A Media Note on The Times‘s “Christian Child in Muslim Foster Care” Splash

Updated and revised following publication of the Case Management Order

A dramatic – and self-congratulatory – front-page article in The Times:

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

A girl at the centre of a care dispute was removed from her Muslim foster parents yesterday and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek “culturally matched placements” for vulnerable children.

The five-year-old, a native English speaker from a Christian family, was taken to her grandmother’s home after a court ruled that she should not remain in the placement organised by the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Judge Khatun Sapnara, a practising Muslim, said it was in the girl’s best interests to live with a family member who could keep her safe, promote her welfare and meet her needs “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”. The judge ordered the council to conduct an urgent investigation into issues reported by The Times, saying that the newspaper had acted responsibly in raising “very concerning” matters of “legitimate public interest”.

…The court was told yesterday that the family’s wish for the girl to be placed in the temporary care of her grandmother had been under consideration for a number of months.

The story, by Andrew Norfolk, follows on from Monday’s much-discussed splash, which bore the sensationalising headline “Christian Child Forced into Muslim Foster Care”; the detail that the placement (and a previous one with the same girl, also with a Muslim family) had been made by “the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets” hinted at some sort of Islamist conspiracy, although this was not developed in the article despite the panicked tone.

According to this earlier story, the Muslim foster parents had mocked Christmas and Easter as “stupid”, removed a crucifix necklace from the girl, and encouraged her to learn Arabic. They had also confiscated a spaghetti carbonara meal that had been given to her, because of its pork content.

The story was accompanied by a photo of the foster mother in a burka, and some way into the report it was explained what kind of Muslim was meant in the headline:

Her first carer, with whom the girl lived for four months, is believed to have worn a niqab outside the family home. The carer at her present foster placement wears a burka, fully concealing her face, when she accompanies the child in public.

The wearing of a niqab or burka generally indicates adherence to a conservative, Salafi-influenced interpretation of Islam that is often contemptuous of liberal Western values.

This particular context, and the specific causes for concern noted in the Times article, are not properly reflected in the headline’s generalised reference to “Muslim foster care”.

Norfolk’s stock is high as the journalist who exposed organised grooming gangs in Rotherham; perhaps this influenced the decision to run the story as an unprecedented national outrage. However, the publication of the Case Management Order puts a rather different perspective on things.

The Case Management Order

Here’s what the Case Management Order tells us:

The mother raised some concerns about the appropriateness of the placement. On 27th June 2017, the court directed the Local Authority to produce a statement to address the cultural appropriateness of the foster care placement.

That statement was filed. The allegations made against the foster carers are disputed by the local authority.

The child’s Guardian has undertaken enquiries and visited the child in the current foster carer’s home and spoken to the child alone. The Guardian has no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer.

The child’s Guardian, it should be noted, is court appointed and independent of Tower Hamlets council.

It appears that the father is absent, and there are no paternal relatives. The mother asked for her daughter to be placed into the care of her own mother on 27 June, but at that time the grandmother had not been risk assessed and so the 29 August hearing was arranged; although the mother “raised some concerns about the appropriateness of the [foster] placement”, she “at no stage applied to the court for a change of foster carer” in the meantime.

In mid-August, Tower Hamlets updated its care plan in anticipation of the child moving in with her grandmother, and the 29 August hearing approved this course of action after reviewing the grandmother’s assessment. The judge thus emphasises that:

For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.

The last few words of this are acknowledged in the article quoted at the start of this blog entry, but the overall impression (both in this article and in tabloid derivatives) is that the judge had intervened to overrule Tower Hamlets council as a matter of urgency in the wake of Norfolk’s crusading journalism. In fact, though, this is completely misleading: the grandmother plan had not just been “under consideration” for eight weeks (or “a number of months”, to use Norfolk’s preferred phraseology) – it was actually in preparation, and the purpose of the hearing was to confirm that the placement could now be made and to set some conditions.

Judge Sapnara may indeed have commented on the grandmother as a better option “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”, but this phrase does not appear in the case management document and no-one had raised any proposition to the contrary. Also, there’s no sign of her “praise” for The Times in the document, although there is “concern that photographs of the child and foster carer have been published in the press.”

Unexpectedly, it also turns out that the grandmother wants to take the child abroad, and that the court order must be translated into “the language spoken” by her. And even more extraordinary is this detail:

Documents including the assessment of the maternal grandparents state that they are of a Muslim background but are non practising. The child’s mother says they are of Christian heritage.

Other Reports

The first Times article prompted a number of derivative articles in tabloids, replete with condemnations from MPs, while the Daily Telegraph published a Phillipa Space column on the subject by Allison Pearson (“It’s like something from a dark, dystopian drama. A five-year-old white Christian child is removed from her family and given to a burka-wearing foster carer…”). (1)

None of these other papers reproduced the photo used in The Times, perhaps because of copyright reasons or perhaps due to wariness around the legality of the original image. Thus the Daily Mail improvised, as reported by the Guardian:

Daily Mail and Mail Online paired an altered image with the story after following up the Times report. The original image of a couple in Islamic dress with a child was originally captioned “happiness couple in Dubai park” but was amended to cover the woman’s face with a veil.

The stock picture was supplied by Getty Images. Getty confirmed the original image did not show a woman in a veil but added it was a creative royalty-free picture, meaning that alterations to the original were permitted.

The Mail altered the image to mask the woman’s face and ran it in both the print and online editions. The online version was later altered to pixelate the woman’s face. The publisher of the paper and website has been approached for comment.

These changes were also noted on Twitter by @DMReporter, which keeps a critical eye on the Daily Mail and its stablemates. The paper did not attempt to pass the photo off as a genuine depiction of the case under discussion, but the effect was ludicrous: the alteration, as well as being in bad taste, was poorly done, and the current pixelated version is incoherent as regards what it is supposed be illustrating. For some reason, the altered version was credited to “Terry Harris/Bav Media REX/Shutterstock” rather than Getty. An even worse version of the veiled/masked depiction – in which the “veil” looks more like a ski mask – also made its way into Metro, the free paper for which the Mail provides content.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror simply used what appears to be a random snap of a woman holding hands with a child, viewed from the back – the contrast between the adult in brown Muslim attire (whose face may or may not be covered) and the child in colourful Western kid’s clothing is striking, but this is quite normal among Muslims in Britain.

