Christian Right Launches Attack On Wrong Medical Body Over Misrepresented New Paraphilia Definitions

Charisma News brings news of a breathless announcement from the American Family Association:

A shocking announcement made by the American Psychological Association (APA) in its latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders caused an uproar among pro-family organizations and many others, as the APA states it now classifies pedophilia as a sexual orientation or preference instead of a disorder.

Sandy Rios, cultural expert and talk show host on the American Family Radio network, has issued a statement on behalf of the American Family Association in response to the APA’s position on pedophilia:

“Just as the APA declared homosexuality an ‘orientation’ under tremendous pressure from homosexual activists in the mid-’70s, now, under pressure from pedophile activists, they have declared the desire for sex with children an ‘orientation,’ too. It’s not hard to see where this will lead. More children will become sexual prey…”

The fifth edition of manual, widely referred to as DSM-5, is actually published by the American Psychiatric Association; this has now been corrected on Charisma, although “psychology” is preserved in the url. Here’s what it says (page 698) on the subject of the paraphilia of attraction to children:

… if [individuals] report an absence of feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety about these impulses and are not functionally limited by their paraphilic impulses (according to self-report, objective assessment, or both), and their self-reported and legally recorded histories indicate that they have never acted on their impulses, then these individuals have a pedophilic orientation but not pedophilic disorder.

A PDF summary on the APA’s website has further further details and context:

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), paraphilic disorders are often misunderstood as a catch-all definition for any unusual sexual behavior. In the upcoming fifth edition of the book, DSM-5, the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group sought to draw a line between atypical human behavior and behavior that causes mental distress to a person or makes the person a  serious threat to the psychological and physical well-being of other individuals.

…Most people with atypical sexual interests do not have a mental disorder. To be diagnosed with a paraphilic disorder, DSM-5 requires that people with these interests:

• feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval;

or

• have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent.

To further define the line between an atypical sexual interest and disorder, the Work Group revised the names of these disorders to differentiate between the behavior itself and the disorder stemming from that behavior (i.e., Sexual Masochism in DSM-IV will be titled Sexual Masochism Disorder in DSM-5).

It is a subtle but crucial difference that makes it possible for an individual to engage in consensual atypical sexual behavior without inappropriately being labeled with a mental disorder. With this revision, DSM-5 clearly distinguishes between atypical sexual interests and mental disorders involving these desires or behaviors.

The chapter on paraphilic disorders includes eight conditions: exhibitionistic disorder, fetishistic disorder, frotteuristic disorder, pedophilic disorder, sexual masochism disorder, sexual sadism disorder, transvestic disorder, and voyeuristic disorder.

…In the case of pedophilic disorder, the notable detail is what wasn’t revised in the new manual. Although proposals were discussed throughout the DSM-5 development process, diagnostic criteria ultimately remained the same as in DSM-IV TR. Only the disorder name will be changed from pedophilia to pedophilic disorder to maintain consistency with the chapter’s other listings.

One can see how the word “orientation” might have caused confusion (indeed, the word doesn’t appear in the PDF summary, and I initially thought it had been introduced by the secondary discussions; see my comment below for more on this), but it’s clear that this is essentially a technical discussion about medical categorization and treatment; there’s nothing here that seeks to normalize or excuse pedophilic behaviour.

The DSM-5 recently caught the eye of Neon Tommy, a news site associated with the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which summarized the DSM-5 revision thus:

Pedophilia refers to a sexual orientation or profession of sexual preference devoid of consummation, whereas pedophilic disorder is defined as a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality.

The headline for this was “Pedophilia Now Classified As A Sexual Orientation”, and the reporter also sought comment from an obscure paedophilic-advocacy group in Maryland run by a convicted sex offender. The article also introduced the confusion between the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association (the error was subsequently amended, but not acknowledged).

The Neon Tommy story was then picked up by a Catholic blog run by a certain Father John Zuhlsdorf, who suggested that the word “orientation” showed that a plot was afoot by “homosexualists” to eliminate the age of consent. From here, it was passed on to Patrick Ryan at the American Spectator; by the time story reached the AFA and Charisma, the DSM-5’s distinction between what people may be thinking and how they behave is gone completely. Instead, it’s now become a story of how gay people opened the way for “pedophile activists” to corrupt medicine and society. The repeated “American Psychological Association” error is particularly significant in the context of the American Family Association; the AFA is a strong supporter of the anti-gay psychologist Paul Cameron, who was famously expelled from the American Psychological Association over his views on homosexuality.

The American Family Association’s notion of “pressure from pedophile activists” is particularly hard to take: we live in a world in which people who are even suspected of paedophilia are forced into hiding or murdered; the notion of an obscure sex-offender “activist” pressuring either the American Psychiatric Association or the American Psychological Association into amending its methodology is self-evidently absurd.

