Hinn Leaves Legion of Troubles in Uganda

Last month, I looked at Benny Hinn’s recent crusade in Uganda, and noted the controversy involving his host pastor, Robert Kayanja. It may be recalled that Kayanja and other Ugandan evangelists “fell to the ground unconscious” in Hinn’s presence. However, reports suggest that Kayanja was not particularly pleased by the religious experience: the incident would seem to suggest that Hinn is more spiritually powerful than Kayanja, and popular rumour has it that Kayanja and his colleagues had been exorcised by Hinn. Kayanja’s followers are outraged at the suggestion, and one left a comment on my blog, chiding me for even repeating the allegation:

I would advise you to kindly stop critising the power and people of God.U dont have cruel what curse u may be causing to yourself. This is about Pr kayanja.How cld u mention the man of God to be possed by demons? thats very wrong.Thakx

However, Ugandan media is undeterred, and reports on the latest development (all parentheses in original):

Maria (or Jajja Hornsleth, as the old woman is popularly called by her neighbours, after the Danish project artist who gave Maria her first piglet) keeps her 32 pigs on the Mukono-Kayunga Road, at what would be a safe 20 miles from Namboole [Nelson Mandela National Stadium, where Pastor Hinn’s crusade was]. Her nightmare began immediately after Pastor Hinn’s greatest hour.

The pigs have apparently started to act strangely:

…Maria’s neighbourhood is now pure mayhem. The monsters have been tearing up and devouring anything they can get their snouts on. The mud walls of the sty are down. Clothes are ripped from their lines. Potato gardens have been dug up. A neighbour’s ducks have been mauled and partly eaten. The pigs dragged the mutilated corpses to the sty and trampled over them just for the ffujjo, the hell of it.

Poor Maria’s neighbours are all angry. She cannot appeal to the local pastors, the original hosts of the demons. Pastor Hinn, the trouble-maker, is already far away. A witchdoctor has offered to cleanse the pigs, if Maria will pay with a black goat and a piece of bark-cloth. But far more troubling, the witchdoctor says the demons would then inevitably return to the pastors.

However, another foreign evangelist is about to fly in, so perhaps he can help out:

BARELY a month after the exciting Benny Hinn crusades, Ugandans are already warming up for another American preacher. Dr. Creflo Dollar will be in Uganda on June 13, 2007 also at Mandela National stadium, Namboole.

While Hinn ministered with a miraculous healing anointing, Dollar is expected to deliver teaching on prosperity…”This is a meeting to destroy the spirit of poverty. It is good to be healed but it is another thing if you cannot pay your bills,”

…Unlike at the Hinn crusades when taxi fares from Namboole were hiked, this time UTODA is designating 500 taxis which will have stickers identifying them at an affordable price…A team of American businessmen will be sharing wealth-creating tips and it will be an opportunity to network. Dollar will also speak exclusively to pastors and leaders at Rubaga Miracle Centre and at a private government meeting at Munyonyo.

Families Seeking “Christian Republic” Move to South Carolina

Onenewsnow carries an AP report:

The leader of a small group that ultimately wants to secede from the United States and form a Christian republic is preparing to move to the South Carolina county his organization has picked as a good base of operations.

…Cory Burnell, leader of Christian Exodus, said he has found a job and is ready to move his family and operations by July from California to Anderson, in the state’s northwest corner.

His family, which includes his wife and three children, will join more than a dozen other like-minded families already living in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Burnell said he expects another two dozen families in his movement to move to the area by 2008.

Burnell’s plan got considerable coverage back in 2004, at which point he was claiming “50,000” supporters were planning to join him. I did a bit of background digging at the time, and noted that the plan was a revamp of an earlier “Confederate States of America Project”. Burnell rails against the “socialist populace” of the United States, and he was a member of the Texas Constitution Party.

This political background is glossed over by Onenewsnow, but Christian Exodus has a helpful newsletter in which Burnell lays out his self-described paleo-conservative  agenda more fully – paper money being a particular target, since “notes are essentially backed by the indentured servitude of the American people.”

There’s also a charming comic strip. Here’s an extract:

OSCE Conference Considers “Combating Discrimination”

US Ambassador: “Let’s focus only on anti-Semitism”

Kazakhstan: an “oasis of stability and religious accord”

Bucharest has just hosted the latest OSCE “Conference on Combating Discrimination and Promoting Mutual Respect and Understanding”, following on from a 2005 event (and hot on the heels of the “Summit on Peace and Tolerance” in Kiev). Its conclusion was hardly ground-breaking:

Intolerance and discrimination could threaten global security, and the OSCE’s participating States need to strengthen efforts to avert this threat, the Organization’s Chairman-in-Office, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, told a high-level meeting today.

