The Oak Initiative in Michigan

A recent notice from Michigan:

Lt. General William G. Boykin (Ret.), “A Patriotic Briefing From a U.S. Military Hero,” doors open, 6 p.m. and program, 7 p.m. March 24, Reeths-Puffer High School Rocket Center Auditorium, 1545 Roberts. Boykin is also involved with Christian ministries. Presented by The Oak Initiative, Muskegon County Prayer Initiative and Transformation Michigan. Donations accepted.

Boykin of course is well-known for his warnings against the evil intentions of American Muslims and the need for the religion to be suppressed by law. Here’s a typical tirade:

We need to realize that Islam itself is not just a religion—it is a totalitarian way of life. It’s a legal system, shari’ah law; it’s a financial system; it’s a moral code; it’s a political system; it’s a military system. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Qur’an are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with shari’ah law.

In November, Boykin joined Walid Shoebat and Robert Spencer at an “alternative” Fort Hood massacre memorial event in Texas, sponsored by the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA – I blogged on this outfit just recently). He is also a board member of the Oak Initiative, which is headed by the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner; the two men and some other board members are also (rather weirdly) members of a chivalric order, as I blogged here (Boykin is the “Grand Chancellor”, no less).

The local Michigan context is of interest. The Muskegon Chronicle reported in February:

A nationwide effort is under way in West Michigan and throughout the state to get Christians unified in continuous prayer.

“Transformation Michigan” is a branch recently formed in “The Oak Initiative,” which is a network of churches, ministries and individuals who are committed to launch a prayer and Bible reading “network” in all 83 counties in Michigan.

The Oak Initiative is based on the scripture Isaiah 61, which describes Christians as “oaks of righteousness.”

That’s awkward reporting: although some Christians may understand it this way, Isaiah 61 is actually describing Jews at the start of the Second Temple period – Christians would not appear until hundreds of years later.

Last week, ministers and lay folks gathered at Maranatha Missionary and Bible Conference to hear more about how to get involved.

…The “Transformation Michigan” movement — “Uniting the body of Christ by inviting the presence of God and His kingdom to transform Michigan” — has caught on elsewhere in Michigan, with many ministries and prayer groups from St. Ignace to Saginaw to Dearborn coming on board and committing to prayer.

Transformation Michigan has a website here; it is headed by Rick Warzywak and it has actually been around for several years. The third organisation involved in bringing Boykin to Muskegon is also referenced (link added):

…Spearheaded by [Rose] Armstrong, the newly formed Muskegon County Prayer Initiative is seeking individuals from across cultures and denominations to participate in a prayer hub in Muskegon County.

…Although there are many prayer groups that already exist, but this is unique because it is a unifying, consistent effort across the region, according to Mike Prins, one of the pastors at Oak Crest Church of God in Muskegon, who attended the gathering at Maranatha.

Like the Oak Initiative, both Transformation Michigan and the The Muskegon County Prayer Initiative define their strategy in relation to a concept called “the seven mountains”;  this refers to the seven domains in modern society (“government, business, education, arts and entertainment, family services, media, and the church”) of which Christians should seek to take control. Bruce Wilson has some background here, including links with Sarah Palin.

How this relates to Michigan is explained more fully on the website of Generals International, which is headed by Oak Initiatve board member Cindy Jacobs. Michigan’s history is explained in terms of spiritual causality (with a particular side-swipe at Roman Catholics):

Our nation’s first factory was built by the Native Americans in Alpena Michigan. It was mainly a thunderbird god factory.  They manufactured and traded icon trinkets from Canada to the western United States and south towards to Florida.  This set a precedent for religious spirits being linked with manufacturing, to establish it outside of the presence of the Lord as did Cain.

Michigan is surrounded by key waterways and inland trails which made it a important locations for Natives to council and establish trade from our resources.  Eventually First Nations people sought to control those resources through war.  Over the course of time, conflicts broke out among the First Nations over the land and resources. This turned Southeast Michigan into a warring, treacherous and murderous territory.  Curses were laid upon the people and land to such a degree that we find these curses active today.

…Religion Mountain

Michigan’s waterways and land – in its early years of French exploration – was dedicated to the Queen of Heaven. Detroit at its founding, built under a spirit of Cain vs. of pleasing the Lord. Today the Detroit area and the city of Dearborn MI is home to the largest concentration of Muslims outside of the Middle East. God has entrusted us with the nations in Michigan (over 120+ are represented here)…

Michigan has a powerful and influential Jewish community who funds the largest missionary outreach to Israel. Chuck Pierce in March 2010 prophesied that a highway would open up to both Jews and Muslims in our state and we would see both nations come to the Lord. Michigan says, “SELAH!”…

Education Mountain

….We ask the Lord to raise up Christians who will make a strong stand for good materials and against the new age, pro-abortion mindsets, anti god and homosexual friendly curriculum, and loose morality that is being forced upon the students.  (Isaiah 30:20-22) 3. The influence of Islam is being taught in our schools.  Michigan is the Islamic capitol of the USA.  There is an over-abundance of Islamic schools in Southeastern Michigan…

Media Mountain

Over the past year Michigan has seen media report various accounts of miracles taking place through the venue of prayer. This includes a Detroit pastor praying for and seeing reports of healings and miracles and in Saginaw a child came back to life a result of prayer. Pastors of this city shared with us, the next day high school students heard of this report and over 30 students accepted Christ then were baptized in the spirit…

And so on.

Some background to Armstrong can be seen here (links added):

Reverend Rose Armstrong, Prophet, Intercessor and Teacher, is a woman of God with a passion for people, ministry, prayer and intercession.  Her heart is given to men and women who serve in the ministry and the call to pray for those in authority. Ordained as a Minister under Bishop/Prophet William Hildreth of Faith Christian Ministries, she is anointed to teach and preaches with power and wisdom. Concerning the power of prayer in the life of a believer, she believes that God moves through the power of prayer and the impact in people’s lives is nothing short of supernatural.

Reverend Armstrong is an ordained minister, wife of over 40 years, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  She walks in authority of the Spirit and is under submission to and serves Apostle Richard E. Williams of Outpouring Worship Center in Ravenna, MI, in the prophetic office. She is also minister/coordinator of prayer and spearheads a strategic and dynamic intercessory prayer team there. Reverend Armstrong is her pastor’s lead intercessor and also is coordinator of MAPPS Intercessors (Muskegon Area Pastor’s Prayer Shield), a group of intercessors committed to praying for the pastors and leaders of the city and region. Additionally, she serves as Prayer Chairperson for the Muskegon Chapter of Women’s Aglow International, as well as a member of the Prayer Committee of the “Unity Music Festival”.

Pastor Rose is founder of “Mended Vessels Ministries”, a ministry dedicated to ministering healing to women coming from broken and abused backgrounds.

There is also overlap with a more established Christian Right organisation based in Michigan, James Muffett’s Citizens for Traditional Values.

Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins Raise Concerns about “Anti-Terror” Training

“Preliminary inquiries by our staffs suggest that improper training may not be limited to mere isolated occurrences”

From the website of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Tuesday sought information to ensure that federal funds for counterterrorism training are not being wasted on programs that could undermine the national effort to deter homegrown terrorism.

The Senators, in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, asked what guidelines and standards counterterrorism training must meet and what qualifications counterterrorism trainers must possess.

