tale lying at its core. He uses here his skilled storytelling gifts to capture the power and beauty of the peasant girl who became queen.

But the book is co-authored:

Tommy Tenney is a highly acclaimed speaker and a bestselling author with three million books sold…Mark Andrew Olson is a full-time writer and novelist who has written The Assignment, in addition to co-authoring Hadassah. He grew up in France, the son of missionaries, and is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his family make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Assignment, which came out in July, looks like a Christian version of The Da Vinci Code. So, is this in fact a Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins formula, where an evangelist provides the brand name and someone else does the actual work? One suspects so.

More details on the movie are provided by PRNewswire (which got there a couple of weeks ago):

Adapted for film by screenwriter Stephan Blinn and directed by Michael Sajbel, “One Night With The King” is scheduled for theatrical release on March 25, a date that coincides with the Christian Good Friday and Esther’s Jewish Feast of Purim.

This film is produced in collaboration with TBN Film, 8X Entertainment and Tommy Tenney.

As The Guardian reminds us, 8X Entertainment (alas, website down) also brought us The Omega Code. TBN has brought us a giant wig. Would it be unkind to suggest that an Easter turkey is on the way?

At Church With Doug Giles

When I wrote my investigation into Doug Giles’s background a few days ago, his Clash Church website was down. Now it’s back up: a surprisingly grimy and low-key affair. According to its intro:

WHEN THE CHURCH IS FACED WITH A CRUDDY CULTURE, IT CAN EITHER ABSORB IT, SEPARATE FROM IT OR INFILTRATE IT…CLASH CHRISTIAN CHURCH CHOOSES TO INFILTRATE

I’m sure Doug’s fellow pundits at Townhall will be pleased to hear Doug has infiltrated their crap. Or does he mean something else? As part of the church description, we read:

We envisage a worship center filled with hundreds of loving, cool and righteous people of all ages, races and economic strata.

Cool? As in: “Thou shalt be cool?” Eh?

For men, we embrace a masculine spirituality. We believe God created men to be men without apology. We believe that Biblical masculinity is necessary for the church to be the overcoming organism God intends for it to be. Therefore we avoid the feminization of men and the spiritual emasculation of God’s rowdy warriors that usually accompanies most evangelical churches.

You hear that, Christianity Today?

…We don’t mind getting our hands dirty doing God’s work of restoring our neighborhoods, cities and nations. We believe our labours will positively impact our culture for hundreds of years…We have big dreams.

We are Clash Christian Church.

That’s the word from the hood of the Adventura Residence Inn, where the church meets at 10:30 each Sunday (According to Marriot, the hotel is “Nestled in one of the most upscale areas in Miami”). Just to labour the point that he really is not gay, honest, the dear leader’s profile adds:

As far as other obsessions are concerned, Doug is into big game hunting and monster shark fishing, oil painting, mountain biking and a bunch of other things which incorporate running, screaming, yelling, and potentially breaking bones with his family and friends.

Say, just the kind of guy who could serve as an army chaplain in Iraq or Afghanistan, perhaps?

But this is the bit that really interests me:

Doug and his Church are overseen by local, national and international leaders within the greater body of Christ.

Yes, yes, but who? What’s with the anonymity? Does he mean His People and Morning Star International under Rice Broocks, or someone else? Why the secrecy? But here’s an unexpected clue: the statement of faith has been lifted wholesale (unattributed) from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a (rather dull) Missouri-based Reformed denomination that split from the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A in 1981 (the EPC allows women’s ordination and is more tolerant of charismatic practices than most Presbyterian churches. It also actually rejects reconstructionism). However, Giles’s church is not listed on the EPC website [UPDATE July 2005: More information about these leaders is now available. See my entry here, scroll down].

The Thoughts of Chairman Giles are also available for purchase, including a range of multi-CD sermons, some of which are “powerful and funky”. There is also a “Clash 4 kids” “youth mentoring program which pairs Christian adults with at risk kids ages 8-16”. Ahh, faith-based social work…

A Blogger Writes

This blog doesn’t get many comments, so it’s good when feedback does arrive, even if it’s just to slag me off. Joel of Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae doesn’t appreciate my take on Katherine Harris:

So let me see if I have this straight. Katherine Harris at one time studied at a school founded by a man [Francis Schaeffer] who was a member of a denomination that later turned into another denomination that later turned into yet another denomination some of whose members have reconstructionist ideas [The Presbyterian Church in America]. Moreover, she attends a church connected to a church [Calvary Chapel] founded by a man [Chuck Smith] who belongs to a movement that has some members [Jesus Freaks] who would find reconstructionist ideas compatible with their own. Finally, Harris once served on the same panel as a man [David Barton] who believes that public office should be held by people whom he considers moral. Sounds mighty incriminating to me!

