Nadine Dorries Doubles Down On Catholic Church “Attack” Claim Over Novel

A dramatic headline from the Big Issue:

Nadine Dorris Interview: There is a Catholic Church Conspiracy Against Me

The “conspiracy” refers to her debut novel, The Four Streets:

…Critic Christopher Howse – a former member of the hard-line Roman Catholic grouping Opus Dei – described it as “the worst novel I’ve read in 10 years”.

He was brought in, Dorries told The Big Issue, because the original review wasn’t tough enough on her.

“The Telegraph commissioned someone to review my book,” Dorries said. “It was a lovely review. They didn’t like it so they got someone from Opus Dei to review it.

“And one of the central characters in my book is a child-abusing priest. So you’re not going to get someone from Opus Dei to review a book about an abusive priest.

“If you go on to Conservative Home you can see a review Iain Dale has written of the Telegraph review.

“I was told the Catholic church will come out and attack me for the book and that seems to be what’s happening.”

Howse’s review was certainly mocking, and perhaps made the mistake of criticising a potboiler for failing to be high literature (for a contrasting positive review, there’s Lucy Helliker at the Express); but the suggestion that it was written in bad faith as part of a conspiracy to protect the Catholic Church from criticism over priestly child abuse is just the latest variation of the histrionic and vicious counter-attacks she dishes out against critical voices (including, it should be remembered, her ex-boyfriend’s estranged wife).

In this instance, though, Dale appears to have put the idea in her head:

…And then you need to take into account Howse used to be a member of Opus Dei. I doubt he took kindly to the storyline of the Catholic Priest abusing a young girl. True to form he gave it a one star review and called it the worst novel he’d read in ten years. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

The claim also made it into the Daily Mail, albeit just as “some wonder”.

Dale also suggested, more reasonably, that the Telegraph may have a particular animus against Dorries over her views on MPs expenses and  the paper’s owners, and he noted a row on Twitter with the paper’s diarist Tim Walker, after Walker was disinvited from her book launch:

…Yesterday [10 April] morning he went even further in a vitriolic attack on her. To be honest he showed himself up. Nadine wasn’t taking any of it and accused him of lying. When he was caught out denying Cristina Odone had ever been commissioned to write any piece for the Telegraph Nadine posted a tweet from Odone confirming she had indeed been asked to do just that. “Telegraph asked to interview Nadine – I read the book, couldn’t put it down and told her so.”

Note here the slide from Dorries’ claim of an “original review” that “wasn’t tough enough on her”, to an “interview”. Here’s the Twitter context:

Dorries: Daily Telegraph rejected review of my book they commissioned  Christina Odone to write and got a bloke to write a spiteful nasty one instead

Odone: …telegraph asked to interview Nadine -i read the book, couldn’t put it down, and told her so

Walker: fair enough! At the Telegraph, there is a belief in free speech. So Nadine’s claim untrue.

Dorries: Sadly, @ThatTimWalker telling porkies – claims DT did not commission review from Christina Odone. Happy to show any journo texts on phone. [Later deleted – RB]

Dorries: OFFS have you read Christina’s tweet? You LIED is that plain enough?

Odone’s interview has not apparently been published, and Dorries may have valid cause to complain; but there’s nothing here to suggest that Walker “LIED”, or that – in a typical piece of slipperiness from Dale – he “was caught out denying Cristina Odone had ever been commissioned to write any piece”. Why can’t these people just make their case honestly?

The dispute also made its way into the Press Gazette:

Howse suggests that any conspiracy theories are wide of the mark: “I rather admire Nadine Dorries, and I hoped her novel would be good.

“Reading it spoiled my weekend. It’s just so badly told: a sagging narrative with a castration fantasy stuck on top. It’s not my fault.

“I wasn’t invited to the party anyway, but if we meet in future I hope we’d speak civilly.”

Author Who Sees God’s Judgment in 9/11 To Open National Day of Prayer Event

From WND:

“Harbinger” Author to Open National Day of Prayer

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of runaway bestseller “The Harbinger,” has been invited to join the speakers for the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer on a date he tells WND holds a special significance in both his book and American history.

…”April 30 is the date given in ‘The Harbinger,'” Cahn told WND. “April 30, 1789, is the day that America came into existence as a fully formed nation with president and Congress, and on that day George Washington and America’s first government prayed and dedicated America to God at the very corner of what today we call Ground Zero.

“Now on the anniversary of that first prayer gathering, with America in grave moral and spiritual apostasy, the nation gathers again for prayer,” Cahn said.
Get “The Harbinger” and movie companion “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”

According to the website of the National Day of Prayer Task Force:

The National Observance in Washington D.C. will be broadcast LIVE on GOD TV (DirecTV channel 365) and their networks on Thursday, May 1… Speakers include Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Rev. Billy Graham), Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Mrs. Vonette Bright, The Honorable Bob McEwen, Congressman Mike McIntyre, Don Moen, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy, Dr. Dick Eastman, Mr. David Butts, Mr. John Bornschein, and many more. 