Anecdotal evidence suggesting that some local law enforcement officers are being trained by people who are unqualified or provide inaccurate—even inflammatory—information led the Senators to ask how the two departments oversee federal grants for counterterrorism training.

From the letter itself:

Dear Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder:

We are writing to you about your efforts to ensure that federal funds are promoting accurate and effective counterterrorism training for state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials, in the wake of recent reports that some counterterrorism training provided to state and local law enforcement has been inaccurate and even inflammatory.

…[W]e are concerned with recent reports that state and local law enforcement agencies are being trained by individuals who not only do not understand the ideology of violent Islamist extremism but also cast aspersions on a wide swath of ordinary Americans merely because of their religious affiliation. Media reports cite some of these self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as Islam is a highly violent radical religion” and that if someone has “different spellings of a name… That’s probable cause to take them in”[1] These comments, of course, are neither factually accurate nor consistent with our nation’s fundamental values and are not made by adequately trained personnel. It appears, however, that some of these so-called experts have neither the academic nor operational background in the material about which they train.

Preliminary inquiries by our staffs suggest that improper training may not be limited to mere isolated occurrences. We are concerned that at best, the quality of training is inconsistent, and at worst, is actually detrimental to our efforts to confront homegrown terrorism. Muslim Americans are central allies in our fight against violent Islamist extremism, and any training that implies otherwise is both inaccurate and counterproductive to our shared goals…

The footnote references an article on the subject which was recently published in the Washington Monthly, and which I blogged on here and here. The subject has also received attention from the Washington Post and in a report from Political Research Associates.

UPDATE: The Washington Times gets the view from the gravy train:

The senators cited recent news reports of “self-appointed counterterrorism training experts as engaging in vitriolic diatribes and making assertions such as “Islam is a highly violent, radical religion.”

“But Islam demonstrably is a violent religion,” said Robert Spencer… “Not every Muslim is violent, but the religion teaches and encourages violence against non-Muslims.”

Mr. Spencer says he has taken part in counterterrorism training for U.S. military and intelligence agencies and the FBI, but not state and local police. He told The Washington Times he was concerned the senators’ inquiry could lead to “politically correct guidelines to stop people teaching the truth about Islam, especially from the Obama administration.”

…Walid Phares, another counterterrorism consultant who has helped train state and local police forces, told The Times that organized Islamic extremists were “trying to confuse the public by mixing criticism of unprofessional training with criticism of the best strategic analysis available in the United States.”

He said he supported the senators’ work.

The Times also reports on the DHS’s response:

The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement released Tuesday evening, said the agency understands the senators’ concerns.

All DHS grant recipients providing training to state and local law enforcement partners “are expected to reflect the same professionalism and courtesy that is expected of all DHS and DHS component personnel,” according to the statement.

That statement does not appear to have been posted to the DHS website, nor has it been published anywhere else.

The Apocalypse Explains the Middle East: Movie Edition

There’s a new addition to the “post-rapture apocalyptic thriller” genre of Christian films, with a cinematic outing for Pastor John Hagee’s book Jerusalem Countdown:

The film is being made by 10 West Studios of Manistee, MI, in association with Christian film-makers Pure Flix Entertainment. Michigan Movie Magazine has some background:

10 West’s managing partners Matt Tailford and Harold Cronk both originated in the Midwest, and began their film careers in Hollywood. They moved back when the state’s film friendly legislation was enacted.

…Cronk said, “Pure Flix liked what they were getting for their dollar. They liked the services, locations and facilities that we could provide, making their lower budget films look like much, much more.” Consequently after What If, Pure Flix brought two more films to Manistee, John the Revelator and Jerusalem Countdown.

…Michael Scott partner and producer with Pure Flix gave a synopsis of Jerusalem Countdown. “It’s an action, adventure, political thriller. Two FBI agents learn about a plot where someone is trying to bring seven nuclear bombs in to destroy the USA, and we are using Manistee Michigan to double for Baltimore, Chicago, and Virginia. It’s a race against the clock to stop these bombs from coming in.”

Cronk is the film’s director; no script-writer is given, and it is difficult to judge to what extent the film will reflect Hagee’s “New World Order” conspiracy theories and his enthusiasm for war against Iran. I blogged on the book back in February 2006, following a report in Christian Retailer:

Texas pastor and author John Hagee has sounded the alarm in his new book on the gathering war against Israel, which he says will have worldwide ramifications.

With an initial printing of 250,000 for its Jan. 17 release, Jerusalem Countdown provides detailed information that Hagee has received from top Israeli government officials concerning a nuclear showdown between Iran and Israel.

…The world is “standing on the brink of a nuclear Armageddon,” Hagee wrote. “We are on a countdown to crisis. The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty…That war will affect every nation on earth, including America, and will affect every person on planet earth.”

The following July, Benny Elon MK boasted that comments by John McCain and Newt Gingrich warning that the war in Lebanon would lead to World War III had “originated with American evangelist John Hagee”. Of course, McCain’s uncomfortable pandering to Hagee ended tears in 2008, after Bruce Wilson dug out an audio sermon in which Hagee had opined that Hitler had been a hunter sent by God to persuade the Jews to move to Israel. McCain repudiated Hagee, although other conservatives rallied to his defence. Gingrich has continued with work with Hagee; Sarah Posner recently noted:

With events unfolding in the Middle East, Newt Gingrich’s planned visit to John Hagee’s San Antonio church offers a window into how Republican candidates re-tool apocalyptic theology as foreign policy, for mass consumption. The pair have long been fellow travelers; despite Hagee’s history of anti-Catholic statements and Gingrich’s recent conversion to Catholicism, they have both orbited the same nexus of neoconservative foreign policy and apocalyptic biblical prophecy for quite some time. Examples: same claims about new “Holocausts;” same claims about cosmic, civilizational wars.

Most recently, there’s been a remarkable synergy between both mens’ comments about the revolutions unfolding in the Middle East. For example, on February 7, 2011, at the height of the Egyptian uprising, Hagee wrote in his weekly update, “The American media, with the exception of FOX News, is presenting the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate and lovers of democracy. This is utter nonsense. This is the hysterical jabber of our State Department that once again has fumbled the ball in the Middle East.” He then predicted that a Muslim Brotherhood figure would emerge as leader of Egypt, and “will appear initially as a moderate and within a few weeks embrace Sharia which is the Islamic law that now governs Iran.” (Meanwhile here, Haroon Moghul had already explained — with facts! — why Egypt is not Iran.)

This apocalyptic take on the Middle East is complemented by Rumors of War II, a new documentary billed as “Presented by Glenn Beck”. Media Matters reports on the preview, which features

…a variety of talking heads saying things like, “It’s coming — Israel knows it, we know it”; proclamations that “all three major monotheistic religions believe increasingly that the signs of the last days are in motion and that we’re getting close to a very cataclysmic moment, or series of moments”; and onscreen text subtly hinting at “UNTHINKABLE EVENTS PREDICTED IN THE BIBLE”:

…You may recognize some of the talking heads that popped up in that preview. Wall Street Journal columnist and frequent Fox News guest Stephen Moore appears, and his presence here is somewhat perplexing (though Moore told Media Matters during an interview at CPAC that he was “good friends with Glenn” and that “next to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck is the most important conservative”).

