US “Prophet” on Porn Charge in Kenya

From the Kenya Daily Nation:

During the day, he was a man of God, preaching the good news to his flock. But at night, he turned into somebody else, engaging in sex orgies and recording them for commercial distribution.

This is the picture that police painted of a 50-year-old American evangelist who was on Wednesday charged with possessing pornographic material.

Mr Thomas Kevin Manton of Dominion International, a church that operates from a Nairobi hotel, was denied bail and remanded in custody until Friday for the police to complete their investigations.

Manton – who is better-known as Thomas Manton IV, has a website here, where he boasts of his prophetic powers:

God has also had him speak profound prophetic-utterances to cities, states, regions and nations – and to more than 40,000+ individuals personally one-by-one- across 21 nations – in just 12 years of full-time ministry. His prophetic writings to 80+ nations; and his amazingly-accurate and detailed prophetic-predictions of NYC’s 9/11; London’s 7/7, Kenya’s economic, social and governmental changes; Great Britain’s political scandals, France President’s assassination attempt; and the Western Bank/Gaza conflicts – amongst numerous others – have alerted millions across the nations to what God is saying concerning unfolding world events today.

Manton also claims to be able to heal the sick and control the weather:

1) Hurricane Floyd ~ 500 miles around! 155 MPH winds~ F5 Hurricane! It would have destroyed the East Coast of Florida! I WENT OUT ON MY BALCONY IN Orlando. THE LORD SAID: Tell it to stop and turn north! Within the next hour, it stopped and turned north! The Weather Channel confirmed that!

2) Dallas Ft. Worth Tornado ~ God said, “Tell it to lift!” I did & it did instantly as the Lord said! Right in front of our eyes! It was going straight toward DFW Airport. But, we stopped it!

And, inevitably, there’s a promise of riches:

New Wealth is going to spring forth in the marketplaces for you, My precious ones, and I will have many new entrepreneurs arise ad become rich for my Gospel’s sake, says the Lord. Many Gospel Financiers will manifest now for the Divine Purposes of supporting My chosen Servants, and funding My chosen works in this next day, for I am preparing this even now, says the Lord God Almighty!

Curiously, however, his biography page gives no personal background details or any indication of links with other pastors.

Manton’s local prophecies have had a political flavour; here’s one from September 2007, posted on the site of African Press International (API is a whole story in itself, by the way):

Mr. Mwai Kibaki has served Me, by serving your nation well, over these last five years as Kenya’s President. And My Hand is even now upon him for the continued reformation of Kenya over the next five years!…Mr. Mwai Kibaki is the man that I have chosen and ordained to see these things through now for the good of your nation.

[God says] And I will break-down and destroy, from its roots, the pervasive spirit of corruption that has plagued your nation for so many years. I have already attacked it, of late, and broken its legs, but unfortunately it is still lingering on in the mindsets and actions of many people. Nevertheless, I will attack corruption, vehemently and viciously, until I finally destroy it from continuing as a commodity of your societies.

…Look at the man that I have had ruling your nation for the past five years.  He was not looking for your nation’s Presidency for his own personal gain. He saw it as a mission for the good of the people of Kenya. He is already a very wealthy man, and he is content with what he has. He has not taken the wealth of your nation as his own; nor its production to put it into his own pocket. But he has looked continuously to implement ways of bettering the nation of Kenya. And he has done it. And this is what your nation needs, says the Lord!

…Did I not visit Nairobi in a new way on Monday, April 2, 2007 as I used My Prophet here to deal with the demonic-principalities? of Koinange Street Did I not have him prophesy over that area that very night, and declare that it would change immediately? (You may see this yourself! *Order your own Copies of the New Prophecies For Kenya 2007! (Volumes 1~4 on DVD)

In fact, as Paul Gifford notes in his forthcoming book Christianity, Politics, and Public Life in Kenya, Kibaki’s record is not particularly impressive: the director of Kibaki’s Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (unfortunately, that’s “KACC”) earns more than the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the organisation cannot investigate anything post-2003 (p. 18). MPs’ perks and expenses exceed the British in venality by far: apparently car fuel expenses are so excessive it would be cheaper for an MP to visit the border town of Kitale by hired helicopter than actually to drive there (p. 224).

Manton’s website is registered to London, and he has an adress in Bloomfield, New Jersey. In November he visited a certain “Gospel Light Church”, which is run by a Ghanaian pastor in Tottenham.

London Lite on Archbishop and Shariah

A hilariously garbled report from London Lite, a free “newspaper” in London:

Shariah archbishop

The claim that “Sharia judgements are given legal status only if they are backed in law courts and by the Archbishop of Canterbury” will unite British Anglicans and British Muslims in perplexity.

