Tag Archives: control

How a growing Christian movement is seeking to take control of the top sectors of American society

Last week, from Oct. 6 to 9, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was filled with tents, worship music and prayer for the “Awaken the Dawn” rally. The purpose of the event, according to organizer Lou Engle, was to “gather around Jesus,” to pray for the nation and its government. It ended with a day of prayer by Christian women.

This wasn’t the first such event. On April 9, 2016, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, tens of thousands of people gathered to pray for the supernatural transformation of America.

Five years earlier, in August of 2011, more than 30,000 people cheered wildly as the then U.S. presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry – now secretary of energy in the Trump administration – came to the center stage at “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

These three events and the leaders who organized them are central players in a movement that we call “Independent Network Charismatic,” or INC, Christianity in our recently released book, “The Rise of Network Christianity.”

Based on our research, we believe that INC Christianity is significantly changing the religious landscape in America – and its politics.

Here is what we found about INC

INC Christianity is led by a network of popular independent religious entrepreneurs, often referred to as “apostles.” They have close ties, we found, to conservative U.S. politicians, including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and more recently President Donald Trump.

Charismatic Christians emphasize supernatural miracles and divine interventions. But INC Christianity is different from other charismatics – and other Christian denominations in general – in the following ways:

  • It is not focused primarily on building congregations but rather on spreading beliefs and practices through media, conferences and ministry schools.
  • It is not so much about proselytizing to unbelievers as it is about transforming society through placing Christian believers in powerful positions in all sectors of society.
  • It is organized as a network of independent leaders rather than as formally organized denominations.

INC Christianity is the fastest-growing Christian group in America and possibly around the world. Over the 40 years from 1970 to 2010, the number of regular attenders of Protestant churches as a whole shrunk by an average of .05 percent per year, which is a striking decline when one considers that the U.S. population grew an average of 1 percent per year during those years. At the same time, independent neo-charismatic congregations (a category in which INC groups reside) grew by an average of 3.24 percent per year.

Its impact, however, is much greater than can be measured in church attendance. This is because INC Christianity is not centrally concerned with building congregations, but spreading beliefs and practices.

The influence of INC Christianity can be seen in the millions of hits on many of theirweb-based media sites, large turnouts at stadium rallies and conferences, and millions of dollars in media sales. In our interviews with leaders, we found that Bethel, an INC ministry based in Redding, California, for example, in 2013 had an income of US$8.4 million in sales of music, books, DVDs and web-based content as well as $7 million in tuition to their Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

Appeal of INC

As part of our research, we conducted in-depth interviews with senior leaders, staff and current and former participants in INC Christian ministries. We also conducted supplementary interviews with Christian leaders and scholars with knowledge of the changing religious landscape and attended conferences, numerous church services, ministry school sessions, healing sessions and exorcisms. In all, we conducted 41 in-depth interviews.

Our primary conclusion is that the growth of these groups is largely the result of their network governance structure. When compared to the oversight and accountability of formal congregations and denominations, these structures allow for more experimentation. This includes “extreme” experiences of the supernatural, unorthodox beliefs and practices, and financing as well as marketing techniques that leverage the power of the internet.

In our research, we witnessed the appeal of INC Christianity, particularly among young people. We saw the thrill of holding impromptu supernatural healing sessions in the emergency room of a large public hospital, the intrigue of ministry school class sessions devoted to the techniques of casting out demonic spirits and the adventure of teams of young people going out into public places, seeking direct guidance from God as to whom to heal or to relay specific divine messages.

‘Seven mountains of culture’

In addition to the growth numbers, the importance of INC Christianity lies in the fact that its proponents have a fundamentally different view of the relationship between the Christian faith and society than most Christian groups throughout American history.

Most Christian groups in America have seen the role of the Church as connecting individuals to God through the saving grace of Jesus and building congregations that provide communities of meaning and belonging through worship services. They also believe in serving and providing for the needs their local communities. Such traditional Christian groups believe that although the world can be improved, it will not be restored to God’s original plan until Jesus comes back again to rule the Earth.

INC beliefs, however, are different – their leaders are not content simply to connect individuals to God and grow congregations. Most INC Christian groups we studied seek to bring heaven or God’s intended perfect society to Earth by placing “kingdom-minded people” in powerful positions at the top of all sectors of society.

INC leaders have labeled them the “seven mountains of culture.”

These include business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family and religion. In this form of “trickle-down Christianity,” they believe if Christians rise to the top of all seven “mountains,” society will be completely transformed.

One INC leader we interviewed summed it up this way:

“The goal of this new movement is transforming social units like cities, ethnic groups, nations rather than individuals…if Christians permeate each mountain and rise to the top of all seven mountains…society would have biblical morality, people would live in harmony, there would be peace and not war, there would be no poverty.”

We heard these ideas repeatedly in most of our interviews, at events we attended and in INC media materials.

Most significantly, since the 2016 presidential election, some INC leaders have released public statements claiming that the Trump presidency is part of fulfilling God’s plan to “bring heaven to Earth” by placing believers in top posts, including Rick Perry; Betsy DeVos directing the Department of Education; and Ben Carson leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Changing the landscape

INC Christianity is a movement to watch because we think it will continue to draw adherents in large numbers in the future. It will produce a growing number of Christians who see their goal not just as saving souls but as transforming society by taking control over its institutions.