“This conference shows the OSCE’s unwavering commitment to promote freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief,” Minister Moratinos said, addressing participants of the two-day conference.

The conference highlighted hate crimes in various countries, with particular attention given to anti-Semitism. In fact, the US ambassador went so far as to argue that the conference didn’t need to bother with anything else:

The U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, Julie Finley, made an imperative call on member states to act against anti-Semitism, saying the tools created for this would also work to fight other intolerance. “Let’s focus only on anti-Semitism. The others will take care of themselves,” she said.

Plus it’s a handy way to avoid getting into any discussion of racism in the United States, of course.The view appeared to be that anti-Semitism is a trans-historical phenomenon. Elie Wiesel set the tone, in a video message:

“Anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hatred in history and is the only one of the serious illnesses of the 20th century which has survived and is still around, with communism and Nazism mostly gone now.”

Israeli minister Isaac Herzog continued in similar vein:

“Anti-Semitism is like cancer, it can lay dormant in the body and then awaken suddenly; ugly and cruel… We are here to form a coalition of nations who will fight anti-Semitism and we must all take an active role in this struggle and in educating against anti-Semitism.”

Conference delegates agreed that criticism of Israel is often really anti-Semitism. However, there does not appear to have been any attempt to analyze seriously the extent to which anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel overlap or are distinct; this leaves the impression that any criticism is likely to be seen as anti-Semitic – the flipside of which, of course, will be the equally unwarranted view that claims of anti-Semitism are just cover for Israel. The JTA adds the detail that

European leaders are now discussing, with Israel’s participation, how to improve the country’s image.

What efforts Israel itself might undertake to “improve the country’s image” does not appear to be such an urgent subject of discussion.

However, despite Finley’s “imperative call”, other forms of discrimination were discussed. Jordan emphasized problems faced by Muslims:

HRH Prince Hassan on Thursday called for a re-humanisation of the world order, pointing out that a culture of compliance to international humanitarian standards was required for all players on the world stage…[T]he Prince called for justice and equality in development [and] emphasised that in today’s world, Muslim children are the greatest victims of suffering caused by ill-conceived foreign policies…The Prince reminded Romania’s leaders that extremism was not a natural product of Islam nor of Arabic culture.

The conference also gave an opportunity for Belarussian dissidents to speak out:

Attending the two-day conference are Uladzimir Lameka, Belarus’ deputy authorized representative on religious and national affairs; Yakaw Basin, deputy chairman of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities; and Syarhey Lukanin, a lawyer of Minsk-based New Life Church.

In an interview with BelaPAN, Mr. Lukanin said that he planned to deliver a speech highlighting violations of Protestant congregations’ rights and “believers’ struggle for their constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and faith” in Belarus.

And as we expect from these kind of events, there were some nice examples of irony. Forum 18 noted the Kazakh contribution:

Addressing the OSCE conference on combating discrimination today (7 June) in the Romanian capital Bucharest, Kazakhstan’s senior religious affairs official Yeraly Tugzhanov boasted that his country is an “oasis of stability and religious accord”. He claimed that there are “no grounds” for discrimination on the basis of religion. He spoke three days after six Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Caspian Sea port of Atyrau were given heavy fines for meeting for worship without registration. Two of the six are pensioners, with only a low income. “

The host country, meanwhile, took the opportunity to bash its neighbours:

The reunion was opened by a speech held by Romania president Traian Basescu, who emphasized on the fact that Romania was the most comprehensive minorities protection legislation but, unfortunately, such laws aren’t found in neighboring states like Hungary, Ukraine or Serbia, where important Romanian communities live.

This would be the same President Basescu who was last month criticized for referring to a troublesome journalist as a “stinky gypsy”.

The US delegation, it is worth noting, was led by Rep Chris Smith, whose contribution to international understanding includes embracing a rumour that the Chinese eat human fetuses as a “health-food”.

According to the JTA, the conference also saw the release of Human Rights First’s 2007 Hate Crimes Survey. The survey, and companion pieces on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia, can be seen here.

Christian Theocracy Comes to West Papua

Plans are underway to introduce Biblical law in the province of West Papua in Indonesia. Indonesia Matters reported in April that the provincial capital, Manokwari, is to become a “Bible city”:

Specifically there are said to be proposed laws against alcohol and prostitution, regulations on dress and worship, including bans on the display of symbols of a “certain religion”, and bans on the building of houses of worship of another religion near a church.

