Christian Right “Firefighter Prophet” Warns on Illuminati DNA Manipulation by Radio Wave

From Right Wing Watch:

Last week, we highlighted “firefighter prophet” and right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor’s belief that the Illuminati and the Freemasons are using a special frequency to change people’s DNA in order to make them oppose President Trump.

On Friday, Taylor appeared on “The Sharpening Report” where he expanded on this theory, explaining that people who have had their bloodlines corrupted by sins committed by their ancestors are now being targeted by Satan via a frequency that is making them unable to see how God is using Trump to save America.

The Sharpening Report is hosted by Josh Peck, who is part of a group around Tom Horn that mixes Christian fundamentalism with fantastical David Icke-style conspiracy theories – the two men are co-authors of Abaddon Ascending: The Ancient Conspiracy at the Center of CERN’s Most Secretive Mission (more on anti-CERN conspiricism here). This may all seem rather “fringe”, but Horn and Taylor have both made appearances on The Jim Bakker Show and have exposure within broader currents of the Christian Right.

In particular, Taylor has been celebrated as the man who received a special message from God prophesying that Trump would become president. WND has promoted his book The Trump Prophecies (co-authored by Mary Colbert, wife of Don), and Charisma News has run various articles about his claims.

However, for some reason his new disclosures about Masonic manipulation of DNA through radio waves isn’t receiving the same amount of attention.  Why the silence on such an urgent and important message?

You’d think Taylor and his associates would be grateful to Right Wing Watch for faithfully transcribing Taylor’s utterances and making them available to a wider audience, given the odd reluctance of conservative sites to do so. Alas, however, Right Wing Watch‘s efforts are not appreciated – Sheila Zilinsky, who is also part of the group around Horn, has complained that the site’s coverage amounts to a “steady diet of hit pieces”, and warned that “God will deal” with it. Zilinsky’s rebuke appeared on Facebook, although she has now deleted it following the appearance of sceptical comments. Zilinsky has interviewed Taylor on her Weekend Vigilante podcast. (1)

Footnote

(1) Zilinsky, who describes herself as “a former government top adviser”, is the author of Green Gospel: The New World Religion, and the co-author of Power Prayers: Warfare That Works; the latter work was co-written with Carla Butaud, who has a “ministry of casting out of demons”. She also contributed to Horn’s When Once We Were a NationGreen Gospel comes with an endorsement from Christopher Horner, a more mainstream conservative. One recent episode of her show was on the topic of “Satanic Rituals, Pedogate & The Deep Underground Occult”, featuring Pastor Russ Dizdar.

VIP Child Sex Abuse Claims: A Note on Esther Baker and John Hemming

(revised and expanded)

From Mail Online:

A former Liberal Democrat MP today revealed he was the subject of a two-year probe into historical sex abuse allegations after police and prosecutors dropped the case.

John Hemming was interviewed under caution as part of the investigation following allegations made by Esther Baker, who waived her anonymity in May 2015.

…In May 2015 Ms Baker went public with allegations that she was molested during the 1980s and 1990s in woods in Staffordshire and at Dolphin Square in London.

Those allegations were first aired in an interview with Sky News on 25 May 2015, and were then followed up by Mail Online under the headline “VIPs Raped Me in Wood as Police Stood Guard: Child Sex Abuse Victim Claims Judge and Peer were Among Gang”.

Soon afterwards, Baker appeared on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes news programme in Australia, in a segment called “Spies, Lords and Predators”. The interviewer used a mobile phone to show Baker photographs of “a Lord” and a “senior politician” and asked her to confirm that she recognised them as her abusers (1). In September, the Guardian reported that the politician (who we now know was Hemming) “contacted police in April this year after he became aware via a national newspaper that the allegations were being made against him”.

By this point, however, a certain amount of scepticism had set in, and the following month the Daily Mail published “I’m the Latest Victim of Sex Abuse Witch-Hunt, Says ex-MP: VIP Police Quiz Former Backbencher”. I discussed the articles and some of the background at the time.

Baker has now published part of a document which appears to show that the case against Hemming was dropped because of the possibility of a mistaken identification on her part (2). Hemming, meanwhile, has issued a statement in which he asserts that “police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me”. However, that does not appear to be substantiated by Staffordshire Police, which continues to refer to Baker as “the victim”. It seems that Hemming has extrapolated his conclusion from the fact that he was never arrested, writing on Twitter that “by not arresting me it is clear that [police] believe [the allegations] to be false”. According to Staffordshire Police, there were “over 100 hours of interviews”.

