House of Reps Chaplain to Join Joseph Farah and Jonathan Cahn at “Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast”

A press release from the “Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast“:

On Monday, January 21st, Inauguration Day ordinary Americans will gather with Pastors, Clergy, Lay Leaders, Congressmen, Senators, Ambassadors, and Diplomats to pray for the Nation and the Office of the Presidency.  The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast Committee, consisting of hostess Rev. Merrie Turner, Father Patrick J. Conroy, Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, Stewart Greenleaf, PA State Senator, 12th Dist., Mrs. Annette Lantos  (wife of Congressman Tom Lantos, CA) John Stinson, Abby Abildness, Rev.(s) Mike & Rose Greer, Lex & Caroline LaMotte, is presenting the event.  Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, best-selling author of “The Harbinger”, is the key note speaker whose topic is the prophetic destiny of America. Representative Michele Bachmann, Dr. Pat Robertson, Jan Crouch, Pat Boone, Joseph Farah, Rosemary Schindler, Senator Roy Blunt, Dick Simmons and other distinguished guests will lead prayers for the nation.

Inevitably, the event is billed as “non-partisan”, but it’s difficult to take that claim seriously judging from the platform. Joseph Farah, for instance, is a Birther, and his WorldNetDaily website has accused Obama of everything from  masterminding the Sandy Hook massacre to sending a secret message to Muslims that he plans to continue the Jewish Holocaust.

The fact that Cahn is being given centre stage is also significant: Cahn’s religion is actually rather strange, involving esoteric “Hebrew mysteries” and such, but his Harbinger book, which claims that events such as 9/11 represent God’s judgement against the USA,  is currently a top Christian paperback.

The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast appears to be a neo-Pentecostal initiative; a second site for the event has more explicit rhetoric about how the organisers, “Ask for America (TM)”, are “a Gideon’s Army that God has raised up” and a “strategic prayer network”. It’s not clear how this relates to the “Committee” mentioned in the press release. The event was was founded in the 1980s by the late Ruth Ward Heflin; according to a blurb (it’s not clear who wrote it):

My friend and associate Dr. Ruth Ward Heflin was often  priveleged [sic] to attend the Presidential Inaugurations in Washington DC as a young girl.   She traveled in missions and was called to carry the Gospel to every nation.  But in 1988 God called her to turn her attention to America.  I will let her tell you the rest of the story from her book, “Harvest Glory, I Ask for the Nations.”

Heflin is perhaps best-remembered for revivalist events at which gold dust supposedly appeared on people’s hands and at which dental fillings supposedly turned to gold.

UPDATE: Farah’s involvement has become a matter of some controversy – and mystery: see here.

UPDATE 2: Charisma News has also written about the event, adding that:

…the prayer breakfast’s keynote speaker will be Suzan Johnson Cook, who Obama appointed as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom in May 2011. Cook is the principal advisor to both the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for religious freedom globally and is both the first African American and female to hold the position.

“Suzan will address issues of tolerance, unity, faith and the religious freedoms that are at risk at this time,” [Bishop Randolph] Gurley said. “She is very close to the president as an advisor, and she is an awesome lady.”

UPDATE 3: US News reports:

Senate Chaplain Rev. Barry Black will no longer attend an inaugural prayer breakfast being hosted by religious conservatives, after a petition criticizing the event garnered thousands of signatures online.

House Chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, however, will attend the event. His office says the Jesuit priest will deliver a quick prayer, and won’t “stay too long.”

WorldNetDaily Reveals Iranian Smallpox Plot

Reza Kahlili continues to make WorldNetDaily readers’ flesh creep with increasingly lurid apocalyptic scenarios involving Iran, based on supposed inside information to which he alone has privileged access. Here’s the latest, based on “a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit”:

Iranian scientists, working under orders from the radicals running the Islamic regime, have genetically altered microbial agents in a nightmarish scheme to bring the West to its knees.

