The tale of Tyler and Bethany Deaton
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.
More callous than Marie Antoinette
April 16th, 2012
As the lore goes, she was told about the plight of the French people who were suffering during a famine. And upon learning that there was a shortage of bread, a staple of the diet, she said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. And since that day, the term “let them eat cake” has been a symbol of the callousness or obliviousness of the wealthy elite.
Actually, she probably never said it. A story written when she was a child (living in Austria) was combined with anti-royalist sentiments and, as is often the case in politics, actual truth was far less interesting than a story too good not to repeat. The real Marie was less villainous than the cartoon characterization and was reportedly concerned about the plight of the people and generous with charity. Had she also not been even more generous with herself while France was in financial disarray (or had royalists quelled the revolution) history would be kinder.
But whichever noblewoman (real or fictional) uttered the phrase, they don’t deserve to be the symbol of callousness.
The response reflects on a character so self-absorbed that it isn’t aware of the plight of others and so oblivious of the lives outside their experience that they make absurd assumptions. But at least she offered a solution. An ignorant foolish solution perhaps, but one that hints that she cared at least some little bit about their plight.
Which is more than I can say about some today in the anti-gay movement.
I don’t think we need to reiterate here that there is an epidemic of bullying in schools across the nation. At this point, it is not speculative or alleged or partisan. On this, voices as diverse as Lady Gaga and Mike Huckabee can agree.
And it is simply irrefutable that gay students are more likely to be a target than are most students. And after several kids who identified as gay (or were assumed to be) took their own lives, our community coalesced around a serious effort to reduce the terrorism that gay kids experience. One of the efforts implemented is to encourage schools to establish anti-bullying programs that specifically address anti-gay bullying. And related to that is an annual Day of Silence to bring attention to the problem and the encourage students and staff to take this problem seriously.
But solutions are not easy or obvious. Even schools that have implemented anti-bullying programs still experience levels of bullying that would have been considered unacceptable a decade ago. And people of good intention may differ on the response.
Some religious conservatives also have been worried that in their advocacy for gay kids, schools might not fully consider the consequences of some messages. Many people of faith have restrictions on sexual behavior as part of their moral code and teach their children certain rules about sex outside of marriage. Sometimes those outside the faith do not understand the nuance of such teachings. And should a public school misrepresented such teachings or declared them “harmful” and those who followed such rules as “bigots”, it could make targets out of religious kids.
Replacing gay kids as a target for scorn and humiliation with Christian kids doesn’t solve the problem, and it is valid to raise that point. And, indeed, some school districts listened to those views and were able to bring in gay people and pastors and people of diverse communities to make sure that the programs addressed everyone’s concerns and were supported by the full community. This is an area about which there should be no disagreement and, when all parties want to work together consensus is possible.
Alternately, some chose to respond directly by participating in a Golden Rule Pledge. Rather than discuss the possible implications, they sought to offset any possible negative views of Christian kids by visibly breaking the association with bigotry. By having religious kids say, “Yes, we agree, no one should be bullied and we promise to stand with you and protect you”, Christian kids could oppose the harm without having to defend their own values.
But there were those among conservative Christianity who had a less generous response. For example, Dr. Michael Brown writes today about the Day of Silence in a way that makes it clear that kids bullied to death are the least of his concerns.
Brown sets the tone by starting with dishonesty:
On April 20th, in thousands of schools across America, your hard-earned tax dollars will help underwrite the homosexual indoctrination of your kids.
Setting aside the absurd notion that protecting children from bullying is the same as “homosexual indoctrination of your kids”, the Day of Silence is not funded by tax dollars. It doesn’t really cost much of anything for students to be silent for the day and the direct costs of posters and other publicity are not paid by the schools. I suppose that one could argue that anything that occurs on a school grounds is “underwritten” by “your hard-earned tax dollars”, but by that logic it would be much more truthful to say, “your hard-earned tax dollars help underwrite the abuse of gay kids today”.
Dr. Brown is a careful writer. He usually avoids sentences or short passages that can be extracted from his writing to illustrate his animosity. He doesn’t use words like “pervert” or “abomination”. He works with innuendo and insinuation and plays on the existing biases of his target audience. Consider:
But don’t some schools already have generic, anti-bullying programs in place along with special, daylong events to highlight the destructive effects of bullying, a subject that should concern all of us? Of course they do, but that’s not enough. GLSEN insists that a special focus must be put on LGBT kids, as if bullying a gay kid was worse than bullying a fat kid.
It’s clever. In one sentence absent of any slurs he manages to insinuate that gay people are demanding special consideration, that any attention given to gay bullying takes away from other targets of bullying, and that gay activists are unfairly demanding resources that aren’t needed.
