Ex-Follower of Yahweh Ben Yahweh in Anti-Obama Protest

The Miami News Times has some background on “Michael the Black Man”, of “Blacks Against Obama”, the group that recently disrupted an Obama rally in Florida:

In our 2002 story on the tempestuous and racially-charged history of the little village of El Portal, we ran into Michael, who at that time had commandeered an illegal but popular radio show and was lambasting the town’s Democratic black mayor, Daisy Black, as a “devil” and encouraging that she be “set on fire”.

It all stemmed, it seemed, from Michael’s obsessive and Old Testament-fueled quest to convert blacks to Republicanism. He would refer to democrats as “Demon-crats” and “slave masters”, and, yes, accuse them all of being in bed with the KKK.

Michael’s gone by the names Maurice Woodside, Maurice Symonette, and Mikael Israel. And he was once the disciple of Yahweh Ben Yahweh, a cult leader who served eleven years for a murder conspiracy conviction. Michael himself was tried in the case, along with 11 other cult followers, but was one of seven acquitted.

Still can’t get enough Michael the Black Man? Visit his website! Watch his TV show!

“Michael the Black Man” has a number of videos on YouTube, and he has a second website called “michaelwarns.com”, which has led some reports to name him as “Michael Warn”. A 1990 profile in the Miami Herald gives further details:

Maurice Woodside, 31, sect name Mikael Israel; aka John Frederick Nunnally, brother of Ricardo. Their mother, Johnnie Simmons, was a loyal Yahweh member until she died a few years ago, allegedly of medical neglect. Maurice has a long rap sheet: breaking and entering, petit theft, trespassing.

A sarcastic 2003 column in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times adds:

We must all thank Yahweh that Mikael is on the airwaves. He has the courage to defend that most abused and put-upon sector of society, the deadbeat dads. He is one himself, owing more than $50,000 in child support. And he rightly eviscerates those evil single mothers who try to force fathers to take responsibility for their kids.

Because of those terrible vipers, we now dwell, as Mikael puts it, in the land of the lesbian, the land of the amazon, and the land of hell itself. Amen.

Mikael also is a proud Republican who says he believes Democrats are tools of the great Satan. During the 2000 election debacle, he showed up in Palm Beach County to shout down Jesse Jackson. Mikael preaches that the GOP will lead us back to God and keep us from paying taxes.

 Despite the anti-Jackson protest, one of “Blacks Against Obama”‘s protest signs allegedly read “Jessie [sic] Jackson Hates Obama”.

According to this video, back in March Symonette/”Michael the Black Man” received a “double doctorate” in “Humanity [sic] and Letters” from the “Jehovah Jireh Biblical Institute of Theology, Counseling and Christian Education”, alongside others such as Congressman Kendrick Meeks, in a ceremony presided over by Bishop Billy Baskin (an Obama supporter). One wonders what they would make of a book promoted on Michael’s website:

This book is written primarily to show the BLACK MAN, and the WORLD the true source of their problem, 33% of the BLACK WOMEN of AMERICA (BABYLON). GOD is angry with the world for worshipping this WOMAN LILITH the DEVIL. Acts 19:22-27 is shocking saying: THE WHOLE WORLD WORSHIPETH THE WOMAN GODDESS DIANA WHO ACTUALLY is LILITH this BLACK WOMAN in BABYLON (America). This can be proven on page 2 of this book, end of paragraph…Ex. YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH the GOOD MAN, MICHAEL JORDAN, MIKE TYSON, MICHAEL JACKSON, JOE JACKSON, MAYOR MARION BERRY, KOBE BRYANT, THE GOV. taped women with MARTIN LUTHER KING to destroy him, President GEORGE W. BUSH, CLARENCE THOMAS, RUSH LIMBAUM, and GEN. COLIN POWELL, There are many more.

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Shoebat Hits Sioux Falls


And here’s that “Message of Love” in full, from Shoebat’s website (advertising a book by his son):

The Elmen Center is part of Augustana college. According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader,

A spokesman said Augustana has a long history of hosting speakers with diverse views. The college sponsors some. For others it rents space.