This is depressing, as I was trying to avoid the impression of mad conspiracy-mongering while getting in as many links as I could. So, a bit of explanation may perhaps be useful.

My purpose in writing the Harris post was raise two issues:

1. What does the L’Abri (and supposed Barton) connection tell us about what makes Harris tick?

2. What does this tell us about the role of conservative forms of Christianity in American politics?

These are questions of interest to many people, but most of these people, it must be said, don’t know their Charismatics from their Evangelicals or their Pentecostals from their Fundamentalists (the latter term I use very sparingly). So, it’s common knowledge that Harris is a practising Christian, but how might that affect her job? The question cannot begin to be answered until we know what kind of Christian she is. Links with David Barton and Francis Schaeffer seem to me to be highly suggestive (although I’ve since discovered that the Barton panel didn’t actually happen, and have amended posts on this accordingly). “Incriminating” is a subjective term: perhaps Harris may downplay certain connections, but in all likelihood most commentators just lack “the eyes to see”.

Also, this blog is really a kind of notepad. Unlike a proper journalist, I don’t interview people or do much print-based research. I merely chase up stuff online that captures my interest, draw it together, and make a few conclusions, which may be more or less tentative (and, if I’m in the mood, I’ll add some snarky comments). For example, in the Harris article I really don’t know of what significance her membership of Calvary Chapel is, but it’s interesting and so I’ll note it. And the material about the Presbyterian Church in America was clearly marked as an aside rather than as part of my investigation of Harris. The denomination seems to keep appearing in things I look into, so I decided to flag it up.

Others can make of this resource whatever they like (apart from any racists, etc., who should clear off); if they can fill in any gaps or offer new perspectives I’m always very happy to hear from them.

Amendment

Looks like the Katherine Harris/David Barton panel at Doug Giles’s Clash Christian Church in April never happened after all. The pdf agenda I found and commented on does not tally with another agenda, from Giles’s old cached website. No sign of Jeb Bush, either. Did they back off, or was Giles just being hopeful all along? Curious.

I have amended previous posts to reflect this.

Hatred Revealed

Jeff Sharlet at The Revealer has been at the receiving end of winger abuse since he reported thus:

hate-spewing anti-Muslim blog Little Green Footballs won Washington Post’s reader poll for “best international blog” with bon mots about Palestinians and other Muslims such as “I’ve been fond of transfer of these subhuman[s] for a while. Perhaps something more like targeted genocide… will become necessary” and “How can these vermin have a country? How can these vermin be allowed to live?” It’s a truism by now that liberals sling around Hitler accusations too loosely, but LGF quacks like a Nazi duck…This is a big religion story, and it’s a big political story.

LGF supporters responded with, basically, three ripostes:

1. LGF is pro-Israel. Therefore to criticise LGF is to be anti-Semitic

2. The Revealer has mischaracterized LGF, and what better way to prove this than by sending Jeff hate mail with menaces

3. The Revealer has relied on comments, and no blog can be responsible for all its commentators.

Of these, only the third can be taken seriously. But Jeff has rightly stood his ground, responding directly:

I’ve been spending some time skimming through LGF’s archives. It’s hard to read more than a few hundred words without coming across an equation of Islam with terrorism, or a reference to all Muslims as “barbaric,” or worse…I read your defense of the term “vermin” based on the murder of a five-year-old girl. Fine — if you’re ready to call Israelis “vermin” for the same crime.

I’m not. “Vermin” is a term that does not apply to whole peoples, unless your prone to the pathetic racialist thinking made most famous by the Nazis.

Jeff also observed:

a site which frequently referred to Jews as “vermin” (LGF has done so with regard to Muslims hundreds of times, according to one counter), I suspect the rest of the press would have paid attention. But the press ignores LGF. LGF readers, unfortunately, don’t ignore me — today my email box has been jammed with messages along the lines of “Die, arab-loving fag.”

and:

Not one of these comments is repudiated on the site. While it’s not news that there are people eager to channel their personal pathologies into a cause, the popularity of such views on the web should be. LGF has a readership bigger than almost any print political magazine. Judging from the email signatures of some of the people who’ve been writing me — lawyers, government employees, professors — they’re an influential bunch. Most major political blogs include links to LGF.

So, it’s time for solidarity with The Revealer. This kind of demagoguery is shameful, and offers nothing for those of us who want to see an end to anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism.

And, while I’m at it, the same goes for Jihad Watch. I dislike Islamism as much as Robert Spencer, and I’ve got no problem with robust intellectual and historical arguments against Islamic doctrine in general (or against any religion). But of what use is a site that uses fundamentalism to inflame hatred against all Muslims? In some ways, Jihad Watch is even worse than LGF, since it offers this weird heading at the start of its comments section:

Comments on articles are unmoderated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jihad Watch or Robert Spencer. Comments that are off-topic, offensive, slanderous, or otherwise annoying may be summarily deleted. However, the fact that particular comments remain on the site IN NO WAY constitutes an endorsement by Robert Spencer of the views expressed therein.)