Of course, that isn’t close to true. As the epidemic of bullying illustrates, most schools have, at best, a perfunctory anti-bullying program (that isn’t implemented with seriousness) coupled with a devoted commitment to denial. The movie Bully provides an illustration of a child being tormented daily on a school bus while administrators assured the documentarian that the other children were “good as gold”.
And as any gay kid – and most fat kids – will tell you, bullying of gay kids really is worse. Fat kids have families to turn to while gay kids often do not have that option. And on most campuses there is an agreement that calling a fat kid names is “a bad thing to do” while many children attending churches of which Dr. Brown would approve do not share the belief that saying “you’re an abomination and going to hell” to gay kids is “a bad thing to do”.
But that isn’t really the most telling point about that paragraph. I’ll come back to that.
He goes on with artificial concern about ex-gays being excluded from the Day of Silence (as though there has ever been a single kid to identify as ex-gay who was in any way excluded from this student organized event). He rants about a nameless black teacher who “did not approve of equating gay activism with the civil rights movement.” He makes the usual intentionally dishonest false equation in which the balance to “don’t bully gay kids” is “a religious or moral objection to homosexuality”.
But all of that is just filler and fluff; it’s what he didn’t say that is worth noting. At no point in his 869 word essay did Dr. Brown ever express the slightest concern about the plight of tormented gay kids or provide any alternate solution. His position – that which is opposite of GLSEN’s position, can be seen in the paragraph we noted above.
Of course they do, but that’s not enough.
Dr. Brown and GLSEN are both aware of the high rate of gay teen suicides. Dr. Brown and GLSEN are well aware that openly gay teens – and even those suspected of being gay – are tormented at rates far higher than any demographic. Including the “fat kid” demographic. GLSEN believes that the current status is “not enough” and Dr. Brown disagrees.
Now Dr. Brown would never use the words. He would never say them out loud. And he’ll likely send me an email telling me that I’m misrepresenting his position and putting words in his mouth. But the message is clear.
When told that due to the famine the peasants had no bread, Marie Antoinette’s solution was, “let them eat cake”. When told that gay students are being bullied to the point that they kill themselves, Dr. Michael Brown’s answer is, “let them die.”
Marie Antoinette got a bad rap.
“I Genuinely Admired Frank Kameny’s Courage and Pioneer Spirit, But…”
October 19th, 2011
An anti-gay activist pays tribute, after a fashion, to the late Frank Kameny. Let me just say that those emails that Michael Brown shared are pure Frank.
Michael Brown’s Field Report From Charlotte Pride
August 30th, 2011
How many other community groups feature prominent performances by drag queens at their events? Can you imagine crowds at an Hispanic Pride event, or Black Pride event, or Asian Pride event — just to name a few — being entertained by men wearing dresses (or less), hot pink wigs, and matching knee-high boots? And this is part of the LGBT’s strategy “to promote acceptance”? How telling. And how telling that, unmentioned by the Observer, there was a large truck stationed next to the festival offering “Free HIV Testing.” Yes, just another typical community event.
. . . It is also a bit disconcerting to watch young men greet each other with exclamations of “Hey girl!” before exchanging pecks on the cheek. (Does your average child find it confusing to hear men call each other “girls”?).
Alvin McEwen doubts Brown’s veracity:
Lastly that comment about young men greeting each other with exclamations of “Hey Girl” before kissing each other on the cheeks simply cannot be true. He forgot to mention that after we kiss each other on the cheek, we finger snap in Z-formations.
By the way, they had free HIV testing at the NAACP’s national convention last month in Los Angeles. “How telling,” as they say.
IHOP sues IHOP
September 16th, 2010
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 (who appears to implicitly support Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill), Michael Brown, the Brownsville Revival, and the Kansas City Prophets movement.
The church frequently goes by the acronym IHOP (their website is www.ihop.org), but maybe not for much longer; it seems the pancake chain isn’t amused. (CNN)
IHOP has filed a lawsuit against a church group called the International House of Prayer claiming that the group is illegally using the pancake house’s famous acronym.
The legal flap started earlier this month when the International House of Pancakes filed the lawsuit in a federal court in California.
The Kansas City, Missouri-based church group “selected and adopted the International House of Prayer name, knowing it would be abbreviated IHOP. IHOP-KC intended to misappropriate the fame and notoriety of the household name IHOP to help promote and make recognizable their religious organization,” the lawsuit says.
Lawyers from the pancake restaurant say the odds are stacked against the church group and provided the court with pages and pages of documentation of websites, newsletters and signs on buildings where the prayer group allegedly used the IHOP acronym.
