• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens vs Spinwatch

Here’s one I missed from a couple of weeks ago; the website SpinProfiles was recently temporarily shut down, after the journalist Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens made a complaint to the service provider; the project’s director David Miller writes:

Our SpinProfiles wiki website at www.spinprofiles.org was shut down by web firm 1&1 Internet on 21 June because we did not remove a profile on think-tank researcher Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, son of journalist Christopher Hitchens.

In an email dated Friday 18 June, 1&1’s lawyers said SpinProfiles must ‘immediately remove the profile’ by midday Monday, or face being shut down. Although 1&1 do not host our site, the URL is registered with them. They gave no explanation of how the webpage violated their terms and conditions except that it included ‘personal information’ we did not have ‘permission’ to use.

SpinProfiles’ editor David Miller wrote back asking for more precise details of the objection, arguing, ‘It is clear that the content of the webpage in question is factual and backed up by sourced information. It cannot be wholly contrary to your conditions of service…’

Meleagrou-Hitchens now explains himself:

About a year and a half ago, I was contacted by my former university, informing me that someone was using freedom of information requests to look into my academic past. The university secretary requested my permission to release the information, and although I was quite uneasy that a shadowy group was rooting around my personal life, I allowed it. It later turned out that the information request was made by a website called Neocon Europe, which is also run by Miller. They used the information to create a rather lengthy profile of me, in which I was presented as a sinister neoconservative thinktank “operative”.

Despite being very uncomfortable with Miller’s cyberstalking, I did not respond, and made no complaints. This remained the case until I was recently informed that in the past, Neocon Europe has published the work of Kevin MacDonald, who has expressed antisemitic views and has testified on behalf of the historian David Irving, to define neoconservatism.

…People who are profiled by his websites should be allowed to reserve the right not to have any association with him, and this was the primary issue upon which my complaint was predicated. I asked the site administrators that, due to the past publication of antisemitic views on Neocon Europe, my profile be taken down from the page. Instead, Miller’s team moved it to SpinProfiles, and it was at this point that their web providers took it upon themselves to shut the whole site down.

…”Watch” sites like these, although highly unpleasant, must be allowed to exist, but free speech cannot be taken as a licence to attack and harass political opponents while expecting no censure or response.

I’m not impressed with Meleagrou-Hitchens’ argument here: I looked at the offending profile on Google cache, and the only “personal information” consists of some details about his education. It contains nothing that can be characterised as personally intrusive or as harassment. The assertion that “People who are profiled by his websites should be allowed to reserve the right not to have any association with him”  hints at the suggestion that he was protecting his reputation from some sort of misrepresentation. But this is an insult to the intelligence: no-one who reads a profile of a person on a website assumes that the subject must be “associated” with the site’s owner, particularly if the profile is critical. Although he agrees that such sites “must be allowed to exist”, how exactly does his rather tortuous formulation differ from the more obviously absurd assertion that “People should have the right to disallow critical profiles of themselves on websites that expound political views that they find objectional”?

Of course, SpinWatch is controversial – and not just for the MacDonald fiasco, which resulted in an apology from Miller (the material had been added to the site by another researcher, and Miller removed it as soon as it came to his attention). An article at Standpoint by Shiraz Mather makes some substantive criticisms about the project’s methodology and focus; I agree that the term “neo-con” is thrown about too loosely, as are – worse than that – accusations of racism. Meleagrou-Hitchens also mentions an Israeli scholar named Sagit Yehoshua, who claims that important factual details about her on the site are incorrect. However, none of this changes the fact that Meleagrou-Hitchens’ form of “censure” and “response” to his own profile – a profile which he does not claim was libellous – is not attractive, and his justification does not redound to his credit.

(I should disclose that I have occasional contact of my own with the people who run Spinwatch, and they were helpful in relation to events I blogged here and here.)

SIOA Advertising on Taxis in Chicago

Stop Islamization of America is now advertising on taxis in Chicago, using photos of  girls and women murdered in honour killings to promote its “Leave Islam Safely” website . Similar ads have featured on buses, as I blogged here.