As reported exclusively on WND on Dec. 16, the source revealed the existence of a plant in Marzanabad, Iran, where 12 Russian and 28 Iranian scientists are working on microbial agents for bombs. At that time, the source disclosed that Iran was working on 18 agents, with four completed. He has now provided information that with work at two other plants, Iran has created a total of eight microbial agents, with research on insects to be used as the vector to infect the societies of its enemies…

Iran, with North Korea’s help, has genetically altered the smallpox virus that makes current vaccinations useless against it…. The radicals ruling Iran believe their planned microbial attacks cannot be traced to them, the source said. 

Smallpox, of course, was eradicated in 1979, although two institutions – one in the USA, the other in Russia – continue to retain heavily-guarded samples of the pathogen. Evidence that the virus has been smuggled into Iran and weaponized would be biggest news story on the planet – although in this instance, “evidence” is in short supply.

It’s not clear how many “sources” Kahlili claims to have in Iran, let alone why they’re all talking to a hack for a ludicrous Birther website rather than liaising with intelligence officers (Kahlili was some kind of CIA informant back in the 1980s, but he’s now a private citizen). And it’s not clear why Iran appears to be powerless to stem the leaks, despite Kahlili constantly alerting them to the fact they’ve been compromised; Kahlili cited a “source in the Revolutionary Guards” for a story about alleged “terror cells” in the USA as long ago as April.

Kahlili sometimes  prefers to cite a former officer “who defected to a country in Europe”. This supposed defector has provided a trickle of stories: in May he warned that Iran was “turning US mosques into command centres”; in July he came up with new “secret nuclear sites not known by the West”; and in December he apparently suddenly remembered “170 missiles targeted at Tel Aviv from underground silos, some of which are armed with biological warheads”.

There’s also a “source in Khamenei’s office”, who provided particularly dramatic information towards the end of the year:

Al-Qaida is teaming up with Iran to stage massive terror attacks on French and German targets in the next three months, according to an inside source.

Those targets include French Socialist Party headquarters, commerce centers and the Paris Metro rapid transit system.

The supreme leader of the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, held a meeting in Tehran with four top commanders of al-Qaida one month ago at which it was decided to attack certain countries in Europe, France and Germany included, according to the source in Khamenei’s office who can’t be named for security reasons.

“Iranian smallpox” is just the most implausible of Kahlili’s many stories so far.

(H/T Conwebwatch)

Bradlee Dean and the Sovereign Citizens

Ed Brayton draws attention to an article in the Daily Beast by Winston Ross, about the so-called “Sovereign Citizen” movement. As Ross describes it:

They are “sovereign citizens,” inspired by any number of complicated and cockamamie theories that all draw the same conclusion: we are not subject to your “laws.” And they are becoming an increasing headache… because when they inevitably land in court for driving without a license or failing to pay taxes, they clog up the system with reams of nonsensical paperwork. Their obfuscatory filings are so inundating that harried prosecutors often drop the charges against them—a victory for the sovereigns’ otherwise quixotic cause.

Sometimes the battles get bloody long before they see a courtroom, too… Since 2000, “lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers,” according to the FBI.

Proponents also claim to believe that each American is owed “anywhere from $600,000 to $20 million” due to government investment deals made with foreign countries, and that “all you have to do to collect is file the right paperwork”.

The movement is largely decentralised, but Ross describes one particular (non-violent) group in Oregon – this is the “Embassy of Heaven” church, run by a certain Craig Douglas Fleshman. Fleshman now uses the name Pastor Paul Revere:

After founding his church in 1987, the former computer systems analyst began issuing “Kingdom of Heaven” identity documents, including passports, driver’s licenses, and license plates, and stopped paying property taxes. Sheriff’s deputies raided the church’s 34-acre property in Stayton, Ore., in 1997, for nonpayment of taxes, and took all of his land.

One member of the “Embassy of Heaven” is a  man named Bradley Dean Smith, better known today as “heavy metal preacher” Bradlee Dean. Dean’s “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” (YCR) ministry has been endorsed by Michele Bachmann, and in May 2011 he gave the opening prayer at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He also enlisted Larry Klayman in a doomed attempt to sue Rachel Maddow for $50 million after she drew attention to his hateful anti-gay rhetoric in a way he claimed misrepresented him. Dean’s most recent stunt has been to claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was orchestrated by Barack Obama and the United Nations.