The actual story is that Civitas claims there are a number of unofficial shariah courts in operation in the UK. Further, it was reported last September that several courts have sought to have their decisions recognised by county courts,  using the 1996 Arbitration Act, which allows for various kinds of private arrangements. And some months before that, Rowan Williams opined that some recognised shariah courts might be “inevitable”.

This is all mashed together to give the absurd rendering above.

“Anti-Extremist” Football Marchers in East London

Anti-Muslim blogger Paul Ray (“Lionheart”) has posted a video of another “anti-extremist march”, this time apparently in Whitechapel, East London. Apparently opposing Islamic extremism means swaggering along a main road belting out football chants, including the inevitable “Eng-er-lund”. The video is difficult to interpret; at certain points the crowd (which includes at least one black member) makes particularly agresssive sounds, but it is not clear exactly why. A few of the participants cover their faces. The whole thing seems to have been at a much smaller scale than the rally in Luton in May, which ended in violence.

From Ray’s tags, it seems this event was down to the “Welsh Defence League” and the “English Defence League”.

Incidentally, Ray has not so far made any comment over the fact that Glen Jenvey, a man whom he has promoted and defended on his blog on a number of occasions, has recently announced his conversion to Islam and willingness to take advice from some notorious extremists.

UPDATE: Ray adds in a comment on his own blog:

We live in a new age, with God doing a new thing on the Earth with His people who are willing to defend Christendom from the hordes of savages in the embodiment of ‘religious moslems’, who have emerged on our land from their Islamic hell holes.

Mark Driscoll Slammed by Baptist Press over Sex Teaching

A number of sites have noted a report from the Baptist Press concerning Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church; a Christian radio station recently yanked a programme featuring Driscoll due to Driscoll’s teachings concerning sex. In particular, this 2007 sermon delivered in Edinburgh was considered unacceptable:

During the sermon, which was entitled “Sex, a Study of the Good Bits from Song of Solomon,” Driscoll interpreted Song of Solomon 2:3 as referring to oral sex and then said, “Men, I am glad to report to you that oral sex is biblical…The wife performing oral sex on the husband is biblical. God’s men said, Amen. Ladies, your husbands appreciate oral sex. They do. So, serve them, love them well. It’s biblical. Right here. We have a verse. ‘The fruit of her husband is sweet to her taste and she delights to be beneath him.'”

The transcript of the sermon can be seen here. A similar talk on the same theme – part of a series called “The Peasent Princess” – can be seen here; just after 38:00 Driscoll cites a certain Joseph Dillow (also known as Jody Dillow) as his source for this exegesis. Dillow, an electrical engineer who went on to study at the Dallas Theological Seminary, is the author of Solomon on Sex (sometimes incorrectly cited as Solomon and Sex), which was published by Thomas Nelson in 1977; Dillow saw the passage as referring to an “oral genital caress”. This interpretation is also shared by the Skeptics’ Bible, although there the motive is primarily to annoy Christians.

Certainly, the Song of Solomon is a somewhat anomalous text in the Bible, but such a graphic reading of this largely metaphorical passage is something of a stretch. Commentators have suggested that probably simple kissing is intended, and they point out that there is no discussion of oral sex in comparable Egyptian love poetry. Plus, of course, the overall thrust of the Bible does not appear to favour marital kinkiness of any kind (I can’t imagine Saint Paul being very impressed), which suggests that Driscoll, as a Christian fundamentalist, is looking for a loop-hole for his own purposes.

However, Driscoll pushes the envelope somewhat further – not only has he found permission in the Bible, it appears to be a prescription:

[In recounting the story about the man who started coming to Driscoll’s church because his wife began performing oral sex:]

She [the wife] says, “I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.” I said, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.'” She says, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.” [Laughter from audience] How many men would agree, that is a deed of kindness. He doesn’t want tracts. Those won’t do anything. What we’re talking about here could really help.

Driscoll, it should be recalled, previously used the Ted Haggard male-prostitute scandal as an opportunity to opine that:

It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

Driscoll’s sermon was given at the Destiny Church in Edinburgh, which is pastored by a certain Peter Anderson. According to the website of the mother church in Glasgow:

Pastor Andrew Owen describes the church as a contemporary apostolic Christian movement that thinks like social entrepreneurs.

Today, Destiny churches are established throughout Scotland, Germany, India, Ireland and Kenya. These churches are inter-dependant, and work together as a family of churches.

