Official Street Preacher Complains Video was “Doctored”

Vera Berry sends in a comment to complain that footage of her friends screaming abuse against Islam outside of a mosque unfairly makes her look bad:

The propaganda video above was filmed very close to the preaching so it sounds overly loud. It has further been cut several times. Those of us on the outside need to be very aware of how cutting a film can doctor it to the other person’s perspective and not give the entire story. One thing you will note about our video is that we are inches away from the man that is preaching and can still have a normal dialogue without raising our voices. This other film has been enhanced and is a false representation of what happened. You can see from our video that we were cordial and respectful to the man we were talking to as he was to us. In the doctored video it is obvious that there were several of these conversations going on. In addition, we have attempted several times to place our video on the pt. 1 video that is getting all the hits as a video response but the owner blocked us…The only reason these men were there is because they care for these folks and their eternal souls, not to contend about which religion is right…

In fact, the “propaganda video” does show various conversations taking place – as well as a guy shouting through a megaphone about Muhammad being a pedophile. Vera and her husband may have been “cordial and respectful” to the person they were talking to one to one, but that is certainly not the general tenor of the event.

Anyway, here are the two videos: the first created by a Muslim who was there, the second being Berry’s response. It’s not exactly Rashomon.

I doubt we’ll be seeing these “Official Street Preachers” conduct themselves in such a manner outside a synagogue – surely even their bad taste doesn’t extend that far?

Vera has a blog here.

WorldNetDaily Promotes War on Christmas

Every December WND runs a rash of articles railing against a supposed secularist “War on Christmas”. Now it’s February, however, WND has decided to promote a DVD collection which denounces Christmas and Easter as Satanic ploys to undermine true Christianity:

A Tennessee historian and author best known for his searches for the Ark of the Covenant – the box containing the Ten Commandments – is now challenging much of modern Christianity, claiming the traditional version of the faith has more in common with ancient paganism than actual biblical content.

…In his new book and videos, [Richard] Rives goes on a history-packed journey beginning with the creation of the world and Satan’s deception in the Garden of Eden, examining how worship of the sun god among ancient cultures influenced the worship of the true God of the Bible.

…He says the most important theme people will realize from his project is “that major components of traditional Christianity are actually pagan in nature and that they never had anything to do with Jesus. Educated theologians know that, and purposefully withhold that information.”

As ever with crank theories, there’s one overarching theme which is applied monomanically – in this case “sun worship” – and the claim that all the experts are conspiring to conceal the truth. Rives in fact “reveals” stuff which is well-known, and which “educated theologians” would doubtless be more than happy to explain to anyone who might bother to take an interest:

Easter is the name of a pagan fertility goddess. The believers that walked and talked with Christ observed Passover…December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus. It was the most important pagan birthday on the Roman calendar 300 years after the time of Christ…Sunday is not the Sabbath. Theologians substituted Sunday rest in place of Sabbath rest.

Etc, etc…But – so what? Sunday was chosen as the Christian day of worship because of the Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus – an eschatological “eighth day”. Christmas and Easter are Christian celebrations now (at least for Christians), whatever their origins.

And if you want to play the “pagan origins” game, why not apply it to Biblical religion as well? Although this is also a minefield of crankdom, it is uncontroversial to note that the Ark of the Covenant, which Rives has devoted so much energy to trying to find, is based on an Egyptian model and is rather conspicious for having two winged statuettes on its lid in defiance of the Second Commandment…

Appropriately, Rives’ magnum opus on the subject is entitled Too Long in the Sun. Here’s an extract, in which Rives shockingly reveals information that he discovered by consulting the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Seriously, though, the idea of the Saturday Sabbath and the emphasis on “Passover” doubtless appeals to WND editor Joseph Farah because it links Christianity more closely to Judaism. On one level this is admirable – Christianity began within Judaism and the historical Jesus can only be properly understood within the context of the Jewish traditions of his day. It’s also good to see Christianity shake off historic anti-semitism, despite unambiguous anti-Jewish rhetoric in parts of the New Testament. However, this re-assessment also serves other purposes – in its conservative forms, Christianity sees itself as the one true faith, but the idea of missionizing Jews seems in bad taste for a number of obvious reasons. Emphasising “true” Christianity’s closeness to Judaism allows the issue to be fudged to some extent. Within Christian Zionism, there is also often (as I noted here) a strong vicarious identification with the culture of Orthodox Judaism and with the Israeli right-wing; dropping Christian traditions in favour of Jewish ones feeds into that.