…On 14th May Radio Netherlands interviewed Erna Mahuse, an MP in the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP [the Papuan People’s Council, a coalition of tribal chiefs]). Erna says that Papua wishes to follow the good example of Aceh in implementing religious laws. Papua has special autonomous status, he says, just like Aceh. Sharia has been applied in Aceh satisfactorily because most people there are Muslim. In Papua most people are Christian, and Christianity arrived in Papua before Islam did, so Biblical laws are appropriate.

One local pastor, Sherli Parinusa, is enthusiastic:

Maybe there is a misunderstanding that these kind of laws will create ethnic-religious conflict. The purpose of the laws is to emphasise the uniqueness of an area, like in Aceh, the veranda of Mecca. Here we say that Manokwari is an evangelical city, and peaceful and tolerant.

However, according to a recent editorial in the Jakarta Post, other Christians are less impressed:

The Manokwari council’s plan has met with rejection from the Indonesian Bishops Conference and Communion of Indonesian Churches for obvious reasons…

The Post adds that

…the Manokwari legal draft is just the latest example of how religious extremism combined with political fanaticism is threatening the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural fabric of this nation…Religious extremism has been flourishing since the fall of strongman Soeharto in 1998, exploiting the weak leadership of his successors

…The central government’s inaction against the politicization of religion is undoubtedly dangerous. The proposed Bible-based bylaw in Manokwari and a host of sharia-inspired ordinances elsewhere are ticking like time bombs amid the simmering sectarian conflicts in Ambon and Poso and smaller-scale tensions in other areas.

Last year, the ABC’s Religion Report ran a programme that discussed Christianity in West Papua. According to one of the speakers:

West Papuans are very deeply religious and are very strongly Christian. Christianity first arrived in the region in 1855, and it was always seen as the point in which people began to think themselves as Papuan people, as united people. Christianity had the impact of bringing people together, and giving them a clear sense of identity…To be Papuan is to be Christian, and to be Christian is to be Papuan, and many of the aspirations the Papuans have are very much embedded in their understanding of Christian faith.

Alas, there is very little information in English about the proposed new Christian laws, and so we’re left guessing as to the plan’s real significance. Is this simply about emulating religiously-inspired laws in other parts of Indonesia? Or is this about avenging Christians forced to live under shariah in other provinces by putting local Muslims under similar restrictions (particularly in Aceh, as I blogged here)? Or perhaps it’s about promoting Papuan nationalism, with a view to separatism, or at least to discouraging Muslim migrants from other parts of the country. Worth keeping an eye on.

(Hat tip: Christianity Today Weblog, which I always read through to the end)

Putin Promises Own Salary for “Museum of Tolerance”

News from Russia:

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar told President Putin about a plan to set up a Russian Jewish museum, a Museum of Tolerance.

…’For a few years we have discussed the establishment of a Russian Jewish museum, a Museum of Tolerance. Now the need has become ripe. The aim of this museum is to educate the younger generation for tolerance and respect for one another”, Rabbi Lazar said.

Putin was moved to put his hand in his pocket:

“This is a good idea”, Putin replied, “I promise to transfer my monthly salary to the fund for building this museum”.

The Russian president and Lazar are long-time allies, and back in 2005 they rather bizarrely awarded each other medals. Handing over one’s cash for the cause of interreligious understanding is quite the in thing among the wealthy elite of the CIS these days; just last month I noted how “the Kazakh Trio” of oil billionaires had organised a summit on “Peace and Tolerance”.

But how come Lazar has suddenly decided to extoll the virtue of “tolerance”? After all, this is the guy who complained, in April 2004, that

Reports available to us suggest that more than one million Russian citizens are members of various sects. This is a serious threat. We shouldn’t sit back and wait until something bad happens. We don’t need such sects.

Lazar also backed the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses having even private meetings in Moscow, saying that

there are serious questions about the practice of the Jehovists in Russia; for example, it is completely impermissible that ministers of the faith to force children to cut off relations with their parents if they are not members of the same religious  society.

And, of course, he has also railed against “homosexual propaganda” in the form of gay pride marches:

‘One should see that the only object of this parade is to make a PR action, which is dirty, insulting and indecent,’ Lazar said in his interview to Interfax.

…’They say they hold their parade so that people can understand them. Yet it would be much better if they learn to understand the feelings of other people first and then demand understanding,’ the interviewee is convinced.