In contrast, the BBC noted the positive counter-example of a Muslim family that “has been fostering children from all religions for 25 years” without controversy. But good news is no news; and on Twitter, The Times is now asking readers to email in with information about “foster children who were harmed/distressed after being placed with ‘culturally unmatched’ carers”.

UPDATE (31 August): The Case Management Order has now been reported in the media, headlined in The Times as

Child in Muslim foster home row may be taken out of Britain

The text explains that this refers to the child’s foreign grandmother, but the headline in isolation give a somewhat different impression. The article is again by Andrew Norfolk, and it’s curious that despite having been in attendance at the actual hearing he is only reporting this further context in the wake of a court upload to the internet.

The Telegraph, in contrast, went with

Mother of ‘Christian’ child in Islamic foster row was from Muslim family, court papers show

UPDATE 2 (2 September): The Times‘s Andrew Norfolk cover story today is “Rotherham MP Sarah Champion: Left ‘failing to confront truth of sex crimes'”, in which “sacked Labour frontbencher accuses her party”. This comes a couple of weeks after Champion, who at the time Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, wrote an op-ed for the Sun under the headline “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls”. Champion later complained that the article had been “stripped of nuance” by editors, but she was forced to resign her shadow ministerial position.

Champion’s new comments to Norfolk are her first public comments since then, and it’s very reasonable to suppose that Norfolk elicited them now in order to shift the terms of the debate he triggered earlier in the week away from the specifics of his reporting and onto the alleged motives of his critics – supposedly, left-wingers (“the floppy left”, in Champion’s terminology) who are unwilling to confront the reality of sex crimes by members of ethnic minorities due to a distorted understanding of racism.

Thus the same edition of the paper also carries a leader, titled “Truth Hurts”, which describes criticism of Norfolk’s articles as being due to “a blind spot on the left” and refers readers to his previous reporting on Rotherham. The piece further asserts that there is no contradiction between the Case Management Order and Norfolk’s reporting, and notes that Ofsted has found the standard of social work services in the borough of Tower Hamlets to be poor.

The leader also complains that “leftist media” have accused the paper of “Islamophobia”. That’s not something I’ve delved into on this blog, but it very much seems to me that Norfolk’s articles on the fostering case were sensationalising and selective, the headlines inflammatory and misleading, and the whole treatment disproportionate. As an attempt to build on Norfolk’s reputation as the fearless truth-teller who broke the Rotherham story, his latest articles and the paper’s presentation of them seem to have been something of a fiasco.

UPDATE 3 (1 November): On 3 October, Andrew Norfolk followed up with an article explaining that Judge Sapnara had received a report from Tower Hamlets:

She said the local authority “has satisfied itself that the foster carers have not behaved in any way which is inconsistent with warm and appropriate care for this child”. The judge noted that the Tower Hamlets findings were strongly disputed by the mother and said she would make no findings about the truth of the allegations raised against the foster carers.

…Judge Sapnara said that the report provided an”alternative narrative” that was shared by the child’s court-appointed guardian.

Norfolk also reported that Tower Hamlets’ lawyer “agreed with the judge that the allegations were likely to have been reported in good faith”, and that he had “no criticism of the media at all”.

The court gave the council permission “to publish an edited version of its findings in the near future”, and this has now been put online. The BBC now reports:

The council responsible for the care of a five-year-old girl who was placed with Muslim foster family has rejected concerns about her treatment.

…A report by a senior social worker said the child had “expressed no negative views about Christmas, Easter or any religious festival” when questioned.

The five-year-old is currently living with her maternal grandmother, who the council said was “distressed and angered” by the “false” allegations against the foster carers.

…Lawyers for the child’s mother agreed the social worker’s findings were “an accurate representation of the outcome of the council’s investigation,” a Tower Hamlets spokesman added.

In response, The Times has issued a statement:

The Times reported concerns about the suitability of this foster placement raised by the child’s mother and a social care worker who supervised regular meetings between the girl and her birth family. Tower Hamlets was ordered to investigate the allegations and invited by the judge to publish an “alternative narrative” in respect of them; its report today rejects the allegations but records that the mother disputes the findings.

This is a grudging acknowledgement that fails to acknowledge the perspective of either the grandmother or the mother’s lawyers. There is also a subtle distortion in the suggestion that the judge “invited” Tower Hamlets to publish “an alternative narrative”, when she in fact gave permission to the council to publish the alternative narrative that had emerged from the investigation. The change of emphasis leaves the impression that the investigator’s brief was simply to come up with an account that would support Tower Hamlets’s handling of the case regardless of the facts.

Footnote: Shakeel Begg and the Lewisham Islamic Centre

(1) The Telegraph also tried to get a piece of the action with a spin-off article by Robert Mendick, headlined “Revealed: Extremist Islamic Preacher Hosted Foster Care Workshop”:

An extremist Islamic preacher helped in the recruitment of foster parents…

Lewisham Islamic Centre was chosen as the venue for a workshop  “on the importance and need of foster carers in the Muslim community” in March this year. A photograph from the event posted on the mosque’s website shows the gathering being addressed by Shakeel Begg, the imam…

Tom Wilson, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society who has written a research paper on Begg, condemned the hosting : “It is inconceivable that those who espouse extremism should be overseeing childcare of any kind, including fostering. Shakeel Begg was found to be an extremist in the High Court as recently as October, and despite this Lewisham Islamic Centre has kept him in place as Imam and a trustee.

“Institutions linked to extremism are in no position to be involved in the foster process”.