UPDATE (1 November): The story has now prompted the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association to issue statements; Charisma, meanwhile,  has been distancing itself from the American Family Association’s claims, and the AFA is apparently blaming its hapless PR company. More on all this here.

(Revised)

BBC Airs Documentary on Tommy Robinson and Mo Ansar

Producer says show was harder to make “than a series on Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles, harder than three exposés on the Church of Scientology”

Broadcast magazine has an interesting article by the executive producer of When Tommy Met Mo, last night’s BBC documentary about Tommy Robinson’s meetings with Mo Ansar and other British Muslims ahead of Robinson’s surprise resignation from the English Defence League and new association with the Quilliam Foundation. The author, Jill Robinson, works for Mentorn Media, and the programme was commissioned following an appearance by T. Robinson and Ansar on Mentorn’s Sunday morning discussion programme, The Big Questions (which I blogged here). J. Robinson writes:

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Mo invited Tommy and his family to dinner… I immediately felt that something very important had happened, something that could be a catalyst for change, and that we had to follow it up.

Our commissioning editor Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC’s head of religion & ethics, immediately saw the potential too, and asked us to develop the idea. Four weeks later we sent him a taster tape and the outline of a journey that Tommy and Mo could take together through British Islam.

However:

But what seemed simple on paper proved extremely difficult in reality. In fact it was the hardest show to make of my 35 years in television, harder than a series on Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles, harder than three exposés on the Church of Scientology.

J. Robinson tells the story of various setbacks that occured: T. Robinson’s time in prison (blogged here); health problems that delayed filming; and difficulties in persuading Muslims to participate, including Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz. However:

Then the story accelerated out of our control. Privately we knew Tommy wanted to leave the EDL but he insisted not yet. Then we introduced him to Maajid – and a week later he jumped ship.

The programme itself can be viewed here (and for those outside the UK there’s a bootleg on YouTube); to quote the blurb:

Following the pair as each shows the other his view of British Islam, the film reveals that Ansar was present at an EDL street protest in May and was also the first Muslim to address the EDL. It shows Robinson as he visits Walsall Mosque and meets with one of Britain’s leading Muslim scholars, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra. The former leader of the EDL also debates the burqa and niqab with Muslim politician Salma Yaqoob, and discusses the Qur’an with noted Islamic commentators including Islamic scholar Dr Usama Hasan and historian Tom Holland.

Robinson and Ansar were presented as affable and courteous antagonists; in contrast to Robinson’s hateful rants at protests and the thuggish behaviour of his (now largely former) supporters, Robinson is able to present himself well in interviews and face-to-face encounters (at least, when he’s sober). For his part, Ansar conveyed a vision of a moderate British Islam, but towards the end was damaged by an exchange with Nawaz in which he appeared to prevaricate on the implementation of traditional hudud punishments in Islamic states. Ansar has written about his time with Robinson in the Guardian.

The climax was the press conference with Maajid and Hasan at the Montague on the Gardens Hotel in Bloomsbury, from which Ansar was excluded; according to Nicky Campbell’s voice-over, Robinson sent Ansar a text explaining that “he didn’t want Mo claiming any credit for this momentous decision”. However, according to Ansar on Twitter, “the exclusion was by the head of Quilliam, not Tommy”, although he also says that he hasn’t met Robinson since and that “My understanding is that he has refused to share a platform.” Robinson’s Twitter utterances on Ansar since the press conference have been bitter and verging on the abusive, describing him as a “racist“, a “blagger” and as someone who “lies“; there are also mocking references to his weight (Ansar is heavy-set, and in fact suffered a heart attack during the making of the documentary).

Meanwhile, Quilliam’s Ghaffar Hussain has Tweeted that Ansar simply “wasn’t on the guest list”, which is dodging the issue – given the association between Robinson and Ansar over so many months, it’s obvious that Ansar’s exclusion from the “guest list” must have been an active decision by someone. Shafting Ansar further, Hussain and Robinson have also just retweeted a 2012 Tweet by Ansar in debate with Tom Holland which appeared to condone slavery, although Holland has re-Tweeted a clarification by Ansar that “it was a three day conversation about slavery in ancient times.”

So what’s next? Inevitably, it’s media and politics; Robinson writes:

I am currently in the process of filming another bbc documentary “what tommy does next” looking to rep working class people.

Billy Graham, WorldNetDaily, and the End of the World

From WorldNetDaily (WND) again, last week:

Just as Noah did in ancient times, world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham is sounding the alarm that the Second Coming is “near” and signs of the end of the age are “converging now for the first time since Jesus made those predictions.”

…In an exclusive email interview with WND, Graham, 94, who is giving what may be his last message to the world as part of the My Hope America with Billy Graham evangelistic outreach in early November, said the world is “coming toward the end of the age.”

“There’s a great deal to say in the Bible about the signs we’re to watch for and when these signs all converge at one place we can be sure that we’re close to the end of the age,” Graham wrote. “And those signs, in my judgment, are converging now for the first time since Jesus made those predictions.”

