flanders-fields

Bible Literacy Project’s “Communist Ideals”: Claim in Agape Press

While conservative Christians celebrate the establishment of ID Creationism in Kansas high-schools (although suffering setbacks in Dover and Minnesota), there is also some action on another front on the war over education, as the Associated Press reports (links added):

A public meeting is Thursday in Odessa as the Ector County Independent School District seeks input about a Bible elective class…A committee of 13 people — mostly teachers — will study what the curriculum should be used.

The teachers will choose between two options: “The Bible in History and Literature”, by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and “The Bible and Its Influence”, by the Bible Literacy Project.

Curiously, “extra security” will be provided. The teachers involved were listed in an earlier report from the Midland Reporter-Telegram (via Biblical Theology weblog).

Back in April, Agape Press reported that Odessa was all set to go with the NCBCPS syllabus, but since then the NCBCPS has come under heavy fire. At the time of the report, I noted the complete absence of serious Biblical scholars connected to the project and the presence of some notorious cranks (there was also an endorsement from Chuck Norris, for reasons that eluded me). Biblical scholar Mark Chancey soon after wrote a devastating critique of the syllabus, exposing sectarianism, plagiarism and gross academic incompetence (including an urban myth that NASA had confirmed the sun stopping in the sky for the benefit of Joshua’s army). In good old-fashioned American style, the NCBCPS retaliated by calling Chancey “far left”, before quietly making some revisions. Chancey reviewed the new version, but was still dissatisfied:

…Though it claims that it has been reviewed by “primary scholars,” not a single one with a full-time academic position is named. Similarly, it continues to rely heavily upon popular-level (rather than scholarly) resources written primarily from a conservative Protestant perspective. Some of these resources are idiosyncratic, such as the writings of Robert Cornuke, who claims to have identified the biblical Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia.

…In addition, there are still problems in content. For example, discussion of Jesus’ last week reflects a problematic harmonization of the Gospels, and the consideration of the dating of the Exodus is still murky. “Action Statements” for the Dead Sea Scrolls still imply that the view that the Dead Sea Scrolls directly link Judaism and Christianity is more widespread than it actually is (very few scholars hold this position) and that the scrolls prove that the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible is equivalent with the “original text.” Some typographical and factual errors remain.

Chancey also notes the continued involvement of David Barton, a pseudo-historian who advocates a tendentious and politicised “Christian America” reading of history:

Most troubling is the fact that the new curriculum still clearly reflects a political agenda. Like the old version, it seems to Christianize America and Americanize the Bible. It continues to recommend the resources of WallBuilders, an organization devoted to the opposition of church-state separation, and it still advocates showing that group’s video, Foundations of American Government, at the beginning of the course. This video, narrated by the founder of WallBuilders, David Barton, argues that the Founding Fathers never intended for church and state to be separated and that America has descended into social chaos since devotional Bible reading and prayer were removed from public schools. The curriculum’s disclaimer that the video is just “one perspective” and “one historian’s viewpoint” (page 11) that should be balanced with other perspectives does not alleviate the problem, especially since no other perspectives are even discussed. Despite the curriculum’s characterization of Barton as a historian, he is neither an educator nor an academic. He is a political activist who is highly influential on a national level. Foundations of American Government is not an educational video; it is political propaganda. Another Barton video with similar content, America’s Godly Heritage, was banned from classroom use in Herdahl v. Pontotoc County School District (N. D. Miss. 1996).

(One critique of Barton’s claims can be found here).

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League took issue from a Church-State angle:

“This wholly inappropriate curriculum blatantly crosses the line by teaching fundamental Protestant doctrine,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The text relies solely upon the King James Version of the Bible and hews to a fundamentalist reading, especially of New Testament passages. This is the primary flaw in the curriculum — that it advocates the acceptance of one faith tradition’s interpretation of the Bible over another.”

Agape Press has now also re-entered the fray, by offering an uncritical piece about Christian author Berit Kjos. Rather than defend the absurd NCBCPS syllabus, Kjos instead goes on the attack against the Bible Literacy Project, by postulating a conspiracy theory:

A Christian author alleges a new curriculum put out by the Bible Literacy Project spreads communist ideals.