Details of the workshop can be seen on a newsletter here. According to the blurb:

The Information Session was organised by Network Recruitment Solutions (NRS), who are responsible for the recruitment and assessment of Foster Carers for Lewisham Local Authority. The session was delivered by Wendy Lawrence, Louise Pearce and Antony Philomin who are all part of the recruitment team at NRS. Mohammed Hamid, a social worker from Lewisham Council was also present.

One of the key issues of the presentation was that out of 145 foster carers in the London Borough of Lewisham, less than 8 are of the Muslim faith.

As Muslims we are reminded about the importance of empathy and to care about those in need especially the children who are separated from their families.

There is some reason to be sceptical of Begg’s claims to moderation, but this is a complete non-story. Begg is not “involved in the foster process”, or “overseeing childcare” – he is merely introducing some outside speakers on a mundane topic.

Mendick’s article is a partial retread of a piece he wrote in April, headlined “Children Taken to Meet Islamic Preacher who had ‘Promoted and Encouraged Religious Violence'”. Again, the source was a newsletter on the Islamic Centre website, and once again, Wilson was on hand with some comments of condemnation. Presumably Mendick is given both elements on a plate on a regular basis.

A Note on Sheriff Clarke’s Memoir and Evangelicalism

From the Los Angeles Times:

President Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to promote a book by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a staunch Trump supporter who has drawn controversy with his tough talk and provocative social media postings.

…The book includes a passage in which Clarke advocates treating terrorism suspects as “enemy combatants,” allowing them to be detained indefinitely, questioned without an attorney and tried by military tribunals.

Clarke’s book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America has been out since February; Trump’s Tweet is obviously meant to send a message after his pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for contempt of court and last month’s speech at Long Island in which he encouraged police to be “rough” when making arrests.

The book is published by Worthy Books of Nashville, Tennessee. This is an evangelical publisher which, according to a tagline on the copyright page, describes itself as “Helping People Experience the Heart of God”. Clarke may be famous for secular reasons, but he describes himself as a “man of God” who prays every day, and he has a (moribund) blog presence at Patheos.

His memoir thus includes chapters entitled “Changing the Culture Is a Matter of Faith, Not Politics” and “God is not the Enemy, but He’s Being Attacked”. In one passage, he attacks the 2012 Democratic Convention for failing to mention God or to refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – the two topics are apparently intertwined. Elsewhere, he notes Bible verses that apparently support gun ownership, noting that “Jesus instructed his disciples to carry a weapon”.

The book comes with a foreword by Sean Hannity and blurbs from Paul E. Vallely, Chris Cox of the NRA, David Horowitz, a Milwaukee radio host named Mark Belling, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, T. Boone Pickens of BP Capital, Kris Paronto (“Hero of Benghazi Attack”) and Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.

The book was written in collaboration with Nancy French, a professional author who also facilitated Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, Bristol Palin’s Not Afraid of Life, and the Chinese dissident Bob Fu’s God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom. Her husband David French is an attorney and conservative writer (“His legal work defending religious liberty on college campuses helped inspire the hit movie God’s Not Dead“), and he gets a few references in the Clarke volume.

Evangelicals, Mystic Rabbis and Donald Trump

Last week, I noted this quote from Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz:

Jewish rabbis have historically viewed solar eclipses as warnings from God to Gentile nations. Therefore, my perspective on the upcoming phenomenon is not celebratory.

Lotz’s enthusiam for “Jewish rabbis” is perhaps an advance on her father’s (private) anti-Semitism, but the context here is not inter-faith appreciation but rather Rabbis as exotic mystical figures who have esoteric knowledge about how God makes himself known to the world.

This seems to be a growing trend in American Evangelicalism – the best-selling Messianic Rabbi and End-Times prognosticator Jonathan Cahn trades on his Jewish heritage to present himself as someone with special insight into “Hebrew mysteries“, while the website Breaking Israel News relays “End Times” statements by various Rabbis in Israel to a Christian Zionist readership (discussed here). The trend is perhaps related to the realisation that a proper understanding of Judaism and Jewish traditions can illuminate the life of Jesus – this is uncontroversial, but it has led to the appropriation of Jewish artefacts by some evangelicals (sometimes with eccentric and bad-taste results), and an idiosyncratic “Hebrew Roots” movement.

Another factor may be the popularity of the idea of “Bible Codes” – the concept developed out of the Jewish tradition, and purported discoveries both confirm the status of the Bible as revealed by God and provide believers with a sense that they have knowledge of the future. Thus last year an item in Breaking Israel News found its ways to the Evangelical/Pentecostal news service Charisma News under the heading “Rabbi Predicts Trump Will Win and Usher in the Second Coming“, in which Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson revealed codes linking Trump to the word “Messiah” (obviously he didn’t use the phrase “Second Coming”).

That particular article points towards a related theme: that Jewish mystical knowledge provides further confirmation of Donald Trump as a Divinely appointed figure within a Christian cosmological scheme. This was expounded last year by the conspiracy theorist Tom Horn, speaking as a guest on the Jim Bakker Show. Right Wing Watch has the clip, although I’m responsible for the transcription:

…Rabbi Meir Horowitz 300 years ago, working on Daniel’s time, time, and half a time, and he set a date, he set a date, 300 years ago. He said this will all happen, the Messiah will arrive, the End Times will begin in the Jewish calendar year 5777. The Rabbis have held that dear to them to since then. What is that? That 2016 to 2017, Messiah will arrive.

Now, they’re looking at Donald Trump. One of the Rabbis illustrated how his name in the Gematria, the numerology of his name, actually means “Messiah”. Now there’s some weird stuff here that’s going on. So, think about this for a moment. In the Jewish Zohar, 700 years ago in medieval Aramaic, Orthodox Jews speculated about when will the Messiah be on the earth, right? And in the [unclear] section of the Zohar they said he will arrive on earth in the year – he will make himself known – in the year 5773 which was 2012 to 2013.

