Pokémon Satanic Panic

From Right Wing Watch:

On Monday, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles recounted a story about how he called the police after seeing a man taking photos of his office building, only to discover that the suspicious man was simply playing Pokémon Go on his phone.

“What if this technology is transferred to Islamic jihadists and Islamic jihadists have an app that shows them where Christians are located geographically?” he asked

…This conversation led “Trunews” cohost Edward Szall to read a fake quote from the creator of Pokémon allegedly endorsing Satanism.

“They’re spawning demons inside your church,” Wiles said… “this technology will be used by the enemies of the cross to target, locate and execute Christians.”

This is an old theme in a certain strand of evangelicalism; way back in 1999 the Denver Post reported from the Colorado Springs Grace Fellowship Church, where a “minister used a blowtorch and a sword during a church service this week to drive home his belief that Pokemon games and toys are only sugar-coated instruments of the occult and evil”:

children’s pastor Mark Juvera… burned Pokemon trading cards with a blowtorch and struck a plastic Pokemon action figure with a 30-inch sword. Juvera’s 9-year-old son then tore the limbs and head off a Pokemon doll.

During the demonstration, the children chanted: “Burn it. Burn it,” and “Chop it up. Chop it up.”

The rise of Pokémon Go has now revived these fears, and Wiles’s warnings are echoed by Michael Snyder, a conspiracy theorist whose views are promoted within neo-Pentecostal evangelicalism by the Charisma media empire:

Is Pokemon Go Evil, Dangerous or Demonic?

…Even the Washington Post admits that there are creatures such as “a flaming demon” in Pokemon Go. As players progress through the game, they collect these monsters and demons, train them, and have them fight against Pokemon owned by others.

…Often seeing something in a movie or coming across something in a video game can spark an interest or open a door into something deeper. For instance, occult organizations admit that one of their best recruiting tools is Harry Potter.

Snyder also draws attention to the assessment of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry that the game “conditions the child who… into accepting occult and evolutionary principles”, and he notes an old article by “occult expert Bill Schnoebelen“, who claims that “The Pokémon games and comics, etc., teach what I have called a magic worldview that is completely opposed to the Bible”.

This endorsement of Schnoebelen is particularly pernicious here: the supposed “occult expert” does not simply have a spiritual objection to occult ideas, but promotes numerous inflammatory conspiracy theories based on an eventful pseudo-autobiography. According to a profile published by Jack Chick, he trained as a Catholic priest, but due to “the influence of liberal professors” he instead became a Wiccan. Occult “Spiritual Masters” then directed him to become involved with “Freemasonry, cultural spiritualism (Voodoo, etc.) Thelema (the Aleister Crowley cult), Rosicrucianism, the Catholic priesthood, Mormonism, and various Eastern philosophies”, before he inevitably ended up at the Church of Satan, and then “underground Satanism” (quote marks in original).

Of course, as a Freemason Schnoebelen wasn’t just your average trouser-leg roller: he supposedly became a “32nd degree Mason, Rosicrucian and Knight Templar,” and joined the Illuminati. Oh, and he’s also an “ex-vampire”, too. It seems there isn’t single group that this Forrest Gump of occultism doesn’t have the goods on.

As I mentioned just a few days ago, this may all seem a bit marginal and silly – but some of us remember the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, and view with concern a revival of this kind of conspiricism. We can giggle at credulous American fundamentalists and ranting radio hosts getting worked up over Japanese fantasy animals, but the ideologues in this paranoid milieu have the potential to cause real harm, as they have done so in the past.

Eschatology, Conspiracy, and Science Fiction: When “End-Times” Authors Collaborate

A new book:

I PredictI Predict: What 12 Global Experts Believe You Will See Before 2025!

…NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME, IN I PREDICT YOU WILL… Discern the facts behind whether the Ark of the Covenant has been found. Learn about the Final Roman Emperor and the Vatican’s Last Crusade. Finally understand the truth behind the Islamic Mahdi and the secrets of Apollyon. Witness efforts now underway that could lead to the Third Jewish Temple. Discover a hidden agenda that may force mankind into an epic World War. Determine how to prepare for a coming global monetary collapse. Read why some believe we are about to witness angels everywhere. Study the phenomenal prediction involving the next Great Awakening. Examine the case for a coming Global World Government. Grasp the arrival of amazing technology that will transform literally everything Contributing authors: Dr. Thomas Horn, Joel Richardson, Mark Biltz, Carl Gallups, Josh Tolley, Derek Gilbert, Josh Peck, Larry Spargimino, Troy Anderson, Dr. Gordon McDonald, Sharon Gilbert, Paul McGuire.