I suspect Cahn’s “30 April” rather than “1 May” is a bit of poetic licence rather than an error.

WND tries to infer that this event is the official embodiment of the National Day of Prayer; the presence of the House of Representatives Chaplain Patrick Conroy and of Billy Graham’s daughter perhaps adds to this impression. However, although the National Day of Prayer is indeed designated by the United States Congress, this does not mean that the “Task Force” and its particular “National Observance” event have any kind of “official” status; indeed, in 2009 the Task Force issued a statement complaining that the Obama administration had not responded to a request “to send a representative on behalf of the Executive Branch”.

I’ve written about Cahn a number of times: for some years he has used his Jewish heritage to claim special insight into esoteric “Hebrew Mysteries” in the Bible and such, but he hit the big-time with  the Harbinger. The book interprets 9/11 through the lens of how the Hebrew Bible treats ancient Israelite history; in particular, Cahn points to two American politicians (Jonathan Edwards in 2001 and Tom Daschle three years later) who quoted a Bible verse out of context following the attack as “inviting judgment” on the USA.

By the “corner of what today we call Ground Zero”, Cahn means St Paul’s Chapel, which was damaged by debris from the Twin Towers. George Washington indeed attended an Episcopal prayer service at this location following his first inauguration; his most recent serious biographer, Ron Chernow, has the context (Washington: A Life, page 569):

Setting the pattern for future inaugural speeches, Washington did not delve into minute policy matters… National policy needed to be rooted in private morality, which relied on the “eternal rules of order and right” ordained by heaven itself. On the other hand, Washington refrained from endorsing any particular form of religion.

…After this speech, Washington led a broad procession of delegates up Broadway… to an Episcopal prayer service at St. Paul’s Chapel, where he was given his own canopied pew.

But there’s no reference here to America being “dedicated to God”; Cahn is probably thinking of a spurious “Washington Prayer”, which Franklin Steiner showed in 1936 had been concocted later from a 1783 letter to state governors. In Cahn’s worldview, the prayer would not just be an example of Washington’s piety: such a “dedication” would amount to a near-magical invocation, unleashing God as a mechanistic spiritual force in American history.

Cahn previously took part in a similar “Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast” in January 2013; WND‘s editor, the birther Jospeh Farah, was also due to attend, but dropped out amid some confusion (he eventually sent a message that was read out). The event was apparently followed by some sort of copyright dispute between Cahn and the event organisers.

Investigator Says Staffer Accused of Preventing Child’s Lunchtime Prayer Could Not Have Been Present

From the Orlando Sentinel:

School officials said Wednesday that they can’t find any evidence to suggest that a kindergartner was told not to pray in a Seminole County elementary lunchroom.

…The dispute arose after 5-year-old Gabriella Perez told her parents that in March a staffer at Carillon Elementary in Oviedo stopped her from praying over her lunch.

Her father, Marcos Perez, who works for a Christian book publisher in Lake Mary that is promoting a book about the “attack on traditional values” in America, demanded an investigation and apology from the school. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

…A school-district investigator has concluded that “there is no way possible that person was anywhere near the lunchroom” that kindergartners and first-graders use.

Earlier this month, Christian Today (not to be confused with Christianity Today), reported the child’s identification of “the culprit” as if the facts were not in doubt.

The case has been highlighted by Right Wing Watch, which notes the remarkable coincidence that the controversy involved the infant daughter of the Vice President of Sales at Charisma House, at a time when the publisher’s imprint Frontline is publishing a book by Todd Starnes entitled God Less AmericaStarnes’ opus – which comes with a foreword by Mike Hukabee – purports to relate “true stories from the front lines of the attack on traditional values”, and the Perez story formed the basis of a recent Fox column by Starnes. The business link between Starnes and Perez was noted in an “editor’s note” at the head of the story.

The Orlando Sentinel adds that Seminole County Public Schools decided to issue an apology anyway – this is curious given the outcome of the investigation, but it may have made sense in terms of giving the complainant a chance to back down without losing face. This seems initially to have worked:

Jeremy Dys, the family’s attorney, said, “We are grateful for the apology offered by Seminole County Schools. The Perez family gladly accepts this apology, along with the assurances to the community by the School Board that students in Seminole County School are free to exercise their First Amendment freedoms while at school.”

However, the AP now reports that:

Two days after stating that Gabriella Perez’s family had accepted the apology, lawyer Jeremy Dys said their position changed after reading the comments of district spokesman Michael Lawrence in the Orlando Sentinel.