Oddly enough, Trump goes to Israel in 2012, decides not to run for US President, meets with heads of states, comes out of that – you can watch the YouTube on television – and he starts talking to the Jewish people, telling them to vote for Benjamin Netanyahu in the Likud party, which they did, right?

The general outline for this has been taken from two Breaking Israel News items (here and here). Horn placed special significance in the year 2012 in his 2009 volume Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed, which he followed up in 2013 with Zenith 2016: Did Something Begin in the Year 2012 that will Reach its Apex in 2016? Horn’s new discovery that this “something” is that Trump made a statement supporting Netanyahu in 2013 seems something of an anti-climax, and hard to reconcile with his previous claims that the event to watch out for would be a sinister “installation of the King of the NWO”.

Horn continued by discussing how “the Jews” (a singular objectified entity in Horn’s mind) are waiting for a political Messiah who will defend Israel, and he claims that Trump’s election prompted “the Rabbis” to call for Jews to return to Israel, “because the Messiah is here”. Further:

They talk about when he arrives he is going to re-institute the Temple service. So what was the second thing they did? They called on Trump and Putin to use their power to rebuild the Temple and to re-institute the Temple service. I’m not saying that they think he is the Messiah. What I actually think is that most of the Rabbis there think he’s John the Baptist and the Messiah is about to appear. He’s the forerunner, he’s the guy who’s going to start the message in the wilderness, and the Messiah is going to come in on his heels, and so we need the Temple service, we need to get back into Israel, the Messiah – now, why are they saying that? They have identified somebody. I mean, there could be a few Rabbis who think he’s the Messiah.

The other third key is that he has to be of the Davidic dynasty. He has to be of the Davidic bloodline, and there is an effort right now to go back through the European monarchy, cousins of President Donald Trump, to show that his bloodline goes back to the Davidic dynasty.

The hedging here is incoherent. If Trump is not the Messiah, then why would there be “an effort” to look into his “bloodline”? And there is no link between European royalty and the “Davidic dynasty”, despite the fantasies of British-Israelism and similar.

But that’s just the start of the incoherence:

Why are these efforts underway? I’m just saying there’s something very strange here that’s going on, and everything I’m saying can be verified, multiple news agencies, the Jerusalem Post, Breaking Israel News, are all talking about this right now. So, they too believe that we are in the End Times. They too believe that the Messiah is about to appear. We would say the Second Coming is about to happen – but their Messiah is going to be a false Messiah, he’s going to be the anti-Christ, right? I also don’t believe Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.

This odd coda reveals two things.

First, the ambivalence of Christian Zionism towards Jews: Rabbis have special knowledge about God’s purposes, yet according to apocalyptic strands Jews will in due course align themselves with a living embodiment of evil. This is something I’ve noted before.

Second, the mental gymnastics required to be an “End Times” prognosticator in the age of Trump. Trump as the forerunner of the Anti-Christ is hardly much of an endorsement, yet somehow this cosmological significance is spun positively. This is because an old End Times scenario that played on uncertainty and resentment against a liberal establishment now has to be retconned for the benefit of a more congenial political development.

Footnote

(1) The Babylonian Talmud lists several causes of eclipses:

Eclipses of the sun occur for four reasons: because of the lack of prayers for the dead on the part of the head (high priest) of the Sanhedrin; because of the lack of aid to a fiancée who has asked the city for help when at the point of being raped; because of homosexuality; because of the simultaneous murder of two brothers. Eclipses of the moon and sun are also due to four reasons: because of those who falsify records (or signatures); because of those who allow false witnesses to step forward; because of those who breed small animals in the land of Israel; because of those who chop down trees in good condition.

New Book Describes How God “Raised up Donald Trump”

Introducing a new book from Stephen Strang, one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America”.

The narrator’s blurb is so extraordinary that it is worth preserving in full:

Many call President Donald Trump’s election a “miraculous win”. But was his election as President of the United States an actual answer to prayer? What was the spiritual dimension, if any?

In his new book, God and Donald Trump, author Stephen E. Strang explores President Trump’s miraculous victory and what it means for the future of our Republic.

This is the story behind a Divine plan, a grassroots voter uprising, and a miraculous victory no-one expected. A first-person account of one of the most contentious elections in American history.

It offers a penetrating look at the factors that shaped Donald Trump’s character and worldview: How openness to spiritual leaders helped build his commitment to religious liberty, and how he captured the largest Evangelical vote in American history to win the electoral college.

The Honorable Michele Bachmann: “Everyone is curious about the topic of God and Donald Trump. “I’m confident you’ll be pleased by what you read.”

Todd Starnes, Fox News Channel, says: “God and Donald Trump may very well be one of the most important books about the Trump presidency.”

Dr Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Dallas, said: “God and Donald Trump is a well-written, much-needed look at the undeniable hand of God working in our nation’s most recent presidential election. It will restore your hope.”

Dr Alveda King, niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., praises God and Donald Trump: “This must-read book reaches far beyond politics into the redeeming frequencies that America surely needs.”

God and Donald Trump by Stephen E. Strang is a powerful account, with behind-the-scenes exclusives, and insightful commentary from Christian leaders, including those who prophesied before the election that God had raised up Donald Trump to lead the nation through a time of crisis.

God and Donald Trump, published by FrontLine. Released November 7th at bookstores and online at GodAndDonaldTrumpBook.com

Those quotes are included on the website, although for some reason the “It will restore your hope” phrase from Jeffress has been omitted. The website also includes endorsements from Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, and Kenneth Copeland.

I previously noted Evangelical interpretations of Trump as a divinely-appointed figure here and here.

New Occult Conspiracy Volume From Thomas Horn, with Robert Maginnis and Others

A new book soon from Thomas Horn, “with contributors”:

Saboteurs

From shocking Wikileaks revelations about Satanism in the US Capitol to the connection  between witchcraft, the Babylon working, spirit cooking, and the Fourth Turning Grey Champion. How secret, Deep State occultists are manipulating American society through a Washington-based shadow government in quest of the Final World Order.