The advertised website leads to Pamela Geller’s “Refuge from Islam” website, where there are some cursory blog postings. The top one reads:

If you are thinking of leaving Islam, be wary, be careful. Do not tell your Muslim friends or family. The Qur’an commands your death for leaving Islam (4:89 calls for the murder of renegades from the faith), and Muhammad is explicit in a hadith: “If anyone changes his religion, kill him” (Bukhari). Many, many ‘honor killings’ have been committed for “crimes” that are in Islamic law considered far less serious than leaving Islam.

Think you’re safe in America? Rifqa Bary has been threatened numerous times for leaving Islam. Rashad Khalifa was murdered by Islamic supremacists in Arizona in the early 1990s — because of his “heretical” teachings. If you doubt that you’re in danger in America, be aware that apostates have been threatened or murdered in recent years in Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. It doesn’t matter how free or open your country’s society is: the law of Islam recognizes no national borders.

If you fear for your life, contact info@avoiceforthepersecuted.com. If you are unsure of how your family or community will respond to your admitting that you’re leaving, don’t take chances. Write to Pamela Geller at writeatlas@aol.com or Robert Spencer at director@jihadwatch.org. If you need immediate protection from a threat, call the police immediately.

A

Start here — these are your best resources for Muslims who have made the journey. They can hekp you.

Contact Nonie at Former Muslims United

Apostates of Islam

 Speak to Ali at  Faith Freedom org

Answering Muslims

Muslims Against Sharia

Above all, don’t give up hope. We can provide safe houses.

There follow several blog posts puffing SOIA and related subjects (of little interest to anyone besides activists) , and, at the very bottom of the page, the addresses of some women’s refuges in Miami. That’s it. No links to any serious resources on either honour crimes or protection for women – instead, there’s a motley collection of websites critical of Islam, some of which are primarily concerned with gaining converts to Christianity.

What little practical advice is given is contradictory:

If you fear for your life, contact info@avoiceforthepersecuted.com… if you need immediate protection from a threat, call the police immediately… We can provide safe houses.

Aside from “call the police immediately”, the rest of this is useless: “avoicefortheperscuted.com” is the website of a Christian writer named Nikki Arana, who lives in Idaho. Arana is the co-author of Through the Eyes of Christ, which presents strategies for persuading Muslims of the truth of Christianity; she doesn’t even claim to have any useful practical advice for ex-Muslims fearful of honour killings. And what exactly do Geller and Spencer know about running a “safe house”? Again, if a “safe house” is needed, that should be a matter for the proper authorities – and not for a pair of publicity hounds more interested in using ex-Muslims as trophies than in offering discrete assistance. The Rifqa Bary case, with which Geller and Spencer have been involved, quickly degenerated into a circus and something of a fiasco.

Plus, once again, there’s a conflation of “honour killings”, which are performed to assert patriarchal authority over females, with threats against apostates and heretics – Amina and Sarah Yaser Said, used in the advert above, were murdered for having boyfriends; we don’t know that they wished to “leave Islam”. All threats, of course, are reprehensible, but I’m incredulous that Geller really cares about someone like “Rashad Khalifa… murdered… because of his ‘heretical’ teachings”. Are she and Spencer really going to provide “safe houses” for heterodox Islamic teachers? Are we going to see a picture of Khalifa on the roof of a taxi?

Nothing here has been thought through properly; this is a stunt calculated to provoke rather than a serious effort to help ex-Muslims.

Nihil Obit

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry following the sudden death of a political activist. The man concerned had featured on this blog several times, due both to his involvement in various controversial political groups that I track, and because of his frequent recourse to litigation against people who had offended him – another keen interest of mine. My post was certainly not  a eulogy, but it was truthful, serious in tone, and did not go into excessive detail about the man’s flaws. My interest, of course, was to put on record some details of his public activities; I was not concerned with his private life.

My blog entry very quickly became close to being the top result on any Google search for the man’s name; this was surprising, as I had expected my entry to have been a small contribution to a larger discussion (a discussion which does not appear in fact to have happened) and there are many other websites which mention him. However, although the man concerned was to some extent a public figure, he was so in an “amateur” capacity rather than as a professional politician. It occured to me that my blog entry having such a high ranking may become intrusive in the months ahead, and it has now been suggested to me by someone who knew the deceased that my post may cause distress to relatives.

