The Grand Master and the Christian Right

A few times in recent weeks I’ve blogged on the subject of Nicholas Papanicolaou, a Greek-born businessman with an impressive CV. According to a blurb:

HSH Prince Grand Master Nicholas F. S. Papanicolaou Baron of Finlaystone Maxwell was born in 1949 in Greece. He completed his studies in Greece and got his economics degree at Harvard University and the degree of master of business management at University of Columbia in America.

HSH Nicholas F.S. Papanicolaou is the President of Lion Finance S.A. and Titan Capital Corporation… Earlier he held the posts of Chairman and Holder of control packet of shares of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and president of the Athens Polo Club.

Papanicolaou is currently involved in three organisations of interest: the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations; the Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Ecumenical Order (OSJ), of which he is current Grand Master, and the Oak Initiative. The OSJ also uses the name “Knights of Malta”, despite potential confusion with the well-known Roman Catholic order of that name.

The first of these organisations arranges high-level international conferences on inter-religious dialogue and has links to a Russian Orthodox organisation, while the second, like most “Chivalric Orders”, does charity work. Somewhat incongruously, however, the third is a vehicle for Rick Joyner, an apocalpytically-minded neo-Pentecostal player on the US Christian Right.

Joyner is also a member of the OSJ, and he has explained his involvement on his website: according to the story, Joyner made friends with Eugene Bird, who was formerly Rudolf Hess’s prison commandant. One day, Joyner asked Bird about the OSJ:

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.

…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. 

Kurt Waldheim’s supposed conversion to neo-Pentecosalism appears to have eluded historians, as has Joyner’s claim that Bird also converted Hess, Albert Speer, and Baldur von Schirach. Even more bizarrely, Joyner recently boasted that Bird had introduced him to a man who had shown him Hitler’s secret burial place.

Within the OSJ, Joyner is listed as a mere “Deputy Member of the Supreme Council”; however, the Grand Chancellor is none other than General William “Jerry” Boykin. Boykin, who just yesterday shared a stage with Sarah Palin at an event in Colorado, is also involved with Joyner’s Oak Initiative, and he, Joyner, and Papanicolaou appeared together at a recent Oak Initiative Summit (also present was Alan Keyes, who called for Obama to be impeached). Further, at least one OSJ event has been held at the Heritage Grand Hotel in Fort Mill, SC. 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. Joyner has also featured Papanicolaou on his religious TV programme.

In turn, Joyner and some associates attended the World Public Forum 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) Louis P. Sheldon heads the Traditional Values Coalition, which is known for anti-gay activism.

Papanicolaou has recently created a YouTube channel and posted a couple of short videos explaining the work of the World Public Forum and of the OSJ. In these videos, he emphasises the WPF’s inter-religious work, and how the OSJ helps all people around the world without discrimination, including “Muslims in need”. He adds that the OSJ also speaks out on behalf of persecuted Christians in Muslim countries.

His videos, however, do not discuss either the Oak Initiative or his new book Islam vs the United States, which is published by the Oak Initiative’s Oak Leaves Press. According to the blurb:

This book examines the historical, koranic, cultural, political and all-conquering character of many of the followers of Islam. It also exposes the strategic plan of the Muslim Brotherhood for the USA and the as yet unfulfilled obligations of Islamic States under the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, even, the very charter of the Organization of Islamic Conference and its fifty six member states. It concludes with a direct analogy and historical precedent to controlling radical Islam today as an all-encompassing way-of-life, namely the elimination of state Shintoism in Japan under the Potsdam Declaration of the Allies in 1945. 

Boykin famously regards Islam at satanic, and while speaking at the Oak Initiative Summit he declared that Muslims “curse Jesus” when they pray. Joyner’s views are of the same kind. One would think that a serious interest in the objectives of World Public Forum would be incompatible with support for the Oak Initiative’s aggressive anti-Islam and anti-intellectual fundamentalism. That’s a video worth making to explain.