If Rick Wiles is the Christian media Alex Jones, Horn is the Christian media David Icke, blending Christian fundamentalism with fantastical conspiracy theories about UFOs, hybrid entities and other concepts that owe much more to pulp science fiction than historic Christianity.

However, he’s not an outlier – he makes regular appearances on The Jim Bakker Show; his writings appear on websites such as WND and Charisma News; and his media enterprises Defender Publishing and Skywatch TV link him into wider networks. Last year I noted a Defender book called I Predict, in which he heads a cast of contributors that includes Mark Biltz, who achieved fame with his “Blood Moons Tetrad” End-Times theory, and Joel Richardson, who has written two books (endorsed by Robert Spencer) predicting an “Islamic Antichrist”.

The other contributors to Saboteurs are listed as

Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, Garl Gallups, Derek Gilbert, Althia Anderson, Gary Stearman

Maginnis is a conservative pundit who has made numerous appearances on mainstream media as a “national security and foreign affairs” specialist, based on his military background and former role at the Pentagon – during the Bush II years, he was part of Department of Defense military analyst group convened by Donald Rumsfield. He has been a columnist for Human Events, and vice president for policy at the Family Research Council. His 2015 book Never Submit: Will the Extermination of Christians Get Worse Before It Gets Better? (also published by Defender) came with cover blurbs by Col. “Jerry” Boykin (previously blogged here) and Franklin Graham.

Maginnis is also described as a “regular broadcast partner” on Jimmy DeYoung’s radio show Prophecy Today, and he has made appearances on The Jim Bakker Show and on Skywatch TV. Back in April, he appeared on Skywatch TV to discuss “the occult influence on DC elites”, in which he railed against “witchcraft” and “homosexuality” in Washington.

Saboteurs places Maginnis alongside Carl Gallups, who infamously dismissed and mocked grieving Sandy Hook parents as “Hollywood actors” – there was some controversy when he led prayers at an election rally for Trump last year. The other authors are all regular collaborators with Horn; I previously noted Gary Stearman – author of Time Travelers of the Bible: How Hebrew Prophets Shattered the Barriers of TimeSpace (Defender again) – here.

As for the book’s content – Amazon has a more extended blurb:

SABOTEURS is the most critical and groundbreaking work to date by prolific investigative author Thomas Horn. From his earliest opus on secret societies and the occult to this new unnerving chronicle, Dr. Horn returns to Washington, DC to expose a harrowing plot by Deep State Alister Crowley and Masonic devotees that hold an almost unbelievable secret they do not want you to understand: American society is being manipulated through a Washington-based Shadow Government in quest of that Final World Order prophesied in the books of Daniel, Revelation, and on the Great Seal of the United States! SABOTEURS goes beyond the superficial chaos currently playing out in the public square and in media against the Trump administration to unveil a far more sinister resistance made up of sorcerous elites, their secret societies, and world power brokers who plot the insidious rise of a messianic strongman figure they call The Grey Champion. This investigation addresses: *The supernatural truth behind the Trump Derangement Syndrome *How the federal bureaucracy is a tool of Deep State Occultists *Shocking revelations about Satanism in the US Capitol from WikiLeaks *Whats in the Shadow Government two miles from the White House *Obama, Alinsky, and a dedication to Lucifer *Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and The Grey Champion *The Necronomicon and why ZENITH 2016 may have just been fulfilled *Why Rabbis in Israel believe Donald Trump is paving way for Messiah *Hidden truth about Pope Francis…

There will also be a tie-in TV series. Horn’s interest in what “Rabbis in Israel” supposedly believe about Trump was noted by Right Wing Watch in December; Horn now complains that the site conflated this what he himself believes, although it’s clear from the video that Horn was enthused by the Rabbis’ alleged interpretations and that he regards them as supernaturally significant.

Horn’s impenetrable ruminations on “the Fourth Turning and the Grey Champion” (aspects of a theory of historical change introduced by William Strauss and Neil Howe in the 1990s, which apparently influences Steve Bannon’s thinking) were recently published on WND. I looked at conspiracy theories about “Satanism in the US Capitol” related to “spirit cooking” back in November.

Rick Wiles Falsely Claims Cover of his 1998 Book Predicted 9/11

End Times radio host Rick Wiles boasts of how God gave him special knowledge of the future (from 24.30):

In 1998, when I left TBN, I wrote a book called Judgment Day. It’s 1998. The front cover of Judgment Day had the twin towers of New York City… The World Trade Center twin towers were exploding on the front cover of my book. A lightning bolt striking the twin towers. That was the front cover. Why did we choose that design? I have no idea other than the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And so the book was called Judgment Day.

Wiles is a Christian media counterpart to Alex Jones – he is an extravagant conspiracy theorist, and he makes regular appearances on the Jim Bakker Show. Guests on his TruNews radio show that have been noted by this blog include Judith Reisman, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Mark Taylor, co-author of The Trump Prophecies.

It’s thus worth noting that Wiles is being somewhat selective in his memory of his 1998 opus. The book, published by the religious publisher Destiny Image (via its Treasure House imprint), was in fact titled Judgment Day 2000: How the Coming Worldwide Computer Crash will Radically Change Your Life, and it was just one of several Christian and secular paperbacks that scaremongered over the non-event of Y2K. Other examples from Christian figures included Grant Jeffrey’s Millenium Meltdown: Spiritual and Practical Strategies to Survive Y2K (Tyndale House) and Bakker’s Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse (Thomas Nelson).

The World Trade Center does indeed appear on the cover – but as part of a larger New York skyline. And it is not shown “exploding” or even being struck by lightning: several bolts of lightning appear in the background, but they land behind the WTC and other buildings. And here’s what Wiles actually predicted, transcribed from the back cover:

 

America’s Y2K Warning!

God’s Judgment is Coming Soon!