Of course, it is certainly the case when someone involves themselves in public controversies, they invite critical scrutiny, and there are many good reasons why such scrutiny should continue even after a protagonist has died. However, in this particular instance, having weighed the potential usefulness of the continued presence of the blog entry to political and legal discussion against how its absence may make life a little easier to cope with for private individuals at a difficult time, I have decided to remove the entry.

Pro-Ukpabio Abusers Turn Vicious

As readers may have noticed, I recently received a deluge of sockpuppeting messages in support of Helen Ukpabio. These all bear the following details:

Email: firstlove2010@gmail.co [sic]
IP: 41.219.253.7

Here’s one of the latest, which I have actually deleted:

Bartholomew you have not still answered to the two accusations on rape, we read you raped two women and one has been missing since 2004, you have deliberately avoided commenting on this why?

Yes, that’s right: a foul and false accusation of rape, made by someone who, if he really believed in God, would surely be fearful of the fate that awaits liars.

Unsurprisingly, though, although he doesn’t fear violating one of the most basic commandments of his supposed religion, he is too cowardly to put his own name to his writings. However, searching for “firstlove2010@gmail.com” on Facebook brings up a certain individual named Edidiong Udoh. This also fits with his first comment, which he left under the name of “Udo” (I’ve now fixed all his sockpuppet comments to the name of “Udoh”). Udoh is also a Facebook friend of someone who tried to link to me on Facebook just minutes before I received the first of several abusive messages through the site.

And who is Edidiong Udoh? According to his profile, his employer is Liberty Films. And Liberty Films, of course, is run by Helen Ukpabio, and exists to promote the belief in child-witches. And Ukpabio, as I blogged just recently, has personally endorsed a foul attack website aimed at her critics.

UPDATE (12 July): More abusive slander of the same sort has come in, this time from someone using the email address “godisreal4me2000@yahoo.com“. On Facebook, this resolves to someone using the name “Mary John”, who, unsurprisingly, is too ashamed to actually put their face on their profile. The Facebook profile has no record prior to 29 May, and its first post was a link to the pro-Ukpabio attack site. The first friend the account owner linked to was a certain Azuaru Omah Ihuomah (maybe actually Omah Azuaru – “Azuaru” is usually a surname), who appears to work on Ukpabio’s films. On 2 July, I received a Facebook friend request Ihuomah at 6:43am (UK time), and from from “Mary John” three minutes later. Some of the material on the attack website has been posted by “omahjeep”.

UPDATE 2 (14 July): Ukpabio, Azuaru Omah Ihuomah, and “Mary John” have now all locked down their Facebook walls.

Marxists Infiltrating Churches to Assist Anti-Christ

Why aren’t some Christian leaders obsessed with the anti-Christ and the Last Days? Obviously, it’s because of Communism. Joel Richardson explains:

I am truly grateful to TV and radio host Glenn Beck for highlighting the Marxist foundations of the “social justice” movement… But beyond “social justice”, there is another foundational theological element to this equation that must be exposed.

…[Marxists] are attempting to infiltrate the Churches, and by altering a few key eschatological doctrines, they believe that they can reconcile Christianity with Marxism

…First, the belief that a charismatic and populist leader (the Antichrist) will emerge in the last-days pretending to vindicate the poor is eliminated. Marxists need the people to trust them and their populist, collectivist, nanny-state ideas.

Yes, a piece warning about the dangers of “charismatic and populist” leaders begins by praising… Glenn Beck. One of the most corrosive and absurd demagogues in American public life today. A man whose phony showmanship and humbug are an insult to the intelligence of the entire USA, if not the world.

And where did Beck get his information “highlighting the Marxist foundations of the ‘social justice’ movement”? Media Matters recently noted his preferred reading matter:

Glenn Beck promoted The Red Network: A “Who’s Who” and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, stating that the book is “from people who were doing what we’re doing now. We now are documenting who all of these people are.” However, the book’s author, Elizabeth Dilling, was a virulent anti-Semite, and The Red Network itself contains numerous passages that espouse anti-Semitism and racism.

