The photos below were taken today at the polling place for Pittsburgh’s 19th Ward, District 6.  Voters must pass the table shown entering the polling place at the Grace Episcopal Church on Sycamore Street.

On the table are copies of a 2012 Voter’s Guide labelled as “An Impartial, Non-Partisan Guide to the November 6th Election.”  The guide is from the Pennsylvania Family Council, the legislative arm of the  Pennsylvania Family Institute and the state’s affiliate of the  Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family.  I’m also following reports of other material at polling sites in Western Pennsylvania, including from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition and from Life PAC of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

 

The FRC is led by Tony Perkins, who has boasted about his role in writing the RNC platform, including calling for constitutional amendments defining marriage and to give legal rights of personhood at the moment of conception. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the FRC as a hate group because of its “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.” A quick glance at the PA Family Council/PA Family Institute website will confirm that the organization is not “impartial.” 

The issues covered in the guide are abortion and other reproductive issues, gay rights, the Affordable Care Act, school vouchers, cap and trade, stem cell research, and pornography.  Photographs of the PA Family Council Voter’s Guide follow.

 

More photos of the PA Family Council Voter's Guide and additional examples of Christian Right voter's guides found a Pennsylvania polling places can be viewed at: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/11/6/141859/491 and http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/11/8/141638/793

 
How far is the school privatization juggernaut willing to go to disguise and promote their agenda?  The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children, through its PA affiliate Students First and its funding recipients, is financing the campaign of Fatimah Muhammad. She is an openly gay, African American, Muslim candidate for State Representative in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary in the 188th District. The primary is on Tuesday, April 24. Adding to the irony, a 2012 recipient of Students First funding has sponsored fliers touting 27-year old candidate Muhammad's liberal credentials and her willingness to challenge Governor Tom Corbett's "War on Women."  Daniel Denvir wrote in the Philadelphia City Paper,
"This is politics at its most cynical: major funders of the pro-choice, pro-Muhammad ad are anti-abortion Republican extremists."
If you follow the money trail, it shows that Students First has been funded solely by American Federation for Children in the 2012 election cycle.

Gov. Corbett was the keynote speaker at the American Federation for Children's national conference last year. (I was outside with protesters from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and D.C.) Betsy Prince DeVos' family and that of her husband Dick DeVos, have been leading funders of Focus on Family, Family Research Council, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Proposition Eight, and other anti-abortion and anti-gay rights organizations.

The surprisingly small core group of funders of American Federation for Children that I've been able to track are generally ultra-wealthy and ultra-conservative, along with a few anti-public education libertarians and school privatization investors. The major funders of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which has been the core entity for promoting vouchers to African American Democrats over the last decade, was founded with money from the Bradley Foundation and Walton family (Walmart heirs), both significant sources of funding anti-reproductive rights and other right-wing causes.

Daniel Denvir points out in his current Alternet article,

”AFC is a member of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the embattled organization comprised of corporations and conservative state legislators that promotes model legislation to spread vouchers and other right-wing policy initiatives. Last year, ALEC released a report on education that struck an odd World War II analogy, comparing the reform movement to the Allies and teachers unions to the Nazis.”
Pennsylvania has no limit on personal contributions to state campaigns. The state is also home to a vast array of radical free market fundamentalist entities founded by the Scaife foundations. These factors and Pennsylvania's continuous role as a swing state in presidential elections, has no doubt played a role in making it one of the prime targets of the pro-privatization juggernaut.

The Fatimah Muhammad Campaign

American Federation for Children is the sole contributor to Pennsylvania's Students First PAC in its 2012 campaign finance reports, providing 1.25 million in funding. I have been able to track  the individual donors of much of the 2010 and 2011 funding of American Federation for Children PACs, but not the sources of this 1.25 million in 2012. Campaign finance reports show that Students First and its grantees and employees have provided $62,639 dollars of Fatimah Muhammad's total receipts of $76,030 dollars.  See the chart below.  

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As reported in the Philadelphia City Paper, the 188th District has been repeatedly blanketed with fliers in support of the 27-year old Muhammad and attacking the 26-year incumbent James Roebuck.  Roebuck is the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee and an opponent of the proposed  voucher bill that failed to pass in 2011. (See examples of the mailers here and here.) The cost of these mailers is not shown in the above chart, because they were sponsored by the recently formed group Public Education Excellence. The PAC's campaign finance reports are not yet available, but it has been the recipient of at least $7,500.00 from Students First in 2012.  

Public Education Excellence is led by Joy Herbert, reported as follows in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Herbert said she believed her group received funding from American Federation for Children in Washington and Students First PA, two proponents for school vouchers with political connections to Williams.
"Williams" in the quote is State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, sponsor of the school voucher bill and to date the largest beneficiary of campaign support from Students First. Much of that money was donated by three members of the same Pennsylvania investment firm.

In his gubernatorial race, Anthony Williams tried some of the same tactics, challenging the other Democratic nominees for not being progressive enough, while being funded by the Right's machine.

The three Students First mega-donors also gave additional funds directly to American Federation for Children in 2010 and 2011, and smaller amounts ($6,000 each) to the campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The three are members in the right-wing organizations at the forefront of privatization of schools:  Arthur Dantchik, on the board of Institute for Justice; Joel Greenberg, on the board of American Federation for Children; and Jeffrey Yass, on the board of the Cato Institute.  

The trio of Pennsylvanians continued to give money in 2011, including to Make a Difference PAC and to the Indiana American Federation for Children PAC.

Fatimah Muhammad's campaign also shows debts to Barbara Chavous for "Advance to Campaign" and "Direct Mail."  As reported in the Philadelphia City Paper, Barbara Chavous is the mother of Dawn Chavous, the Executive Director of Students First. Students first has contributed $216,000 dollars to Make a Difference PAC, which paid Barbara Chavous $5,500 dollars in consulting fees monthly in February, March, and April of 2012.  

Dawn Chavous married a member of the Philadelphia City Council, Kenyetta Johnson, in January of this year.  Both she and her husband are former employees of Sen. Williams.  

In addition to the list shown in the chart, Students First's 2012 reports also show a $350,000 dollar contribution to  Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania and the following contributions:

Commonsense 4 the Commonwealth  $60,000
Grass Roots Urban Political Alliance  $20,000
Believe Again  $11,500
For a Better PA  $25,000
Citizens Networking 4 Progress  $8,000

The proliferation of American Federation of Children money through Students First PAC and a growing array of smaller entities funded by Students First, provides the appearance of an extensive grass roots movement.

The pro-privatization movement is apparently willing to think long term and make sacrifices along the way in their efforts to dismantle public education, including backing stealth candidates that will be difficult for progressives to oppose.  No doubt they assume that the privatization of education in America and the diversion of public funds to religious schools, will eventually eliminate the competition on all the other issues, including gay rights. This is a crosspost of an article at Talk2action.org. For the rest of this article on the attempt to privatize schools in Pennsylvania, link to http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/4/23/21157/2721 .

Invisible Children has an extensive history of funding and promotion by anti-gay rights entities. In light of this, the competition of the Kony 2012 events with the Day of Silence on April 20 may be more than just a coincidence.

The annual Day of Silence,initiated in 1996, has been observed in schools across the nation in an effort to protest the bullying and harassment of gay and lesbian students. Since 2000, the annual event has been sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight  Education Network (GLSEN), and since 2005 Religious Right organizations have sponsored very visible and widely-criticized efforts to counter this event.  This year the Day of Silence is competing with a different type of event - Invisible Children's week of activities closing with "Cover the Night," also on April 20. Invisible Children's Cover the Night is being held on Friday as the grand finale to several days of activism from April 16 - April 20.  Participants are requested to wear their Kony 2012 t-shirts from their Invisible Children action kit to school (and all day) on April 20.  Video with instructions for making a "Kony 2012" t-shirt by using a downloadable template and red spray paint, is provided on the Invisible Children website for those who did not purchase an action kit.  Participants will be busy on April 20, because they are also asked to do three hours of community service in their local area in order to build good will for the Kony 2012 effort.

Graphic below on left is the GLSEN "Day of Silence" t-shirt for April 20 and on right is the Kony 2012 t-shirt to be worn on  April 20.
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Last year Invisible Children held an event in public schools on April 25, 2011 to promote fundraising.  The goal was to encourage 25,000 supporters to donate $25 dollars each.   This event was held days after the GLBT-focused observance on April 15, 2011, but was also called the "Day of Silence."Photobucket  Participants were asked to be silent for 25 hours in this event that was advertised in advance. Dog tag style necklaces were marketed holding cards explaining Invisible Children's Day of Silence. The Invisible Children website for the event has been removed, but advertising in various school newsletters is still accessible on the internet. The 25 hours of silence was followed by "Breaking the Silence" events in cities across the nation.

This is yet another piece of a growing body of evidence that Invisible Children is a Trojan horse and a product of creative stealth evangelism.  

