Peter Montgomery's blog

Is Ted Cruz The 'Evangelical and Constitutional Warrior' the Right Has Been Waiting For?

We reported yesterday that Ted Cruz may be winning the “Christian nation primary” by building support among conservative evangelical funders, leaders and voters. It turns out others have been noticing the same trend.

Messiah College Professor John Fea, a reputable Christian historian who has challenged the inaccurate Christian-nation history of David Barton, wrote yesterday that Cruz may be the candidate “best suited to consolidate the votes of the powerful evangelical wing of the GOP.”

Among the factors Fea cites:

  • Cruz sees the world in black and white, with little room for nuance, and knows how speak “with a fierceness informed by his deeply held Christian faith”;
  • Cruz “speaks evangelical,” and is comfortable talking about the Bible and using terms like “revival”;
  • Cruz promotes David Barton’s view of American history and will be speaking at Barton’s “ProFamily Legislators Conference” in November.

Right-wing blogger Terresa Monroe-Hamilton also weighed in yesterday, declaring, “Ted Cruz is the evangelical and constitutional warrior we have waited for.” Earlier this month Monroe-Hamiltion praised Cruz as a “rock star” in the south and called him a “statesman” with “a spine of steel.” In her new post, she praises Cruz’s rhetoric about the “war on faith in America today” and his attacks on Planned Parenthood.

Ted Cruz is not only appealing to the evangelical vote, he’s fighting for Christians and for the lives of the unborn. His honest and obvious devotion to his Christian faith is one of the things that appeals to so many Americans. Approximately 1 in 4 voters have identified themselves as evangelical in exit polls since the 2004 election cycle. In key Republican contests such as Iowa and in some of the Southern states that Cruz has said are critical to his run, that figure was higher during the last presidential campaign — nearly 50 percent. The evangelical vote is key to Cruz’s campaign goals and strategies. He is gifted at motivating and mobilizing voters. He’s also the favorite son of the Tea Party conservatives. Cruz is just the warrior we have waited for.


Is Ted Cruz Winning The Christian Nation Primary?

Christian-nation activist David Lane has been fuming for years that conservative evangelicals divided their Republican primary votes in 2008 and 2012, allowing John McCain and Mitt Romney to capture the GOP presidential nominations even though neither was a favorite of the party’s Religious Right activists. Lane, who believes America was founded by and for Christians, has vowed to prevent that from happening again, and has been hosting events in early primary states giving conservative pastors a chance to hear from and evaluate GOP presidential candidates.

Lane has also been working to recruit and train an “army“ of pastors to run as candidates and bring thousands of conservative evangelical volunteers into the 2016 race. Those events have been attended by several GOP hopefuls, including Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal. But while Lane has not publicly thrown his support to a candidate, evidence suggests that Ted Cruz is being anointed to carry the hopes of Lane and his supporters.

One big sign came late last month, when news that broke that Farris and Dan Wilks had given $15 million to Keep the Promise, a pro-Cruz super PAC. Not coincidentally, David Lane told NBC News last year that, “With Citizens United…you can have somebody who gives $15 or $20 million into a super PAC and that changes the game.” The billionaire Wilks brothers from Texas have become sugar daddies to right-wing groups generally, and to David Lane’s Pastors and Pews events specifically.

A couple weeks later, Cruz stopped by the headquarters of the American Family Association. Lane’s American Renewal Project operates under the AFA’s umbrella, and Cruz sounded like he was reading Lane’s talking points. Cruz told AFA President Tim Wildmon that mobilizing evangelical Christian voters is the key to saving America, saying, “Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

Cruz has been positioning himself as the champion of religious liberty and defender of the conservative Christians he says are the targets of a “jihad” by gay-rights activists and an “atheist Taliban.” On Friday night he held a “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Iowa highlighting victims of “religious persecution” — in other words, business owners who have refused to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples and gotten into trouble for violating anti-discrimination laws.

Iowa-based Religious Right radio host Steve Deace was rapturous, declaring the Cruz rally “the best candidate event I’ve ever attended” and saying Ted Cruz is the first candidate he has seen actually put on an event designed to ignite a “revival.” The rally, said Deace, was a reminder “that God’s not dead” and confirmed Deace’s decision “to support Cruz and do so early.”

And yesterday, the Washington Post’s Katie Zezima and Tom Hamburger reported that Cruz “will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood” – a campaign announced via an email from Cruz that was distributed by Lane’s American Renewal Project.

David Carney, a Republican strategist who worked on that recall effort with David Lane, who leads the American Renewal Project, a group sponsoring this week’s pastor outreach effort. The two are joined by Wayne Hamilton, a Texas-based organizer who has worked in the past with Perry and was campaign manager in 2014 for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The effort appears to be funded through American Renewal, which officials said spent about $10 million supporting candidates in 2014 and is considered likely to spend $15 million or more this year organizing opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

In addition, religious broadcast organizations have pledged to air public service spots urging Christian viewers to contact their members of Congress. Carney said the effort has received commitments of support from the Bott Radio Network, which has 100 Christian radio stations in the Midwest, and from American Family Radio, which owns 190 Christian radio stations in 20 states as well as national religious-television broadcasters.

The Post reports that the anti-Planned Parenthood campaign will include conference calls for pastors this Tuesday. The calls will begin with a message from Cruz followed by Doug Stringer, a dominionist who has emceed Lane-organized prayer rallies for Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and Nikki Haley, with more planned in the coming months, including one in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 26.