The document partially released by Baker indicates that Staffordshire Police investigated three people: a relative of Baker; a former employer, who admits to having had sexual relations with her; and a politician (i.e. Hemming). According to Mark Watts, who formerly publicised Baker’s claims at the now-defunct Exaro News website, other police forces are still considering further allegations. Baker complains that her former employer has in effect admitted to child sex abuse, because she was underage at the time, but it is difficult to see what relevance this has to nationally significant allegations of “VIP abuse”.

Before identifying herself in May 2015, Baker had previously appeared in the media in January 2015 under the name “Becky”. She told Channel 4 News that she had been sexually abused “in a church setting”, and that some of the abusers had been police officers who attended the church. This was broadcast on 5 January, and the context for the story was her opposition to plans to disband the Home Office’s child abuse inquiry panel, before which she had given evidence in December 2014.

On 10 January she gave a quote to Exaro News expressing opposition to the inquiry becoming “judge-led” statutory inquiry; she also condemned “character assassination” against Graham Wilmer, who was a member of the panel (3). Three days after that, she published a commentary piece on Exaro, in which she complained about “the power plays of a small faction”, and explained that she had engaged with the inquiry as “an excerise in empowerment” suggested by her counsellor.

Hemming was among the MPs who had called for the setting up of a national inquiry during 2014; he has a long-standing interest in child protection (although his interventions have not always been well-judged), and it appears that it was within this context that Baker became aware of him and thought she recognised him as someone who had abused her over several years some time in the past. In October 2014, Hemming had called for Fiona Woolf to stand down from heading the inquiry due to social links with members of “the establishment” who would come under investigation; this was opposed by Wilmer, who disassociated from the inquiry in February 2015.

[UPDATE: Baker has now published a screenshot which indicates that she had accused Hemming privately to a third party at the end of January 2015]

The day before the Sky News item was broadcast, Wilmer wrote on Twitter “They attacked Fiona Wolf because she’d dined with Leon [Brittan]. But they feted [Keith] Vaz, who publicly supported Lord Janner. They will be exposed” (3). In June 2015, one of Baker’s supporters on Twitter suggested that “two survivors” may have “been paid by a paedo ex-Lib Dem MP to cause chaos”. Thus one faction in the conflict within the nascent inquiry found itself being associated with paedophilia due to a complaint made by a member of another faction. Small world.

After Baker had waived her right to anonymity, the “church setting” was tweaked into accounts of orgies in the woodland area of Cannock Chase; the cops were not just members of her church, but actually stood guard during the proceedings. VIPs were also involved, with a judge who was addressed as “M’Laud” participating. Although Baker did not refer to any explicit “Satanic” element, the similarity with Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations is striking. Baker was also allegedly taken by night to Dolphin Square in London, and returned in the morning; another Dolphin Square accuser, named only as “Darren”, says that he saw her there, and she in turn has endorsed his claims about a “medical room” at the location.

Somewhat oddly, Baker at first maintained that she was distinct from Becky, referring “Becky and I” in some Tweets; this distinction was dropped as Baker became a commentator on the subject of child sex abuse. In August 2016 she appeared on Newsnight to discuss the IICSA (an appearance praised by Sarah Champion MP), and in February this year she appeared on the conspiracy podcast The Richie Allen Show to express how “The Police Talking About Ted Heath’s Crimes Gives Me Hope For Justice”. She also continues to assert that Operation Midland’s “Nick” was telling the truth (e.g. here).

The CPS decision is a second set-back for Baker and her supporters in recent months – back in May the case against two people she had accused of stalking was dropped. Watts is now keen to stress that a CPS decision not to proceed is not evidence that an allegation is false, but that’s a point that would be easier to take had the existence of police investigations not formerly been reported so triumphantly and boastfully, with Watts and Baker making jokes about “green bottles” falling.

It is also a set-back for John Mann MP, a grandstander who endorsed the allegations against Hemming as “credible” and promised more to come; Mann gave a similar assurance when Harvey Proctor’s house was raided by police.

Hemming also has harsh words for his Labour Party election rival, Jess Phillips:

Some members of the Labour Party, including my opponent in the last two General Elections, have invested considerable time in promoting these allegations. The promotion of the complainant as an expert in this subject area as a consequence of these allegations has caused addtional difficulties for my family.