Official Street Preachers Note “The Level Headed, Beer Guzzling, Left Wing LIBERAL”


I think this is supposed to be a mocking reference to what Matt Wardman described me as being.

But “Bartman?”…

Background here.

Child-Witch Hysteria Promoted in Cameroon by Presbyterian Evangelist

The latest from Cameroon’s Rev Emmanuel Massock, from the PostNewsOnline:

Rev Emmanuel Massock, erstwhile pastor of Presbyterian Church Kumba Mbeng, has predicted a massive occult initiation of students during the Youth Day celebration on February 11.

And how does Massock know this?

He said God revealed to him recently that during the 2009 Youth Day celebration in Kumba, youths would be initiated into the marine and occult kingdoms. This, he said, would be done through the sharing of sweets, biscuits and other chewable by students to their mates, thereby provoking massive initiation in the form of trance.


According to him, from membership, the child grows to an agent and is commissioned to initiate others. He said the agents cause accidents, illnesses, pull wealth from the earth’s surface and multiply their membership through initiation…He recalled that, recently, in a primary school in Douala, a child confessed how he was sent to cause destruction in the school but prayers couldn’t allow him to operate.

Massock has featured on this blog before; a year ago I noticed his exploits in persuading teenage girls to confess to causing accidents by witchcraft. It seems that he’s now spreading his religious scapegoating to younger children, and using innocent child behaviour such as sharing sweets to whip up hysteria against the most defenceless group in the country.

This is extremely serious: as I’ve blogged previously, such religious teachings have had grim consequences: in Nigeria, Angola, and Congo, hundreds of children have been rejected by their families, tortured, and in some cases most likely even killed through fearmongering promoted by “men and women of God”.

It is also reported that Massock is studying for a Masters at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kumba, which is associated with the PC (USA). It seems to me that the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon must, as a matter of great urgency, expel Massock from its ranks and initiate a public awareness campaign repudiating his teachings. Otherwise, there is a very real chance that tragedy will follow.

(Name variation: Emmanuel Massok)

Abuislam and Glen Jenvey: The Dodgy Apostrophes and Spelling

Exhibit A – Mysterious commentator “Abuislam”, writing on Muslim discussion forum, suggesting that British Jews be targeted for protests, 6 January:

polite will not work.

Target them with Demo’s out-side their Home’s and Business hit and run demo’s showing and exposing their war crimes in their support.

This led to the Sun newspaper’s headline about British Muslims threatening  British Jews. As has been blogged at some length, this “evidence” was brought to the Sun‘s attention by Glen Jenvey, but the story was withdrawn after Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads found evidence that Jenvey may have made the “Abuislam” post himself and a complaint was made to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). I’ll add that the above posting was quoted by Scepticle on 7 January, so we know it has not been tampered with by Ummah moderators.

Exhibit B – Some coments at the site of UK anti-Muslim blogger “Lionheart” (since removed, but salvaged by Tim Ireland), defending Jenvey against the allegation, posted in the early hours of 30 January:

Glen jenvey has agreeded for his hard drive on his computer to be read by a expert from the PCC and any other Newspaper.which will show he made no postings on

But will al-qaeda members offer the same?


PCC letters are posted all over the internet by a known al-qaida supporting site.

they have lost trust in the eye’s of the British public in the way they are supporting hate crimes against Glen Jenvey.

It seem’s to me they were caught out by the sun and changed postings to try and blame a terrorism expert. the story was given to the sun by a news agency and no money was given to Mr Jenvey.

