Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Republican Party

It is no secret that I am hardly an admirer of the Republican Party. It is impossible to be a progressive in this day and age and admire a group less. Then again, I am hardly much of a supporter of the Democratic Party anymore, either, but sometimes we need to remember just how violently insane the right-wing is in this country.

Introducing Sarah Palin's church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. Of course, the Fox "News" contributors and The Independent Women's Forum would cry foul, rediscovering their inner feminist by asserting it to be sexist to talk about a person's background, but notice they had no problems talking about Barack Obama's church or constantly chiding Hillary Clinton for playing the gender card. What goes around comes around. This is what you are voting for in November if you pull the lever for R, people.

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A Peek inside Palin's Pentecostal Church

by Jerry Mazza, Online Journal Associate Editor

September 10, 2008

Of all the stories that have crossed my computer screen on Palin, Jim Kuhnhenn’s AP article Attacks, Praise Stretch Truth At GOP; the Washington Post’s Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home, to mention a few; by far the strangest article comes from Bruce Wilson’s Talk To Action blog, specializing in faith and politics. This eye-opening piece is called Weird Theology in Wasilla: A Look Inside Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal Church. It sounds less like a religious congregation than a 60s group acid trip.

Here’s Wilson’s first paragraph, “On June 8, 2008, Palin was publicly blessed, with the ‘laying on of hands’ before six thousand Wasilla area church members, by Head Wasilla Assembly of God Pastor Ed Kalnins and on the same day both Kalnins and Palin described, at a ‘Masters Commission’ ceremony at the Wasilla Assembly of God church, how she had been blessed prior to winning the Alaska governorship by an African cleric known for driving the ‘spirit of witchcraft’ out of a town in Kenya, after which town [sic] supposedly crime rates dropped ‘almost to zero.’” Yawsuh.

An African witchdoctor to drive down the crime rate and hopefully Palin’s government expenditures. Now that’s a novel if not bizarre approach. Wilson continues . . .

“Sarah Palin’s churches are actively involved in a resurgent movement that was declared heretical by the Assemblies of God in 1949. This is the same ‘Spiritual Warfare’ movement that was featured in the award winning movie, ‘Jesus Camp,’ which showed young children being trained to do battle for the Lord. At least three of four of Palin’s churches are involved with major organizations and leaders of this movement, which is referred to as The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit or the New Apostolic Reformation. The movement is training a young ‘Joel’s Army’ to take dominion over the United States and the world.”

“A young ‘Joel’s Army’ to take dominion over the United States and the world?” Gee, I thought that the Bush-Cheney hegemonic US Army, aided with at least 100,000 mercenaries from Blackwater and other high-priced psychopath sources, was enough. Yet they seemed to be blowing it in Iraq as in Afghanistan, despite Sarah’s vision that sees victory there. Where? Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul? Beats me, honey.

But then Wilson rejoins . . .”Along with her entire family, Sarah Palin was re-baptized at twelve at the Wasilla Assembly of God in Wasilla, Alaska and she attended the church from the time she was ten until 2002: over two and 1/2 decades. Sarah Palin’s extensive pattern of association with the Wasilla Assembly of God has continued nearly up to the day she was picked by Senator John McCain as a vice-presidential running mate.” Gee, I wonder if that had anything to do with Citizen McCain’s choice.

Wilson writes, “Palin’s dedication to the Wasilla church is indicated by a Saturday, September 7, 2008, McClatchy news service story detailing possibly improper use of state travel funds by Palin for a trip she made to Wasilla, Alaska to attend, on June 8, 2008, both a Wasilla Assembly of God “Masters Commission” graduation ceremony and also a multi-church Wasilla area event known as “One Lord Sunday.” Well, perhaps she was trying to get more bang from a boosted buck. Still, it’s a naughty thing to do, especially on Sunday.

And Wilson points out, “At the latter event, Palin and Alaska LT Governor Scott Parnell were publicly blessed, onstage before an estimated crowd of 6,000, through the ‘laying on of hands’ by Wasilla Assembly of God’s Head Pastor Ed Kalnins whose sermons espouse such theological concepts as the possession of geographic territories by demonic spirits and the inter-generational transmission of family “curses.” Ooops, here comes the witchdoctor again . . .

Wilson adds, “Palin has also been blessed, or ‘anointed,’ by an African cleric, prominent in the Third Wave movement, who has repeatedly visited the Wasilla Assembly of God and claims to have effected positive, dramatic social change in a Kenyan town by driving out a ‘spirit of witchcraft.’” Well, there’s no accounting for religious taste, but guys, some discretion is advised. But no. . . .

Wilson writes, “The Wasilla Assembly of God church is deeply involved with both Third Wave activities and theology. Their Master’s Commission program is part of a three year post-high school international training program with studies in prophecy, intercessory prayer, Biblical exegesis, authority and leadership.” As Saturday Night Live Dana Carvey’s Church Lady used to say, “Well, isn’t that special? Now, who could be behind that? Satan?” Ah, just kidding folks, trying to lighten the mumbo jumbo atmosphere.

In fact, you can watch Bruce Wilson’s video documentary detailing the extreme Religious Right connections to the Wasilla Assembly of God church. It’s called “Sarah Palin’s Churches and the Third Wave.” It could top the Pope’s trip to New York City for scariness.

