Dark Christianity
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Jeff Sharlet talks about Christian Embassy


Jeff Sharlet's Daily Kos diary goes into more detail about the Christian Embassy and the people who are part of it. It's an interesting and chilling read. Here's an excerpt:

Christian Embassy is political.
Unlike the conservative Family Research Council, which McCullough describes as an explicitly political lobby with which Christian Embassy sometimes coordinates, Christian Embassy focuses on "networking, individual counseling, that kind of thing." McCullough told me that Christian Embassy is apolitical; on the other hand, he also said its ministry has a political impact: "It’s more to help the individual grow as a person in their relationship with God, and then their politics is going to be an outcome."

Christian Embassy believes religion should guide politics.
Christian Embassy believes that politicians, diplomats, and officers should not consider their personal faith separate from their politics and their official duties. McCullough offers as a role model President Bush: "...in terms of the way [Bush] talks, the way he believes, he doesn’t really say ‘Oh I’m going to do religious things now and do other things later.’"

Christian Embassy sees the top brass as its mission field.
McCullough on Christian Embassy’s Pentagon presence: "At the Pentagon, we have a flag officers groups. Your stars, basically, 1-4 stars. We also have a disciple group at the pentagon. And there’s a general Bible study that meets Wednesday morning where 70-120 come. Most of our groups that we organize and work with are at the officer level. Flags, a good percentage. We have about 40 that come or are involved with that."

Christian Embassy is closely involved with political and military officials.
Those who work with Christian Embassy will typically meet in small groups, under the supervision of a counselor like McCullough, for an hour every week. Counselors typically select a scripture verse for discussion and attempt to draw out its "practical" implications, often through application to current events. Participants can and do call on Christian Embassy counselors for additional advice outside of their cell meetings. These counseling sessions typically take place in the officer’s or politician’s office. The most committed participants may travel overseas on behalf of Christian Embassy or arrange their official government travel to leave time for evangelizing work. This work may sometimes be "covert," such as a evangelizing in countries where it’s against the law.

Christian Embassy takes political positions.
Participants may call on Christian Embassy for advice on specific issues. "'What does the Bible say about this?'" is a common question, according to McCullough. He says Christian Embassy will not give explicit policy advice, but as a counselor, he would tell a member of Congress or a military official that a particular position -- pro-choice politics, or pacifism, for instance -- is "contrary to scripture."

Christian Embassy believes the Iraq War may be biblically sanctioned.
On the question of the war in Iraq, McCullough counsels: "We have war all throughout the Bible. Man’s history is war. So what’s the right thing? Not necessarily [the] war in the Bible. But what are you looking for? Is peace possible?" McCullough answered his own question by laughing.

Christian Embassy is a lobby in all but name.
McCullough says Christian Embassy is not a lobbying organization, but describes his work thusly: "I often will go visit a member of Congress and say, ‘Hey, there’s this going on, could you be involved in that?’ ... Or I will recommend to some of these groups that are issue oriented as to who might be interested in helping them. I am aware of where people are. So we do try to connect the dots. Network people." He agrees that Christian Embassy participants use the Christian Embassy network to political advantage, but considers this a positive outcome since it gives ambitious political, diplomatic, and military figures an incentive to get more involved with Christian Embassy’s evangelical theology.

His latest article is in the December "Harpers" (online in January) about how fundementalists are actively trying to rewrite American history to turn historical figures into religious ones. He is also the author of "Jesus Plus Nothing" (the Fellowship) and "Soliders of Christ"- (Ted Haggard's church). He is a careful and reliable researcher, and has revealed some very chilling trends in the ongoing onslaught by certain Christian sects against the Separation clause and the government itself. The Pentagon is merely the tip of the iceberg.

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Rolling Stone: The Young and the Sexless


A fantastic Jeff Sharlet article about the Christian abstinance movement.