Cruz said at his rally on Friday that the reason Americans have a federal government that “comes after” free speech, religious liberty, life, and marriage is that 54 million evangelicals did not vote in the 2012 presidential election. “I’m here to tell you,” Cruz said, “we will stay home no longer.”

Cruz’s Iowa campaign chair, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, told the crowd at Friday’s rally that “Ted Cruz is the man who God has prepared for this moment.” He’s hardly the first. Cruz’s father Rafael, whose far-right rhetoric on the campaign trail has made him a Religious Right folk hero in his own right, says God has “destined” his son for “greatness.” And the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, who calls Lane a “good friend” and often functions as a promoter of Lane’s activities, has called Cruz’s political career “a thing of God.” 


Oath Keepers, Preparing For Obama-Provoked Race War, Say They'll Arm Ferguson Protesters. What?

The Oath Keepers, the group that helped provoke the heavily armed standoff with federal officials at the Bundy Ranch last year, made some news last week when they showed up in Ferguson, Missouri, wearing body armor and carrying assault weapons. Now, the head of the group’s St. Louis County chapter says he’s angry that his men were “discredited” by the county police chief – he called their presence “unnecessary and inflammatory” – and the Oath Keepers are planning to signal their displeasure by arming 50 black demonstrators with AR-15 assault rifles.

To prevent those protesters from being shot by police, the Oath Keepers will “surround the black demonstrators as protection.” Sam Andrews, the county Oath Keepers leader, says the event will be an iconic event like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington.

Martin Luther King? Let’s step back a minute, and encourage any Ferguson activists who might be thinking about partnering with the Oath Keepers to do the same, and remind ourselves who the Oath Keepers are and why they were in Ferguson.

At an abstract level, the idea behind the Oath Keepers sounds reasonable, almost noble – getting military and law enforcement officers to pledge to uphold their oath to protect the Constitution, and to declare that they will not participate in acts that would violate Americans’ constitutional rights, such as warrantless searches. Some members of the group have denounced excessive use of force by police. In reality, though, the group’s lofty mission statement hides a far-right, anti-government ideology and a strong dose of race-based paranoia. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, promotes the kind of wild conspiracy theories that have thrived since the election of Barack Obama as president, including the idea that Obama is trying to provoke a race war as an excuse for declaring martial law and discarding the Constitution.

Rhodes is fond of talking about civil war. In December he said that a 2013 Connecticut law banning some assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would lead to an attempt at door-to-door confiscation and “civil war.” Rhodes said last year that if Congress didn’t impeach Obama for his executive actions on immigration, “then they will lose all credibility, and throw us into a TRUE constitutional crisis, because they will have failed to do their jobs, leaving the people with the necessity of pursuing ‘other options’ to stop him.” In May, he said Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason and then hung.

As Right Wing Watch reported, Rhodes gave a speech to the Oath Keepers’ New York chapter in June, in which he “encouraged his group’s members to organize and stock up on food in order to resist the government’s plan to institute martial law after bringing down the country with an economic collapse, a race war, ISIS attacks and unchecked immigration.” From his speech:

I think that keeping with that communist agenda of a fourth-generation warfare assault, the intent is to use an economic neutron bomb — doesn’t destroy the buildings, but it kills the people eventually, it starves you out — cause chaos, and in the middle of all that chaos, spark a race war, and in the middle of that, unleash these ISIS cells that are now all over the country. And they don’t just ignore the influx of these cells, they cultivate it, they give them fertilizer, water and fresh air and make them grow.

Rhodes said “the leftists in this country hate this country, they hate it, and they will get in bed with radical Islamists because they have a common enemy, western civilization.”

The Oath Keepers’ concern for the Constitution doesn’t seem to apply to the constitutional rights of gay people. Mike Koeniger, vice president of the Virginia state chapter, declared last month that a couple hundred sheriffs could defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling if they were backed by Oath Keepers:

Imagine that we only had 200 sheriffs that stood in the gap, and behind every one of those sheriffs there were 2,000 Oath Keepers, being civilian or prior military or whatever, imagine the power of 200 sheriffs…

We’d win. We’d win with just 200 sheriffs and 2,000 people behind each of those sheriffs. And then we win the war.

That’s not the only time the Oath Keepers have waded into issues involving gay rights. Earlier this summer, Rhodes accepted an invitation from James David Manning, a Harlem-based pastor who says gays should be stoned to death, to speak at a July 4 event in Gettysburg that Manning hoped would draw attention to “attempts to divide the races.” Rhodes’ contribution to racial healing at the event was claiming that liberals want to divide Americans by race and prompt another civil war. Manning, for his part, called Obama the “son of Satan” and asked the crowd to join him in yelling, “Sodomites, go to Hell!”

But didn’t Oath Keepers say they were in Ferguson to promote unity? Where’s unity, and where’s the Constitution, in all this?

Take the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, at which heavily armed Oath Keepers and other assorted “patriots” sided with a millionaire rancher who was refusing to pay fees that he legally owed for grazing his cattle on federal land. There’s certainly no constitutional right to break federal law or refuse to pay your bills – unless you adopt rancher Bundy’s radical-right refusal to acknowledge the authority of the federal government altogether. During the Bundy standoff, Oath Keepers founder Rhodes warned that Attorney General Eric Holder had authorized a drone strike on the compound. When that turned out to be false, the group claimed that the rumor itself had been an example of psychological warfare by the federal government.