Wilson reports, “The pastor, Ed Kalnins, and Masters Commission students have traveled to South Carolina to participate in a ‘prophetic conference’ at Morningstar Ministries, one of the major ministries of the Third Wave movement. Becky Fischer was a pastor at Morningstar prior to being featured in the movie ‘Jesus Camp.’ The head of prophecy at Morningstar, Steve Thompson, is currently scheduled to do a prophecy seminar at the Wasilla Assembly of God. Other major leaders in the movement have also traveled to Wasilla to visit and speak at the church.”

Well, it must get pretty cold up there in Wasilla, and maybe a trip down south is just what the doctor ordered for Palin’s congregation. But Wilson thinks differently.

“The Third Wave is a revival of the theology of the Latter Rain tent revivals of the 1950s and 1960s led by William Branham and others. It is based on the idea that in the end times there will be an outpouring of supernatural powers on a group of Christians that will take authority over the existing church and the world. The believing Christians of the world will be reorganized under the Fivefold Ministry and the church restructured under the authority of Prophets and Apostles and others anointed by God. The young generation will form ‘Joel’s Army’ to rise up and battle evil and retake the earth for God.”

Ah, there’s the old Dominionist tune there about the “end times” occurring, and this time ole ‘‘Joel’s Army’ will ‘rise up and battle evil and retake the earth for God.” Take it from whom? Well, evil I guess. And what or who is the evil? My bet is the neocons. Their bet is the Muslims? The Muslims’ bet is us. The Zionists bet is everybody else but the Israelis. So there we are. Nobody’s gonna be left except maybe a few Buddhists, unless the Deli Lama gets his hand in the soup and China blows him away. Jesus, it seems hard to make this stuff up, but here it is . . .

“While segments of this belief system have been a part of Pentecostalism and charismatic beliefs for decades, the excesses of this movement were declared a heresy in 1949 by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and again condemned through Resolution 16 in 2000.” Well, heresy again. I guess even religious folks can’t deal with Palin’s pals palaver. But listen to this . . .

“The beliefs and manifestations of the movement include the use of ‘strategic level spiritual warfare’ to expel territorial demons from American and world cities. Worship includes excessive charismatic manifestations such as hundreds of people falling, ‘slain in the spirit,’ and congregations laughing, jerking, and shrieking uncontrollably.” And dig this, brother . . .

“In early 2008 an outbreak of those phenomena commenced at the palatial former ministry estate of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, recently bought up and restored by prominent Third Wave author and leader Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries. The (spiritual) ‘breakout’ lasted for many weeks and was publicized in an extensive collection of video footage available on YouTube. Healing services in the Third Wave movement claim to heal the sick and injured through methods that in some cases can appear bizarre - including, as in recent cases involving Todd Bentley, the patient being head butted or kicked by the anointed healer. Recipients of such ‘spiritual’ or miraculous healing make a wide range of astonishing claims - to have been cured of life-threatening illnesses, had joints repaired or replaced, been given gold teeth or gold fillings, regrown stunted limbs and even had deformed skeletal structures straightened and reshaped. Worldwide mission efforts of the movement are built around the idea of combating witches, warlocks, and generational curses . . .”There’s more folks . . .

“Recipients of such ‘spiritual’ or miraculous healing make a wide range of astonishing claims - to have been cured of life-threatening illnesses, had joints repaired or replaced, been given gold teeth or gold fillings, regrown stunted limbs and even had deformed skeletal structures straightened and reshaped. Worldwide mission efforts of the movement are built around the idea of combating witches, warlocks, and generational curses, which prevent churches from being able to take root.” Okay, time out.

This is beginning to smell more like Jim Jones and his Jonestown Kool-Aid crew than your good old, Sunday go-to-church folks from coast to coast. This sounds like voodoo on the half-shell fished out of Alaska’s strange waters or something bad in the atmosphere. It may be caused by all those fumes from the oil and gas digging, a sickening smell like the fumes of hell itself. But this is just a taste of Sarah’s congregational directions. Please link to Bruce Wilson’s article and savor every bit of his information for yourself, including the video. Don’t forget the popcorn.

It will really make you wonder, if this is what’s going through Palin’s heart and soul, do you want her sitting anywhere near the White House, let alone McCain. Sounds like they’d send him with his skin cancer to one of those meetings where they try to kick the evil cancer spirit out of a person. In the process, they might just kick McCain into the next world, whichever one he’s set to visit. But then, he can’t say he didn’t know about this. Supposedly, Palin was vetted from head to toe, mind, heart and spirit. But you never know, do you, until somebody blows a whistle, like Wilson. Well, some good may come from it.

Maybe they can get that African witch doctor to check the voting machines for the evil spirits and the evil software of hackers that may lurking within, ready to hand John and Sarah, and all their faith-tripping friends, America for four more years. Jesus, if you’re listening, time to get a-moving. We’re in deep trouble here in the USA, I say deeeep trouble. It’s no wonder in a way election day comes just a few days after Halloween, because that’s how this is beginning to feel. So who’s the trick, and who’s the treat? Say what you will, my money’s still on Obama.

I don’t expect miracles, but I certainly don’t want to expect witches and warlocks and ‘Joel’s army’ taking over the world, or even just my booklist.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York, where we are set this week to shed tears and anger over the seventh anniversary of the inside job of 9/11. Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net. And look for his new book, State of Shock – Poems from 9/11 on at www.jerrymazza.com, amazon.com, or barnesandnoble.com. Peace—if it’s possible.

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Faith healings, battling "witches," and speaking in tongues. Yes, this is a congregation whose members I want to see in control of our nuclear arsenal.

Stephen Colbert once offered this wise opine when describing the Republican Party.

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