Richardson, it should be noted, is a strong supporter of Israel, and at WorldNetDaily he recently attacked Christians who are not as being anti-Semitic.

Richardson sometimes leaves comments on this blog, and he is always polite and personable. In our last exchange, he wrote:

While we may come from two radically different ends of some spectrum, there is no need to refer to one another with such purposeful mockery as you seem to lean toward.

I agree. Mockery is sometimes completely superfluous.

Beck, meanwhile, is continuing to make inroads into the Christian right, despite being a convert to Mormonism; his show recently featured a “Preachers and Pastors” panel, which included John Hagee. Hagee is most notorious for his claim that Hitler was sent by God as a “hunter” to persuade Jews to move to Israel; however, he also rants about how the US economy is run by a group of Satanists called the Illuminati, in particular naming Alan Greenspan and “the Rothschilds”, and he also infers that Satan was able to make particular use of Karl Marx because he was Jewish and Hitler because he was “partly Jewish” (which in fact he wasn’t). Also on the panel, among others, was the pseudo-historian David Barton, who is on board with Beck’s risible “Beck University” project; and Ralph Reed, the former executive of the Christian Coalition and later associate of Jack Abramoff (I previously blogged Abramoff here).

(Incidentally, Beck is not the first populist to ransack old anti-semitic texts for more general conspiracy theories; Pat Robertson’s New World Order did the same thing in the early 1990s)

Lakeland Mega-Church Pastor Responds on NE Moses Links

A few weeks ago I wrote about Bishop NE Moses’ links with Ignited Church, a neo-Pentecostal megachurch in Lakeland, Florida. I noted in turn NE Moses’ links to Helen Ukpabio, who teaches that children can be “witches” who cause misfortune to others. The story was picked up Ed Brayton, who has now been contacted by Pastor Stephen Strader of Ignited. Strader finds Ed’s post “strongly offensive”, but he also has some substantive comments:

First – Bishop Moses was scheduled at my church but at the last minute he cancelled.

Second – He has been a LONG time friend – maybe 10 years – and he has NEVER mentioned anything about any of this witchcraft business. He has spoken in my church on several occasions and I have spoken at his church.

…Immediately upon hearing the accusations, I have contacted Bishop Moses, and his Bishop here in the USA and YOU. The USA Bishop had the SAME reaction as me. He has never even heard of this.

I have NOT heard back from Bishop Moses – but generally it takes weeks for him to answer emails.

…I DO want any and all information about this situation and I give you my word that I will follow up on this.

HOWEVER, I would appreciate a BLOG from you that states that as SOON as I heard of the situation, I contacted you and the Bishops involved and that I SCRIPTURALLY am pursuing the truths in this matter.

In relation to information, I can help Strader out here. The video below comes from Ukpabio’s consecration as a “Lady Apostle” last year. A few months prior to this event, members of Ukpabio’s church had attacked a conference on the subject of child-witchcraft stigmatisation; the organiser was the Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe, and he was physically assaulted during the invasion. Moses praises the attack, as his whips up his audience into righteous anger against those who dare to suggest that the notion that a child can be a witch is nonsense:

You did the right thing. Listen, you did the right thing. We shall not run and get into our bedrooms. We shall not allow the enemy to take over. Do you understand what I’m saying?… The enemy is attacking! Witches attacking! Wizards attacking! Atheists attacking!

Here’s the incident that Moses is screaming about:

Ukpabio’s defence is that she merely “delivers” children from a kind of witchcraft “contamination” through a “mild” ritual; however, not everyone who believes that personal misfortune is the result of a “child-witch” will come to her church – and the belief in child-witches is currently causing immeasurable harm in parts of Nigerian and elsewhere in Africa (and of course, even a “mild” ritual involves an emotionally abusive bogus accusation). The notion of “child-witches” is not based on any Biblical text, and it goes against reason. The only way way child-witch stigmatisation will end will be when no-one takes such an idea seriously. Ukpabio, however, continues to teach the existence of child-witches; as well as sending her church members to attack Leo’s conference, she has denounced a hostel for children stigmatmised as witches as being run by a “wizard”, and she has tried to use the courts to shut down her critics. The “Lady Apostle” has also shown extreme emotional immaturity by endorsing a crude and abusive attack site registered by her webmaster.