Dys said it is clear now the district’s response wasn’t “a real apology.” In addition, “we’re not really confident the investigation actually took place,” he said.

…Dys’ letter also claims Lawrence made “false and defamatory statements publicly and intentionally” about Gabriella and her family, and requested that he be disciplined.

Dys is Senior Counsel to the Liberty Institute, where his work has involved defending “bullied teachers”.

Conspiracy Theorist Michael Shrimpton Prosecuted Over Olympics Bomb Claim

At WND, Lord Monckton discusses a recent court hearing in Southwark Crown Court involving Michael Shrimpton, conspiracy theorist and barrister:

“My best guess is that the government will eventually see the sense in dropping the criminal prosecution against Shrimpton, since it is quite clear from my own earlier discussions with Shrimpton about this episode that he genuinely believed that terrorists had obtained a redundant German submarine and were planning to sail it up the Thames and blow up the Olympics with a nuclear weapon,” Monckton said in an interview with WND in London.

Shrimpton – who previously appeared on this blog in 2009 –  is apparently in trouble for allegedly “making false claims to British government officials”. The case was first noted in a brief item for Court News UK last year, although the substance of the charge at that time concerned a claim about a bomb being hidden in Newham Hospital in east London rather than a plot involving “a redundant German submarine”.

Monckton was asked for his thoughts on the case by Jerome Corsi, one of the more prominent birther conspiracy theorists the USA (he’s also appeared on this blog once or twice before, due to his interest in “Bible prophecy” matters) – Corsi has devoted three WND articles (one, two, three) to Shrimpton’s predicament, and he appears to think it has has some bearing on Shrimpton’s own birtherism. However, even Monckton finds the connection obscure, as he writes in his own WND follow-up piece:

Shrimpton will exercise every right of the defense to call secret intelligence evidence, such as reports from the network of nuclear-monitoring military satellites, and even a report of a supposed DNA test establishing that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya. Don’t ask me what that has to do with a plot to blow up the London Olympics. Mr. Shrimpton may or may not have all his marbles in the right place, but the prosecution is plainly out to lunch.

Shrimpton has also submitted a defence filing. It’s a remarkable document, in which he lays out his credentials and expounds conspiracies on subjects ranging from the fate of Madeline McCann to the supposed Vatican origins of the Koran. I’ll refrain here from dwelling on that sort of material in any detail, but it’s worth noting his various connections, which he lists in third person:

…He has also been invited to speak at intelligence conferences, including the Intelligence Conference (INTELCON) at Crystal City, Virginia, USA in February 2005, the Intelligence Summit, at the same venue (the Hyatt Crystal City) in 2006 [*] and the Intelligence Conference at Gregynog, Wales in 2013. He has also taught the subject, online, using an encrypted online teaching programme called “Educator”, at Masters Degree level, as a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the American Military University… The Defendant has also acted as Human Intelligence (HUMINT) source for a number of Western intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the Metropolitan Police.

…The Defendant has visited inter alia the Department of Defense (Pentagon) and the White House in Washington DC. He has conferred at the Pentagon with inter alia Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England… On February 2006 the Defendant was flown out to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise… as part of the of the United States Navy’s Distinguished Visitor Program.

(Another link mentioned is to the Gerard Group International LLC – this group appeared on this blog earlier this month)

Corsi says that “several British military intelligence sources with a long track record say they are prepared to testify in Shrimpton’s trial”, which could be an interesting spectacle.

Shrimpton also refers several times to his new book, Spyhunter: The Secret History of German Intelligence. The opus was published just a week or so ago by the June Press. This “Euro realist” publisher is best-known for publishing Gerald Frost‘s Eurofacts newsletter.


*The INTELCON conferences were organised by John Loftus’ Intelligence Summit organisation, and they received some mainstream media attention at the time; in 2006, CNN reported that “Former U.N. weapons inspector Bill Tierney” had brought old recordings of Saddam Hussein talking about WMDs, while the 2007 event was covered by UPI. Right Web has more background, noting the involvement of various conservative figures.

There is still an Intelligence Summit website, with details about its past events and associates. However, the site is currently run by a certain Brent Beleskey, and the front page is absurdly over the top: headlines refer variously to “Masonic Skull & Bones Kerry”; “Obama Plans to Murder Christians”; “Antipope Francis personally ordered Ukrainian coup”; and “The New Jesuit Masonic Islamic World Order”, among much else culled from other conspiracy websites. Is this really the kind of material Loftus wants to be associated with?

Multnomah Books Attacked Over Pro-Gay Title In Related Imprint

From Christian Retailing (links added):

Convergent Books, an imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, plans to release a pro-gay book the company describes as an “affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity.” Releasing April 22, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships was written by homosexual activist Matthew Vines after years of intensive research on what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Stephen W. Cobb, president and publisher of Convergent, also oversees WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, home to Christian imprints WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books, and Image Books.