But one Christian author, Berit Kjos, warns that several board members of the Bible Literacy Project have ties to the Communitarian movement, which she describes as an attempt to blend all religious beliefs and create a different society where the individual is de-emphasized in favor of the community or state. “That agenda,” she contends, “is being implemented through this curriculum.”

Kjos says the purpose of the Bible Literacy Project’s new course is “not to teach people about the Bible or to make students biblically literate. Rather, she asserts, is objective is to train people “to set aside what the first head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Brock Chisholm, called ‘poisonous certainties’ — the ‘certainties’ that keep them from embracing all other religions as being equal.”

Kjos’s evidence? The syllabus allegedly asks students to consider whether “Adam and Eve received a fair deal as described in Genesis”, and in a discussion of the Book of Daniel it mentions the “‘so-called’ end times”, thus undermining Biblical prophecy. Of course, by beginning with “A Christian author alleges”, Agape provides a bit of distance between itself and Kjos, but since no opposing view or criticisms are offered, one gets the strong impression that Agape concurs.

So who is Kjos? Christian Worldview Network provides a profile:

Berit Kjos is a respected researcher, the author of many books and magazine articles, and a concerned parent (and grandparent) who has extensively studied religious trends, today’s social changes, the roots and branches of the United Nations, the rising worldwide management system, and – most alarming of all — the transformation of the church.

Kjos first became aware of New Age and occult influences in our society at a 1974 conference on holistic health. As a registered nurse, she was interested in methods of healing, but soon discovered that the occult powers found in New Age methods brought bondage instead of true healing. As a parent, Kjos became aware of similar New Age influences in education. She began to monitor the schools for classroom programs that taught occultism and New Age spirituality, then began to share what she learned with other parents and teachers.

…Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Virtue, Moody, Servant, Focus on the Family, and the Christian Conscience. Kjos has also written numerous Bible study guides, booklets, and devotional.

Kjos has been interviewed several times on The 700 Club, Point of View (Marlin Maddoux) Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on “Talk Back Live” (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks.

Kjos also has her own website, Crossroad; many of her claims are debunked by Pagan Protection. However, Kjos sniffs out the New Age in not just neo-Pagan or secular environments – she also accuses other Christians, particularly prominent evangelical leader Rick Warren:

In September 2005, Pastor Warren was invited to speak at the United Nations and at the Council of Foreign Relations — two powerful organizations determined to unify the world under a new set of social rules and systemic controls.[5] Both pursue a peaceful transformation that would stifle the “divisive” truths of the gospel and conform Christian beliefs to UNESCO’s Declaration on the Role of Religion. Both recognize the need to draw churches into their worldwide network of partners and servers.[6] Both realize that Rick Warren — a most magnetic Pied Piper for their transformational agenda — can serve their grandiose purposes well.

Of course, this fundamentalist anti-UN “end times” paranoia is old hat (and figures prominently in Tim LaHaye’s work). But why hasn’t Agape Press also reported on Kjos’s views about Warren, if her opinions about the Bible Literacy Project are of such value? (She’s not a fan of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, either, by the way). Or when faced with careful scholars whose work appears to threaten fundamentalist dogmas, does Agape just fall back on anyone with a good line in defamation, hatred and fear-mongering?

UPDATE: More paranoia here, from Dennis Cuddy. Cuddy shockingly reveals that the Bible Literacy Project’s document on teaching the Bible in the context of the First Amendment was in part penned by someone who had previously worked for the ACLU, and who once consorted with a Wiccan! And worse, other members of the Project’s board of advisors apparently support gun control!

IRS at War with Episcopal Church?

Back in February, I reported on a church service at Porter Memorial, Kentucky which was doubling as a military recruitment event.

Now fast-forward to today, to All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, via the LA Times:

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California’s largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

…In his sermon, [Rev. George F] Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991’s Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that “good people of profound faith” could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, “Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.”

UPDATE: Ted Olsen of Christianity Today thinks the church’s regular pastor, Ed Bacon, has been playing the media and that “there is no chance—zero—that All Saints is going to lose its tax-exempt status over this sermon.” Olsen makes a good case, and so I’ve added a question mark to the title.