No editor is given, but the volume is copyrighted to Tom Horn and published by Defender Publishing of Crane, MO, which handles Horn’s various books, 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, which warns of UFOs heading to the Vatican to install a “serpent savior”.

Horn was previously an Assemblies of God pastor, but his “End Times” theorizing is extravagantly fantastical, and as such he ought to be something of a marginal figure in evangelicalism. Yet his apparently “fringe” claims are heavily promoted by the Charisma media empire (although one article misspells him as “Tom Hoorn”), and he has just completed a three-day special on “Surprising End-Times Prophecies” for The Jim Bakker Show. Here’s one recent article:

Author Tom Horn says the Islamic State has a weapon of mass destruction they will detonate in the next year or two.

“It’s going to cause Muslims to believe that their war is playing out according to their hadith (Islamic prophecy),” Horn tells Zach Drew. “It’s going to cause the Catholics to really start talking about the final Roman emperor. They’re going to believe it’s a fulfillment of their apocalyptica. But there are some other things.”

The idea that Catholics are awaiting a “final Roman Emperor” is a particular obsession of Horn, in support of which he cites prophecies supposedly attributed to the Cumaean Sibyl and a “1,600-year-old [sic] hadith”. It’s obvious that when he talks about Catholics and Muslims believing in “a fulfillment of their apocalyptica”, he’s projecting his own religious obsessions.

Horn has appeared at various prophecy conferences, and his book shows that he is firmly networked in to a wider scene. Joel Richardson in particular has a wider reach: he has written two books predicting an “Islamic Antichrist” (endorsed by Robert Spencer), he speaks to church groups across the USA and elsewhere around the world, and he has appeared on Glenn Beck’s TV show. Richardson’s involvement with this book thus associates his general anti-Islam eschatological scheme with individuals who promote some dark conspiracy theorizing that includes claims about Satanic sacrifices, “the Illuminati”, and even “the Rothschilds”.

Some other names have featured on this blog previously: Mark Biltz achieved fame with his “Blood Moons Tetrad” End-Times theory; Carl Gallups is the author of Final Warning, which links events in Iraq with the End Times (he is also a birther, and he once claimed that Jesus named Satan as “Baraq Ubamah”); Paul McGuire recently declared Brexit to be a “Luciferian Ruse” – among other things, he accuses the British royal family of funding “occult-based mind control operations” and “the Rothschilds” of placing “Illuminati and Satanic symbols all over the monetary systems, governments and corporations”; and Larry Spargimino has taken over the running of  Southwest Radio Ministries following the death of Noah Hutchings. Spargimino co-authored a book called The Chronicles of Narnia: Wholesome Entertainment or Gateway to Paganism? 

As for the others: Sharon Gilbert is the author of Ebola and the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse (also published by Defender, and with a Foreword by Horn), which explains that the shape of the Ebola virus proves that it was prophesied as an End-Times plague; Josh Tolley is a religious radio host who specializes in business strategy, describing himself as an “Evangelpreneur”, but who branches out into topics such as “Satanic Priest for Bohemian Grove Blows Whistle on White House” and “Craziest Illuminati Kidnapping in U.S.”; Derek Gilbert and Sharon run “Gilbert House Ministries”; Josh Peck is “an avid researcher of fringe topics, vidographer at SkyWatchTV, host of The Sharpening Report and Into the Multiverse“; Troy Anderson is a journalist who founded the World Prophecy Network as a “a reliable source of end-times news, commentary and in-depth journalism”; and Dr. Gordon McDonald is attached to Chuck Missler’s Koinonia House.

By calling the book I Predict!, Horn also brings to mind another prophet of the future, and perhaps the best of the lot – none other than Criswell:

Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute Opens in Berlin

From the website of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, Berlin:

The DOC Research Institute celebrates its launch in the Humboldt Carré in Berlin

Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, former German ambassador to the UK and Russia delivers a welcome speech… German General A.D. Harald Kujat will also participate in the DOC’s launch event in Berlin.

DOC’s co-founders, Founding president Vladimir Yakunin, Co-chairman Walter Schwimmer and Professor Peter W. Schulze will give a presentation outlining the DOC’s history and mission…

Also involved are

philanthropist Ruben VardanyanMichael Stürmer, chief correspondent at Germany’s leading newspaper Die Welt, Michael Harms, executive director of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, Armen Sarkissian, Armenian Ambassador to the UK and Jean-Christophe Bas, founder of Global Compass… Professor Edward Demenchonok from Fort Valley State University presents his special report on the topic “New Babarians at the Gate”.

