Exhibition Notice at Welsh Assembly Hints at “VIP Paedophile” Claims

From the website of the National Assembly for Wales (emphasis added):

Calendar Event
EXHIBITION: Wall of Silence
Date: Monday 27 June 2016 to Sunday 3 July 2016

Location: Pierhead Main Hall

Description: The Wall of Silence is the inspiration of Carl. Carl grew up in Powys and is in recovery from child sexual abuse. He was abused by some powerful people and is now decades on seeking justice… He came up with the concept of the Wall of Silence which has seen a huge variety of photographs, poems, stories, paintings and other mediums sent to him by survivors and victims from across the UK…. The Survivors Trust Cymru has worked with Carl to bring this exhibition to Wales supporting Welsh survivors to have a voice…

An article about the display can be read on the website of the Cambrian News. The exhibition has been on tour since January; it started at Colston Hall in Bristol and subsequently travelled to City Hall in London (where it was part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Awareness Week) and to Avon and Somerset Police HQ North Somerset.

The exhibition was organised by the Southmead Project, a Bristol-based therapy service, in collaboration with RAVSCA (Raising Awareness for Victims & Survivors of Child Abuse) – which was created by Carl himself – and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). According to the Wall of Silence website: “Carl is in recovery from child sexual abuse: his story is one of extreme terror, mental turmoil, heartbreak, sadness and fear”. However, there is no specific reference there to “powerful people”.

The exhibition has certainly given a platform to individuals who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, and it will have done good if it encourages genuine victims to speak out, or at least to feel less isolated.

But this vague reference to “some powerful people” is problematic, it seems to me. Of course, a powerful person can be an abuser, but so can all sorts of people. What purpose does the phrase “abused by some powerful people” serve on the Assembly website, other than to imply that this was a particular aggravating factor in Carl’s abuse? And what can we conclude from that, other than that this is a vague reference to “VIP paedophiles”?

This impression is confirmed by the distinctive drawing used to represent Carl on the Wall of Silence website: a silhouette of a hunched and brooding boy, overlaid with red hand-prints. This was the well-known avatar on Twitter of “Carl Survivor”, who Tweeted for a period as @carl_survivor and as @ravsca1. Both accounts went offline a few months ago, but some of what he had to say can still be gleaned from his interactions with others; it can quickly be established that this was the same person, and that he did indeed claim to have been the victim of VIP paedophiles – including none other than Leon Brittan.

It seems to me that there is a odd disconnect between the sensational and specific claims made by Carl on Twitter and the the more generic way they have been presented by the “Wall of Silence”. There has also been no explanation for his sudden disappearance from social media earlier this year, despite the fact that at the time he was being lauded as a kind of inspirational role model and gaining a public profile as an advocate on the subject (although he chose to maintain his legal right to anonymity).

And now we find claims about being “abused by powerful people” appearing on a governmental website as a passing detail and without apparently attracting controversy or comment. Given the background context here, that’s a bit odd in itself.

Ultra-Orthodox Messianism in Israel Is “Exciting News” For US Evangelicals

WND reports:

Top rabbis: Unmistakable signs of Messiah coming

A conversation between two of the most distinguished rabbis in Israel indicates scholars of the Torah see unmistakable signs of the coming of the Messiah. What’s more, in the Messianic era, Christians will become a source of Torah learning, as believers in Jesus Christ rediscover the source of their beliefs in both Judaism and the Torah.

The conversation took place between Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, both of whom are regarded as leading experts in the Torah.

During the conversation, Rabbi Kanievsky reportedly predicted the imminent coming of the Messiah, before the end of the year after the Shemitah….

Rabbi Sternbuch contested the timing, and said before the Messiah will come, the Christians and the Arabs will “come to Israel.” [*] Rabbi Kanievsky added “all the non-fruit bearing trees in Israel will bear fruit,” meaning Christians will be learning Torah. Thus, the breach between Christians and Jews will be healed, as both communities turn to the study of God’s Word.

WND cites a site called Breaking Israel News, and goes on to add enthusiastic commentary from its stable of “End Times” authors: Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, of Harbinger fame; Mark Biltz, who developed the “Blood Moon Tetrad” eschatological theory; the birther activist Carl Gallups, who once argued that Jesus named Barack Obama as Satan and who wrote a book about how an ancient kabbalist living in Israel had supposedly accepted Jesus just before his death; and Bill Cloud, author of Esau Rising: Ancient Adversaries and the War for America’s Soul:

Cloud says the consequences of this kind of teaching spreading among Jews could be earth-shattering.