This fits in with the Orthodox Church’s new view of “human rights”, in which the human right of religious conservatives not to be offended by homosexuality trumps the right of homosexuals to free expression:

On April 6 [2006], the Tenth World Council of Russian People adopted a “Declaration of Human Dignity and Rights,” a document that appears to challenge the 1948 “Declaration of Human Rights” passed by the United Nations General Assembly. The new Orthodox manifesto openly questions the system of liberal values and effectively calls on Russian society to revise the universally accepted concept of human rights.

…This idea was bluntly expressed at this year’s gathering by none other than Patriarch Alexei II. “To what extent does this [Western] vision of human rights allow an Orthodox people to live in accordance with the faith it professes?” the Russian Church’s spiritual leader asked. Alexei’s personal stance on this issue is crystal clear, as he asserted that the spread of the Western conception of human rights would likely lead to the “revival of neo-paganism.”

But be careful what you say about Alexei, who has just received a miraculous endorsement from God:

Droplets of myrrh came out on the portrait of Patriarch Alexy II on the Trinity Day in the church of St. Alexander Nevsky at the town of Nizhniaya Salda near Yekaterinburg.

‘It is a sign of God! The Lord himself has marked the patriarch’s image to strengthen our faith!’ parishioners say as cited by the Tvoy Den newspaper.

…Having seen the emanation with his own eyes, the archbishop [Vikenty of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye] said, ‘The myrrh may mean the tears of joy. It is through the efforts of His Holiness that the Russian Orthodox Church has united, and the Lord is rejoicing in His children’.

Alexei considers that Putin should also be praised for bringing about the re-unification of the two Russian Orthodox churches, and he recently presented the president with an icon of the “Life-giving Trinity” (an ironic choice, given the fate of so many of Putin’s critics). No doubt the kudos that Alexei will garner from the “miracle” near Yekaterinburg will also radiate across to Putin. Also likely to benefit by contamination is Alexander Lukashenko, the ruler of Belarus; Alexei has heaped awards and praises on the dictator.

Creationist Crack-Up

A weird story in The Australian:

AN unholy war [irritating journalistic cliché – RB] has erupted between a star of the US evangelical movement and his Australian flock, with claims of bullying and unbiblical behaviour.

…A week after former Queensland science teacher Ken Ham opened the world’s first Creation Museum – a $33 million facility in Petersburg, Kentucky – he is being sued by the Australian evangelical organisation he helped to set up and which served as a springboard for his leap into the US evangelical movement two decades ago.

The two groups concerned are, of course, Ham’s US-based Answers in Genesis, and Creation Ministries International, run by Carl Wieland. CMI is planning to sue AiG, and a retired magistrate named Clarrie Briese has put together a report denouncing Ham and all his works:

…Mr Briese found in his report that Mr Ham and his US organisation had launched a campaign after his leadership was challenged by his US deputy, Brandon Vallorani, who was then sacked, and Australian leader Carl Wieland, who was later allegedly the subject of innuendo about his private life.

According to Mr Briese’s report, the campaign last year also involved John Mackay, a former associate of Mr Ham in Queensland, who was excommunicated in the 1980s after making allegations of witchcraft and necrophilia against a fellow member of the ministry.

…In his report, Mr Briese said Mr Ham and the US organisation responded with sackings, bullying and, in some instances, “unbiblical/unethical/unlawful behaviour” towards the Australian ministry that he suspected was intended to send it into bankruptcy.

…”The report recommends that if CMI is to fulfil its fiduciary responsibilities to protect and safeguard the Australian ministry, CMI, and have a recalcitrant Answers in Genesis-USA brought to account for the serious wrongs it has committed,” he said, “CMI has no option left except to bring AiG-USA before the secular courts, the ‘powers that be ordained by God’ under Romans 13.”

Briese is famous in Australia for an event in 1984, when he gave evidence against John Murphy, a high court judge who he claimed had asked him to influence a trial. However, Briese sees Murphy’s crime as small beer compared to graver sins, as he explains on Wieland’s website:

‘Ever since Christ’s bodily Resurrection…we see the existence of corruption in the church’s activities, especially with regard to the interpretation of the Bible…Tragically, there have always been Christian leaders and teachers with a different attitude. They defer to fallible human opinion and reasoning…What Lionel Murphy tried to do, serious as it was, pales into insignificance by comparison.’