(Tipped from The Revealer)

Sanhedrin Celebrates First Birthday

Haaretz reports on the first anniversary of the new “Sanhedrin” in Israel, which this blog has been following for a while:

When the “new Sanhedrin” was established in Tiberias a year ago, hardly anyone took it seriously. The 71 rabbis who came to the northern city 1,660 years after the original Sanhedrin (the assembly of 71 ordained scholars that was both supreme court and legislature in Talmudic times) held its last meeting there, were welcomed by many in the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox sectors with smiles tinged with derision.

…the initial impression was that this was another effort by the Jewish Leadership movement within the Likud, an effort that had a Torah-oriented, halakhic-messianic slant and was striving for a revolution in the government.

However:

A year after its establishment, it is impossible to see the new Sanhedrin as the domain of the extreme right wing alone: at a large gathering in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood Tuesday, Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz, a well-known Talmud scholar who is much esteemed in Torah circles, both in the ultra-Orthodox world and in the national-religious sector, came forward as the president of the Sanhedrin…The fact that the new Sanhedrin also includes many rabbis affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox stream, added to the fact that they are not among the best known and leading rabbis in that sector, endows the effort with another unusual dimension that distances it from being another “extreme right-wing” venture.

I’m not sure about that – the presence of “many rabbis affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox stream” might just as easily signify that they have become enamoured of extreme right-wing ideas, rather than that they are acting as a moderating force. And the report’s author has to concede that Steinsaltz’s position is somewhat tenuous anyway:

It is hard to know how long Steinsaltz will last as president of the new Sanhedrin. At the public session held on the first anniversary of the apparent reestablishment of the ancient institution, he appeared to be fighting internal opposition.

This public session was at a synagogue in Jerusalem, and although participants appeared to acknowledge the current limitations of the Sanhedrin, the desire for theocracy was as evident as ever:

Hillel Weiss, who also has become one of the ordained members, says, “The goal of the new Sanhedrin is to become a source of authority for the Jewish people, and this is contrary to the accepted position of the left that the state of Israel is the source of this authority…”

I noted Weiss’s railing against the Supreme Court in a previous entry; Steinsaltz seems to be reluctant to follow such a politicised line. However, despite all the complaining, the report does note the following:

In its first year, the new Sanhedrin initiated a dialogue with the Ministry of Education over the Bible and Scriptures curriculum…

Study of the Bible is mandatory for Jewish children in Israel. An article from 2003 by Israel Idalovichi and published in Religious Education notes the following:

The Orthodox establishment [in Israel] advocates policies that support a growing and more vocal commitment to Jewish religiosity. For adherents of Jewish Orthodox culture, the Holy Scriptures are of paramount value by virtue of their being a work of divine design. For the Orthodox, the problem is that the study of the Bible-rather than canonical commentaries-might suggest that there is more than one way to the Jewish religion.

In other words, the Orthodox want not just the Bible to be taught, but their particular interpretation of it. Idalovichi studied the attitudes of Bible teachers, and concluded:

The religious bible teachers are committed to their principles but they exhibit great flexibility and adaptation to the social, moral, and democratic principles of secular society…Jewish religious fundamentalism enjoys a far broader and vociferous platform in the media and among political…than in the classroom, at the hands of public school teachers. Even such a problematic subject as bible studies appears to serve functional and pragmatic needs, and motivations for its presence in the Israel school curriculum are driven by pragmatic values, not only religious passion.

But with a theocratic group now “in dialogue” with the Ministry of Education, how long before “religious passion” takes centre stage?

(Tipped from Christianity Today Weblog)

Paris Riots Set US Demagogues Alight

WorldNetDaily gets to grips with the riots in France, with…predictable results:

As rioting that began in a poor, mostly Muslim, neighborhood near Paris a week ago continues to spread to other suburbs and cities across France and parts of Europe, U.S. experts and at least one American lawmaker believe radical Islam is most likely responsible for the chaos.

So has WND‘s intrepid Jon Dougherty actually consulted some “experts” – you know, people who have an actual track record of studying France and its immigrant communities? Someone like, say, the Harvard-based Jocelyne Cesari, who wrote “Islam in France: the Shaping of a religious minority” (in Yvonne Haddad-Yazbek, ed., Muslims in the West, from Sojourners to Citizens, 2002, Oxford University Press, p 36-51)? Or perhaps Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse, authors of the forthcoming Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France (2006, Brooking Institution Press)?