More from the Bundy episode:

Noting that a number of military veterans joined the armed anti-government protest at the Nevada ranch, Rhodes said that “the politicians and the would-be dictators in Washington, D.C…have to worry if they go too hard, if they drop the hammer too blatantly on Americans like at Bundy Ranch, that the Marine Corps would flip on them. And I think it would. And same goes for the tip of the spear in the Army, Army Airborne, special forces, your Navy SEALs, all of those groups out there, the more hardcore they are as warriors, the more likely they are to look at something like that and say, ‘that’s it, I’m done’ and join the resistance.”

Last year, an Oregon mine owner called in the Oath Keepers to prevent government officials from closing him down before a court could hear his appeal. But the mine owner soon decried the “absolute bullshit” being circulated on social media and said the situation had “taken on a life of its own.” He pleaded with activists to stop calling and threatening the Bureau of Land Management personnel.

Back to Ferguson and the protests that were being held around the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing. Oath Keepers initially said they were there to protect “journalists” working for Alex Jones’ InfoWars. The connection to Jones is not surprising; he is probably the country’s most energetic promoters of outrageous anti-government conspiracy theories, including his claim that killings at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church were part of a government plot to foment a race war and persecute conservatives.

“This is all a set-up.” Jones agreed: “Oh it is. Look at the priming, look at the preparations…. You can see all of the preparation building towards this, this is the big move, it’s a race war to bring in total chaos and then total federalization with this evil Justice Department, they even got rid of the other attorney general who had baggage, they put the new one in for the political persecutions of conservatives and Christians. They’re dropping the hammer.”

At a 2013 Washington, D.C., rally that right-wing activist Larry Klayman convened for the purpose of forcing Obama to step down as president, an Oath Keeper speaker said that the Department of Homeland Security was behind the Boston bombing and committed murder to cover it up.  

Rhodes said this spring that the military exercise called Jade Helm 15 – which right-wing activists warned was going to impose martial law on conservative states – was “conditioning and assessment and vetting” of politicians and members of the armed forces to identify who is willing to go along and “drop the hammer on us.”

Given all this history, Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Gawker’s Andy Cush that he doesn’t buy Oath Keepers’ recent claims to have been in Ferguson to protect protesters.

“I think they realized rather quickly that very few people looked on them kindly, and all of a sudden they became defenders of black protest against police violence,” Potok said. “The reality is they’ve never said anything like that in their entire history. I think it’s ludicrous.”


For more on the Oath Keepers, see the Southern Poverty Law Center and Mother Jones magazine.


Religious Right Freaks Out About TD Jakes Comments on Gay Rights, Church-State Separation

Just after John Oliver’s pointed take on “prosperity” televangelists, Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Dallas-based megachurch pastor, best-selling author and media personality once described by TIME magazine as possibly “the next Billy Graham,” launches a four-week test run of a new daily talk show today. But Jakes has spent much of the last two weeks responding to a backlash from conservative evangelical Christians over comments he made about gay rights and church-state separation.

During an August 3 Huffington Post Live interview with journalist and scholar Marc Lamont Hill, Jakes said his thinking on homosexuality is “evolved and evolving” and that it is “absolutely” possible for the gay community and the black church to coexist. "I think that it's going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different." 

LGBTs of different types and sorts have to find a place of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anyone else. And the church should have the right to have its own convictions and values. If you don’t like those convictions and values, you totally disagree with it, don’t try to change my house, move into your own. And establish that sort of thing, and find somebody who gets what you get about faith, and, trust me, I’ve talked to enough LGBT and they’re not all the same.

Jakes said that members of the LGBT community, like all American citizens, deserve equal protection under the law.

We bought, the church bought into the myth that this was a Christian nation. And once you get past that, which a lot of people are going to criticize me because they’re still gonna think it’s a Christian nation, which is a whole different show, but once you begin to understand that democracy, that a republic actually, is designed to be an overarching system to protect our unique nuances then we no longer look for public policy to reflect biblical ethics…

If we can divide, or what you would call separation of church and state, then we can dwell together more effectively. Because atheists, agnostics, Jews, all types of people, Muslims, pay into the government, the government then cannot reflect one particular view over another, just because we are the dominant group of religious people in the country, because those numbers are changing every day. We need a neutralized government that protects our right to disagree with one another and agree with one another.

Jakes suggested a posture of spiritual humility: “Once you understand that you’re not God, you leave yourself an out clause to grow.”

How did the Religious Right hate this interview? Let us count the ways: Jakes spoke of his thinking on homosexuality “evolving,” a term used by President Obama to describe his move toward support for marriage equality; he encouraged LGBT people to find affirming churches; he spoke positively about church-state separation and described the idea that America is a Christian nation as “a myth.”

The Huffington Post interview was not the first time Jakes has said such things. On the Sunday after the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling, Jakes told his congregation, “I’m not really as concerned about this as a lot of people are. I’m really not as concerned about it. I think that we should not lose our mind about the world being the world and the Church being the Church. This is not a news flash.” He also said, “The Supreme Court is there to make a decision based on constitutional rights and legalities that fit all Americans. They are not debating Scripture," which led to applause from the congregation.

