Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Fun with front companies in action

I've posted quite a bit on how dominionist groups--in particular the Assemblies and its own front the FGBMFI--like to set up "Business ministries" and front companies specifically for purposes of "bait and switch" evangelism, not to mention setting up "parallel economy" alternatives for dominionists. The Assemblies in particular also has a habit of partnering with known dominionist-friendly corporations.

One of the more interesting players in this is News Media Corporation, which is a company that owns approximately 71 newspapers in nine states; they've become a bit infamous in newspaper circles for buying up community tabloid newspapers with some skull-and-dagger tactics.

The CEO, John Hopkins, runs not only News Media Corporation, but also the Rochelle News-Leader (in Illinois) and a string-music publisher.

One of the things News Media Corporation is *very* careful not to mention on its website is the fact that it's being used as a front for "bait and switch evangelism" and support of dominionism--for *that*, you have to go to a little magazine called Today's Pentecostal Evangel which is published by none other than the Assemblies of God, aka the world's first dominionist denomination...

The fact that this showed up in TPE is in and of itself a pretty big danger sign--just about the only people TPE interviews are either a) head-honchos in the neopente dominionist community (and often preference given to those who are linked with the Assemblies, like the LaHayes) or b) Assemblies members happily bragging about how they are using their businesses as fronts for "bait and switch" and promoting the dominionist party plan.

This decided lack of warm and fuzzy feeling is not helped by the very first paragraph (noting that he *and* his vice president are members of Rockford (IL) AoG; the Rockford church is in fact listed as one of the Assemblies churches that qualifies as a megachurch (along with the group I escaped) and one which is not only blatantly dominionist but, in a pattern repeated in Assemblies churches worldwide, happily hosts dominionist groups. (Even worse, like most Assemblies megachurches, it's an independent Assemblies church--meaning that, unlike most churches, the pastor pretty much owns everything and there is even *LESS* meaningful oversight than even the "church-owned" Assemblies churches; the church bylaws also indicate that in practice it would be impossible to reform the church).

It also does *not* help that the two CEOs in question also apparently teach an adult Sunday school class called "Principles of Success" (which is yet more indoctrination and also gives them a chance to promote "Christian Business" schemes--and encourage people to join the FGBMFI).

The article is particularly noteworthy because, among other things, it is one of those rare times that the "private face" of dominionism really shows--publically, they act like a regular news corporation, but *privately* (to Assemblies members in an Assemblies-run publication) they reveal what they're *really* up to.

Among other fun things, they publically reveal that they've been borging newspapers for the purposes of "bait and switch" evangelism and to explicitly fund dominionist groups:

Evangel: What are some keys to the success of your company?

John: We focus on newspapers in communities of 4,500 to 50,000. God has given us a unique financial model and formulas that have allowed us to have a high growth rate without getting over-extended financially. And from the beginning God has supplied key people to help us.

We also tithe. In the early ’80s, I quit tithing for several reasons, and the business went down like a rock. When I started tithing again — which I did quickly — we went straight up.

Mike: The mission of our company is to be the best small-town newspaper company in the nation, to raise finances which are dedicated to God, and provide careers where people’s God-given talents can be developed.

(In other words, they're going specifically after small-town papers to borg them--small-town papers who may not be in the best shape financially or may be the only local news outlet--and at least ten percent of the profit (and probably closer to thirty to fifty percent, which is actually a *more* typical tithing rate in Assemblies churches into "name it and claim it") is being funneled into the coffers of folks like Focus on the Family and *worse*.)

The article gives a rare and explicit praise of dominion theology (and gives you an insight to how dominion theology and "spiritual warfare" is *really* promoted in the Assemblies):
Evangel: How do you choose between expressing personal beliefs in your newspapers and objective reporting?

Mike: Every time we buy a newspaper, we’re taking back dominion of an area of the media that rightly belongs to God. We believe it is our responsibility to lead with a strong moral voice in each town.

(OK, let's review. They're quite explicitly taking over newspapers which are the *only local outlet for newspaper media* in these towns, and they're doing it to "claim dominion" over the media. What this means in practice--things are going to be slanted to the right to the extent Fox News is going to seem downright moderate in comparison. Oh, and pretty much if you want the local news, you're going to have to deal with the dominionist slant. Good luck on getting the ACLU or Americans United adverts published.)