Well, of course, I’m being silly. “Expert” in WND-land means wingnut demagogue, and all the usual suspects are wheeled out. Here’s Robert Spencer:

“The rioters are part of a population that has never considered itself French”

To be fair, Spencer does at least go on to consider the role of urban deprivation, which is more than the others do, even though he uses that to jump to conclusions. Next, Lee Kaplan:

France’s quest to be “evenhanded” in its dealings with its massive Muslim immigration has backfired and now reached a point where Paris has little choice but to meet the problem head-on. In an interview with WND, he suggested that “with 5 million Muslims in France – the most in all of Europe,” this week’s chaos was inevitable.

…and, more absurd than ever, the inevitable Daniel Pipes:

“This isn’t comparable to the 1960s race riots in the U.S.,” he said. “This does have, deep down, an Islamic agenda of control, even if the kids doing the rioting aren’t cognizant of that” at the moment.

Some might be tempted to ask if Pipes has any evidence for his conspiracy theory, but I suppose that he long ago gave up actually having to justify himself academically when he discovered that vilification was an easier path.

Oh, and there’s the lawmaker, Tom “Jack D Ripper” Tancredo:

The real issue the French “are now dealing with,” he said, “is [that] you cannot integrate some people into your society.”

Meanwhile, over at another page, Jack Cashill accuses Europe for not fingering Islam as the true source of the riots (again, not based on any actual knowledge about France or its immigrant groups):

…This seemingly unprovoked mayhem by their musulman friends has embarrassed the French media into awkward apologetics and the European media into silence. Observing them, one begins to understand how Hitler was allowed to prosper.

“France herself is being attacked by foreign hordes,” claims the reliably outspoken Jean-Marie Le Pen at the end of the article. Indeed, in a continent of cowards and compromisers, it should not come as a surprise that citizens will turn to the first public figure who dares say anything at all.

OK…so Cashill’s saying that Jean-Marie Le Pen is enjoying a surge of popularity because he’s saying something true that no-one will dare to. Whereas Hitler…? Jack, think that one through for a bit…

(By the way, the same Jack Cashill who now lectures the media about facing the facts wrote a lengthy series in 2002 claiming that James Kopp, who had been charged with the murder of abortion provider Barnett Slepian, had in fact been framed by left-wing activists. That was before Kopp confessed; ConWebWatch has the full story. He’s also an Intelligent Design creationism propagandist, telling us that Darwin caused Hitler and Communism).

But complaining about WND stock pundits for spreading hysteria and hatred is like complaining about a bear for taking a crap in the woods. Even though the religious background of the Paris rioters may (it can still be debated) in reality be pretty well beside the point (as an article at alt-Muslim argues, quoting sociologist Laurent Mucchielli), it always was going to become a bandwagon for the US right, and no doubt there will be much more punditry to come. So, for those fainthearted enough to actually care about actual analysis, historical and social context, and so on, Cesari’s article is available on-line here. Here are some salient extracts (hyperlinked footnotes in original):

…Displays that grow in conspicuousness are blindly interpreted as evidence for renewed religious fervor. When, in the early 1980’s, immigrants built mosques, opened halal butcher shops, and claimed land for Muslim sections in cemeteries, the majority of the French people, scholars included, feared for a ‘return of Islam’. In actuality, the Muslims in question were not becoming more observant. Having resolved upon permanent residence in France, they were simply changing their attitude in favor of greater participation in French society.

…Muslims in France show extreme social and cultural heterogeneity. They identify differently with Islam according to their national origin, age, gender and social background. Nor can change within Muslim groups be understood independent of changes occurring within France itself. Dramatic forces at work upon French society may, in some cases, actually influence Muslim community more than its own internal dynamics.

…Within the academy, an initial total disregard for Islam has given way to a misunderstanding which resonates with the xenophobic distrust that has pervaded French society-at-large. Remarkable as it now seems, sociologists during the 1960’s and 1970’s actually studied North African immigration without even acknowledging the Muslim heritage of the immigrants concerned [4]. Having finally taken notice, these sociologists and their colleagues in political science [5] have misconstrued the increasing visibility of Muslims and their institutions as a sign that Islam is a phenomenon unto itself, impervious to those powerful secularizing [6] forces that have been shaping French life for generations. Few voices have been heard to the contrary, affirming that Muslims are — just like everybody else — subject to the laws that characterize socio-political change [7]. Few voices [8] have stated that the traditional Islamic devotion of parents is giving way to ever more individualized [9] and privatized [10] expressions of religiosity by their children.