Also offering his expertise was Joel Richardson. Richardson was a guest on Beck’s Fox News program in February, where he claimed, among other things, that Muslims want to receive “the Mark of the Beast.”

I’ve blogged extensively on Richardson, and I’ve had some congenial banter with the man himself. He told me that he regards Beck as “one of the most genuinely prophetic voices to have emerged in this nation in many years”. Hagee shares Richardson’s enthusiasm for Beck; he offered prayers at Beck’s “Divine Destiny” event the night before the “Restoring Honor” rally, and he is a member of Beck’s “Preachers and Pastors” panel (another member is Jim Garlow, who has done the most to spiritually launder Gingrich’s past).

UPDATE: The film comes with an explicitly anti-Muslim tagline: “The Movie Muslims Don’t Want You to See”:

ICTOA Backs Walid Shoebat

From Artcore III, a show posted on Blog Talk Radio:

Exclusive interview with Detective Michael Riker (Ret.), President of the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, and surprise guest Erotic Artist Nancy Peach!

Alas, Peach did not in fact appear on the show, although we did hear from Riker: he and host Will Griffith expressed their displeasure and dismay at critical scrutiny to which the ICTOA has recently been subjected. As I blogged earlier this month, the ICTOA features in a new report published by Political Research Associates on some troubling trends in “anti-terror” training being given to law-enforcement professionals. In particular, the report notes an appearance by Walid Shoebat at one ICTOA event:

Shoebat is a convert to Christianity, having formerly been a Muslim with links to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. In his presentation, called The Jihad Mindset and How to Defeat It: Why We Want to Kill You, he accused Muslim men of raping women, children and young boys. “They are paedophiles!” he shouted.

According to the report, Shoebat went on: “The Muslim beheads with a smile. You can see it on YouTube, on TV; the Afghan child trained to execute Christians. You say that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why? It hates the west.”

He also said: “Islam is a revolution and is intent to destroy all other systems. They want to expand, like Nazism.”

…One conference participant from the Southern Nevada Fusion Center told a PRA investigator in attendance that Shoebat’s presentation was “spot on.” The staffer continued, saying that government officials should be saying the same things as Shoebat, but they will not due to fear of “political correctness.”

In November, the ICTOA sponsored an “alternative” Foot Hood massacre memorial event, which featured Shoebat alongside Robert Spencer and Jerry Boykin.

Riker complains that the PRA report (which he and Griffith decline to reference directly, preferring to make references to “internet yahoos”) has unfairly accused him of being a bigot, when in fact his wife is Puerto Rican and his circle of friends and colleagues is multi-racial. Of course, this is beside the point – nobody is accusing him of racial prejudice, but his endorsement of Shoebat’s inflammatory rhetoric speaks for itself. Riker is still sticking with Shoebat, though – he tells the old story of how Shoebat had bombed a bank in Israel some years ago on behalf of the PLO, prompting Griffith to ask: “what better expert on  terrorism than a former Palestinian terrorist?”

This unshakable confidence in Shoebat should set off alarm bells for any serious professional: even if it is true that Shoebat did in fact bomb a bank (the Jerusalem Post – hardly a leftist outfit – is sceptical), how does that make him an expert on anything other than how to bomb a bank? Robbing a bank doesn’t make one a criminologist, yet Shoebat constantly dines out on the notion that his background provides unique insight into the “essence” of terrorism and of Islam. Shoebat’s utterances are so extravagant as to be absurd: he claims that he knows that Obama is a Muslim (“Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers. But they are able to defeat us by sneaking in their man”), and he wishes that “nukes” would “take care” of the Muslim world.

And that’s not even counting his second job visiting churches to warn of the coming Islamic Anti-Christ, based on a bizarre pseudo-analysis of the Book of Revelation: as I write these words, Shoebat is at the First Baptist Church in Raytown, Missouri, expounding on just this point in an event alongside Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet Joel Richardson.

I previously blogged on Riker’s links to Will Griffith here. Griffith is a rather odd character: in September, he broadcast a strange “9/11 Address To The Nation”, in which he railed against “elites” and the “enemy within”, named as “ultra-liberals” and “diversity”. He also alluded to a personal scandal from before he came “to know God”; this was reportedly a past role as a transvestite prostitute, although, bizarrely, the only details about this are on sites listed as having belonged to “the Griffith Corporation”. After I blogged about this, I received a positive comment from someone purporting to be an Islamist; curiously, this person’s IP address was shared by someone else who commented shortly afterwards, and whose email address tracked back to a name associated with Griffith’s “GCIS” organisation.

Nazarbayev Given “Dialogue of Civilizations” Prize Ahead of Elections

News from Kazakhstan:

The Dialogue of Civilizations International Prize was awarded to the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev for outstanding achievements in the preservation of historical and cultural heritage in Eurasia and for the implementation of the principles of dialogue of civilizations into practice.

The Prize was awarded to the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev by World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Founding President Vladimir Yakunin during their official meeting in Almaty.

Yakunin runs Russia’s railways, and he is a close associate of Putin. By a happy coincidence, the award comes just a couple of weeks before Kazakhs go to the polls to decide whether they wish to re-elect Nazarbayev, who has been president since 1989.

But how exactly does Nazarbayev go about “preserving historical and cultural heritage”? Forum 18 gives us an idea in a 2008 report:

Kazakh officials have played down to Forum 18 News Service the significance of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s recent call to”suppress the activity of illegal religious movements.” He also claimed that “tens of thousands of different missionary organisations work in Kazakhstan. We don’t know their purposes and intentions, and we should not allow such unchecked activity.” Independent Kazakh observers are unsure how seriously to take the comments, but do not think that they are meant to start a campaign against religious communities. A state programme “On the provision of freedom of belief and enhancement of state-confessional relations” has been introduced by the Justice Minister because of “radical religious movements whose aim is total Islamisation or evangelisation.” Recently, Protestant churches, a Hare Krishna commune, Jehovah’s Witnesses and an independent mosque have faced threats to their property, cancellation of their registration and harassment of their members. Accusations of espionage and high treason have also been made.

I blogged on the destruction of a Hare Krishna temple in 2006; just a couple of months previously, Nazarbayev had hosted a “Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions” inside a giant glass pyramid designed by Sir Norman Foster. The event saw various religious leaders from around the world making risible attempts to outdo each other in ludicrous praise of the autocrat.

Yakunin, meanwhile, doesn’t just hand out awards to foreign politicians up for election: he also indulges in a bit of secret funding. According to Baltic Business News:

Tuuli Koch, a reporter for Postimees daily, received the 2010 Bonnier Award, Estonia’s biggest annual prize for investigative journalism, writes Äripäev.

Koch won the prize for her story, published at the end of 2010, in which she revealed that Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar had secretly attempted to fund his political party and the building of a church in Savisaar’s electoral district in Lasnamäe through the deep pockets of Vladimir Yakunin, president of the Russian state-owned railway company.

It should be recalled that in 2007 Time described the Russian Orthodox Church as Russia’s “main ideological arm and a vital foreign policy instrument”; earlier this month, the neo-Conservative George Weigel noted the Patriarch of Moscow’s congratulatory message to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko following seriously flawed elections in December, and observed that this suggested “the unhappy possibility that the Russian Orthodox leadership is functioning as an arm of Russian state power, as it did from 1943 until 1991” (actually, Weigel’s observation is somewhat belated).