For WND, an apocalyptic quote from one of the world’s most recognizable Christian “names” is a very useful tool for promoting and mainstreaming various “Last Days” prognostications:

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly “biblical prophecies are being realized.”

And last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., claimed the world has entered the last days.

…The remarks by Graham, Netanyahu and Bachmann come amid a steadily rising wave of public interest in the end times, as demonstrated by recent polls and New York Times and Amazon.com bestselling books such as “The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future,” by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, and “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” by Pastor John Hagee.

Now, a new wave of end-times predictions for 2014 and 2015 involving blood moons on Jewish holy days and prophetically significant events on the Shemitah – the ancient biblical year of the Sabbath – are igniting even more interest in humanity’s ultimate fate.

Throw in next year’s reboot of the “Left Behind” film featuring Nicolas Cage and the cinematic destruction of biblical proportions in “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, and last-days fever is back with a mainstream vengeance.

I’ve discussed the two books by Cahn and Hagee previously: both items approach the Bible’s eschatological passages as a kind of cryptic code that can be cracked by applying idiosyncratic extrapolations derived from elements appropriated from Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was making the general claim that the modern state of Israel reflects the vision of the Hebrew Bible prophet Amos:

As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again.

That’s a reference to Amos 9, which follows a series of warnings that Israel will be punished; the chapter also predicts the restoration of the Davidic monarchy, and may be an addition to the text dating from just after the end of the Babylonian Captivity.

But what about Graham’s claim that end-time signs are “converging now for the first time”? Although Graham is best known for talking about general Christian themes, he actually has a history of statements on this subject going back many years. In 1981 he published Till Armageddon, followed by Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse two years later; the latter book was revised in 1992 as Storm Warning and then again in 2010. He has tended to avoid going into too much detail (“I do not want to linger here on the who, what, why, how or when of Armageddon. I will simply state my own belief that it is near”), but it’s clear he’s seen end-time signs “converging” for decades. For example:

There has never been a time in history when so many storms have come together as they have in our lifetime… In America, we see continued racial division, homelessness, crime, physical and sexual abuse, and the disintegration of the traditional family. And these storms are further complicated by plagues of many kinds, including AIDS… All of these are combined with earthquakes, physical storms, and natural disasters of many kinds across the land…

And so on. There’s also a statement on the subject in reply to query from a reader on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website:

Every day, millions of people all over the world face a host of other disasters: famine, disease, economic chaos, racism, ecological and natural catastrophes, and so forth.

Do these mean Jesus’ second coming is very near? It certainly may be, because He indicated that just before He comes again the world ‘s problems will increase. He declared, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). While these problems are part of every age, the Bible says they will increase in intensity toward the end.

(Doom-mongers often claim that earthquakes are “increasing”, although in fact it’s completely untrue – see here and here)

Given this discrepancy with “converging now for the first time”, one wonders whether the “exclusive email interview” with WND was actually conducted with Graham personally or if a staffer handled it; the details were published just days before the the evangelist was admitted to hospital.

Graham is a global figure whose a generous temperament and sociability have allowed him to transcend the intellectual limitations of his evangelical tradition; unlike his son Franklin, he’s usually managed to avoid being pigeon-holed as a ideologue of the “Christian Right”, and his charisma is such that no lasting damage was done a few years ago when it came to light that he had expressed anti-Semitic views in private with Richard Nixon in 1973 (Journalists have long been disarmed – in 2005 The Revealer drew mocking attention to a particularly pandering and cliché-ridden sentimental profile that had been published in Newsweek).

It would be odd if after decades in the public eye, Graham’s last public thoughts on religion should appear on a fringe-media Tea Party website most famous for promoting birtherism and other conspiracy theories.

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting detail: Jonathan Cahn recently made another appearance on Jim Bakker’s TV show, during which Bakker drew attention to the fact that Cahn had recently published an article in Graham’s Decision magazine.

Together At Last: The “Alien Savior” and the “Islamic Anti-Christ”

Wow, it feels like a whole two months since I last noted an apocalyptic conflab among US Christians; from (as ever) WorldNetDaily (WND):

The major challenges facing American Christians in the coming months, “the Vatican, the pope and UFOs,” Islam in biblical prophecy and the Dead Sea Scrolls are among the fascinating topics slated for this weekend’s Strategic Perspectives International Conference.

It’s much the same fare as we saw in relation to the “Pike’s Peak Prophecy Summit” in August, and the line-up overlaps with that event. As before, it’s a convergence of conspiracy theories, fringe pseudo-scientific speculations (derived from pop science fiction), and “Last Days” Biblical interpretation. The conference is being organised by Chuck Missler, who I previously wrote about hereWND has some highlights:

Tom Horn, the author of “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” will discuss “The Vatican, Pope and UFOs – How Are They Linked?”