For the rest of the article, including new information on the Invisible Children’s anti-gay rights and right-wing funders, link to www.talk2action.org/story/2012/4/19/114151/936 Also see other recent Talk2action.org articles on Invisible Children: Invisible Children: A Trojan Horse for the Religious Right, by Bill Berkowitz and Kony 2012, Invisible Children, and the Religious Right: The Evidence, by Bruce Wilson

No, this is not about Invisible Children or Kony 2012! It's a 2005 movie on Joseph Kony's victims that is an ongoing part of a global evangelical campaign - an example of ulterior motives and the dangerous ignorance of Americans about charities and "good causes." An Unconventional War is one in a series of nine Transformations movies produced since 1999 by George Otis, a pioneer of a Charismatic evangelical movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. The exploitation seen in this film and many other Western evangelical media productions, may help to explain why war-weary viewers threw stones at a screening of Kony 2012 in Lira in Northern Uganda this past week. This is the story of Uganda presented as an advertisement for a particular brand of Christian supremacism.

In this film, Apostle Julius Oyet and President Yoweri Museveni are the godly heroes, representing "a unique church-state collaboration" against Kony. Photobucket Oyet is now better known for his role in promoting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and was recognized by the Ugandan Parliament when the bill was first introduced. A prayer movement led by Apostle Julius Oyet is credited with weakening Kony's Lord Resistance Army (LRA) and ending a decades-long conflict in Uganda through "spiritual warfare in Jesus name."

The 2005 "documentary" claims that: 1) surviving youth were treated by deliverance of demons, 2) parents who prayed hardest got their children back first, and 3) the Acholi of Northern Uganda were fortunate to be forced into interment camps (by the Ugandan government) so they could hear the gospel and be shielded from Islam. According to this version of the conflict, Kony's LRA was allowed by God to terrorize the Acholi people because they needed to repent of false beliefs. All of these messages are tucked into a tear jerker with a happy ending about Kony's young victims.

The Transformations Movies

The Transformations movies are part of a global attack on religious pluralism and secular democracy, promoted in the guise of prayer, charity, and social justice. The films can not be dismissed as emerging from the fringes, considering the evangelical pedigrees of the those involved. Throughout these movies, world leaders - including presidents, prime ministers and politicians - are filmed in interviews, with some actually participating in dramatic reenactments of past events.

The Transformations series is marketed under the the TransformNations trademark and The Moving Cloud logo of The Sentinel Group, a non-profit ministry founded by George Otis, Jr., author of the first books on "spiritual mapping." Otis was one of the pioneers, along with C. Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, and Cindy Jacobs, of the New Apostolic Reformation.  Their partnership and access to the larger evangelical world was forged during a massive missions program in the 1990s called AD2000 and Beyond. It provided an international platform for teaching "Dominionist" ideology and church/state/business partnerships as a way to speed up the evangelization of the world.

The writer, director, and producer of An Unconventional War, is the son of the late George Otis Sr., a Lear Jet executive, whose second career was founding Christian radio stations in the Middle East that became part of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network. In his obituaries, Otis, Sr. was credited with prophesying to Gov. Ronald Reagan (in the late 1960s) that he would occupy the White House.  In an article in this month's Charisma magazine, Otis, Jr. describes a time during his preteen years when the major leaders of the Charismatic renewal movement were meeting regularly in his home.

Otis, Jr. founded The Sentinel Group in 1990.  The board includes George Otis, III; Apostle Doug Stringer, who led part of the Gov. Rick Perry's August 2011 prayer rally in Houston; and Jeff Farmer, former vice chair of the executive board of National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and current chair of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America.  

An Unconventional War opens with a credit to the Living Stones Foundation Charitable Trust of the Ken Eldred family, which provides funding to The Sentinel Group. Lisa Otis, wife of George Otis, Jr. is a director on the Living Stones Foundation board. Eldred is also one of the funders of the multi-million dollar effort to register five million evangelicals through United in Purpose/Champion the Vote prior to the 2012 election.  

United in Purpose's partner (and sole grantee on their available 990 tax forms) is Samuel Rodriguez's National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, the largest evangelical Hispanic organization in the U.S.  United in Purpose produced a two-hour movie for church and home viewing titled One Nation Under God featuring James Dobson, Newt Gingrich, David Barton, Rodriguez, and others, with the purpose of impacting the 2012 elections.

Although the movies have become more sophisticated over the years, the Transformations provide a feel good indoctrination to the NAR's brand of spiritual warfare. The elaborate reenactments feature singing and clapping Charismatic evangelicals, celebrating their conquest of demonic villains and the transformation of their communities - including claims of the miraculous termination of crime, disease, and even environmental degradation. The publicity for the first video begins,

Imagine a community where 92 percent of the population is born again; where city jails have been closed for lack of crime; where agricultural productivity has reached biblical proportions.