Yakunin is also Chairman of the “Committee of Trustees of the Center of the National Glory of Russia and St. Andrew’s Foundation”; this organisation initiated the World Public Forum, which operates at an international level. According to its website:

The Forum is headed by the Council of Co-chairmen, which consists of the WPF Founding President Vladimir Yakunin (Russia), the President of the «Kapur Surya Foundation» Jagdish Kapur (India) and the President of the «Titan Capital Corporation» Nicholas Papanicolaou(USA/Greece).

The International Coordinating Committee (ICC) is a consultative body of the Forum. The head of the ICC is former Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer. Among the ICC members are the President of the International Progress Organization Hans Koechler (Austria), Professor of the Notre Dame University Fred Dallmayr (USA), Director of Research Emeritus at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France Henri Favre and many other prominent scholars and researchers of the current «dialogue of civilizations» agenda.

The Forum works with different public institutions and organizations all over the world. Among them are United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), International Association for Intercultural Education (IAIE), «Globalization for the Common Good Initiative» and other nongovernmental organizations, which form the WPF «Dialogue of Civilizations» network.

This information is slightly out of date; Kapur died in November.

However, there’s something very weird going on, which I’ve blogged a couple of times recently: while Papanicolaou commends inter-religious dialogue in Europe, in the USA he is a close associate of some virulently anti-Islam figures on the neo-Pentecostal Christian Right, in particular Rick Joyner and Jerry Boykin. Papanicolaou is a board member and active participant in Joyner’s Oak Initiative, and its associated Oak Leaves Publishing has just published book by Papanicolaou called Islam vs the United States. A branch of the Oak Initiative held an anti-Islam event in Texas in November, with Boykin and Kamal Saleem.

In turn, Joyner and some associates were invited to the WPF in 2009 to take part in a panel on “Tradition and Modernization”: according to the schedule, Joyner, “Bishop Gregory Holly”, Bob Weiner, and Louis Sheldon shared the programme with various mainline religious figures and academics. “Holly” is actually Archbishop Gregory Holley, who has a website here; he is ordained into a group called “Independent Christian Churches International. Weiner was the man behind the authoritarian Maranatha Ministries of the 1980s; this group collapsed amid recriminations at the end of the decade, although some of the figures associated with it have since re-emerged as a group of churches called Every Nation (blogged by me herehere, and here; Pastor Terry Jones was also previously associated with Maranatha). Louis P. Sheldon heads the Traditional Values Coalition, which is known for anti-gay activism.

This is all rather peculiar: the WPF’s urbane discussion forum events and Joyner’s exclusivist and anti-Islam (and anti-intellectual, while we’re at it) form of neo-Pentecostal fundamentalism are completely  incompatible, yet there’s some significant cross-over going on.

But the weirdness goes deeper: as I blogged a few days ago, Papanicolaou is “Grand Master” of a chivalric group called “the Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, the Ecumenical Order” (“OSJ” for short, and not to be confused with the more famous Roman Catholic order). Boykin is the “Grand Chancellor”, Joyner is a “Deputy Member” of the Supreme Council, and Holley is “Grand Prelate” of the Religious Tribunal. Joyner’s website used to carry an article boasting that he had been asked to join because of “a spiritual renewal that was taking place in the OSJ”, and that “some of this had come about because of my books which were being read by the knights.” The article also made the bizarre claim that his involvement “began a series of events that made Kurt Waldheim a believer as well”.

Just a few days ago, the Moscow Times mocked the WPF for having given an award to the Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2004.

More Smears, Threats, and Abuse

A couple of weeks ago, several hit-and-run one-post smear blogs were created to – once again – spread the idea that I’m a far-leftist who collaborates with Islamic extremists while hating religion.

The author of these blogs wants to give the impression that he is associated with a neo-Pentecostal church in Nigeria; I have criticised this church for spreading the idea that children can be witches, and as a result the church has created a website attacking me (along with some other people) in crude and abusive terms – this includes the claim that I am a rapist . The new author has also created a Twitter feed linking both to the church’s website and to the new attack blogs, and he has generated a fake Facebook profile with a Nigerian name, which he has used to advertise the Twitter feed on the church’s Facebook page.

However, it is no great surprise that the new blogs in fact consist exclusively of accusations which have been made by the cyber-bully Charlie Flowers on his “NiceOnesUK” Facebook group (see here), including the bizarre claim (which Flowers made back in February) that I am in correspondence with Dominic Wightman. There are also side-swipes at some of Flowers’ other pet hates: these are a Facebook page called “Exposing Racism” (where I occasionally leave comments) and the blogger Tim Ireland. It is highly unlikely that someone associated with the Nigerian church would have seen the NiceOnesUK Facebook page, or that had they done so they would have picked out the points raised on the new attack sites.

On the other hand, Flowers has in the past set up anonymous blogs attacking me, including one which pasted material from the Nigerian church’s website. One of his cronies (someone else hiding behind a fake name) has also linked to the church’s website on the NOUK page, adding a “LOL” by way of commentary.

I raised the issue on the Exposing Racism page on Saturday, which I know Flowers monitors – sure enough, goading references were made to my post the next day on the new Twitter feed, and one of Flowers’ thuggish associates followed up with a typically abusive threat:

Without labouring the issue, this is of course further evidence that Flowers’ supposed anti-extremist activism is a sham: he and his NOUK cronies promote and hide behind the most distasteful smears spread by religious extremists, and this is all because I dared to stand up and be counted when he was harassing Tim Ireland with threats of violence and the release of his home address to hostile parties.

NOTE: Incidentally, if anyone is troubled by the accusations, I dealt with my supposed support of Islamic extremism on behalf of the far-left here back in November. As for my association with Tim Ireland, I’ve written numerous blog posts on the subject, so there’s nothing to explain.

It’s also certainly the case that I’ve written to people associated with Flowers’ “Cheerleaders” and NOUK vigilantes – when Flowers was harassing Tim Ireland, he implicated various associates by using their names or pictures. I wrote to some of these people for clarification, and in some cases I received replies telling me that they didn’t know anything about it. I know that at least one person severed their connection with Flowers as a result, and it may have played a role in members leaving his “Fighting Cocks” music band. Obviously he’s sore about that, and it has to be someone else’s fault.

UPDATE: Flowers has responded to the above by using the Twitter feed he’s hiding behind to spam various people who read my Twitter page. He’s also included an abusive attack on Sunny Hundal, a journalist who humiliated him a few months ago by asking him some difficult questions at a public event (Flowers made his excuses, and then characteristically followed up with a threatening email). Apparently he’s under the impression that his actions will “expose” me in some way, and that this self-debasing way of conducting himself is some sort of political activism.

UPDATE 2 (27 March): Late last night saw several new posts on the Twitter feed; Flowers gives the impression of being the worse for wear from alcohol while typing, and this is a past Saturday-night pattern with him on the NOUK Facebook page.

The new posts include further crudely abusive comments about Tim Ireland and Sunny Hundal, and he’s spammed some more people, including @guidofawkes (Paul Staines) – this is someone I’d don’t follow on Twitter, although Tim and I have both written critically about him. A while ago, Flowers also spammed the Twitter feed of Bedfordshire on Sunday, a newspaper which Tim and I have criticised for its softball coverage of Nadine Dorries MP.