Joel Richardson, an expert on Islam and author of “The Islamic Antichrist,” “Islam and the End Times,” and “The Mideast Beast,” will address “The Impact of Islam.”…

William Welty, the executive director of the ISV Foundation, will talk about “When God Disciplines His Own.” David McAlvany of McAlvany Wealth Management will discuss “Can America Endure The Coming Years?”

Peter Flint of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University will link the New Testament, prophecy and the ancient writings. Dan Stolebarger, the executive director of the Koinonia Institute, will lead a call to prayer.

Horn is the originator of a number of crank tomes and DVDs with titles such as Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, Project L.U.C.I.F.E.R. and the Vatican’s Astonishing Plan for the Arrival of an Alien Savior, and his speculations have been endorsed and promoted by Missler. Meanwhile, Richardson’s “Islamic Anti-Christ” claims have brought him plaudits from the likes of Robert Spencer, and he received wide attention after he was invited onto Glenn Beck’s TV show last year.

It’s difficult to see how the “Alien Savior” and the “Islamic Anti-Christ” theories can be synthesized with any coherence, but that’s probably not important: the main point is that self-styled “prophecy experts” purport to demonstrate special insight into Biblical mysteries in ways that give a general impression that there surely must very soon be a supernatural eruption into the mundane world. Details are less important than being “in the know”.

Welty and Flint are new to me, although they both have established associations with Missler. Welty has a website here, where he promotes a Bible billed as “the first conservative modern translation into any language that uses the Dead Sea Scrolls as a base text for Isaiah, Psalms, and Proverbs”, as well as gold coins which he believes will benefit Africa. Flint, meanwhile, is unusual in that he has published actual real scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Also:

[Joseph] Farah will head a workshop on “Discerning Truth in a World Full of Lies.”

Other panelists and moderators will include Clint Robertson and Gordon McDonald.

Pre-conference workshops, which begin Thursday, include Steve Elwart on the threat from an electromagnetic pulse and Mark Gustafson on keeping the private private.

[Frank] Peretti, author of “This Present Darkness,” “Piercing the Darkness” and other major bestselling books, will be the speaker at the Friday night dinner.

Farah, of course, runs WND, where he peddles falsehoods in bad faith on a daily basis; his choice of topic is consequently risible and grotesque.

Peretti, meanwhile, made a name for himself in the 1980s for Christian novels that jumped on a bandwagon of paperbacks about Satanic conspiracies while easing a shift towards more supernatural notions of “Spiritual Warfare” against demons; Peretti said he was “alarmed” at people who were taking his work literally, but his works were eagerly seized on by neo-Pentecostal revivalist C. Peter Wagner as a template for his demon-infested worldview. Peretti’s best-seller status will perhaps help to move the kind of fringe material that Missler and Koinonia promote further into mainstream American evangelical culture.

Together Yet Again: Allan Carlson, Larry Jacobs, and Vladimir Yakunin Talk Family Values

A press release by Don Feder (more on him here) on behalf of the World Public Forum:

(Rhodes, Greece) Dr Allan C. Carlson, International Secretary of the World Congress of Families and President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society spoke “Family Structure, Educational Liberty and Creative Genius” at the Rhodes Forum October 2-6. Dr. Carlson, one of the foremost authorities on the history of the family and the author of 14 books, presented twice during the conference including the “Family and Education Plenary” and the “Closing Plenary.”

…The session was moderated by: (1) Natalya Yakunina, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, “Sanctity of Motherhood” Program, vice-president of St. Andrew the First-called Foundation and wife of Vladimir Yakunin, founder and president of the World Public Forum, and (2) Larry Jacobs, World Congress of Families Managing Director and Vice President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society.

Many other World Congress of Families leaders and partners participated in this plenary session, including: Christine Vollmer (Venezuela), member of the WCF Management Committee, member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and President and Founder of the Latin American Alliance for the Family (ALAFA); Theodore Baehr (USA) [this guy – RB] – Founder and Publisher, MOVIEGUIDE; Chairman, Christian Film & Television Commission; Theresa Okafor (Nigeria) – African Representative for WCF, CEO of Life League Nigeria; Director of Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH); and Anatoly Antonov (Russia) – co-founder of WCF, Head of the Department of Sociology, Moscow State University, Editor-in-chief of “Population Studies” Journal. 

Jacobs observed: “Much credit for the vision and success of the World Public Forum is due to the wisdom and kindness of Vladimir Yakunin, who has invested his time and resources for the betterment of world civilizations. Mr, Yakunin has founded a unique organization that transcends the typical international conflicts on global issues and brings together people of good will from East  and West to dialogue, to listen, and to learn about the fundamental values and principles on which a society must be based.”

These “World Public Forum” events have been running for 11 years now,  and the speaker line-up is well-established and familiar. Yakunin is a member of Putin’s inner circle and a Orthodox activist; US conservatives are more than happy to buy into a narrative in which western complaints about gay rights in Russia are simply a sign of liberal western decadence and imperialism.

