Rifqa Madness

The Rifqa Bary bandwagon shows no sign of losing steam, with various conservative groups and outfits using the opportunity to issue statements. Americans for a Safe Israel thunders:

Rifqa Bary is a seventeen year old girl who faces danger, abuse and possibly death if she is forced to return to her parents. Her crime under American standards of law? None. Her disrespect for American law? None. Anti-social behavior as dictated by the mores of our society? None.

Why then does Rifqa Bary fear her parents so that on Thursday September 3rd, a Florida Circuit Judge will decide whether to send her home to her family or be given a haven and freedom?

What do her parents and her mosque and Islam see as her crime and violation of law and social behavior and honor? Her conversion to Christianity four years ago. While her conversion remained secret her parents thrived economically in Columbus, Ohio where they worshipped in a local mosque where sermons offered the strictest interpretation of the Koran.

When the mosque, which has been under suspicion for abetting terrrism deliberately “outed” Rifqa’s conversion to her family she was subjected to bruises and death threats and fled from her home. In Florida, an Evangelical church gave her shelter and guidance in filing for restraint.

While the Institute for Religion and Democracy warns that the girl has

committed a crime against the Ummah, or nation state of Islam.

 …those who have been “quick” to believe Rifqa Bary are not interested in proving a point about Muslims, but in protecting a vulnerable girl, convinced that when it comes to honor killing and apostasy it is better to err on the side of caution than to add another name and face to the list of the dead. The best assessment of most of the American Christian church’s comprehension of life under Islamic law came from Rifqa herself. Trying to explain the danger she faces from her Muslim parents, the Islamic community in the Columbus, Ohio area, and the entire Ummah, she exclaimed despairingly, “I’m fighting for my life, you guys don’t understand. You don’t understand.”

Not to be outdone, Herbert London of the Hudson Institute has composed a pompous and risible “Letter to Judge Dawson”, comparing the girl to Joan of Arc:

…this case involves more than one youthful life; it represents a defense of our Constitution and our way of life. Just as a Christian can covert to Islam, a Muslim should be free to covert to Christianity whatever her parents think and whatever the Koran indicates.

To suggest anything else is to allow Islam to be superordinated over our law and tradition. If there was ever a time to assert our beliefs and customs, this is it. Americans are increasingly unsure about what this nation stands for. But there really isn’t ambiguity about this matter. Sharia is not our custom or our law, and you, sir, should not recognize it as dispositive in your legal judgment.

Rifqa’s cause should prevail because this recent immigrant is fighting for the most basic of American principles. She is our Joan of Arc, and I ardently hope you will recognize the need to assert traditional jurisprudential precedent in this case.

Meanwhile, journalists who remain unconvinced get short shrift. Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinal raised some reasonable doubts and suggested that the custody case ought to be held in the girl’s home state of Ohio. For Pamela Geller, this means that the Sentinel is actually advocating murder, and that Thomas “ought to be charged with incitement to violent honor killing” – a clear sign that we’re dealing with someone drunk on the power of incendiary rhetoric to rabble-rouse rather than a person with any interest in considering the truth of a situation. Geller has also rooted around the internet to find evidence that Bary’s father has wound up his jewellery business as part of plan to “flee” to Sri Lanka, either before or after bumping off his daughter, and to get tax-payer funds to fight his case. Meanwhile, the anti-Muslim Jawa Report has found shocking evidence that an article in the Ohio Columbus Dispatch was written by a journalist who wore a headscarf when she visited Bary’s father’s mosque!

The same website also touts an article in the Florida Baptist Witness:

According to Ergun Mehmet Caner, the threat to Rifqa for her rejection of Islam and conversion to Christianity is real. “There’s no question,” Caner said in an Aug. 27 interview with the Witness.

Caner, who converted to Christianity as a 16-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, grew-up in the mosque, the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, out of which the Bary family mosque, Noor Islamic Cultural Center, was started and remains connected.

Now a Baptist minister and president of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., Caner is a well-known apologist for the Christian faith – activity for which a fatwa, an Islamic religious ruling calling for his death, was issued last year “that put us on the road for a while.”

Because of his outspoken repudiation of Islam and defense of Christianity, Caner said he has to take special security precautions.

Caner and his two brothers, who became Christians within 14 months of his conversion, were disowned by their father, who was the architect of their Columbus mosque.

Rather than sending his sons back to their home country of Turkey, the decision of the eldest Caner to disown his children “was an act of mercy,” Caner told the Witness. Caner said his father died in 1999 as a Muslim, while his mother is now a Christian.

“When someone says, ‘Oh, it’s horrible what happened to you.’ No, what my father did was merciful,” Caner explained, noting his fate could have been much worse.

The risk of an “honor killing” – an obligation under Islamic law for those who reject Islam – is routine in Muslim nations.

So, the fact that Caner’s father didn’t kill his sons is simply evidence that he might have done so! (Incidentally, this is the first we’ve heard of a “fatwa” against Caner, although it wouldn’t be surprising if, as an anti-Muslim polemicist, he has received death threats from extremists. Caner’s Swedish mother was born a Christian, and his parents divorced when he was 16)

The Orlando Sentinal has also interviewed Bary’s parents, which will doubtless inspire a further round of frothing. The article includes some input from people who know the family:

“There is no way this man would hurt his daughter,” said Neil Javery, 52, a Hindu and family friend in Westerville, the Columbus suburb where the Barys live.

Mohamed Bary, 47, is a kind, gentle man who loves his daughter, takes great pride in Rifqa’s school accomplishments.

He sells jewelry and Amway products, friends say.

Aysha Bary is a stay-at-home mom who speaks little English but breaks into tears over what has happened.

“My heart goes out to them,” said Holly Easton of Plain City, Ohio, who owns a wedding gown business and pays Rifqa’s mother to stitch beads onto gowns. “It’s horrible. … I hope they’re able to reconcile, and she comes home and they can be a family again.”

By contrast, tales of the father as cruel and abusive being pasted around the internet have come from anonymous sources.

The focus has also been put back Pastor Blake Lorenz, who took her in for several weeks before the authorities became aware of her location; the St. Petersburg Times explains that:

Florida law says you can’t shelter an unmarried minor for more than 24 hours without calling either the authorities or the parents or guardians of the minor.

…”The 21/2 weeks that Rifqa was missing were a living hell for the parents. Was she dead? Was she alive?” said Shayan Elahi, an Orlando lawyer who’s serving as a spokesman for the family. “The Lorenzes, under the statute, had the obligation to go to the authorities and they did not.

