As the election nears, it's staggering to see how Sarah Palin's association with an international extremist religious cult is still kept off the top TV news. MSNBC has bravely talked about it, of course, as have the Huffington Post, Salon and other independent media. But a glass ceiling of news management keeps anything scary about Palin from rising above it. This explains why the story has not reached maximum visibility in most of the major corporate media.
Heaven forbid that Fox News or CNN would tell Americans the whole truth: that the cute hockey mom is palling around with a minister who openly advocates violence as the best way to establish the New Apostolic Reformation as our government. Or that the cult is busy whipping up thousands of young Americans into a so-called Joel's Army that is intended to spearhead the take-over.
Or that Palin made appointments in Alaska that opened the door to direct missionizing of Alaskan citizens by her religion -- actions of hers that (in my opinion) directly violate the separation of church and state.
Indeed, Palin's ethics record as governor of Alaska is none too shiny, as reported in some detail by ConsortiumNews.com. Troopergate and the Alaskan Independent Party aren't the only questions about Palin that the McCain campaign has tried to "newsmanage." With the broad TV sanitizing and celebritizing that Palin gets, and her seeming ability to evade the most negative political consequences of her actions, the Republican vice-presidential candidate is starting to look like a Telfon Don With Lipstick.
To put it another way -- only a Teflon Don With Lipstick could get herself positioned as the 2012 candidate of choice for the Republican Party, as Palin is now doing.
In the last couple of weeks, Palin has clearly made efforts to leave McCain in her dust. The Huffington Post reports, "One of John McCain's advisers recently called his running mate Sarah Palin a 'diva' after she went off-script at a rally, and suggested she was looking after her own political future over the current campaign. Now another adviser ups the ante in a conversation with the Politico's Playbook, labeling Palin a 'whack job.' " A growing number of Republicans are alarmed at Palin's behaviour.
Yesterday, at Politico.com, Roger Simon commented: "Sarah Palin may soon be free. Soon, she may not have the millstone of John McCain around her neck. And she can begin her race for president in 2012. Some are already talking about it. In careful terms. If John McCain loses next week, Sarah Palin 'has absolutely earned a right to run in 2012,' says Greg Mueller, who was a senior aide in the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes. Mueller says Palin has given conservatives 'hope' and 'something to believe in.' "
Americans who know Pat Buchanan as an old warrior of ultraconservative American religion (he's a fundamentalist Catholic) won't be surprised to see his cohorts linking to Palin cohorts with an eye to the future. When Buchanan took his shots at Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, he failed to get the kind of fervid support from a segment of American voters that Palin is pulling now. Let's face it -- the young hockey mom is a sugar-coated image that far-right American voters are swallowing more easily than they did the old paleoconservative in a suit. She claims to be energizing the "Republican base." But clearly the base she energizes is white and fundamentalist.
Profile of a Cult
The New Apostolic Reformation, aka the Third Wave, aka Joel's Army, is led by self-styled chief "apostle" C. Peter Wagner, and a group of other "apostles" and "prophets." Some consider Palin to be among those "prophets." Among the distinguished investigative organizations reporting on the NAR is the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC has an excellent report posted on Joel's Army. One prominent NAR figure is Canadian charismatic preacher Todd Bentley, who is at the heart of organizing the army. On Bentley's Fresh Fire ministry website in British Columbia, Bentley has said openly, "An end-time army has one common purpose -- to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion."
At the moment, Bentley is in trouble -- his organization recently demanded that he step down after they learned he was in a relationship with a woman other than his wife. But there will be others who rush to step into Bentley's shoes -- the lure of power and money will be too great to resist.
As Pentecostals, the NAR are such extremists that even some of the old-school pentecostals and evangelists shun them as "unbiblical." Indeed, Sarah Palin herself has stayed low-profile with her NAR associations. Publicly she keeps herself positioned as a generic user-friendly fundamentalist, for fear of losing the vote of evangelicals and pentecostals who don't like the NAR. I have detailed Palin's NAR closeness in other commentaries here at Bilerico.
While LGBT activists have been fighting "yes on 8" efforts by old-school evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons, they've paid little attention to the growing presence of NAR and Joel's Army in the California Prop 8 battle. The energies of mass frenzy that fuel this movement can be seen in the disturbing ad [below] for "The Call," an upcoming anti-gay event on November 1 in San Diego.
The Call is a series of mass pentecostal rallies that has been held in several major cities across the country. According to People for the American Way, Lou Engle, founder of The Call, is closely associated with the NAR and Joel's Army movement. Engle has endorsed Palin's candidacy, and talks about it as a "war for America, for our families, and for our children. And this war, we cannot afford to lose." I wouldn't be surprised if Palin put in a surprise appearance at the San Diego event, to garner a last few votes for Prop 8 and herself.
Organizing the Violence
We know how the original Teflon Don ended up. New York mafia head John Gotti did manage to avoid prosecution for so many years that he inspired awe with his talents at legal slipperiness. But teflon does wear off. In 1992 Gotti was finally sent to prison, where he died 10 years later.
Some might say I'm over the top to allege that Sarah Palin is in the same category as a Mafia don. But the rumblings of violence and religious war coming from this cult movement have me very concerned. And I'm even more concerned that a mother of small children would associate herself with such bloodthirsty rumblings. It doesn't augur well for what the movement's behaviour will be if they get the kind of momentum in the U.S. that they're already getting in some foreign countries. For example, Palin's associate, pastor Thomas Muthee, is associated with a series of ugly incidents and massacres in his native Kenya, where his preaching touched off lethal mob actions against people deemed to be "demon-possessed" enemies of Muthee's church.
My point is -- organized crime first got its hold in 1930s America through use of systematic and targeted violence that we would call domestic terrorism today -- only it was mobsters with tommy guns and souped-up Model T Fords. Today the Mafia has receded, and is being replaced by white supremacist and ethnic gangs that are swamping many American cities with the same old kind of terrorism, but backed up by late-model weapons. An organized out-of-control religious cult with a self-appointed mandate for violence and absolute rule isn't going to operate much differently than organized crime. When leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation talk about their "armies" and "violence," Americans have to understand that they're not talking in metaphors. The NAR is not going to come at their enemies with rose petals and powerpuffs.
Indeed, I'm wondering how the foreign figures in this movement -- i.e. non-citizens like Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee and Canadian pastor Todd Bentley -- can get away with organizing so openly on U.S. soil. For instance, Bentley just ran a noisy Joel's Army youth-recruiting movement in Florida for four months. Is the Justice Department awake? Have they checked Bentley out? Have they bothered to look at the YouTube video of Muthee's sermon about violence? Why is our government allowing these activities by non-citizens who say they aim to get rid of current government and establish a global rule by "King Jesus?" Especially after all the conservative clatter about Obama and his alleged association with foreign terrorists?
As Americans go to the polls, I can only hope that Obama and Biden score a clear win. If they don't, I will consider that the major news media who failed to report fully on Palin's background have violated the public trust in the grossest kind of way.