So, don’t blame me for any racism, but I MIGHT delete stuff I don’t like. And I won’t use the comments myself, or my platform, to put any racists right about what I think. So we can get stuff like this:

Arawat [sic]…all the blood on your filthy arab hands

Islam = Irrational stupid lazy arab monsters!

9/11 and Iraq could have been avoided if we simply didn’t let any Muslim scum into our country in the first place.

Kill them all and lets finally rid the planet once and for all of this cancerous scourge which has been festering in the gut of civilization for well over 1000 years…

Oh yeah…and of course as much as we would like to see every single muslim well mand truley [sic] gone from all western countries we don’t go sending suicide bombers in to blow up the innocent women and children among them like the Palestinian scum.

Spencer does at least allow dissenting views on his site, but I bet you any reference to “filthy Jewish/Israeli hands” or “lazy Jewish/Israeli monsters” wouldn’t last five minutes, and rightly so.

The Dominion of Katherine Harris

Sadly, No! has posted a passage from Katherine Harris’s website which I found amusing and ironic, in which she boasted of her efforts to bring about electoral reform so that the disabled could vote more easily. Seb also notes the following from her site:

She studied abroad at the University of Madrid and at L’Abri outside Geneva, Switzerland.

The L’Abri connection has actually been noticed before, and has spawned some lurid conspiracy theories which I prefer to pass over, but this is interesting considering my post on Doug Giles from a couple of days ago. L’Abri began in 1955 as a Christian community at the home of apologist and pastor Francis Schaeffer, and has since spread to a number of locations. The late Schaeffer enjoys a status among conservative Christians akin to that of CS Lewis; one appreciative article offers the following portrait:

It seems to me that there are basically two reasons for the response Schaeffer has gotten. First, in the words of Richard Russell, “Francis Schaeffer is a pastor with a rare and deep sensitivity to the spiritual plight of the present generation…” In Schaeffer, this sensitivity is coupled with a charisma that both engages and excites the minds of his audiences and readers. But there is this and more. Schaeffer genuinely loves those he confronts. This is admittedly a personal and subjective judgment, but I believe it is true. I have on several occasions witnessed Schaeffer, tired and spent after an hour’s lecture — perhaps the third such lecture in a single day, taking an additional hour or two talking and witnessing to a cluster of young people gathered around him.

So far so unsinister (even if not my cup of tea). However, a Public Eye article on Reconstructionism by Frederick Clarkson notes:

Many Christian Right thinkers and activists have been profoundly influenced by Reconstructionism. Among others: the late Francis Schaeffer, whose book A Christian Manifesto was an influential call to evangelical political action that sold two million copies, and John Whitehead, President of the Rutherford Institute (a Christian Right legal action group).

…Schaeffer, a longtime leader in Rev. Carl McIntire’s splinter denomination, the Bible Presbyterian Church, was a reader of Reconstructionist literature but has been reluctant to acknowledge its influence. Indeed, Schaeffer and his followers specifically rejected the modern application of Old Testament law.

Here’s a Schaeffer quote on a Christian site opposed to Reconstructionism:

In the Old Testament there was a theocracy commanded by God. In the New Testament, with the church being made up of Jews and Gentiles, and spreading over all the known world from India to Spain in one generation, the church was its own entity. There is no New Testament basis for a linking of church and state until Christ, the King returns…Unfortunately, the support [Constantine] gave to the church led by 381 to the enforcing of Christianity, by Theodosius I, as the official state religion…None of this, however, changes the fact that the United States was founded upon a Christian consensus, nor that we today should bring Judeo-Christian principles into play in regard to government. But that is very different from a theocracy in name or in fact.

OK, but here’s Sara Diamond’s perspective (circa 1995). Diamond warns against conspiracy and “guilt-by-association” thinking, but goes on:

More prevalent on the Christian Right [than Reconstructionism] is the Dominionist idea, shared by Reconstructionists, that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns–and there is no consensus on when that might be…The idea of taking dominion over secular society gained widespread currency with the 1981 publication of evangelical philosopher Francis Schaeffer’s book A Christian Manifesto. The book sold 290,000 copies in its first year, and it remains one of the movement’s most frequently cited texts…

In A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer’s argument is simple. The United States began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. But as society became more pluralistic, with each new wave of immigrants, proponents of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the center of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the most visible results of which included legalized abortion and the secularization of the public schools. At the end of A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer calls for Christians to use civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality, which explains Schaeffer’s popularity with groups like Operation Rescue. Randall Terry has credited Schaeffer as a major influence in his life.