Journalist Kathryn Joyce has a good summary of the world Carlson would like to create:

…Carlson, who has helped craft policy for ultra-right Senator Sam Brownback and Representative Lee Terry of Nebraska, hopes to involve the state in a pro-family welfare system, where tax laws encourage large families, and the government encourages a family-and-faith-centered legal system, which repeals “witch-hunting” child abuse laws that restrict parental discipline as well as no-fault divorce; imposes penalties for unmarried cohabitation; and reconfigures Social Security to provide support on a family, rather than individual basis, so that women are recognized not for their work as independent employees but for their roles as spouses and mothers. 

Jacobs, meanwhile, recently enthused that “Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world”, echoing Patriarch Kirill’s view that  Putin’s rule is a “miracle of God“.

However, American critics of the USA with very different perspectives have also been involved with WFP events: last year, Noam Chomsky sent a video message and Lyndon LaRouche’s wife put in an appearance.

Alongside professional conservative ideologues, the events also attract an impressive array of international academics and religious figures, ranging from the mainstream through to the esoteric UFO enthusiast Carpentier de Gourdon; one of the WFP’s co-founders is Nicholas Papanicolaou, a Greek businessman who is part of a “chivalric order” alongside Gen. Jerry Boykin and neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner.

The press release adds:

World Congress of Families VIII will be held in Moscow, the Kremlin, and Russia’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, September 10-12, 2014.

Right Wing Watch notes that planning for this was probably why Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage was recently once again in Moscow:

Once again, Brown didn’t think to announce this publicly, but on a webcast with Jim Garlow yesterday afternoon mentioned that he “just got back from Russia last night” after Garlow thanked him for changing his flight schedule to be on the program. (The exchange is about 15:45 into this video.)

Brown didn’t say what he was in Russia for, but we can guess that he was at the . Brown is an enthusiastic supporter of the group, which pushes anti-gay and anti-choice measures abroad and has been a strong cheerleader for Russia’s recent anti-gay crackdown.

WorldNetDaily Promotes End-Times Theory Involving Dead Kabbalist and Ariel Sharon

From – once again – WorldNetDaily (WND):

He was, without doubt, the most venerated rabbi in Israel at the age of 108.

…But when Yitzhak Kaduri’s much-anticipated letter announcing the name of the Messiah he claimed to have encountered was unsealed a year after his death [in 2006], the Israeli press and world media that found him so quotable in life ignored it.

Now a brand-new book and documentary, “The Rabbi Who Found Messiah,” about his life, death and the secrets he took to the grave, tells the whole mysterious story for the first time.

And what was the name of the Messiah whom Kaduri met after years of praying and fasting? It was Yehoshua – the formal name for Yeshua, or Jesus in the Greek.

WND has been flogging this story since 2007; it’s bizarre that Christians should decide to invest so much in the notion that an aged kabbalist may or may not have been a secret believer in Jesus. The reason that WND is talking about it again now is that it has a book and DVD to sell on the subject, entitled The Rabbi Who Found Messiah: The Story of Yitzhak Kaduri and His Prophecies of the Endtime. It’s by Carl Gallups (aka “PPSIMMONS”), who came to WND‘s attention in 2009 with a video claiming that the Bible names Barack Obama as the anti-Christ (although he’s since hinted that he was being satirical). Gallups pastors the Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Florida, and further details about the product are on his website; there is an endorsement from none other than Chuck Missler, who is close to WND editor Joseph Farah and who acts as link between Christian fundamentalism and fringe conspiracy theories about UFOs and such.

Gallups’ version of the story includes the detail that Kaduri supposedly saw the Messiah “in a vision”, thus giving the tale a supernatural aspect that ties in with Christian hopes that Jesus will reveal himself to the Jews; but in 2005 I noted a slightly different version, in which Kaduri simply announced that the “soul of the Mashiach has attached itself to a person in Israel”. Kaduri also denounced “the current fascist regime” running Israel, called for the country to become a monarchy, and predicted that Ariel Sharon would be the last prime minister. That’s not how it turned out, but Gallups believes that Kaduri was referring to Sharon’s death; thus the return of Jesus related to when Sharon is finally released from his current lingering vegetative state. This is, of course, highly idiosyncratic and rather distasteful, and it has little to do with historic Christianity, Judaism, or anything even halfway reasonable.

Meanwhile, Kaduri’s elderly son has just had a vision of his own:

Rav [Dovid] Kaduri told the Yosef family a story that just happened. Just last night his father came to him in a dream. He described to his son the amazing reception that Rav Ovadia received in Heaven. He said that all the great leaders were there to greet him. but he himself was unable to be part of the reception…  Rav Dovid had asked his father why he was unable to attend, to which Rav Yitzchak Kaduri explained that he is on a different level in Heaven – the level of “Hassidut” – and form there he was not able to go to the level where the reception for Rav Ovadia was.

