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Posts for November, 2008

About those “Peaceful Christians” In the Castro

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2008

I think it’s safe to say that Joe.My.God was at least as alarmed as I was over news reports of a so-called “Christian” group being escorted out of the Castro by a heavy protective police contingent.

Well Joe.My.God has learned that at least one of those so-called “Christians” is associated with Lou Engle, who is a pastor in the Christian Dominionist group Joel’s Army. She appeared with Engle in Kansas City to call for a “mass exodus from the demonic influence of the Castro.” Engle described the confrontation os “a confrontation of the Spirit” and called on God to “turn back this evil that is rising” in the fight against “the powers of darkness.”

Christian Dominionism is a harder-core, more violent offshoot of Christian Reconstructionism. Christian Reconstructionists are on record as calling for the biblical punishment of stoning for gays and lesbians.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified Joel’s Army as a potentially violent Dominionist group which believes that the United States “should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law.” Engle was a lead organizer of “The Call” at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium just before the election.

According to SPLC’s Casy Sanchez:

As even his critics note, Engle is a sweet, humble and gentle man whose persona is difficult to reconcile with his belief in an end-time army of invincible young Christian warriors. Yet while Engle is careful to avoid deploying explicit Joel’s Army rhetoric at high-profile events like The Call, when he’s speaking in smaller hyper-charismatic circles to avowed Joel’s Army followers, he can venture into bloodlust.

This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.

“I believe we’re headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground,” said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.

“There’s an Elijah generation that’s going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion,” Engle continued. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire.”

Joel’s Army maintains an apocalyptic vision of their role in the world. They see themselves as members of the final generation with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision as a new Passover:

Everyone born after abortion’s legalization can consider their birth a personal invitation to take part in this great army,” writes John Crowder, another prominent Joel’s Army pastor, who bills his 2006 book, The New Mystics: How to Become Part of the Supernatural Generation, as a literal how-to guide for joining Joel’s Army.Both Bentley and Crowder are enormously popular on Elijah’s List, an online watering hole for a broad spectrum of Joel’s Army enlistees, from lightweight believers who merely share an affection for military rhetoric and pastors who dress in army camouflage (several Joel’s Army pastors are addressed by their congregants as “commandant” or “commander”) to hardliners who believe the church is called to have an active military role in end-times that have already begun. Elijah’s List currently has more than 125,000 subscribers on its electronic mailing list.

Rick Joyner, a pastor whose books, The Harvest and The Call, helped popularize Joel’s Army theology by selling more than a million copies each, goes the furthest on Elijah’s List in pushing the hardliner approach. In 2006, he posted a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” in which he claimed that a last-day army is now gathering and called believers “freedom fighters.”

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel's Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

Joel’s Army began in the 1940′s, and was based on the preaching of Assembly of God pastor William Branham. The Assemblies of God has banned Joel’s army as a heretical cult and disavows all association with the movement.

All of this places the recent protest in the Castro in an entirely different light.