(Hat tip: Jesus’ General)

Ethiopian Ark of the Covenant Not To Be Revealed After All

Following on from my last post, apparently we all missed this report in Adnkronos last week , which includes a clarification from Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Abuna Pauolos:

Non sono qui per dare delle prove che l’Arca sia in Etiopia, ma sono qui per dire quello che ho visto, quello che so e che posso testimoniare. Non ho detto che l’Arca sarà mostrata al mondo. E’ un mistero, un oggetto di culto.

A Freeper has helpfully provided a translation:

I am not here to give proofs that the Ark is in Ethiopia, but I am here to say what I saw, what I know and I can attest to. I didn’t say that the Ark would be revealed to the world. It is a mystery, an object of veneration.

First the Jim Barfield let down, and now this…

(Hat tip: a comment at Joel’s Trumpet)

WND Arko-mania

With news that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is planning to make public – today! – the hitherto concealed “Ark of the Covenant” the church claims is kept at a church in Aksum, WorldNetDaily eschews scholars on Ethiopian religion and history in favour of some soundbites  from various self-proclaimed “ark-hunters” and fundamentalist evangelists. First up, Bob Cornuke:

Bob Cornuke, biblical investigator, international explorer and best-selling author, has participated in more than 27 expeditions around the world searching for lost locations described in the Bible…He told WND he believes this artifact may be authentic.

…Cornuke said he also met with the president of Ethiopia nearly nine years ago and had a one-on-one conversation with him in his palace. He asked if Ethiopia had the Ark of the Covenant.

According to Cornuke, the president responded: “Yes, we do. I am the president, and I know. It’s not a copy. It’s the real thing.”

That president would have been Negasso Gidada, who is a Protestant.

Cornuke is off to Ethiopia next week. As I blogged here, Cornuke, whose archaeological qualifications come from Louisiana Baptist University, already claims to have found Noah’s Ark in Iran.

A particularly daft story follows, provided by Grant Jeffrey:

He told WND he has spoken extensively with Robert Thompson, former adviser to former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

Jeffrey said Thompson told him the Ark of the Covenant had been taken to Ethiopia by Menelik, purported son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. When Menelik became emperor, he claims royal priests entrusted him with the Ark of the Covenant because King Solomon was slipping into apostasy. A replica was then left behind in Israel.

“The Ethiopian royal chronicles suggest that for 3,000 years, they had been guarding the ark, knowing that it had to go back to Israel eventually,” Jeffrey said.

He claims that after the Ethiopian civil war, Israel sent in a group of commandos from the tribe of Levi and the carried the Ark onto a plane and back to Israel in 1991.

“It is being held there secretly, waiting in the eyes of the religious leaders of Israel, for a supernatural signal from God to rebuild the temple,” he said. “They are not going to do it before that. When that happens, they will bring the Ark into that temple.”

This is typical of the way apocalyptic Christian Zionists make Israel into a fantasy land rather than part of the real world. A fuller account of Jeffrey’s story can be seen here. Thompson died in 1997, so we can’t ask him why he chose to share this information with nobody except the author of apocalyptic paperbacks.

Chuck “Peanut Butter” Missler, meanwhile, is hedging his bets:

“What everybody overlooks is that there’s a reason that particular story was cooked up in early times,” he said. “It was to give their kings Solomonic descent. There’s reason why they would try to sell that. But just because the official belief in how it got down there is not biblical, doesn’t mean they don’t have it.”

And Richard Rives adds, referring to the story that a replica Ark was built in Jerusalem after Solomon’s supposed son Menelik took away the original:

“God’s presence was on the mercy seat. That was the throne of God,” he said.

If the account were accurate, Rives said God would have been dwelling on an Ark replica in Jerusalem.

“I just don’t believe they could have persuaded him to sit on a fake Ark of the Covenant,” he said.

Rives should know – as I blogged here, he heads Wyatt Archeological Research Inc, which was founded by the late Robert Wyatt. Wyatt claimed to have glimpsed the Ark in a cave in Jerusalem; he also found Noah’s Ark (presumably a different one from the one in Iran), Noah’s house and grave, pre-flood wood without tree rings, sulphur balls from Sodom and Gomorrrah, and much else – including Jesus’ blood, which contained 23 chromosomes from Mary and one from God.

Governor Sanford Quoted Bible in Message to his Mistress

Looks like Governor Mark Sanford has been doing his bit to promote the proposed Year of the Bible in the USA, quoting Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in an email to his mistress:

…I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don’t want to be the person complicating your life. I looked to where I often look for advice and counsel, and in I Corinthians 13 it simply says that, “Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better — not more complicated life…

And in a follow-up message shortly after:

…I never gave you sexual details but now you don’t need to imagine you can close your eyes and just remember. I’ll do the same.