I am not myself aware of another situation where members and supporters of a political party have promoted such allegations in such a public manner – essentially arming the villagers with torches and pitchforks and setting off on a lynching. There were public attempts to prevent me from standing as a candidate because of allegations made maliciously by a Labour Party member backed by other members of the Labour Party. Many Labour members will find this unacceptable and it is an issue that needs consideration by the Labour leadership.

Baker and Phillips have communicated on Twitter from time to time: on eve of the 2015 election Phillips told her that “I will think of you every time I feel like giving up!” Shortly afterwards, Baker said that she had joined the Labour Party (winning praise from Stephen Twigg and Sarah Champion), and she and Phillips met in June 2015. During the same period, Phillips Tweeted to Baker and others that she had blocked Hemming on Twitter after having received “creepy” comments from him. The Mail on Sunday Diary column noted:

Lib Dem John Hemming, dumped by voters at the Election, sent a shiver through Labour’s Jess Phillips – his successor as the MP for Birmingham Yardley – by telling her on Twitter: ‘I hope you are having a nice drink in the Prince of Wales.’

After Phillips’ protests that it was ‘creepy tweeting my location’, Hemming tells Dog: ‘It is bad enough her pushing me out of my parliamentary seat, but pushing me out of my local pub is a rum do.’

Footnotes

(1) It’s not clear what the point of this theatrical flourish was – it gave the impression of being some sort of “test”, but it was not a test that it was possible for the subject to fail. The documentary also focused on Richard Kerr, as I noted here.

(2) [UPDATE] This obviously implies that there was nothing to implicate Hemming other than Baker’s own testimony. However, Exaro‘s Mark Watts presents this detail as if means that Hemming has got off on a technicality, writing: “CPS says that it decided not to charge ex-MP John Hemming with child sexual abuse b/c Esther Baker had identified him from an image online.” In fact, however, the “Turnbull guidelines”, which require a judge to warn a jury about the possibility of mistaken identity, are a general instruction and do not specifically pertain to online images.

(3) I noted Vaz and Janner here.

A Note on an Austrian Study on Islamist Radicalization

Here’s one I missed, from early August. From Die Tagespost, via Google translate:

What role does religion play in islamist radicalization processes? The Islamic theologian Ednan Aslan, who works at the University of Vienna, investigated this question in 29 biographical interviews with delinquent Muslims (26 of them in prisons, three in juvenile institutions) in Austria. Two-thirds of the men surveyed have Russian citizenship and are ethnic Chechens. The most important result of the study is that the active debate “with content, norms and values ​​of the Islamic doctrine” plays a decisive role in the radicalization. “This intensive examination of theological issues is a turning-point in many of the interviewees in their lives, and the majority of them are positively evaluated.”

It is clear that the majority of the respondents came from a Muslim religious home and knew the foundations of Islam before radicalization. The widespread view that radical Muslims have mostly little knowledge of their religion, has not been confirmed in this study, says the 310-page book. The author admits, however, that those studies, which see religion as the main cause of Islamic radicalization, are in the minority. His conclusion: “Regardless of their religious knowledge, a radicalized person sees in theology an offer that lends meaning and structure to their lives.” (1)

The story was picked up across the border by Welt, tagged as “Deutschland” despite pertaining to Austria. That article contrasted the findings with a recent study conducted in Germany, which found that juvenile radicalisation was due to a “Lego-Islam” disconnected from the tradition. The German study was based on an analysis of messages on WhatsApp. (2)

References to the Welt article then made their way into English, where the piece was deployed polemically on conservative websites. Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch provided a translation, although he also incorporated a link to a different article called “Why Islam is so immune to reform”, which he misleadingly presented as a sub-heading within the translation. A few days later the British Barnabas Fund also referred to Welt; their post then got picked by CBN, from where it has spread to other Christian websites.

These derivative English articles present Aslan’s research not as a new contribution that needs to be placed alongside other studies as part of a wider picture, but as a definitive rebuttal of all commentary that has come before it, significant as proof that Islam itself is the inspiration and explanation for extremism. In these articles, the specific Russia/Chechen context of many of Aslan’s interview subjects disappears from view, and there is no direct reference to the source itself: Islamistische Radikalisierung Biografische Verläufe im Kontext der religiösen Sozialisation und des radikalen Milieus. The work can be accessed from the University of Vienna website here.