America’s darkest hour is ahead. A worldwide computer crash beginning in 1999 will plunge the global economy into a depression. Governments will declare bank holidays when panic spreads throughout society. The biggest meteor storm in 33 years will destroy several vital satellites. Violent solar storms will disrupt telecommunications and the electric power gird. Families will shiver in the winter of 2000 when electric utilities shut down. An oil shortage and severe drought will devestate America’s food supply. Drinking water will be rationed by National Guard troops. Terrorists will launch a coordinated attack in America’s 100 biggest cities.

Is this science fiction or America’s future?

In this explosive book, author Rick Wiles will stun you with unheard facts about Y2K. To your shock and dismay, you’ll discover the startling news that that the media isn’t reporting!

  • Will the world banks fix their computers before December 31, 1999?
  • Could the collapse of the Japanese and Russian economics trigger a global depression?
  • Will Social Security and government checks be processed in 2000?
  • Are there Russian commandos in America with nuclear suitcase bombs?
  • How will the oil companies fix offshore drilling platforms before December 31, 1999?
  • Will hospitals be DOA in 2000?
  • Are militant Muslim terrorists training inside America for war against the USA? [1]
  • Will the Pentegon fix military computers before December 31, 1999?
  • Why are the Russian preparing for nuclear war?
  • Why is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission distributing potassium iodine to civil defense agencies?
  • Is the federal government anticipating war inside the United States in 2000?

About the Author

Richard Wiles is the founder and president of the Christian Business Association. The trade organization equips Christian entrepreneurs and professionals to take the Gospel into the marketplace and to finance the worldwide preaching of the Good News. As a sales and marketing professional, Mr. Wiles has held management positions at the Christian Broadcasting Network and Trinity Broadcasting Network. In 1994, Mr. Wiles narrowly lost a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates against a powerful incumbent in the closest legislative election in Maryland that year. Mr. Wiles and his family now live and attend church in the Dallas/FL Worth Metroplex.

But we are now to believe that that book’s true prophetic message was hidden in the book’s cover, despite Wiles getting so many specific predictions wrong.

The book’s opportunism is blatant, and works such as this ought to have engendered some scepticism towards those who claim to special religious discernment about future events. Yet the apocalyptic Christian paperback genre continues as it has, feeding off public fears about 9/11, wars in the Middle East and pandemics, as well as interest in celestial phenomena.

Rather than be embarrassed by his 1998 book, Wiles has shown that with a few revisionist tweaks even the most egregious failure can be made once again fit for the purpose of self-promotion.

Note

1. Yes, it appears that Wiles’s scatter-gun approach to extrapolating from current affairs included one detail that approximated to a reality – although from what I can see from Google preview, it seems that he associated Islamic terrorism primarily with “Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammer Ghadafy”. And of course, 2000 did not see “a coordinated attack in America’s 100 biggest cities”.

Some Notes on the Rebel Media Meltdown

As has been widely reported, Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media is currently beset with several crises – correspondents have been fired and political allies in Canada are backing away; and a former employee in the UK, Caolan Robertson, alleges financial impropriety and the spiking of a story relating to UKIP.

In the UK, Levant’s operation has perhaps been most significant for reviving the activist career of Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), the former head of the English Defence League. Robinson remains part of The Rebelstating that he is “grateful to @ezralevant for giving us the opportunity to mainstream our message & looking forward to red pilling Britain with their help”.

As a Rebel correspondent, Robinson has made provocative appearances outside courts, during which he has goaded defendants and witnesses (antics that ended up with him appearing in court himself); he has also been driven around the country to doorstep critics, including my friend Tim Fenton (although, oddly, Robinson didn’t seem to know much about him and kept calling him “Paul”, an unused first name) and the Quilliam Foundation. Levant and The Rebel have supported Robinson as a campaigner on various issues, such as “Justice for Chelsey” (which has included a Rebel-branded billboard in Sunderland) and fundraising for a disabled former soldier.

Media commentary on The Rebel is extensive, and does not need rehashing here – particularly useful is long-read at the National Post by Michael Warnica.

However, I will note some particular details of interest:

A UKIP Story Spiked?

– Caolan Robertson says in a video that he uncovered evidence that UKIP was attempting to “screw over” a leadership candidate, not named but obviously Anne Marie Waters. One would have thought that Levant would have been enthused by Waters’s candidacy, but according to Robertson he had a different priority – wooing Nigel Farage. Here’s my transcript of what Robertson says in a video (from 2 min 57 sec):

It was completely damning that I uncovered at UKIP. Basically caught the party commiting what looked like electoral fraud, and we had proof. But Ezra, he didn’t want to know… We actually accused us of campaigning for the candidate that the party was trying to screw over.

[Levant] openly talked about his plans for Nigel Farage to join the Rebel before, even trying to get him out to dinner with us all, hoping to form some kind of alliance. That problem with this story? Farage had openly been critical of the candidate in question, and so a national story disappeared over night. Paul Joseph Watson was also invited to this dinner by the way, in what seemed like another attempt to hire him right out under from Alex Jones. Obviously, he never showed to that dinner.”

That last sentence heavily implies that there was an actual dinner that Farage attended, although that’s not quite clear from the preceding.

Fundraising under False Pretences?

Robertson also alleges that donations were asked for even when funding targets were reached.

Robinson has posted a short video response, in which he doesn’t criticise Caolan Robertson but does assert that all funding has been spent on the purposes advertised. He also says that The Rebel in the UK is “running on negative equity”.

Levant Blackmailed?

In response, Levant alleges that Robertson and his partner George Llewelyn-John (who was employed as a cameraman) had attempted to “blackmail” him:

They threatened to release footage they claimed to have taken of Tommy Robinson confessing that he punched a guy at Ascot, in self defence. They said they had Tommy Robinson on tape confessing to that, and if we didn’t pay them thousands of pounds, they’d rat out Tommy — whether it was to the police or to a UK tabloid that would just love that video footage.

This is an odd claim. Everyone knows that Robinson punched someone at Ascot in June – a video captured by a third party appeared widely in the media at the time, and Levant even includes some of it in his own video. And Robertson’s “self defence” explanation was actually published by The Rebel. So what exactly would they be threatening to release?

