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Posts for November, 2012

The tale of Tyler and Bethany Deaton

Timothy Kincaid

November 21st, 2012

The International House of Prayer is a church in Kansas City which hosts a 24 hours per day, seven days per week prayer service. They have a decidedly dominionist bent and are affiliated with some of the more radical (and definitely anti-gay) elements of conservative Christianity including Lou Engle , Michael Brown, the Brownsville Revival, and the Kansas City Prophets movement.

One consistent element that seems to be present in all of those who move in this circle is a hands-on opposition to homosexuality. Lou Engel held one of his The Call rallies to support Proposition 8 and his son was part of an effort to have “spiritual confrontation” in the Castro in San Francisco. He also is a stealth supporter of Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” bill. Michael Brown is a voice in Charlotte, NC, not only in opposition to equality but apparently to the peaceful assembly of gay people. He annually leads a group of red-shirted protesters to engage in “spiritual warfare” through prayer against Gay Pride events. And Brown had, for several years, been a regular presenter at the Love Won Out ex-gay conferences.

Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House of Prayer, is also complicit in the effort to execute gay people in Uganda. Earlier this year, he played a video at his church which lauded one of the bill’s principle supporters. (Talk to Action)

But today, Friday April 27th, 2012, IHOP is slated, according to a news release from ChristianNewsWire, to publicly screen a movie-length video featuring a Ugandan religious leader, Julius Peter Oyet, who has stated that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals.” and has openly called for practicing homosexuals to be hunted down and imprisoned or even executed.

Oyet even claims (see video at end of story) to have played a central role in a pending Ugandan bill, the internationally condemned Anti Homosexuality Bill, designed to make that happen; in a 2010 interview with French journalist Dominic Mesmin, Oyet stated that he had served on a committee that picked MP David Bahati to introduce the bill in Uganda’s parliament and had a special government commission to rally public support behind the bill, which has been internationally denounced – including by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hlllary Clinton.

The House of Prayer movement, being dominionist in ideology, sees homosexuality as a battleground in their war to take over the world for their religion — one in which the forces of good and evil are clearly defined and one in which God’s power is particularly evident. Take, for example, the opening “testimony” from the International House of Prayer, Atlanta:

Delivered of Homosexuality, 10/3/10

For as long as I can remember, I have lived as a homosexual. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. I was the youngest child and my siblings were very rebellious. When I was in 7th grade, I made the decision that I was gay and realized that the world around me really accepted gay people. I got saved two years ago, but I walked away from the Lord this past summer. I was pretty much living for myself and I knew that I was hurting God’s heart by living a homosexual lifestyle. During the Awakening Services, God really romanced my heart and gave me revelation that He loves me no matter what. Last week, I was completely delivered from homosexuality! Praise the Lord!

It’s important to note that the key word here is “delivered”. To those who espouse IHOP theology, homosexuality has a demonic element, influence or oppression.

As part of their outreach efforts, the International House of Prayer established IHOPU, the International House of Prayer University, which equips Bible students with a hardcore dominionist view of Christianity. And it is without doubt that the theological teaching of this group heavily stress deliverance from homosexuality and that this is not only God’s intent for a person so tempted, but to do otherwise would be a victory for Satan.

Meanwhile, in Texas, young Tyler Deaton was attending Southwest University, a private Methodist college. He was charismatic and engaging and had earned the respect of fellow students by struggling with and overcoming Satan’s influences. (kansascity.com)

One of his group’s stark positions on Scripture was that homosexuality was wrong. Deaton’s stance against it weighed heavily because members said he had “struggled with being gay.”

“He struggled with it, but he overcame it,” a member of his group at Southwestern said. “It was a victory.”

Over the course of his studies Deaton gathered around him a group of students that were drawn to his personality. He also became intrigued with the International House of Prayer and began trips to Kansas City with his entourage to participate in their worship. Eventually he and several in his fellowship of like-minded students moved to Kansas City to enroll in IHOPU.

Among Deaton’s crowd that migrated to IHOP was a girl named Bethany. She had been home-schooled and was quiet and into service. Like the others, Bethany became part of IHOP, attending a six-month internship at IHOPU in 2009 before going on to become a registered nurse working in a local hospital.

And Tyler began to seek to increase his influence at the church (IHOP statement)

After Deaton graduated from IHOPU in May 2012 he began to show interest in our [Forerunner Christian Fellowship] small groups. That summer our FCF small groups came under a new director, who formed a temporary, think-tank-type discussion group made up of volunteers, who met to discuss ideas on how to improve small groups. Deaton attended this group, though he made it very clear to our small groups director that his independent Bible study group would not be connected in any way. On one occasion in October 2012 Deaton facilitated a breakout discussion of seven or eight people.

Deaton was listed as a divisional coordinator in IHOP’s preliminary small groups info packet. (A “mistake” that has now been “corrected”).

It was a joyous time in their group and with friends back in Texas when Tyler and Bethany became engaged this past May. Perhaps finding in this engagement a sense that he was becoming the “real” him, the one God sees, Tyler took to his blog to say.

In the last blog, we discussed how to arrive at true personality, namely by not defining oneself prematurely and by allowing all qualities to go through refinement through interaction with Jesus over a longer period of time. The desire to find “true personality” and not be stifled by premature definitions is a great and good enough reason to not define yourself or those around you prematurely by certain qualities or traits. It is a great reason to sign up for a journey of transformation instead of a premature self definition. However, there is in my estimation, a still more glorious reason why we are to aim to not box ourselves or others in with, “I am this or I am not that” but are instead to seek a long process of near limitless expansion. That reason is simple but breathtaking: we are to be imitators of God.

