Joel's Army and The Call

We wrote about The Call a few times before the rally on the National Mall earlier this month, but the Southern Poverty Law Center has released a fascinating new report entitled "Arming" for Armageddon that puts its activities in an entirely new light.

It turns out that The Call and its founder Lou Engle are closely aligned with a militant Christian dominionist movement called "Joel's Army" run by self-proclaimed prophet and faith-healer Todd Bentley:

Joel's Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism.

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According to Joel's Army doctrine, the enforcers of the five-fold ministry will be members of the final generation, for whom the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade constituted a new Passover.

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Bentley, who claims to be a supernatural healer, is no less over the top, playing his biker-punk appearance and heavy metal theatrics to the hilt. On YouTube, where clips of his most dramatic healings have been condensed into a three-minute highlight reel, Bentley describes God ordering him to kick an elderly lady in the face: "I am thinking, 'God, why is the power of God not moving?' And He said, 'It is because you haven't kicked that women in the face.' And there was, like, this older lady worshipping right in front of the platform and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and the gift of faith came on me. He said, 'Kick her in the face ... with your biker boot.' I inched closer and I went like this [makes kicking motion]: Bam! And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God."

The atmosphere is less charged with violence at "The Call," a 12-hour revival of up to 20,000 youths led by Joel's Army pastor Lou Engle and held every summer in a major American city (this year's event was scheduled for Washington, D.C. in August).

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This March, at a "Passion for Jesus" conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.

"I believe we're headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground," said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.

"There's an Elijah generation that's going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion," Engle continued. "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire."

For his part, Bentley's prestige and influence are suffering at the moment, thanks to the announcement that he was divorcing his wife.