We see the likelihood of INC Christians taking over the “seven mountains of culture” as slim. However, we also believe that this movement is sure to shake up the religious and political landscape for generations to come.

By Brad Christerson, Richard Flory/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Wake up people! The Right is just getting started…North Carolina General Assembly…Rouge One

Image: NC Policy Watch

Conservatives are working to radically overhaul the American social contract

At the conclusion of the whirlwind 2011 session of the North Carolina General Assembly — a session in which new conservative majorities pushed through a raft of dramatic policy changes —many progressive North Carolinians surveyed the aftermath and found themselves actually breathing a sigh of relief. There was a widespread feeling that the fury of the storm had passed, that the Right had vented its collective spleen and that, having pushed through so much of its long-stymied policy agenda, conservative leaders would settle down to focus on governing the state.

The simple truth is that the Right was then and is now only just getting started. If you doubt this, take a gander at the outrageous list of destructive proposals debated in the General Assembly last week. On issue after issue – K-12 and higher education, taxes, voting rights, the environment, the safety net, church and state, immigration, guns, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the relationship between corporations and human beings – conservative politicians and advocacy groups that inform and fuel their efforts are pushing the envelope ever further to the right.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

The Life of the Party: 7 Truths for Democrats

The ongoing contest between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the Democratic Party continues to divide Democrats. It’s urgent Democrats stop squabbling and recognize seven basic truths…

1. The Party is on life support. Democrats are in the minority in both the House and Senate, with no end in sight. Since the start of the Obama Administration they’ve lost 1,034 state and federal seats. They hold only 16 governorships, and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. No one speaks for the party as a whole. The Party’s top leaders are aging, and the back bench is thin.

More from Robert Reich

Posted by Libergirl who says the Dems are NOT going to wake up…. bunch of corporate whores!

Speaker Ryan dispatched a security team to block delivery of a massive PP petition

In their first week back on the job, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his non-uterus-having Republican congressmen have announced an extremist effort to defund Planned Parenthood, a healthcare provider used by 1 in 5 American women in their lifetime:

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced last week that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare.
Image: Planned Parenthood via Twitter

Planned Parenthood volunteers lined up  at Speaker Ryan’s office to deliver the signatures of 87,000 men and women who stand with Planned Parenthood. Instead of accepting the petition delivery and moving on with his day, Paul Ryan instead dispatched a team of security. Although he had been greeting other constituents, his office was suddenly closed for business.

More from Daily Kos

Posted by Libergirl

Amid Criticism, Texas Fails to OK New Textbooks

MerryLynn Gerstenschlager
Image: Associated Press

 

The Texas Board of Education couldn’t muster the votes late Tuesday to grant preliminary approval for new history and social studies textbooks for classrooms across the nation’s second-largest state, failing to act amid stinging criticism of the proposed books from both the right and left.

Academics and some liberal-leaning activists have complained for months that many of the books up for adoption overstate the influence of religion on early American democracy, including exaggerating biblical figure Moses’ importance to the founding fathers. But conservative groups worry that many of the same books promote pro-Islam values.

The Republican-controlled board tried to pass nearly all of the 100 books and lesson software it was considering, but that failed 5-4 with four abstentions. One member wasn’t present.

“The abstentions have it,” joked Thomas Ratliff, a Mount Pleasant Republican.

That sets up a potentially tense final vote Friday, when the board will have to approve the books or miss the deadline to get them to the state’s 5 million-plus public school students by September 2015. Texas is such a vast textbook market that much of what is produced here can end up influencing materials used in other states.

MerryLynn Gerstenschlager, vice president of the influential conservative group Texas Eagle Forum, said books should describe the “forced wealth distribution” imposed by the United Nations via misleading propaganda about climate change. Retired school teacher Anthony Bruner warned that they would indoctrinate students with communist tenants.

More from ABC News via AP

Posted by Libergirl

Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘controls’ Damboa in Borno

Nigeria’s militant Islamists are in control of the key town of Damboa in north-eastern Nigeria according to the BBC.

Screen grab from Boko Haram video
Image: BBC

The vigilante force defending the town fled on Sunday, and Islamist group Boko Haram’s black flag is now flying over Damboa, he said.

At least 40 people were killed when Boko Haram attacked Damboa on Friday, the vigilante leader added.

The group has been fighting since 2009 to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.

In April, it sparked international outrage by abducting more than 200 girls from their boarding school in Chibok, in Borno state, like Damboa.

More from BBC News

Posted by Libergirl

Christians have grabbed ‘theocratic control over public schools’ in Louisiana, critic says

Yesterday, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee upheld a controversial law that allows science teachers to bring “supplemental science education materials” into the classroom.

The Committee voted 3-1 to uphold the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) — which critics contend allows teachers to introduce creationist literature into science classrooms — on the grounds that no proof that teachers were importing religious-oriented material into the public school could be found.

The LSEA, which was passed in 2008 with the support of Governor Bobby Jindal and prominent state conservatives, allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” so long as they “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.” Gene Mills, president of the Christian Louisiana Family Forum, called it “a reasonable academic freedom policy, one that has become a model for others.”

More from the Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist