Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Church & State
H. bruce Franklin
Israel's Approved Ethnic Cleansing, Part â€¦
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Some 1,700 religious, civic, and political leaders attended a January 19 pre-inaugural prayer luncheon. The guest list included a host of Religious Right luminaries; the ubiquitous Rev. Jerry Falwell, former National Evangelical Association President Don Argue, Trinity Broadcasting Network's Paul Crouch, and a host of leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention, including President James Merritt, Executive Committee President and CEO Morris H. Chapman, and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land.
According to a front-page story in the Moon-owned Washington Times, then Sen. John Ashcroft dropped by and “brought down the house…with a tale of amazing grace.”
One of the featured speakers at the luncheon was Dr. Tony Evans, head of the Texas-based group, The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans, an African American, is an entertaining and unrestrained speaker with a penchant for saying outrageous things. He is frequently a featured speaker at assorted Promise Keeper events around the country. He is also a close friend and confidant to President Bush. Several months ago, the New York Times reported that Bush often calls on Evans for spiritual guidance. According to its website (www.tonyevans.org) The Urban Alternative proclaims itself “a ministry that seeks to equip, empower and unite Christians to impact individuals, families, churches and communities for the rebuilding of lives from the inside out.”
Despite being a rhetorically charged and lively interdenominational event, some leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) quickly backpedaled after they learned that the Inaugural Prayer Luncheon for Unity and Renewal was sponsored by the Rev. Moon-run Washington Times Foundation. According to a January 23 report from Baptist Press, some SBC officials are claiming they knew nothing about Moon's imprint on the event. “We knew that it was going to be an interdenominational event, but we had no idea that the luncheon was hosted by the Moonies,” said Merritt, pastor of an Atlanta area church. This despite the fact that for years Moon has been lending a helping hand to several financially challenged Religious Right organizations; not long ago, he gave a large donation to help shore up Rev. Jerry Falwell's financially troubled Liberty University.
In one of his first moves as president, George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating the day after the inauguration as a National Day of Prayer and Thanks- giving.
Rev. Moon's Unification Church, which enjoys nonprofit tax status, is once again finding fertile ground for its political mission. Moon, the owner of the ultra-conservative Washington Times and a large group of other media outlets, including the recently acquired United Press International, delivered an address at the prayer luncheon, and then handed out complimentary copies of one of his books and other Unification Church materials.
For a period of time during the past few years, things weren't looking so good for the Reverend and his family. In 1998, Moon's former daughter-in-law, Nansook Hong, wrote an explosive book, In the Shadow of the Moons, which detailed her stormy relationship with Moon's eldest son, Hyo Jin Moon, which included alcoholism, drug abuse, wife beating, and cavorting with prostitutes. In October 1999, one of Moon's other sons committed suicide by jumping from a 17th-story balcony at Harrah's hotel in Reno. According to Don Lattin, Religion writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, revelations in Nansook Hong's book, coupled with the death of his son were extremely significant because they strike at the heart of Moon's teachings. Moon claims, “that he and his wife are the True Parents of a new spiritual lineage born without original sin.” Last year, Lattin reports, the Unification Church published a history of its U.S. ministry, 40 Years in America, and the book “ends with the clear anointing of Hyun Jin Nim, a graduate of Harvard Business School.”
The much-publicized disfunc- tionality of Rev. Moon's family contributed to keeping him out of the public spotlight during the past few years. However, recently Rev. Moon has reemerged, participating in a series of high profile events aimed at unification—which means the “melt[ing] down [of] all denominational barriers to form one body of Christ,” according to Rev. Michael Jenkins, a top Moon official.
In mid-October, Moon's Unification Church provided critical financial and organizational support to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan's Million Family March in Washington DC. Hundreds of Unification Church followers were mobilized to help organize, finance, and attend the Washington, DC gathering. Long-time right wing watcher and author Frederick Clarkson, who broke the story in the online journal Salon, wrote: “Moon's role in the Million Family March is the fruit of a three-year personal relationship that began when Farrakhan helped officiate at one of Moon's marriage ceremonies at Washington's RFK Stadium in 1997.”
Moon's minions were also intimately involved in the vote counting fiasco in Florida. On December 1, according to Church & State, the monthly publication of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “Moon's American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) sponsored a press conference in front of the Supreme Court to coincide with legal arguments before the justices over the Florida election results.” This event was another interfaith call to “unite upon the common ground of America's tradition of faith in God to prevent the continued partisan struggle over the election results in Florida from further polarizing the nation.”