The decision to publish the book has brought down the ire of religious right activist and anti-gay obsessive Matt Barber. Barber does not just criticise the decision to publish the book – inevitably, the motive of the publisher must be venal. Writing at Charisma News, under the headline “Deception: Christian Publisher Sells Soul for Mammon“, he thunders:

Convergent is simply WaterBrook Multnomah by another name.

Is it any wonder that the company’s Christian employees are upset? Moreover, is it any wonder that WaterBrook Multnomah allegedly wants them silenced? Convergent’s sole purpose is evidently to both print and make tons of money from counterbiblical books that would otherwise set off a firestorm if printed under the WaterBrook Multnomah banner.

Barber cites an email from a supposed “whistleblower”, which states:

“…An ‘imprint’ in the publishing world is like a mask—the name and logo of the entity may be unique, but the same staff, editors, executives, promoters, are behind the book as are behind those put out by other ‘imprints’ (i.e., directly from Multnomah, and wearing that brand/mask). So Multnomah is now consciously trying to hide from NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] and its members the fact that it is putting out this new project. Insiders are reporting threats should they release any such information outside the company…”

But Barber himself cites press articles about Cobb’s control of various imprints – actually, imprints are “brands” rather than a “masks” – so what exactly is Multnomah supposedly “consciously trying to hide”?

The article is based on piece Barber previously published on his own site, under the title “Christian Publisher Plans Pro-‘Gay’ Book, Employees ‘Under Threat’“, although the url suggests this has been modified (“whistleblower-multnomah-hiding-plans-apostate-pro-lgbt-book-threatens-employees-silence”)

Cobb has responded on the Convergent Books website:

It is important to know that WaterBrook, Multnomah, Convergent, and Image each have their own distinct editorial guidelines and missions. Convergent’s mission is to publish nonfiction for less traditional Christians and spiritual seekers who are drawn to an open, inclusive, and culturally engaged exploration of faith. As such, Matthew Vines’ new book is appropriately positioned as a Convergent publication.  God and the Gay Christian is not published by WaterBrook or by Multnomah—nor would it be editorially appropriate for either.

…A published report raised the question of whether my colleagues have been pressured to not express privately or publicly any objections they might have to the Convergent publication of God and the Gay Christian. This allegation is as untrue as it is deeply offensive to me.

The issue, it seems to me, is whether a publisher representing a cause exists simply to propagandize, or to facilitate a conversation. There of course has to be debate around how far to go, but why does Barber feel the need to engage in such bad-faith demonization?

But this is hardly a new issue; more than 20 years ago, Giles Semper, a former senior editor at HarperCollins Religious, complained in the UK Bookseller that

…Christian publishers… find themselves in a paradoxical position: while debate in the Church rages over an issue like homosexuality and gay priests, they can only offer one Christian perspective, namely, the conservative one, for fear of alienating Christian booksellers. (1)

Accordingly,  Christian Retailing carries a quote from Dightman’s Bible Book Center in Tacoma:

“I would not carry the book and definitely would not promote it… I cannot agree with the premise. Since WaterBrook was acquired by Random House, they have had some books that cross the line. They have classified some books as ‘Christian’ when they don’t have Christian values.”

Charisma News has followed up with a second attack piece, by Michael Brown and entitled “A Shameful Day in Evangelical Christian Publishing“:

The WaterBrook Multnomah group publishes books by authors like John Piper, Chuck Swindoll, Ravi Zacharias, David Jeremiah, Randy Alcorn, David Platt and Bill Gothard, and now its sister publisher is releasing a purported evangelical book defending homosexuality?

Charisma News (like Christian Retailing) is published by a rival Christian publisher: Charisma Media, formerly Strang Communications.

(1) Giles Semper, “Soul Searching in an Age of Alternative Ideologies”, Bookseller, 17 January 1992, p. 130.

Correction: I originally said that Charisma Media had published Heaven Is For Real; that book is actually published by Thomas Nelson.

WorldNetDaily Reports Claims that Book It Published Is Bringing Jews to Jesus

Rabbi Messiah Discounted

This one’s a couple of weeks old, but worth a mention. From WND:

Two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was first proclaimed by Jews in Israel to be God’s “Messiah,” and a flurry of miracles took place.

Now, two millennia later, the cycle is repeating itself as Orthodox Jews who once rejected that message are coming to realize the man slain at Calvary in Jerusalem is indeed God’s “Anointed One.”

“Supernatural stories and events surround this new phenomenon,” says Carl Gallups, author of the best-selling book and DVD “The Rabbi Who Found Messiah.” “This has to be the handiwork of God!”