Aslan is a “liberal” Muslim of Turkish heritage, and he is also known for a study into Islamic Kindergartens that proved to be a source of controversy over alleged changes that were made to it (it was removed from the university website, but can be seen here and here). Aslan has published a number of academic book on Islam, in German and in English.

Footnote

(1) The original article was paywalled by the newspaper after a week, although the text remains available on a web-capture page. Here’s the text translated above:

Welche Rolle spielt die Religion in islamistischen Radikalisierungsprozessen? Dieser Frage hat der an der Universität Wien wirkende islamische Theologe Ednan Aslan in 29 biografischen Interviews mit straffälligen Muslimen (26 von ihnen in Gefängnissen, drei in Jugendeinrichtungen) in Österreich nachgespürt. Zwei Drittel der befragten Männer haben die russische Staatsbürgerschaft und sind ethnische Tschetschenen. Das wichtigste Ergebnis der Studie ist wohl, dass die aktive Auseinandersetzung „mit Inhalten, Normen und Wertvorstellungen der islamischen Lehre“ bei der Radikalisierung eine maßgebliche Rolle spielt. „Diese intensive Auseinandersetzung mit theologischen Themen stellt bei vielen Befragten einen Wendepunkt in ihrem Leben dar, der mehrheitlich positiv bewertet wird.“

Aufschlussreich ist, dass der Großteil der Befragten aus einem gläubigen muslimischen Elternhaus stammt und die Grundlagen des Islam bereits vor der Radikalisierung kannte. Die weit verbreitete Ansicht, radikale Muslime hätten meist nur eine geringe Kenntnis ihrer Religion, habe sich in dieser Untersuchung nicht bestätigt, heißt es in dem 310 Seiten starken Werk. Der Autor räumt allerdings ein, dass international jene Studien, die Religion als hauptursächlich für islamistische Radikalisierung sehen, in der Minderheit sind. Sein Fazit: „Unabhängig von ihrem religiösen Wissensstand sieht eine radikalisierte Person in der Theologie ein Angebot, das ihrem Leben Sinn und Struktur verleiht.“

This was published on 2 August; there was also a piece published the day before in Kosmo, an Austrian magazine aimed at residents with connections to the Balkans.

(2) The German study is published by Springer as “Lasset uns in sha’a Allah ein Plan machen”: Fallgestutzte Analyse der Radikalisierung einer WhatsApp-Gruppe; the authors are Michael Kiefer, Jörg Hüttermann, Bacem Dziri, Rauf Ceylan, Viktoria Roth, Fabian Srowig and Andreas Zick. Springer also publishes some of Aslan’s works.

A Note on Conor Burns MP and his “Hacking” Claim

From the Independent, several days ago:

A Conservative MP and parliamentary aide to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has claimed his Twitter account was “hacked” after tweets were sent to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, demanding publish details of the UK’s payment obligations to Brussels.

…Mr Burns was accused of embarrassing the UK and his boss the Foreign Secretary, by taking to social media to criticise the EU’s chief negotiator.

But hours later, the MP for Bournemouth West deleted the tweets and said: “Have been out on visits since 10am this morning. Home to find both twitter and email hacked. Passwords changed.”

The paper quotes law commentator David Allen Green as noting that the supposed hacker has an “impressive” knowledge of EU law.

Burns has not spoken about the matter in any further detail, despite social media users accusing him outright of making it up and an undertone of incredulity in some of the media reports. Did the hacker access confidential emails pertaining to government business? Have private messages from constituents been compromised? Burns appears to be under no pressure from journalists or party superiors to explain what exactly the alleged “hacking” entailed, or to substantiate his claim.

Expectations as regards truthfulness from politicians have perhaps never been particularly high, and only the most stern moralist would censure a public figure for a face-saving misrepresentation after some private embarrassment (“a bad reaction to medication” for an alcohol-related indiscretion, for example).

But in this instance, Burns has explained away a blunder in his performance as a public servant by presenting himself as the victim of an illegal hostile act. Surely this deserves a bit more interrogation than a giggle and a wink?