“They didn’t follow the law,” Elahi said.

However, Lorenz did use Bary, under an assumed name, as a sermon topic on 9 August, as WDBO Radio notes:

“The persecution is here already. Anna’s been living this out. Anna is a wonderful young woman of God. 17-years-old tomorrow,” Lorenz told his followers. “She is a dynamo, where the spirit loves Jesus. She was a Muslim. Gave her life to Christ, fell in love with Jesus. She fled for her life, threatened to be killed because she gave her life to Jesus. Renounce Jesus, and we’ll let you live.”

Lorenz told the church Bary had been staying with him and his wife, Beverly, at their home for 2-and-a-half weeks.

“The fear we live with is the police are going to show up, take us off, arrest us,” Lorenz said. “Oh that couldn’t happen? It happened to the man that baptized her!”

Lorenz was referring to a young pastor in Kansas City, Missouri who helped Columbus police track down where Bary had gone, after they threatened to arrest him.

“The police showed up at his apartment in Kansas City to arrest him. Illegally searched his apartment and all the apartments there looking for her, convinced she was there. Don’t say it can’t happen in America!” Lorenz preached.

Before fleeing to Florida, Bary was involved with “Xenos Christian Fellowship, a megachurch that emphasizes small groups meeting at home”, and which has a website here. Back in February, it was in the news when a woman claimed it had “brainwashed” her formerly Roman Catholic son:

Online, she makes allegations of alcohol abuse, vandalism and brainwashing of young children. She calls the church leader and his family “Devil man,” “Devil wife” and “Devil son.”

…The local Xenos leader, Keith McCallum, a bearded former software writer, accuses Smith of a “terror campaign” and threatening to shoot him. He said her allegations have no merit.

In a quarter century of ministry, he said, “we’ve never had any lawsuits, crimes or misdemeanors filed against us.”

This website has further details that rebut the “cult” accuation. There has also been an anonymous attempt to link Xenos with Brian L. Williams, a pastor currently in prison for sexual abuse; this seems to be a deliberate ploy to mislead, as there is no connection.

Just in case anyone is interested in what I think: on the one hand, the case has some obvious problematic aspects. Bary believes her father wants to kill her because it would be “a great honour” for him and would show his love for Allah. But this is a misunderstanding of what honour killing is, and we have to suppose it has been put into her head by one of her Christian associates. “Honour killing” is also being deliberately conflated with the formal traditional punishment of capital punishment for apostasy. The IRD’s claim that they are “not interested in proving a point about Muslims” is an insult to our intelligence – of course this is all about publicising the idea that American Muslims are horrible and brutal people who will scheme at any length in order to kill their own children in circumstances when their religion commands it, and perhaps letting Muslims know that if they live in America they can expect the authorities to remove their children simply because of the nature of Islam. The hucksters and demagogues who are using this case for political ends add nothing to the cause of Bary’s welfare, and Lorenz has behaved like a fool in not going at once to the authorities (his poor judgment is compounded by creepy pictures of her hugging him for protection). But on the other hand, when a minor makes a serious allegation against a parent the authorities have to take it seriously, so it’s difficult to see how she can be returned to her parents against her will while she maintains that her life is in danger – even though the father looks like a very unlikely Islamic extremist, and “honour killing” is rare in Sri Lanka. And at 17 years old, is it really worth the bother of a drawn-out legal process that will be moot in year anyway?

Fiji’s Christian Police Force Compared to Taliban

The official website of the Fiji police force carries a remarkable report, published in June:

Suva wakes up to heavenly noises as Fiji’s Police Force Band and officers excite the Fijian Public with Gospel music and dancing and sharing a common bond- Jesus Christ.

And this is the ‘Only strategy’ the Fiji Police Force is now implementing in the hope of changing the lives of people whose lives have led them to live a hurtful, troubled, criminal resulting in making irrational choices.

A recent article in the Brisbane Times gives a bit of background:

A “Jesus crusade” led by Fiji’s police force has been compared to the rule of the Taliban.

Editor in Chief of the Fiji Times, Mr Netani Rika, addressed journalism and communications students at the University of Queensland yesterday, telling them of life under the illegal rule of interim Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Mr Rika said police converts to the fundamentalist New Methodist Church had replaced military personnel as in-house censors in newsrooms.

…The head of the new Methodist Church is the brother of the Police Commissioner, a close friend of Mr Bainimarama and former Fiji Navy Commander. The Police Commissioner is regarded as the second most powerful position in Fiji.

…An Associate Director of `Uniting World’, a Uniting Church body operating in the Pacific, said he was investigating reports that preachers from Australian pentacostal [sic] churches were funding the New Methodist Church in Fiji and were sending people to preach there.

A piece in the Fiji Times itself explains that:

WHEN Atu and Raijeli Vulaono registered the New-Methodist Christian Fellowship on August 5, 2002, they caused little more than a stir in the Christian movement in Fiji.

…Today, the General Superintendent of the New-Methodist Christian Fellowship, Senior Pastor Atu Vulaono says they have 20,000 members in Fiji and abroad, mainly Australia and Europe.

There is not much evidence of connections with foreign evangelists; Atu was apparently converted while listening to a sermon from Calvary Temple on the radio, and the brothers were influenced by a certain “Reverend Doctor Kim of Korea” when he visited the country in the 1990s, but there are no visible connections to the wider global Pentecostal “scene”. The church’s European branch has a rather uninformative website here.

The church’s link with the police is also stressed in an article published today, following another conference:

“Their vision and our vision are the same,” Mr Vulaono said.

He said he and Police Commissioner Esala Teleni were brothers and that no one could take it away from them.

“Looking for souls, when the police came up with this vision, we fully supported it,” he said.

“I already said so many times that we support police work 110 per cent because the two organisations have the same vision.”

Teleni was in the news in February, when he attacked non-Christian ethnic Indian police officers; Stuff.co.nz reported that:

One of Fiji’s top coup plotters, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni, has launched an attack on Indians in his force, calling them backstabbers and liars.

And he says any of them who oppose his Christian mission will be booted out of the force.

…”I don’t know what’s wrong with you people,” he told the Indians.

Teleni recently launched a high profile Christian police crusade and at the meeting he says he never forced the Indian police to join it, only he encouraged them.