One wonders what Die Welt‘s chief correspondent thought a few days later, when his paper published an op-ed by Karl Schlögel under the headline “Die gefährliche neue Liebe der Deutschen zu Russland” (“The Dangerous New Love of Germans for Russia”), which lead in by describing the DOC as “Propaganda-Krieg gegen den Westen” (“Propaganda against the West”). Schlögel, “a German historian whose work focuses on Russian modernism and Stalinism”, thundered (translated via this site):

You do not need to be an advocate of conspiracy theories to know that the relocation of the think tank from Vienna to Berlin was carried out with precision timing. Russia’s rich men, who stigmatize and persecute independent newspapers editorial, journalists and all sorts of initiatives, have had the audacity to take the war for “cultural hegemony” to foreign soil.

Without naming names, he also referred to “intelligence services, orthodoxy and oligarchy —all rolled into one person”, and added:

The institute’s choice of personnel is telling: a former head of the most notable German political trust to promote social democracy; a qualified university lecturer from Rostov-on-Don, Russia; a “talk show general” (who can’t even read maps); diplomats who cannot keep their temper under control… They are all clearly Putin fans, who are more in love with Putin rather than Russia…

The launch of the DOC was also covered in a feature article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, details from which appear in English in an article published by Deutsche Welle:

In a feature article, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” described DOC as an “instrument of Moscow’s hybrid warfare” whose main intention was to create an “alternative civilization to the American.”

In [2014], Yakunin was placed on the US State Department’s sanctioned list in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Perhaps for this reason, the German government has been attempting to extricate itself from any overt association with the DOC. “FAZ” reported that Matthias Platzeck, former Brandenburg state premier and chairman of the German-Russian Forum, was originally scheduled to speak at Friday’s opening but was then only named as a participant, while Ronald Pofalla, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff, canceled his speech.

Yakunin and his “Dialogue of Civilizations” think-tank has been of interest to the blog on a number of occasions. His “soft power” initiatives that have wooed a wide – and in some ways bizarre – array of academics, religious figures, left-wing activists, and emeritus European politicians, and although Deutsche Welle states that only “few” US figures have been involved, his American links include meetings with Allan Carlson and Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, working with the LaRouche movement to promote a petition critical of the US and Europe, and arranging for New York University Press to publish a book of interviews with “the world’s foremost thinkers” (one of whom is Yakunin himself).

Meanwhile, his related World Public Forum website posts a strange mix of materials, ranging from UN press statements to Counterpunch articles, to pieces  exonerating Russia from the downing of MH17 and (perhaps predictably) criticising the sanctions against him.

In Russia itself, Yakunin has been the impresario for Orthodox events such as the 2011 tour of the Virgin Mary’s belt, on loan from Mount Athos, which he stated would promote “family values” in the country. He is also involved with bringing the “Holy Fire” to Russia from Jerusalem every Easter.

Yakunin is often described as being a member Putin’s inner circle, but it’s not quite clear to what extent this remains the case: in 2015 he resigned from his role running Russia’s railways, and he has since been under investigation.

Ex-DHS Officer Philip Haney Testifies on Alleged “Purge” of Terror Info

Also: Website profile describes Haney as “blessed by the Holy Spirit to teach and communicate relevant information to the Body of Christ regarding Islam and the spiritual warfare taking place in the Middle East.”

Townhall reports from a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Islamic terrorism, chaired by Ted Cruz:

Cruz Hearing Exposes the Obama Admin’s History of Purging References to Islamic Terror

…Mr. Philip Haney, a retired Customs and Border Protection Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that the CIA has scrubbed more than 800 law enforcement records that were almost all connected to the Muslim brotherhood.

The first “great purge,” he said, was in 2009. Yet, in 2012 they didn’t just modify the records, they eliminated them out of the system, which, he noted, bypasses security protocol in Homeland Security. Why does it matter? Because of San Bernardino. If the department hadn’t edited its records, perhaps they could have caught the San Bernardino terrorist who killed 14 people at a Department of Public Health training event, Haney insinuated.

“There is no such thing as a lone-wolf terrorist,” Haney said. “To look at these acts as separate from community is flawed.”

Haney retired from the DHS late last year, having  worked for it since its founding in 2003. Right Wing Watch noted his claim about San Bernardino in December:

[Frank] Gaffney has been promoting the story of Phillip Haney, a former Department of Homeland Security employee who claims that the Obama administration pulled the plug on an investigation that he was conducting that he claims could possibly have caught the San Bernardino terrorists. It’s hard to tell what of Haney’s story is true since DHS has stayed mum on it other than to tell Fox News that his tale has “many holes.” Haney mentioned in an interview with Sandy Rios this morning that he also locked horns with the Bush administration, but did not provide details.

