Heads Up: Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin Are Organizing Spiritual Warfare to Take Over America
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Apostle Samuel Rodriguez heads an organization of 15 millions Hispanic evangelicals (the Sacramento, Calif.-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference) and was courted by both Democratic and Republican candidates during the 2008 presidential election.
In 2006, former Senator Rick Santorum, R-Penn., who appears to be positioning himself for a run at the presidency, took the stage with Apostle Alistair Petrie at a NAR "Transformation Summit" in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
The International Transformations Network conferences led by Apostle Ed Silvoso have featured Hawaii's Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke” Aiona (who is currently running for governor) and Uganda First Lady Janet Museveni. Silvoso has been hosted abroad by heads of state, including Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and Gloria Arroyo, president of the Philippines.
Apostle Julius Oyet was recognized by the Ugandan Parliament for the draconian anti-gay bill recently introduced in that country, and is a star in one of the movement's Transformation movies. An influential Guatemalan pastor, Apostle Harold Caballeros, made a quixotic run for the presidency of that country in 2007.
Christian publishing magnate Stephen Strang is an apostle, as well as a director for John Hagee's Christians United for Israel, while Apostle Tom Hess hosts the annual Christian Government Leaders Conference in the Israeli Knesset.
Outside the realm of politics, Apostle Jim Ammerman, as head of a pentecostal chaplains' organization, accounts for more than 270 chaplains, including U.S. military and civilian chaplains. "Ammerman is a former military chaplain whose Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches was approved in 1984 by the Department of Defense as an endorsing agency to place chaplains in the United States Military," writes Rachel Tabachnick.
Apostle Bernard Wilks, in conjunction with Apostle Ed Silvoso's International Transformation Network, has assigned a "prayer warrior" to almost every single street in Newark, New Jersey, to pray for "transformation” of the city.
The movement has emerged from the largest single block of Protestant Christianity on the globe -- sometimes called charismatic, neo-charismatic or neo-Pentecostal -- one often overlooked since its adherents do not comprise a single denomination, and often belong to churches characterized as "non-denominational."
Charismatic Christians are born-again believers who have a secondary conversion experience, one they claim gives them supernatural gifts, such as speaking in tongues, casting out demons, faith healing, and other "signs and wonders" they believe will help to evangelize the world in preparation for the end times. Charismatics are typically Protestant, but there is also a movement of charismatic Catholics.
At the top of the New Apostolic Reformation authority structure is Presiding Apostle C. Peter Wagner, a longtime Christian educator (who recently enjoyed a brief blip of fame when he was revealed as the graduate school mentor of Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in California). Wagner partnered with Ted Haggard, then pastor of the New Life Christian Church in Colorado Springs, to build the initial nerve center of the movement in that town. (Haggard went on to become president of the National Association of Evangelicals, but resigned both that post and pastorship of his megachurch in 2006 when he was famously disgraced by revelations of a gay affair and drug use.)
AlterNet turned to Rachel Tabachnick for insight on the New Apostolic Reformation and its political impact. Tabachnick is a nationally recognized researcher and writer on the religious right and its "end-times" narratives.
Bill Berkowitz: Most people are unaware of the New Apostolic Reformation. Tell us what we should know.
Rachel Tabachnick: Imagine for a moment that a large block of the evangelical world decided to re-organize themselves in a hierarchy somewhat resembling the Roman Catholic Church, with leaders in authority over each nation and region. And additionally imagine that every person -- from the individual congregants to the top leaders -- would have someone to whom they are accountable. It seems unthinkable, but this is exactly what the "apostles" and "prophets" [of the New Apostolic Reformation] are doing.