The initial movies were accompanied with books and seminars on spiritual warfare, including ones led by Charismatic groups from within Mainline Protestant denominations.

With the release of the first movie as a training tool, Transformation organizations also burst onto the scene in cities around the word, including those under the leadership of Apostle Ed Silvoso's International Transformation Network (ITN).  The Transformation movies are credited with inspiring the Global Day of Prayer, founded by South African businessman and ITN leader Graham Power, and launched worldwide in 2005. U.S. participation was centered in Dallas with the help of Rick Warren, who also launched his P.E.A.C.E. program in 2005 for transforming the globe through a church/business/state partnership.

The first Transformations movie was  released in 1999 and included a vignette about Kenya starring Thomas Muthee, who later anointed Sarah Palin at Wasilla Assembly of God. The second film, Transformations II: The Glory Spreads, included a segment on Uganda, with claims that the nation and its government was transformed by a national prayer movement at the close of the 1990s and a ceremony including the President and First Lady covenanting the nation to Jesus.Photobucket The film shows the culmination of this covenant in miracles, including claims of supernatural healing of HIV/AIDS.

The message in each of the Transformations movies is that societal problems can only be addressed through prayer and submission of society, including government, to the correct brand of evangelical belief.  In An Unconventional War, Apostle John Mulinde compliments Yoweri Museveni and his military leaders for being willing to address the spiritual aspect of their war against Kony and the LRA.

"When you find a leadership that understands the serenity of God and begins to turn to God for the solution of things that they can't solve, then you get this very strategic partnership between church and state."

An Unconventional War (Trailer)

The first half of the movie is a dramatic reenactment of the story of the "Aboke girls" - 139 students abducted in 1996 from a Catholic girls' school.  Following their abduction, a nun bravely followed the LRA into the bush to try to negotiate their release.  Kony and the LRA let her take 109 of the girls back with her, but kept 30 of the students.  Most of the girls in this group would be captives for years and some did not survive.

The recreation of the story includes heartbreaking interviews with the parents and graphic scenes of both dead and surviving, but mutilated, victims interspersed throughout the movie. Kony is portrayed as having supernatural powers and contact with demonic beings that alert him when and where the Ugandan military (UPDF) will strike. Kony's cousin Alice Lakwenna was his predecessor and leader of the Holy Spirit Movement rebellion against Museveni in the 1980s.  She is described in the film as having gained her powers when she,

"conversed with the spirits for one month, under the waters of the Nile."

A booklet on The Water Spirit Kingdom written by a member of the International Intercessory Team coordinated by World Vision (the USAID-supported charity featured throughout An Unconventional War) goes into great detail about this narrative.

In 2002, Sudan opened its borders to the UPDF and "Operation Iron Fist."
After initial success in fighting the LRA, retaliation by the rebels against Acholi civilians actually increased.  At about 50 minutes into 90-minute movie, the morality play begins to develop.

The prominent Ugandan apostles in the movie - John Mulinde and Julius Oyet - explained that the war could not be won through military means since it had a spiritual component. "Operation Gideon" is launched with a revival meeting led by Oyet in Gulu.  President Museveni also happened to be in town, states the narrator, and called for Oyet to meet with him and his military leaders.

Oyet convinced Museveni and the UPDF to join in a spiritual warfare assault on the mountain altars claimed to be the source of Kony's demonic powers.  Oyet then lead a full-scale military expedition against the altars, complete with troops and helicopters. One of the scenes of the spiritual warfare shows a pool of water at an altar that is supposedly so poisonous that anything that touches it dies. After the "eco-healing" as it is called, the soldiers were baptized in the purified water. Following this destruction of Kony's source of supernatural powers, the LRA weakened and many of the kidnapped youth, used as soldiers and sex slaves, were able to return home.  

In the midst of the jubilant scenes that followed, a liaison with the organization of parents of abducted children, the Concerned Parents Association, stated,

"And the parents who identified most with God, actually are the parents whose children came out first."

As the youth returned they were first placed in rehabilitation centers, many run by World Vision, an international aid organization with a 1.6 billion dollar budget (2007), over 20,000 employees, and one of the largest recipients of faith-based USAID funding. The narrator and World Vision workers described the difficulties in rehabilitating the returning youth.

Narrator: World Vision is playing a major role in the rehabilitation of child abductees.  Although their broad based programs are a godsend for thousands of lost and broken children, staff counselors have detected a disturbing phenomenon.

World Vision Counselor:  You find them waking up, you find them waking up and it's like they want to do something. They want to do something, and what they want to do - they want to kill.  There is a power, there is a force, something that forces them into doing what they would not ordinarily do.