Abu Hamza supporters over the year’s have sent death threat’s to Jenvey.

who had a heart attack due to stress and ill health, if he was to die because of this hate campaign by the PCC.




I Blame the Labour government who supports all these terrorist groups being based in the say they are going to behead Mr Jenvy show’s the police and mi5 have deal’s with al-qaeda groups in the UK.tHE pcc being linked to a person who supports suicide bombings show’s they take the side on muslims before good people.SHAME ON THE PCC a unfair organisation who side with thugs.

Exhibit C – Edit to Wikipedia about the Press Complaints Commission from “PCCLIES”, 30 January:

The have beeb caught out with anti Jewish support for a terrorist website UMMAH.COM 2007 .There are call’s for their funding to be stopped.

Later re-edited by the same user to:

The PCC have been caught out with anti Jewish support for a terrorist website UMMAH.COM 2007 .There are call’s for their funding to be stopped.They took on a complaint from a Muslim radical who calls for suicide bombings against Milltray and the British government.

Exhibit D – a couple of postings made by “Glenjenvey” to Wikipedia in 2007; first:

war of the web.reveals american secret service were warned of attack’s on the 10th sept


Ujaama only pleaded guilty after video’s were uncovered by Glen Jenvey with Ujaama sat next to Abu Hamza talking about jihad.The video’s were used at Ujaamas trail to force him to plea guilty and plae bargin with the FBI.see

Exhibit E – A note on the blog Malung TV News, from someone who has in the past corresponded with Jenvey:

I would guess he is dyslexic from his spelling, that is not a fault.

I outlined the salient points that Jenvey needs to address here. Rather  more is required than simply asserting (or even proving) that is run by bad people.

(Hat tip: Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads here and here and a commentator there from Entry expanded 9 February)

“Confrontational Evangelism” at Tampa Mosque


From a press release:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations by a “biblical group” that allegedly harassed worshipers yesterday at a Florida mosque.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations by a “biblical group” that allegedly harassed worshipers yesterday at a Florida mosque.

More than 20 people used bullhorns to shout slurs against the faith of Islam and Islam’s Prophet Muhammad at those attending the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area. They also handed out anti-Muslim literature and, according to a mosque official, frightened children attending weekend school at the facility. The group was apparently in Tampa for today’s Super Bowl. Police were called to the scene.

From a video of the confrontation we can see that the group has a distinctive (albeit Fred Phelps-like) corporate image and delivery style; it is clearly the “Official Street Preachers”, which has a website here and is known for “confrontational evangelism” at sports and other random events. Besides some abuse directed at Muhammad, most of the chanting was simply generic calls to repent from the love of sinning – the mosque was obviously chosen opportunistically while on the way to the main event at the Super Bowl.

The “Official Street Preachers”  is led by Los Angeles-based Ruben Israel Chavez (often just named as “Ruben Israel”), who explains:

We started a group called Bible Believers in the eighties with the emphasis on confrontational evangelism and home Bible studies.  To date we have well over 40 chapters nationwide of active Christians and Churches under the umbrella of ‘Bible Believers’ that are a bold witness in their region.  So now with this network more places can be covered with preachers, signs and banners with attorneys watching our free speech rights.  I believe in almost every Church there are certain men inside those pews that want to do more than just sit in a service on Sunday, or where a Church might quench them for getting fired up.  The Lord is having us meet these men, as God is stirring the pot in these dark days when much of the Church is keeping their faith personal and private.

According to a 2006 press release (link added):

Ruben Israel Chavez has street-preached at Universities from Harvard to Berkley; for 22 straight years, he has preached at Mardi Gras; and, is now working with HBO regarding a Docu-Drama on “Open-air Preaching.”

Said Mr. Chavez, “Jesus preached in the open places; St. Paul preached in the open places. You cannot reach people in Churches, if they don’t go to Churches, Synagogues or Mosques.”

Ruben Israel Chavez was trained and sent by “Bible Jim” Webber, who preaches every night in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas and is considered the Grandfather of “Bible Believers” open-air preaching.