Speaking of Condemnations of Tel Aviv Shootings
August 4th, 2009
We would be remiss if we didn’t also point out that Charlotte, NC-based pastor Michael Brown was first out of the box with this statement early Sunday morning while most of Americas were waking up to the news:
Brown, himself a Jewish follower of Jesus, says he was “shocked and saddened” to hear the news of the killings, especially in Israel. “We don’t have the details yet, but this has all the markings of an act of raw hatred, and as such it must be utterly renounced. Whatever differences any of us may have with any sector of society, be those religious differences or ideological differences, we must maintain those differences with civility and respect. The moment we resort to violence, especially in God’s name, we become agents of destruction and bring reproach to the God we claim to serve.”
The press release is pretty good, at least from his particular point of view, until you get to the last paragraph. There, he claims that Prop 8 supporters have gotten death threats, while providing no substantiation for the claim. We’re aware of “I hope you die and rot in hell” or “I’m armed and not afraid to defend myself if you come after me” variety, but unfortunately we all get those. I don’t see those as threats though. That’s the price we pay for expressing viewpoints in a sometimes uncivil society. I’m interested in knowing about actual threats. So far, we’ve heard no such reports.
That said, I do know that LGBT community centers have well-practiced procedures in place to deal with actual threats to harm and property. I don’t doubt that anti-gay groups do as well. We’ve deleted comments from both sides on this web site that has advocated violence, and we continue to see such comments remain unmoderated on other anti-gay web sites and on YouTube. The crazies really are out there.
500 Protest Charlotte Pride, Police Report No Problems
July 26th, 2009
An estimated 10,000 people turned out to celebrate Charlotte Pride yesterday, while an anti-gay protest organized by local evangelist Michael Brown and TheCall’s Lou Engle attracted about 500 participants. While the Charlotte Observer reports that the number of protesters this year was a significant over previous years, it appears to have fallen short of the thousand that the organizers had hoped for. Michael Brown insisted that his “lamb-like” protesters would remain across the street from the festival grounds, but several of his red-shirted sheep apparently were lost and were seen across the street mingling with Pride-goers spreading their anti-gay message. Charlotte police report no problems and no arrests.
The protest organizers, who dubbed their effort as “God Has A Better Way,” released a statement last night with a long list of well-worn grievances, and declaring that the push for equality “stops here in Charlotte.” At least one longtime Pride participant decided to turn that message around:
“Each year, we have groups come to our pride celebrations trying to demonstrate their message of love, saying there’s a better way or we need to change who we are, and so this year I thought, what if we go to them? I think it’s time to flip the script, so to speak,” Monica Simpson said.
In the midst of the sea of red shirts stood Simpson, a yearly pride participant.
“It allowed me to see how much work still needs to be done on this earth as we really talk about the dream that God has for us to live as one and realize we are all connected as one,” she said.
Michael Brown Responds
July 23rd, 2009
Timothy Kincaid and I have exchanged several emails with Michael Brown since publishing my article, “Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride” on Monday. It’s been a cordial exchange; his opening line gave me a good glimpse of his humor: “A colleague just pointed out your new article to me, and obviously, we’re in two completely different worlds here.” Of the many things in which Dr. Brown and I disagree, obviously that much is something I can say “Amen” to.
Dr. Brown took the time to write several very lengthy emails. Unfortunately, his first emails to me bounced because because my inbox was full. And once I cleared that logjam out, the rest of his emails came while I was working on my day job, I confess that my responses were considerably shorter and incomplete, probably coming off as terse. So for that, I’ll begin by publicly apologizing for that.
He had several bones to pick with me, and I concede that a few of those points are legitimate, and so I’ve made some modifications to the original article. I’ll point those out as we come to them. On some of the other points he raised, I’m not so sure I agree with him and I’ll discuss those as well. That said, let’s dive in.
First, Dr. Brown wanted to address my concerns about what I believe to be his violent rhetoric:
As for my use of “revolutionary” or “violent” language, perhaps my recent article will be of help. I’m simply following on the heels of Christian tradition and the New Testament – and always with absolutely clarity and full qualification of my points. (For example, if you recall my “revolution” message at the Exodus conference, when I quoted Elaine Brown, I spoke of her organization as being a negative example that we did not want to emulate – because of their violence – stating only that she exemplified the way revolutionaries think, and that mentality was in harmony with Jesus’ words that, “if you find your life, you lose it; if you lose it for me and the gospel, you find it.”). Jesus is our example – He laid down His life and renounced violence – and we seek to follow in His footsteps.”
True, he did say that. After having reviewed his talk again, I agreed that including the additional information about what he said would provide a more complete context. I added the following portion in italics to that paragraph:
Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).
Brown then corrected me on my earlier statement when I wrote that, “One of the participants at the Toronto Blessing was Steve Hill.”
“Also, just for the record, Steve Hill never attended the Toronto Blessing, and to give you perspective, the great bulk of the scandalous articles of the PNJ (scandalous in terms of their journalism) came out in Nov. 1997; the revival continued well into 2000. At the time the articles were written, our school had 510 students. From fall 1998 until 2000, we had well over 1,000. We only grew and increased after the articles came out, one reason being that most of the people who knew us in the city knew the reports were false.”