Again, it makes no sense that any of this would be connected to a Nigerian Pentecostal. However, as I’ve blogged previously, Flowers has retrospectively justified his online harassment of Tim Ireland by claiming that Tim deserved it because of his disputes with Staines and Dorries (in fact, Flowers was manipulated into doing it by someone else, but won’t admit it – this is perhaps because he persuaded some of his friends to join in).

UPDATE 3 (30 March): More of the same with yet another attack blog. This time, though, he’s deleted references to Wightman, Expose, and to my supposed “attitude” to religion – all signatures that point to Flowers. Cunning.

UPDATE 4 (5 April): Flowers is still at it – he’s now up to eight blogs, all containing the same abusive material, but with minor variations. He now also claims that I’ve been “reported to the Metropolitan Police”, which fits a pattern of projection – Flowers was himself arrested, for reasons that remain unknown, in December (in the same way, Flowers accuses me of being a “bully” and a “stalker”).

UPDATE 5 (8 April): Flowers now making direct threats of violence

“ob” refers to “Old Bill”; Flowers is currently boasting that he is helping the police with identifying the Islamist extremists behind the anti-gay stickers in East London, and that various persons who suspected an EDL “false flag” operation have been exposed as dishonest; he includes me in that category, despite the fact I treated sceptically the suggestion of EDL involvement.

As ever, his allegations are lies, either the fruit of self-delusion or a blustering strategy to justify his way of carrying on to his giggling cronies: I haven’t harassed anyone (and neither has Tim), although I have asked various associates of Flowers implicated in his activities to explain themselves. In more than one case, it transpired that Flowers had used an associate’s name or picture without their permission.

UPDATE 6 (9 April): Tinfoil hat time:

Here we see the bad faith self-righteousness of the vigilante. Flowers is on a crusade against Islamic extremists, so by definition anyone who criticises him when he messes up by going after the wrong target (as he did with Tim Ireland) or acts irresponsibly (publicising where people live to intimidate) must be part of a political conspiracy against him. Such fantasies doubtless make up for some personal inadequacies; while Flowers wants this to be about politics, it’s actually a sorry tale of psychological dysfunction.

UPDATE 7 (26 June) : Flowers has advertised the attack blogs through his “Blackeyedgirls” Twitter feed, in the same manner as the fake Nigerian Pentecostal. That removes any lingering doubts as to his authorship. He removed them a few hours later, which suggests to me that he had mixed up his various accounts and decided to delete evidence of his mistake the morning after.

Washington Monthly Authors Respond to Attack

As I blogged a few days ago, the Washington Monthly recently published a long article highlighting alleged problems with the quality of anti-terror training being given to American law-enforcement agencies. The article’s authors, Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze, noted that there are question-marks over the qualifications of some of the private individuals and organisations who are paid to provide training, and that in some cases the training is inappropriately ideological and simply anti-Muslim. I also noted that the report had drawn hostile fire from a certain Joseph Bail; he is a recently-retired police officer from Chester (PA) and an associate of John Giduck, who is one of the trainers discussed by Stalcup and Craze. Bail’s attack was also promoted by Brad Thor at Big Government.

Bail got off to a bad start, denouncing the journalists as “Islam-loving, terrorist-apologizing” – such absurd rhetoric tends to confirm the point that anti-terror training appears to be in the hands of blustering ideologues rather than serious professionals. However, Bail went on to describe Giduck’s background and to claim that the journalists had been dishonest: they had supposedly concealed their purpose, and they had failed to research their subjects properly.

Stalpcup and Craze have now responded to Bail:

…Bail doubles over himself to illustrate John Giduck’s close personal friendship with a former head of the St. Petersburg KGB, a claim of Giduck’s that our story conveys without comment as it has no bearing on his qualifications as a trainer. We did however take considerable efforts to verify Giduck’s training with multiple Russian special forces units. We had a Russian speaker contact the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD), which investigated John Giduck’s ties to its units with which he claimed to have trained. The MVD responded with the information we relayed in the article. The only evidence of training it was able to find was a commercial course that he attended; no one at Vityaz and Rus had heard of him. We did not claim definitively that Giduck had never trained with these units, rather, we claimed that no one there knew anything about him.

We did denounce Giduck’s unsubstantiated claim that women were raped during the Beslan siege… The sole substantiation of rapes at Beslan given by Giduck, as reproduced by Bail, is “that was what everyone was saying”. No witness statements or institutional corroboration are offered, just rumours and vague allusions to a conspiracy of silence shared by the media, the Russian government, and the terrorists… The person Giduck suggested we contact when we asked about his Beslan sources was his commercial associate Yuri Ferdigalov; almost all of the people mentioned in Bail’s letter also have a financial interest in Giduck’s continuing success.

…Contrary to what the trainers claimed to Bail, we were clear that despite our academic backgrounds we were researching an article for publication in the popular press. On November 14, 2010 Craze wrote an email to Hughbank “We are finally finishing up the piece… My editors want a professional opinion on one of the trainers I interviewed.”… In his response, however, Hughbank is unperturbed that Craze is writing a piece for publication…. The other quotes that Hughbank claims he never said are all contained in the transcript of his interview with Craze.

….In the longer letter posted on the Archangel website, Bail concludes by asking whether “articles of this nature are attempting to point out the shortcomings of current terrorism training or is it the practice of taqiyya (Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah).” We could attempt to assure Bail that we are not covert Muslims attempting to wage a war on America, but for Bail, it seems, the absence of evidence is grounds for certainty. Let it suffice to say that we were not lying, period, and that all of our reporting was carefully fact checked…

…The idea that because Giduck is a terrorism expert who wrote a doctoral dissertation on hostage siege tactics, he is somehow qualified to speak about Islam assumes an automatic connection between Islam and terrorism that is erroneous and misleading. We do not attack the trainers for not being police officers. Counterterrorism training is quite obviously an opportunity to bring outside expertise to departments. Expertise, however, needs to be both real and relevant to the police mandate. It should also be subject to a real system of evaluation, accreditation and auditing. This is what is sorely lacking, and what we sought to bring to public attention.

Neo-Pentecostal Tea Partiers and the “Knights of Malta”

Last September, a “Knights Hospitallers Alert” was sent out by email, warning against Muslims in the USA in boilerplate style:

The Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security recently swore in two devout Muslims in senior posts…. Was it not “Devout Muslim men” that flew planes into U.S. buildings 9 years ago? Was it not a Devout Muslim who killed 14 at Fort Hood?

…Read Sura 18:21 and you will know WHY Muslims insist on building a mosque over Ground Zero (they also built mosques, as symbols of victory, over Spanish churches in Cordoba and Seville and Segovia, and Agia Sophia in Constantinople)

…2. Kill Non-Believers. Sura 9:5, 9:3, and 9:29 of the Koran effectively commands Muslims to kill the non-believers

…Our Order and its predecessor going back to the 11th century AD, always made protection of Christians and our Judeo-Christian culture its main purpose. Will you help us with your contribution, so that we can help those in the United States who can raise awareness of the danger confronting us and our Constitution?