This is a key point. We know that Doug Giles used to belong to a church grouping (perhaps still does) whose leader, Rice Broocks, was a leading figure in another group that disseminated Reconstructionist literature, but that doesn’t make Giles or Brooks a Reconstructionist (I’ve amended my previous post to clarify this). Indeed, since Broocks was also an associate of Kenneth Copeland, it’s likely he is a premillennialist, a position rejected by Reconstructionists (and Doug Giles). However, within the Charismatic movement there is a strand of authoritarianism which would resonate with some Reconstructionist ideas, although the emphasis is more on apostles being given Charismatic authority from God rather than restoration of Old Testament law. Where it all overlaps can be called dominion theology.

So, back to Katherine Harris. According to an interview in World magazine, Harris attends a Calvary Chapel church in Tallahassee. Calvary Chapel is a Charismatic church, founded at Costa Mesa by Chuck Smith in the 1960s (and attracting the same kind of “Jesus Freaks” who also went to L’Abri during the same era). Smith is a Christian Zionist in the Hal Lindsey mode, although whether those Christian Zionist ideas are actively promoted at Harris’s particular church is another matter. But Harris is also possibly connected with David Barton, with whom she was at one time slated to share a panel on the subject “God in Government” at Doug Giles’s April conference (see here) [Amendment 29 October: since writing this post I’ve discovered the agenda I got this from was changed and this panel never happened. So, the Harris-Barton link is considerably weakened, I have to admit]

I’ve looked at David Barton before. Here’s Diamond’s take:

Barton’s bottom line is that only “the righteous” should occupy public office. This is music to the ears of Christian Right audiences. To grasp Barton’s brand of dominion theology, unlike reconstructionism, one does not need a seminary degree. Barton’s pseudo history fills a need most Americans have, to know more about our country’s past. His direct linkage of the deified Founding Fathers with contemporary social problems cuts through the evangelicals’ theological sectarianism and unites them in a feasible project. They may not be able to take dominion over the whole earth or even agree about when Jesus will return, but they sure can go home and back a godly candidate for city council, or run themselves. Barton tells his audiences that they personally have an important role to play in history, and that is what makes his dominion theology popular.

I see no reason why this should not be characterised as theocratic, whatever careful distinction Schaeffer made.

(I’ve written more about what this post set out to do here.)

*********

Aside: A couple of other notes related to Schaeffer. Diamond adds that:

Schaeffer was allied with the strident anti-Communist leader Rev. Carl McIntire who headed the fundamentalist American Council of Christian Churches. Later Schaeffer joined an anti-McIntire faction that, after several name changes, merged into the Presbyterian Church in America.

That’s the same denomination as that of Gary DeMar, whose book Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths: How Misreading the Bible Neutralizes Christians was brought to my attention by The Dark Window recently. The denomination’s Harvestwood Covenant Church was explored by World O’Crap a while back. The denomination is also the home of Don Dwyer, the Maryland House member who told an elderly atheist who objected to being made to pray at a day centre that she should “leave my people alone” and crowed over how local law allowed office only to theists (he was wrong – the law changed in 1961); and of Texas-based GOP-funder James Leininger.

Also interestingly, Schaeffer’s son Frank converted to Orthodoxy (the kind of Christianity that did so well out of Constantine and his successors). He now runs Regina Orthodox Press, which publishes anti-Muslim (and pro-Putin and Serbia) tomes such as The Great Divide by Alvin J Schmidt and The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic. Sadly No! noticed the former of these just recently.

You’ll Get Orchitis If You Do That

Ted Baehr takes matters in hand on the issue of “self-abuse” and the evils of Alfred Kinsey:

Kinsey was so preoccupied with “self abuse” that he thought you had to do it regularly each day. Moreover, it appears that his self-abuse actually contributed to his untimely death from “orchitis,” a painful testicular disease, commonly resulting from obsessive, brutal, genital stimulation. Other Kinseyites have insisted this is normal male conduct at four times a day. Christian author, Archibald Hart, in his book The Sexual Man claims “Almost all (96 percent) of the males under age twenty in my sample masturbate regularly…. 61 percent of all married men surveyed masturbate.” Imagine saying, right in the middle of a meeting, “Excuse me, I have to go do what Kinsey tells me to do because he says everyone does it.”

But Baehr pummels his fist against this sort of thing:

Well, the good news is that everyone does NOT do it. And, once, you recognize this good news, you don’t have to be trapped in sexual addiction…Dr. Reisman, has shown that the addictions that Kinsey promoted are just a bunch of lies that no one has to fall prey to in their own life…Frankly, I have a wonderful wife and four wonderful kids, an example of a healthy sex life, and will gladly confess that I do not engage in any self-abuse.

I note the use of the present simple “I do not engage”, as opposed to the present perfect “I have not engaged”…

And, you don’t have to feel guilty about being liberated from time consuming, self-destructive, relationship destroying behavior.