UPDATE: Sanford continues to cling to the Bible in an attempt to salvage his political career:

Sanford held his typical public meeting with the agency chiefs, but started with apologies and likened his confession and future to the biblical plight of King David.

Sanford said King David fell mightily but picked up the pieces and built from there.

More “Third Temple” Enthusiasts

The Jerusalem Post and other sources are reporting on a new proposal for a “Third Temple” in Jerusalem. The idea has come from a certain Yoav Frankel, who in a 2007 paper suggested that a “prophet” would have the authority to establish a new Jewish Temple adjacent to the Dome of the Rock, thus turning the Temple Mount into an interfaith space and defusing one reason for continued conflict in the region. His idea is explained on this website, with an extended English-language version of his article here. He is part of an “Interfaith Encounter Association“, and his project is being directed by Ohr Margalit, an academic at Bar-Ilan University. Margalit gives a gushing pitch at the Washington Post:

a rebuilt temple…would be the radical fulfillment of God’s original mandate to the Jewish people and of the original purpose of the Temple, to manifest the One God to the world. This would be more powerfully accomplished with Christian and Muslim shrines nearby along with the pilgrims that visit them. At the very same time, with a rebuilt Temple in peaceful proximity, Allah would be more powerfully manifested in the Dome and in the Al Aqsa Mosque, and likewise for God, the Prince of Peace, in surrounding churches. All would occur simultaneously because the world would then understand and embrace the prophecy of Zechariah 14:9, “On that day, God will be One and His Name One.”

In fact, Frankel is not the first person to suggest that a new Temple could be constructed without damaging the Dome of the Rock, although other schemes have been based on archaeological revisionism rather than the idea of a prophetic fiat. Problems still abound, though: how exactly would a “prophet” achieve the status needed to be taken seriously? Charismatic authority in ultra-Orthodox Judaism tends to lead to sectarian division rather than unity, while authority structures and intellectual traditions in other strands of Judaism mean there is little chance they would succumb to a personality cult. The reality of Temple worship would be unattractive as well – for most Westerners, a return to killing animals as a religious practice is more likely to evoke disgust and bewilderment than feelings of piety.

Further, most Israelis have no interest in a “Third Temple”, and would resent the way such a thing would symbolise the power of an already overbearing religious establishment, while right-wing groups who would like to see its construction are usually adamant that the Muslim buildings must go. Also, how could a new building avoid damaging ancient archaeology on the site or impeding research, even if the Muslim structures are untouched? A new Temple would hardly be a restoration job, but rather an unparalleled modification to an ancient site (with dramatic knock-on effects for the wider area) where conservation should be the top priority. 

And why would Muslim authorities agree to it? The example of adjacent Muslim and Jewish worship at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is not encouraging.

 Alas for Frankel and Margalit, the religious group which has shown the most excitment over the idea is apocalyptic Christian Zionists (e.g. here, here, and here), although not in a way they would like: from this perspective the plan is just confirmation of a coming “False Prophet”, who will establish the anti-Christ at the head of a one-world religion based at this very spot. Once again, an idea that is on the outer fringes in the Israel of the real world becomes central to Christian fundamentalist fantasy.

(Hat tip: Paleojudaica)

Religion and the BBC

As is being widely reported, the Church of England’s General Synod is being asked to raise concerns about religious programming on the BBC, and over the appointment of a Muslim, Aaqil Ahmed, as commissioning editor for religion. The Bishop of Croydon has a reasonable piece about it on his blog:

…the real question is this: will Ahmed bring to coverage of Christianity the same intelligent and explanatory approach he has brought to coverage of Islam and the Quran at Channel 4? It seems to me that coverage of Islam assumes ignorance on the part of viewers and, therefore, seeks to explain before offering a critique. When it comes to Christianity, however, understanding is (mistakenly) assumed and the critique is almost always wholly negative – and frequently weak. Why, for example, does coverage of the Quran use sympathetic voices whereas the series on Christianity gives voice to critics – not to people from within the faith? A series on the Bible planned for 2011 (the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible – which shaped the English language and people) has now been ditched.

Less reasonable is input from Don Maclean, a former presenter on BBC Radio 2, as reported by the Mail:

Mr Maclean said: ‘They’re keen on Islam, they’re keen on programmes that attack the Christian church.

‘I know there are things that need to be brought forward, but you don’t see any programmes on Anglicanism that don’t talk about homosexual clergy and you don’t see anything on Roman Catholicism that don’t talk about paedophiles.