There doesn’t seem to have been a huge reaction to those initial comments on the Court ruling. But after the Huffingon Post interview, Heather Clark at Christian News published  an August 7 story – tagged “Apostasy” – with a headline blaring that Jakes had come out for gay marriage and LGBT churches and was evolving on homosexuality. The article fumed, “Megachurch leader and author T.D. Jakes says that homosexuals should attend congregations that affirm their lifestyle and that politics do not need to reflect biblical ethics, adding that his position on homosexuality is both “evolved and evolving.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must legalize same-sex “marriage,” igniting a battle between the Church and State over the issue. In his comments on Monday, Jakes advocated for the separation of Church and State, which would allow for “all types of people” to have whatever rights they desire despite biblical prohibitions. He said that politics don’t need to be based on Christianity.

That seems to have set off enough outrage that Jakes posted a statement to his Facebook page on August 9 responding to the criticism. Without naming Clark or Christian News by name, Jakes slammed his critics:

Just because a so-called Christian publication chooses to misconstrue my words using lazy journalistic tactics to further their own agenda and draw attention to their site does not make their statements an accurate depiction of what I said or meant.

In that August 9 statement, Jakes affirmed his religious opposition to same-sex marriage while also reiterating his stance separating his religious beliefs from public policy positions, saying, “For the record, I do not endorse same sex marriage but I respect the rights that this country affords those that disagree with me.” His statement, which attracted hundreds of comments, also said, “I have come to respect that I can't force my beliefs on others by controlling public policy for tax payers and other U.S. citizens. Jesus never sought to change the world through public policy but rather through personal transformation.”

For the Religious Right, them’s fightin’ words. On August 10, Jennifer LeClaire at Charisma wrote, “Leaders from across the body of Christ were contacting me all weekend” about Jakes’ interview. The Washington Times also reported on the controversy. LeClaire took note of Jakes’ clarification on Facebook, but seemed unsure whether it was enough, noting that anti-gay activist Michael Brown was asking for more.

Brown’s column, which circulated on right-wing media, said Jakes’ HuffPo comments “appeared to be intentionally ambiguous.”

At best, your comments left your hearers in the dark; at worst, they gave the impression that you now support same-sex “marriage.”

Surely this is not a minor issue, and surely a shepherd has a responsibility to the sheep. What, dear sir, do you believe?

Brown seemed particularly offended that Jakes had encouraged LGBT Christians to find a church that they were comfortable with.

I thought the church was called to bring people to Jesus, to stand for righteousness, to care for the needy, to shine like light in the darkness, to declare God’s will and to live it out. And don’t you have a responsibility as a leader to warn people about deception?

He also took umbrage with the idea that the U.S. as Christian nation is a myth, and the suggestion that Christians shouldn't expect public policy to reflect biblical ethics, asking whether Jakes would have said the same about slavery or rape.

But is it a myth that America was founded on Christian principles and that our founders presupposed that Christian religion would be the foundation of democracy and morality? Is it a myth that, throughout our history, we have overwhelmingly professed to be Christian in large majority?

On August 11, Jakes posted another, somewhat exasperated comment to Facebook, noting that his answer to Marc Lamont Hill had spurred “a virulent diatribe in cyber-Christian land.” He said “the vast majority of people” seemed to understand his first clarification, but that for those who didn’t, he would try again, “rather than play ‘whack-a-mole’ with the online Christian media.” And, he predicted, “there are those that will never be satisfied.” From his second clarification:

I firmly believe that marriage is ordained by God as a union between a man and a woman… My stance on the topic has never wavered. It is fixed, steadfast and well documented...I believe that all sex outside of that sacred union is sin and that would include but is not limited to, homosexuality…

I also believe in balancing that truth with grace, so that the word becomes the personification of Jesus Christ, his love, mercy and compassion…Because truth absent of grace fails to exemplify my heart or the heart of the Father, I draw the line at the extra-biblical exercise of calling people names, ostracizing or humiliating them because our beliefs fall on opposite sides of the spiritual chasm.

That attitude hasn’t shifted the tide in the battle for men’s souls in the last 30 years…

My hope is that the church will always be “evolving” in how we address and minister to the LGBT community in ways that are in line with our biblically-based beliefs without losing sight of Christ like compassion.

On Wednesday, Jennifer LeClaire at Charisma said that the second “crystal clear” statement from Jakes “should put an end to the questioning.” But as Jakes had predicted, some people are still not satisfied.

Back at Christian News, far-right activist Jesse Lee Peterson slammed Jakes for trying to “ride two horses at the same time” in an attempt to “appease” both the “homosexual” and Christian community.

“He’s trying to back pedal by lying about what he said and what his intent was behind what he said,” Peterson told Christian News Network. “For this man to speak out of both sides of his mouth indicates that he is a hypocrite.”

He said that he doesn’t believe Jakes’ comments to the Huffington Post were misconstrued, but rather that Jakes’ was telling the outlet—as reported—that while he has personal beliefs about homosexuality, he simultaneously believes that homosexuals should have their “rights” as the nation operates outside of biblical values—and in that sense, Jakes does support same-sex “marriage.”

…Peterson also expressed concern about Jakes’ remarks asserting that homosexuals should attend churches that affirm their beliefs instead of seeking to change Bible-based churches… “A real man of God would not suggest that a homosexual go to a church that agrees with their lifestyle,” Peterson added. “He would suggest that they repent and turn to God.”