In February, Haney wrote an article for The Hill, in which he complained that

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”

…As the number of successful and attempted Islamic terrorist attacks on America increased, the type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit “honor killing” perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez, who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015)…

Alfetlawi’s name is less known than that of his victim, Jessica Mokdad. Her murder was widely cited as evidence of the horror of honour killings, but it seems that Alfetlawi was in fact motivated by a sexual obsession with his step-daughter (he may even have previously raped her). But either way, it is difficult to see what the case has to do with terrorism, and one is left with the impression that Haney has included it because he wants us to believe that his story sheds light on a wide range of causes célèbres. Such is often the arc of “whistleblower” punditry.

This suspicion is reinforced by the blurb for his book, See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad, published by WND Books and co-written with Art Moore. We’re told that the book covers:

  • How the Bush administration stripped him and other frontline officers of their ability to define the threat;
  • How much the Obama administration knew in advance of the Boston Marathon bombing and how it launched an ongoing cover-up on behalf of a major ally;
  • The administration’s stealth policy to protect Islamic leaders with supremacist beliefs and violent-jihadist ties, allowing them to freely travel between the U.S. and the Middle East;
  • The scope of access to the White House and the classified information the Obama administration gave to members of Muslim Brotherhood front groups;
  • The damning intelligence on Muslim Brotherhood-linked leaders invited to sit at the table and help form national-security policy;
  • The “words matter” memo imposing the demands of radical U.S. Muslims leaders on the DHS, including stripping intelligence and official communications of any mention of Islam in association with terrorism;
  • The purging of training material that casts Islam in a negative light;
  • The erasing and altering of vital intelligence on terrorists and terror threats;
  • The fear-based tactics imposed by the Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S. and their accomplices that paralyze officials, members of Congress and any Department of Homeland Security employee who dares to expose or resist their agenda; and
  • Much more ….

That’s certainly “much more” than he had to say in February. The “purging of training material” presumably refers to the exposure of pseudo-experts, opportunists, and anti-Islam ideologists who were touting harmful and incompetent courses up to 2011 (blogged here); on the Boston Marathon, there was a conspiracy theory which connected the attack to Saudi Arabia, but that was comprehensively debunked. One can’t help wondering how much of the book is simply Haney raking over old right-wing talking points rather than offering an insider’s insights.

The WND webpage for Haney’s book comes with a video endorsement from Michelle Bachmann, and a new WND article explains that Haney has met with Bachmann on several occasions:

“I lived that story with Phil, and actually it was my assistant that I had asked to go to the highways and byways and bring every person that you could to me,” Bachmann said during a recent appearance on “Understanding the Times Radio” with Jan Markell.

“I sat on the Intelligence Committee, which dealt with classified secrets of our nation, and terrorism, and I wanted to find out the whole truth on what was going on with terrorism and with our country. I had suspected that maybe we weren’t getting the whole story in front of my committee, and so my assistant brought Phil Haney to me.”

…”What I tried to do was introduce Phil to as many members of Congress as I could, keeping a protective shield over him, a bubble, so that he wouldn’t be fired,” Bachmann told Markell. “He had no reason to be fired, but he knew that he was operating in the Obama administration and that he potentially could be fired.”

…Bachmann took Haney to committee chairs, subcommittee chairs and other members of Congress.

Understanding the Times focuses on “current events, Bible Prophecy and apologetics” (I previously noted Markell here). And that’s perhaps of relevance in itself, given that Haney also appears on a website called “Mystery of Israel”, where we’re told that:

Philip is a gifted brother… who comes to us from Marietta, GA where he lives with his wife Francesca. Philip has been blessed by the Holy Spirit to teach and communicate relevant information to the Body of Christ regarding Islam and the spiritual warfare taking place in the Middle East. As an anti-terrorism intelligence officer with specialty in Hamas and Tablighi Jamaat, Philip has made numerous trips to Israel working with the Dept. of Homeland Security. He works from the Atlanta International Airport (the busiest airport in the world).

An accompanying photo also confirms that this is definitely the same person. The website is run by a certain Reggie Kelly (shown here in discussion with “Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet” Joel Richardson), and Haney is billed as a “teacher” at an event called “Convocation 2012”. Topics at the event included “Jesus’ Last Great Teaching”, “Jerusalem or Babylon?”, “The Abomination of Desolation” and “How God Uses Tribulation”. Haney himself spoke on “Jerusalem: The City of the Great King”; the year before, his theme had been “Principalities and Powers: The Strategy and Tactics of the Global Islamic Movement”.

Oddly, Haney’s commitment to a form of apocalyptic Christian Zionism that identifies Islam as a demonic force in the Last Days is not stressed in the various conservative articles promoting his claims.

