Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Building a Kingdom for a Nebulous Jesus

Must reading for anyone seeking to understand the rise of Christian dominionism is the article cited in yesterday's Herescope post: "Jesus Plus Nothing" by Jeffrey Sharlet, originally published in Harper's Magazine, March 2003.

In this article, Sharlet chronicled his journey into the Christian dominionism underground, a shadowy Washington, D.C.-based "Fellowship" group. This organization, according to Sharlet and other observers, required oaths ("covenants"), maintained secrecy, and was built upon a hierarchical cell model. The authoritarian structure was monastic, and authoritarian, not unlike the abusive shepherding cults of the past several decades.

A follow-up interview with Jeffrey Sharlet was conducted later in 2003 and is archived. In this interview Sharlet details the cult-like atmosphere surrounding the "Fellowship" and subsequent threats to his life:

"Would there be consequences for your friend who recommended you, if he was to be named?
"I don't know, but I can tell you that ever since the article has come out, a lot of people have gotten in touch with me. Some former residents of Ivanwald, who will only speak anonymously because they're afraid of retaliation. Some have already experienced retaliation, people who are still working in this world. There's a whole range of corporations associate with the Family, and you might be working for this guy who's a part of it, and he hears that you've been causing trouble and so takes action. I've received an email saying that I would be dealt with as a traitor, vaguely threatening letters. Other people have gotten in contact with me hiding the fact that they were involved with the Family. . . ."

". . . And then one day they had this ritual where they trick you and another guy to get down on the floor and lie on your belly to arm-wrestle, and you're arm-wrestling to prove your manhood. And you start to do it, and they all jump on you and start beating you. It's called a 'Fumble'. So there's 15 people beating and hitting me, and by this time I had already been there a couple of weeks and thought this place was weird. When this beating happened, I just hit back with full force because I was really scared. And they liked that, they liked the fact that I hit back. That was their idea of manliness, . . . "

Taking Over Governments

Sharlet's original Harper's Magazine article details some sensitive negotiations that took place between leaders of the Fellowship and leaders of African nations, particularly Rwanda. This information, while not significant at the time, sheds considerable light on Rick Warren's easy foray into creating a purpose-driven government structure in that country. Further, Sharlet's comments in the follow-up interview reveal how the Fellowship was working to change the government of Fiji -- a significant nation in the George Otis Transformation video series:

"I started running into all these political figures there and hearing about how all these political negotiations had occurred at The Cedars, their private mansion headquarters. I was shown a video about the island of Fiji and their leader. And you can say, well, who cares about Fiji? Well, this is how they work, small country by small country. Fiji now is a theocracy. And they take credit for that. And I thought, this is quite messed up. I started asking questions, and started writing a journal of what was going on and looking around.

"They talk about Hitler all the time, and I asked what the deal was with that, and they said, 'Oh no, it's just his leadership skills that we like.' When I left, I discovered their archives and there's seventy years of the Family making friends with the world's worst and nastiest of world leaders."


Sharlet concludes this enlightening interview with the following frightening observations:

"So what do you think is the end result that they're after? Is it only "power" in the abstract sense?
"They state their goals in their private documents pretty explicitly. A world leadership led by Christ. Every single world leader and politician making every decision under Christ's will. And you could quibble over semantics, but I would say that worldwide theocracy is their goal."

The two previous Herescope posts detailed the "Fellowship's" role in leading the way towards finding common ground with other faiths. Two nebulous slogans: "Jesus plus nothing" and "in the name of Jesus" were tossed about in mind-numbing fashion to evoke agreement with this heretical cause. Herescope commented that this "Jesus" was a nebulous sort, ill-defined sort of fellow that conveniently fitted any marketing modality. In fact, Sharlet makes this same point repeatedly in his article and interview. It is obvious that no one introduced him to the biblical Jesus while spending time with this cult. Rather this Jesus was a "kingdom-building" Jesus who was setting up a theocracy on earth. In the Harper's article, Sharlet commented on this mystical "Jesus":

"Their faith and practice seemed closer to a perverted sort of Buddhism, their God outside 'the truth,' their Christ everywhere and nowhere at once."

The Truth:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;" (Ephesians 2:9-10)