“This is exciting news because it demonstrates how many Christians and many Jews are recognizing that Messiah’s coming is near and how that portends a reconciliation between the two,” he said. “In my view, as Christians awaken to what they have been blind to – an obligation to keep the Torah – it will provoke our Jewish friends to see what they have been blind to – the identity of the Messiah.”

Some context for this thinking can be found in a post I wrote about links between evangelical/fundamentlist Christianity and Judaism a while back.

Breaking Israel News describes itself as offering

a fresh and Biblical perspective on the latest news from Israel and the Middle East. Our bias is not liberal or conservative – just Biblical. Breaking Israel News was started in July 2013 by Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Director of Israel365, after thousands of Jewish and Christian Zionists requested more news items and insight from Israel. Since its inception, the site has grown tremendously. Breaking Israel News is visited by over 100,000 people every day from over 100 countries around the world and averages 2.5 million page-views per month.

Ultra-orthodox rabbis ruminating about the the coming of the Messiah appears to be one of the site’s stock themes, culled from ultra-Orthodox news sources:  just over a year ago, the same site reported Kanievsky as warning people not to travel outside Israel due to the imminence of the event, while other articles include an account of how Rabbi Aharon Shtern had “revealed an astounding teaching handed down from father to son for untold generations regarding the End of Days”, which related to conflict between Russia and Turkey.

However, the information conveyed appears to be somewhat selective: for instance, the article used by WND neglects to mention that Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch is actually a leader in the anti-Zionist strand of ultra-Orthodoxy.

Other recent “prophecy” articles on the site include “End of Days Yellowstone Volcano Prophesied in Zechariah“; “Disaster Comet Nibiru Coming to Cleanse the World, Says Jewish Academic“; “Global Warming Prophesied as Punishment for Not Building Temple“; “The World is Facing the Final War of Gog and Magog Says Rabbinic Scholar“; and “Bible Codes Reflect What Brexit Wrought for Europe“(the “expert” here predictably found his code confirmation after the event, although another code-related article chances a Clinton win in November).

Tuly Weisz is an American Orthodox Rabbi who moved to Israel in 2011, and he maintains strong links with Evangelicals. He was formerly Co-Director of “Teach for Israel”, which describes itself as “an organization connecting rabbis and Christian leaders, Jews and Christians in their mutual Biblical love for Israel.”

****

* Footnote

Sternbuch is quoted:

“We have an ancient authenticated hand-written manuscript from the Rambam (a Spanish Torah authority from the twelfth century), in which he says that before the coming of the Messiah, the Christians and the Ishmaelites (Arabs) will come to Israel,” he pointed out.

The manuscript the rabbi referred to is a recent version of the Rambam’s Mishnah Torah, recently published with restored sections censored by medieval Christian authorities.

Presumably this is a reference to Laws of Kings 11:4, which included a passage about Jesus. Maimonides wrote that it was “obvious” Jesus had not been the Messiah, and he said that Jesus had been “instrumental in changing the Torah and causing the world to err and serve another beside God”. However:

All these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite [Mohammed] who came after him only served to clear the way for King Messiah prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord… Thus the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become familiar topics – topics of conversation [among the inhabitants] of the far isles and many people, uncircumcized of heart or flesh. They are discussing these matters and the commandments of the Torah…

But when the true King Messiah will appear and succeed… they will forthwith recant and realize that they have inherited nothing but lies from their fathers, that their prophets and forbears led them astray.

In December, an Orthodox Rabbinic statement on Christianity, titled To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven:  Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians, cited this passage as evidence that Maimonides here “acknowledge[s] that the emergence of Christianity in human history is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations.”

It is clear the passage refers to Christians and Muslims accepting the truth of Judaism, rather than actually moving to Israel. However, Breaking Israel News takes Sternbuch’s “come to Israel” quote literally, and goes on to observe increasing numbers of Christians and Muslims living in the area since 1948.

English Churchman Promotes Satanic Ritual Abuse Claims

Expanded

From the latest issue of the English Churchman (24 June and 1 July 2016, p. 3 – screenshot via Anna Raccoon here):

Christians Demand Action Against Satanist Ritual Abuse
by Wilfred Wong

Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) exists in Britain and is a growing problem, harming and destroying the lives of an increasing number of children and vulnerable adults because the UK authorities are simply not taking this crime seriously, a conference in London of about 60 Christians heard on Saturday 21 May. The conference was organised by the Christian organisation, the Coalition Against Satanist Ritual Abuse (CASRA).