[James Leonard] Elsman, himself, though a lawyer, just returned from preaching at Bethlehem’s Manger Square on Christmas Eve, 2005, in Palestine-Israel, in front of the Church of the Nativity, where he was featured on FOX-TV, ABC-TV and in over 2,000 papers via an AP news release.

The group is particularly obsessed with homosexuality (“homo-sex is a threat to national security”), and in 2007 Chavez and Elsman threatened to sue to be allowed to participate in a gay rights parade with his message. Israel is also Assistant Director of the “Street Preachers’ Fellowship”. Conservative pundit Glenn Beck gathered some pictures in 2003.

Another group connected to the Official Street Preachers is the Tampa-based Biblical Research Center, which is run by a certain Larry Keffer. The site carries many photos of other protests, under headings such as “Preaching at the 17th Annual Sodomite Film Festival at the Tampa Theater”; “Preaching to the Satanists”; “Preaching To The Atheists”, and “Preaching to Illegal Aliens and Their Supporters” (some of the photos are quite striking, and deserve to be on the covers of books about American religion – I particularly liked this one). In July, Keffer showed up in Norway; Mission Network News reports:

A trial court in Oslo, Norway has found two Christian missionaries guilty of failing to obey the police, media reports indicate. They face heavy fines but not imprisonment. 

Evangelists Petar Keseljevic of Norway and Larry Keffer of the Biblical Research Center in Tampa, FL were sharing the Gospel at a parade celebrating the anniversary of Norway’s constitution on May 17.

They were conversing with members of the crowd beyond the parade lines when the police arrested them and held them for almost four hours. Some members of the crowd had complained about the evangelists’ actions.

Following his arrest, Keffer was represented by Joel Thornton of the “International Human Rights Group” – he has a blog here. Keseljevic is another “Official Street Preacher”, and he was present at the Obama inaugaration. Charisma reported:

With a crowd of roughly 1.5 million people convened on the National Mall, the inauguration was a mostly peaceful event, according to media reports. Yet prayer leader Ken Joseph Jr. said a group of Christians evangelizing during an inaugural event was heckled and harassed. “At one point police had to be called to arrest one person who threatened their lives,” he said.

Joseph reported that Christians, who were led by Norwegian evangelist Petar Keseljevic and affiliated with, a group known for carrying signs that say “God Hates Sin” or “Homo Sex Is Sin,” were countered by crowds that jeered “Go to hell,” “I love sin” and “You are crazy.” Eventually, a man selling “Obama condoms” led the crowd in chanting Obama’s name to drown out the Christians’ message.

“We are just here to share the love of Christ,” Keseljevic told Joseph. “It is so sad to see the way people are so hostile in America to Christ.”

(Hat tip: Islamophobia Watch)

Glen Jenvey Denies Posting as “Abuislam”

ASSIST News has published an article (here, and reposted here) on Glen Jenvey and the Sun’s “Islamic Terrorists Target UK Jews” story. As readers may recall, Jenvey claimed to have uncovered the plot by monitoring a Muslim discussion forum, but evidence emerged suggesting that the poster “Abuislam” (or “Abu Islam”), who provided the meat for Jenvey’s revelation, may in fact have been Jenvey himself:

In an e-mailed statement, Jenvey denied being Abu Islam, adding that some inflammatory posts formerly on the site have now been either removed or manipulated to the forum administrators’ advantage.

He said, “Over the years I have monitored both and and their chat rooms. I know they hate me enough to try and discredit me.”

The email was sent to Jeremy Reynalds, a British Christian living in New Mexico who also monitors Islamic extremist websites – I noted his efforts in this regard in a positive blog entry I made in 2005. Reynalds also tells us that Jenvey is a different person from “Jonathan Galt”, a name which has appeared on Jenvey’s website occasionally and which I thought was a Jenvey pseudonym.