My source for that information wasn’t the Pensacola News-Journal, but another conservative Pentecostal web site that was critical of the Brownsville revival. It turns out that the source I used for that wasn’t accurate, and I apologize for the error. Hill’s involvement with the Toronto Blessing was a bit more indirect. Therefore, I’ve deleted that sentence in Monday’s post and replaced it with this:
The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” And that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton.
More generally, Brown was critical of our links to the Pensacola News-Journal for some of the criticisms of the Brownsville Revival:
For the sake of Christian integrity, however, I should point out that your characterizations of the Brownsville Revival are as false and misleading as the quotes you lift from the thoroughly discredited stories from the Pensacola News Journal (interestingly, that infamous series of articles was sandwiched between years of glowing coverage about the revival in the PNJ which preceded those articles and then no more negative reports in the years that followed the reports). There are thousands of hours of footage of the meetings available for all to see and hear, none of which concur with the ridiculous reports of the critics, while the fruit of wonderfully changed lives (to this day) remains as a witness to what Jesus did in those meetings.
As for the PNJ’s journalistic integrity, I will leave that for you to decide as to whom you’d prefer to believe. It does strike me as a count in the PNJ’s favor that they wrote both positive and negative articles, which leads me to believe they were capable of covering the Brownsville Revival with a measure of impartiality. Dr. Brown obviously disagrees, and strongly so. So I guess we’re at something of a stalemate there for the time being. Dr. Brown however did recommend a book by Steve Rabey titled Revival in Brownsville: Pensacola, Pentecostalism, and the Power of American Revivalism, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers (the Bible publishing people).
Brown believes that by quoting from Matt Comer’s article in InterstateQ, I mischaracterized his 2005 action against Charlotte Pride:
I’m not sure how to correct the completely false, anonymous report about our involvement in Charlotte Pride, 2005, other than to point out that it’s fascinating that these charges just surface now, for the first time, four years later. Unfortunately, it presents a 100% false picture of our involvement that day – shall I direct to you some of the 100+ people who were there that day to speak with them for yourself? – and the report is as ludicrous as claiming that we raided a gay bar and hit people over the head with Bibles. It is not who we are anymore than you and Timothy are secretly running a branch of the gay Taliban.
In a second email, he strongly emphasized this:
Under no circumstances did any of our people do such a thing. Under no circumstances did they communicate with the children who were there, and under no circumstances did they tell them that their parents were sinners going to hell, and under no circumstances did they harass people.
I’m not sure how anyone can vouch for all 100-plus people at an event like that, particularly with the assurance of “under no circumstances.” It may well have been that they were instructed that “under no circumstances” were they to speak with children or harass people, but I can’t see how anyone could make such a guarantee. I also suspect that a Pride-goer’s idea of harassment is likely very different from Dr. Brown’s under these circumstances. I also see that Dr. Brown has been exchanging similar emails with Ali Davis at 365gay.com. She notes that an article in the Charlotte Observer at the time also reported “some tense interactions, and notes one named source who says she was told she was going to hell.”
But that led to, I think, his main problem with the piece: our expressed concern that by having 1,000 people to confront (or surround in prayer or witness to or whatever anyone might want to call it) those who plan on attending Charlotte Pride.
As to your concerns about violence breaking out at our event on July 25th, there’s no more chance of that than there is a chance of it happening at a Sunday morning church service where we worship and pray together, although the spate of recent articles predicting this very thing makes me wonder if some will be disappointed when the Jesus-focused, Lamb-like nature of the participants is manifest for the whole world to see.
Dr. Brown gave his assurances in another email to Timothy Kincaid that for this year, the red-shirted participants will remain across the street from the the Pride festivities and will not interfere with those who want to attend:
Our red-shirted participants will NOT be trying to intercept people going into the event. If folks want to talk with us, we’d be delighted to do so, but our red-shirted folks (whom we can clearly identify and hold to our terms of commitment) will not be trying to intercept anyone. We will have a sufficient presence in prayer just by being there.
I hope he’s right. Believe me, I do hope he’s right and he will be able to hold his thousand or more red-shirted folks to their “lamb-like” commitments. And I take him at his word that he will do everything he can to make sure that happens. A thousand people though, that’s a lot to keep track of. And besides that, a crowd of a thousand people is an intimidating presence, no matter their intentions.
Think of it: What if we were to gather a thousand red-shirted LGBT activists — and let’s face it, they would be activists because ordinary people are rarely motivated to mount such an action — and have them gather at a park where a church picnic or festival was taking place, promising them that if they do this, that the religious right would meet its “high water mark” and that it all “stops there”? For good measure, we’ll go to a city that is “takeable” and promise to attack the “demonic spirit” that rules their ideology. Okay, we don’t speak in terns of demonic spirits, but you get the picture.