Liaison to Concerned Parent's Association: It's beyond the normal psychological explanation.  There is more to it.

Word Vision Counselor: That is why in this war the church has a very, very crucial role.

Narrator: As  committed Christians,Worldview staff members know what to do.

Counselor: They pray over those children, and when they pray over the children, they are freed, in other words deliverance has taken place.

The meaning of deliverance is described in more detail in Charisma Magazine, the flagship publication of the Charismatic/Pentecostal world, in a June 2006 article titled Uganda's Miracle.  The article is subtitled, "Amid war and persecution, Christians are experiencing a revival in Uganda that is marked by church growth, an unprecedented drop in AIDS prevalence, and a changing political landscape.

"More than 15,000 former soldiers have found refuge at World Vision's Children of War Rehabilitation Center in Gulu. In addition to offering education and healthcare services, World Vision staff address spiritual needs. When a child enters the program, 'all of the staff get together and lay hands on the child,' says World Vision program manager Jackson Omona. 'We pray and cast out the demons that the child has picked up in the bush.'"
Coincidentally, the next paragraph in the Charisma article is about Invisible Children.
"Although abductions have become less common in recent months, children who live in vulnerable areas make a nightly exodus to safe zones such as the Noah's Ark and Doctors Without Borders compounds in Gulu. After visiting northern Uganda in 2003 and witnessing the phenomenon of the night commutes, three 20-something Christians created a film titled Invisible Children, which documents their plight."
The middle portion of the Charisma article is dedicated to the "Uganda Miracle" in reversing the rise of HIV/AIDS and credits both miraculous healing and the abstinence program. The reality is that Uganda had an excellent safe sex education program in the 1990s, but that approach was abandoned to emphasize abstinence-only programming over the last decade.  Today Uganda is the only country in East Africa with a rising HIV/AIDS rate.  Nevertheless, the Transformations movies have been touted around the world as part of a larger propaganda effort claiming the shift in emphasis to abstinence worked and is a "Uganda miracle." For more on the NAR's role in this tragic sequence of events, see Bruce Wilson's compilation Transforming Uganda and an accompanying article with short biographies of the major figures.

As An Unconventional War comes to a close, the viewer is told that the Internal Displacement Camps that housed approximately 1.6 million Acholi after they were herded when forced from their villages, served a "redemptive purpose."

"God has allowed them in come in the camps, whereby all of them can hear the word of God and come to Jesus Christ, and if we don't use this window of opportunity, the Muslims are there. They're eager to come and take them."  [The last phrase is accompanied with a scene of a mosque.]
The narrator states that the mystery of the Acholi's people's suffering has been solved.
Narrator:  The cause of her wound is no longer a mystery.

Apostle John Mulinde:  There is a strong connection between the bloodshed and the witchcraft.

Apostle Julius Oyet: What God is saying is that rebellion and idolatry can separate you far from me.

The narrator continues,

"Salvation and deliverance have finally come to Northern Uganda."

The movie includes interviews with: Uganda President Museveni; Sen. Sam Brownback (now governor of Kansas); Els de Temmerman, Belgian founder of the Rachele Rehabiliation Center; and Betty Bigombe, chief mediator with the LRA.

The Rachele Rehabilitation Center founded by Els de Temmerman was named after the nun who risked her life to try to save the girls in her care.  The center closed in 2006, after aiding about 2500 LRA abductees to readjust and return to their families.  Els de Temmerman worked as editor of New Vision, a Ugandan paper partially owned by the government, from 2006 to 2010.

It's doubtful that everyone interviewed in the movie would have been aware of all of the religious and political messages in the final product. However, Sam Brownback has regularly participated in New Apostolic events, including TheCall, led by Lou Engle and appears in other apostolic and prophetic media.

Julius Oyet, the religious hero of production, is now internationally known for his active role in organizing support in the Ugandan Parliament for the draconian Anti-Homosexuality bill, now known around the world as the "kill the gays" bill. Oyet participated in Lou Engle's TheCall Uganda in May 2010, which became a rally in support of the bill.  Oyet has multiple ties to U.S. ministries, including heading the Uganda division of the NAR's Association of International Healing Rooms and leading the Uganda branch of the Atlanta-based College of Prayer.

The Religio-Political Messaging in An Unconventional War

There are subtle messages in the movie that might not be noticeable to viewers unfamiliar with the ideology of the NAR or the geo-political situation in Uganda.