The list includes Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and former Sen. James Abourezk, a frequent critic of Israel. Al Gore spoke at Augustana, as did the elder George Bush, Queen Noor, Rudy Guiliani, Mexico’s Vincente Fox, Maya Angelou, Colin Powell, Mikhail Gorbachev, Newt Gingrich and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

 The day after, Shoebat will be speaking at the Central Baptist Church, on the topic of “Islam and Bible Prophecy”. Here’s a taster (background here):

Sarah Stern on Edward Said: an EMETic

A stupid throwaway line from Sarah Stern, who heads the Washington-based think-tank EMET (“Endowment for Middle East Truth”), speaking on Israel National Radio and reported by Arutz Sheva (emphasis added):

Stern explained that Title VI was legislated in 1958, “in the midst of the Cold War, when it was felt that American youngsters did not know enough to deal with the Communist threat or to be succesful in the global market. So they set aside a pot of money, which has now grown to something like $120 million of taxpayers’ money, to fund college campus programs for regional studies, such as African studies, Asian studies, Middle Eastern studies, etc. That was fine, but in 1978, Edward Said of Columbia University wrote his simplistic and lies-filled book Orientialism, which stated that only people from a given region can talk or write about that region. And that became the prevailing dominant trend of thought in academic circles…”

From Edward Said, Orientalism, p. 326 (emphases added):

Today there are many individual scholars working in such fields as Islamic history, religion, civilization, sociology, and anthropology whose production is deeply valuable as scholarship…An excellent recent instance is the anthropology of Clifford Geertz, whose interest in Islam is discrete and concrete enough to be animated by the specific socieites and problems he studies and not by the rituals, preconceptions, and doctrines of Orientalism…[S]cholars and critics trained in the traditional Orientalist disciplines are perfectly capable of freeing themselves from the old ideological straitjacket. Jacques Berque’s and Maxime Rodinson’s [1] training ranks with the most rigorous available, but what invigorates their investigations even of traditional problems is their methodological self-consciousness…

It should be noted that the whole thrust of Said’s book is anti-essentialist; therefore being from a given region is no more an guarantee of producing valid scholarship than being from the West (and Said rejected the “anti-Western” label) is a barrier to it. 

Of course there are problems with Said’s book, and scholars have complained that the last few pages championing “humanistic” scholarship are hardly an adequate counter-balance to his deconstructive efforts. And of course it’s also the case that the charge of “Orientalism”, like the charge of “racism”, can be bandied about by those wanting to shut down criticism of Islam or oppressive regimes in the Middle East, although anyone who has read and understood the book would not be able to use it that way in good faith. However, such a preposterous and ignorant vulgarization from Stern must preclude her – and EMET – from being taken seriously in any discussion of the book’s merit and in any discussion of Middle East studies in America.

It should be noted that EMET’s advistory board includes Walid Shoebat, who believes that the Bible predicts a coming “Muslim anti-Christ”.

 [1] Alas, Rodinson rejected Orientalism and the two men fell out, resulting in an abusive re-assessment from Said.

Prayer and Fasting on Turks and Caicos

The latest Private Eye magazine (p. 14) carries a fascinating profile of Michael Misick, premier of Turks and Caicos, to the south of the Bahamas. Misick has been bogged down with corruption allegations, and he recently faced a rape accusation which was only cleared up when a second woman appeared and explained that it had been a consensual three-in-a-swimming pool sex romp.

Misick attempted to distract attention from his various scandals with some shameless religious humbug, as noted in Caribbean News Net:

He said that the nation is in need of prayer and healing and has declared Sunday, September 7, to be a National Day of Prayer and Fasting and he asked all clergymen and women and all persons to participate.

Oppostion figures were sceptical; Floyd Seymour told the media that

Reference has been made about the Premier’s apology for his private deeds and his call for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting. While such an event is good, Seymour said, Christians should not be insulted with “such a ploy by the leader of our country.”