This is not a trivial matter. One recalls Lucy Allen’s inability to properly account for how the words “unless you die” were added at her end to a hostile email she received, or Nadine Dorries’s many and varied false allegations and vicious distortions. There are of course examples from the other parties, but it is not unreasonable to be particularly concerned with members of the party currently in power.

Politicians escaping scrutiny as regards kind of thing is corrosive – yet these days newspapers simply regurgitate Tweets rather than dig into what may or may not be true.

Trump Described as a Gift from God in Oval Office Prayer For Hurricane Harvey Victims

And now you have given us a gift, President Donald Trump”

From the Washington Times:

President Trump has signed a declaration designating Sunday as a “Day of Prayer” for Hurricane Harvey victims.

The president said that is was appropriate “during times of great need to ask for God’s blessing and God’s guidance.”

He singed the declaration Friday after meeting with faith leaders in the Oval Office.

A transcript of the event can be read on the White House website here. Trump introduced the “faith leaders” thus:

And behind me, we have faith-based people who are highly respected, and especially so in their communities where they’re not only respected, but they’re loved — evangelical leaders, Christian leaders — many people of faith.

“Many people of faith” hints at a broad range of religious traditions, but those who spoke to thank Trump for signing the declaration and for overseeing disaster relief were mostly members of his Evangelical Executive Advisory Board (1) (Tom Mullins, Ralph Reed, Harry Jackson, and Paula White), alongside veteran Christian Right activist Gary Bauer and Frank Page (leader of the Southern Baptist Convention) and an unidentified “participant”. A photo of the occasion shows 15 or so “faith leaders” crowding around Trump – I don’t know them all, but there is no-one present who is recognisably from outside this strand of American Christianity (and White is the only woman).

There was also a prayer from Pastor Robert Jeffress, which Trump introduced ahead of the signing:

So I’m going to sign it, and then a few of the folks will say a few words, and Pastor Jeffress will say a prayer for not only the people so affected — so horribly affected by Hurricane Harvey, but for the people of the nation and, in fact, the people of our world.

The transcript does not record the prayer itself; as with some other White House pages, it merely indicates in brackets that “a prayer is offered”. However, a video of the prayer is available on CBN’s website, alongside the headline “National Day of Prayer: Read President Trump’s Full Statement Here”. For some reason, though, the “full statement” is not in fact present, and although the page did formerly have a transcript of Jeffress’s prayer even that is no longer available.

Here’s what Jeffress said (emphasis added):

Father, your word says, if your people who are called by your name will humble themselves and pray and seek your face, you will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Father, I thank you that we have a president, President Donald Trump, who believes in the power of prayer. We thank you for a vice president like Vice President Pence, who works alongside of him. And we thank you that the president had the wisdom to call our nation right now for a day of prayer this coming weekend, Father. This is what we need.

We pray for healing for our country. We pray for physical healing for those who have suffered the devastation from hurricane Harvey. Father, be with them. Provide for their needs. Help us to be the embodiment of Jesus Christ as we minister to them. But Father, we also want to pray for spiritual healing, emotional healing for our country.

This country has been bitterly divided for decades upon decades. And now you have given us a gift, President Donald Trump, who wants to bring healing to this country. And he is bringing healing to this country. And I pray that you would give him and Vice President Pence the wisdom they need to truly make our country the country you want us to be.

We want America to be great again. And we know that America can only be great, if America is good. And we know we have a president who wants to make America good. I pray your blessing upon him, the first lady, their family. Give them wisdom as they seek to honor you.

And we pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came and died and rose again that we might have eternal life. It’s in his name that we pray. Amen.

The segue from reflection on those who have suffered loss in Texas to blatant political partisanship and unabashed political triumphalism would be laughable were it not so distasteful.

Right Wing Watch‘s Brian Tashman has Tweeted some commentary:

Robert Jeffress is the same pastor who said Satan is behind homosexuality, Islam, Mormonism and Roman Catholicism [Link; sources here and here]

Ramiro Pena, behind Trump, is a right-wing pastor from [Jim] Bakker’s “there’ll be a civil war if Trump’s impeached” [Link and source]

Harry Jackson said gay marriage is caused demonic activity and gays recruit kids like Hitler [Link and source]

Paula White recently said that opposition to Trump is opposition to God [Link and source]

Gary Bauer, who thinks gay people have sex with 150 people per year, also with Trump [Link and source]

Of course Ralph Reed, notorious for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff casino lobbying scandal, was with Trump [Link and source]

Ramiro Pena, behind Trump, pushed the discredited Seth Rich conspiracy hoax [Link and source]

I’ve previously blogged on White (dubbed “Trump’s God Whisperer” by the media) here; and a few days ago I noted Jeffress’s endorsement of a book called God and Donald Trump, which Jeffress enthused over as “a much-needed look at the undeniable hand of God working in our nation’s most recent presidential election”.

