While Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has recently raised the specter of totalitarian government by warning about "death panels" she claims are part of the Obama administration's health care plan, Palin herself has ties to a prominent Christian pastor who publicly advocates the establishment of a government regime that, in his own words, "may seem like totalitarianism" and would re-educate citizens in 'correct' decision making -- an approach reminiscent of re-education campaigns during the violence-wracked Chinese communist Cultural Revolution.
Last March, Sarah Palin enjoyed an extended telephone consultation and pep talk with Morningstar Ministries founder and head Rick Joyner, who has contacts among Republicans in Congress and whose ministry is closely tied to Palin's most important Alaskan church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.
Even some of Sarah Palin's most dedicated fans might be taken aback by Joyner's enthusiastic advocacy for an authoritarian religious state. In a "prophecy" published June 19, 2007, Rick Joyner wrote, "The kingdom of God will not be socialism, but a freedom even greater than anyone on earth knows at this time. At first it may seem like totalitarianism ... Instead of taking away liberties and becoming more domineering, the kingdom will move from a point of necessary control while people are learning truth, integrity, honor, and how to make decisions, to increasing liberty so that they can."
Joyner's dream is reminiscent of the visions of 20th Century communist revolutionary leaders who expected that centralized authoritarian government would initially be necessary but anticipated a period of greater freedom after capitalism was successfully vanquished.
In a video segment released March 25, 2009, Rick Joyner described an extended phone chat with Palin during which he discussed meeting with members of Congress such as Michelle Bachmann, complained that media overage of the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Palin had been unfair, and declared "I believe there is a spiritual authority and a calling on Governor Palin that is extraordinary ... I believe she has a national calling on her life. I felt that when I first saw her on the television ... I felt, right away, 'I am listening to the President of the United States."
Last fall, when asked by a Religion News Service reporter about his ministry's ties to Sarah Palin's most important church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, Joyner sought to downplay the connection stating, "I would be honored to be connected, but we are not that I know of. It is very likely that her church has read our stuff and I think some of our folks have been up and spoken to her church. It would be a very loose, distant association."
But Morningstar Ministries is in fact closely tied to the Wasilla church, whose head pastor Ed Kalnins, along with Kenyan evangelist Thomas Muthee, anointed and blessed Sarah Palin against the "spirit of witchcraft" in an October 2005 ceremony at the church, shortly before Palin launched her bid to become Alaska governor.
During that 2005 ceremony, Muthee urged his church audience to "infiltrate" key sectors of society such as business and finance, government, education, and media. Thomas Muthee became briefly notorious during the 2008 election, for his claim to have driven a "witch" from Kiambu, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya.
But media missed the most significant aspects of the story; Muthee is an international celebrity for his role in a series of documentary videos, seen by millions worldwide, that claim Christians can reduce crime, murder, traffic accidents, addiction, and environmental degradation by driving out, from cities and towns, demon spirits and accused witches.
Both Thomas Muthee and Ed Kalnins have distributed Joyner's books in Africa and the Wasilla Assembly of God uses curriculum from Joyner's ministry, the church's "Masters Commission" students have made pilgrimages to Joyner's church, and Morningstar's Head of Prophecy, Steve Thompson, led an October 2008 Prophecy Conference at Kalnin's church.
In 2004, Joyner's fast-growing ministry acquired a portion of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's dilapidated, palatial former PTL ministry complex near Charlotte, North Carolina and has since partially restored a 52 acre multi-building complex now rebranded as "Heritage USA." In September 2009, a scheduled Morningstar conference will feature, as a speaker, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.
Morningstar Ministries promotes the idea that a "last day army" of supernaturally equipped young Christians will conquer and cleanse all evil from the Earth, and a conference advertisement on the Morningstar website features a music track with the refrain, "There is a new generation rising up in power, there is a last day army rising up for war." Militant themes are common at the church.
At a revival event held during the week of August 7-13, 2008, Morningstar Executive Vice President Steve Thompson gave a frenzied exhortation to an excited crowd, "See, Jesus is waiting seated at the right hand of the Father, having all authority on Heaven and on Earth, having commissioned and empowered and deployed his disciples to go out and enforce the victory and the judgment that he won over the enemy and waiting until his people rise up and demonstrate their glory and those enemies are put under the feet of the body of Christ !" Thompson's war cry was very similar to that chronicled by journalist Max Blumenthal, who attended a September 2008 service at the Wasilla Assembly of God during which a Russian pastor declared, "We stomp on the heads of the enemy !"