Gallups is referring to the work of Zev Porat, an Israeli man raised as an Orthodox Jew by a rabbinical family. Working today with the Messiah of Israel Ministries, Porat is now championing Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth) as the prophesied Messiah, and is using Gallups’ material to convince his fellow Jews to wake up to that fact.

As I’ve blogged previously, Gallups’ book discusses the case of Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, an influential Kabbalist who died aged 108 in 2005. Shortly before his death, Kaduri claimed that Ariel Sharon would be the last Prime Minister of Israel, and that the “soul of the Mashiach has attached itself to a person in Israel.” He also allegedly wrote a note that was published posthumously,  identifying the name of this person as “Yehoshua” or “Yeshua”. This is an ordinary Hebrew name, but its Anglicised form is “Jesus”.

Gallups – a pastor and birther* who first came to wide attention with his claim that Barack Obama is named in the Bible as the anti-Christ – reworked the story for his WND-published book The Rabbi Who Found Messiah. In his version , Kaduri was a secret believer in Jesus, and he had been given a vision linking the return of Jesus to the death of Ariel Sharon – thus avoiding the problem of Israeli Prime Ministers who have come after Sharon.

Following Sharon’s death, Gallups argued that the fact that Jesus had not yet returned was a confirmation of Kaduri’s prophetic power, but it’s difficult to see how the book could remain relevant and WND is now attempting to shift copies at cut-price. However, Porat’s evangelism opens up a whole new vista: the conversion of the Jews has traditionally been seen as a sign of the “Last Days”, and WND‘s story puts Gallups and his book at the heart of an unfolding supernatural and eschatological drama. WND quotes Gallups:

“…Zev says that there are now ten of Kaduri’s students who are believers in Jesus as Messiah and many others who are openly testifying of Kaduri’s promise to leave a note. When they found out that the note was posted on Kaduri’s website and two Israeli news sources reported on it, as heavily documented in my book, they are mesmerized by the news. Some are shaken by it. Others are given their lives to Jesus as Messiah and Lord. These are exciting and prophetic times in which we live! I am honored and humbled to be a small part of it.”

Porat also has YouTube videos in which he interviews two men (here and here) who claim to have been among Kaduri’s students.

Porat’s ministry is entitled “Messiah of Israel”, and his website abounds with long-lens photos of him attempting to discuss Bible passages with ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. Apparently he has also taken a copy of Gallups’ book into a synagogue:

“Zev sent me an email telling me that he had a ‘leading of the Lord’ to take The Rabbi Who Found Messiah book into an Orthodox synagogue to reveal to the rabbi and people of that synagogue what Rabbi Kaduri had said regarding the name of the Messiah. He asked me to pray for him and said that this was a ‘dangerous’ thing that he was doing. I assured him of my fervent prayers.

“I was blown away when I saw the pictures of him in the synagogue doing what he had set out to do! There he was using my book to open up the Kaduri story, which the Israeli media had shutdown and covered up.

“After showing them the Kaduri note that proclaimed Jesus (Yeshua) was Messiah, he then followed up with scriptural proof. This man is ministering as a modern day apostle Paul!”

Some copies of Gallups’ book come with a notice on the cover advertising that the book is “By the Creators of the No. 1 Faith Film The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment”; this is WND‘s official DVD tie-in with Jonathan Cahn’s book The Harbinger (published by Charisma rather than WND), which links the 9/11 attacks with God’s judgement against the USA; Cahn and WND editor Joseph Farah are planning a second tour of Israel together later this year.

Meanwhile, the same “By the Creators…” notice will be appearing on a new DVD from Joel Richardson, entitled End Times Eyewitness: Israel, Islam and the Unfolding Signs of Messiah’s Return. Richardson, who has been dubbed “Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet”, has written books arguing that the Bible predicts an Islamic anti-Christ, and his work has been endorsed by Robert Spencer.


*Frank Arduini has chronicled Gallups’ birtherism in comprehensive depth – see here, here, here, and here. He also discusses the basis on which Gallups says that his book is a “bestseller” and among the top 100 on Amazon:

The only way to consider it a “best seller” is to narrow the categories significantly. For example, it is currently the number one seller in the textbooks, subcategory humanities, subcategory religious studies, subcategory Judaism. To put this into perspective, none of the other top 6 sellers in this category were published after 2011 and one was published as far back as 1992. Gallups never says how many books are actually being sold, just that it is a best seller. Keep in mind that his publisher is WND, which also published Corsi’s book “Where’s the Birth Certificate”, which was listed as a best seller despite the fact that the vast majority of its sales were from a bulk sale purchased by WND itself. Not only is Gallups’ book not a best seller, it is so bad that Gallups “bribed” people to give it a good review on Specifically, on November 10, 2013, Gallups offered the people who gave the book a five star review a free copy of the DVD documentary that went with the book.