The concept of prayer taught in these movies refers to "targeted intercession," also described as Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare in more advanced training materials. Publicity for the movie explains,

"...many of the difficulties and conflicts in our communities have spiritual roots. We must also learn how to identify these roots of darkness and wage spiritual warfare in Jesus' Name. Prayer must be Biblical and targeted in order to destroy the foundations of darkness in our communities."

The "foundations of darkness" include other religions and philosophies. This particular movie is actually less overt than some of the others in the series in this regard. For example, the first Transformations movie includes claims that spiritual mapping and warfare resulted in the spontaneous burning of a transcendental meditation center.  Other NAR media has included descriptions of prayer warfare destroying the buildings or icons of other religions.

Although the apostles embrace Charismatic Catholics, the NAR is virulently opposed to the institutionalized Roman Catholic Church and claims that it is also controlled by demonic forces.

The movie is friendly in its portrayal of the heroic nun who rescued 109 of the 139 girls abducted in 1996, and George Otis, Jr. appears to speak with current Catholic leadership of the school in the film. But there is a subtle reference to the anti-Catholic and anti-institutional ideology of the NAR. It's not only witchcraft and Islam, but the institutionalized Catholic Church that is credited with the Acholi people's misfortune. "The church has failed before," states the narrator as a brief scene from an obviously  Catholic service is shown.  The same technique is used in a more overt way in the comment about Islam and an exterior shot of a mosque.

The Gulu revival led by Julius Oyet in the film, is claimed to have drawn thousand of participants, who were told to discard their "witchcraft" items on the stage.  A different description of this event is described in the Ph.D. dissertation by Robert Ochola-Lukwiya on the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. According to this account, Oyet almost provoked a riot at the event, when he called for participants to bring their rosary beads and condoms to be burned.

It is curious that the Africa Faith and Justice Network, a Catholic organization, promotes both An Unconventional War and the original Invisible Children movie in a 2006 "tool kit," still available for download on the website and marked as a "hot item."  The content of more recent tool kits for activism posted on the site would indicate that their activism may be in conflict with that of Invisible Children.  As a Catholic organization, there is no doubt that their interests conflict with the NAR. The Africa Faith & Justice Network is a participant in Friends of the Congo, an organization promoting their own 30-minute documentary, Crisis in Congo, presenting the history of the Congo/Rwanda/Uganda region from a very different perspective.

The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative includes both Muslim and Christian leaders from several different denominations and promotes an interfaith approach to peace in the region.  For many religious leaders, the goal is peace and stability for the nation and the promotion of religious pluralism, as opposed to exploitation of the conflict for proselytizing.

A similar dynamic can be seen in Sudan, where the conflict is generally portrayed in the American press as Muslim vs. Christian, despite the fact that there are some Muslims working to promote secular government and a pluralistic society, as Frederick Clarkson reports in Religious Dispatches.

"...the broad struggle is more accurately seen as one between rising state sponsored Arabist Islamic nationalism, against racial and religious pluralism."
Religious supremacists, both Muslim and Christian, sometimes benefit by pouring fuel on the flames of conflicts that are not necessarily religious in origin.

Kony's Supernatural Powers

In much of the media on Kony, religious and secular, he is portrayed as having supernatural powers that aid him in escaping capture.  This is a central theme of An Unconventional War. The turning point in the story takes place when Julius Oyet uses his good magic (divinely-sourced supernatural powers), to destroy Kony's bad magic.  

Numerous activists and journalists have pointed out the extent to which Western journalists have regurgitated the claims that Kony has demonic powers, perhaps helping to advance the Kony mythology.  Jane Bussman, a British comedian and Uganda activist, references the assertion made in the New York Times that Kony "is a former altar boy who became possessed by spirits,"  She describes this statement as "additional reporting presumably by the Times' Afterlife Bureau."

Those who have promoted the myths about Kony's supernatural ability to avoid capture, failed to question which flesh and blood humans might be tipping off Kony, or to ask whose agenda in this complex geo-political conflict might be served by spreading the belief that Kony has demonic powers.

An Unconventional War is an example of how an apparently noble cause can be exploited in ways that most Americans may not have even imagined.  

A version of this article is posted at www.Talk2action.org. Also see an extensive 2008 report compiled by Talk2action contributors titled Spiritual Mapping and Spiritual Warfare: Muthee and the Transformations Franchise.

On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow did the world a favor by airing a series of short video clips of the endorsers of Rick Perry’s upcoming prayer event. The clips were posted by Right Wing Watch, with some originating from Talk2action.org. These video clips should receive much more national exposure, but they need to be viewed in context of the movement they represent. Rachel Maddow, keep at it!  Perry’s endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists making outrageous statements.

These are the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, the biggest international religious movement you never heard of.