Bachmann also arranged for Haney to give a half-hour presentation via the National Press Club, where he spoke on the Orlando shooting. Haney says that he looked at the website of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, where he saw the following:

And lo and behold what do I find right on their website that they’re directly affiliated with the Shariah Board of America. Well, right off there there’s a big bright blinking red light, because the word “Shariah” should be an immediate warning. Shariah law is illegal in the United States…

Actually, the “big bright blinking” warning here is that Haney’s analytical abilities are wanting. There is nothing “illegal” about the Sharia Board of America, any more than there is anything “illegal” about the Beth Din of America. If that’s the basis on which Haney was identifying terrorist conspiracies, it’s little wonder that his employer was less than appreciative. But then again, I don’t claim to be “blessed by the Holy Spirit” when it comes to the subject.

There is also a DVD of a “Capitol Hill Briefing with Philip Haney” available from Brigitte Gabriel‘s Act for America. In the advert for the DVD, Haney says that he was asked “to do something illegal” by his boss.

Haney’s co-author, Art Moore, has written a number of articles for WND that chronicle and promote Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s birther antics, and WND‘s birtherism previously brought WND editor Joseph Farah into direct contact with Donald Trump. This is also of some relevance: if Haney has a serious point to make, why would he so readily associate with a milieu known for the most extreme politicized conspiracy mongering? Why did the road from The Hill lead downwards to WND and websites like Breibart rather than upwards to serious news and commentary outlets?

CERN Accused of Opening a “Portal” Following Summer Storm in Geneva

From Charisma News:

Bizarre ‘Portal-Shaped Clouds’ Form Over CERN During the ‘Awake Experiment’

…Just last month, the researchers working at the facility began a new experiment called “Awake” that uses “plasma wakefields driven by a proton beam” to accelerate charged particles. On June 24, pictures of some extremely bizarre “portal-shaped cloud formations” were taken in the area just above the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Could it be possible that there is some sort of a connection between this new “Awake” experiment and these strange cloud formations? And precisely what do the researchers hope to “awaken” anyway?

…Some people just see normal thunderstorms when they look at these clouds, but others are convinced they are looking at strange balls of energy and inter-dimensional portals

The author, Michael Snyder (var Michael T. Snyder), does not completely identify with the claims (“others are convinced”), but he’s happy enough to spread the story uncritically, adding  the observations that “‘CERN’ is the first four letters of the name of the horned pagan god named Cernunnos” and that “the people running CERN decided to choose a logo that seems to contain ‘666.’”

Snyder’s source is a video uploaded to YouTube by Freedom Fighter Times, a self-described “Research organization that exposes the end times, and the powers that be who seek our demise”. The video caught the imagination of some British tabloids, with the Daily Express reporting as follows (sic for missing quote mark):

What is CERN doing? Bizarre clouds over Large Hadron Collider ‘prove portals are opening

NEW images of bizarre cloud formations above the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could be shock proof the world’s biggest experiment is about to tear open a portal to another dimension.

And from there it reached Snyder, an American End-Times conspiracy theorist who often features on Charisma.

It seems to me that, despite his hedging, Snyder’s article was obviously written to spread fear of science and hatred of scientists. The CERN logo in fact shows “interlaced rings, which are a simplified representation of the accelerator chain and the particle tracks”. Two rings and five tracks (of differing lengths) are represented, and there is no sensible way that these can be untangled to form “666”.

And as for the “cloud” story, an article in Le Matin (a Swiss newspaper) has followed up:

Et souligne que le nuage n’est pas au-dessus du collisionneur mais plutôt au-dessus du centre de Genève.

Mais la boule d’énergie, alors? «Le CERN n’a pas créé ce nuage et il n’est pas isolé», sourit le météorologue Frédéric Glassey, de MeteoNews. «Dans la nuit concernée, il y avait tout un front nuageux sur Genève vers 1?heure du matin. Il remontait jusqu’à Besançon puis s’est déplacé vers Morges. Quant à ce cumulonimbus, sa forme n’a rien d’atypique. On en voit des similaires presque lors de chaque orage.»

Pour en avoir le cœur net, nous avons demandé au CERN s’il a créé une porte vers les ténèbres. «Pas à ma connaissance…» répond Arnaud Marsollier, responsable de la communication. Il explique que le projet Awake existe bien. «Il vise à étudier de nouvelles technologies d’accélérations de particules.» Mais il ne sera lancé qu’à la fin de l’année. «Nous avons mené un test préliminaire, mais c’était la semaine avant l’orage», note-t-il.

Pas d’activités démoniaques, alors? «Ce lundi, le collisionneur fonctionne. Et il n’y a pas un nuage à l’horizon, il fait beau. Etrange, non?» ironise Arnaud Marsollier.