In an interview for a September 12, 2008 Religion News Service story Rick Joyner stated, "We are probably described as Third Wave. We have had a lot of influence from movements that I think are identified as Third Wave." The Third Wave is a newly emergent tendency in Christianity, little more than two decades old, which now encompasses by some estimates five percent of the Earth's population and has been promoted from Ted Haggard's former Colorado Springs mega-church.
Third Wave doctrine teaches that Christians must reclaim the Earth from demons spirits which possess cities, towns, geographic territories, people, ethnic groups, and even family lines. The cleansing of those demons, and unbelievers, from Earth will usher in a Christian utopian age.
Pastor Joyner participated in an early 2008 event endorsing the ministry of Todd Bentley, a Third Wave revivalist who was featured in a Fall 2008 Southern Poverty Law Center report, " 'Arming' For Armageddon: Militant Joel's Army Followers Seek Theocracy", which quoted a writing from Bentley declaring that, "An end-time army has one common purpose -- to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion".
According to an April 30, 2001 story that ran in a Canadian news magazine, The Report, Todd Bentley was convicted as a juvenile of sexually molesting a seven year-old child and by his own admission "was involved in a sexual-assault ring." Bentley subsequently became a born-again Christian and a faith healer but his revival events have featured violent incidents such as Bentley kicking an elderly woman in the face and punching a third-stage colon cancer patient in the gut, with both purportedly the product of divine inspiration.
In August 2008, Bentley announced having an extramarital affair and resigned from the board of his ministry. Rick Joyner subsequently volunteered to be one of the religious leaders involved in Bentley's moral rehabilitation (called a "restoration") and has posted a series of video chats with Todd Bentley on his Morningstar Ministries website.
Rick Joyner is far from the only notable evangelist associated with Sarah Palin who might raise eyebrows among a wide ideological cross-section of Americans. Palin is even more closely tied to Alaska religious leader Mary Glazier, whose Wasilla prayer group Palin joined, according to Glazier, in 1989. Glazier told SpiritLed Woman magazine, for a 2003 article, that in 1995 her Wasilla group used prayer to attack a woman Glazier had accused of witchcraft:
"As we continued to pray against the spirit of witchcraft, her incense altar caught on fire, her car engine blew up, she went blind in her left eye, and she was diagnosed with cancer."
As confirmed in a February 2009 Charisma magazine article, Palin's relationship with Glazier continued into 2008, when the two prayed together over the telephone and also in person, at the Alaska Governor's Prayer Breakfast. At a June 12-14, 2008 conference held near Seattle, Mary Glazier described, to top Third Wave leaders, a draconian program of religious cleansing in which unbelievers would be forcibly converted to Christianity or else driven from "the land":
"There is a tipping point, at which, at which time, because of the sin of the land, the people then have to be displaced.... God is preparing a people to displace the ones whose sin is rising so that then they tip over and the church goes in - one is removed and the church moves in and takes the territory. Now, that does not mean that the people are removed, because God removes them from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. They are given an opportunity to change allegiances."
On June 7th, 2008, shortly before her bid to become vice president, Palin spent Alaska state funds to fly from Juneau, Alaska, to the Mat-Su Valley where, on June 8th, she attended two religious events dominated by the Wasilla Assembly of God. During a ceremony at one of those events, young adults graduating from the Wasilla Assembly of God Masters Commission program, a college-substitute program which teaches Bible memorization, deference to authority, leadership, and "prophecy", were presented with Samurai swords, underscoring the militant ethic of the church. Palin herself gave a speech at the ceremony and accepted an honorary Masters Commission diploma.
Sarah Palin is not merely passively associated with the Third Wave tendency; while Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin appointed a Third Wave religious warfare advocate to the Alaska Suicide Prevention Council and Palin also has served on the advisory board of an Alaska suicide-prevention nonprofit that exhorts high school students to "fight for revolution."
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