C. Peter Wagner, the one in the video clip about the Japanese stock market plunging because the emperor slept with the sun goddess, is probably the most powerful religious leader that you never heard of.

C. Peter Wagner

Peter Wagner is the Convening Apostle of a international network of apostles and prophets who believe they are unifying the church to take control over government and society, and bring about the return of Jesus.  The apostles have a 50-state communications and mobilization network of “prayer warriors,” which is becoming increasingly enticing to right-wing politicians.  Remember Sarah Palin’s repeated thanks to her prayer warrriors?  This was not a generic use of the term, as described in a previous Alternet article by Bill Berkowitz in 2010.

Wagner coined the term New Apostolic Reformation, and describes his movement as “the most radical  change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.”  The movement primarily draws from the Independent Charismatic sector of Christianity, which encompasses almost 400 million people worldwide and is sometimes referred to as neo-Pentecostal or neo-Charismatic. The latter description is used in the World Christian Trends, the gold standard for statistics for the evangelical missions movement.

Wagner is the brains behind the demon and witch-hunting that is part of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, or SLSW, that has drawn interest throughout much of the charismatic evangelical world.  With the aid of some of his top apostles including Cindy Jacobs and Ed Silvoso, Wagner developed and promoted the SLSW techniques of spiritual mapping, warfare prayer, and “Reconciliation” events.  The latter are are claimed to remove the “generational curses” from certain population groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, Roman Catholics, and those of non-Christian faiths.

Sam Brownback's promotion of the U.S. Senate's resolution of apology to Native Americans was in coordination with Apostles Jay Swallow, Nigel Bigpond, Lou Engle, and John Benefiel, who believe the removal of a generational curse will bring an end to abortion.

The video clip of Wagner’s claim that the Japanese stock market slump could be explained because the emperor had sexual intercourse with the sun goddess, is from a Wagner video seminar series.  It’s titled Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective, and Targeted. The training series is introduced by Jack Hayford, former head of the International Foursquare Gospel, who has played a pivotal role in Pentecostals embracing Wagner’s New Apostolic movement and ideology.

While you may be tempted to chuckle and brush off this sudden onslaught of information about the apostles - their burning of other people’s religious objects and claims that the Statue of Liberty, monuments, and Indian mounds are demonic - don’t.  Chances are the apostles have a prayer warrior group or “Transformations” entity in your city or region.

The Global Day of Prayer initiated by South African Graham Power is a product of this movement and much Religious Right activism in this country has been commandeered by the movement.  Religious Right leaders like James Dobson, former head of Focus on Family, and Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, have participated in events led by the apostles, as have numerous other traditional Religious Right leaders.  American Family Association is sponsoring Rick Perry’s event, whose organizers include leadership of Lou Engle’s The Call and Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer.

International Christian Zionist activism is increasingly dominated by the New Apostolics.  John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and another endorser of Rick Perry's prayer event, teaches a different end times theology.  However, many of his CUFI directors are New Apostolic leaders and support the aggressive proselytization of Jews and "Israel Mandates" that characterize the movement.

C. Peter Wagner was Rick Warren’s mentor for his dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary.  That dissertation was the foundation for Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church, which was followed by Warren’s blockbuster book The Purpose Driven Life.  Warren’s dissertation promoted the idea, also advanced by Wagner’s movement, that evangelical churches should not be democratically governed.

Wagner has written about Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan as being “Phase One” in a God-given mandate for Christians to take “dominion” or control over the earth. Wagner describes Phase one as, “strategic-level spiritual warfare and associated activities have not been placed front and center.”  This takes place in Phase Two and Phase Three, as Wagner defines it, includes the apostolic/prophetic government of the church, dominion theology, the Seven Mountains mandate, and the great wealth transfer.  The latter is the belief taught by the apostles that there will be an imminent transfer of wealth from the ungodly to the godly. The Seven Mountains mandate is the call for charismatic evangelicals to take control over arts, business, education, family, government, media and entertainment and religion.

In the late 1990s, Wagner was finishing up his leadership role in a massive world missions project called AD 2000 and Beyond, which aimed to evangelize the world by the year 2000. Billy Graham served as the honorary co-chair of the effort.  Wagner left his 30-year position teaching Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary to move to Colorado Springs and set up the nerve center of the New Apostolic Reformation.  His partner in this enterprise was Ted Haggard, who would later lead the National Association of Evangelicals.  What could be described as the Pentagon of Spiritual Warfare, was set up in the World Prayer Center adjacent to Haggard’s New Life Church.