Child-Witch Exorcist Helen Ukpabio Comes to London

Helen Ukpabio in London

Channel 4 News has the latest on Helen Ukpabio:

A controversial Evangelical Christian and “witch hunter” arrives in the UK in the hope of performing exorcisms on children. But in Nigeria witch scares have resulted in violence, torture and death.

The founder of the bizarre Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries has been accused of exploiting superstitious beliefs around demonic possession and endangering children.

…She offers “deliverance” sessions, crude exorcisms which have been accused of fuelling witchcraft accusations against children in Nigeria.

The report comes with a video, in which Channel 4’s Paraic O’Brien showed up at an event in south London where the “Lady Apostle” was addressing a small group of adults in what seems to have been a community centre. Ukpabio appeared wary and unsure of what to do, and O’Brien was quickly told to leave by the event organisers. The video also captured a glimpse of a table display of Ukpabio’s publications: I noticed the cover of her opus Akwa Ibom State Child-Witch Scam: The Wholesome Truth, an abusive and crudely libellous screed in which she outlines how her critics (including me) are part of a world-wide atheist conspiracy against her.

For wider context about what happens when children are accused of causing misfortune through witchcraft, O’Brien referred back to the 2000 murder of Victoria Climbié, and, unfortunately, to the case of “Adam”, the West African boy whose  torso was found by the Thames in 2001 – I say “unfortunately”, as this was an unrelated matter (other reports have also conflated the story of “Adam” with child witches, leading to some regrettable sensationalism).

The report also covered a small protest that took place outside the venue, that was organised by the International Humanist and Ethical Union; the IHEU’s Bob Churchill wrote on Twitter afterwards:

her support network on the ground seems thankfully very small. small numbers at the event.

It should be remembered that the Evangelical Alliance as long ago as 2007 issued a statement that condemned accusing a child of witchcraft as “abusive, immoral, and unbiblical”, and that highlighted efforts by the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance to ensure the issue was addressed within black-majority churches. However, there are many small African churches operating in the UK, and journalists have uncovered a few cases where little-known pastors from Nigeria and Congo continue to identify children as witches.

Ukpabio’s current visit to the UK is low-key, and probably deliberately so: after she came to wide attention in 2008 following the broadcast of the documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children, she claimed that a mob had “almost killed” her when she visited London shortly afterwards. In 2010 she cancelled a planned visit to a Liberty Gospel franchise in Houston following bad publicity.

As it was, her latest London venue had to be hastily rearranged after her original booking at the Albany in Deptford was cancelled; the theatre has issued a statement:

We only cancel bookings in very exceptional circumstances. In this instance we were not given full information about the nature of the booking by the booker, which is at odds with our terms and conditions and ethical policies as an organisation.

And according to Churchill, her second-choice venue was also closed to her after the first evening.

Ukpabio’s publicity for the London visit does not focus on child-witches; instead, the three-day event (10-12 April) is billed as a “Season for Disconnections from All Spiritual Attacks”, and her flier asks:

Are you under:
Witchcraft attack?

Ancestral spirit attack?
Mermaid spirit attack? 

The “mermaid spirit” element has led to some baffled mockery on Twitter – and I suspect that’s why Channel 4 has dubbed Ukpabio’s church “bizarre”. However, it’s less out of place in Ukpabio’s African context, where there is widespread belief in water spirits, known as “Mami Wata“.

Ukpabio has complained bitterly that critical coverage of her teaching and activities maligns her: she insists that although “child-witches” are abused elsewhere, at her own church (which has 150 branches), children are given “a very easy and mild” exorcism that does no harm. But this simply will not do: the tragedies caused by child-witch stigmatisation will only become a thing of the past when the belief itself has been rooted out of religious communities. Ukpabio spreads her teaching on child-witches through videos and paperbacks, and her influence goes beyond those who will bring their children to her church for a “mild” exorcism. And the teaching is abusive in itself: imagine how it must feel to a child to be told that they have caused misfortune within their family due to witchcraft, and how other family members are likely to regard them afterwards.

It should also be remembered that Ukpabio has actively obstructed efforts to protect children: in 2009, she orchestrated a raid on a hostel for children who have been abandoned due to child-witch stigmatisation, and when the Governor of Akwa Ibom intervened she warned him to “remember what happened to Saddam Hussein”. Ukpabio also sent thugs to disrupt a conference on the subject of child witches organised by the Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe, and in 2010 her lawyer left a comment on this blog expressing glee that Leo’s father had come to harm due to Leo’s anti-corruption campaigning.

WND Rewords Headline To Imply Guilt Ahead of Trial

I really can’t imagine why WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) felt the need to rewrite this headline from MediaTrackers to minimise the “alleged” detail

WND Oberlin


Media Tracker Oberlin

And yes, the claim that the nephew was “brought… to the US to kill her” is also part of what’s “alleged”, despite the deliberate and bad faith attempt by WND to obscure that this has not been established as fact.