Wouldn’t the people attending that church picnic or festival have every right to be concerned? More significantly, wouldn’t they have every right to take the action as a serious and deeply held affront? I can just hear Focus On the Family now.
Brown and Engle characterize this publicly as an evangelical outreach effort. If that is their intention, then they may well rejoice if one or a few out of the crowd decides to “find God.” But for every one they do manage to reach by some great miracle, they will likely push countless others much, much further away. Surely, they must understand the consequences of that. That’s why I find it hard to believe that the intent is to convert. If it is, then Dr. Brown and Mr. Engle have hopelessly unrealistic expectations for what they hope to accomplish.
But I don’t think that’s what they really want to accomplish. It’s something very different, as reinforced by this press release issued just moments ago:
According to Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Charlotte-based Coalition of Conscience and the organizer of the event, “Nothing like this has ever been done in conjunction with a gay pride event in any city before, and those who join together on this day will be part of history in the making.”
Brown’s event is being actively supported by Lou Engle, national director of TheCall to Action. Engle, who advocates bringing about cultural change through prayer and fasting, believes that the “God Has a Better Way” rally could be a national flash point, with the goal that homosexual activism “stops here.”
Speaking of Lou Engle, Dr. Brown didn’t like how his friend was quoted in the SPLC article as saying, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!” Dr. Brown wanted me to understand that there’s really no such thing as a Joel’s Army — which is true insofar as I understand that it’s not an organization but a movement. But most importantly, he wanted me to understand that Engle wasn’t speaking literally but in metaphor:
I urge you to listen to Lou’s words in the context of his entire message; it is next to impossible to hear him speak and to take away any message other than our call to prayer and fasting. It would be like telling a rowing crew, “We’re going to fly down this river!” and think that they would take this to mean that they are supposed to become birds!
I understand metaphor. I also believe I can understand context. But I also understand that sometimes context is in the eye of the beholder as well as the speaker. So let’s try this: look at this video of Lou Engle and tell me what you think:
Rampant rape and molestation. Your children won’t be safe. Our whole culture will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. We’re in a Joel 2 moment. A Jezebel-Elijah showdown. This is survival of nations. Tremble you kings!
How much of all that is metaphor? Or is this guy, who is one half of God Has A Better Way, someone we should be concerned about?
Wouldn’t those Christians in my hypothetical park be equally concerned and insulted if they saw rhetoric like that coming from a leader of those red-shirted LGBT activists?
You bet they would, and rightfully so.
Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride
July 20th, 2009
Charlotte (N.C.) Pride this year falls on July 25. In response, two prominent Pentecostal evangelists plan to confront Pride attendees by surrounding the park with more than 1,000 “worshipers, intercessors, musicians, soul-winners, walkers, talkers, and believers of every age, color, and size” there to “stand together as a prophetic witness to our society.” One of the organizers of the anti-gay confrontation predicts that the day will represent a “flash point” in turning back the so-called “homosexual agenda.” Local LGBT advocates fear that the presence of such a large amp-ed up contingent of anti-gay extremists at the properly-permitted celebration could become a flash point of a very different kind.
In 2006, Charlotte-based pastor Michael Brown organized a group of red-shirted students to surround Charlotte Pride. Volunteers describe that encounter as frightening, intimidating, and an act that instilled terror in some who attended:
“The whole experience was horrible,” [one volunteer] told InterstateQ.com, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “I saw a lot of people trying to get away from the red-shirted people, and they just wouldn’t leave people alone.”
The volunteer describes several people, visibly shaken and emotionally distraught, who came to her for assistance. “I had people coming up to me in tears asking, ‘Please do something about these people,’” she said.
Many of those who complained, the volunteer said, were parents and children who were confronted by the members of Brown’s counter-demonstration. “They were going after the children of gay and lesbian parents. They were after the little kids, telling them that their mommies and daddies were going to hell and were sinners.”
Now Brown is at it again, except this time he is joining forces with Lou Engle of The Call. This year’s anti-gay rally, called “God Has A Better Way,” intends to surround the Pride festival not with a hundred volunteers, but a thousand. Local Pride organizers, who have obtained proper permits to hold the celebration in downtown Charlotte, are worried.
There’s reason for concern. Brown and Engle are both known for their fiery rhetoric filled with militant imagery of warfare against dark and evil forces. Acting on what he calls a “prophetic word,” Engle chose Charlotte “to raise up a contending house of prayer, that contends not with people, but with spiritual principalities and powers” He intends for this action to “be the high watermark, so to speak, of the homosexual agenda. It stops here.”
Brown predicts that the event will be “history in the making.” Whatever their predictions, it doesn’t take a prophet to know that tensions will be high in Charlotte next weekend if these men have their way.