Wieland’s website also explains that Briese went on to write a report for CMI, in the wake of Ian Plimer’s book Telling Lies for God:

The book represented an escalation of his desperate campaign to discredit the ministry. Apart from its mocking, lampooning attitude towards the Bible (especially Genesis), there were horrific ethical/moral allegations against CMI and its personnel. And Plimer had powerful allies, not just in the media, who cheerfully assisted his nationwide promotional ‘blitz’. Joining him in some public promotional appearances was a prominent Anglican Archbishop, who wrote the foreword to Telling Lies for God.

…We knew that Clarrie Briese was sympathetic to CMI and subscribed to Creation magazine. So I approached him to chair a committee to formally investigate Plimer’s charges, with ‘no holds barred’, and publish the findings. He says, ‘When I eventually agreed, I was pleased at the makeup of the panel members. Christians from a wide range of denominations and backgrounds, they each had public prominence independent of CMI. One had a strong science background. I was convinced they would not put their reputations at risk by finding otherwise than in accordance with the evidence.’

…This exposé of the atheistic professor and his churchian allies should have been dynamite to the media, but they suddenly lost interest. So CMI published the committee’s report in nationwide newspaper ads.

Australian sceptics, however, tell the story rather differently:

Curiously, for a committee consisting in the main of ministers of religion, it was not asked to investigate “…CSF’s theological position which, as individuals from evangelical churches of different denominations, we may not share in all respects.”, which theological position, it would appear to the casual observer, would be about the only thing this committee was qualified to investigate. Nor was the committee asked to judge “… the validity of the scientific arguments of creation versus evolution, except in so far as they related to allegations of deliberate scientific fraud.” , which, as only one committee member appears to have any scientific qualifications (and that in agricultural chemistry), is probably just as well.

Now let’s see if we have got this straight. The Creation Science Foundation invited certain people to investigate certain claims made in Telling Lies for God; the CSF set the terms of reference for the inquiry (very narrow terms indeed); specifically excluded from the terms the charges in the book, that the creationist’s ‘scientific’ claims were blatantly absurd, could not withstand even cursory critical scrutiny, were deliberately misleading and had neither scientific nor theological support; and the only evidence considered was that presented by the CSF.

But what of John Mackay, who was excommunicated after making allegations of “witchcraft and necrophilia”? CMI again explains:

Nearly 20 years ago, our ministry prepared a detailed information pack, one which for many years now we did not think we would have much use for again… The pack was originally prepared in response to the aftermath of a horrific attack (February, 1986) on our ministry (then called Creation Science Foundation) by Mr Mackay. The mechanism of attack involved a monstrous series of allegations without evidence—the basis was alleged ‘spiritual discernment’, involving ‘black cats’ and similar. These slanderous allegations concerned Margaret Buchanan, at the time a well-regarded Christian widow working for the ministry as Ken Ham’s personal secretary. John said she had been ‘specially sent by Satan’ to undermine him and the ministry, involved in covens, attending séances, etc.—never was there any eyewitness testimony or other evidence, merely ‘discernment’.

When his attempt to sack her and take over the ministry failed, due to the Board’s refusal to violate biblical principle, Mr Mackay resigned. This was followed by a campaign of widespread innuendo and slander, involving actual fabrications which if accepted would tend to bolster his claim of ‘demonic infiltration’ of our ministry and thus would tend to undermine public confidence in our ministry. This included the bizarre and incredibly offensive claim that Margaret had claimed to have had intercourse with the corpse of her late husband (!).

…Currently, the issue has surfaced again in the context of the recent tensions between the Australian ministry and AiG-USA, with John Mackay’s newsletter suddenly urging supporters to pray for the ‘attack’ the US ministry is allegedly under.

In fact, it appears that new alliances are being forged, and talk of ‘reconciliation’ is being used to rehabilitate Mr Mackay in creationist circles—again the aim appears to be to undermine the Australian ministry, only from a different angle.

Mackay runs Creation Research; according to a British anti-Creationist website, the UK branch is “a very significant player amongst the half dozen or so creationist organisations in the UK.” It is unclear whether Ham and Mackay have put aside their differences in order to unite against Wieland, or whether this is a three-way battle.

PZ Myers, meanwhile, has an unsurprising reaction:

I honestly don’t care who wins. The ideal conclusion will be that of the Kilkenny cats: mutual self-destruction.

(Hat tip to Lippard Blog for one link)

UPDATE: In the comments, Jim Lippard points to the full documentation; it seems that Mackay and Ham have indeed made up. Lippard also notes that even among sceptics, there were complaints against Ian Plimer’s work.