…It’s not just about ONE mosque being built near the 9-11 catastrophe, it is about Sharia Law not stopping until they overtake each and every government on this earth. That is what their own Qur’an orders them to do! Thank you so very much for your concern. Thank you for taking time to genuinely care about this world-ALTERING situation that we are confronted with. I pray that you, too, will have the compassion of Christ…

The “Alert”, which was written to tie-in with the Center for Security Policy‘s “Shariah: The Threat to America” report (discussed here), was signed by two men: Nicholas F. S. Papanicolaou (described as “Grand Master”)  and LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin. Both men are also involved with a Christian Right organisation called the Oak Initiative, which is presided over by the neo-Pentecostal evangelist Rick Joyner. According to a recent post by Joyner there:

Last week I sat on a small panel discussing Shariah Law that was open to the Christian media at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville. Also on the panel was James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, and Frank Gaffney, Jr., former Asst. Sec. of Defense for International Security Policy and the acting President of the Center for Security Policy. We were also joined on the panel by Tom Smith and another lawyer who are on the frontlines of the battle against Shariah in the U.S., and a remarkable rabbi who had been an ambassador from Israel.

…We will soon have in stock Nicholas Papanicolau’s new book, Islam vs. the United States. This is a hard-hitting analysis of this issue from one of our Oak board members, and one whose international experience is vast. Nicholas is a co-host of The World Public Forum on Civilizations and Religions, which draws top government, religious, and academics from the major nations of the world each year, and had one of the top Islamic scholars read and authenticate his thesis.

As I blogged a few days ago, Joyner is also a member of of the “Knights Hospitallers”. However, Papanicolaou’s association with Joyner and Boykin is curious; the purpose of the World Public Forum on Civilizations and Religions is to promote interreligious dialogue, not to scaremonger against Muslims. Here’s Papanicolaou writing in 2009:

President Obama’s speech at Cairo University on June 4 is indeed historic for its open and unifying message. He referred to the fact “all people yearn for certain things” such as freedom of religion, the rule of law, the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and accountable, freedom to speak one’s mind, the safety of their families and the opportunity to educate their children. He admonished the world with his message that “faith should bring people together”, that Jerusalem must be a city where “all the children of Abraham will mingle peacefully together”, that we must “turn dialogue into interfaith service.”… The World Pubic Forum is our modest effort to implement these ideals and to “share the world”, as President Obama dared us to do, by re-imagining the world.

This is a million miles away from Boykin and Joyner’s anti-Islam and anti-Obama rhetoric. Papanicolaou’s work with the WPF also takes place at a different level, attracting international politicians, scholars, and religious figures. One of the WPF’s co-founders – and a continuing active participant – is Vladimir Yakunin; Yakunin is a close associate of Vladimir Putin and described just a few days ago in the Moscow Times as “the Kremlin’s model ‘Orthodox businessman'”. The Times notes that in 2004 the WPF awarded Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh “its International Prize of the Holy Apostle Andrew”. Other figures associated with the WPF include Diana Orlova, who runs its HQ in Vienna, and the executive director is a certain Vladimir Kulikov. The WPF is also associated with a organisation called the National Glory of Russia, which exists to contribute “to the important work done by the President of the Russian Federation, the Russian Orthodox Church and many other public associations”.

As for the “Knights Hospitallers”, the proper name of this organisation is the “Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, the Ecumenical Order”. It has no association with the better-known Roman Catholic Knights of Malta. Members can be browsed here. Rick Joyner claims that he joined the Order after discussing it with the late Eugene K. Bird, who as commandant of Spandau prison had (against military regulations) interviewed Rudolph Hess with a view to publishing a book. According to Joyner:

I saw many parallels in the history of the Knights of Malta, who are also called the Order of St. John (OSJ), with what I had been shown prophetically in the vision I was given about the coming harvest and the struggle that much of the world was about to face.

…I began telling Col. Bird about my recent study of the interesting history of the Knights of Malta. To my surprise Col. Bird told me that he had recently been knighted by this Order, and that I too had been recommended for investiture by an Austrian baron. He also told me about a spiritual renewal that was taking place in the OSJ, and that some of this had come about because of my books which were being read by the knights.

About a week later I was standing in a Nuremberg hotel lobby with some friends, when one of them announced the entry of the Austrian baron who Col. Bird had just told me about…

I quoted this in my previous blog entry. Joyner is described as a “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”, while Jerry Boykin is the “Grand Chancellor”. The “International Headquarters of the Order, and Seat of the Supreme Council” is given as “Castello Dei Baroni Wardija SPB 07, Malta GC”, although the contact address is the less imposing “Grand Magisterial Chancery, 700 South Dixie Hwy, Suite 107, West Palm Beach, Fl. 33401”. The “Lieutenant Grand Master” is Prince Anton Esterházy de Galantha, or, more properly, “Anton II Esterházy de Galantha“.

The organisation has an Italian-language website here, and two English-language websites here and here; the second one of these concentrates more on the OSJ’s charity work. The second one is registered in the name of Bill NeSmith, who runs Harvest Light Ministries in South Carolina;  NeSmith is also the Oak Initiative’s manager, in which capacity he has appeared on “US Tea Party Radio”, with “hosts Bill Gruber and Caz Taylor”. In January, NeSmith had “Ceremonial oversight” at the Grand Priory of The Carolinas’ “Solemn International Investiture” for 2011. The event included a “Briefing” entitled “Update on Islam”, and took place at the Heritage Grand Hotel. This is owned by Heritage International Ministries, which is run by Joyner’s MorningStar church; the site previously formed part of Jim Bakker’s doomed Heritage USA project, and Bakker is a friend of Joyner.

(UPDATE: Joyner’s statements on the Knights of Malta were recently moved to a new page on his website; the original page now has a ” page not found” message, and I incorrectly thought this meant the article had been scrubbed. Apologies for the error, which has been fixed in the above text)

Cindy Jacobs: Japan has “Gone Downhill” Because of Shinto Ritual

Neo-Pentecostal leader Cindy Jacobs discusses the Japan earthquake:

I have personally felt that one of the reasons Japan was such a hard group for the gospel was the fact that they have had a direct link with the Imperial family and a direct link with the sun goddess, Amaterasu.

After the end of the second world war, under the U.S. agreements with Japan, this connection with Amaterasu was renounced…

However, of recent years, this link with Amaterasu and sun worship was reinstated in a ceremony in which the new Emperor once again participated and “spent the night with the goddess” after eating the sacred rice.

I believe this is one major reason that Japan has gone downhill economically in such a drastic way. The debt ratio to GDP is now 200%. With the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the economy and banking system, insurance industry, etc., will certainly take a massive hit.

…this island, Hokkaido, looks like the head of a dragon with the body being the rest of Japan. The people of Asia have worshipped the dragon for 5,000 years. If one looks at the place where the earthquake took place, it looks like the soft underbelly of most vulnerable part of the dragon. Let’s pray that the deep idolatry and the worship of hundreds of idols under the guise of Shintoism, Buddhism, and allegiances to being “sons of the dragon” will be broken and thousands will turn to the Lord.

Jacobs is a close associate of Rick Joyner; she is a member of Joyner’s “Oak Initiative”, alongside Jerry Boykin and other  figures on the neo-Pentecostal Christian Right. I blogged on Joyner’s musings on “the spiritual significance of the Japanese earthquake” yesterday.