“Whether By Life Or By Death!”
I first encountered Michael Brown’s life-and-death rhetoric when I attended his lecture at a plenary session of the Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, California in 2007. I had attended the conference to get a first-hand look at the pre-eminent annual gathering of people who were “struggling with their homosexuality” and were trying to change. The struggle was a personal struggle against forces which would tempt them from their chosen path of pursuing heterosexuality. Those forces, of course, were often described in evil undertones, but the speakers rarely used that word or characterization directly.
Brown wasn’t nearly that coy. He was there to exhort the crowd to fight against “a pitched attack from hell,” but the attack he was talking about wasn’t an attack on an individual’s sense of sexual righteousness. Instead, Brown was talking about an evil attack on the moral fabric of the culture at large. To counter that attack, his talk centered on developing a “revolutionary mentality,” which he summed up as, “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.”
Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).
Now, it’s important to note that he didn’t use the word of “martyrdom” anywhere in his talk that I can recall. But it certainly describes what he was talking. Take, for instance, his quoting of James B. Taylor: “The world may frown — Satan may rage — but go on! Live for God. May I die in the field of battle.” Or when Brown recounted a tale of another dedicated Christian who was being held up at gunpoint by a robber demanding “your money or your life.” According to Brown, the Christian exclaimed “You’re going to send me to meet Jesus?” and began rejoicing, prompting the robber to flee. Brown also claimed that his own life was in danger because of his confrontations against the LGBT community. All of this to drive home the message that a Christian should value the cause more than his own life:
Listen, God promises us long life and health as blessings in Scripture, and he wants to bless many with families and kids and grandkids and all that. That’s wonderful. But we should have this warrior mentality. Come on, we’ve been addressed as warriors. We should have this revolutionary mentality that says the purpose of my life is to glorify God. And I would rather die glorifying God than live to be ninety and not make an impact.
He then closed that plenary session with a prayer:
I ask you (Jesus) to hold back nothing from me. Here I am. Change me. Fill me. Use me. Send me out to be a world changer to glorify Jesus, to be a holy revolutionary whether by life or by death!
Since Brown’s talk at that Exodus Freedom conference in 2007, he has become a regular speaker at the Love Won Out conference put on jointly by Exodus International and Focus On the Family.
Lou Engle and The Call
Lou Engle also echoes Brown’s embrace of martyrdom. Engle, whose own ministry is known as “The Call,” is closely aligned with a militant Christian Dominionist movement known as Joel’s Army. Casey Sanchez describes the relationship this way:
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 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.
Lou Engle and the Kansas City Prophets
In order to understand where Brown and Engle are coming from with their calls to martyrdom, it’s important to understand where their theology comes from. And to do that, we need to rewind a bit, back to the early 1980′s with a group known as the The Kansas City Prophets. Chief among them was “Prophet” Bob Jones (unrelated to Bob Jones of Bob Jones University fame) who claimed to receive prophecies through visions and dreams. Lou Engle would become one of Prophet Jones’ devoted acolytes.
Among the hallmarks of the Kansas City Prophets were calls for long periods of fasting and prayer, a feature that Engle has made a centerpiece for The Call. In 1983, Jones called for a 21-day fast to usher “a massive move of God.” He also predicted that a drought would consume Kansas City in confirmation of his prophecy from June until August 23. Jones and his followers blithely overlooked the 6.5 inches of rain that fell in June (making that June wetter than average) and another inch or so that fell in July. But the traces of rain that fell around August 23 was enough to confirm his prophetic powers among his followers.
In 1991, Jones was removed from a ministry known as the Vineyard for sexual misconduct, where he allegedly used his “prophetic gift” to fondle women in the church. But that scandal didn’t discredit Jones’ “prophetic gifts” in the eyes of his acolyte, Lou Engle, who made it his mission to fulfill a 1993 prophecy by his mentor:
In 1993, Bob Jones prophesied, “The Houston Oilers would move to Nashville, and Nashville would build God a stadium. And 100,000 people, particularly youth, would gather for a great mobilization of the army of God.” With this prophecy in effect, I was praying about holding The Call in Titan Stadium in Nashville on 07-07-07.
Engle’s earlier incarnation of The Call had become relatively inactive by about 2002, but Engle relaunched it in 2006 with the help of Kansas-City based International House of Prayer to fulfill Jones’ 1993 prophecy. The International House of Prayer is led by Mike Bickle, another of the Kansas City Prophets, who is also listed as The Call’s vice president on their 2009 IRS 990 form. Three other former Kansas City Prophets, Stacey Campbell, Jim Goll, and Dutch Sheets, also sit on The Call’s board of directors, as does Bishop Harry Jackson of Washington, D.C. (or perhaps not of Washington, D.C., but that’s a completely different story.)