If Moses deserves the title of “Bishop”, he will admit that he has made a mistake and repudiate Ukpabio and any notion of children as witches. Of course a pastor such as NE Moses and a humanist such as Leo Igwe have very different worldviews, but Moses is quite capable of understanding that a Christian is not always infallible, and that something is not necessarily untrue just because a humanist says it.

Ed challenges Strader:

Speak out publicly against this, not just in a Facebook message. Preach against it. Work with the Pentecostal organizations you belong to that include these African ministries to purge their ranks and stop promoting such people…

Helen Ukpabio Endorses Abusive Attack Site

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry about an attack website set up to defend “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio against her detractors. The site accuses her opponents (including me) of being a conspiracy of atheists spreading the “Darkwins [sic] philosophy”, and it also contains some remarkably crude abuse, such as this:

Leo Igwe, your wife and mother must have been what you are now using to describe Helen. Every ugly terms you used on her, I return to your wife, mother and daughter. You have just killed a girl and cut off the head, instead of Helen to be the next, it is your wife that you will next I bet you.

Writing of a journalist:

what about your wife?… She hunts after monkeys and dogs, no wonder she has only one child

And as for me:

…who is your wife and what is she doing in the society? That you married a mongolis Idiot does not mean that every woman is an idiot. You have an idiot for a wife – it is strictly your choice.

As I wrote at the time in my blog entry:

If I were Ukpabio, I’d want to repudiate such embarassing “support” as quickly as possible, since it only brings discredit to her and to the evangelists who have endorsed her.

No chance of that:

And:

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of this Facebook page, despite the strange way it is named; members of Ukpabio’s family and a number of her pastor colleagues are linked to it as friends. So, all of the above abuse – and more – is implicitly endorsed by Ukpabio herself, the “Lady Apostle”. It’s also worth noting that the attack site was registered by Gabriel Egba, who is Ukpabio’s webmaster; I emailed him to ask what his association with Ukpabio was, and although I received no reply the message was passed on to the author of the site.

Ukpabio’s Facebook page is also interesting for the insight it gives into her character, which appears to consist of an emotionally immature mix of pride and anger. Here she is, exulting over an apparent legal victory:

OOOOHHHHHHHHH,GOD I THANK YOU OOOOO THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF VICTORY,GOD U HAVE STARTED IT I KNOW U WILL FINISH IT, SO THAT THIS PEOPLE WILL BE PUT TO SHAME,THEY ARE LOSERS,#30;000 FOR WASTING MY TIME, THIS GOOD,I AM HAPPY

…Omah u are very correct,its not just about the money,the victory is sweeter than the money,i am so happy. @Raphael thank u so much,all the same i am richer with their #30,000.

There is no sense here of a spiritual person who has been misunderstood, and who wishes for her opponents to see the the truth; rather, we see someone clearly in love with worldly power, expressed in the most vulgar way.

I also recently highlighted the various religious leaders who consecrated Ukpabio as an “Apostle”. This led to a short deluge of trolling comments from Nigeria, again of the most abusive kind. As with the attack website, one has to wonder to about the mentality; although there is nothing in the Bible to support the existence of child-witches, there is fair bit of material on the importance of truthfulness.

I’m inclined to doubt that the trolls or the author of the attack site believe in child-witches any more than I do: however, they clearly have an interest in perpetuating the belief, and this is why they are lashing out. It’s a matter of business.

Islamic Hardliners in Indonesia Complain of “Christianization”, Make Threats

As has been widely reported, Islamic hardliners in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, have been throwing their weight around – and now posters have appeared calling for the lynching of a local Christian. The AP reports:

Outsiders have steadily poured into the Jakarta suburb in search of work, bringing with them their own religions, traditions and values. That has made conservative Islamic clerics nervous.