An earlier and expanded version on the magazine’s Facebook page adds that CASRA “was founded in February 2014 to provide a permanent UK organisation that campaigns against SRA, conducts research on this issue and publicly exposes it.” Details, however, are scarce.

Wong is a non-practising barrister, and he previously worked as parliamentary officer and researcher for the Jubilee Group and its successor, Jubilee Action, to highlight international humanitarian issues such as the persecution of Christians in Islamic lands and the plight of street children in South America – in 2005 he was praised in parliament for his efforts on the latter subject by Lord Alton. More recently, he has worked for a religious charity that assists impoverished children in Cairo.

However, he has also for many years now been associated with extravagant allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse. As Damian Thompson wrote in 2002, under the headline “The people who believe that Satanists might eat your baby”:

…Yesterday, a private meeting at Westminster, chaired by Lord Alton, discussed assaults on children by hooded, chanting Satanists. “You may be aware,” the organisers said, “that, for several years, there have been reports of the ritual abuse of children and in some cases ritual murder. The rituals reportedly often involve the Black Mass and the wearing of robes. Adult survivors of ritual abuse are divulging important evidence regarding the large scale of this problem in the UK.”

One of the organisers, Wilfred Wong, an evangelical Christian, is campaigning for ritual abuse to be made a specific crime, so that the Satanists – responsible for “hundreds, if not thousands” of sexual assaults and murders – can be brought to justice. “But so far little has been done,” he says plaintively.

Alton apparently said he would keep an open mind on the subject.

However, Wong’s article for the English Churchman is not just more of the same. He continues:

…Robert Green, the leading campaigner on Scotland’s largest, current SRA case, the Hollie Greig case, said that Hollie, a young woman with Down’s Syndrome, had identified 23 alleged Satanist Ritual Abusers, including a senior police officer, 2 Head Teachers, 2 Social Workers and a Judge. Green said that Greig has described not only experiencing SRA but also witnessing the Satanists ritually sacrificing a man. The Scottish Police have refused to thoroughly investigate Greig’s allegations and tried to silence Green by imprisoning him at least twice.

Here’s the actual background on this story, from the Scottish Herald in 2012:

IT is the biggest Scottish story on the internet. A girl with Down’s Syndrome portrayed as the sex slave of a ring of paedophiles for a decade and a half and the victim of a cover-up reaching to the highest law officers and politicians in the land.

…Those named include a prominent sheriff who supposedly abused children at the home of his sister, despite the fact he does not have a sister.

…Four of the “victims” would have been in their 20s at the time of the abuse. Two police investigations have resulted in no charges.

Only one person has been convicted in connection with Hollie Greig: a 66-year-old campaigner from Warrington called Robert Green.

He was jailed earlier this year for harassing those he falsely accused of paedophilia.

Green’s conviction did not make headlines in Scotland. But it did spark international attention on websites such as that of David Icke, the former BBC sports presenter who thinks the world is ruled by lizards.

See also Anna Raccoon’s blog for an in-depth debunking from 2010.

It is important to note that in 2012 the allegation was paedophilia, and an article by Wong that was published last year by Anglican Mainstream states only that Greig was subjected to “sexual abuse”. Yet now Wong presents us with a story about Satanism and human sacrifice.

Wong’s promotion of the Hollie Greig story takes us beyond familiar evangelical Satanic Panic tropes and into a darker conspiracy theory milieu. Wong has featured on Brian Gerrish’s UK Column internet TV show; Gerrish promotes numerous conspiracy theories on his programme and elsewhere (including as a guest on Alex Jones’s Infowars), and last year he helped to promote the vicious but ludicrous “Hampstead” Satanic panic. Wong was asked by Gerrish about the Hampstead claims as part of his interview:

“Because of the sheer gravity of the allegations, the very least the police should do is thoroughly investigate them and not prejudge them, and neither should the media,” Wong says. “We’re only asking the police to do their job.”

This may sound guarded, but I’d be very surprised if Wong ever declares those who were falsely accused of paedophilia and eating babies to be innocent.

Wong is not a well-meaning and energetic campaigner who has gone astray due to an idée fixe, but someone who is actively causing harm to innocent people by promoting and endorsing false allegations. The Hollie Greig story is a clear example of the bone-headed unfalsifiability of conspiracy theorising, with Green’s imprisonment simply confirming the truth of the conspiracy.