Neo-Pentecostal Pastor’s Wife Jailed over Child Trafficking

Aged 57, claimed to have given birth to “miracle baby”

Claim: Political party will make Gilbert Deya Kenya’s High Commissoner to London

I’m a few days late with this:

A Kenyan court has convicted and sentenced three women to two years in jail for stealing a child that they claimed was conceived through miracles performed by a London-based preacher.

The preacher was Gilbert Deya, who was quite an influential figure in the African neo-Pentecostal scene before the scandal broke in 2004, and one of the women now jailed is his wife, Mary. Gilbert claimed his prayers allowed women to conceive and give birth within a matter of weeks; curiously, though, those he pronounced to be pregnant had to be flown out to his special clinic in an impoverished district of Nairobi to give birth. The lack of any DNA match between the babies and their supposed mothers was put down to the fact that these were “miracle babies”. Mary Deya, aged 57, claimed to have given birth to a number of babies herself, and this is what led to her downfall. As was reported in 2005:

THE wife of Archbishop Gilbert Deya, the controversial British-based evangelist who claims he can make women pregnant through the power of prayer, has been arrested hours after claiming to have given birth to a boy in the latest twist in Kenya’s “miracle babies” investigation.

…Yesterday, Archbishop Deya said the baby was proof he was able to help infertile women conceive. His wife arrived at a hospital in Nairobi on Saturday, carrying a new-born baby, a handful of blood-stained clothes and a placenta.

However, doctors said they did not believe she had given birth. James Kiarie, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Kenyatta National Hospital, said: “I have conducted a thorough check of the birth canal and there are no signs of pregnancy or after-birth.”

Police were then called. Two other women were jailed with Mrs Deya; Kenyan prosecutors say there are “other suspects in Britain, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda”.

Gilbert Deya, meanwhile, has been defending his wife on his website:

My wife Mary who was seen at Kenyatta National hospital at 4:00am and admitted in labour ward dressed in hospital uniform was reported to have not given birth. If the Kenyan authorities are convinced that she did not give birth, why did they admit her to the labour ward in Kenyatta National Hospital? If she went with a baby to the hospital, why did not admitted her and the baby to the normal ward?

It’s very painful the way the Kenyan authorities are handling the matter of my wife Mary and it is totally inhuman, humiliating and violation of our faith and human rights.

Kenya is a police state where police authorities govern the society including the streets, the judiciary courts and the prisons. Kenya Police under the current regime are the arresting officers, the prosecutors and the judges, so I believe that they have intimidated the doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital and forced them to make false report that my wife did not give birth.

…My wife’s solicitors confirmed to me that Mary looked pregnant and Mary herself also confirmed to me that she was pregnant. I was sent a photograph of my wife and she looked very pregnant to me.

Deya has also written a letter to the President of Kenya, with a curse:

Embattled Archbishop Gilbert Deya yesterday wrote a strong-worded bizarre letter to President Kibaki in which he accused him of child abuse and neglect

In a five-page letter written in remarkably bad English and made available to the East African Standard in London, Deya claimed that his wife was being held in a filthy room and that the police had attempted to rape her. “These are all satanic regimes corroborated with hell, connected with the BBC radio and some evil politician in the government. Oh wicked generation!

“The hand of the wrath of God of Israel is upon you. You are so merciless to the infant mothers. You have snatched them on the street of Nairobi, you have brought a curse upon the nation.” warned Deya…”Your wicked, demonic police, who might have been trained by the devil from hell are attempting to rape the holy Woman of God. Your unfaithful government have taken their evil hand, laid it upon my family and disgraced me and my children, Oh Kenya! You are doomed, you are cursed,”

One of those who was jailed with Mary Deya was Miriam Nyeko, from London. A 2006 Guardian report, however, suggests that she may have been a dupe:

She was arrested by Kenyan police in August 2004, a month after supposedly giving birth to Daniel, a boy whose DNA was subsequently found not to match hers.

“It was a miracle pregnancy,” says Nyeko. She is a big woman in a pale lilac suit, and she is crying. “I had pregnancy tests and they were negative. I was due to have a scan later in August but I came over here for a short holiday and to attend a funeral, and I gave birth to Daniel on July 19.

…There is much to suggest that Nyeko may be a victim – albeit a spectacularly gullible one – in the birth of Daniel. Shortly after the baby was “born”, Archbishop Deya gave me a video that he claimed proved Nyeko actually gave birth to the child.