…”I have a list of people; I’m going to start terminating their services. I am not hesitant to do that… No one is going to deter me and my Jesus. I never talk about your religions. I never discuss your religions because I respect it. But at the same time you just respect my religion. You do not go to the press.”

Fiji TV said Teleni then issued what sounded like a warning: “You’ve never seen my…my other side.”

An unsourced report at a blog entitled Soli Vakasama tells us that:

While speaking at the Assemblies of God Church Conference, Commodore Esala Teleni said he dismissed some police officers after the Holy Spirit spoke to him that these officers were transporting drugs to Sigatoka and were involved in some major robberies.

Commodore Teleni stressed that he has told all the members of the force that he wants full transformation.

He said the Holy Spirit has spoken to him that the only way to modernize the force is through the crusade.

And a blog entitled Coup Four And A Half, which publishes news censored by the government, alleges that in May

…all those based at the Central Police Station in Suva were called to parade in the CPS car park. What was supposed to be a normal weekly parade turned into a religious sermon of 10 minutes by a preacher of the New Methodist Church, a non-police officer. The sermon was done in the Fijian language, so Indians and others who have little understanding of the language were confused.

In his opening remarks, the preacher told 300 officers and ordinary policemen and policewomen that Jesus Christ is the “only way and only truth”. The preacher added that Christianity is the only true religion and that other religions are untrue.

On the other hand, another Fiji Times report suggests that the church does not want to be antagonistic against other religious groups:

CLOSE to 4000 youths marched the streets of Suva yesterday to declare God in their lives.

…It is not only for our church but also for all believers because in the kingdom we are all one.

“We don’t want to declare war against any other religion or any other race but against the dark force that is our enemy.”

The church has links with other establishment figures, as well as with sportsmen. In April, the Fiji Times reported on a “Be A Man” Conference organised by the church:

It has become a nationwide conference that has captured the attention of many and its growing popularity includes the participation of public figures like France-based rugby winger Filimoni Delasau, former national rugby 15s skipper Ro Alifereti Doviverata and Navy Commander, Francis Kean.

Meanwhile, the old Methodist Church is facing restrictions on its activites – in particular, its conference has been banned by the military government. The August issue of Touchstone, a New Zealand Methodist publication, is available as a pdf from here and has further details:

The government put an indefinite ban on Methodist Conference after a motion for discussion was circulated within the Church on the current political situation. The motion rejected the moral authority of the military government, and made 10 demands, including that the 1997 Constitution be reinstated and elections be held by the end of 2009.


One reason leaders of the Methodist Church in Fiji (MCF) have decided to take a confrontational approach against the government over its annual Conference may be that they believethe government is promoting analternative Methodist Church in orderto undermine them.

…The New Methodist Church has taken a prominent role in a new initiative the Fiji Police have taken to reduce crime by promoting religious values both within the police force and in the community. Waisea Vulaono says he split from the MCF and established the New Methodist Church 10 years ago.

The reasons given for the split are differences over worship practices – in particular music and Pentecostal phenomena – as well as the MCF’s lack of fundraising initiatives and its willingness to indulge the chewing of kava. Waisea (the article’s name for Raijeli), explains that:

“The old Methodist Church is more concerned with the things of this world than the word of God. They want to uphold Fijian culture rather than the Holy Spirit”

Helen Ukpabio Tells State Governor to “Remember what Happened to Saddam Hussein “

Claims police also searching for UK Observer journalist and Sophie Okonedo

Nigerian evangelist Helen Ukpabio has a threatening message for the state governor of Akwa Ibom (Nigeria), Godswill Akpabio:

“Governor Akpabio should note that Charles Taylor once held sway in Liberia but today is on trial for crime he committed while in office. He should also remember what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and therefore we want him to remember that he would be held accountable for his actions while he was in power,” the evangelist said.

Ukpabio and her lawyer Victor Ukutt are upset because Akpabio had intervened to protect the headquarters of the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), which was recently raided by the police – with Ukutt in attendance. CRARN has in recent months gained international recognition for its work protecting children who have been accused of witchcraft by local evangelists, following the broadcast of an award-winning Channel 4 documentary in December.  This documentary went viral worldwide (it was also recently broadcast in Australia), and Akpabio has been under serious pressure to improve the situation. Helen Ukpabio, however, maintains thar CRARN’s president Sam Itauma is a “wizard”, and that the children CRARN protects really are witches who need “deliverance”. She also alleges fraud, and that she has been unfairly villified – in particular, she was abused on a trip to London shortly after the programme aired. The programme also featured a secretly-filmed interview with her, in which she warned the programme-makers that she was a powerful person.

The threat against the state governor appears in This Day. The report adds:

Ukpabio accused the governor of using his position to frustrate attempts by detectives from the Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos to arrest one Sam Ita Uma, his wife and some British nationals namely Gary Foxcroft, Tracey Macvey, MagGaven and Sophie Okonedo who were being sought by the police over allegations of counterfeiting, and pirating of Ukpabi’’s film/home video entitled “End of The Wicked” as well as sending threat signals to her.

This is somewhat garbled; Gary Foxcroft is a British citizen who works with CRARN, and he was the main guide for the documentary-makers. Sophie Okonedo is a famous British actress whose father was Nigerian; her only connection to the story is that Channel 4 hired her to narrate the programme. Tracy McVeigh, meanwhile, is a journalist who wrote a story on the subject for the Observer back in 2007, which I blogged on here. “MagGaven” is Mags Gavan, who made the documentary. Ukpabio also complains that her horror film End of the Wicked which shows witch-children flying around at night and causing a man’s eyes to drop out – was “pirated” by the documentary-makers when they used short extracts in the programme.

Meanwhile, footage has emerged of the conference on the subject which was held in Nigeria last month, which was invaded by more than a hundred of Ukpabio’s followers in orange T-shirts; the conference’s organiser, Leo Igwe, provided me with a guest-post here.


(Video hat tip: The Teapost Atheist)

President in Exile of Poland Dies in Colchester

Sombre news from the website of the Order of St. Stanislas:

Count Juliusz Nowina Sokolnicki,  President of Poland in Exile, 8th Grand Master of the Order of St Stanislas passed away at 0300 GMT today [17 August].