The story concerns a Professor Eunjung An, who claims that her colleague Professor Ali Yedes had said to her that “in his culture, he could have had the female Department Chair [i.e. An] killed because of his perceived mistreatment by her in postponing his tenure.” Also, An says that “Yedes told another professor that he had “brought his nephew to the United States on a student visa some time in the past few years, specifically to ‘stab and kill someone from his department,’ in particular a French professor who is Asian.” According to the report:

An’s request for a jury trial has been granted, and the case has been assigned to Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James L. Miraldi. Oberlin College applied for an extension to respond last week, and must submit its reply to the complaint by May 8.

It looks like WND has already decided what the verdict is going to be.

Cliff Kincaid Sees Aleister Crowley Link In Russian Politics

Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid takes aim against fellow US conservatives who support Russia because of Putin’s “family values” authoritarianism:

Rather than embrace Christianity, the evidence shows Russia has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church, always a tool of Soviet intelligence… Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky has called it “Putin’s Espionage Church,” and devotes a major portion of his book, KGB/FSB’s New Trojan Horse, to its use by the Russian intelligence service.

But that’s just the warm-up:

…The scholarly paper, “The Occult Revival in Russia Today and Its Impact on Literature“… describes how “post-Soviet Russia” has embraced New Age and occult ideas, even what the author, German academic Birgit Menzel,  calls “dark” or “evil forces”… Theosophy, writes Dr. Peter Jones, one of the world’s foremost experts on paganism and the occult, is part of a movement which “plans to eat the Christian church alive in the days ahead.”

…One of many fascinating revelations from Menzel’s well-researched 2007 article is that Aleksandr Dugin, now an adviser to Putin, has incorporated some of these ideas into his theory of “geopolitical Eurasianism,” a revival of the Russian empire that includes Islamic Iran… Robert Zubrin, the author of several articles about Dugin, points out the similarities between the National Socialism of Hitler and Dugin’s original National Bolshevism… Equally troubling, there are reports that Dugin’s vision of a resurgent Russia is built in part on the ideas of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), a Satanist who described himself as the “Beast 666,” or Antichrist, of the Book of Revelation. “It [is] worth mentioning that in early 90s the National Bolsheviks and their main ideologist Aleksandr Dugin tried to bring Aleister Crowley’s ideas to wide popular masses in Russia with enviable persistence,” one observer of the Russian political scene noted.

Kincaid’s article rebukes Pat Buchanan, and (for the second time or more) the World Congress of Families, and he notes the WCF’s association with Vladimir Yakunin, who is close to Putin.

Now, many of us have criticisms of Putin and of the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russian life; but that Aleister Crowley might turn out to be the key to understanding Putin’s ultimate motivation isn’t something that I was expecting. Has Kincaid got a bit carried away, perhaps?

Kincaid’s “observer of the Russian political scene” is actually a certain “Frater Marsyas”, who is apparently involved with the OTO in Russia. “Marsyas” is critical of Dugin’s attempt to appropriate Crowley as a “conservative revolutionary”, and he adds: “It looks like after that our ‘conservative revolutionaries’ became disappointed in Crowley”. Dr Peter Jones, meanwhile, is an “Adjunct Professor of New Testament” at Westminster Seminary California; he has no formal expertise in “paganism and the occult”, and he runs a polemical Christian fundamentalist website called truthXchange.

It’s perhaps also worth noting a few points about some of Kincaid’s other sources: Zubrin is a nuclear engineer of eastern European descent who has advised Newt Gingrich on the need for humans to go to Mars, while Preobrazhensky left the KGB more than 20 years ago and moved to the USA in 2006. As with Ion Pacepa (also quoted in the article, and discussed by me here), it’s difficult to judge the extent to which Preobrazhensky’s background means he really has a special insight into current affairs, or whether he’s milking a long-past privileged position to maintain pundit status. His book – full title KGB-FSB’s New Trojan Horse: Americans of Russian Descent – was published by Gerard Group Publishing, which is attached to Gordon Cucullu’s Gerard Group International (I previously wrote about Cucullu here), and his section on the Orthodox Church was previously available on the website of the  CI Centre (“The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies” – based in Virginia, despite the spelling of “Centre”).

