Delaware House of Reps “Recognizes Dr. C. Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles”

A bizarre statement from the State of Delaware House of Representatives:

Tribute. Be it known to all that the House of Representatives recognizes Dr. C. Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles in the State of Delaware. On this special day of the Commissioning Service, we honor Dr. C. Peter Wagner for his many years of faithful service to the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and the advancement of His Kingdom…

The Tribute, “elegantly inscribed on 8 1/2″ x 14″ parchment-type paper and encased in a folder”, was presented to Wagner in a special ceremony, and Wagner has himself helpfully transcribed it in a message to his followers.

Wagner, as is well-known, heads a branch of neo-Pentecostalism known as the New Apostolic Reformation. Leaders of the movement claim to be empowered by God with spiritual gifts – for instance, Wagner receives regular messages from God. Rival perspectives on the world are placed within a demonology of malign supernatural forces, to be battled through spiritual warfare and deliverance: for example, Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary is in fact homage to a demon known as the “Queen of Heaven“, while economic woes in Japan are the result of ritual sex between the Emperor and the demonic sun goddess.

The Tribute was signed by

Robert F. Gilligan, Speaker of the House; Richard L. Puffer, Chief Clerk of the House, Representative Daniel B., Short, Sponsor.

Wagner also has details of the ceremony itself:

For a year or more I have been in touch with apostolic leadership in the state of Delaware, the first state admitted to the union, about the possibility of organizing key apostles in the state and having their government recognized by the state.

… Much to my surprise, a good bit of field work had been done to assure the approval of the State of Delaware. As part of the ceremony, I was officially welcomed as an apostle and authorized to help commission apostles to the state. The mayor of Seaford (a committed believer) read the Commendation from his office and presented me with the key to the city. This was followed by a Tribute complete with the seal of the Sussex County Council, a Tribute with the seal of the Senate of the State of Delaware, and a Tribute from the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware read personally by the representative of the district.

The mayor of Seaford is a certain Ed H. Butler; according to the Seaford Star, “he is a member of the Victory Tabernacle Church of God, Laurel”. The “representative of the district”, who read the Tribute, would have been Michael H. Vincent, who is also the Sussex County Council President.

Sussex County Council is currently in a dispute over prayer with American United; the AU website reported in September:

Each session at the Sussex County Administrative Office Building in Georgetown, Del., begins with Council President Michael H. Vincent leading a recitation of the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer over the chamber’s public-address system. Members of the audience stand and bow their heads during the Christian observance. Since 2009, the prayer has been included in the council minutes as an “invocation.”

Sectarian prayer isn’t the only practice that sends a signal of government involvement with religion. A Ten Commandments display is prominent in the council chamber. And attendees at meetings are sometimes subjected to discussions about the council’s annual prayer breakfast.

According to Delmarvanow,

…The county has argued that the Lord’s Prayer is not an exclusively Christian prayer, so its public recitation by a government body is legal. An attorney for the county has described the prayer “as generic and universal a prayer as can be crafted.”

Whatever one’s views on that, arranging for the State of Delaware to formally recognize “Peter Wagner As an Apostle For the Occasion of Commissioning Apostles” is quite a robust way of giving the finger to those who have church-state qualms.

Meanwhile, Wagner gloats that

The Delaware Council of Apostles has formulated a charter document that is currently undergoing revision. When it is ready, I would hope that we could publicize it as a possible format for other states. I thought that the official sanction of the Government Mountain for this highly significant initiative in the Religion Mountain was notable. It would be interesting to know whether such a thing has happened in other states.

The “Government Mountain” is a reference 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. Another “Seven Mountains” organisation is the Oak Initiative – this is a Christian Right outfit in which Gen William “Jerry” Boykin is a central figure.

UPDATE: The Delaware House Democratic Caucus has sent Right Wing Watch an official statement:

…Under the House tribute process, each individual Representative is responsible for making a request on behalf of his or her constituency.

Discretion for what constitutes an acceptable request is left to each individual Representative rather than subjecting each tribute to a review that could be interpreted as partisan or vindictive. The Speaker of the House is elected by the entire House and his signature appears on each tribute.

…To be clear, in no way does a tribute represent nor should it be interpreted as an endorsement by the Delaware House of Representatives. The House does not vote on tributes. They are requested and sponsored by a specific Representative or Representatives.

Unfortunately, Dr. Wagner seemingly has mischaracterized the intent of this tribute to be an endorsement by the Delaware House of Representatives. We want to be absolutely clear that the House of Representatives does not endorse Dr. Wagner or his organization.

So, the phrase “Be it hereby known to all that the House of Representatives recognizes” actually means… “Be it hereby known to all that one member of the House of Representatives recognizes”.

At Talk To Action, Rachel Tabachnick has a image of the actual document. A comment under her post from “Eleanor B” puts the award in context:

Bear in mind that the Texas Legislature once passed a resolution honoring Albert de Salvo for “his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology.” Albert de Salvo was, of course, convicted for being the Boston Strangler…

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch and Sola Dei Gloria)