I blogged on the Count back in January, when I wrote an entry on various “Chivalric Orders”. He had been a member of the UK-based Polish Government in Exile (PGIE), of which he created a rival faction in 1971 that never recognised the post-Communist regimes in Poland. A 1996 essay by a certain Mark Harrison gives some interesting purported background, including a statement supposedly made by the official PGIE in 1987:

A certain Juliusz Sokolnicki declared himself President of the Republic of Poland and has been active for more than 10 years in the Polish exile community. He nominated prime ministers, generals (even on Field Marshal of a non-existent army), ambassadors and consuls. He confers awards and bestows decorations. In 1984 he created the Order of St Stanislas, the recipients of which have to pay sums varying from $100 to $1,000 according to the class of the order. Awarding orders is, therefore, a source of Mr Sokolnicki’s income…The activities and titles of this usurper would seem to be taken out of a burlesque or an operetta and would be highly amusing if they were not so harmful. Some foreigners have no understanding of the activities of the Polish emigrés led by their legal President and Government in Exile and accept Mr Sokolnicki’s fictitious nominations and awards. Apparantly some even support him financially. Unfortunately there are some Poles, although not many, who are eager to receive distinctions from him.

Poles in Poland should also be warned against the pernicious activities of this usurper. By his “decree” of 5 March 1985 he announced the formation of a “Special Penal Tribunal” in Warsaw with jurisdiction over the whole country. Its aim is to pass judgement on “political crimes perpetrated by the Communists and their collaborators, for physical and mental cruelty against citizens, and for betrayal of national interests”. These crimes will carry the eath penalty and there will be no right of appeal. A “special underground operative unit” will be entrusted with execution of sentences.

We have no intention of defending the Communist rulers of Poland but the formation of such a “tribunal” is against all principles of law and order and must be condemned as a provocative diversion.

A second essay, by Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, adds further claims:

In 2001 the Order of St. Stanislas was featured on a Canadian (CBC TV) investigative journalism show. Part of the exposé dealt with the Order’s offer of membership to the expansionist Russian war-hawk Vladimir Zhirinovsky (a rather bizarre offer for an allegedly patriotic Polish group).

Sokolnicki lives modestly in Colchester, Essex…In addition to describing himself as former President of the Polish Republic, and Grand Master of Saint Stanislas, he also claims other dubious “honours.” Sokolnicki claims to have given the grand collar of his Order to the late Pope – a letter from the retired Bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg diocese dated 4 April 1995 confirmed that he was given several gifts to pass on to His Holiness on the occasion of his 1991 Polish visit, including a “Diploma and Insignia of the Order of St Stanislas”. The Bishop states that he “gave all those gifts to the Vatican delegation … some were taken to Rome some were left in Koszalin. The grand collar of the Order was left in Koszalin and it is in diocesan collection of Holy Father visit souvenirs”. Saint Stanislas also has branches across the world and, for some reason, appears to be particularly active in New Zealand…

In New Zealand, the Order is represented by a veteran of the Rhodesian Light Infantry. The “Order of St. Stanislas” appears to appeal to anti-Communist types; perhaps its most famous member was Gen William Westmoreland, the US war commander in Vietnam who became notorious for his dismissal of civilian casualties on the grounds that “death is not a big deal” in the “Orient”.

Meanwhile, a third piece, by “Dr. Pangloss”, informs us that:

There is also a whimsical side to the count as evidenced by his close collaboration with Mr. George King, aka “His Serene Highness Prince Doctor George King de Santorini, Count of Florina, Prince and Grand Master of the Mystic Order of St. Peter”…and president of the “Aetherius Society”, which maintains extra-planetary contacts with the inhabitants of the planet Saturn!

Apparently, there was a schism in 2004, which led to the head of the Ukrainian branch, Pavlo V’yalov, forming a rival organisation of the same name.

Meet Ron McRae, the Birther Bishop

Also: Church teaches that “mixing of races” is forbidden by Bible as “fornication”

WorldNetDaily attempts to resurrect the “Obama’s Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya” story:

Although no other evidence has surfaced placing Barack Obama’s mother in Kenya at the time of the president’s birth, a taped telephone conversation in which his Kenyan step-grandmother purportedly claims he was born in the coastal city of Mombasa has become an Internet hit since its submission as evidence in a lawsuit challenging the president’s eligibility.

…The Oct. 16, 2008, telephone interview was conducted by American Christian minister Ron McRae, who describes himself in his affidavit as an overseer of the Anabaptist Churches in North America and a “Presiding Elder on the African Presbytery.”

A second affidavit was sworn by Kenyan Anabaptist minister Rev. Kweli Shuhubia, a pseudonym chosen to protect his safety.

The claim is that Sarah Obama admitted that she was present at the birth in Kenya, but that her translators and others with her quickly scrambled to change her answer. Further,

Shuhubia also testified in his affidavit that Sarah Obama “never changed her reply” that she was present in person when Senator Obama was born in Kenya.

He further testified that he traveled to Mombasa, Kenya, where he interviewed personnel at Coast Provincial Hospital.

“I then had meetings with the Provincial Civil Registrar,” he swore. “I learned there were records of Ann Dunham giving birth to Barack Hussein Obama, III, in Mombasa, Kenya, on Aug. 4, 1961.

“I spoke directly with an Official, the Principal Registrar, who openly confirmed the birthing records of Senator Barack H. Obama Jr. and his mother were present, however the file on Barack H. Obama Jr.’s birth in Kenya is top secret,” he stated.

Ron McRae is a founder of the “Street Preachers’ Fellowship“; another SPF member is Rueben Israel, who also runs the “Official Steet Preachers” – this latter group held a protest outside a mosque in Tampa in February  and has personally rebuked me as a “beer-guzzling liberal”. McRae was previously in the news propounding the view that the Flight 93 memorial was a secret message of support for terrorism; the Tribune-Democrat reported in 2005:

The Rev. Ron McRae, self-proclaimed bishop of Bible Anabaptist Church near Jerome, brought the controversy to the forefront a day after the design was unveiled last week in Washington.

McRae said Street Preachers Fellowship, based in Lancaster, is preparing to file for an injunction to stop the design.

“I’m not the only one in America that sees that,” he said. “Americans are fed up with terrorism, and we’re not stupid. We’re not all politically correct in trying to appease our enemies.”

A hostile profile in the Post-Gazette adds that:

McRae is a self-proclaimed Anabaptist bishop and, as such, has felt it his calling to disrupt the lives of gays, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and whatever other among the citizenry he considers the future entree at the Almighty’s celestial barbecue come Judgment Day. He has been found with a sign and Bible and loud denunciations at such venues as the convention of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the annual Rosary Rally in Johnstown. A former police officer from Houston, Texas, his earlier career gave him a keen eye for the line between protected dissent and prosecutable harassment. Thus, in his subsequent life as an evangelistic nuisance, he has always been able to win civil liberties cases against the police when they get fed up enough to cart him off to the hoosegow.