I’ve been corresponding to one young man who attended the relaunched The Call event in Nashville in 2007. Tyler (his last name is being withheld) remembers that day vividly — July 7, 2007 (07/07/07 was their “Holy Date”) — and wrote:
I went to Nashville and the day was a whole day of fasting and prayer to “turn the nation back to God.” Their tactics include, in my opinion, a lot of manipulation using emotionally-driven songs, yelling, dancing, and the like to get individuals charged up.
Tyler eventually left the group and came out as gay. But he found that leaving the group was difficult:
I just know that I was pretty “stuck” in that organization and by the time I left I felt like I was getting away from some hardcore brainwashing. It is tough because everyone involved is extremely friendly (they would definitely not pass as members of the Fred Phelps crew…they are too kind). Those involved tend to be young, 20-somethings, who all have a hip and fresh look about them (the Urban Outfitters or American Apparel kind of person). They seem to be open and accepting.
It was difficult for me to leave the group and this movement because I did find such a home there and developed such great friendships. I just couldn’t remain part of something that was so certain that who I am is wrong and I must change.
Since that Nashville gathering, The Call has sponsored additional gatherings in Cincinnati, Ohio; Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, all in 2008. The San Diego event was called specifically to rally for the passage of California’s Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage.
The “Toronto Blessing,” Brownsville Revival, and Michael Brown
Prophet Jones also claims to have predicted the so-called “Toronto Blessing” revival of 1994, which was billed as a spontaneous and historic multi-year outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a congregation at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. Jones supposedly predicted the Toronto Blessing in 1984, exactly ten years earlier. But others see evidence of more direct involvement of the Kansas City Prophets in the Toronto Blessing aside from mere prophecy.
At any rate, the Toronto Blessing was immediately controversial, not only due to the theologies presented there which many mainstream Pentecostals believed were unbiblical, but also due to the odd ecstasies the Toronto Blessing became known for. Mainstream Pentecostal practices place an emphasis on a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, which can be manifested by such signs as speaking in tongues, dancing and being “slain in the Spirit.” To the uninitiated, these can be quite off-putting, but Pentecostal theologians point to scripture to defend certain specific ecstatic experiences.
But nothing prepared them for some of the new behaviors shown at the Toronto Blessing. That revival introduced some new and novel ecstasies never seen before, including uncontrollable “holy laughter;” barking, braying, and making other animal noises; being “drunk” in the spirit, and many other odd behaviors that many mainstream Pentecostals found both disturbing and unbiblical.
The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” Abd that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton. He moved to Pensacola, Florida, where he joined up with John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God. Kilpatrick’s wife had also attended a Toronto Blessing service along with several members of their congregation, so Kilpatrick was already familiar with the famous revival that was garnering a great deal of attention throughout the Charismatic Christian world. Together, Hill and Kilpatrick orchestrated a similar revival of their own in Pensacola, which came to be known as the Brownsville Revival or the Pensacola Outpouring. That revival would continue for at least the next five years. Hill and Kilpatrick were able to recreate the Toronto Blessing quite well — right down to the “holy laughter” and being “drunk in the spirit,” to the horror of other more tranditional-minded Pentecostal pastors and adherents:
“Yet in this Brownsville assembly there is not only violent shaking, but also shrieking and hyena-like laughter. And this is called ‘holy.’
“Another aspect of this so-called “revival,” “outpouring of God,” and “flow of the Spirit” is getting “drunk in the Spirit.” Pastor Kilpatrick of Brownsville admitted that he has been so “drunk in the Spirit” that he actually struck his youth pastor’s car with his own. He said that while driving he had hit many garbage cans sitting at the curb on several occasions, because he was so “drunk.” He added that his wife has been so drunk she couldn’t cook. Sometimes his drunken stupors are so severe that he has to be taken from the service in a wheel-chair, Kilpatrick reported.
That revival eventually died down amid financial scandals, tax evasion, fictitious biographies, theological squabbles with fellow pentecostal pastors, false claims of converting prominent public figures, hoax “cures,” failed prayers to raise the dead, crackdowns on dissenters, and accusations of turning away people in need. But among the many enduring products of the Brownsville Revival was none other than Michael Brown himself.
Michael Brown and the Brownsville Revival
It’s unclear how Michael Brown became involved with the Brownsville Revival, but we do know that he arrived in Pensacola in 1996 and quickly became a part of the Brownsville inner circle. According to the Pensacola New Journal, some who knew him say he waited for more than a decade for just such a major, long-running revival. Several people say he commanded a major role behind the scenes as the “brains” of the operation.
His official role with the Brownsville Revival centered on his founding of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in 1996. While at the helm, he reportedly engaged in crackdowns against dissent. The wife of a former employee says Brown threatened her family’s livelihood in order to force her to recant what Brown regarded as criticism of the revival. Others described him as a man “consumed by the desire to be in control.” Brown denied that, saying that because he had “strong moral convictions and have often taken clear stands on controversial issues,” it was “no surprise that some of those who differ with me might mistake confidence for arrogance.”