On Thursday, Joseph Mattera, who heads the U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Elders, weighed in via Charisma specifically to challenge Jakes’ comments “related to biblical ethics and society.”

The fact is, the USA is no longer a Christian nation. But that is different from saying it should not be a Christianized nation and/or that it was never originally founded upon Christian principles. 

The writings demonstrating America's Christian history are so numerous I will not attempt to debate that in this article. Suffice it to say that the wording of the Declaration of Independence showed a Christian worldview, the U.S. Constitution was replete with principles from Scripture, and all the original state constitutions based their civic laws as well as their public school education on the teaching of Scripture. 

Furthermore there was at least one Supreme Court justice who declared that America is a Christian nation.

…Jakes believes it is possible to have "neutrality" in regards to the ethos of a nation and its government. However, neutrality is impossible because every human government is based on some religious, ideological and philosophical foundation. Either it is man centered or God centered.

…Throughout human and biblical history, God's kingdom has been set against the kingdom and pride of men… God's Word never separates faith from policy and politics. There is no neutrality!

Political leaders who do not represent God's law/Word are illegitimate in the eyes of God and will ultimately be judged for their rebellious autonomy.

And on Friday, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer entered the fray. Fischer said Jakes’ comments were “enormously troublesome” and complained that he “couldn’t make sense” of Jakes’ clarification. Fischer was offended by Jakes’ “enormously problematic” description of the “myth” of the U.S. as a Christian Nation. He said he didn’t even know where to begin to describe how troubling it is that Jakes said policy shouldn’t be counted on to reflect biblical views. And he denounced Jakes’ description of homosexuality as a complicated issue.

“No it’s not, T.D. Jakes. Homosexuality is not a complex issue. It is an abomination. I mean, how simple and unambiguous is that? There’s nothing complex about that. It is contrary to the will of God. It is sexual perversity. What’s complicated about that?”

This isn’t the first time Jakes has found himself targeted by fellow Christians. He has previously faced criticism for preaching a prosperity gospel and teaching a Oneness Pentecostal theology that differs from traditional Christian understanding of the Trinity. Jakes publicly committed himself to a more orthodox understanding of the Trinity in 2012 under questioning from Mark Driscoll, then-head of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church – though it did not satisfy all his critics.

Os Hillman: You Too Can Profit From God's Coming Judgment

If you’re trying to make plans for the Last Days, Religious Right commentators are making it a little hard to pick a date. As Brian noted this morning, WND news editor Leo Hohmann focused on various prophecies suggesting something cataclysmic is in store for September 23, 2015. But he also mentioned another sign in the heavens: “The Shemitah year comes to a climax on the Hebrew calendar date of Elul 29, which is Sept. 13 on the Gregorian calendar.”

If the reference to a Shemitah year has you scratching your head, Dominionist Os Hillman comes to the rescue via Charisma News with a question that has certainly been on our minds: “Are We Entering a Modern-Day Amorite Judgment?”

Hillman, who just last week was suggesting that God is using Donald Trump to wake up America, draws on the teaching of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, the end-times author who says the 9/11 attacks are part of God’s judgment on America. In his book the Harbinger, Cahn said America’s current perils were foretold in the Old Testament. Hillman reports that Cahn has also written a book about The Mystery of the Shemitah.

The premise of the book is that in Jewish history and custom there was something called the Year of Jubilee. Every 49 years and every seventh year the people of Israel were to forgive their debts and allow their land to rest. The word Shemitah is most often translated as "the release" or "the remission." The English word remission is defined as "the cancellation or reduction of a debt or penalty."…

When people do not voluntarily release debt, God causes a forced debt release through a financial collapse. However, people lose their assets in this involuntary debt purge which leads to recessions, depressions, foreclosures and bankruptcies….

OK, it gets a little dense here, but let’s follow along:

Shemitah became the name of the last day of the seventh year, whereas Elul 29, became known as the Day of Remission. But it also became the name of the Sabbath year in its entirety. The seventh year would become known as the year of the Shemitah….So the word Shemitah covers both the seventh year and the last day of that 7th year. There's a reason for that. That last day of Elul 29 is the year's crescendo, it's peak and combination-the Remission of the Year for Remission.

In a sense, everything about the Shemitah year builds up to that final day, when everything is released, remitted and wiped away in one day—or, more specifically, to the eve of that day, to the final sunset.

Let’s get to next month’s cataclysm:

Rabbi Cahn has documented when the last seven major stock market crashes have taken place. He cites each of these have taken place in a Shemitah year: the seventh year of a seven-year cycle.

The 2007-2008 financial crash took place in a Shemitah year. 2015 is the seventh year of a seven-year Shemitah period.

The final day of the Shemitah year will be Sunday, September 13, 2015 which is also Elul 29, the last day of the Shemitah seventh year. The last open day of the markets will fall on Sept. 11, 2015 two days before Elul 29. The greatest stock market crashes have all been on these Elul 29 days, the last day of a Shemitah year.

Consider the following, arranged by the Shemitah years, the event, and the percentage the stock market crashed:

  • 1901-1902, Northern Pacific Crisis, 46 percent
  • 1916-1917, 1st World War, 40 percent
  • 1930-1932, Great Depression, 86 percent
  • 1937-1938, Great Depression, 50 percent
  • 1973-1974, Oil Crisis, 45 percent
  • 2000-2001, 911 attacks, crash 37 percent
  • 2007-2008, Mortgage Crisis, 50 percent
  • Now: 2015 Shemitah year—Sept. 13, Elul 29, last day of Shemitah year

But who are the Amorites? Well, it’s complicated.