His church has a website here; it includes a long account of how McRae and some other preachers visited Africa and how, as a result “the Anabaptists Churches of Africa were officially established in December of 2007”, with no fewer than four “National Bishops” for DRC, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya; the Kenyan bishop is a certain “Bishop Constant Makoka”. Further,

The Presbytery along with Bishop McRae are already working with  preachers in the Ivory Coasts, Nigeria and Ethiopia, with Brother Kweli Shuhubia from Kenya having just returned from a preaching tour in the Sudan.

Judging from the captions under the accompanying photographs, just about every child McRae’s team met was “an orphan”, and we’re told that he was the first white man seen by some of the natives he encountered. There’s also a toe-curling discussion of the significance of the early Christian teacher “Simeon that was called Niger”, who appears in Acts 13:1:

One of the Apostle Paul’s ordaining elders was black. They called him “Niger” (Acts 13:1), from which comes the words Nigerian, Niger, Negro, Neger and the infamous American word “nigger”. The word simply means “black”. It wasn’t the preacher’s name. His name was Simeon, but he was called “Niger”. They called him that. His Christian brothers called him that. God called him that (vs. 1), and wrote it down in the everlasting word of God. The word means “black”, like in the Latin “Niger” (pronounced “Neger” with a short e sound) and Spanish “negro”. In America the blacks and the whites use such terminology to divide. In the Bible and in the church of the Living God they used it to unite as one body in Christ Jesus. The church at Antioch had no racial prejudices, nor ecclesiastical boundaries though they maintained habitational boundaries (Acts 17:16), and adhered to the Biblical prohibition against mixing of the races, since the Bible calls such sin “fornication” (see Revelation 2:14/ c.f. Numbers 25:1/ 31:16).

The verses cited against “mixing of the races” in fact refer to stories in which foreign women led astray Israelite men into “idolatory”; the issue is not one of “race” but of religious purity. It is difficult to judge how far McRae pushes this doctrine of racial separation, although the church website also carries some articles which are password-protected for “members only”. The teaching does not appear in the extensive Articles of Faith section. It may or may not be a factor in his hatred for Obama, which is expounded on here at interminable length:

 …in these last days, Government now forces upon us an unbearable injustice, and trampling of the Constitution of the United States, in thinking to force the people to accept a foreigner as the President of this Republic, ignoring the single most important qualification for the highest office in our land, that such a one, not just gain such “power by the consent of the governed”, but that he be naturally born amongst us as one of us. There has never been an alternative option to replace “a natural born citizen” as the President of these United States. The Constitution knows no such option. Howbeit, the Federal Courts have repeatedly refused the people’s right to challenge such unprecedented trampling and violation of what the Constitution clearly says, and to date refuses to require such an Imposter to prove his “natural born” citizenship…Yet in these last days, where Tyrants’ minds have “devised liberal things”, and uttered so much error before the Creator of all men, that the liberal, vile cacophony resounds throughout the land to drown out doubtful voices, whose only authority rests in the Document now being trampled under foot of Tyrants with the innocent blood of their citizens dripping from their hands…

McRae also has some recently-formed churches in Burma and Pakistan, and his evangelism has in the past brought him to the UK. Bedford comes off badly:

It was abundantly clear that the citizens of Bedford had not changed, but rather grew worse than they were when John Bunyan preached here 400 years ago. Less than 50 tracts were accepted among over 15,000 Bedford villagers walking past, and it was seen in the countenances of their faces why Bunyan called this place, “The City of Destruction”.

Jerusalem Post Puffs Jim Barfield’s Copper Scroll Treasure Quest

The Jerusalem Post carries a puff-piece by Shelly Neese on Jim Barfield’s quest (blogged by me several times) to find the treasure described in the Qumran “Copper Scroll”:

…The theory to which Barfield ascribes – and most Dead Sea scholars reject – is that the scroll is neither a hoax nor a remnant of the Second Temple period, but rather was created during the First Temple period. His hypothesis derives from the Second Book of Maccabees, as well as a lesser known seventeenth century book called Emek Hamelech (“Valley of the King”). These two works tell the story of the prophet Jeremiah who, with the help of five Holy men, one named Shimur Halevi, carefully hid the holy objects of the Temple to protect them from the conquering Babylonians, and documented those locations on a copper tablet.

This is nonsense; as Neese goes on to note, the Copper Scroll was written in an early form of Mishnaic Hebrew, and so dates from far later than the time of Jeremiah. The passage from 2 Maccabees to which Barfield refers is in Chapter 2, and it claims to be quoting an older source:

The same document also tells how the prophet, following a divine revelation, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him and how he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God’s inheritance. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he blocked up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. (NAB)

The New Jerusalem Bible has an acid note on his:

The description is not historical: the Tent of Meeting did not exist after the building of Solomon’s Temple, the ark disappeared when the Temple was destroyed, and the historical Jeremiah did not regret it.

We are directed to Jeremiah 3:16 as evidence of this last point:

When you multiply and become fruitful in the land, says the LORD, They will in those days no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD!” They will no longer think of it, or remember it, or miss it, or make another. (NAB)

As for the Emek Hamelech, this was written by a German Kabbalist named Naftali Bacharach (also known as Naftali Hertz ben Yaakov Elchanan) in 1648, and it is highly mythological. The claim is that Bacharach derived his account from earlier manuscripts, although I have not been able to find much in English about the text and its origins.  One purported translation of the relevant section can be seen on this somewhat eccentric website (the author of which claims that the Temple treasures were found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun, but let’s deal with one thing at a time…). The site seems to have drawn on writings by Vendyl Jones.

We are told that:

In 1992 Rabbi Rachmael Steinburg…and his student, Rabbi Mendel Tropper, began to search for sources that could shed light on “the other records.” [regarding the Copper Scroll] “They found another source for and reference to “the records” in a book published in Amsterdam, Holland in the year 1648. It was written by Rabbi Naftali (ben Elchanan) Hertz. The work was entitled Emeq HaMelekh (“Valley of the King”) … Rabbi Hertz calls these records Mishnayot, and included them in the introduction to his text.

These rabbis have no other internet presence (at least in non-Hebrew) besides this story.