It was filmed in a clinic called Mama Lucy’s and showed a woman, seemingly drugged unconscious, being treated by a man and woman in gowns and masks. The film does not show the actual emergence of a child, but simply cuts to a bloody baby, complete with umbilical cord and placenta, between Nyeko’s legs. The “doctor” can be heard asking if she is awake yet.

Nyeko appears to be a deeply disturbed woman. She now believes she is carrying another miracle baby – which, she says, is four months overdue. “What can I do?” she pleads. “If I allow it to come out, they will take it away from me again.”

Gilbert remains in the UK, where for the past few years he has been fighting an extradition request. The Guardian reported in 2004:

The Guardian understands the Kenyan attorney general will ask for an international warrant from Interpol and that it will seek the extradition of the charismatic pastor who is the leader of a congregation of 36,000 people and has churches in south London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham. If extradited, the pastor will face charges of child trafficking.

Mr Deya has appointed a human rights and anti-racism lawyer, Aamer Anwar, to defend him. Mr Anwar said: “Our client denies the allegations against him. He says he does not believe he would receive a fair trial within Kenya because of prejudicial publicity.”

Also in 2004, the East African Standard suggested that the story would embarrass some prominent people who had met him:

Deya’s predicament has put some big names in a spot among them Presidents and Queens of nations who had publicly identified with him.

They include Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi of Uganda and King Mswati of Swaziland.

He has also had a personal encounter with former President Daniel arap Moi and a slew of top Kenyan politicians some of whom went to receive him at the airport during his numerous trips back home.

He also claims to have hosted some government officials in his London home.

Deya’s last known public engagement in Kenya was last year during an interfaith breakfast prayer meeting that was organised by the then Mayor of Nairobi, Joe Aketch.

However, not everyone is now avoiding Deya, and he has involved himself with the forthcoming Kenyan elections. Deya is linked with the “Orange Democratic Movement“, a political party founded in 2006. Commentator Joe Kadhi noted in March:

If there was ever a picture that truly told “a better story than a thousand words”, that which was circulated to thousands of Kenyans through the internet throughout the whole of last week was it. It showed the suspected smuggler of newly born babies, Deya, posing for the camera with Raila Odinga, one of the ODM presidential candidates. Altogether there were more than ten pictures – clear and irrefutable proof that Raila did indeed visit the suspected child smuggler and voodoo miracle performer who claims to be a Christian bishop.

On the night of March 15th Raila categorically denied in a televised interview ever going to “Bishop” Deya’s place; but the NTV On The Spot interviewer, Julie Gichuru, either did not know of the Deya-Raila pictures or simply let the ODM leader off the hook.

…Whether Raila is backed by Deya or not no one will really know the truth. What is known however is the fact that the ODM London meeting of early this month was a total failure because Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Najib Balala and Julia Ojiambo boycotted it mainly because they suspected Deya was closely connected with the whole arrangement. In a press statement rejecting the London conference five leaders claimed Kenyans had become suspicious of the trip “which was being seen as a begging mission.” According to Daily Nation reporter David Mugonyi, Pastor Deya confirmed that he was one of the organisers and an ODM supporter. He says independent sources iformed him some of the leaders withdrew after they learnt that pastor Gilbert Deya was one of the organisers of the trip.

The African Press has some rather astonishing background on this:

APN has managed to get in touch with Deya through the phone. He has revealed that there is a deal that has been struck between him and the ODM-Kenya leadership…Deya says he has been offered to become Kenya’s High Commissioner to London if ODM-Kenya takes over power in Kenya after the coming elections.

…The man does not lack surprises to tell the Kenyans. When asked about the child trafficking case in Kenya and how he could be given such a high position when Kenya wants to prosecute him, Deya says that the new government of ODM-K has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Deya Ministries that the charges will be dropped if ODM-Kenya takes over, thereafter, his appointment will be made public on the 25th of February 2008.

I blogged on Deya previously, noting some of his ministry’s rather interesting videos for sale: Jesus Healed a Woman with Three Breasts; Ambassador Carrying a Snake in his Belly Delivered in Jesus’ Name; (Witchcraft) 14 Year Missing Baby Born in the Womb (The Mother is 51 Years Old); and the particularly subtle The Walls of Jericho Came Tumbling Down and Killed the Witches.