Dean’s association with the Embassy of Heaven is documented by Karl Bremer, who runs a website called Ripple in Stillwater. Dean was advised to join the group by Glen Stoll, who is known primarily as Kent Hovind’s legal adviser (Hovind, who is a prominent Creationist, is currently in prison over tax issues). Dean later split from Stoll, and his links to the Embassy may belong to the past – but it is likely that this is where Dean’s claim to be an “ordained preacher” comes from (although Dean also has links to the Assemblies of God, through his wife’s parents, Jarry and Marjorie Cole).

Bremer has also listed some other “Embassy of Heaven” members, including Scott Roeder, who murdered the abortion provider George Tiller. Of course, that does not mean that the Embassy of Heaven had anything to do with Roeder’s act, or that other members approved of it: it seems that the ID documents are made widely available, and there’s no requirement to forge any real links with the church in Oregon.

Confusion Over Publisher of David Barton’s Jefferson Lies on Amazon

Back in August, evangelical publisher Thomas Nelson pulled David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies, having “lost confidence” in the work. Thomas Jefferson’s beliefs and actions have long been problematic for the US Christian Right, and Barton’s book presented a revisionist picture of the Founding Father that removed well-known difficulties. Alas, however, the publisher eventually decided that “basic truths just were not there” – something they would have known long beforehand had they taken note of Chris Rodda’s tireless debunking of Barton’s pseudo-scholarship. It seems that Thomas Nelson decided to act after conservative Christians raised concerns.

NPR reported at the time:

The book has already been pulled off the Thomas Nelson website, and the publisher is in the process of pulling down its availability as an e-book from retail partners. Publishing rights are being reverted to the author, and the physical copies of the book are in the process of being removed from bookstores.

However, those “physical copies” were sold on to Barton rather than destroyed; Publishers’ Weekly reported that:

Barton told PW he bought back around 17,000 copies of the current edition

Barton also told PW that once these had sold out there would be a new edition, and that he was in “negotiations” with “Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing arm”; Beck had provided a foreword for the book, and Barton had helped to make the Mormon Beck acceptable to the Christian Right.

The announcement of negotiations with Mercury Ink was a bit of a letdown, given that Barton had promised that a “much larger national publisher and distributor” than Thomas Nelson would take over the book; Mercury Ink has a link to Simon & Schuster, but its list is small and consists of items such as an End Times thriller series by a Utah congressman (de-Mormonized from an earlier edition for a wider audience).

However, Chris Rodda noted in November:

…Barton’s book is once again available from Amazon, and the publisher listed in the info on the book’s Amazon page is none other than Barton’s very own WallBuilder Press. In other words, Barton’s even bigger publisher is himself.

Another promise Barton made was that twenty pages of material that Thomas Nelson allegedly omitted from his book were going to be put back in in the next edition. These allegedly missing twenty pages were described by Barton as additional documentation that was going to prove that his book was accurate, and would clear up everything.

I just ordered a copy of this apparently new edition of The Jefferson Lies from Amazon to see if it is, in fact, a new edition and if those allegedly missing twenty pages of additional documentation have been put back in as Barton promised.

It is not a huge surprise to discover that the book Chris received appears to be one of the 17,000 old Thomas Nelson copies rather than a new edition. She added:

If Barton wants to sell off the copies he has of the Thomas Nelson edition of his book on Amazon, he needs to do it like everybody else — as a third party seller. I’ve already sent Amazon a correction of the publisher via their automated system, informing them that the publisher of the book they’re selling is Thomas Nelson and not WallBuilders Press.

Chris now reports that the publisher listing on Amazon has been amended back to Thomas Nelson – which is a bit awkward for the publisher, since they’ve supposedly “removed” the book from bookstores. So why was the book being presented incorrectly as a new “WallBuilders Press” edition in the first place? Surely, Barton hasn’t been using Jefferson’s famous scissors to excise the Ninth Commandment?