…In this context, it wasn’t surprising that when 14 busloads of villagers arrived last week at the Bekasi home of Henry Sutanto, who heads the Christian-run Mahanaim Foundation, rumors quickly spread that he and one of his colleagues, Andreas Sanau, were planning a mass baptism.

…The house has since been abandoned. [Sanau] ‘s bespectacled face now appears on a banner—draped in front of a mosque—with a fiery noose around his neck and the words, “This man deserves the death penalty!”

Leading the demands for action against “Christianization” is Murhali Barda of the thuggish Islamic Defenders Front, although he’s not the only one; the Jakarta Globe notes that

In a move that could add to already simmering religious tensions in Bekasi, a new group calling itself the Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a roadshow aimed at persuading every mosque in the city to prepare for the possibility of “war” against “Christianization.”

The group, consisting of nine members representing different Islamic organizations in the city, was formed on Sunday, the last day of the Bekasi Islamic Congress at Al Azhar Mosque that was convened to address the so-called Christianization problem.

A second article has further details of a meeting the week before:

Abdul Qodir Aka, a local official with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), told the Jakarta Globe that the congress’s objective was to “create recommendations for the Bekasi administration on what steps it should take in the wake of recent incidents of defamation” of Islam.

Abdul Qodir was referring to Abraham Felix, a 16-year-old student of SMA 5 high school in Bekasi. Pictures of Abraham stomping on a Koran, the Islamic holy book, and one of him allegedly putting it in a toilet were posted on a blog, enraging the local Islamic community.

Police arrested Abraham in May on suspicion of creating the blog. He was charged with Article 156 of the Criminal Code for religious blasphemy.

That same month, the St. Bellarminus Catholic school in Bekasi was attacked by a group of people over another blog post, suspected to be Abraham’s work, which displayed the school’s name and posted pictures and writings that defamed Islam.

Abdul Qodir said on Sunday that the Islamic Congress was supported by the Bekasi administration, and was the culmination of talks between members of the local FPI chapter and Mayor Mochtar Mohamad.

The Malaysia Star has some further background:

“The job of the militia is to monitor the activities of Christians as there are many cases of apostates, baptism,” said Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who participated in the meeting.

…In February, FPI forcibly shut down the Galilea Church in Bekasi.

The Protestant Filadelfia Church in Bekasi have been holding services by the roadside since its church was shut down in January by another hardline group called the Islamic Communication Forum (FKUI).

“Since January, hundreds of demonstrators screaming ‘Burn!’, ‘Forbidden!’ will descend on us almost every weekend during service,” said Reverend Palti Panjaitan of Filadelfia Church.

“The site where we hold services are also often smeared with carcasses, animal faeces and rotten eggs,” added Rev Panjaitan.

As for the supposed “mass baptism”; the Jakarta Globe again:

Bekasi Police Chief Sr. Comr Imam Sugianto denied there had been a mass baptism. “All of them were students and they were at that house for recreation. They all went there for a swim,” he said.

Some poorly translated articles on Voice of al-Islam give the Islamist version of events, which show suspicion over Christian symbols:

The blasphemy procession of Islam was  done in carnival programme of “Bekasi free of drugs” sunday, may,2. While holding a poster Bekasi city drugs committee, Benny Tunggul claimed that the programme was conducted by BNK cooperated with team commitee. That activity was led by Wong Christofer Cahyadi.

Twenty participants who wore Christian symbols made step into they yard of al- Barkah Bekasi great mosque. They made a line on the direction of mosque and formed ” The crown of pope and cross” formation.

…Chinese person at the front line brought purple crown of pope. it placed on tray that decorated with purple velvet cloth. Second person stood behind held up his stick on. next, someone dressed in the style of roman army, cross  white colored imitation sword. Combination between stick and sword at the yard of the great mosque formed cross formation. It emerged many critics from moslem on Bekasi.

A photo shows a Christian poster of man holding a crown and sceptre; this is probably what is meant by the “crown of pope”, although more likely it was some sort of symbol of the authority of God (see below).

Further:

At first, the carnival parade was run so well, on the first line was preceded by light blue uniformed marching band. at the back part was found David star, a Hebrew logo. Then, it is  followed with elementary students who brought Christians banners, such as Elshadai, Adonai, Yehova Rapha, Yehova shalom, Yehova nissi, Yehova shammah, etc. There was also large white flag david star.