“Rav Ovadia”, of course, is the recently deceased (and somewhat unpleasant) Rabbi Ovadia Yosef; but according to Yosef’s obituary in Haaretz:

He shunned Kabbala and its practitioners, but at the urging of Shas political leader Aryeh Deri he agreed to adopt the amulets and incantations of Mekubal Yitzhak Kaduri for Shas’ election campaigns. He visibly abhorred Kaduri and his whisperings, but his acquiescence had a major part in deepening the hold of mystical kabbala culture on Israeli society.

The idea that Kaduri’s “mystical kabbala culture” could take a hold not just in Israel, but among fundamentalist Baptists in Florida and from there to a wider US Christian Right is apparently not so unlikely as one might have thought. It should be remembered that Farah is great enthusiast of “Hebrew Roots”, which seeks to appropriate aspects of Judaism within Christianity. Working with Stephen Strang of Charisma magazine, Farah has also heavily promoted Jonathan Cahn, whose book relating 9/11 to Biblical prophecy has become a bestseller.

Pamela Geller Repudiates Tommy Robinson

Once again (alas), I am obliged to quote Pamela Geller:

[T]he night before he made his announcement, Tommy tried to contact me numerous times on Skype and by phone while I was busy with other matters[*]. It was clear that it was urgent. Finally, we spoke on the phone, and it was on that phone call that he told me that he would be resigning from the EDL the next day, and that the Quilliam Foundation was going to be at the press conference — but he made that a minor point…. . Then at the press conference, both he and Kevin Carroll were the showcases of a Quilliam victory dance. They looked eerily reminiscent of the American POW’s taken by enemy combatants and forced to say things they did not believe before cameras.

…Now he is the poster boy for the stealth jihad. It seems they have taught Tommy well. His deception to friends and colleagues mirrors the Islamic teachings of kitman (lie by omission) and taqiyya. So Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll are no longer on the SION board. 

That’s a change from her initial response to the press conference.

Geller’s repudiation will please Quilliam, who found Robinson’s continuing support for her and for her sidekick Robert Spencer to be something of an awkward point as the organisation sought to rebut complaints that they had brought Robinson and Carroll into the mainstream without any real change of heart. Robinson had explained that he was “indebted” to Geller for financial support for his family while he was in prison awaiting trial for passport fraud (although at the time, Geller said she was fundraising for Robinson’s “legal defence”); Geller, perhaps correctly, identifies this as a “cop out” explanation.

So far, the SION (“Stop Islamization of Nations”) website hasn’t been updated – Robinson and Carroll are still shown in two headline photos, and according to the text:

The initial members of the President’s Council are SIOE’s Anders Gravers; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the EDL; Debbie Robinson of the Q Society of Australia, Robert Spencer and me. 

…The President’s Council differs from the SION Board, which includes Swiss parliamentarian Oskar Freysinger; Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media; Ashraf Rameleh of Voice of the Copts; Ali Sina, the renowned ex-Muslim author and founder of FaithFreedom.org; Wafa Sultan, the ex-Muslim human rights activist and author; the German pro-freedom activist Stefan Herre of Politically Incorrect; the Israeli author Dr. Mordechai Kedar; the Hindu human rights activist Babu Suseelan [more on him here – RB]; and Anders Gravers of Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE).

This Board functions in an advisory capacity, while the President’s Council is a steering committee.

In practical terms, SION appears to be simply a vehicle for Geller to show off her alliances – the text is written in first person, and in her new summary announcement that Robinson and Carroll have been kicked out she doesn’t bother to maintain the fussy distinction between her “Board” and her “President’s Council”.

Meanwhile, the EDL, under new leader Tim Ablitt, held a protest yesterday in Bradford. According to the anti-EDL EDLNews:

…The EDLers we spoke to were angry, shattered, dismayed, let down and ripped off. One member told us he has had trouble sleeping with all this going on.

Various threats were made towards Robinson by the very cult he started.

What is left of the EDL, was seen in Bradford this afternoon and barely 400 turned up to drag the rotting corpse of the far right organisation two hundred yards from the Queens to their demo point.

They got off to a bad start in failing to ingratiate themselves with the people of Bradford by forcing Bradford City FC to move their home game to last night due to the estimated 1,300 police officers required to police them.

Then this morning EDL’s new uncharismatic leader, Tim Ablitt, posted to his Facebook account that he was on his way to a ‘hell hole’, a sure fire way of attracting local support which was only in it’s tens to start with as most had to be shipped in from elsewhere.

Note

[*] Geller’s “other matters” were giving a presentation at the Synagogue of Pike County at the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms in Pennsylvania. The Fellowship reportedly “serves a diverse population from Reform to Orthodox to Reconstructionist”, and its Rabbi, Steve Nathan, is himself a Reconstructionist. Geller has been making inroads into religious Jewish groups in recent months.

Quilliam v Geller: The Battle For Tommy Robinson’s Soul

Ghaffar Hussain, head of “outreach and training” at Quilliam:

An old Chinese proverb goes ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. Tommy [Robinson] s defection from the EDL [see here], an organisation that he helped form in 2009, represents a first step in a positive direction. His defection was accompanied by regrets, apologies and clarifications, as well as a continued adherence to some positions that many may find unacceptable.