This is the second communication from Jenvey about the controversy since the “Abu Islam” story broke; as I noted previously, an anonymous comment on the blog of “Lionheart” carries the claim that:

Glen jenvey has agreeded for his hard drive on his computer to be read by a expert from the PCC and any other Newspaper.which will show he made no postings on

Curiously, this was followed by other comments written in the same style and published shortly after, but supposedly by different people – when Tim Ireland (who first noted the problem with “Abu Islam”) suggested sock-puppetry, these extra comments were removed and replaced by others.

Reynalds’ report goes on to complain about other extremist postings on the Ummah site, but neither he nor Jenvey address the points raised by Tim Ireland’s investigation – points which cannot be evaded simply by suggesting that posters and moderators at Ummah might have unpalatable views. In particular, it must be stressed that Ummah did not originally claim that “Abu Islam” was Glen Jenvey – the site linked “Abu Islam” to “Richard Tims”, who was spamming on behalf of a (now defunct) website which Tim Ireland noticed was owned by Jenvey. If Jenvey wants to email statements, these are the issues he must address:

1. Who is Richard Tims, and why was he spamming Jenvey’s “Sell Your Story” website on the websites of Ummah and of Jenvey’s friend “Lionheart”?

2. Given that Richard Tims’ message gave very little away and gave no indication of being either pro and anti Muslim, how would anyone at Ummah have known that a fake link to Jenvey could be made by linking Tims to “Abu Islam”?

3. Why didn’t Ummah make the link themselves? Surely we can’t be expected to believe that the moderators faked the trail and then were just waiting around on the off-chance that an unconnected blogger might happen to pass by and work it all out by checking “Sell Your Story” at Whois?

Mike Evans Asks Readers to Buy Multiple Copies of his Books

Bill Berkowitz gives us the latest on Christian Zionist Mike Evans, in the wake of Evans’ new book, Jimmy Carter: The Liberal Left and World Chaos (the only book so far published by his TimeWorthy Books). Berkowitz highlights Evans’ shameless marketing techniques:

In an early September e-mail to his supporters, Evans reported some breaking news involving Iran. He claimed that he had received information from a number of Iraqi and Israeli leaders that Iran was “planning a major surge in the next 30 days to kill as many American troops as possible. They believe in doing so they can undermine the success of the U.S. surge and John McCain’s hopes of becoming President.”

…Evans had an unusual idea for dealing with this startling information: He suggested that the best thing his supporters could do would be to head over to “ right now and purchase as many copies of The Final Move Beyond Iraq as possible.”  

Why rush off to “Because this is the only book that reveals Iran’s plans in Iraq. More importantly if you can drive the book to Amazon’s Top Ten bestseller list, the network shows will be calling and inviting me to speak to tens of millions of people. I need to wake up the American people and government so they can pray and prepare for this attack that is coming. You can save American lives by helping me get on the major networks.”

I blogged on Evans’s Final Move Beyond Iraq book here. Both Evans and John Hagee boast of links with Israeli leaders and briefings from intelligence experts (see here, for instance). However:

Despite the bluster and Evans’ certainty, there was no discernable Iranian surge. How many books were sold is unclear.

Bill also notes that

Evans also makes an awkward confession: It appears that he wrote a scathing review of one of Carter’s books and posted it under the initials MD. And his ruse was discovered. “My name is Michael David,” Evans writes, “and those initials stand for that. Had I used ‘ME’ for Mike Evans, my critics would have thought I was posting a crank review.)”

The review is now available under his own name here. It includes the gem that

With characteristic naivete, Carter pressured the shah to allow more political freedom. While some 300 political prisoners were released, censorship was relaxed, and judicial reforms initiated, the youth of Iran were swarming to radical Islam.

Presumably Evans would have preferred a continuation of SAVAK-led torture and oppression (which was probably unsustainable anyway).

MD’s other reviews can be seen here -or rather it’s more or less the same screed spammed onto more than a dozen right-wing potboilers. Certainly, the word “crank” does come to mind.

Apocalyptic Christian Zionist Magazine Cover


This is the magazine of “Lamb and Lion Ministries”, run by David Reagan. In in fact, Reagan does not think that the anti-Christ will be a Muslim, and in the magazine he has a long piece that instead favours the more usual (albeit just as nonsensical) “Revived Roman Empire” theory of the Last Days. I’ve blogged the unedifying debate here.