‘They seem to take the negative angle every time.  They don’t do that if they’re doing programmes on Islam.  Programmes on Islam are always supportive.

…He said: ‘I think there’s a secularist movement in this country to get rid of Christianity.  Something must be done.’

Unhappily, for no clear reason he mixes this in with:

The presenter claimed ‘the last thing we want is war on the streets’ adding that ‘we need all the moderate Muslims to stand up and be counted’.

He added: ‘They’re all in private telling you how dreadful they think Islamic terrorism is, but they’re not forming together in a group and standing up against it.’

It’s true that religious programming overall has declined: the Christian Institute reports that “the BBC’s religious coverage has fallen by nearly 15 per cent in the last 20 years, from 177 hours in 1988 to 155 in 2008, even though its total television output has doubled”.  Serious documentaries about religion have been marginalised: on the TV, the Everyman and Heart of the Matter strands have long gone, while on the radio the Sunday news programme is broadcast at an ungodly early hour and the World Service’s Reporting Religion is no more. 

But Maclean’s complaint (presumably lifted from Michael Nazir-Ali) is over-egged: there is a generous amount of devotional material on the radio, and programmes continue to be broadcast on TV (see here for a current list). Compare that with ITV, which ditched its devotional Christian programming some years ago for purely commerical reasons; insofar as there is less devotional programming, that’s a result of secularisation, rather than a process directed by a “secularist movement”. I’d like to see more documentaries, but it’s not true that the only subjects covered concern sexual matters: at Easter there was a very good docudrama about the future Pope John Paul II’s experiences during the war, and if you keep a close eye on the schedules a decent amount of material about religion can be found in programmes about history or the arts, particularly on BBC Four.

By the way, I saw Don Maclean once in the flesh – when I mentioned this to some friends I was surprised at how enthusiastic they were. Eventually I discovered there is an American singer of the same name, although spelt differently.

Obsession DVD Pundit Glen Jenvey: Conversion to Islam Announced, Thanks Given to Extremist

Following on from yesterday’s blog entry, Dave Bones of Malung TV News has had further correspondence with Glen Jenvey, who for several years has been cited in the media as an expert on Islamic terrorism and as an “anti-Jihad” activist. Jenvey has apparently announced his conversion (or “reversion”, to use insider terminology) to Islam through the guidance of a notorious extremist:

im fine looking forward to tell the world they should imbrace islam as well.i will be putting the wrongs of my past right and helping all muslim prisoners as a muslim.

may allah guide me and thank omar bakri for his bring me into the fold of islam.

glen aka omar hamza jenvey

This is written in Jenvey’s trademark dyslexic style; the story has also been confirmed by Bones through a contact at Salafimedia.com, and Jenvey has just deleted his “alimasharli” YouTube channel, which carried videos attacking Islamic extremists. Just a couple of weeks ago Jenvey posted a phone interview he had made with Omar Bakri, in which he had posed as a journalist in order to elicit some (predictable) inflammatory quotes.

Jenvey used to run a fake extremist website as an undercover operation, and some are speculating this new development is of the same sort. However, it should also be noted that the media declined to pick up his Omar Bakri interview, and he was recently angered by an unflattering passing reference in the Daily Mail. He has also acted erratically since the Sun withdrew an article sourced from him in January.

Of course, there’s also a chance that Jenvey’s email and YouTube site have been hacked by a talented impersonator, but the previous statements I blogged yesterday have been around for a few days now unchallenged.

UPDATE: A new statement has appeared:

Let it be known MI5 and the Daily Mail newspaper are full time over paid trash!…The Daily Mail were un-ware in their badly researched story I was under cover collecting information for a British MP and Newspaper for them to pass on to the police to stop public disorder offences from Feb 2009.

…Omar Bakri has invited me to Islam and i will be converting in early July I will not be working for any intelligence service from this date against Muslims or any other group.

over the years i have found the police racist and MI5 full of interbread public school boy’s i declare complete contempt for the Daily Mail’s LIES and after the PCC result if not fair will be taking them to court…over the years i have worked along side several intelligence services and will be sharing this secret info with my friends and Muslim Brother.

There’s also a link to an audio of “advice by my Brother in Islam Sheikh Omar Bakri”, in which Omar Bakri discusses Jenvey’s wish to convert.

Also, Dave Bones adds:

I have seen emails from Aranis solicitors asking why Mr Jenvey is withdrawing his evidence and enquiring about his change of heart.

Muddassar Arani is Abu Hamza’s solicitor.