The nature of Dugin’s influence on Russian politics is certainly an interesting subject, and he’s been the focus of recent media attention. Foreign Policy ran a profile (by Anton Barbashin and Hannah Thoburn) a few days ago, entitled “Putin’s Brain“; Oleg Shynkarenko followed up at the Daily Beast with “Alexander Dugin: The Crazy Ideologue of the New Russian Empire“. However, an article from a month ago by J. Paul Goode in the Washington Post cautions that

Though Putin is given to quoting nationalist philosophers, this narrative also overstates the influence of Eurasianism in the Kremlin. Alexander Dugin and Gleb Pavlovskii—two figures most often associated with Eurasianism—have not held Putin’s ear for some time, and one suspects the majority of state and quasi-state actors actually involved in foreign policy are more interested in rent-seeking and asset stripping than empire. 

A piece in the Boston Globe by Leon Neyfakh on the Eurasian Union adds that:

…While the language and aesthetics may sound like the definition of fringe, Dugin has become increasingly influential over time. According to fascism scholar Anton Shekhovtsov, he “entered the mainstream” “when he became an adviser to the head of the State Duma, Russia’s parliamentary body, in 1998. Today, Shekhovtsov, says, “his ideas are taken seriously by people who are close to Putin.”

Dugin and his followers may be the most worrisome face of Eurasianism, but they are not its only supporters; other Eurasianists disdain him as a fascist using the philosophy for his own ends. Among these is Yuri Kofner, the founder of the Eurasian Youth Movement, a clean-cut, blond 20something who makes friendly YouTube videos in English aimed at Westerners who might be curious about the Eurasian dream…


Archbishop of Canterbury Suggests African Christians Killed Over Tolerance of Homosexuality


From the UK Tablet:

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned today of the “absolutely catastrophic” consequences for Christians in other countries if the Church of England decided to solemnise gay marriages.

Archbishop Justin Welby said that a visit to a mass grave for persecuted Christians in Nigeria in January “burnt into his soul” the effect that decisions made at Lambeth Palace could have.

The Christians were killed by their neighbours who thought that their tolerance of homosexuality would corrupt others, he explained during an LBC radio debate hosted by James O’Brien.

Meanwhile, according to the BBC:

Speaking on his first live phone-in on LBC Radio, Archbishop Welby recalled visiting a grave in South Sudan where 369 people had been buried.

He said the victims had been killed because local people believed allowing a Christian community to exist would mean “we would all be made to become homosexual”.

So was it Nigeria or South Sudan? It seems that Welby wasn’t completely clear, and some confusion has slipped in. LBC has the snippet, in which Welby explains why the Church of England cannot just agree to allow gay marriages in church:

…The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic, and we have to love them as much as we love the people who are here…  I’ve stood by graveside* in Africa of a group of Christians who’d been attacked because of something that had happened far, far, away in America, and they were attacked by other people because of that, a lot of them had been killed. And I was in the South Sudan a few weeks ago, and the church leaders there were saying “please don’t change what you’re doing, because then we couldn’t accept your help, and we need your help desperately”.

…So a Christian on the ground in Africa could end up being on the receiving end of violence and abuse because of a decision taken at Lambeth Palace about sexual equality, about gay marriage?

Yes, precisely… I’m afraid it’s only too sadly true. What was said is “if we leave a Christian community in this area” – I’m quoting them, this not obviously something I think – “if we leave a Christian community in this area we will all be made to become homosexual, and so we’re going to kill the Christians.” The mass grave had 369 bodies in it, and I was standing with the relatives.

(*sic for lack of article, making it unclear whether he meant “a graveside” or “gravesides”)

The Archbishop does not here locate the “mass grave” specifically as being in Nigeria, but that does indeed appear to have been where he meant; Andrew Brown writes in the Guardian:

He referred to a particularly harrowing experience he had in the middle belt of Nigeria, where the ethnic cleansing of a Christian village by Muslim neighbours was supposedly justified or prompted by something gay-friendly done by the Anglican church in the US.

There’s no doubt that Welby was profoundly affected by the experience. He has talked about it to me privately – not your average cocktail party conversation – and he was clearly anguished by the memory of the mass grave and the way it smelled.

There was a similar account when Rowan Williams decided to ditch his old friend Jeffrey John in 2003: he was apparently told that, if John were consecrated as bishop of Reading, Christians in Pakistan would die in the subsequent rioting.

It would still be good to know exactly where this was and what the specific circumstances were: it seems to me that the killing is likely to have been within the context of pre-existing strife, and that this needs to be weighed against whether “gay-friendly” Anglicanism in the USA (or even the general increasing western tolerance of homosexuality) was really the true determining factor.

Welby has a long-standing interest in Nigeria, but he was not there in January. He did, though, as he mentions above, visit South Sudan at the end of that month, as part of a tour of Central Africa. On 31 January, he attended a mass grave in the town of Bor, shortly after “scores” of female church workers had been massacred at a local church by rebels; but there’s no suggestion that this particular horror had anything to do with homosexuality.

According to The Church Mouse on Twitter, Welby told him the story of the Nigerian graveside “over a year ago”.