And lest some think that Cesari is just some flaky Islamophile, she also noted the following (which also gives a bit of extra context to the cause of the current riots):

After the headscarf affair of 1989, which opened political eyes to Islam’s growing appeal to French-born Muslim youth, came the death of Khaled Kelkal in 1995. This young natural-born citizen of Algerian extraction was pursued and killed by police for his suspected part in a terrorist bombing campaign in Paris. His death raised the specter of alienated Muslim youth in run-down suburbs, turning to violent islamist groups that result in a rebel subculture.

Now, no-one has to agree with Cesari’s interpretation of Islam in France just because it’s come from someone who has actually lived in the country and done some detailed research. But could it at least be part of a sensible discussion about what’s going on, both in relation to the riots and more generally? I found Cesari (as well as Vaisse and Laurence) by just googling for two minutes. I don’t expect an outfit like WND to bother with such people, but could the mainstream media get on the case?

(Alt.Muslim link via The Revealer)

UPDATE: More at the World War 4 Report.

UPDATE 2: Newsweek actually has a quote from a French scholar, the half-Algerian anthropologist Dounia Bouzar.

No No Popery?

Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we’ll say old Pope is dead

If the UK government ever gets around to actually passing its proposed anti-religious hatred laws, perhaps tonight may be the last chance to see “anti-Popery” banners, and to witness the Pope being burned in effigy – both of which are hallowed traditions in Cliffe at Lewes, East Sussex.

Much room for sacraments?

The New York Times reports on a dispute over the use of drugs in religious rituals:

The Bush administration tried to persuade the Supreme Court on Tuesday that federal narcotics policy should trump the religious needs of members of a small South American church who want to import a hallucinogenic tea that is central to their religious rituals.

The church is the Brazilian O Centro Espírita Beneficiente União do Vegetal (or “UDV”), which apparently has 130 members in the US. Full background on the case can be found at Religionlink; interestingly, the church’s argument is being supported by the ACLU, but opposed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which believes a religious organisation should not receive an exemption from the law. The Church itself explains that:

“União do Vegetal” literally means “the union of the plants.” Central to UDV’s. Central to UDV’s religious tradition and practice is the sacramental use of hoasca, a tea made from two plants indigenous to the Brazilian Amazon – the vine banisteriopsis caapi and a bush botanically related to the coffee plant, psychotria viridis. Religious practitioners ritually prepare the tea and consider it sacred, much as Catholics believe the wine they take at communion to be a sacrament…The sacrament imbues UDV members with a heightened spiritual awareness that permits them to experience communion with God.

The Times, meanwhile, gives the legal context:

Although the case clearly has constitutional overtones, the issue before the court concerns not the First Amendment’s protection for religious practice but rather a federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Congress enacted that law in 1993 to give more protection to religious exercise than the Supreme Court itself was willing to provide in a 1989 decision that rejected the claim of members of an American Indian church to a constitutional right to use peyote in religious rituals.

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government may not interfere with a religious practice unless it can demonstrate a “compelling” reason for doing so.

But if the UDV sacrament can be compared to the Catholic communion, there is also an earlier precedent. Back in 1989 Douglas Laycock of the University of Texas responded to the peyote dispute by asking:

Why is it that the religious use of wine was exempt everywhere during Prohibition, but the religious use of peyote is exempt in only half the states today? If Oregon may constitutionally punish the religious use of peyote, may it not also punish the religious use of wine? Could Oregon ban communion wine and require that all Christians use grape juice instead? The Supreme Court does not have to answer these questions formally; no case about wine is before it. But it should think hard about these questions, to make sure it is not suppressing a small and unfamiliar religion on the basis of principles it would not apply to a mainstream faith.