As Anna notes in relation to the Hampstead claims:

Mrs Justice Pauffley’s judgment was unequivocal in its condemnation of the damage wrought by the ‘campaigners’ who had latched onto the story. Those who are new to this story may not be aware that these campaigners have kept up their threats to the parents, children, and teachers of this small school for nigh on 2 years now. Each child has an adult accompanying them 24 hours a day, at home, at school, so seriously are the threats to ‘kidnap them and rescue them from this paedophile ring’ taken. The parents and teachers all have CCTV and panic alarms fitted to their homes.

Anna cites Wong’s English Churchman article about Hollie Greig as a further example of how “these deluded and obsessional souls will not stop”.

Footnote

The English Churchman, founded in 1843, represents an old-fashioned kind of “Reformed” fundamentalism. It’s editor, the Reverend Peter Ratcliff, is a minister with a four-church group called the Church of England (Continuing).

Trump Pastor Offers “The Most Explicitly Partisan Prayer Heard at a Major Party Convention in Modern Times”

From Bloomberg, 17 July:

A prominent African American evangelical leader has been added to a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention — a last-minute scheduling change by Trump campaign strategists in the wake the shooting deaths of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Pastor Mark Burns, who often opens for Trump at his campaign rallies, will deliver a speech with a message that focusses on the need for bridging divisions in America.

“Unity — that’s the central theme to my message,” Burns said. “We need to talk about coming together as a nation. I will be talking about unity and love. We must not be focused on our divisions. We are one people. We need unity and love.”

And here’s how that message of “unity and love” panned out the next day – Amy Sullivan reports:

After telling attendees of the Republican National Convention that “Our enemy is not other Republicans but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party,” a South Carolina pastor offered the most explicitly partisan prayer heard at a major party convention in modern times.

…”We are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ,” Burns told delegates, before closing his eyes in prayer.

That the Republican National Convention might feature a religious leader who calls on God to give a Republican candidate “the power and authority to be the next president of the United States of America” may not surprise many who have followed the role of the religious right in American politics over the past few decades. But while some pastors have sometimes offered such prayers within their own churches and communities, party conventions have largely featured religious leaders who make an effort to keep their language nonpartisan.

Burns’s prayer was the Benediction for the RNC’s daytime business – the better-known Paula White (blogged here in 2012 being wrapped in a Torah scroll) gave a second Benediction at the end of the evening session – by which time the convention hall was mostly empty.

Time has the background for White’s involvement:

Last September, White gathered a group of preachers to meet with Trump at Trump Tower, including prominent pentecostal televangelists Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Trinity Broadcasting Network founder Jan Crouch, “Preachers of LA” reality star Clarence McClendon, and newcomers to the national scene like South Carolina pastor Mark Burns.

Trump’s attempt to look pensive and reverent as the preachers laid hands on him was one of the more amusing sights in the history of his campaign.

White has apparently been a “close friend and spiritual mentor” to Trump for 15 years, and she recently announced that “God has His hand” on the candidate. She was also the source of the story that Trump had recently accepted “a relationship with Jesus Christ”, which was made public by James Dobson following Trump’s meeting with 900 evangelical leaders in New York City last month (the “leaders” also included Joseph Farah, whose website WND guided Trump during his birther period). Dobson famously called Trump a “baby Christian”, so as not to raise expectations unrealistically. Also backing Trump is Jerry Falwell Jnr – although there was controversy when Falwell and Trump were photographed in Trump’s office with a framed cover from Playboy in the background.

Bloomberg‘s description of Mark Burns as “prominent” evangelical leader supporting Trump is somewhat circular: unlike White, Burns has achieved prominence because of his association with Trump. Time has a profile by Elisabeth Dias and Diane Tsai:

Trump surrogate Mark Burns, 36, is a televangelist, and he runs a church television studio in Easley with his wife and six children. Trump’s candidacy has thrust Burns into the national political spotlight for the first time. For Burns, it is a sign of God’s blessing. “For someone like Donald Trump to say, ‘Hey, your heart is right, your spirit is right, you’re my real friend, come follow me,'” Burns says, “that speaks volumes.”

And Burns straightway left his net and followed him.

Further RNC Benedictions at are scheduled from Sajid Tarar (Founder of American Muslims for Trump – profiled here), Archbishop Demetrios (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) and Roger W. Gries (Catholic – Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus).

Covering the invocations: Rabbi Ari Wolf and Monsignor Keiran Harrington (Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, NY) spoke yesterday; following up will be Harmeet Dhillon (a trial lawyer from San Francisco), Nathan Johnson (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and Reverend Dr Steve Bailey (New Philadelphia First United Methodist Church).