Apocalyptic Book Boom

Staying with the latest issue of Christian Retailing magazine, page four has an interesting round-up of the latest crop of apocalyptical Christian Zionist and anti-Islamic titles from Christian publishers, under the sub-heading “Geopolitical, apocalyptical books offer ‘perspective’ in forthcoming election campaign”. Highlights (with links to some of my previous blog entries added):

…More than 310,000 units have been presold for Strang Communications’ The Final Move Beyond Iraq…Written by New York Times best-selling author Mike Evans, the book is tied to a one-hour documentary.

…Evans said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “is a radical zealot bent on the destruction of the West and installation of a world Islamic system.”

…The title follows another successful [Strang imprint] FrontLine book on the Middle East. Pastor John Hagee’s geopolitical best-seller Jerusalem Countdown has sold more than 1 million units.

…FrontLine also has two other books on the Middle East releasing this fall: Culture Clash: Islam’s War on America by Mark Gabriel and In Defense of Israel: The Biblical Case for Supporting The Jewish State by Hagee.

And if that’s not enough:

Harvest House Publishers recently published Middle East Meltdown: Oil, Israel, and the Religion Behind the Crisis by John Ankerberg and Dillion Burroughs, while Global Warning: Are We on the Brink of World War III? By “Left Behind” series co-author Tim LaHaye is set for release Sept 1.

…titles about the Middle East have done well for Harvest House in the past, including more than 70,000 copies sold for Unholy War by Randall Price (2001) and more than 100,000 in book sales for Islam: What You Need to Know by Ron Rhodes (2000).

Tyndale is also on the scene:

Joel C. Rosenberg’s Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change your Future has sold more than 100,000 copies since it was released last Spetember…This month, Tyndale will release a third edition of Armageddon, Oil and Terror: What the Bible Says About the Future of America, the Middle East, and the End of Western Civilization, written by Bible scholar John F. Walwood.

Some of us might be sceptical of a book of predictions that has been re-edited twice since first publication, but apparently it

…has sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 10 languages…

The man from Harvest House told Christian Retailing that

…more people are looking for answers to difficult questions such as ‘why has peace been so elusive’ and ‘why are the conflicts going from bad to worse?’.

Also, with the 2008 election looming,

“Many of those who are buying books want to make a well-informed decision…[Christian books] provide a clear and biblical perspective on what’s really happening–a perspective Christians cannot get from the secular media.”

There’s also input from Mark Hitchcock, author of Iran: The Coming Crisis—Radical Islam, Oil, and the Nuclear Threat.

For some reason, all this fatalism, pessimism, and fear-mongering is not criticised as defeatism by the conservative Christian leaders who are so quick to denounce the media for ignoring all the “good news” from Iraq. However, one sceptical conservative commentator got the measure of it all back in December 2003, in a piece for the National Review:

You thought Saddam was bad? Wait until you see the next guy. You thought life was going to get better? Wait until you experience the coming Tribulation and the rule of The Antichrist. If conditions improve, it’s only so they can become twice as bad in the very near future…And so it goes — and has gone for many decades.

Of course, not all apocalyptic books are religiously-inspired, and back in March the Inter Press Service drew attention to a March Weekly Standard article by Irwin Stelzer, in which Stelzer gives us an account of a “seminar” that George Bush recently led (1). Stelzer tells us that anyone

who likes to regale his friends with references to that illiterate cowboy in the White House is due for some considerable embarrassment when the nonpartisan studies of the Bush years begin to hit the bookshops…Bush has circulated copies of Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy to his staff, and recommended Mark Steyn’s America Alone.

The full title of the latter book is America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. Inter Press adds a gloss:

Steyn’s book…sees Europe’s demographic trends and its multicultural ‘post-nationalist’ secularism as leading inevitably to the ‘Eurocalypse,’ to the ‘recolonization of Europe by Islam’, to the emergence of a ‘Eurabia’, and to the onset of a ‘new Dark Ages’ in which the United States will find it difficult to survive as the ‘lonely candle of liberty’…Steyn…sees Islam – and not just ‘Islamist radicals’ or ‘jihadis’ such as al-Qaeda – as a unique threat that cannot be reconciled with ‘free societies.’

Dick Armey offered his own views on how Bush relates to the idea of the “End Times” in an interview for the BBC World Service, which I blogged here.


(1) The seminar centred on The History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 by right-wing British historian Andrew Roberts, which is supposedly “the most recent of the many histories [Bush] has read”. Roberts himself was also in attendance, which was a bit of social advancement from 2001, when he spoke at the Springbok Club in London. The Springbok Club is run by a former National Frontist who wants to see a return of white rule in Africa. Roberts, however, was ignorant of the group’s perspective and purpose.