In other words, the cloud was over the centre of Geneva, not CERN; meterologists see nothing exceptional in the cloud formation on the night of 24 June, when there was a storm; and it did not coincide with any experiment.

Freedom Fighter Times is obscure, and most readers of British tabloids know that these kinds of stories are not to be taken seriously. Marsollier, speaking for CERN, seems to be relaxed about the nonsense.

However, it is worth remembering that Charisma Media – formerly Strang Communications – is an influential player in US evangelicalism, particularly at the Neo-Pentecostal end. The site carries accounts of supposed miracle healings and such that we may regard as credulous, but it aspires to being a serious source for news stories about evangelical churches and personalities in the USA. The site’s editors, one would expect, must take seriously Biblical injunctions that emphasise the importance of truthfulness.

Why, then, does Charisma News promote crackpot science-fiction conspiracy theories that have little to do with orthodox Christian beliefs and that make the site – and Christians – look ridiculous? In recent months, Snyder has suggested that the Gotthard Base Tunnel opening ceremony was “an Illuminati Ritual Intended to Honor Satan”, and that plans by archaeologists to reconstruct an ancient archway destroyed by ISIS might create a “portal” through which the Anti-Christ would arrive in London and New York.

We can giggle at the silliness – but the bottom line is that these lies play on people’s fears and encourage hatred against blameless people who are contributing to society through engineering projects and research. In a “post-fact world” of conspiracy theories, demagogues, and baseless allegations, laughter should be tempered with concern.

Snyder is also promoted by Jim Bakker; his main theme is “economic collapse”, which he links to Biblical prophecies and current events; his Economic Collapse Blog encourages the purchase of “Gold Coins”, “Silver Coins”, and “Emergency Food” (emergency food is also heavily promoted by Bakker). He has also written a book called The Rapture Verdict, in which he warns Christians that they will not be Raptured until after the End-Times Tribulation (and thus, presumably, they should stock up in the meantime). Rational Wiki has a suitably contemptuous profile of the man.

Report Notes Andrea Leadsom Link to YWAM

From Buzzfeed:

Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom has organised a school exchange project for the last 10 years with a Ugandan centre co-run by an anti-gay Christian group that performs “gay cure” ministries and whose founder condemned homosexual love as “a sin”, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Leadsom discussed the project in parliament in 2013, telling MPs it was set up in 2006 with one Richard Johnson, who “runs a fantastic youth centre in Uganda” called the Discovery Centre.

…The Discovery Centre – whose stated goal is “to promote the gospel and kingdom of Jesus Christ” – is a joint project between a UK-based charitable trust run by Johnson and the Ugandan branch of international evangelical group Youth With a Mission, BuzzFeed has learned.

Buzzfeed notes the views of YWAM’s American founder, Loren Cunningham, that homosexuality is “a temptation to people who have been rejected”, and draws attention to the existence of a specific YWAM ministry in Amsterdam that claims to provide “a message of hope and healing to those affected by unwanted same sex attraction through the compassionate and transforming power of Jesus Christ”.

YWAM is certainly controversial: there are concerns that it works to spread the ideology of the US Christian Right abroad, and there have been complaints that it can be controlling. There are also some intriguing links between YWAM and The Fellowship, a discrete religious group that has been been operating among politicians in Washington for decades (discussed here and here; more on group here).

However, it seems to me that it is important not to jump to conclusions. Of course Cunningham has conservative evangelical views when it comes to sexual morality, and YWAM’s ambitions are a cause for genuine concern, but to describe the organisation simply as an “anti-gay Christian group” is reductive. YWAM undertakes many kinds of missionary activities, and has many affiliated ministries; and the “school exchange project” seems to be unremarkable and benign. According to a 2007 report in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo:

The project was set up by Andrea Leadsom, prospective parliamentary candidate for South Northamptonshire.

She said: “I wanted to do something to engage sixth-formers in politics and development. The six who go to Uganda will have a conference with 10 students from there, and other students are involved with putting together information about Uganda to integrate into the school curriculum, to show what life is like in the Commonwealth. There will also be an exhibition.”

Footnote

A number of recent media reports have focused on Leadsom’s Christianity, although there is a curious lack of detail about her denomination or style of worship. According to a video at the Bible Society’s Christians in Parliament website, she came to believe in God when she gave birth; speaking to the Telegraph, she explained that

“I am a very committed Christian. I think my values and everything I do is driven by that. It’s very important to me. I actually study the Bible in Parliament with a group of colleagues and I do go to church but I am not a regular.  There’s the cross party Christians in parliament group and there are various Bible studies groups, which I find incredibly helpful.”