Seymour, however, called on the people to go to church on September 7 and “pray for deliverance of this country from the grip and greed and wrong centered leadership. The clergy and our churches are not toys and should not be jerked around from one year to next for political gain.”

Meanwhile, Seymour’s deputy Oswald Skippings decided to outdo Misick on the religious rhetoric front:

…A good place to begin is to remind you that you have categorically declared in parliament your separation of church and state. You then proceeded to sternly rebuke the clergy of this country when they were humbly trying to advise you on the gambling bill and, in essence, bluntly instructed them to back off when you told them outright to run the church and allow you to run the government.

Honourary Doctor Premier, you must realise that when you divided or separated God from government, you were busting the doors wide open for your demons to enter without restrictions. Now your demons have come home to haunt you. You have consistently conducted a public religious masquerade, repeatedly shed crocodile tears completely sanctioned by imported highly paid evangelists and local bishops and pastors at prayer breakfasts, made public confessions and, last but not least, passed around stuffed envelopes to pastors. I have never seen such spiritual shenanigans anywhere in the world…Let me advise you that prayer and fasting by the saints in this country is what has so far prevented this nation from total disaster by your hands…

Mr Premier, do you remember the altar call and the testimony service on the parade grounds during the last election campaign, playing with God? Didn’t your advisors tell you what is blasphemy and sacrilege? Do you remember the sacred worship songs where Christ’s name was replaced with yours during the campaign and you just soaked it all up?…You see, you can deceive the electorate and manipulate them for your own evil motives, but you can’t do that to God…When King Belshazzar, king of Babylon refused to stop, the writing appeared on the wall…

So how did the National Day of Prayer and Fasting go? As the Eye points out, 7 September turned out to be the day when Hurricane Ike arrived…

More Temple Mount Madness from WND

A silly WND headline, complete with ejaculatory cry of dismay:

What? Israel to help Muslims carve Quranic verses on Temple Mount
Islamic writings all over holiest site for Judaism –WND

However, as the inevitable hack Aaron Klein has to admit in the body of his article, this actually means that Israel is allowing the restoration of already-existing Islamic calligraphy on the site:

There are more than 4,000 Quranic quotations written in Arabic calligraphy and carved into various Islamic buildings throughout the Temple Mount, including inside and outside the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

Six hundred of the carved verses are in poor condition, according to the Waqf, the Mount’s Muslim custodians.

This kind of restoration work is unremarkable and goes on at all kinds of monuments around the world. Presumably Klein objects to it here because he shares the hope of Jewish and Christian fundamentalists that the ancient buildings – which date back more than a thousand years – will be destroyed. Needless to say, such an attitude in relation to any other ancient structure, particulary one of such historic and architectral significance, would be derided as ignorant and barbaric. And given that Klein is rightfully angry at the way the current Muslim guardians of the Temple Mount have damaged archaeological remains of the ancient Jewish presence at the site, we can also call him a hypocrite.

Schlussel vs Shoebat: The Unspeakable in Pursuit of the Unbelievable

For a while now, Debbie Schlussel has been engaged in a feud with Walid Shoebat: she accuses Shoebat of having plagiarized her work, and of responding to her complaints with a “Fuck you, bitch”. Now Schlussel accuses Shoebat of sending her annoying emails under a fake name:

Mr. Shoebat took it upon himself–despite my praise of him on this site–to engage in a pattern of behavior that spanned plagiarism and obscene verbal abuse to the non-stop barrage of harassing messages he sent me over the last two days under a fake name, “Sandra Medina.”…Shoebat made the mistake of e-mailing me using an e-mail he and his son had used to e-mail me before with their real names…And after I asked Shoebat not to e-mail me again, he did anyway–three times, so far–including a fake letter to himself, his equally unhinged chief of staff [Keith Davies], and his friend–who else but another phony?–Sean Hannity.

The emails were sent from the address “aga_tangola@yahoo.com”; Schlussel claims it was used in emails sent to her and to Rachel Neuwirth from Walid’s son (Theodore Shoebat) in 2006.