Jacobs’ discussion of the Emperor supposedly “spending the night with with goddess” refers to a Shinto ritual called Daijosai. This is undertaken when a new Emperor comes to the throne, although the meaning of the symbolism around it is today obscure. Scholar Carmen Blacker explains that:

Wars, rebellions, and impoverishment of the imperial house led to periods, longer or shorter, of dicintinuance. The longest lapse lasted for more than two centuries, from 1466 to 1687, when civil war and its aftermath prevented its performance. During this long gap much of the tradition surrounding the ritual was lost.

One interpretation suggests that it is a rite of passage through which the Emperor is reborn as the child of the Goddess. Part of the ceremony involves a bed-like object, called a shinza. However, the shinza is not touched, the emperor does not lie on it, and its meaning is unknown. Blacker observes:

An intriguing variey of theories have been advanced to account for its presence. It has been seen as a throne, as a marriage bed, a symbol of the Sun Goddess, a resting-place for a visiting god, a refuge where the emperor may receive the soul of his ancestors. (1)

However, as I blogged in 2009, neo-Pentecostals such as C. Peter Wagner interpret the ritual salaciously: Wagner believes that the Sun Goddess is a demonic “succubus” who becomes “one flesh” with the Emperor through “sexual intercourse”. Wagner heads the “Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders”, of which Jacobs is a member.

Jacobs is not the first person to suggest that Japan is shaped like a dragon, with Hokkaido as the head; a couple of popular guidebooks claim this is a feng shui conceptualization, although it doesn’t appear to be a traditional belief.

(1) See “The Shinza or God-seat in the Daijosai: Throne, Bed or Incubation Couch?” in The Collected Writings of Carmen Blacker (Routledge 2000)

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Rick Joyner Predicts Earthquake in US, “Economic Collapse”

Part One

The earthquake in Japan continues to evoke moralistic and scaremongering commentary from various religious figures. In South Korea, David Yonggi-Cho (a member of the international neo-Pentecostal “A-list”) has used to opportunity to note Japan’s “idol worship, atheism, and materialism”, while Glenn Beck’s “End-Times Prophet” Joel Richardson has knocked off a pseudo-geological screed for WorldNetDaily in which he tells us about “astounding statistics that were brought to my attention last year by my friend, Pastor Cecil Boswell, from Nashville, Tenn.” These statistics supposedly prove that earthquakes are increasing in frequency as we approach the last days – a popular standby of doom-mongers, but not actually true.

The most blatantly irresponsible fearmongering, though, has come from Rick Joyner, a big-name evangelist who has links with Gen. Jerry Boykin and various neo-Pentecostal leaders (Hat tip: Sarah Posner). Joyner warns that the earthquake in Japan presages the collapse of America and a bigger earthquake on the west coast of the USA:

…It’s all unfolding right now… Now, one of the scenarios or the scenario that we saw was America would swing to the left. There would be an economic collapse. Anarchy, terrible, terrible, anarchy for a period of time, for a short period of time, like less than two months, and then swing way to the right, and the worst kind of tyranny would take over…. People would want any kind of order rather than the chaos and disorder and all that had happened because of the economic collapse.…

Another factor here I want to bring up right now, I think Bob started prophesising, Bob Jones, I first heard him say it 22 years ago – 22 is 11-11, I’ve talked about that – was that the real beginning of some things would start with a major earthquake in Japan. A lot of other details… part of that revelation too was an atomic mushroom cloud, I don’t know what’s going on with those reactors over there, but you know things are unfolding right now, they really are. Some other prophetic voices that I think have a good track record, even in the last year or so, have started saying that something was going to happen in Japan that would cause them to call in their bonds, their American debt, the debt you know, that they had purchased so much of American debt. They were going to need it for rebuilding Japan, and that would cause the collapse here…

…The next two years are going to be the most critical I think in our history… Another thing Bob saw, several of us saw the same earthquake happen in California that was a warning shot across the bow of California. The very details that we saw happened in the last major earthquake…and many of us had seen a much bigger one coming to the West coast, California. But it would not come – Bob had this part – it would not come until the Japanese earthquake…. I believe our whole northwest… It’s inevitable.

Bob Jones was one of the “Kansas City Prophets” (he is not to be confused with Bob Jones of Bob Jones University fame), and both he and Joyner have perennially predicted earthquakes; here’s Joyner in 1998:

Bob Jones and Jim Bakker both feel that the things we mentioned in the tape are very imminent, and I concur that the emphasis of the Spirit seems to have changed from warning that unless we repent these things will happen, to prepare for them, they are coming. However, I do not know of anyone who has been given a sure timing, and I personally feel that we may have several more years, which is a short time! Regardless of how much time we may have, we do not have any time to waste.

Do we think that it is time for believers to move out of Southern California? Bob Jones has warned some people that it is time to leave Southern California. I have told people to seek the Lord and leave only if He directs them to. However, I have been told that the time is soon coming when I will have to begin telling people that they should only stay if they hear from the Lord to stay.

…First, there are many cities and regions that are about to experience God’s judgements. However, I do not believe that the judgement coming to the Los Angeles area has as much to do with the degree of evil as it does the ability to project it and send it around the world. No other city in our time has caused more people to stumble than Los Angeles, mostly for what has come out of Hollywood. This will not continue much longer, either because of repentance, or because of destruction.

No mention of Japan there. Joyner expounded on the numerological significance of the number 11 at the start of this year, spurred on by the date of 1 Jan 2011:

The question I may be asked more than any other is what 11-11 means. Whether seeing it repeatedly on their clocks or in other ways, many people have been receiving this for years. New Year’s Day was 1/1/11 or 1-1-11. This usually speaks of a second chance, which is the message ofI saiah 11:11 because it is here that God promises to restore Israel to their land a second time.

How this relates to earthquakes remains mysterious.

Part Two

Joyner’s new sermon also has a bizarre discussion of his association with Eugene K. Bird (Gene Bird), a former commandant of Spandau prison who later became a businessman in Berlin. In the 1960s, Bird had used his position to interview Rudolf Hess and to write a book about him, in contravention to military regulations. Joyner apparently later became friends with Bird, and this is relevant because “the same demonic evil principalities that had overtaken Germany” are “going to attempt to take over the United States” following the Japan earthquake and coming economic collapse.

Bird, Joyner explains, originally hated Germans, until he saw the devastation caused by Soviet soldiers in Berlin. Stalin had made an order:

…the army that gets to the Reichstag first, plants the Soviet flag on the Reichstag, would be given the reward of three days to do anything they wanted to the German people who are left. Anything. Torture them, kill them, rape them. Whatever they wanted to do… The Russian soldiers were just turned loose on the population.

Soviet rape atrocities in Berlin and elsewhere were highlighted in Anthony Beevor’s book Berlin: The Downfall of 1945. A 2002 report about the book in the Telegraph notes that:

Stalin and his commanders condoned or even justified rape, not only against Germans but also their allies in Hungary, Romania and Croatia. When the Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas protested to Stalin, the dictator exploded: “Can’t he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?”

However, Beevor’s book makes no mention of a special three-day dispensation given to whichever army group got to the Reichstag first.