Several fundamentalist Christian groups, including the Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS), Intercessors for America (IFA), and individuals such as Pastor Dutch Sheets, are advocating turning Bush's one day of prayer declaration into 100 days of non-stop prayer.
According to Charisma News Service, a daily news update put out by Charisma magazine, “Christians who offered concerted prayers during the presidential election have been urged not to stop following the weekend's inauguration.”
The Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS) is asking Christians to pray every day for the Bush administration through mid-April. The virulently anti-gay Florida-based evangelist D. James Kennedy, of the Coral Ridge Ministries, founded the Washington DC-based CCS. The organization is closely linked to several congressional representatives and their staffs who participate in meetings, events, personal ministry, and the distribution of the Center's materials. CCS director Frank Wright told Charisma News Service the first 100 days is a critical period especially since the nation is so divided. “It seems it would be a good time for God's people to pray for divine guidance and intervention and wisdom,” he said.
For the better part of four decades the Rev. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries has been flying beneath the radar of mainstream media, while building a multimillion-dollar media ministry and political operation. In 1998, the Ministries' Center for Reclaiming America initiated the campaign to reposition the Religious Right's anti-gay activities by asserting gay people could become ex-gays through the proper therapy and counseling.
Intercessors For America
One hundred days of prayer is supported by Intercessors for America, a major player in the relatively unknown intercessor prayer movement. The Leesburg, Virginia-based IFA was founded in 1973, to encourage effective prayer and fasting in support of the church and the nation (www.ifa-usapray.org).
Before the election, in a bit of inside the church-way politics, IFA got egg on its face after falsely accusing Pastor T.D. Jakes of partisan politics on behalf of Al Gore. Jakes, who runs the powerful Potter's House church in Dallas, Texas, a 26,000-member congregation with dozens of outreach ministries, quickly denied the charges. It turned out Gore had been one of the church's invited guests along with then Governor George W. Bush, who was unable to attend, at a dedication ceremony at Jakes's church. Partisan politics had not been involved and IFA was forced to apologize.
Although IFA claims its prayers are non-partisan, it's clear that its virulent anti-abortion and anti-gay politics mirror the agenda of the Religious Right. In a 1990 GroupWatch report by the Inter- hemispheric Resource Center, IFA was described as a prayer network serving the New Right's domestic and international agenda. IFA founder John Talcott also started the right-wing Plymouth Rock Foundation, and sponsored Third Century Press, a group set up by then-Congressperson John Conlan and the Campus Crusade for Christ's Bill Bright, to publish and distribute conservative political books based on the scriptures.
In April 1993, the Intercessors for America newsletter helped set the tone for what was to become the so-called era of incivility in Washington, DC—the changing of which George W. Bush has repeated over and over again. Commenting on President Clinton's support of Roe v. Wade and of gays in the military the newsletter stated: “The sun had barely set on the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton when pronouncements from the Oval Office cast dark shadows across America's faded moral landscape. With callous disregard for those who valiantly stood for life, the president chose the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to strip away several rights of the unborn. He then sought to reverse the time-honored practice of restricting homosexuals in our armed services, ignoring the counsel of the nation's military leadership.”
During the period between election day and the Supreme Court's selection day, IFA issued “a plea to the youth of America to cry out to the God of Heaven and earth, that truth, justice, and righteousness would prevail.” IFA called on young people, youth workers, parents, and others to commit themselves to: (1) individual prayer and fasting until the election is resolved; (2) having youth groups join in united prayer for our nation; (3) 20 to 30 minute prayer gatherings around the flagpoles at school campuses on the day the Supreme Court meets.
Pastor Dutch Sheets is a national prayer leader and pastor of Spring Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His Intercessory Prayer is a guidebook on the subject. It explains, “The power of intercessory prayer… [which] inspires you to pray with courage to a God who hears your words...before you even speak them.” Sheets says Christians need to “up the scale of prayer” or President Bush could “be overcome by the political machine…I think our job as a church is to go to a new level of prayer for this man, that God would literally anoint him to lead this nation.”
With Rev. Moon back on the A-list and casting himself as a “uniter, not a divider” and the intercessor prayer folks standing in the shadows, indeed the times they are a' changin'. Z
Bill Berkowitz is an Oakland, California-based freelance writer covering the Religious Right and related conservative movements.