…Meanwhile, two of them did not come along to form a cross formation, they distributed souvenir such as key, ring and crown cross rubber ban inscribed “Joel Generation”.

That last detail is suggestive of an American influence, where some neo-Pentecostals talk militaristically of the “Joel Generation” or “Joel’s Army”, a supposed movement of youth that will bring religious revival. Catholic leaders appear wary and keen to keep the peace; Catholic Culture reports:

“The Church’s line is this: not to react on her own to the provocation by radicals, but to always seek ecumenical fellowship and full harmony and cooperation of other religious leaders, starting with Muslims,” adds Father Ignazio Ismartono, SJ, an official of the Indonesian bishops’ conference. “At the root of the matter it seems to me that there is a problem that affects the relationship between Islamic groups and Protestant Christian groups, within their spheres of action and influence … Every religious community not propagate their faith so fanatically. This approach only leads to a reaction of fanaticism in other communities. It’s a vicious circle that we must emerge from.”

Here are the anti-Christian placrards and posters which have appeared in Bekasi

I last blogged on Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia here.

(As ever, I doubt that anyone cares what I think, but just so that I’m not accused of anything: I can understand Ismartono’s wish to keep the peace in a dangerous situation, but people should of course be free to “propagate their faith” as “fanatically” as they wish, so long as they don’t make threats. And even if there really is a “Christianization” going on, Muslim leaders should ponder how to make their own religion more attractive, rather than make threats)

Ukpabio’s Allies

As I blogged a few months ago, in August last year Helen Ukpabio was “consecrated” as an Apostle by Bishop N E Moses; Moses used the opportunity to denounce those who had criticised her teaching on the existence of child witches, as he ranted about “Witches attacking! Wizards attacking! “Atheists attacking!” He also praised members of Ukpabio’s church for disrupting a conference on the problem of children stigmatised as witches.

The “consecration” was well-attended by Ukpabio’s supporters and by her associates in the film business. A number of religious leaders gave their backing to the event, and  a handbill for the consecration service carries some names and photos (although mostly illegible, the names can be discerned when cross-referenced with another advert). They are:

Prelate Isaiah Isong [founder of Christ Believers Assembly]

Bishop Jonas Katung [of Maranatha Covenant Church, Jos]

Bishop [Leonard] Kawas [of World Harvest Ministries Inc]

Bishop Elkanah Hanson [of El Shaddai Ministries, Port Harcourt]

Bishop Victor Uzosike [General Overseer of Kingdom Life Gospel Church (Destiny Chapel), the church arm of Gospel Outreach Ministries]

Bishop Mike Laju [of Mike Laju Ministries and The MOG Ministries]

Also mentioned is “Rev Dr Daniel Bassey

The consecration was preceded by a week-long event called “Empowerment for Greater Service” at Ukpabio’s church, with a similar line-up that includes two more people:

Bishop Godwin Okafor

Comdr. Ezekiel Duke

There were also fellow-pastors from her “Liberty Gospel” church; as I noted in February, a newspaper report mentioned

Eyo Nkute, Louis Oku, Excellence Sambo, and Alobi Ofuka – superintendents of the church in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, and Enugu, respectively.

On her website, Ukpabio states that:

Unlike other ministries where witches and wizards are beaten or stoned to death, Liberty is the only Ministry that shows mercy to witches. No matter the degree and level of the witchcraft, deliverance is certain through Helen Ukpabio’s ministration. In dealing with witchcraft possessed persons, the deliverance is conducted in a very easy and mild way that one may wonder if at all it will work. Of course it works so perfectly. The process of delivering witches is mild that she doesn’t even lay her hands on them yet all will be delivered. She can minister to one thousand witches at the same time and all will be delivered at the same time. This is a mystery.

…It is only in Helen’s Ministry that witches have been stopped, delivered and cleared to worship God without projecting any longer to any demonic realm or circles. If you are a witch, smile, get in contact with the woman of God for your deliverance – free of charge.