What if the true face of the Christian right in America is not that of Dr. James Dobson or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson; not that of an aging, comb-over preacher orange with pancake makeup, smiling orca rows of ungodly white teeth on The O'Reilly Factor or Hardball? Nor that of spittle-flecked Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, roaring that God hates fags? What if the true face of the Christian right is, instead, that of a twenty-four-year-old religious-studies graduate student at New York University?Read more... )

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The Revealer: Destination Christian Nation


The Revealer asks if Europe should be worried about Evangelical politics in the US. The answer is yes. Read more... )

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Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch


The first half of Jeff Sharlet's "Harper's" article Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch" is available on his "Revealer" website. I highly recommend it.

Here's an excerpt:

the city’s mightiest megachurch crests silver and blue atop a gentle slope of pale yellow prairie grass on the outskirts of town. Silver and blue, as it happens, are Air Force colors. New Life Church was built far north of town in part so it would be visible from the Air Force Academy. New Life wanted that kind of character in its congregation.

“Church” is insufficient to describe the complex. There is a permanent structure called the Tent, which regularly fills with hundreds or thousands of teens and twentysomethings for New Life’s various youth gatherings. Next to the Tent stands the old sanctuary, a gray box capable of seating 1,500; this juts out into the new sanctuary, capacity 7,500, already too small. At the complex’s western edge is the World Prayer Center, which looks like a great iron wedge driven into the plains. The true architectural wonder of New Life, however, is the pyramid of authority into which it orders its 11,000 members. At the base are 1,300 cell groups, whose leaders answer to section leaders, who answer to zone, who answer to district, who answer to Pastor Ted Haggard, New Life’s founder.Read more... )

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Intervew with Jeff Sharlet


Jeff Sharlet, who spoke at the Religious Right conference this past weekend, and who wrote "Soldiers of Christ, Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch" in the May issue (on the stands now!) of Harper's Magazine, is interviewed by Kathleen Dunn on Wisconsin Public Radio. It's the 5/5 interview, and you'll need Real Player to listen to it.

Definitely worth your time. If you purchase the magazine, it has pictures of the fantastic paintings at the World Prayer Center that Sharlett describes, including the one with the two sexy angels pouring honey all over this guy, and the fierce warrior angel.

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Another article- from the Washington Times


This article is the Washington Times look at last weekend's conference:

Liberals gather to plumb depths of Christian right
By Jon Ward
Published May 3, 2005

NEW YORK -- The 58-year-old man stepped to the microphone and spoke like a zealous Christian anxious to learn about carrying the Gospel to nonbelievers.

"We're trying to understand these people. How do we reach out to them?" asked Wayne Reagan, 58, a retired Housing Authority official.

But Mr. Reagan was asking how to evangelize believers, specifically Christians, with the gospel of secularism.

Mr. Reagan, who is not religious, attended a conference Friday and Saturday at the City College of New York, called "Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right." The event was sponsored by the New York Open Center, a holistic learning center, and by the People for the American Way Foundation.

Mr. Reagan's question was one example of how liberals are making unprecedented efforts to understand, and even imitate, Christian conservatives. Another conference attendee asked a speaker how to talk to her Christian conservative relatives.Read more... )

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Harpers articles about the Religious Right


I was looking to see if perhaps the May issue of "Harpers" magazine was up yet- it features two articles of great interest to readers here: "Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch" by Jeff Sharlet, and "Feeling the Hate with the National Religous Broadcasters" by Chris Hedges. Both of these writers spoke at the Religous Right conference this past weekend.

I did go digging through the archives and found Sharlett's earlier article, Jesus Plus Nothing" about the enigmatic and secretive "The Family". I also found a Nerve article:Sex As A Weapon is Sharlet's examination of the Christian men's movement the Promise Keepers.

I also found The Apocalypse Will Be Televised" and Life Everlasting. All three articles are fascinating and insightful reading. Sharlet edits the online journal The Revealer.

Happy reading!

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