Which “Bible studies groups” would be interesting to know about.

In 2011, as I blogged at the time, Leadsom attended a talk hosted by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) on the subject of sex education, given by the notorious anti-Kinsey obsessive Judith Reisman. According to SPUC, Leadsom “joined parents in delivering to the Department of Education a 47,000-signature petition to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, calling for ‘sex DVDs’ to be banned from the country’s primary schools.”

A few months later, the PSHE (Personal Social Health & Economic Education) Association expressed a concern that Channel 4 had decided to to “remove its well respected and established ‘Living and Growing’ Sex and Relationships (SRE) resource from its catalogue” after Schools Minister Nick Gibb and Leadsom “held a special meeting with Channel 4 executives to express their concerns”.

On same-sex marriage, Leadsom gave a somewhat unclear account in a recent interview with ITV. The Independent has transcribed what she said – one suspects because it would have been difficult to provide a succinct summary:

“…Civil partnerships are called marriage as well. As in registry offices marriages are still marriages. The concern I had was the potential compulsion for the Church of England so I don’t think that the Anglican Church should be forced down a route where many Christians aren’t comfortable about it. My own view on it was to positively abstain.”

“This is not about do I consider gay couples to be any less worthy of marriage than heterosexual couples – not at all, it’s exactly the same. The issue is one I have around the consequences, the very clear hurt caused to many Christians who felt that marriage in the Church could only be between a man a woman. I think we’ve muddled the terms of marriage, civil partnership, church etc. I would have liked that to have been clarified.I didn’t really like the legislation – that was the problem. But I absolutely support gay marriage.”

Prophecy “Expert” Declares Brexit a Luciferian “Ruse”

“Internationally Recognized Prophecy Expert, Minister, Speaker and Author” Paul McGuire turns his attention to Brexit, following his publication of a book called The Babylon Code:

The Babylon Code Reveals the Elite’s Plans for a Global Government with the EU as the Model—Linking ‘Brexit,’ Donald Trump’s Anti-Globalism Campaign and the Bible’s Greatest Riddle, ‘Mystery, Babylon.’

…McGuire says Brexit is almost certainly a carefully-orchestrated ruse by the elite to usher in a European superstate, and ultimately a global superstate.

“Clearly, the voice of the working class, middle class, and what Bilderberg calls the ‘Precariat’ class has not been completely silenced… But it would be highly naïve not to assume that the Brexit was orchestrated by the elite for the benefit of the elite. The ‘Transatlantic Union’ and ‘Transatlantic Matrix’ is the biggest and most profitable business in the world, which is manufacturing global illusion and virtual reality. The core financial mechanism, which has been driving the global financial system from the Tower of Babel until today, is a Luciferian system based on sorcery and printing money from nothing.”

In other words, McGuire’s prophecy-mongering is completely unfalsifiable. Had the UK voted to remain in the EU, this would have been evidence that the “global superstate” is advancing towards its ultimate goal; instead, the leave vote proves that the elite is of course attempting to hoodwink us into thinking that the “global superstate” is not advancing towards its goal.

The Babylon Code was published earlier this year by FaithWords, a Nashville-based religious imprint owned by Hachette. It was co-written with Troy Anderson, an apocalyptically minded journalist who founded the World Prophecy Network as “a reliable source of end-times news, commentary and in-depth journalism”. Judging from Google Books, the opus does not actually address “Brexit” directly; instead, the book goes on about supposed Babylonian symbolism of the European Union and the occult significance of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.

McGuire has featured on this blog several times – most recently in 2013, when he spoke at a prophecy conference on the subject of “The Luciferian Elite: The Secret Plan For America and Prophecy”. McGuire accuses the British royal family of funding “occult-based mind control operations” and “the Rothschilds” of placing “Illuminati and Satanic symbols all over the monetary systems, governments and corporations”. He also claims that occultists are cloning a “master race” and creating body parts for the “super rich” in secret underground laboratories.

Is such a fringe figure worthy of consideration? Apparently, McGuire is “a frequent guest on the Fox News Network and CNN”, and it should be noted that FaithWords publishes books written or approved many mainstream American evangelical leaders. Inevitably, he has also been promoted by WND, whose editor, Joseph Farah, was previously sought out personally by Donald Trump during Trump’s “birther” phase. McGuire also has a radio show, where his topics have included promoting (in collaboration with Doug Hagmann’s “Northeast Intelligence Network” – previously blogged here) Russ Dizdar’s allegations of widespread Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Anderson, meanwhile, is an executive director of Charisma, a central vehicle of Steve Strang’s evangelical/Pentecostal media empire.