The young couple married in August but it was not a lengthy marriage. On October 30th, Bethany was discovered in the back of her van with a bag over her head and by her side a bottle of pills, and a suicide note.

My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing. I did it because I wouldn’t be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that?

I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will still save me.

Everyone was saddened by the tragedy of a newlywed, only 27, being so distraught that she took her own life. But this sadness took on a new depth on the 9th of this month.

That is the day that a member of Deaton’s prayer group and an IHOPU student, confessed that he had killed Bethany. And had done so at Tyler’s instruction. (ABC)

Micah Moore, 23, last week confessed to killing Deaton, the wife of the community’s religious leader, Tyler Deaton, 26. Moore told police that he and others in the group’s shared home had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton, and that he had been instructed by Tyler to kill her, according to police records.

“Moore stated that Tyler Deaton told him to kill Bethany Deaton, saying he knew Micah had it in him to do it,” a police report by detectives read. “Moore said he told Tyler Deaton he had killed Bethany after it was done.”

Moore told detectives that he had filmed the alleged sexual assaults on his iPad, and that the group was afraid Bethany would tell her therapist about the assaults. Moore also said there were poems written about the alleged sexual assaults.

Court documents revealed that they had given Bethany the prescription anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, which has the side-effect of somnolence, before engaging in sexual assault.

The sexual activity was not limited to Bethany.

The Deatons and Moore lived in a house with at least four other men in Kansas City, three of whom told police that they all had sexual relationships with Tyler Deaton. A fourth said he felt “groomed” to fit into the group of men, and that Tyler Deaton had once gotten into bed with him and held him.

“He stated that he realized now that Tyler was attempting to make him a member of their sexual group,” the detective’s report said.

Another roommate said Tyler Deaton had told him that the sexual activity “was part of a religious experience,” according to the report.

So far, only Moore has been arrested. Whether it turns out that Bethany’s murder was at Tyler’s command or that Moore was delusional, the verification of the sexual activity may prove to be a black eye on the International House of Prayer and has invited scrutiny and revealed additional concerns.

And I can’t help but note that yet again we are reminded that the sex drive is powerful and that if we do not direct it into healthy relationships but instead seek to dam it up, it can result in twisted harmful behavior. And Bethany’s murder might have been avoided had Tyler Deaton not been convinced that he was required to struggle against his orientation.

TheCall fails to attract expected crowd

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2010

When the National Organization for Marriage failed abysmally to draw a crowd to their anti-gay Summer for Marriage Tour, I assumed that much of the problem could be found in their lack of organizational skills. And no doubt some of the blame for tiny and unenthusiastic attendance can be traced to poor planning, odd scheduling, and inadequate partnering.

But I am beginning to suspect that the largest reason that few people came out to “stand for marriage”, is that few people really object that much to gay couples being granted civil equality. And the turnout for Lou Engel’s TheCall evangelical rally this past weekend in Sacramento adds further confirmation.

Lou Engel (best known here for giving at least implied support for Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill) is a popular speaker and an effective organizer. And his TheCall evangelical rallies draw support from some of the best known and most powerful figures in conservative Christian political circles. And Engel’s first TheCall in Washington, DC, in 2000 claimed to draw 400,000 participants.

Not so this year.

(Sources: Trial Tracker, Christian Post, Mercury News, TheCall, News & Review)

The event – a 12 hour fasting and prayer rally on Saturday with a decidedly political bent preceded by a Friday night concert – was planned in response to the Perry v. Schwarzenegger result and organizational hopes were for 50,000 people.

…the stakes couldn’t be higher. Seismic political, economic, and societal shifts are drastically reshaping California, every state, and the nation. This is the time for a great spiritual outpouring to be unleashed to meet the demand of these times.

But the people didn’t show up. The concert got decent attention, but the rally – the real purpose of TheCall – drew a far smaller crowd than for which the organization had prepared.

The Capital Mall is a seven block stretch of grass (sort of a large meridian) that runs from the California State Capital’s west lawn to Interstate 5. Big screens were set up on each block of the Mall to facilitate the crowds being able to see and hear. They were not needed.

The gathering filled the west lawn of the state Capitol and hundreds of people spilled into the next block, but the rest of Capitol Mall’s five-block-long lawn went unused despite large screens and barricades set up for the occasion.

As Trial Tracker’s Andy Kelley reported

As I walked down the street I passed dozens of Porta Potties, but no one was in sight, let alone congregating around them. I continued down the street, walking in search of anyone who might be attending the event, but there was no one on the street, no one but me. I kept walking, until I reached a JumboTron, some five blocks away from the Capital, but again, no one was in sight. Had they really anticipated it would be needed?

As I continued walking forward, I passed many uniformed police officers, hundreds of feet of chain link fences, and yet another closed intersection. There was a a second JumboTron, like the first, I was the only one viewing it.

While mainstream press simply reported “thousands”, Trial Tracker estimated about 6,000 participants, less than 20% of those expected.

Now we should not discount that thousands of people – mostly young people – were so fired up by their religious beliefs that they were willing to go pray and listen to political/religious speech for 12 hours. But it appears to me that the anti-gay charge has lost steam.