Some other points of interest, beyond the UK:

The Middle East Forum Education Fund

Press Progress has drawn attention to (or “revealed”) the fact that Levant is listed on the website of the Middle East Forum as having received a donation from the Middle East Forum Education Fund (MEFEF). It appears to have been made to Levant personally, and no date is given. Press Progress notes that his name was added to the site in 2015, which corresponds to the start of The Rebel, although it looks like he was added alongside a lot of other names as a general revamp of the MEFEF webpage.

The Role of Hamish Marshall

Warnica draws attention to the significance of Hamish Marshall in fundraising:

At the root of that success is a business structure that looks more like a political campaign than a traditional media outlet. And the architect of that system is a man with deep ties in Canada’s mainstream conservative movement.

The Rebel uses political organizing software—a platform called NationBuilder—to organize and monetize its audience. (It also sells access to its email list.) The man who implemented that system is Hamish Marshall.

A longtime member of The Rebel board, Marshall is also the person most responsible for making Andrew Scheer the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He’s now running Brian Jean’s campaign for the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party.

Scheer granted The Rebel interviews, although he now says he will not do so again until the “editorial directions” change.

Kory Teneycke

According to Canadaland, Levant attempted to smooth Robertson’s exit by sending over his friend Kory Teneycke, “former director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper”.

Vlad Tepes and James Cohen

– As an aside, Warnica’s article includes evidence suggestive that the Rebel correspondent “Viktor Laszlo” is the same person who runs the anti-Islam Vlad Tepes blog, and that this person is James Cohen, former head of the Jewish wing of the English Defence League and formerly with the International Free Press Society.

21 August 2017 and the Eclipse of Reason

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, warns Americans not to enjoy next week’s solar eclipse:

For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation.  People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate.  While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger.  Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

Jewish rabbis have historically viewed solar eclipses as warnings from God to Gentile nations. Therefore, my perspective on the upcoming phenomenon is not celebratory. While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is.

One of the functions of religion is to find meaning in dramatic natural phenomena, although that’s perhaps putting it a bit strong for something as hopelessly vague as “God is signaling us about something”. I previously discussed religious responses to the eclipse and the September constellation alignment a few days ago.

Lotz (or whoever posts articles on her behalf) continues:

Please view the following video posted by Australian pastor Steve Cioccolanti.  Pastor Steve articulates the warning in a very clear, undeniable, yet undogmatic way based on his understanding of Biblical truth:

With this, we once again see Lotz acting as a gateway for mainstream evangelism into a conspiracy theory milieu.

Cioccolanti is not just an “Australian pastor” – his various video uploads includes talks such as DONALD TRUMP is God’s End-Time PresidentNephilim Among Us: Human-Animal Hybrids, Eugenics, GMOs & TranshumanismPlanet X, Meteors & the End of America?How iPhones will Destroy Australia & Usher in the Anti-Christ; STAR WARS Revealed ANTICHRIST Technology & Image of BEAST; and Benjamin NETANYAHU was Predicted by EnochThe title of his video Is the USA in the Bible? Great American Eclipse Aug 21st, 2017 a Real End Time Sign? is perhaps a clue as to why this particular eclipse is generating so much interest – the USA is of course the world’s most important country, so it must be in the Bible somewhere. Cioccolanti also has an obsession with codes and numerology, and his extravagances include the claim that he received a dream about Hillary Clinton that was then confirmed by Wikileaks.

Meanwhile, while Lotz cites “Jewish rabbis” (rather than the Bible) as general evidence that eclipses are warnings, the site Breaking Israel News (previously discussed here) has something more specific:

An esoteric prophecy written over a century ago described the solar eclipse that will traverse the entire United States next week and predicted, in shocking detail, what the astronomical event portends for the outcome of the current North Korean-US conflict.

…”The prophecy states that when a solar eclipse occurs exactly as it will next week, in the beginning of the month of Elul, kings of the East will suffer great loss,” Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, revealed of the century-old text Yalkut Moshe (“Collection of Moses”).

Written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yisrael Benyamin in Safed in 1894, the Yalkut Moshe notes that when a solar eclipse occurs at the beginning of the month of Elul, “it is an especially bad sign,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News.

…According to the rabbi, the suffering of the “kings of the East” clearly refers to “the despotic leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, and the loss he will suffer if he continues to taunt President [Donald] Trump…”

This has also been picked up by some evangelical sites. The book was published in Mukachevo (Munkatch) in Ukraine, and according to a blurb here it seems that the “collection” was gathered from Yemen and India. Hebrew readers can access the full text here; the supposed prophecy appears on page 178, listed among what seems to be a collection of isolated statements. Devoid of context, it is impossible to interpret what is meant by “kings of the East”. It should be noted, though, that Berger’s explanation of the passage seems to imply a general principle rather than a specific incidence. There’s also a Hebrew video here.

Rabbi Berger has been in the media previously for his prognostications. In January he announced that a new star that is scheduled to appear in 2022 when the light from a collision between two stars reaches earth was proof of the coming of the Messiah; the British tabloid the Daily Star unfortunately reported this in terms of the Rabbi predicting that “Jesus will return in 2022”.

Ashford Tandoori Owner Became Anti-Islam Evangelist after Discovering Muslim Staff Weren’t Extremists

From Food and Drink Guides, April 2016:

…Ian [Sleeper] took over ownership of The Singleton Tandoori [in Ashford, Kent] eighteen months ago and has gone on to create a staff-led business. It wasn’t a mere whim which led him to open a restaurant, his strong Christian faith led him to make a life-changing decision, and leave behind a career in business consultancy in order to pursue this culinary quest. It was a fork in the road that was prompted, not by a mid-life crisis, but by a spiritual revelation – the very opposite of crisis. For Ian, Singleton Tandoori was the result of a true calling from God to change his path and take on a project that would cement his faith and allow him to realise his true potential.