Schlussel also goes into further detail about how the feud began:

In response to [Imad] Hamad’s claims [against Shoebat], Shoebat put out a press release, which plagiarized–word for word–my column on Hamad. I contacted Shoebat’s PR person, Maria Sliwa (interestingly, she’s also plagiarist Aaron Klein’s publicist and helped him rip me off), asking why my work was ripped off. Sliwa told me that Walid Shoebat insisted my name be removed because he didn’t want to be associated with “the Zionists.”…Shoebat told me a million different stories. First, he told me he was a fan of my work and that he’s upset that Ms. Sliwa took my name out of the press release and ripped off my work–that it was her decision. Then, he admitted he lied about that and that he, himself, made the decision to steal my work because “I don’t want to be associated with the Right”…Later in the day, Shoebat called me back and told me, “You know, I called a lawyer. And you can’t sue me [DS: I never said I would], so I don’t have to give you credit for your work. I can take it and use it however I want. Fuck You, Bitch!”

This is, of course, all grist to the controversy over Shoebat’s self-proclaimed past as an Islamist-inspired Palestinian terrorist; the Jerusalem Post, among others, has raised some concerns about his tale. Shoebat is certainly an unreliable narrator: I’ve noted a change in his conversion story from orginally becoming a Christian after reading an apocalyptic paperback by Grant Jeffrey to becoming a Christian after reading a Bible at the behest of his wife, and his proclaimed “message of love” is actually a message of anti-Muslim hate (particularly as expressed in his son’s homemade videos, as I blogged here). There are also a couple of other odd discrepancies: his wife is Roman Catholic, yet Shoebat used to be associated with Simon Altaf’s fundamentalist anti-Catholic and anti-evangelical website; he claims to have consulted ancient manuscripts of the Bible when developing his theory that “666” is actually Arabic for “In the name of Allah”, when it’s obvious that he has not. He has also claimed to be living under an assumed name while also saying that he has come from the “Shu’aybat” (or “Shuyabat”) family. Minor issues, perhaps, but “the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones”.

Meanwhile, Shoebat has recently enjoyed extra publicity through the free distribution in American newspapers of the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, in which he appears as a supposed expert. And the Shoebat bangwagon will soon be coming to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in an event at Augustana College sponsored by “Campus Crusade, LifeLight, Priority Associates, SEA, Life 96.5 and the Sioux Falls HopeLine”.

As a footnote, it should be remembered that Schlussel is not adverse to a bit of internet-based harrassment herself.

F. Anthea Butler Attacks Bruce Wilson

From Sarah Posner’s FundamentaList:

Bruce Wilson is the blogger who discovered the tape of John Hagee’s sermon about the Holocaust being part of God’s will — which led to McCain’s rejection of Hagee’s endorsement. Now Wilson has written a post about the “weird theology” at Palin’s Assemblies of God church. Wilson’s piece, which attempts to tie Palin to numerous strands of Pentecostalism and charismatic evangelicalism, some of them controversial, appears to be an effort at tit-for-tat for the right’s demonizing of Obama over his relationship with Jeremiah Wright.

But a religion professor and expert on Pentecostalism tells me that if Wilson had turned that piece in as a paper, she would have given it an F. Anthea Butler, professor of religion at the University of Rochester, said that the piece “mixed up a whole bunch of stuff” and that Wilson “doesn’t know enough about any of it” to accurately discuss how influential various guest speakers at her churches may have been on Palin’s viewpoint. “You can see every heretic known to man speak in every Pentecostal church,” said Butler, but that doesn’t mean the average person in the pews buys the theology. “[Wilson is] conflating a couple of things to make them sound dangerous,” said Butler. “I think he’s confused.”