So, all those reluctant “J Grant Swankers” (Cockney rhyming slang) who’ve felt obliged to punish Percy just because the Kinsey Report told them to can now escape the dreadful fate of “orchitis” (not sure about how the ladies fit in here, but perhaps, as Queen Victoria thought, they don’t).

The occasion of Baehr’s sermon on Onan is the imminent release of a new film, Kinsey, which dares to be sympathetic towards the man so justly persecuted by minions of the great senator from Wisconsin. This is despite the fact that Dr Judith Reisman has provided lots of research on Kinsey that shows how the man trained paedophiles to do unspeakable research, consorted with Nazis and Communists, and even went on pilgrimage to the former Italian home of Aleister Crowley. According to Baehr in another article:

20th Century Fox arranged for me, Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®, to see the new KINSEY movie…However, I invited Dr. Reisman to join me.

When my secretary submitted the names of the people joining me at the screening, just three of us, I got a call back just a few minutes before the screening that it had to be cancelled because one reel of the film was damaged. The representative of Fox Searchlight told me that the projectionist had prescreened the film to check it out and found out that the print was damaged.

I continued onto the screening because Dr. Reisman was flying in from Arizona. When I arrived and talked to the projectionist, Josh, he said the print of the movie looked good to him. The delivery person from Fox, a very nice woman, said she had just brought the film from Fox and that no one had pre-screened it. So Josh went ahead to screen it for us.

Just at the end of the first reel, however, he said that Fox Searchlight called and told him to stop the screening. I got on the phone, and the Fox Searchlight representative told me again that the reel was damaged. Josh said he would not say that the reel was damaged to Fox Searchlight or to us.

How could an organisation like Fox do something like that to someone like Ted Baehr…?

Baehr’s argument is of course rather confused. On the one hand the prevalence of “self-abuse” is a myth, and this has led astray Christians like Archibald Hart. At the same time, it really is prevalent because of Kinsey. Hundreds of years of good, common sense information on the subject from Onania (1725) to The Hard Road to Manhood (1946) was swept away by one work of orchitised madness. In the same confused way Reisman argues that there are far fewer homosexuals than propagandists like Kinsey claim, but that means we should oppose gay rights for the good of society even more. Reisman also has the odd idea that if evidence was derived from immoral activities, that evidence must therefore be false.

Some of the materials from Reisman’s “exposés” of Kinsey can be found on her website, which has endorsements from Laura Schlessinger and Charles E Rice. She also quotes from a Lancet review of her 1991 book Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, which says that

“The important allegations from the scientific viewpoint are the imperfections in the [Kinsey] sample and unethical, possibly criminal observations on children…Kinsey…has left his former co-workers some explaining to do”

However, we do not get a sense of the reviewer’s overall opinion of her book (damn those pre-internet days!). The site is actually rather odd: a certain amount of the material about Kinsey appears as .doc files, and looks like rough drafts. One article has the bizarre title “Kinsey Revives Ancient Sexual Theology“, for no apparent reason.

The Kinsey Institute itself has posted a number of articles about the allegations against Kinsey’s methods (his personal life, orchitis or not, is left out of it), and notes that Reisman’s lawyer withdrew when she tried to sue for defamation over their response to her work. Institute Director John Bancroft notes that:

It is relevant to ask why these people continue to raise this issue. Clearly they have concerns about the effects of sex education, and they assert that this original information about children’s sexual responses, obtained from a few adult pedophiles, forms the basis for modern sex education. They apparently hope that if Dr. Kinsey and his work, carried out more than 50 years ago, can be discredited, modern sex education will lose its credibility also.

Dr. Kinsey believed that the evaluation of human behavior could not be based on scientific inquiry alone, but that evidence of how people actually behaved should be taken into account. He strove for objectivity in his inquiries by insuring his informants of anonymity and by avoiding any value judgments of their behavior. Dr. Kinsey’s pioneering work has contributed to more open discussion of sexual issues. In several respects his original conclusions have needed to be revised, but his commitment to a more honest appraisal of the sexual aspects of the human condition remains.

Further details on Reisman and her campaign can be found at Adult Christianity, which includes a stillshot of Reisman from when she was a singer on Captain Kangeroo. Miss Poppy Dixon can sum up much better than I can:

Reisman’s claims about the inadequacy of Kinsey’s work would bear more weight if they called for new, and more comprehensive studies of sexuality. But this is clearly not the case. Reisman and her cronies still labor to outlaw any kind of informational sex education not based on conservatively interpreted biblical principles. Free of factual data on sex Dr. Reisman and her followers are at liberty to publish any kind of unsupported nonsense they choose about sex, homosexuality, and pornography.

But that doesn’t make it science.

two-tanukis

Beware Orchitis!

UPDATE: Reisman’s the toast of Wingnutville! See my survey of her supporters here.

