Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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A revealing look onthe public/private face of dominionist churches

As reported by several blogs, including http://nonprophet.typepad.com/nonprophet/2005/05/ted_haggard_don.html, there apparently was a *very* interesting memo sent from the head pastor of New Life Church (a dominionist church in Colorado Springs, Colorado directly associated with the USAF religious coercion scandal and also at the heart of much of the dominionist initiatives out of that town).

I've taken the liberty of including the entire text below:

From: Pastor Ted Haggard <ted.haggard@newlifechurch.org>
To: n.prophet@gmail.com
Date: May 10, 2005 6:51 PM
Subject: Media Attention

Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church:

I just received the following e-mail and thought you ought to know about some developments. Yesterday a small team of Evangelical leaders (Sunday Adelaja from Kiev, Michael Little, President of CBN, Jay Sekulow from the Center for Law and Justice in Washington, Brian and Bobbie Houston from Hillsong in Sidney, Australia, and Dr. Brent Parsley from the great New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, USA) and myself spent just about three hours with Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Finance for Israel near/on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Then we were in Jerusalem and in two hours we're leaving to meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. These discussions are very important regarding Israel's understanding and relationship with Evangelicals worldwide, and our relationship with Jewish people and Israel.

Now we're heading back to the United States and will be in church on Sunday, but I wanted you to see this e-mail about some upcoming media attention that was just forwarded to me so you can help me. Why? Because it indicates the importance of all of our doing a good job. The Lord has sovereignly placed all of us, as a congregation, in a position where we are representing born-again, Bible-believing Christians to groups outside our normal spheres of influence.

Here are a few tips:

1. If a camera is on you during a worship service, worship; don't dance, jump, etc. Secular people watching TV are touched with authentic worship, but jumping and dancing in church looks too bizarre for most to relate to. Remember, people watching TV news are not experiencing what you are experiencing. They are watching and thinking. Worship indicates sincerity, dancing and jumping looks like excessive emotionalism.

2. If reporters want to interview you, talk with them, but use words that make sense to them. Speak their language. Don't talk about the devil, demons, voices speaking to you, God giving you supernatural revelations, etc. Instead, tell your personal story in common sense language (I was a drunk but God changed me and now I'm sober, I'm grateful, etc.).

3. Don't be nervous. Be friendly and open. Reporters typically don't have an agenda, they authentically want to know what we do and why we do it. For example, Barbara Walters is working on a story about heaven and will interview me and get some supporting shots from the church. She might not use any of it, but she wants to put together an interesting story. Since we believe in heaven, we are, in fact, a good source. So, if she talks with you, don't be spooky or weird. Don't switch into a glassy-eyed heavenly mode, just answer, "Heaven is real. It's the place where God will be fully present with his people. He will reward people in heaven. Heaven is better than Colorado Springs." Say it straight and clear. Don't worry (Yeah, sure!).

Okay, Brent and I are leaving Tel Aviv tonight to speak to a pastor's conference on Wednesday and Thursday morning in Rochester, NY. We're going to a meeting on Thursday night in Washington, then on Friday morning we'll fly to New York to interview with Barbara Walters and then appear on the O'Reilly Factor Friday evening. Then we'll zip home on Saturday to be with YOU on Sunday. Saints, I need your strength. I would love to see you all on Sunday so we can just have a wonderful family time together. I LOVE you!

And I love being your pastor,


Forwarded Message:

Can't wait to hear about your meeting with the Prime Minister! I'm sure we now have a new plan for world peace, so thanks in advance. ;o)

Okay, I know that you are in the middle of a super-demanding trip, but looking at the upcoming media events, I thought you might like to have an idea of what the next couple weeks will look like:

This Friday (the 13th):

-Interview with Barbara Walters location TBA. Rob (ABC producer) doesn't think that they'll need a back interview because they pulled so many questions from Primary Purpose. Let me know if you'd like me to send a copy to your hotel in NY if you'd like to review any of the details.

-O'Reilly will start taping at 5pm, so a car will pick you up at the ABC taping location and take you to the Fox studio. They would like you to discuss the environment and two other topics that you think are significant for the evangelical community. They are giving you a long block, so 8-12 minutes.

Also this Friday, Dateline will be here in the Springs for theMill.

This Sunday (the 15th):

-Dateline will be here on Sunday.

-An ABC crew for the Barbara Walters special will also be here on Sunday. Although, I'm trying to figure out how that will work best because Dateline will be here, as well. Miss Barbara was a little disgruntled since she has built her career on "firsts" and the Dateline piece will air earlier than the ABC piece... so, note to self: definitely don't chat with Barb about Dateline. Rob (producer for ABC) would LOVE it if you'd touch upon heaven during your sermon Sunday... so, just something to think about...

Next Wednesday (the 18th)

-Tom Brokaw will be here at NLC. His schedule has changed, so he will be arriving in the Springs on Tuesday and would like to spend time with you on Wednesday (instead of Monday). I think that it works out better for you, since you'll have Monday to decompress before the NAE Dream Team meeting in Boulder. Since Tom is not able to attend a Sunday service, I thought it would be great if he went to the staff meeting Wednesday morning and then did his sit down interview with you at afterward. Then, he'd like to do a walk-through of the church with you, and so maybe you two could connect after Executive Staff Meeting?

Whew! Now, we just need CBS (since we have Fox, NBC, and ABC), and we'll have quite the week!


The most interesting bit on the letter, at least to me, is how they actively are encouraging people to hide the fact the church is into deliverance ministry/"Kingdom Now" theology (the bits about not telling the media about "seeing demons" et al) and hiding the fact it's into the whole pentecostal movement/"latter rain"/"third wave" type stuff *period* (the bits about warning about "dancing in the spirit" et al)

This is a rare example from the "inside" on how dominionist groups actively promote a public/private face; this is, however, at the same time not isolated (it is known that Family First, Australia's dominionist political party (and de facto political wing of the Australian AoG), has published similar advisories to its workers (shown when one slipped up if asked if lesbians should be burned at the stake); it is also known that many dominionist denominations have different guidelines for members "in the in crowd" as part of "stealth evangelism" or simply hiding its true theology from the general public).

More backgrounder on this particular dominionist group is at http://www.harpers.org/SoldiersOfChrist.html (and other sites); http://nonprophet.typepad.com/nonprophet/2005/05/the_power_of_ar.html has some interesting info re an interview with the one of the persons in charge at the dominionist group (including the fact that the church may be promoting the use of "correction rods"--rods used to beat children in accordance with the beliefs of some dominionists and as mentioned in Dobson's books and the Babywise series of books by Ezra)
http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2005/05/gay_sex_demons.html has some interesting info re the particular flavour of "deliverance ministry" practiced at New Life Church (which is not dissimilar to what I have seen/experienced in the dominionist group I walked away from)

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