In many ways I see the current crisis as a time of coming into a maturity of a judgment from God on mammon and greed in society worldwide. It is similar to the time when God caused the people of Israel to be freed while at the same time they went into the promised land to judge the Amorites. The iniquity of the Amorites had come to maturity and God was now judging the Amorites through the nation of Israel.

For clarification, “judging the Amorites” meant slaughtering them. So if we are in for an “Amorite judgment,” that doesn’t sound so good. But there is an upside: Hillman says that whatever “shaking” God has in store will open the door to needed revival.

Could we now be entering a modern-day version of the Amorite judgment in the world whereby God will accomplish two things again—exercise judgment while bringing a much-needed spiritual awakening? Genesis 15 describes the judgment of the Amorites when God told Abraham that his seed would go into exile in Egypt for 400 years, and then would come out, with God's help, and possess the land.

Have we come to a point in world history where God is saying, "Enough is enough" and He is now judging the financial systems of the world similar to the 400-year time with Amorites? I am not a prophet, but we certainly see a shaking throughout the world. The judgment of the Amorites ushered in the people of God to take the land. Regardless of whether this is true, I do believe this is ushering in a time when the church can make the greatest impact on the culture if we press into God during this season. The church has been in much prayer over the last decade asking God for revival….

Unlike other nations, there is a call of God on America. We had a spiritual birth as a nation. God will not allow His children and His nation to wander without reproofing sin as a good Father should. If there is no shaking then we have no hope for us. It is the only way to revival.

Ever the optimist, or ever the businessman, Hillman says believers can profit if they prepare:

How can believers take advantage of this season? If we are prepared this could be the greatest wealth transfer we have ever seen in our lifetime, or it can be a devastating time if you are not prepared.

Hillman asks for readers’ email address in order to get his preparation tips.

Let’s assume a major financial crash might happen as a result of the Shemitah year. What should you do now? Here are some steps I have taken along with many others I know who have taken them. Keep in mind that you must be directed by the Holy Spirit in your own preparation. God told Jeremiah to buy a piece of land when he knew his nation was going to be invaded by Babylon. Obeying God is not always logical.

  1. Get out of debt if you can. Now is not the time to purchase a major purchase like a home.
  2. Get out of the stock market – we expect a correction of at least 50% of its current value.
  3. Diversify – keep your funds in different places. Major banks may not be safe during this time. Smaller community banks tend to be safer.
  4. Cash – have some cash on hand in a safe place in your home or other location.
  5. Risk capital – use your risk capital to invest in things that may actually go up during a downturn in the stock market. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) might be a consideration. Talk to your investment adviser.
  6. Sell your home – this might seem radical, but if you do not plan to stay in your home for a very long time, it would be a good time to sell and use those proceeds to buy a home much cheaper during the downturn. You could purchase a home for 30-60% less if what we think happens actually happens.
  7. Cash Investments – Oversees there are banks and bonds that are paying a negative interest rank to depositors. Why would anyone do that? It is because they are looking for a safe haven because they believe what is coming could cause them to lose those funds if not placed in a safe place. US Treasury Bills are a safe investment for sums of cash right now. Go to to learn more.

If there is a significant downturn and people are thrust into adversity, then this will be an opportunity for those who plan well to minister to those who did not. It is not a strategy to hoard or prepare out of fear, but a strategy to be a blessing to others should such an event occur. It is a strategy to benefit for yourself and others through wise planning.


Liberty Counsel Tells Kentucky Clerk To Defy Federal Court Ruling, Keep Refusing Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel, which opposes LGBT equality in the U.S. and around the world, has been urging resistance in the form of mass civil disobedience to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. On Wednesday, a federal court ruled against Liberty Counsel and its client, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has refused on religious grounds to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples.  U.S. District Judge David Bunning  issued a preliminary injunction ordering her to do her job and comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Bunning, a Bush appointee, stated the issue this way:

At its core, this civil action presents a conflict between two individual liberties held sacrosanct in American jurisprudence. One is the fundamental right to marry implicitly recognized in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The other is the right to free exercise of religion explicitly guaranteed by the First Amendment. Each party seeks to exercise one of these rights, but in doing so, they threaten to infringe upon the opposing party’s rights. The tension between these constitutional concerns can be resolved by answering one simple question: Does the Free Exercise Clause likely excuse Kim Davis from issuing marriage licenses because she has a religious objection to samesex marriage? For reasons stated herein, the Court answers this question in the negative.

The judge analyzed the case under the U.S. Constitution, the Kentucky state constitution, and the Kentucky Religious Freedom Act (which is patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act). He considered and rejected various arguments raised by Liberty Counsel defending Davis’s right to refuse to provide marriage licenses.

Davis contends that “[c]ompelling all individuals who have any connection with the issuance of marriage licenses . . . to authorize, approve, and participate in that act against their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, without providing accommodation, amounts to an improper religious test for holding (or maintaining) public office.” The Court must again point out that the act of issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple merely signifies that the couple has met the legal requirements to marry. It is not a sign of moral or religious approval. The State is not requiring Davis to express a particular religious belief as a condition of public employment, nor is it forcing her to surrender her free exercise rights in order to perform her duties. Thus, it seems unlikely that Davis will be able to establish a violation of the Religious Test Clause….