Haggard had worked with Wagner in AD2000 and Beyond, and Haggard wrote in his book The Life Giving Church that their worldwide prayer network involved 40 million people at its peak.  Haggard promoted the spiritual warfare ideas of the movement, including conducting “spiritual mapping” of his community of Colorado Springs.  He claimed this effort drove witches out of the town and, in Haggard’s words, resulted in reduced cattle mutilations.  This tidbit can be found in Haggard’s 1996 book Primary Purpose.

While Warren and Haggard became well known to the public, Wagner managed to stay completely out of the limelight as he developed a global religious network.  His apostles in this movement can be found in countries around the world, meeting with presidents, prime ministers, business leaders, and politicians.

Apostles and Politics

In the U.S., in addition to Sarah Palin and Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, and many others have participated in events led by the apostles.  In Jacksonville, Florida, Kimberly Daniels, a leading apostle specializing in demon expulsion was recently elected to city council - as a Democrat.  In the primaries prior to the 2010 election, Hawaii’s gubernatorial race included two candidates working closely with Apostle Ed Slivoso's International Transformation Network - Republican Duke Aiona and Democrat Mufi Hannemann.

This is ironic, given that Aiona is Catholic and Hannemann is Mormon.  These two faiths have been literally demonized by the New Apostolic leadership, who have written openly about destroying the icons, artifacts, and relics of these and other religious beliefs. Leading apostles go on spiritual warfare ventures around the world with the goal of taking on the “Queen of Heaven,” described by Wagner as “one of the most powerful spirits in Satan’s hierarchy” and responsible for blocking the evangelization of both Catholics and Muslims.   Wagner has written extensively about one particular venture in 1997 called “Operation Ice Castle,” led by Wagner’s wife and a lead prophetess, and later described as perhaps contributing to the death of Mother Teresa.

In 2008, after Sarah Palin was named as John McCain’s running mate, contributors at Talk2action.org published tens of thousands of words documenting Palin’s ties to leadership and activities of the New Apostolic Reformation.  Despite having video and audio documentation, the idea of a specific network of apostles and prayer warriors was treated with derision by most of the mainstream press, and many academics and religion writers.

The video of Palin being anointed by an Kenyan pastor in a ceremony that included calls for protection from witchcraft, was discounted as overblown and part of the Kenyan  pastor’s native cultural heritage.  The reality is that Thomas Muthee was an international leader in Wagner’s network and well known around the world in some circles for his role as a star in movement’s training films called The Transformations.  These movies are produced by George Otis, Jr. and  feature vignettes of communities around the globe that have supposedly been transformed through this prayer movement of the end times. The crowning jewel in this series of transformations is supposedly the nation of Uganda, site of several Transformations movies.

The spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare techniques taught by the movement are the product of Wagner and other western missionaries, as described in an extensive academic treatment of spiritual mapping, written by Rene Holvast.  The overview of my well-worn copy of this resource states, “The reader is presented with a unique insight into Spiritual Mapping as an expression of Americanism, as well as the socio-political concept of Manifest Destiny and U.S. religious marketing.”

Other’s dismissed the investigation of Palin’s association with the apostles as an attack on conservative Christianity.  However, outside of the progressive writers at Talk2action.org and PFAW’s Right Wing Watch, almost all of the critical media on the apostles has come from conservative evangelicals. Many evangelicals are opposed to the dominion theology and politicized Christianity taught by the movement, as well as their goal of eradicating denominations and restructuring world Protestantism.

In 2008, Palin’s religious activities were brushed off as either weird, none of our business, or overhyped.  There was little serious effort by the press, including religion writers, to analyze her relationship to a movement that threatens religious pluralism and separation of church and state. Numerous journalists used sources at Charisma Magazine to dismiss the documentation being released by contributors of Talk2action.org and other sources.  This was questioning the fox about who ate the chickens.  At that time both the publisher of Charisma, Stephen Strang, and editor, J. Lee Grady, were apostles in C. Peter Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles.

The offhanded dismissal of the apostles has already started.

C. Porter Wagner?

Cathy Lynn Grossman, writing for USA Today, discounted the efforts of Right Wing Watch to expose the New Apostolic network behind Perry’s event.  She implies that Perry should not be held accountable for the evangelists who endorse his event and failed to note that the organizers, not just endorsers, include leaders from this movement.  Grossman referred to C. Peter Wagner, one of the most influential religious leaders in the country, if not the world, as “C. Porter Wagner.”

Grossman states that one source knows that the American Family Association “is running this show.”  It is true that the AFA, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is financing the event, but they are not the sole organizers of the event.  And I would be a little wary of Grossman’s source, which has a vested interest in how this event is publicized.  Her source was Charisma Magazine.

This article will be cross-posted at www.Talk2action.org.