One of the things I quickly discovered when I started reading up on the whole Dominionism and New Apostolic Reformation movements was just how quickly you could slide into “Six Degrees of Separation” talk when covering those involved in these movements.
Obviously, not every person who shares a stage with someone like Cindy Jacobs or Lou Engle shares their views, though it is harder for organizers who include activists of this type in their events to make such arguments.
That is what got Janet Porter in trouble and that is why the Freedom Federation, the right-wing supergroup that includes groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, Wallbuilders and dozens of others, has to take responsibility for the decision to include groups like Generals International, Lou Engle and The Call, and Morning Star Ministries among the coalition members.
We haven’t written much about Rick Joyner of Morning Star Ministries, but he runs a distinctly political organization called “The Oak Initiative,” which is also a member of the Freedom Federation, and which has a mission to “find and help develop principled and effective Christian leaders who can mobilize and organize a cohesive force of activated Christians” and place them “on every level where government is found, from the most local to state and national levels.”
The Oak Initiative has a distinctly Dominionist/7 Mountains agenda “to raise up effective leaders for all of the dominant areas of influence in the culture, including: government, business, education, arts and entertainment, family services, media, and the church.” And it also has a Board full of Religious Right activists including Janet Porter, Lou Sheldon, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Cindy Jacobs, Lt.Gen. W.G. “Jerry” Boykin, and Marc Nuttle:
Mr. Nuttle has represented as legal counsel and political counsel, numerous United States House of Representative campaigns, United States Senate campaigns, gubernatorial campaigns, and state House and state Senate campaigns encompassing all states in the continental U.S. He served on Senator Dewey Bartlett’s staff and on Governor Henry Bellmon’s senatorial campaign staff. He has served as counselor to Senator Don Nickles and as advisor to Senator Jim Inhofe. Mr. Nuttle served as field counsel for the 1984 Reagan-Bush Reelect Campaign. In the early 1988 presidential election cycle, he was National Campaign Manager for Pat Robertson’s presidential campaign. He was a senior advisor to George Bush’s presidential campaigns in 1988 and 1992. From 1989 to 1991, he was Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, DC. He was a legal advisor in the Bush-Gore re-count effort in Florida in 2000.
Starting next week, Joyner’s Morning Star Ministries is hosting an event called “The Great Awakening Conference” in South Carolina that includes, among others, Todd Bentley, the founder of Joel’s Army:
Todd Bentley has a long night ahead of him, resurrecting the dead, healing the blind, and exploding cancerous tumors. Since April 3, the 32-year-old, heavily tattooed, body-pierced, shaved-head Canadian preacher has been leading a continuous “supernatural healing revival” in central Florida. To contain the 10,000-plus crowds flocking from around the globe, Bentley has rented baseball stadiums, arenas and airport hangars at a cost of up to $15,000 a day. Many in attendance are church pastors themselves who believe Bentley to be a prophet and don’t bat an eye when he tells them he’s seen King David and spoken with the Apostle Paul in heaven. “He was looking very Jewish,” Bentley notes.
Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read “Joel’s Army.” They’re evidence of Bentley’s generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that’s gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right. According to Bentley and a handful of other “hyper-charismatic” preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel’s Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers.
Back in 2008, Bentley became a superstar hosting these massive rallies that often featured violent acts of “healing”:
He was known to boast about healing through violence. He had been videotaped telling stories about kicking a woman in the face, slamming a crippled woman’s legs against the stage and knocking out a man’s tooth. This was done, he claimed, on behalf of the Holy Spirit.
Bentley’s credibility suffered badly when it was announced that he was divorcing his wife, but Joyner has been steadfastly working on “restoring” Bentley and Bentley even relocated his ministry to operate directly out of Joyner’s Morning Fellowship Church.
As I said earlier, there is a danger in playing “six degrees” with some of these connections … but in this case it seems entire fair to wonder just how extensive the Dominionism/NAR influence is becoming within the contemporary Religious Right movement when groups like Morning Star, Oak Initiative, Generals International, and The Call are being openly welcomed into their political coalitions.