Doug Giles: His People

As I read another rant from Doug Giles, once again I am driven to find answers to the question: just where did this guy come from?

As I noted on this blog back in May, Giles’s sister Paula is married to Mell Winger, a Charismatic who pastors at Ted Haggard’s New Life Church in Colorado (and who has some interesting links to Guatemala). According to the Wingers’ testimony as quoted by neo-Pentecostal prophet Dutch Sheets, they were responsible for “binding the spirit of rebellion that was controlling” Giles, and so turned him from crime to Christ. Giles used to make much of his wayward youth in his profile, but since rebranding himself as more of a general right-wing pundit he has chosen to drop these references. Doug also makes no mention of his Charismatic background today, and he’s even studying as a graduate student under R.C. Sproul at the Calvinist Knox Theological Seminary (an institution begun in 1989 by D. James Kennedy, who remains Chancellor).

Giles’s USP (unique selling point, in advertisers’ jargon) is his “clash point”: all the bile of his weekly column distilled into one concluding sentence (“my clash point is…”). His radio show is called Clash Radio, and his church, which meets at the Residence Inn, Miami, is called Clash Christian Church. Oddly, the link to the church does not work on his new website, and details can only be found by looking at cached material from his old site (highlight to read text, which is black on black). Earlier this year, Giles held a conference of theocrats that included presentations from Texas Republican party VC David Barton (in an early agenda I dug up, Congresswoman Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush were also slated to appear, although it looks like the schedule was changed).

But here’s an interesting titbit: Clash Christian Church used to be called His People-Miami. His People Christian Church is a South African grouping of churches, and is part of a denomination called Morning Star International. The His People Christian Church website lists its various branches around the world, but does not currently have any American churches. However, using a web archive engine, I was able to dig out this:

His People Miami – USA

Senior Pastors: Rev. Doug and Mary Margaret Giles

Doug and Mary Giles founded the first United States based His People Christian Church in January 1997.

There’s more on Giles’s cached Clash site:

Doug is the Senior Pastor of His People Christian Church of South Florida and is currently completing his graduate studies at Knox Theological Seminary. Doug is part of His People International based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our ministry is Charismatic in expression, evangelical in doctrine and reformed in it’s [sic] view of Church, family and state. For more information please check out our website at www.hispeople.org.

How this came about is not mentioned, although just last week Doug was bragging about his hunting exploits in South Africa. The current His People site gives a history of their church:

His People Christian Church was birthed in 1988 in the city of Cape Town through the ministry of Paul and Jenny Daniel to a small group of students in their rented home in Milnerton. Shortly thereafter, the His People Bible School began on the University of Cape Town campus as well as a regular Sunday meeting in a lecture theatre.

The church grew, and “the ministry also began to expand rapidly to other campuses within South Africa and internationally.”

Paul Daniel provides one of the blurbs for Giles’s audio book Ruling in Babylon (see here, again cached, and black on black). However:

At the beginning of 2003, the leadership of His People Church, Cape Town underwent a period of transition during which Pastor Gareth and Wendy Stead assumed the senior leadership of the ministry. Paul & Jenny Daniel were taken in by MSI [Morning Star International] in Nashville, USA, for a period of restoration following Paul’s confession of serious sins and his subsequent resignation as senior pastor.

(According to the Cape Argus, these sins were “adultery with two young female parishioners over a 13-month period.”) His People is also one of C. Peter Wagner;sNew Apostolic Churches“, and so one can assume the group focuses heavily on Charismatic ideas such as prophecy, apostolic leadership and spiritual warfare against demons.

So, what about Morning Star International? Back to the His People’s site:

Morning Star International (MSI) was founded in 1994 by Pastors Rice Broocks, Steve Murrell and Phil Bonasso in what they now call the “Manila Miracle”…Since its foundation, MSI has been used mightily by God to touch and impact many different cultures and nations. MSI now has churches in more than thirty-five nations and the Apostolic Board Members have set their hearts to plant a church in every nation of the world…In 1997, the leadership of MSI and His People Ministries recognized the similarity of their visions and began the process of joining their ministries together. It took more than three years for this merger to become a reality as the leaders slowly worked through the vision, values and mission of the two groups. Today, the MorningStar Apostolic Board, led by Pastor Rice Broocks, provides covering and headship to a worldwide family of churches and ministries, some of which are called “Morning Star Churches” and some, like the His People Churches in Africa and the Victory Churches in the Philippines, which bear other names.