The text follows (square brackets in original):

These are the vessels dedicated and concealed when the Temple was destroyed: The Tabernacle and the Curtain, the Holy Menorah, the Ark of Testimony [Covenant], the golden forehead Nameplate,the golden crown of Aharon the Cohen, the Breastplate of Judgment, the silver Trumpets, the Cherubim, and the Altar of burnt offerings, the Curtain of the Communion Tent,the forks and the bread molds, the Table [of the Showbread], the Curtain of the Gate, the Copper Altar, the sacred garments of Aharon which were worn by the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) on the Day of Atonement, Pa’amonim (bells) and Rimonim (pomegranates) on the hem of the robe [of the Cohen Gadol], the holy vessels that Moses made on Mount Sinai by the command of the Holy One, the Staff, and the Jar of the Manna.

These are the holy vessels and the vessels of the Temple that were in Jerusalem and in every place. They were inscribed by Shimur HaLevi and his companions, on a “Luach Nehoshet” (Copper Plate), [this of course is the Copper Scroll] with all the Vessels of the Holy of Holies that Shlomo son of David made. And together with Shimur were Hizkiyahu, Zidkiyah, Haggai the Prophet, and Zechariah, son of Berachiah, son of Ido the Prophet…

We then read an inventory of treasure, and we are told that some was buried in the ground, some was “hidden and concealed in the wall of Babylon and in Tel Bruk under the big willow tree in Babylon upon which they hung their lyres”, and some (this is less promising) “was taken by angel Shimshiel”.

The two stories cannot be reconciled in way Neese would have us believe. In the first story, Jeremiah goes alone to a cave – he does not create a guide to finding it, as it will be revealed by God in due course. There are no five “Holy Men”, either. In the second story there is no Jeremiah and no cave, and although we are told the “Holy Men” made an inventory in copper, we are not told that they also recorded a guide to finding the treasure. And the items and amounts listed, and the locations given, do not match the Copper Scroll anyway.

Barfield has declined to make public how he cracked the true meaning of the Copper Scroll (which, although obscure, is not really a “code”), but Neese tells us that

After looking at the scroll for five minutes he deciphered the first location, and twenty minutes later he identified the next four locations…Once again applying his experience as a fire marshal, Barfield packaged up his research in the style of an arson investigative report. He then boarded a plane, and delivered his report directly into the hands of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem. Given his lack of archeological background, his Christian faith, and the fact that the IAA confronts treasure hunters every day, I asked if they treated him skeptically. “Once they saw my report,” he replied laughingly, “they just moved me to the head of the class.

…He says that all of the archaeologists, rabbis, and historians presented with his research have been convinced. “It is so simple.” He says. “They just all thump their heads.”

At the foot of the report, we read that

Shelley Neese is managing editor and columnist for the DC-based pro-Israel Christian magazine, The Jerusalem Connection.

An earlier article about Barfield produced for that magazine can be seen here. The Jerusalem Post has relationships with a number of Christian Zionist organisations, so presumably Neese’s gushing article (“I can’t help but wish he is indeed ‘the guy who cracked the code on the Copper Scroll.'”) – which has no note of caution or scepticism, and only the faintest hint of a passing reference to serious scholarship on the subject – is there as a sop to this constituency. In particular, the Post runs a “Christian Edition” in conjunction with the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem.

(Hat tip: Jim West, who suggests that “Whoever the IAA archaeologist who is meeting with him is, he or she should be called on the carpet. And whoever gave him a permit [to dig] should explain himself fully.”)

Some Notes on American Christian Fundamentalism and Judaism

Staying with Florida and Governor Charlie Crist, he’s also in the news for another reason:

Crist told a group of real estate agents Friday that he’s had prayer notes placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year and no major storms have hit Florida.

Crist noted that just before his election in 2006, Florida had been affected by a total of eight hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.

Crist, who is a Methodist, has a particular fondness for Jewish cultural practices; in 2007 he invited Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Schneur Oirechman to install a mezuzah on the doorpost to his office. This kind of thing may help him win Jewish votes, but it will also give him credit with the Christian Right, a swathe of which is appropriating Jewish cultural expressions.

Christian attitudes to the Western Wall have changed dramatically over the years: in the Byzantine period, the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple was used by Christians as evidence that Judaism had been supplanted by Christianity as the true religion. More recently, however, the site has come to be treated with respect by Christians, in recognition of its place in Biblical history, and as a sign of increasing good relations between Jews and Christians. The Pope has been known to pray at the Wall, and for many Protestants the Wall is more  congenial than churches associated with events in the life of Jesus, where alien Roman Catholic and Orthodox icongraphy dominate.

However, although Christians may respect Judaism, there is still a tradition of Christian exclusivity. Everyone is urged to “accept Christ” in order to find salvation; what then is the point of Judaism? Should not Christians continue to seek the conversion of Jews to Christianity, even though many Jews complain that this is highly offensive, and perhaps even anti-Semitic? A couple of ways around this problem have been developed by Christian Zionists: the return of Jesus is coming very soon, and so Jews will be converted by supernatural means then, or – more controversially – there is a “dual covenant”, in which both religions are equality valid. Jerry Falwell baulked at this last idea, although it appears to be the de facto position of many Christian Zionists.

The teaching that God has transferred the “chosenness” of the Jews to the Church is derided as anti-Semitic; instead, Christians now share in the “chosenness” of the Jews. Thus we see John Hagee wearing a prayer shawl, support for the building of a new temple in Jerusalem, and specialist outfits selling Jewish ritual and cultural objects to Christians. Jesus becomes known as “Yeshua”, and the habit of writing “G-d” rather than “God” is adopted. Further, there is a vicarious identification with the IDF (such as the “Maccabean Resistance” I noted yesterday), and Christian America becomes  a divinely-favoured “Judaeo-Christian” culture (albeit threatened from within by Obama) allied with Israel against the Muslims in a holy war.

Even the Bible can be revised to fit this religio-nationalistic agenda: WorldNetDaily promotes Joel Richardson’s fantasy of a “Muslim Anti-Christ” emerging (a theory that builds on the rubble of the failed “Soviet Anti-Christ” idea), and his friend Walid Shoebat persuades Christians that the word “666” in the Book of Revelation is a misreading for “In the Name of Allah”. For some Christian Zionist groups, such as the Jerusalem Connection, finding that an ethnic group has Jewish DNA is more important than any actual evangelisation, and Good Friday pales beside Passover. Others, such as Jim Barfield, flirt with the “Hebrew Roots” Movement, which accepts “Yeshua” as Messiah but which rejects all Christian theology. Meanwhile, one aspect of Christian history which becomes foregrounded is the Crusades, whitewashed of their anti-Jewish elements and earthly motives (there’s also some of that in the UK). How far can this be pushed before we’re actually dealing with a New Religious Movement rather than anything recognisable as Christianity?