Bogus Fox News “Terrorism Expert” Sentenced for Fraud

Also: Man who exposed him says “not one ‘conservative’ media outlet wanted anything to do with breaking this story” in 2013

Reuters reports:

A man who has appeared on Fox News as a guest “terrorism analyst” was sentenced to 33 months in prison on Friday on charges that he fraudulently claimed to have been a CIA agent for decades, U.S. prosecutors said.

Wayne Simmons… admitted that he defrauded the government in 2008 when he got work as a team leader in an Army program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence adviser.

He said he made similar false statements in a 2009 bid to get work with the State Department’s Worldwide Protective Service.

Simmons also admitted to defrauding an unidentified woman out of $125,000…

A lengthy account of Simmons’s activities and eventual exposure was published by the New York Times Magazine in March. The author, Alex French, includes a quote from an unnamed manager with the US Army’s Human Terrain System program, who explained that

“Wayne was like a lot of folks taking advantage of the poor screening by the BAE recruiters to draw good pay during training and then cop out.”… “We had a lot of this.” He described Simmons as “a mile wide” and “an inch deep.”

Simmons’s involvement with the Defense Department’s Retired Military Analysts program brought him into direct contact with Donald Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld provided him with an endorsement for a novel, The Natanz Directive. In fact, however, Simmons’s real history, which French says “reveals a certain sort of aimlessness”, involved working as a waiter, managing an “adult themed” hot tub, and semi-professional American football.

A central figure in French’s account is Kent Clizbe, a former CIA officer with his own line in conservative punditry (he is the author of Willing Accomplices: How K.G.B. Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness and Destroyed America). Clizbe first suspected that Simmons was a fraud after meeting him at a lunch in 2010; he compiled “obvious inaccuracies”, and found that no-one in spook circles seemed to know who he was. Clizbe took his concerns to his former boss, who is identified in the story by his middle initial – perhaps regrettably, this happens to be “M.”:

Clizbe pointed out the irregularities in Simmons’s biography, and M. became convinced he was a fraud.

M. alerted Paul Vallely, the retired two-star general who founded Stand Up America, an organization that promotes a conservative foreign-policy agenda through analysis on cable-news networks and talk radio. Vallely met Simmons through Fox News and invited him to serve on the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, a collection of military brass, C.I.A. officers and politicians determined to uncover the truth about the September 2012 embassy attack in Libya. M. remained suspicious when Vallely failed to respond after a month.

French also notes that two other men had suspicions about Simmons: Gary Berntsen, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, and  Colonel David Hunt. Hunt had contacted a senior Fox programming executive, Bill Shine, about Simmons, but to no avail.

Clizbe wrote an article about Simmons in 2013, which he posted to his blog in 2015. On publication, he explained:

I met, spoke with, corresponded with, and shared the results of my vetting with Fox News, other media figures, high-level CIA retirees, the Benghazi group Simmons was closely associated with, and many others. No one was interested in printing this story then.

The “conservative” media has huge problems. Wayne Simmons is a great poster boy for those problems… 

Simmons, when shown a pre-publication copy for his comments, called all his “conservative” protectors to circle their wagons around him. A host of high-level military and CIA retirees (see the Benghazi Committee roster) made clear that they would broach no criticisms of their fake “covert operator,” Simmons. Not one “conservative” media outlet wanted anything to do with breaking this story–in 2013. See the damage done when the truth finally outed in 2015.

That “damage” has included gleeful articles on Media Matters, including one noting that Accuracy on Media had been scrubbing articles about Simmons from its Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi website.

But is this simply a problem of “conservative media”?  In  2002 Christopher Hitchens related that during the 1970s he had

learned the useful lesson that the world of the ‘terrorism expert’ is made up of the most incompetent amateurs.

Certainly, I’ve seen individuals feature in mainstream media who I know for a fact to be frauds.

Pokémon Satanic Panic

From Right Wing Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Pokemon Go Evil, Dangerous or Demonic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new book:

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

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

No editor is given, but the volume is copyrighted to Tom Horn and published by Defender Publishing of Crane, MO, which handles Horn’s various books, such as Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, Project L.U.C.I.F.E.R. and the Vatican’s Astonishing Plan for the Arrival of an Alien Savior, which warns of UFOs heading to the Vatican to install a “serpent savior”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute Opens in Berlin

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

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

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

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

Also involved are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Charisma News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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