As the Court has already pointed out, Davis is simply being asked to signify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. The State is not asking her to condone same-sex unions on moral or religious grounds, nor is it restricting her from engaging in a variety of religious activities. Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs. She may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.

Liberty Counsel has filed an appeal of the ruling and requested a stay. Chairman Mat Staver denounced the judge’s ruling:

“Judge Bunning’s decision equated Kim’s free exercise of religion to going to church. This is absurd! Christianity is not a robe you take off when you leave a sanctuary,” said Staver. “The First Amendment guarantees Kim and every American the free exercise of religion, even when they are working for the government.”

“Kim Davis cannot license something that is prohibited by her religious convictions,” Staver continued. “To provide a license is to provide approval and places a legal authority behind what is being licensed. The First Amendment protects actions and not mere thought. Kim Davis should not be forced to violate her religious beliefs,” Staver concluded.

This morning, Davis’s office defied the Judge Bunning’s order and turned away gay couples who sought marriage licenses.  According to the Associated Press, “Davis wasn't at her office Thursday, but deputy clerk Nathan Davis said the office was advised by its attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel to continue refusing same-sex couples as it appeals.”

Last year, after a federal court struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex couples getting married, Staver and anti-gay activist Matt Barber urged magistrates in the state with similar religious objections not to resign but to “stand their ground” and refuse to obey the ruling.  

Alan Keyes: No Self-Respecting Conservative Would Vote For 'Socialist' Trump

Far-right activist and perennial candidate Alan Keyes is fuming about conservatives’ embrace of Donald Trump. Writing in BarbWire, Keyes warns, “Trump stands for socialism, competently imposed.” Discussing Trump’s onetime support for single payer healthcare, he declares, “Trump doesn’t oppose socialism. He opposes what he sees as the incompetent administration of socialism.”

Keyes urges conservatives to pay more attention to Trump’s record than to his campaign rhetoric, calling Trump “a leftist Democrat” who “is not now nor has he ever been a conservative — in principle or in the policies of the candidates he has supported.” He says conservatives have been “mesmerized” by Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.

I’ve often told people that the only thing worse than the incompetent socialism we’ve seen around the world would be socialism, competently imposed. As someone like Solzhenitsyn well understood, the real objection to the socialist ideology isn’t just its failure to deliver “the goods.” It’s the fact that it invites people to understand those goods in strictly materialistic terms. By doing so socialism denies the spirit God shares with humanity, thereby endangering our living souls.

But exactly what significance do spirit and soul have for someone like Donald Trump, who professes to be a Christian, yet frankly admits that he has never seriously sought God’s forgiveness. Instead, he says, if and when he has sinned, he just fixes it himself. This is precisely the delusion that lies at the heart of the socialist ideology– the delusion of God-denying self-sufficiency that obscures the intangible essence of human being, so that people may be regarded as nothing more than complex arrangements of soulless matter, no more intrinsically significant than the dust. The literally atrocious aspects of the socialist regimes of the 20th century were not a function of the incompetence with which they were administered. They were the inevitable result of the degraded view of human personality the socialist ideology entails and inculcates.

Even though Keyes ran for the U.S. Senate three times as the Republican Party nominee (twice in Maryland and once in Illinois), he left the GOP after his second failed bid for the presidential nomination in 2008. It seems clear that he has lost faith and patience with Republican leaders and voters:

I’m tempted to believe that no self-respecting conservative could possibly be that thoughtless, but then I remember that many “conservatives” who still accept the GOP delusion are self-professed, not self-respecting. If they were the latter, they would cast aside the elitist faction’s sham two-party con game, and devote all their energy to building an authentically conservative political vehicle, compatible with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the liberty of the American people. They would also reject, out of hand, whichever candidate the elitist faction sham sends forth to beguile us into surrendering it. Donald Trump is such a candidate. So in fact are all the men and woman who have “made their bones” in either of the elitist gangs now masquerading as opposing political parties.


Ben Carson's Bible-Based Tax System and Other GOP Adventures In 'Biblical Economics'

In last night’s Republican presidential debate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he would base a new tax system on the biblical system of tithing. “I think God is a pretty fair guy,” he said.

And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you’ve had a bumper crop, you don’t owe me triple tithes. And if you’ve had no crops at all, you don’t owe me no tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about that.

And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and…

Carson has plenty of company on the far right. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has declared, “God believes in a flat tax.” On his radio show last year, Fischer said, “That’s what a tithe is, it’s a tax.”

Of course, that kind of flat tax would amount to a massive tax cut for the richest Americans and a tax hike on the poorest. So it’s not terribly surprising the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has teamed up with the Religious Right to promote the idea that progressive taxation is an un-Christian idea. AFP joined Religious Right groups to create the Freedom Federation, one of the right-wing coalitions that sprung up in opposition to Barack Obama’s election as president. The coalition’s founding “Declaration of American Values” declares its allegiance to a system of taxes that is “not progressive in nature.”

David Barton, the pseudo-historian, GOP activist, and Glenn Beck ally, is a major promoter of the idea that the Bible opposes progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, and minimum wage. Barton’s views are grounded in the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement whose thinking has infused both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements with its notion that God gave the family, not the government, responsibility for education — and the church, not the government, responsibility for taking care of the poor. 