Of course, the idea of America as “chosen” is as old as the Pilgrim Fathers, but this particular formulation is something new. The discourse has a wider appeal: one criticism of Obama’s speech denying that the USA is a Christian nation memorably made it onto the Daily Show‘s “Moment of Zen”; according to John Kasich of Recharge Ohio:

It would have been more appropriate for Barack Obama to say America is Jewish and Christian.

Meanwhile, a woman in an IDF T-Shirt who opposes health-care reform on the grounds of “Biblical values” can mock an Israeli Jew who takes a different view with a shout of “Heil Hitler”; presumably he’s the wrong type of Jew to identify with.

Fathima Rifqa Bary Custody Case Becomes Anti-Muslim Circus

The Fathima Rifqa Bary circus in Florida is now shaping up in the tradition of American legal disputes that manage to encapsulate the state of the country at a particular moment. An electric photo essay on the Orlando Sentinal website by Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda parades archetypal tub-thumping attention-grabbers: there’s Alan Kornman of ACT for America waving around a copy of Reliance of the Traveller, a Fourteenth Century manual of Islamic jurisprudence, and pointing out a verse that prescribes death for apostates; meanwhile, Ed and Sandra Warmoth from the “Maccabean Resistance” harangue passersby with placards reading “Know Your Enemy, Know Your Season, Know Your G-d” (the Warmouths are actually Christians, but like an increasingly large swathe of American evangelicals, they prefer to identify vicariously with Jewish cultural expressions and militaristic Zionism than with the historic priorities of Christianity); while Tom Trento of the Florida Security Council gives a press conference. We also see Bary herself poring over a Bible in court; her tearful mother, and the father – a mild looking Westernized Sri Lankan in a suit who, we are to believe, would rather kill his daughter and face the consequences than live with the shame of a daughter who has rejected her Muslim heritage to become a Christian.

Meanwhile, Bary’s attorney, a conservative activist named John Stemberger, is alleging that her family have links to Al Qaeda through their local mosque in Ohio, and that Bary is the victim of “mental, physical and sexual abuse”. Stemberger has also publicised Bary’s parents’ home address; the St. Petersburg Times has a bit of background (link added):

Stemberger is the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council. Orlando magazine last month called him one of the 50 most powerful people in the city. He’s a leader in Florida’s anti-gay marriage movement and doesn’t believe in teaching evolution “as scientific fact.”

Also part of the story is Governor Charlie Crist, who likes to pander to the  Christian Right. He’s in no mood to appeal for a bit of calm:

I am grateful to Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson for his decision to grant Fathima Rifqa Bary the right to remain in Florida.

The first and only priority of my administration is the safety and wellbeing of this child.

I am grateful for the good work of Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and my General Counsel, Rob Wheeler, for personally advocating the administration’s position by attending today’s hearing.

We will continue to fight to protect Rifqa’s safety and wellbeing as we move forward.

Curiously, one person is absent from the unfolding drama: Blake Lorenz, the pastor of the neo-Pentecostal Global Revolution Church to which Bary fled after communicating with the church on Facebook. Lorenz is apparently on holiday.

WorldNetDaily has a round-up of exultant conservative punditry on the subject:

[Pamela] Geller said the teen’s case “is a public relations nightmare for Islamist groups, as her plea validates everything that scholars such as Ibn Warraq, Robert Spencer, Dr. Andrew Bostom, Wafa Sultan, etc., have written and said.”

Sultan, a Syrian-born psychiatrist, human rights activist and author, wrote on JihadWatch.org that the case “highlights the danger of creeping jihad in the Western world.”

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, author of “Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?” told Fox News Bary’s life will be in danger if she is forced to return to her parents.

“Anyone who converts from Islam is considered an apostate, and apostasy is a capital crime,” she said. “If she is returned to her family, if she is lucky, they will isolate her, beat her, threaten her, and if she is not ‘presuaded’ to return to Islam, they will kill her. They have no choice.”

And so on. Geller claims that she has “been talking to someone who is very close to Rifqa Bary”, who alleges that Bary was regularly beaten.

Also on the bandwagon is W.L. Cati ( whom I blogged here), who explains that

“As far as Muslims are concerned, she should have the death penalty for converting to Christianity…And so even though she is here and appears to be safe, thank God the judge made a good decision as far as her behalf, but what is Islam going to do?”

Cati says she believes the girl is telling the truth based on her own experience of having been married to a Muslim.

WorldNetDaily also notes a news story from Pakistan, which, without any evidence, accuses Bary of promiscuous behaviour and of “conjur[ing] up a story of conversion to Christianity” in the face of parental discipline. WND also carries a photo (from before her flight to Florida) of Bary posing cheerfully with a black American boy of around the same age as her, although the significance of this is unclear.

As I noted in my previous blog entry on this subject, Bary has a strange understanding of what an “honour killing” actually is; she claims it would be a “great honour” for her parents to kill her – but honour killing  (which is rare in Sri Lanka anyway) is about restoring honour which is perceived to have been lost; it’s not about gaining extra merit, as if it were some kind of human sacrifice. Where did she get that idea from? And the formal death penalty for apostasy is a different matter again, with a variety of Islamic opinions about whether it is applicable or not, and if so who has the authority to carry it out. I have no idea what kind of a man Bary’s father is, but it is foolish to claim that a verse from Reliance of the Traveller proves that a Muslim father must kill his daughter, regardless of any paternal feeling and heedless of both the law (in either the USA or Sri Lanka) and of his own imprisonment (and in Ohio, execution) which would invariably follow.

White House Santeria Rumour Created by Conservative Blogger

Much fun at Wonkette after a Townhall blogger named Kristen Atkinson posted a story claiming that a friend of Michelle Obama had revealed that Michelle’s mother was practising Santeria, a form of religion involving magical practices, in the White House. Atkinson’s whole blog has been removed (anyone can start a Townhall blog, by the way), but the story has been reposted elsewhere (e.g. here) and the author has rebuked Wonkette for making mocking comments:

Do you really, truly, seriously think it is OK for a president to use a forged birth certificate? Do you actually believe it is appropriate for a man who was raised a Muslim to pretend he is a Christian and go to a church for 20 years with an anti-American preacher? Do you really want a president who was brainwashed by communists since he was a child, up through university, to hate America to be our president? Do you think that it is fine if a family member of the president defiles the White House with voodoo? Don’t you know what fate could befall our nation as a result of allowing Satanic forces to gather over the White House?