Does one bear the name “Clash”? Funnily enough, I came across Morning Star for the first time just the other day, when a certain “Anna Missed” left a link to the site of Force Ministries (“equipping military personnel for Christ-centered duty”) at Jesus’ General. According to Charisma, Broocks also runs Champions for Christ, an outreach to athletes, with Greg Ball. Both men started out in Maranatha Campus Ministries under Bob Weiner. Maranatha and Weiner have a controversial history. Rick Ross has gathered a number of sources on the subject, including this Christianity Today article from 1990:

According to Lee Grady, managing editor of the Maranatha publication The Forerunner from 1981 until the organization disbanded, all the major personalities associated with the shepherding movement at one time or another addressed Maranatha gathering. Grady said the concept of shepherding-that believers were under the authority of a spiritual shepherd-was widely accepted within Maranatha as a natural aspect of the Christian faith. “Maranatha was a revival movement,” said Grady. “Any revival movement will usually be characterized by excesses.”

An ad hoc committee of Christian scholars reached a similar conclusion in a 1984 report (CT, Aug. 10, 1984, p.38), which stated, among other things, that Maranatha “has an authoritarian orientation with potential negative consequences.”

This Wall Street Journal article adds:

Bob Weiner Jr. says he called some of his “friends” one day in April and suggested that they organize to support President Reagan on aid to the rebel forces in Nicaragua…

And so, on the eve of a crucial vote in Congress, the rallies were held on as many as 70 college campuses across the U.S. Events like this have made the little-known Mr. Weiner popular with conservative Republican strategists.

Mr. Weiner’s friends are leaders of 50 chapters of the Maranatha Christian Church, whose members revere Mr. Weiner as the church’s founder, sole “apostle”, and chief conduit of revelations that he says come from God.

More negative material comes from this anonymous, albeit well-referenced, website:

Broocks is a protégé of prominent faith teacher Kenneth Copeland and was Maranatha’s chief faith teacher…Morning Star is part of the New Apostolic Restoration, led by Peter Wagner. (Wagner consoled Maranatha at one of their conventions after the article in Christianity Today, saying that the founders of Christianity Today were failures in the ministry) Not even the Wall Street Journal, which took Weiner to task for his political activity, delved into his close ties to well-known jihadists in the dominion theology camp, namely R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North.

Media House International, which publishes the Forerunner, contains much material by hard core Reconstructionists [see here]; North dedicated one of his books to Maranatha; and Rushdoony is revered, even idolized.

A little known episode is that Weiner flew in to Guatemala to lay the foundation for dominion theology…Speaking at a Maranatha convention, Copeland looked down at Rio Montt and prophesied that he would once again become president of Guatemala.

OK, so before this post spirals completely out of control, let’s get back to Doug Giles. Although Giles appears to have got his start from the later-disgraced Paul Daniel, his relationship with the leaders of Morning Star is less clear. However, seeing as in the late 1990s Daniel was based in Cape Town and Giles was running the only His People church in the USA, links with the Nashville-based Morning Star under Broocks seem likely. The Morning Star leadership is clearly Charismatic, but highly politicised and with a liking for the hyper-Calvinist authoritarian and postmillennial Christian Reconstructionists. In this context, Giles’s links to Calvinism, his rightist punditry and his dislike of “last days madness” also suggest a fondness for Reconstructionism – a fondness also evidenced from his links with Republican Party of Texas VC David Barton, who has a slot on his Clash Radio. Giles’s macho posturing is reflected in Morning Star’s emphasis on ministries to do with athletes and the military, and his general self-righteousness and hectoring style suggest the authoritarianism of the “shepherding movement” within Charismatic Christianity. Also interestingly, like Maranatha and His People, Doug has a special interest in higher education, and gives air-time to his friend Mike Adams to complain about how liberals are poisoning the minds of youth and persecuting Christian groups on campuses. Adams describes himself as a Christian convert, although he is cagey about what kind of Christian (beyond conservative).

So is Doug a Charismatic Reconstructionist, but downplaying his links with the movement in order to reach a wider audience? Or has he perhaps matured slightly, now preferring solid Calvinist dogmatism over Charismatic spiritual warfare as he gets older (and having seen the fall of Paul Daniel)? Actually, Reconstuctionism is probably too strong a term. Sara Diamond warns against linking individuals in a “guilt-by-association” way, and she suggests it is more fruitful to consider a wider and vaguer idea of Christian “dominion”. For instance, since Brooks started out under Kenneth Copeland, it’s likely Broocks holds “last days” ideas rejected by both Reconstructionism and by Giles. However, Diamond does note that Knox Theological Seminary founder D. James Kennedy

echoed the Reconstructionist line when he said [in a speech to the Christian Coalition] that “true Christian citizenship” includes a cultural mandate to “take dominion over all things as vice-regents of God.”

As for the second question: well, there’s not much evidence of maturity from Doug’s writings, but he is certainly conscious of the power of the brand. His brand is the “clash point”, and it is that which has given him such a large pulpit to bully from. Using “dominion” lingo or going on about being “in bondage to a spirit of rebellion” is not his ticket – at least, not in his Townhall columns. But neither is saying anything much about the grace of Jesus for a poor sinner, for that matter…

UPDATE (30 October): The Clash Christian Church website is now back up, and I have investigated it here.

