There’s a right-wing politico-religious presence centred in the US, but with a global reach, engaging in similar practises, destroying religious and cultural artifacts as a key aspect of its ideology of “strategic level spiritual warfare” (SLSW). Until recently a fringe evangelical movement, warned against as deviant, “spiritual warfare” is rapidly positioning itself within America’s mainstream political right. It’s well past time for political journalists to start covering what this movement is up to.
An example, leaders have bragged about the destruction of Native American religious artifacts, which their twisted ideology somehow sees as a liberating act, promoting “reconciliation” between estranged groups of people. Critics, however, see it as reflecting an elimination mindset, while traditional conservative evangelicals have denounced the ideology as un-biblical. Some even claim it is actually a form of pagan practice dressed up in Christian clothes, according such artifacts a spiritual power that the Bible itself denies.
The ultimate goal is to replace secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as “dominionism”. The supposed purpose is to “purify” the world for Christ’s return – again, strikingly similar to what the Taliban believe, but also significantly at odds with more common, long-standing Christian beliefs about the “end times”, as well as the nature and purpose of prayer, and the roles of human and divine power.
This description might seem utterly fantastical, but copious evidence for it is hidden in plain sight, scattered across the internet, in books, on YouTube, and tracked by a small community of researchers.
The missed story in the 2008 campaign
Known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a term coined by its intellectual godfather, C Peter Wagner, this movement surfaced in the 2008 campaign, with video of one of its most prominent practitioners, Kenyan witch-hunter Thomas Muthee. More basically, media failed to grasp the radical nature of NAR, and its departure from earlier evangelical practice. This is so new that many academic experts haven’t caught up with it.
Additionally, many in the media relied on Charisma magazine for guidance – a publication deeply aligned with the NAR. A rare exception, which did not occur until very late in the campaign, was Laurie Goodstein’s October 24 story in the New York Times, “YouTube Videos Draw Attention to Palin’s Faith”, which did discuss spiritual warfare and Palin’s involvement, but barely brushed against the underlying agenda of dominionism and its more troubling implications.
This election cycle, the media will have another chance to get the story right. The NAR has made great strides since 2008, and already, NAR figures are deeply involved in organising for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s August 6 prayer meeting, “The Response”. Rather, the NAR is committed to replacing democracy with a religious dictatorship, which it sees as a necessary prelude for Christ’s return to earth.
Consequently, the NAR is also openly dedicated to destroying religious and cultural groups who do not share their beliefs – even including others on the Christian Right. They openly denounce Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as demonic, but in the end all Protestant denominations are seen as impediments to creating one unified religious establishment which should in turn control all of society, entirely replacing America’s secular democracy, and bringing about their own version of “one-world government”.
This is explicitly articulated in terms of what’s known as the “Seven Mountains Mandate”, which seeks to set up Christian dominance over seven culture-shaping spheres of activity: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion.
The NAR’s non-church, non-denominational apostolic/prophetic organisation is key to its recent rapid growth and its relative invisibility to outsiders, but it also departs significantly from traditional scriptural teachings long held dear by evangelicals, as do many of its teachings.
One tendency warned against was dominionism itself, which the document called “unscriptural triumphalism”. It also warned against “the problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels”, and against “excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits”. These are all major aspects of NAR theology, as is the concept of “generational curses”, which the document also warns against.
In short, the NAR may be gaining real ground on the religious right, but in doing so, it is profoundly undermining a raft of biblical teachings that the majority of evangelicals have staunchly clung to until recently. This is, indeed, not your father’s religious right. It is arguably destroying your father’s religious right.
“There is no foundation in the Old Testament for this practice, nor any indication that the devil has any intrinsic power or authority. Satan’s only weapon is deception and his only sphere of influence that which God permits for His own eternal purposes.
“In the New Testament, the picture is similar; there is no evidence to suggest that Christians are called to engage in an on-going conflict with spiritual forces in the cosmic realm. The Scripture is quite clear in its teaching that Christ defeated Satan completely at Calvary and that Christians have been freed from his power.”
Reid sees this unscriptural ideology usurping God’s role and elevating mere mortals to a higher place – precisely the sort of thing that NAR’s leading advocates accuse secularists of doing:
“The whole focus of SLSW is on the devil and his demonic host … Man has become the fulcrum of redemption, holding the balance of power between God and the devil in the battle for the souls of men, and the gospel itself rendered impotent without the preliminary work of pulling down demonic strongholds … These are serious matters which call into question the very basis of the Christian faith.”
But long before there were any psychologists, the Bible weighed in, Matthew 7:5: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
One such example revolved around Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, formerly a US senator.
“Brownback has taken part in NAR ‘Reconciliation’ events since 2003, and subsequently introduced Senate resolutions apologising to Native Americans,” Tabachnick wrote at Talk2Action.org last year. “These Reconciliation ceremonies are not about pluralism, but about proselytising – for both charismatic evangelical belief and right wing politics.”
Eventually one such resolution was incorporated into legislation. On the other side, a number of Native American NAR leaders were involved in the ritual destruction of objects said to depict false gods. Given the centuries-long history of the many ways that Native American culture has been destroyed by white America, it is nothing short of absurd to claim that “reconciliation” can be brought about by further acts of cultural destruction. Yet, that is precisely what the NAR practices.
The American people should wake up and open their eyes to what is happening around them. They should start to listen rather than spout off at the mouth, think before you speak, and if you have wisdom, which is a gift and not something you find in the news, or in a book, you might just overcome these problems at hand.