The archived website of the Peyote Foundation described the laws concerning peyote in the mid-1990s:

In Arizona, The Peyote Way Church of God and The Peyote Foundation can operate because of the exemption from prosecution is based on religious sincerity, not on race, denomination, or physical boundaries. Oregon has a similar statute with the exception of that it is specifically not applicable to the residents of correctional facilities.

Four other states have slightly more stringent requirements. Peyotists in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Minnesota must be members of a bona fide religious organization, including the N.A.C. [Native American Church] or the American Indian Church. (Minnesota.) Some state’s statutes could legally permit a non-Native American to sit a peyote meeting if it was run by the N.A.C. Others require actual N.A.C. membership, some even of Native Americans. Unfortunately, Texas, the native habitat of the peyote cactus, has the strictest requirements for exemption from prosecution. Texas exceeds the federal guidelines by requiring that a person be not only a member of the N.A.C., but of at least 25% Native American descent.

However, although the Peyote Foundation won a court case in 1996 following a raid the year before, its website now says it has closed down “due to extreme political pressure”.

UDV was founded in 1961 by José Gabriel da Costa, and can be classed as a New Religious Movement. According to its doctrinal statement:

The UDV bases its teachings in the evolutionist principle of reincarnation, a millenary precept adopted by Eastern spirituality as well as the first Christians until the 5th century A.D.

…The UDV affirms that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is part of the divine totality and his word reveals the true path to salvation for humanity.

This means their church is open to new members, although they are rather picky:

The União do Vegetal does not advertise to recruit members…An interested person seeks out the União through its members. After an interview regarding his/her motives and personal state, the newcomer is given a comfortable examination period before deciding whether to become a member.

The church also argues that a legal victory would not make psychoactive drugs more generally available:

The accommodation being granted to the UDV is based upon its legitimacy, the history of its religious use of the hoasca tea, and the absence of evidence that it is harmful or would be diverted to illegal use. Another group wishing to utilize a psychoactive substance that is also central to their religious practice must be prepared to prove their case in court, if the government continues to maintain that it had a compelling interest in prohibiting the use of that substance. The accommodations for religious use under RFRA do not extend to “recreational use,” as the district court and appeals court opinions have made very clear. There is no “slippery slope”.

However, French libertarian Christian Michel makes the following observation:

From January 1919, American Catholic priests were required to obtain authorisation from the Federal administration to buy Communion wine. Prohibition had begun. During twelve long years, the production, trade and consumption of alcoholic drinks was totally prohibited in the United States. Very soon, there mushroomed numerous, ostensibly Christian, sects for the purpose of celebrating, with administrative dispensation, the Holy Communion in both kinds. Observers noted the remarkable zeal which the faithful showed in taking consecrated wine.

(Tipped from Get Religion)

Paul Cameron

Thanks to an invitation from Bene Diction, I currently have a post over at Spero News on Christian anti-gay activist (and pseudo-scholar) Paul Cameron. It follows on from a blog entry I wrote on the subject a while back.

The Ugly American Preacher

Charisma editor J Lee Grady highlights resentment over the behaviour of some American neo-Pentecostal pastors abroad, in a report from the Netherlands (link added):

…while [an] influx of Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners is helping to revitalize Dutch churches, the influence of some Americans has not had the same effect. I was shocked and embarrassed to learn that charismatic evangelists from the United States have earned a dubious reputation on the other side of the Atlantic.

…One of Holland’s most respected charismatic pastors, Stanley Hofwijks, says some American ministers are no longer welcome in his country. Hofwijks’ 2,500-member Maranatha Ministries Church is predominantly Surinamese and is one of the largest congregations in Holland.

The main problem is that some American ministers insist on having their own offerings when they visit local churches, and call for rather steep contributions (up to $1,000). These ministers also demand excessive fees, as local Christian Arie Templeman tells Grady:

…On one occasion an American preacher who was speaking at a Dutch conference was asked if he could come to another city and address a group of pastors. Said Templeman: “[The evangelist] asked how much he would be paid for the ministry session. When he was told he would receive $1,000, he looked down at his shoes and said: ‘One of my shoes costs more than that. I will not go.’

Alas, no names are named…

Hofwijks’ biggest concern is that American arrogance is infecting some younger Dutch leaders. “They want to be like the preachers on American television,” the pastor said. “They are focused on a superstar mentality. It’s very negative for our country because they fall and many people fall with them.”