Where will such things end? Before long, we’ll be reading about the President’s wife holding séances in the White House. Or maybe presidential appointments being approved by the First Lady’s astrologer.

In the lead up to the 2008 election, a neo-Pentecostal email rumour warned that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother was killing chickens in occult rituals “to make [John McCain] look confused and like an idiot”.

Jim Barfield’s Israel Adventure Continues: “Hebrew Roots” Teacher Sets Up Meeting with Archaeologist

A couple of times now I’ve blogged on Jim Barfield, the Oklahoman former fire investigator who claims to have worked out the location of an amazing stash of treasure rescued from Israel’s First Temple and buried in the Judaean Desert. Barfield believes he has divined this information from study of the Copper Scroll, a document found with the Dead Sea Scrolls, although he’s not giving away the secret. Barfield managed to get a hearing from some credulous state senators, and he accompanied an Israeli expedition, although that does not appear to have ended well. However, the quest continues, as Barfield explains on the blog of the Jerusalem Connection, a particularly hardline Christian Zionist outfit:

I’ve been in Israel the last few weeks contacting archeologists and people of influence to try and determine what is holding up the excavation and maybe some clues as to what is going on.

Such as:

For those of you that keep up with Avi [Ben Mordechai], I spent several hours with him going over my research and we actually went to one of the sites to show him how amazingly accurate the Copper Scroll is.  By the end of the day he and his wife were convinced.  So much so, that he made arrangements for me to meet with a very kind gentleman by the name of Dr. Hanan Eshel.

That’s an interesting connection. Ben Mordechai runs “Millennium 7000 Communications”, a “Hebrew Roots” outfit which rejects the Christian tradition (such as the idea of the Trinity) while accepting “Yeshua” as the Messiah (this is too strange to be called “Messianic Judaism”). From his website:

The Two Houses of Israel-“Ephraim” and “Judah,” as taught in Ezekiel 37, is a valid teaching. “Gentiles” that wish to join themselves to the corporate body of Israel are to be welcomed in, but they must agree to observe the commandments of the Holy Written Torah in order to connect to the blessings and to the promised inheritance that belongs to all Israel through the Messiah. Gentiles who say that they are Israel but do not believe that they have to keep and do the Torah commandments that were given to the people of Israel are stealing from YHWH, taking His blessings without the responsibilities of those blessings.

Ben Mordechai is apparently an enthusiast of Kabbalah, and he sees divine messages in natural and political phenomena. For example, he interprets the moon astrologically:

For centuries, scholars have attempted to ascertain the meaning of this prophecy. Jewish tradition and beliefs may help us explain this passage. In 1996, Israel celebrated the 3,000th year anniversary of Jerusalem – from King David’s conquest in 1004 B.C. to A.D. 1996

On Passover, April 3, 1996, a full lunar eclipse appeared over Jerusalem. A photograph of this eclipse appeared in the Jerusalem Post with the caption, “The Moon of Blood.” When a full lunar eclipse appears, the moon takes on a reddish, almost bloody appearance. On September 26 of the same year, a second lunar eclipse created a blood-like image and was visible in Jerusalem on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles. A third lunar eclipse (90%) happened six months later during PURIM, the celebration to remember how the famed Jewish Queen Esther defeated the wicked plans of Haman.

Thus, THREE lunar eclipses occurring within one year on or near three Jewish celebration days is almost unheard of. These three “blood moons,” caused tremendous excitement and anxiety among rabbis in Israel, according to the same article. A blood moon, which appeared twice the same year and fell on the first and last feast of Israel, indicated to them this was a cosmic sign from God of impending trouble in Israel. The ancient belief was that a blood moon (lunar eclipse) could symbolize BLOODSHED and WAR.

Since 1996, thousands of Israelis have died in their own land from the suicide attacks of Islamic radicals. Just four years after these events in 2000 the Palestinian Authority launched its most recent infitiada or “uprising” against Israel at the hands of the now deceased Yasser Arafat. From a Hebraic understanding, the signs of a sackcloth sun and blood moon can refer to a full solar and lunar eclipse. According to Scriptures, this will be one form of cosmic activity prior to the coming Day of the Lord and the future Tribulation.

This kind of thing appeals to some American Christian fundamentalists; the scholarly realisation that to understand Jesus and the New Testament properly one ought to know about the First Century Jewish context is corrupted into the idea that someone peddling supposed mystical secrets from the Jewish tradition somehow provides special esoteric insight into spiritual reality. His worldview also includes “New World Order” paranoia:

…we are a rebellious nation that refuses to repent and obey the written Torah of Moshe. As a result, we must bear our punishment as we are being led down a path that requires us to step into line, serve the laws of our masters (Ezekiel 20:23-25), and obey the NWO bosses and their plans for global control of the world and its populations…we expect a bodily implantation law to be passed in the future (probably in the very near future). Afterall, Israel is a lawless country and lawlessness demands control and we know from Deuteronomy Chapter 28:15-68 that YHWH, the Eternal One of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) is going to use the nations that surround us and use the system that this nation so loves, to control us. But in the end, we KNOW who is Really in Control!

By contrast to all this, Hanan Eshel is a respected Israeli archaeologist of international standing. It’s remarkable that such a fringe figure as Ben Mordechai would be in a position to arrange for him to spend time chatting to a delusional Oklahoman fire investigator.

Barfield also had a meeting with Gershon Salomon, a Jewish “Third Temple” obsessionist who is popular with Christian Zionists, and with Vendyl Jones, with whom he has a natural kinship. Jones is another pseudo-archaeologist, and he provides lazy hacks with easy copy once every few years with dramatic announcements of being “on the verge” of discovering the Ark of the Covenant. Jones is an ex-Christian “Noachide”, and he is associated with the right-wing “Sanhedrin” that has also excited Christian Zionists (the Sanhedrin recently held a bizarre friendly meeting with the Turkish Islamist Adnan Oktar). With both these characters, there’s more chance of Lucy actually letting Charlie Brown kick that ball than that they will actually deliver on their grandiose promises.

In the past Ben Mordechai has associated with Moshe Koniuchowsky, whom I blogged on here.