Brown’s position in the Brownsville Revival proved lucrative. By 1998, he was reportedly building a home valued at $727,360 on 11 acres of land purchased for $165,000. (Brown disputed the figures.) Brown was fired from the school in 2000 for failure to agree on an “acceptable means of accountability” within the Assemblies of God. (Brown was not a member of the denomination and was therefore outside its lines of accountability.) He moved to Charlotte where he founded the FIRE School of Ministry, which appears to be a North Carolina recreation of Brown’s former school in Florida. FIRE is an acronym for “Fellowship for International Revival and Evangelism.”
Brown was joined in his new venture by several other BRSM faculty members and staff: Robert Gladstone, Josh Peters, Steve Alt, Scott Volk, S.J. Hill, and Tobi A. Peters. Five other FIRE faculty and staff members are BRSM graduates. Gladstone now serves as FIRE’s director. Brown himself reconciled with the Brownsville group in 2003.
A “Flash Point”
So as we can see, there is a direct line of theological and ministerial development from the Kansas City Prophets and Lou Engle, to the Toronto Blessing, and from there to the Brownsville Revival and Michael Brown. That line has become a complete circle, with Engle and Brown uniting for a showdown in Charlotte.
To prepare for this event, Engle and Brown have called for yet another 21-day fast in the days leading up to Charlotte Pride. And when Engle calls for a fast, he clearly intends something big. InterstateQ has posted audio of Lou Engle as he talked about an earlier fateful 21-day fast at a post-9/11 gathering of The Call in Boston:
It’s time for the church to gain air supremacy again. When 9-11 happened, we were in the midst of a 21 day fast. The planes flew out of Boston … I didn’t know what was coming down that day, but I wrote a devotional for that day it was this: We have lost air supremacy in America. I said the prophetic movie for this year is “Pearl Harbor,” when they said, “They’re building bombs, we’re building refrigerators. We don’t even know there is a war going on.” I think something far worse than Islam is coming to America in the homosexual agenda. Islam is something that comes from without. When we begin to change the very foundational laws of creation … we begin to literally destruct inwardly as a people.
And so it should come as no surprise that Lou Engle would call for a 21-day fast now for Charlotte. Engle said this about the latest fast in an interview posted on Brown’s web site:
I believe with the 21 day fast, that we’re calling, that breakthroughs could take place, in the community, people getting saved on that day, a divine favor shift in the high places of the government could take place, because in 21 days of fasting and prayer, because as you know with Daniel, everything shifted over the king of Persia, an archangel now had influence over the king of Persia, rather than the demonic prince of Persia. Why can’t we believe for the same kind of shifts to take place in this season of time? So I think the 25th is a flash point, at the ending of 21 days.
And what might that flash point be? We don’t know. In the interview posted on Michael Brown’s web site, Engle and Brown believe that it will be a rising up of a new movement to put a halt to LGBT advocacy efforts. But Lou Engle’s earlier description, from his talk in Boston, cannot be dismissed:
Addressing a post-9/11 TheCall gathering in Boston, whose participants phoned Engle to say they were afraid of attending, Engle said he replied, “Since when can Muslims die better than Christians? … Esther said, ‘If I die, I die.’”
In his message to FIRE Church, Engle said Christians needed to make “peace through war,” saying, “Revelation demands participation … Sometimes we use prophecies as toys instead of bombs to make war with in the Spirit.”
Describing his prayers to root out the “homosexual Jezebel spirit” in California, Engle said he prayed everyday with a “focused, laser beam.”
“There’s power in that kind of prayer,” Engle exclaimed. “That’s a prayer,” he said, making machine gun sounds and adding, “Shoot everything!”
Engle said, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!” Compare that with Brown’s “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.” It’s no wonder these two found each other. In fact, Engle says he contacted Brown because he received a “prophetic word.” From the Kansas City Prophets, to the Toronto Blessing, to the Brownsville Revival, there is a consistent thread that runs through them.
We don’t believe that these leaders intend for any violence to take place at the Charlotte Pride festival. But we do know that they believe they are on a prophetic mission to confront the forces of evil, and that is the message they intend to share with their mob of 1,000 highly emotional protesters.
In a movement that places such value in the Word, there is little difference between word and deed. And that’s particularly true when the word is presented as prophecy. Engle says his prophecy is that the “homosexual agenda” will reach its high-water mark in Charlotte, and that because of their efforts, “it stops here.” Those hoped-for thousand will have fasted and prayed, and they will have heard the exhortations to value death more than life. Brown and Engle are playing with a very dangerous mix of emotion and religious fervor. Under those conditions, just about anything might happen.