John Hagee, meanwhile, promotes the idea – like the late Jerry Falwell – that the anti-Christ will be at least partially Jewish. I look forward to a future issue of Lamplighter with a photo of a Haredi above the caption “Will the Antichrist be a Jew?”

Or might that be in bad taste?

Gggollum Sues Tolkien for Libel: Case Tossed by Eady

From the Birmingham Post:

Sir David Eady, possibly the most famous high court judge in the UK, was brought in to rule on the case of Christopher Carrie, who claims he was abused as a child by John Tolkien, a priest and scoutmaster, and son of the Lord of the Rings author.

Mr Carrie was trying to sue Royd Tolkien, one of the writer’s great-grandsons and a bit-part actor in one of the massively successful Lord of the Rings films, over comments made on a website.

…The fact that Mr Carrie was behind the website only came out in the build-up to the court case. He had previously posted entries on the website under the name “gggollum”.

Mr Justice Eady said he did not see how someone could be libelled on their own website if they had the power to remove comments – and that leaving them up, as Mr Carrie did, was tantamount to agreeing to the comments being published.

…He said there was no law that said something being on the internet counted as the “substantial publication” needed to base a libel case on, adding: “It will not suffice merely to plead that the posting has been accessed ‘by a large but unquantifiable number of readers’.”

The case is of some significance for those of us who blog under the oppressive shadow of UK libel law; blogger Dave Osler is currently being sued in part because of comments left on his blog by someone else. The need for “substantial publication” was established in a 2005 case involving a newspaper story which had been seen by no more than five people in the UK. It’s still not clear, though, exactly what the benchmark for “substantial publication” is, but Eady’s comments would suggest that it is up to the plaintiff to demonstrate that it has occured. That’s tricky for comments on most blogs: accessing the front page of a blog won’t bring up the comments, and on many blogs comments appear in a separate box which only opens when you click on a link. Hit rankings for these boxes are usually unavailable. Even if a comment is accessed, it may be “buried” among many other comments so that it is unlikely anyone noticed it. It seems to me that unless a comment becomes the focus for a debate among a large number subsequent commentators, or provokes discussion on other websites, or somehow appears in Google rankings, surely it cannot reasonably be proven to have been “substantially” published?

The other interesting feature of Eady’s judgement concerns the consequences of allowing a libel about yourself to remain in the public domain when you had the power to remove it. At the moment, every day that something appears on the internet is seen as a “republication”. So, if you posted something libellous five years ago and it remains online you can still be liable. That’s reasonable enough in itself – if you happen to discover something libellous about yourself online, you shouldn’t be barred from any recourse to the law just because you were not aware of it until sometime after it first appeared. However, Tim Ireland has warned that this could also be used for “libel ambush”:

As it stands, any UK newspaper or magazine wishing to make an archive of their articles available online must be prepared to prove all over again that what they published umpteen years ago was true. Even archive services such as LexisNexis are vulnerable (as one inventive and secretive ‘blogger’ has shown).

Also, someone could choose to initially ignore something you published about them on your website or weblog and then surprise you with a claim of libel in 5, 10 or 20 years time; that’s a long time to expect anyone to maintain evidence and/or contact with relevant witnesses.

There are already quite a few bloggers with content of this vintage. Very few of them will be aware how (and when) it might be used against them with an ambush claim.

That’s a very real danger – but it seems to me that if you discover a supposed libel but decide not to act for strategic reasons (waiting until evidence of justification disappears, or until the author becomes richer and therefore a more attractive target), then you are in effect “agreeing to the comments being published” – and once you’ve agreed you can’t change your mind. Proving that the libel was known about but not acted against may be difficult, though.

Also, it is reasonable to assume that if you receive a complaint about certain details in a blog entry, then the complainant acquieces to the publication of all the other details on the same page. It should not be allowed for the complainant to make further demands about the same material at a later date, which may happen if the complainant is encouraged by initial compliance.