This is her defence against the claim that she harms children. But of course, it’s not as simple as that: Ukpabio has used her influence to cause trouble for a hostel protecting stigmatised children, and children are suffering because of the very idea that a child can cause misfortune by “projecting” a “demonic realm”. Ukpabio’s method of deliverance may milder than forms found elsewhere, but not everyone who sees her films or reads her books will be able to come to her church in person – and even a “mild” deliverance for “witchcraft possession” is based on something which is simply not true. The suffering of children on account of witch-stigmatisation will come to an end only when it becomes impossible to take the idea of “child-witches” seriously. It doesn’t require “atheism” or “humanism” to see that the teaching is harmful and absurd, just a bit of reason – a human capacity available to humanists, Christians, and followers of other religions. Why is it that Ukpabio encounters “one thousand witches at the same time” at her church, when hundreds of thousands of other churches around the world have no such experience? Or anything even approaching it?

Christian leaders in Nigeria (and beyond) could play a significant positive role in ending witch-stigmatisation. There’s nothing in the Bible which says that misfortune or illness can be caused by children “projecting a demonic realm”, and it is their duty to make that clear.

Those who endorse Ukpabio are part of the problem. And those who perhaps privately have reservations, but are reluctant to create a public controversy, need to consider whether they really deserve to be in a leadership position.

Conservatives: Kagan Quote from 1905 German Sociologist Means that She’s a Nazi

From Human Events:

SHOCKING: Kagan’s Princeton Thesis Cited German Socialist Who Endorsed Nazis

A complete non-story follows, prompted by some passing comments in Elena Kagan’s undergraduate thesis derived from Werner Sombart. In the introduction to her thesis, Kagan observed that

Ever since Werner Sombart first posed the question in 1905, countless historians have tried to explain why there is no socialism in America.

Indeed; his translated book Why is there No Socialism in the United States? has spurred ongoing academic discussion. Kagan’s thesis famously was on American socialism, so naturally she referred to it – but she recognised that it was the first word on the subject, not the last:

In the first two decades of the twentieth century the American socialist movement, whose very existence Sombart refused to consider, grew if not by leaps and bounds at least by inches…

…historians have often called attention to various characteristics of American society that have militated against widespread acceptance of radical movements. These societal traits – an ethnically divided worked class, a relatively fluid class structure, an economy which allowed at least some workers to enjoy what Sombart termed ‘reefs of roast beef and apple pie,’ – prevented the early twentieth century socialists from attracting an immediate mass following. Such conditions did not, however, completely checkmate American socialism.

Anyone who has had even a casual encounter with the social sciences will understand why Sombart is being cited here: his book set the ball rolling for a particular research agenda, and much of the later discussion will have engaged with his book – not as an “authority” to be slavishly followed, but as a resource to be drawn from, adapted, critiqued, or even exploded. Had Kagan not cited Sombart, her examiners might have questioned how well she knew the field – it would be like writing on Protestantism’s relation to the development of capitalism without showing knowledge of Weber or Tawney.

However, Sombart  became increasingly reactionary, and by the time of his death in 1941 he was a Nazi. He also went on to write critically about the “Jewish spirit” of rationalism, which he saw as in conflict with German “creativity”. Human Events doesn’t go so far as to say that because Kagan cited his book on American socialism she must therefore sympathise with any of this, but that’s obviously what’s inferred – they just know it would look too stupid to state outright.

The disgusting Pamela Geller, though, has no such qualms; she has reposted the article, with an added mock-up of Kagan dressed in a Nazi uniform (provided by “BigFurHat”, responsible for Geller’s various graphics; see my blog entry here), and her own deranged commentary:

How broken are we that we would consider an admirer of an architect of German national socialism, Nazism, to sit in one of the most powerful judicial chairs in the world? The Obama freak show continues and we are his victims…

What’s worse here? Is it the insult to our intelligence? Is it the McCarthyist anti-intellectualism, by which a person is denounced through the most tenuous association? Or is it, as is so common these days, the complete trivialisation of Nazism?

Surely such debased rhetoric must be an embarrassment to John Bolton, who wrote a foreword for Geller’s recent book?