The article further reveals that the CEO is in fact a deacon at aforementioned Assemblies megachurch (which *really* does not give me the warm and fuzzies here--among other things, it's a deacon at the Assemblies church I escaped that runs the state AFA affiliate, one of the most virulently anti-gay groups in the nation short of Fred Phelps) and they are, in fact, explicitly giving more than "ten percent" to the church:
Evangel: How do you balance family, business and church?

Mike: I have my calling — what God has designed me to do. Then I have my family second. Third, I have my ministry.

For instance, I’ve been called to run a newspaper company and to raise seed money for gospel ministry. I’ve also been called to teach the Word. My family has to be next. I balance the time by putting it in that priority. I don’t spend time in areas that are not my calling, my family or my ministry. If there is anything outside those boundaries, I need to evaluate and discard it if it is interfering with those areas.

John: If you have your relationships in order — God first, then family and then business — that’s the priority order I look at. You must do an exemplary job in your vocation or career. To do a poor job there is going to result in a bad witness.

For example, let’s say Mike, who is a deacon, has to choose between attending a fairly routine church board meeting or representing our company in an important issue somewhere across the country. I would say, "Mike, you’re going to represent the company because that’s your main calling and your main witness."

Now, say it’s a very important board meeting, where they will vote on a building project. Representing the company somewhere else in the country can be done later or somebody else can go.

You have to look at each case and use the brain God gave you.

(And sadly, this pretty much IS dominionist thinking--fuck the family, fuck other needs, that thirty percent of income as "seed money" is most important. (I myself grew up with the consequences of this, and it was one of the few things my mom and dad WOULD go into near fisticuffs over.) Of course, it's also a great way to make people in those churches who *have* to work to feed their kids feel really guilty...and it's this thinking that allows dominionist families to commit religiously motivated child abuse with "chastening rods" to "beat the spirit of rebellion out", women being forced to live with abusive husbands because "God hates divorce", and LGBT kids to be beaten, sent to "de-gaying" centers or "Bible boot camps", or thrown out (or the kid being forced to flee his home in fear of his life)--in their view, dominionism comes before family.)

Oh, and did I mention that the two CEOs also promote Dominionist American History Revisionism and also promote hijacking businesses as a way of "claiming dominion"? Lest people think I'm making this stuff up about the heavy, heavy emphasis of "naming and claiming" countries and territories as one of *the* core bits of Assemblies doctrine (and their main rationale for dominionism), let's hear it from the deacon's mouth himself:
Evangel: Anything else?

John: Businesses were primarily owned and run by Christians for the first 200 years of this country. Something happened about 100 years ago when Christians retreated into just their churches — the Christian ghetto mentality. So Satan was easily able to fill that vacuum by hijacking some of those businesses. God is calling people to get outside the walls of their churches and take their places in the world.

Mike: What’s going to turn this nation around is Christians taking leadership roles in the culture. Faithful Christians spend about two hours a week in church; they spend the rest of their lives outside those four walls. Unfortunately, some go into hiding when they’re outside those walls.

In whatever ministry, business or secular vocation God has placed them, they are to take dominion over that. The world outside the walls of the local church belongs to God; it doesn’t belong to Satan. Your business, your job, your home, your neighborhood and city belong to God — no matter what they look like right now. We’re about equipping people to take dominion for God where they spend the bulk of their lives. That’s where ministry is. That’s where Jesus spent most of His time.

(And yes, folks, the fifty-year-plan of the Assemblies dominionists is laid out in stark detail: Non-obnoxious Christians "aren't really Christian", dominionists must take over all leadership roles to bring the Pax Dominionista, if you aren't obnoxious "you aren't Christian", oh, and we really ran the country in the beginning (no matter that pentecostalism didn't come about till 1906, the Holiness movement didn't start till the 1840s, "rapture theology" was unknown in the Christian church till Darby's writings in the 1840s, "dominion theology" pretty much *originated* in the Assemblies of God, and the Founding Fathers were *deists* for the most part (and Thomas Jefferson was damn near a modern humanistic atheist).)

Mind you, this is by *far* not the only piece of work like that in the pages of that magazine--the right-hand bar actually has something like eight years of archives where the actual face of Assemblies-style dominionism is brought to the world to see via interviews with folks in the dominionist movement. It gives you all too much of an insight on just *how* dominionists plan to take over the country...a terrifying, frightening glimpse.