That’s how we have Republican members of Congress supporting cuts in food stamps by appealing to the Bible. And how we get Samuel Rodriguez, the most prominent conservative Hispanic evangelical leader, saying that a desire to “punish success” — i.e. progressive taxes — “is anti-Christian and anti-American.”

This notion that laissez-faire economics, small government, and flat taxes are divine mandates, and that taxation is theft, is also how we end up with the Heritage Foundation promoting the idea that “[t]hose who esteem the Bible should also applaud St. Milton Friedman and other Church of Chicago prelates, because their insights amplify what the Bible suggests about economics.” And the idea that unions and collective bargaining are unbiblical is how we get Religious Right groups celebrating Scott Walker’s war on unions.

Scott Walker’s False Claim That America Shares His Anti-Choice Extremism

Miranda reported this morning on Mike Huckabee’s radical and dangerous plan to give fertilized eggs full constitutional rights by declaring them to be human beings. But Huckabee wasn’t the only one at last night's GOP presidential debate making extreme statements when it comes to women’s health care.

Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Walker about his position that all abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Walker did not answer Kelly’s direct question of whether he would really let a woman die rather than have an abortion. Instead he declared his “pro-life” credentials and said, “I’ve said many a time that the unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of the mother.”

Of course, those “alternatives” don’t always exist, and the experiences of some women in Catholic hospitals make it clear that women’s lives are at stake when no-exceptions abortion bans are in place.

Walker asserted, “I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”

That statement is utterly false. Fewer than one in five Americans believes, like Walker, that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A recent poll for Vox found that more than two-thirds of Americans would NOT like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Kelly noted in her question that 83 percent of Americans believe abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life.

Gallup reported in May that more Americans describe themselves as pro-choice than pro-life (50 – 44 percent). And even that question understates the depth of Americans’ support for women having access to safe and legal abortion. Researcher Tresa Undem told ThinkProgress recently that people in focus groups are stunned when presented with data about the range of attacks and restrictions on women’s health care:

“When you get in a focus group with people and you show them the entirely of the restrictions and exactly what’s going on, there is total outrage — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in fifteen years of doing public opinion research,” she said.

Of course, last night’s debate was not the first time Walker has lied about his position on women’s access to abortion. In a television ad last year he said that an anti-abortion bill he was pushing “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor,” which is basically the definition of being pro-choice. But in May, Walker explained to social conservative leaders that he was using purposefully deceptive language — in the words of anti-abortion activist Marjorie Dannenfelser, “using the language of the other side to support our own position” — a strategy she found impressive. “It’s the whole style of communication and content that you want to see moving into a presidential cycle that will make it different from 2012.”

I’m guessing that Dannenfelser was delighted by Walker’s “everyday America” line.

Fox And Its GOP Friends Stick With Offensive ‘Illegals’

At last night’s presidential debates hosted by Fox News, it was jarring to hear Fox personalities and Republican presidential candidates alike using the derogatory term “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants.

Fox and other conservative media outlets have rejected efforts — including Colorlines’ the Drop the I-Word campaign —  to stop using terms like “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien.” Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in 2011, started the following year to challenge media outlets’ use of the term “illegal immigrant.” In January, said its policy is to describe immigrants who are in the U.S. without authorization as “illegal immigrants,” but Fox News Latino reportedly does not use the term.

Last November, Fusion’s Felix Salmon published an overview of the policies various news organizations have adopted. Some, including the Associated Press, no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.” Some, like the New York Times, still do while encouraging reporters to also consider alternatives in a given context. Some find alternatives like “undocumented” or “unauthorized” to be confusing or bureaucratic.

But the sneering shorthand “illegals” is worse and there is a stronger consensus against its use — but not a universal one. In January, the Santa Barbara News-Press generated controversy, including vandalism of the paper’s building, when it used the term “illegals” in a headline. Fox ran a story about the vandalism with screen text declaring “Trouble with Illegals.”

A copyediting blog, commenting on the Santa Barbara controversy, declared it is no longer possible for journalists to “claim that the word illegal [used as a noun] can be neutral or objective.” Even the Wall Street Journal, whose stylebook says “illegal immigrant” is its preferred term, instructs, “Don’t use illegal or illegals as a noun.”

Despite having low expectations for Fox and the Republican candidates, it was striking to hear so many uses of “illegal” or “illegals” as a noun. Scanning through transcripts of the debates, I confirmed that Fox’s Bill Hemmer used the term twice in the also-rans debate, and Chris Wallace used it three times in the top ten debate. The term was also used by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, the latter in his sadly memorable formulation about “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.”

This week, New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin wrote a follow-up piece to an article he published last month about immigration policy. In his new commentary, he reflects on feedback he received in opposition to his use of “illegal immigrant.” He says he will no longer use the term because it has become so widely regarded as pejorative.

Toobin says it is “clearly wrong” to use the term as a noun — to call someone “an illegal.” Former New York Times editor and columnist Bill Keller came to the same conclusion in late 2011, with help from readers and colleagues, after a column in which he had used “illegals” as shorthand for “illegal immigrants.”

Of course, given the state of the Republican Party on immigration, there were also plenty of uses of the term “amnesty” by candidates, including Jeb Bush making sure to qualify his support for a path to legal status for people now in the country —  “not amnesty” — and Ted Cruz, who slammed the other candidates for having supported “amnesty.” Bobby Jindal had another of the evening’s most memorable lines, declaring “immigration without assimilation is an invasion.” 

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