However, neither Butler nor Posner deign to tell us how exactly Wilson is “confused”. I would have avoided the polemical term “weird”, and the article linked by Posner does in places move somewhat awkwardly between discussing Sarah Palin and her churches and providing a wider introduction to the “Third Wave” of neo-Pentecostalism. There is, though, also a lot of interesting information that goes much deeper than the baffled exoticising of standard Pentecostal practices that was seen in the mainstream media when the Palin VP announcement was made (as complained about by Michael Gershon). And like a lot of other investigative blog pieces, Bruce’s piece is a work-in-progress which gives pointers for others to follow up; this is a general distinction between on-line blog journalism and on-paper research, including – Butler take note – academic papers. Jeff Sharlet understands this, commenting on another article by Bruce:

There’s a lot more work to be done here, but Bruce has gotten a great start…Reporters meanwhile, need to ask questions about these possible connections; editors need to think about longer features on the Latter Rain and Third Wave movements. I should add that Bruce mentions my work on Ted Haggard and New Life church, included in my recent book, The Family. One of the mistakes I made, though, was in taking too seriously Haggard’s disavowal of Latter Rain leader C. Peter Wagner, with whom Haggard built the World Prayer Center (also discussed at some length in The Family). As Bruce is beginning to piece together, Wagner’s theological influence reaches much further than those who praise his books.

The reference to Jeremiah Wright in Posner’s piece is also off-base. Bruce (like me) is interested in the role of the Christian right in American politics. That means investigating Palin’s church associations, and what others may have written about Wright and Obama is neither here nor there. Besides, although it would certainly be wrong to “demonize” Palin in the way that Obama was attacked from some quarters, it should also be remembered that Wright indeed has some alarming views (I wish I’d picked up on some of these when I wrote about Obama and Wright back in 2004!), and it was reasonable that Obama should have had to clarify the extent to which he identifies with them – and to disavow some if he wanted to be taken seriously. American politicians are learning that associating with certain churches and seeking endorsements from particular pastors can carry risks and costs as well as electoral benefits. Democratic strategists might think it’s better not to make anything of Palin’s religiosity lest it offend swing voters or re-ignite the Wright controversy, but that’s their problem, not ours.

I found this paragraph in Bruce’s piece to be particularly significant:

…Mike Rose, senior pastor of Juneau Christian Center has a long relationship with Rodney Howard-Browne, credited with being the instigator of the outbreak of ‘Holy Laughter’ around the world, including the Toronto Airport Revival. Thomas Muthee visited Wasilla Assembly of God and gave 10 consecutive sermons at the church, from October 11-16 2005. As both Palin and Wasilla AoG Head Pastor Ed Kalnins have attested, Thomas Muthee ‘prayed over’ Sarah Palin and entreated God to “make a way” prior to Palin’s successful bid for the Alaska governorship. Muthee made a return visit to the Wasilla Assembly of God in late 2008. Thomas Muthee’s Word of Faith Church is featured in the “Transformations” video which details an account on how Muthee drove “the spirit of witchcraft” out of Kiambu, Kenya, liberating the town from its territorial demonic possession and enabling a miraculous societal transformation. The “Transformations” video set is used as an argument for social improvement through spiritual instead of human means, and as the best method for fighting corruption, crime, drugs and even environmental degradation.

This suggests that Palin is hardly “the average person in the pew”. She’s enjoyed a religious anointing from Muthee; why should we not think that she “buys the theology”?

(I blogged Palin’s churches here)

Elizabeth Dole Brings McCain for President Bus to N. Carolina Christian Coalition

From North Carolina news-site ENCToday:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole will ride a McCain for President bus into New Bern on Monday for the Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition’s 15th annual God and Country Banquet.

Dole and state Sen. Robert Pittenger, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, are the main speakers for the event, which is expected to have more than 500 people attending.

Details about the Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition are scarce, although its chair, Rev Walter Leake, pines for the return of “blue laws”. At the 2006 banquet, five state Supreme Court justices paid their respects, as well as a Superior Court Judge who gushed that Leake was “a saint”. 

At this year’s event, speakers include

…Stan Goodenough, a Christian Zionist from Jerusalem, and Bishop Saint Okorafor of Nigeria.