Back to Joyner:

Bird was also instrumental in helping to lead von Schirach, who was the head of the Hitler youth, Albert Speer, who was supposedly the greatest architect and engineer – they said his genius prolonged the war up to two years – and Rudolf Hess all met the Lord. We’re going to know them in heaven. I mean, if that isn’t redemption, if that isn’t restoration……He was almost universally recognised as possibly the top authority on Nazi Germany.

…He introduced me to some of the famous old Nazis. Even the colonel, if you saw the movie, when Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves, how the one-armed colonel went in, picked up the pistol they’d shot themselves with, and had their bodies burned. That colonel was still alive until a few years ago, still had the gun Hitler killed himself with. And, we were out there at Hitler’s bunker one time. Here’s the guy who had them buried – and, their bodies burned and then buried. And then, unfortunately, typical of Nazis, then they killed the ones that did that, who buried them, so nobody would know, and he said the Russians never found their bodies… He showed us where they were buried. If you knew, it is one of the most remarkable stories. I’m not going to say here because this programme goes everywhere, but I know where they’re buried.

Gitta Sereny’s famous biography of Speer, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, has a couple of fleeting references to Bird. He told her:

When I assumed my duties, it was easy enough to manage Schirach — I never trusted him, but he was agreeable enough; his English was better than mine. Hess was really difficult to talk to: ‘How are you?’ ‘Bad.’ ‘The weather?’ ‘Bad’…

However, there are no stories of the three Nazis being “led to the Lord” by Bird or by anyone else. And the notion that those who disposed of Hitler’s body were killed in turn is also nonsense: the key witnesses (such as Otto Guensche, Heinz Linge, Johan Rattenhuber, Hans Baur, and Harry Mengershausen) were still alive years after the war’s end.

The Times gave a bit of background to Bird’s book, The Loneliest Man in the Worldlast year:

The veteran Australian reporter Desmond Zwar has revealed how he helped to extract information from the Nazi while he was locked up alone in Spandau prison, West Berlin…

“I wrote out the questions for Hess, gave them to the US prison commandant Eugene Bird,” Mr Zwar says. “Bird would record Hess’s answers, I would have the tapes transcribed and translated, write them up and send the text back to him via Colonel Bird. Hess would then hide the paper in his underwear and read them in the prison garden.”

The resulting manuscript became a book under the name of Colonel Bird and it unleashed a furious response from the Western allies and from Moscow. Mr Zwar’s role in writing the book was quickly evident and US agents were sent to his house in Australia. Special Branch was dispatched to his London agent, George Greenfield.

According to Greenfield’s 1995 memoir, A Smattering of Monsters, Bird had a German wife and was fluent in the language. Greenfield describes him as “dark-haired, plump-faced, with a soft Sothern accent – a strange mixture of shrewdness and gullibility”. Perhaps that gullibility came to the fore when a neo-Pentecostal evangelist from California came knocking.

Joyner has used Bird’s name before; in 2009 he warned with thudding inevitability that

Bird often explained how the evil spirit of death that took over Germany gained entry through its health care system. Now it is easy to see what he was talking about in what is being proposed by the Obama Administration.

Part Three

Bird also introduced Joyner to a chivalric group:

I saw many parallels in the history of the Knights of Malta, who are also called the Order of St. John (OSJ), with what I had been shown prophetically in the vision I was given about the coming harvest and the struggle that much of the world was about to face.

…I began telling Col. Bird about my recent study of the interesting history of the Knights of Malta. To my surprise Col. Bird told me that he had recently been knighted by this Order, and that I too had been recommended for investiture by an Austrian baron. He also told me about a spiritual renewal that was taking place in the OSJ, and that some of this had come about because of my books which were being read by the knights.

About a week later I was standing in a Nuremberg hotel lobby with some friends, when one of them announced the entry of the Austrian baron who Col. Bird had just told me about. As this man approached, I asked Bobby Conner to tell me if he saw anything prophetic about this man. Bobby began to share with him a vision that he had just seen of a strange briefcase, and that he had just visited the office of Kurt Waldheim. The baron was astonished because he had just had a briefcase custom made like the one Bobby described for Kurt Waldheim, and had just come from giving it to him in his office (Kurt Waldheim was at that time the President of Austria, but Bobby did not know who he was). The Austrian baron was already a believer in the prophetic, but he said that he had not seen anything on quite this level. This began a series of events that made Kurt Waldheim a believer as well. This was important for a significant prophetic/diplomatic meeting with one of the most powerful Arab leaders in the Middle East which would take place at a later date. This was when I first realized how some of the knights of the OSJ were being used for amazing spiritual-diplomatic achievements that were in the interest of the kingdom of God. A number of very influential world leaders were presented straightforwardly with the gospel, as well as given important prophetic information which came to pass.

So, Kurt Waldheim became a neo-Pentecostal, too!

Bird’s obituary can be seen here; it tells us that

After leaving the U.S. army, Bird remained in Berlin, living in the city’s outlying Zehlendorf district and operating a family business. He leaves behind a widow and two daughters.

Alas, however, it seems that there is some confusion over which group Joyner joined; Charisma reported in 2001 (now reposted elsewhere):

Joyner has even written a book about the Knights of Malta, Courage That Changed the World, which features a photograph of the robed “grand master” of the order. In the book, Joyner compares the Knights to end-time Christians who will overcome the world’s evils through faith in Christ.

What Joyner didn’t realize when he wrote his book is that the group he joined has “no connection whatsoever with any legitimate order of chivalry of that name,” according to Guy Stair Sainty, historiographer of the priory in the United States of the Most Venerable Order of St. John.

In a letter of response to an inquiry about Joyner’s group, Sainty said the order Joyner has joined is not the original Knights of Malta but “one of more than 20 similar bodies which misuse the name of St. John [to distribute] invented titles…and worthless knighthoods.” Sainty added that individuals who join the legitimate Knights of Malta group must be Roman Catholic and have a bishop’s recommendation.

Of course, that’s just Sainty’s perspective; the group of which Joyner is a member calls itself “the Ecumenical Order” and states that

although the Knights, like the Christian Church, are split into many Orders, our Order is true to the original tradition.

Joyner is described as a “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”, while Jerry Boykin is the “Grand Chancellor”. The “Prince Grand Master” is Nicholas F.S. Papanicolaou, who is also a board member of Rick Joyner’s “Oak Initiative”. According to Papanicolaou’s blurb there:

…He was vice president of the Onassis Organization in New York in 1973-1975, and then joined his family business interests in shipping and other investments. In 1983 he became controlling shareholder and co-Chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda in the United Kingdom, maker of the famous Aston Martin and Lagonda motor cars…

He is also a co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”. The WPF brings together each year on the island of Rhodes, Greece some 700 important officials and representatives from more than sixty countries for four days of open and frank deliberations on cross-religious and cross-cultural issues.

I blogged on the “Dialogue of Civilizations”, noting Papanicolaou’s involvment, in 2006. It seems incongruous that someone interested in “cross-religious” issues would hook up with the likes of Joyner and Boykin; an Oak Initiative branch in Texas recently invited Boykin to talk about “The Islamization of America”, and the Initiative’s leadership is mostly made up of the dominionist Christian Right.  According to the Order’s website, at one time Joyner brought Papanicolaou onto “a special program on God TV”.

I blogged on the world of chivalric orders here.