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Footnote: John R. Thomson, who is listed as Director of Business Development for Clash Communications, Inc., is profiled in an undated article in the Key Biscayne Islander News. Apparently, Thomson is an Episcopalian, and

He was a Young Republican at Harvard in the mid-50s, which was a little bit like being a Redcoat at the Boston Tea Party.

“I was appalled by the student liberalism in Cambridge and so annoyed with the aptly named Harvard Crimson newspaper that I started the Harvard Times Republican,” he says proudly. “We muckraked the heck out of the place.”

He talks about one his biggest scoops, uncovering a case of nepotism in the university’s hiring of A-bomb physicist and suspected communist sympathizer Robert Oppenheimer…

After a business career and time working for the 1956 Eisenhower-Nixon campaign, Thomson turned to writing:

His father having been an old friend of Time magazine founder Henry Luce, John managed to land a job as the magazine’s special economic correspondent.

This led to a career as a war correspondent. Then:

he headed back overseas when President Ronald Reagan appointed him to a senior trade official post. Based in Saudi Arabia, he spent four years promoting American products and establishing businesses from Turkey to South Africa. And when the Gulf War erupted in 1990, he donned his war correspondent hat and filed 11 stories for the National Review.

WND, Thomas Nelson Divorce

After three years, conservative Christian publisher Thomas Nelson has decided to ditch its imprint operation for WorldNetDaily. According to The Tennessean:

‘For what we were having to pay, we didn’t feel like we were getting the kind of value to justify it,” said David Dunham, a senior vice president and publisher at the Nashville religious publisher.

WND is now going to be published by Cumberland House, which is run by Ron Pitkin, who used to work for Thomas Nelson. Says Pitkin:

”It struck me as an opportunity to contribute to the dialogue that is taking place in our society about public policy on a whole range of issues and to sell some books,” said Pitkin. ”In the publishing world, the boat is tilting very much towards the left.”

So, what’s on the way?

The first book from WND Books/Cumberland, due out this spring, will be Atomic Islam: How Terrorist Iran Bought the Bomb and American Politicians by Jerome Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command, which has sold more than 360,847 copies.

In an attempt to win a journalistic award for understatement, The Tennessean describes WND as “conservative-leaning”/

However, Thomas Nelson has plans of its own to keep in the wingnut market, with a new Nelson Current imprint. According to a press release:

Nelson Current will publish 15-20 books a year. Upcoming releases slated for the house include “The Savage Solution” by New York Times best selling author Michael Savage, “King of Cons: Exposing the Dirty Rotten Secrets of the Washington Elite and Hollywood Celebrities,” by Aaron Tonken, “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All,” by Craig Shirley, and “Cleaning Up: An Inside Story of Corporate Crime from a One-Time Wall Street Con Artist,” by Barry Minkow. In addition, Nelson Current signed Mike Walker for “Rather Biased,” scheduled to publish in January.

The press release also notes the company’s ability to link with political and religious readerships, and concludes:

Thomas Nelson, Inc. is a leading publisher and distributor of products emphasizing Christian, inspirational and family value themes and believes it is the largest publisher of Bibles and inspirational products.

And you can’t more Christian, inspirational and family value themed than Michael Savage, as reported in a Salon review of one of his shows:

Let’s hear it for Laurie [sic] England!” he cheered. “The leash chick! Hey man, she had a great time over there!”…

Savage moved on to another of his favorite topics: bombing the bejeezus out of Iraq. Just a few days before the Uncensored [the name of his show] event, he’d been ranting on the radio about dropping fiery death on civilians throughout Iraq and the Middle East. “I don’t give a damn if they hide behind their women’s skirts,” he foamed. “Wipe the women out with them! Because it’s our women who got killed on 9/11! And it’s our women who are gonna get killed tomorrow unless we get rid of the bugs who are destroying us!” Tonight, Savage continued to elaborate on this disturbing vision of how to win the war in Iraq. He said he fantasized of being woken up by the sound of B-1 and B-52 bombers flying over his house on their way to the Middle East. Imagining bombers overhead at 4 a.m., he gushed about these nocturnal missions, “It’s better than an orgasm — it is an orgasm!”

(Historical note: Thomas Nelson actually began in Scotland in 1798, first as a second-hand bookshop and then as a publisher of Puritan works, and the Nashville-based firm was originally an offshoot of the British company. Although the British name continues in exist as Nelson Thornes, this educational publisher has no relation to the American Thomas Nelson. The revival and rise of the US Thomas Nelson is told in CEO Sam Moore’s autobiography.)

(Tennessean and press release snagged from the Publishers’ Lunch email newsletter)