…Tommy is clearly a work in progress and, to his credit, he acknowledges that. He has taken a bold step in leaving the EDL and his immediate future is uncertain. What he needs right now to support and guidance so that he can channel his grievances in a more positive and mainstream way… Quilliam will be working with him in order to provide the guidance and training necessary, but even this arduous and challenging work can be derailed if he is not given the time and space to develop.

Pamela Geller (links added):

Why would Tommy Robinson and Kev Carroll end our association? They are dissociating themselves from nazis, antisemites and white supremacists. The media just doesn’t get it — or they don’t want to. We condemn violence and peacefully advocate for equality for all before the law.

…Our struggle in AFDI [American Freedom Defense Initiativeand SION [Stop Islamization of Nations], which continue to stand with Robinson and Carroll, is now and has always been for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.

And from Geller’s associate Robert Spencer:

[Robinson] has repeatedly stated that he hasn’t changed his views, but they [i.e. The Huffington Postdon’t care about that — they just want to portray his move as a surrender to the jihad, no matter what. I am no supporter of the Quilliam Foundation, with which the fake moderate Ed Husain was formerly involved, but there is at this point no indication that Robinson or Carroll have given up on their resolve to resist jihad terror and Islamic supremacism.

Of course, Geller’s spin misses the point – the issue is not that she advocates violence (although that can’t be said for one or two of her other associates), but that her utterances are luridly demagogic. It’s true that she and Spencer have both claimed that they are not anti-Muslim (see here and here), but their bad faith willingness to use sensationalised, distorted, and bogus claims to whip up fear and and hatred is self-evident in virtually everything they say and do.

It is somewhat difficult to see how Quilliam can build any kind of creditable project involving Robinson and Carroll on the basis of “yes, they’re still tied in with Geller and Spencer for now, but don’t worry, we’re giving them guidance and training.”

UPDATE: Following Quilliam’s statement that they have “decapitated” the EDL, Geller and Spencer have expressed dismay in a statement put out under their ADFI branding:

This is Muslim Outreach? Tommy Robinson approaches Quilliam in earnest, puts his life on the line, becomes a pariah (and rightly so) and that’s how they declare it? Decapitation sounds like jihad, not reformation… While we supported Tommy’s distancing himself from the unsavory forces that were infiltrating the EDL, his association with the Quilliam Foundation is problematic in the extreme.

Quilliam Foundation “Facilitates” EDL Leaders’ Exit From Organisation

Today’s big story, currently receiving saturation news coverage:

QUILLIAM FACILITATES TOMMY ROBINSON LEAVING THE ENGLISH DEFENCE LEAGUE

Quilliam is proud to announce that Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll, the leaders of the anti-Islamist group, the English Defence League (EDL), have decided to leave the group. Having set up the EDL, infamous for its street protests, in 2009, they wish to exit this group, because they feel they can no longer keep extremist elements at bay.

…We call all of Tommy’s former colleagues in the EDL to follow in his footsteps and also call on Islamist extremist leaders to follow this example and leave their respective groups. Tommy and Kevin believe the voice they have created can be channelled in a positive direction. Quilliam stands ready to facilitate such moves across the spectrum…

Robinson (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) and Carroll subsequently gave a press conference in Bloomsbury with Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz and Usama Hasan, and Robinson has also given interviews to Channel 4 News, BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight and BBC Newsnight (there may be others). He claims that “extremists” and “Nazis” sought to take control of the EDL while he was in prison for passport fraud earlier this year, and that he now considers street protests to be “counter-productive” because Muslims and non-Muslims need to work together against Islamists; he also says that he intends to “take training” from Quilliam to “progress the voice that’s been built in a constructive manner”. Newsnight further showed that he has been meeting Muslims in recent months for a documentary (there was a shot of him with Mohammad Ansar; Ansar confirmed on Twitter that “I have spent the last 18 months working with Tommy Robinson”, although he went on say he was “was disgusted by the behaviour of Maajid Nawaz and Tommy today in London”.)

Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate has a couple of interesting specific details from the press conference:

They have attacked their former funder Alan Ayling (aka Lake) as being “tight” while US based Muslim-hater Pam Geller is credited with keeping Lennon’s family afloat while he was in prison.

Ayling was formerly described as the organisation’s “millionaire funder”, although it transpired that this was somewhat exaggerated  – he had a job in IT, and he only ever donated a few hundred pounds to the group.

Lowles adds:

The good news for Robert Spencer and Pam Geller is that the two former leaders have not turnd their back on them, yet. The Quilliam Foundation, who brokered this “defection”, were rightly less charitable towards the pair.

In turn, Geller and Spencer have commended Robinson’s move:

He has decided, and my AFDI colleague Robert Spencer and I strongly endorse his decision, that his time is better spent working for the defense of England and human rights against Sharia and Islamization in different and more effective ways.