McGuire appears to have an ambivalent view of “the left” – on the one hand, the Occupy movement is a conspiracy created the Tavistock Institute using depth psychology and funded by George Soros, yet in his book he sought out the opinions of none other than Noam Chomsky; the book is described as

a five-year journalistic investigation involving more than 100 interviews with the world’s most notable experts on politics, economics, science and eschatology ranging from Billy Graham and Dr. Tim LaHaye to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky and Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens…

NY Times Notes Donald Trump’s Contact with Joseph Farah

The New York Times carries an article on “the Six Weeks Donald Trump Was a Nonstop ‘Birther'”. This was in 2011, during which Trump was in direct contact with Joseph Farah of WND (formerly World Net Daily) and Jerome Corsi:

[Farah] received the first of several calls from a Manhattan real estate developer who wanted to take one of his theories mainstream.

That developer, Donald J. Trump, told Mr. Farah that he shared his suspicion that President Obama might have been born outside the United States and that he was looking for a way to prove it…

…”He was looking for affirmation that he was on the right track,” Mr. Farah said. “He was looking for a smoking gun kind of sound bite that would resonate with people.”

But what most impressed Mr. Farah was just how many hours Mr. Trump was willing to devote to the question. “This was a busy guy, this was a multibillionaire, and I was surprised that he was willing to spend that kind of time on it,” he said.

Mr. Farah also stressed to Mr. Trump that the issue was one of “transparency,” and Mr. Trump began using the phrase.

The article describes Farah as being “on the fringes of political life”, and there’s a mocking reference to a series that WND ran in 2006 on the subject of how “Soy is making kids ‘gay’” (the word “gay” always appears in scare quotes on WND, even for headlines such as “50 Dead in Terror Attack at Flordia ‘Gay’ Nightclub“).

However, while much that appears on WND is either risible or dishonest (or frequently both), the fact of Trump’s personal interest shows that one should not be too dismissive of Farah – his WND website and book imprint publishes a wide range of right-wing authors and commentators, all pushing particular themes and claims. His book author list includes names such as Richard A. Viguerie,  James Inhofe, Judith Reisman, Vox Day, and Wayne LaPierre, among others.

On the main WND website, the anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller is among his more more notorious commentators; other figures include Reza Khalili, a “former CIA operative” who regularly produces extraordinary revelations about Iran’s links with al-Qaida and plans to weaponize smallpox, and Bradlee Dean, whose Sandy Hook trutherism is perhaps the vilest depths to which WND has sunk. Others have monitored WND‘s output in depth, in particular Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch.

WND also publishes on religion, and Farah is a significant link between conservative political conspiricism and the Christian Right. In particular, he works closely with Jonathan Cahn of the apocalyptic Harbinger best-seller, and although Cahn’s book was published by Steve Strang’s evangelical media empire, WND publishes complementary material about Cahn’s thesis about how God is punishing the USA. Farah, Cahn, and Jim Bakker also lead Holy Land tours, and Farah and Cahn participate at “prophecy” conferences where Biblical fundamentalism blends into speculative science fiction theories about demons and UFOs and such.

An article published by Strang’s Charisma news service listed Farah as a “great Christian leader” in its coverage of Trump’s recent meeting with evangelicals:

Amazing grace. That was the tone of Donald Trump’s meeting with more than 1,000 evangelical leaders in New York on Tuesday, hosted by Dr. Ben Carson and sponsored by United in Purpose and My Faith Votes.

…It was humbling to be present among longtime great Christian leaders like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Bill Dallas, Jim Garlow, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, George Barna, Rick Scarborough, David Barton, David Jeremiah, Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, E.W. Jackson, Bill Federer, Gary Bauer, Kelly Shackelford, Bob McEwen, James Robison, Carl Lentz, Alveda King, Penny Nance, the Benham Brothers, Joseph Farah, Ken Blackwell, Eric Metaxas and newer leaders and activists like Lila Rose, Leslie Unruh, Marsha Blackburn and Marjorie Dannenfelser as some of them conversed with Mr. Trump on issues of importance to us all.

According to Farah himself:

It was a moving event. Trump hit all the right chords. He was sincere about his plans to fight for religious liberty and name judges who stick to the Constitution – he even shocked many in the audience by suggesting it was time to lift the political gag order placed on pastors getting involved in politics by President Lyndon Johnson so many years ago.

In the heart of Manhattan, the Christians closed the meeting with stirring prayers for the future of the country, complete with calls for repentance and revival.

We look forward to seeing evidence of Trump engaging in the novel activity (for him) of “repentance”; after all, shortly after the meeting, James Dobson stated that Trump “recently gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Savior”.