…Working with a team of Muslim staff, Ian has joined two cultures together, showing huge respect and consideration for both cultures and beliefs. During my thoroughly enjoyable evening spent at Singleton Tandoori, I had the chance to chat to various members of his staff and I was warmed by their generosity of spirit towards their employer, their interest in the teachings of the Bible and their appreciation of the healing power of united prayer.

…I am sure that this is only the beginning of this story…

And now at last we have the next instalment, from Premier Christian Radio today, based on a press release from Christian Concern:

A street preacher from Kent who was arrested after displaying a placard which read ‘Love Muslims, Hate Islam. Time For The Truth’ will not face any charges.

Prosecutors have informed Ian Sleeper, who was arrested outside Southwark Cathedral on 23rd June 2017, that he will face no further action.

…Mr Sleeper started displaying his placard in January 2017 after he became concerned Muslim staff at his Indian takeaway did not properly understand Islam.

In the wake of the Westminster Bridge terror attack, he switched his location from BBC Broadcasting House to Southwark Cathedral.

If Sleeper’s thought processes here are obscure, the full press release sent out by email has Sleeper’s more extended explanation:

“After reading the Qur’an and observing the behaviour of my Muslim staff, it became clear that they were not practising much of their religion’s teachings. I found this curious, and, after chatting to them about their belief, I realised this was due to their ignorance of the Quranic verses. They simply do not know what their religion teaches.”

He continued, “Their ignorance is almost on a par with the wider public’s, where the horrors and gross gender inequalities of Islam are not apparent to most people”.

…He continued: “My hope is for the world to rid itself of Islam but I feel this can be best done by creating awareness among people of Islamic truth, and I wanted to initiate a shared national conversation about Islam. Society needs to kick political correctness into the long grass and be unafraid to criticise Islam. It was political correctness and an abuse of my rights under the law that got me detained in a police cell for 13 hours”.

So, in summary: Sleeper was surprised that his Muslim staff did not conform to his view of Islam based on his reading of the Quran. After attempting to explain to them their own religion, and why they should be aware of its “horrors”, he then decided that a “national conversion about Islam” was required (presumably Sleeper doesn’t consume much media), and that he was the man to initiate it, by taking a placard to BBC Broadcasting House and then to Southwark Cathedral.

We must draw our own conclusions as to whether Sleeper continues to be guided by “spiritual revelations”, or if the “mid-life crisis” has finally arrived.

Excursus

On a more serious note, police in the UK keep arresting annoying but harmless street evangelists, only for subsequent legal actions to fail. Perhaps it’s the easiest way to maintain public order, and given the reality of jihadists at large in London police might have decided to detain Sleeper for his own protection. But officers need to act within the law, and this seems to be an area where police ought to be more accountable in the use and abuse of their powers.

US Christian Right Group Boasts of Influence in Kenya Election

A press release from the American Pastors Network:

Last week’s election in Kenya proved to be a statement on the power that Christian voters can have on the outcome of the direction of their nation…

APN President Sam Rohrer said the American Pastors Network provided encouragement to members of the Kenyan Pastors Network leading up to the election, praying for them and helping them to mobilize Christian voters.

“Leading up to this election and still today,” Rohrer said, “the freedom of Kenyans, Kenyan pastors and the ability to freely preach the Gospel is currently under threat. Had Uhuru Kenyatta not been elected, Islamic, pro-abortion, pro-LGBT and anti-Christian policies would have advanced. Our Kenyan brothers and sisters, and especially our fellow pastors, asked for fervent prayers before and during the election—that the right man would be elected, that the opposition would concede and that violence would not erupt as in other elections. We continue to pray for these matters, as the coming days and weeks will be crucial for Kenya to be able to move forward under a man of God and other leaders who desire to model the country after the founding documents of the United States of America.”

Rohrer added that a U.S.-based APN volunteer who was on the ground in Kenya helped to create and execute several initiatives to encourage values-based voting last week. Kenyatta, feeling the effects of these efforts, led a public prayer before the election, thanking Christians and pastors for their commitment and stating that he would give God the glory if victorious, according to reports from the APN volunteer.

“Pastors there are praying in faith that God will raise them up as a nation to be the leader to all of Africa, that the relationship with the U.S. can be strengthened and that God would enable APN to assist in the final establishment of a Kenyan Pastors Network in order to train leaders and teach pastors the biblical principles needed in both church and government,” Rohrer added. “The involvement of APN in Kenya is similar to work we’ve been blessed and honored to do in Ukraine, where pastors and government leaders are yearning to bring biblical and American constitutional principles to the country.”

I noted the APN’s efforts in Ukraine in 2015 – this was several months after Rohrer had travelled to the country in the company of the pseudo-historian David Barton.

The APN says that it exists

to establish a dynamic network of Biblically faithful pastors and citizen leaders who are committed to the Truth, who believe in the Authority of Scripture, who boldly preach the whole counsel of God with a disciplined application of a Biblical World-view to public policy, and who are building a permanent infrastructure of Biblically faithful pastors and lay leaders.

As noted by Right Wing Watch in over the past year, Rohrer believes that “lack of respect” towards Trump is heralding the rise of the anti-Christ, and last August he and APN board member Gary Dull concurred that God does not want women (i.e. Hillary Clinton) to lead nations. The APN also has a radio show, Stand in the Gap, which provides a platform for anti-Muslim opportunists such as John Guandolo, who used an appearance in June to excuse the attack on Finsbury Park Mosque in London and to denounce the mayor of London as “a suit-wearing jihadi”.

Dull is also quoted in the press release, warning that “there has been a movement among government officials in Kenya to vet pastors concerning their ability to lead churches”, and that “many pastors” believe the proposal is “an effort to reduce the preaching of the Gospel”. In fact, the proposed regulations are aimed at fake pastors; Christianity Today discussed the issue in May 2016, noting that

One [preacher] recently told churchgoers that their money would double if they transferred half of theirs to his bank account. Another used potassium permanganate to turn water red, claiming it was blood coming from the feet of AIDS victims he had washed and then healed.