…Now, over two years later, it is clear to all of us that the best way to proceed is to leave the EDL behind and move forward in new directions.

Geller’s relationship with the EDL has been on and off for some time, but the thuggish and often drunken antics of EDL street protests must have been awkward given Geller’s attempts to maintain links with respectable and religious conservatives. However, one struggles to see how Robinson and Carroll can maintain any kind of coherent association with Quilliam and while working with Geller and Spencer, whose anti-Islam rhetoric is lurid and conspiratorial (and that’s before we get onto the absurdities of Geller’s birtherism).

According to the IB Times, Robinson’s personal assistant Helen Gower has confirmed that

“A new group, that isn’t street-based, is going to be formed. Tommy is definitely going to be in the new group, and Kevin will be in it too.”

Newsnight mentioned that the EDL now has “interim leaders”, although further details are scare.

For its part, this is not the first time that the Quilliam Foundation has sought to woo ex-EDL members: the first attempt ended in fiasco, with two invited speakers backing out and accusing Quilliam – in salty language – of misleading them. A more successful event with two different ex-EDL members took place in July, although one of the two speakers has today claimed on Twitter that he had been “used” by Quilliam and that the press conference with Robinson was a “publicity stunt like I was”.

Interestingly, the BBC World Tonight says that Quilliam had agreed to give an interview, but had “pulled out”; on the same programme, Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham University expressed misgivings about the think-tank’s decision to give Robinson a platform. According to Goodwin:

If you took a cynical view of today you would look at the events and see a counter-extremism think-tank using this as an opportunity to boost their profile within what is already, I would argue, a very murky counter-extremism industry that is often not very transparent, that is often driven by motives that are not very clear. I was expecting today to see an unequivocal, unambiguous renunciation of the English Defence League. We didn’t see anything of that nature, which I think reflects very badly on the think-tank that was hosting today’s events.

New Bloody Book From John Hagee

WorldNetDaily (WND) has a question for us:

Are You Ready for 2014 Biblical Blood Moons?

The hottest Christian book in the world right now is called “Four Blood Moons” by Pastor John Hagee.

It is creating a sensation in the publishing world and in churches.

On Passover 2014 the first of a series of mysterious astronomical events will occur that will have the whole world looking up at the night skies.

The story begins in 2008 when Hebrew roots Pastor Mark Biltz made an astounding discovery – a story broken first in WND.

Biltz had been studying prophecies that focus on the sun and moon, even going back to the book of Genesis where it states the lights in the sky would be “be for signs, and for seasons.”

The “mysterious astronomical events” are actually un-mysterious lunar eclipses, during which the moon in certain parts of the world (although not apparently in Israel) will appear to have a red or orange hue. Hagee and Blitz want us to believe that this is what the Israelite prophet Joel was referring to in an eschatological passage concerning the “Day of Yahweh” (start of chapter 3 according to Hebrew chapter divisions; end of chapter 2 according to Greek):

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

The passage is quoted by Peter in the Book of Acts as an explanation for the events of Pentecost. It’s very clear from the meaning that the moon turning to blood is supposed to be a dramatic supernatural disturbance rather than a regular astronomical phenomenon, and there’s no indication that four in row corresponding with Jewish festivals thousands of years in the future are of any significance whatsoever. However, Blitz and Hagee are impressed by the fact that the three occasions on which lunar eclipses have occurred on the first day of Passover in the past 500 yeards have come in years of special significance for Jewish history: 1492 (when Jews were expelled from Spain); 1948 (the foundation of Israel); and 1967 (Six-Day War).

Looking forward, Blitz notes:

When checking the schedule for eclipses, Biltz found two – one on Passover the next on the high holy day of Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the seventh Hebrew month. Two more take place in 2015, also on biblical “feast” days.

I discussed Blitz’s theory – and his claim that this is not “date setting” because the Feast of Trumpets is based on “sighting” the new moon rather than predicting the exact moment – here.

What’s amusing in all this is the shameless way that John Hagee – who claims to be a “prophecy expert” – has jumped on Blitz’s bandwagon. Why didn’t Hagee realise the the significance of the “blood moons” himself in any of his previous “end times” potboilers if he  has such insight into the meaning of the Bible?

Hagee’s book is published by Worthy Publishing, which was founded by former Thomas Nelson head Byron Williamson in 2010; plans to publish it were announced back in April:

“Worthy is honored to publish Pastor Hagee’s remarkable new book, which will speak to an upcoming astronomical phenomenon already predicted by NASA and astronomers worldwide,” said Byron Williamson, president of Worthy Publishing. “Pastor Hagee’s widely viewed weekly television program reaches 99 million homes and his message touches more than a million followers via email, Facebook and Twitter.”

For some reason, the book – which is just the latest addition to a massive heap of “End Times” paperbacks – is described by Worthy as “unprecedented”.