Goodenough will be familar to anyone who reads OneNewsNow; his blog is here, and includes postings on subjects such as “The myth of the moderate Muslim“:

To drive off the fog and help you keep a clear mind, I suggest that whenever you hear a Muslim described as “moderate” remind yourself that he/she is a bad Muslim and, consequently, less of a threat to you.

When you hear the term “radical Muslim,” replace that adjective with the word “good,” and be warned that he/she poses a very grave threat indeed.

The key, of course, is that for Goodenough a devout religious believer is a fundamentalist religious believer. Goodenough distances himself from specifically “apocalyptic” Christian Zionism, although for some reason he has deleted his strange entry on “More thoughts on Israel and the End Times” (it can be seen on Wayback).

Okorafor, meanwhile, runs a number of churches in Nigeria, which he calls “Bible Life Centers”, and he enjoys support from the Edward Christian Church in North Carolina (1).

(1) See Howard Foltz, Healthy Churches in a Sick World,  Xulon Press, 2002, p. 196.

Guardian Libel News Double Whammy

A couple of interesting free speech cases concerning the Guardian newspaper. Hold the Front Page noted a couple of days ago:

Amid the UN Committee on Human Rights’ recent criticism of our claimant-friendly libel laws, it is reassuring to see judges taking a robust line against dubious claims…Tesco brought libel and malicious falsehood claims against The Guardian and its editor over reports about alleged (but strenuously denied) corporation tax avoidance.

The Guardian accepted inaccuracies in its original report, although its apology seems a bit tongue-in-cheek:

‘The original Guardian articles did not correctly explain the effect of Tesco’s tax schemes. It was wrong to state that they were designed to avoid corporation tax. It would have been correct to refer to avoiding SDLT [Stamp Duty Land Tax].

‘As a result, the figure of “up to £1bn” – calculated as the amount which could have been saved on the disposal of £5bn of property – is wrong. The loss to the exchequer is likely to be nearer the region of £90m-£100m,’ the paper said.

Despite making an “Offer of Amends” regarding the libel claim, Tesco pressed on with the “malicious falsehood” claim. Mr Justice Eady (who has a mixed record on free-speech friendly judgements), though, was not impressed; as Hold the Front Page reports, he

…imposed a ‘stay’ on the malicious falsehood claim as it had no “substantive or legitimate purpose”.

He said the court must focus on the “real issues between the parties…There is no right to plead a cause of action just because it exists.

“The court is there to do justice…Litigation is no longer intended to be regarded as a game for lawyers; it is a means provided by the state of achieving justice for the parties.”

It looks as though those planning to bring dubious suits in the future may receive short shrift, both as regards libel actions and as regards other claims made strategically either in lieu of or alongside libel accusations. 

And today, the Guardian reports that another libel case against it has been dropped:

Matthias Rath, the vitamin campaigner accused of endangering thousands of lives in South Africa by promoting his pills while denouncing conventional medicines as toxic and dangerous, has dropped a year-long libel action against the Guardian and been ordered to pay costs.

Rath sued over three Guardian articles that condemned his promotional activities among Aids sufferers in South African townships.

Rath sought to have part of one of the articles excluded from the court’s consideration; he apparently backed down when the court refused to accept this. Costs awarded to the Guardian amount to £220,000, and I’ll be interested to see whether Rath pays up or pleads bankruptcy; it seems to me grotesque an innocent defendant can end up out-of-pocket thanks to a plaintiff being unable to make good all the needless expense he or she has caused.

Meanwhile, Simon Singh is still facing a libel threat aimed at him personally for pieces published in the Guardian concerning the British Chiropractic Association.

And Tesco is still, so far as I know, pursuing aggressive libel suits against journalists in Thailand.

Holy Medvedev

Personality cult in Russia? Surely not

Muslim artist Robert Gabitov from St. Petersburg painted a portrait-“icon” of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev…The president has a falcon on his shoulder and a tree of life is growing behind him. The author thinks these symbols stress “holiness of the Russian President.”

(The Ukrainians aren’t adverse to the same kind of thing)