Some of the figures present in the Oval Office yesterday were also present at an earlier meeting with Evangelical leaders in July, after which Jeffress posted a photograph of himself with Trump to Facebook, describing it as “the ultimate selfie”.

UPDATE: A photo from the meeting is now Trump’s Twitter banner:

Footnote

(1) The Evangelical Executive Advisory Board was announced on Trump’s website in June 2016 as “a new executive board convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America”, along with a list of members. That page has since been consigned to Wayback, but the list remains available on some other websites. The body is sometimes referred to as the “Religious Advisory Council”, “Religious Advisory Board” or “Faith Board”, which obscures its true nature.

Two members have resigned since it was formed: Pastor James McDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago left in October 2016, after Trump’s lewd “grab them by the pussy” comments came to light, while Pastor A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, whose mother was black, recently quit over Trump’s initial comments on violence in Charlottesville.

WND Describes Israeli Rabbinical Court as “Sanhedrin”

A bizarre headline at WND:

Sanhedrin bans all Messianic Jewish marriages in Israel

The state of Israel’s religious establishment is taking its persecution of Messianic Jewish believers in Jesus to a new level.

A rabbinic court, or Sanhedrin, has ruled that a Jew who believes in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is no longer considered a Jew for purposes of marriage in Israel. This makes it impossible for two Messianic Jews to get married inside the country.

This use of the term “Sanhedrin” here by WND‘s Leo Hohman is misleading, for three reasons.

First, the connotation of the word is a religious court with the power to deal with criminal matters, and to enforce religious rules through criminal penalties – akin to the situation in Iran, for instance. This hardly applies to rabbinical courts in Israel, which deal only with certain civil matters.

Second, Israel’s rabbinical courts do not use the word “Sanhedrin” to describe themselves. The correct term for a rabbincal court is Beit Din (or Beth Din), which literally means “House of Judgement”. The author’s source, Haaretz, shows the court building in Tel Aviv where the decision was made; above the entrance is written in Hebrew:

בית הדין הרבני האזורי תל-אביב

The English underneath reads “The Rabbinical Court of Tel-Aviv”, although the Hebrew also includes the word “Regional” (אזורי). “Beit Ha-Din” are the first two Hebrew words (reading right-to-left); the next word “הרבני”, meaning “the rabbinical”, is perhaps a redundancy coming after “בית הדין” but presumably denotes the court’s status as an official arm of Israel’s Rabbinate.

The word “Sanhedrin” (סנהדרין), in contrast, is not present, as it would not be appropriate. The word does appear in places on the rabbinical court website, but usually in relation to a section of the Talmud with that name. Books and articles discussing modern Israel’s rabbinical courts do not refer to them as “Sanhedrins” either.

Third, there is a group in Israel that calls itself the Sanhedrin, but this is a theocratic and fundamentalist project that lacks any official standing. However, WND articles have cited its existence as evidence of the further restoration of ancient Israel in the modern world as a sign of the Last Days (“extremely relevant to students of Bible prophecy”, according to Hal Lindsey).

Hohman (or an editor) perhaps chose the word “Sanhedrin” because of its Biblical connotations – reflecting a Christian Zionist tendency to conflate modern and ancient Israel, and in the context of rabbinical hostility to Messianic Jews perhaps also recalling the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin as described in the New Testament.

Hohman goes on to quote two Messianic Jews on the subject of the court’s decision: Michael Brown, who is one of the more moderate and sensible voices at Charisma News, and Zev Porat, who is based in Tel Aviv. Porat is an enthusiast of a WND book claiming that the elderly kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri found Jesus shortly before he died in 2005; the work is by none other than the birther and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Carl Gallups.

The lack of secular marriage in Israel is a long-standing problem; for Israeli Jews who are denied the right to a rabbinically approved marriage for one reason or another the usual solution is to get married overseas, most conveniently in Cyprus.

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 there are no paternal relatives, and the father is absent. 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.

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 News Israel 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.