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Posts for November, 2011

The Daily Agenda for Friday, 11/11/11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Veterans Day: Nationwide. This will be the first Veterans Day commemoration since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which means that this will be the first Veterans Day commemoration in which gay and lesbian servicemembers will be able to participate fully. I know of two cities  in which LGBT veterans will be celebrated as part of the mainstream events:

  • San Diego, CA: San Diego LGBT Pride extends its welcome to all LGBT veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their families and supporters to walk with us in the San Diego Veterans Day Parade. The contingent will meet at 10am on the west side of the north Parking lot of the Country Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego CA 92101. The Parade will kick off at 11am.
  • San Francisco, CA: Today’s 92nd annual Veterans Day Parade will be led by San Francisco Freedom Day Marching Band. “It’s just the right thing to do,” said Wallace Levin, the parade coordinator. “Future generations of Americans will look back on this issue and wonder what all the fuss was about.” The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of Market and Montgomery streets, and will go down Market Street to McAllister Street and then continue up McAllister to the reviewing stand across from City Hall.

I’m sure there are others. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Lou Engle at TheCall in Nashville, 2007

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Lou Engle’s TheCall Rally: Detroit, MI. Engle is apparently transfixed by certain numbers when they repeat themselves on the calendar. When July 7, 2007 rolled around, Engle held a TheCall rally in Nashville which he believed would mark the end of a forty year period of rebellion since the “Summer of Love” in 1967. Apparently believe that God conforms himself to the man-made western Gregorian calendar, Engle has managed to read some sort of significance into the date 11/11/11, although what that would be is anybody’s guess. Targeting the substantial Arab-American community of Dearborn, Engle’s goal for TheCall Detroit is the conversion of “millions of Muslims” to Christianity and what he calls the transformation of “urban communities.” And gays. Don’t forget the gays, although it looks like he really has his sights set on Muslims this time. He took care of the gays in 2010 at a rally in Kampala, Uganda, where he lent tactical support for the proposed “Kill the Gays” Bill.

Today’s rally begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. and continues for twenty-four hours until tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. And Engle has issued some pretty crazy warnings if he doesn’t get a massive turnout in Detroit: ” If we actually have The Call and you don’t sustain prayer ongoing you open a vacuum for demons seven times worse to come in. If black and white can’t move together in prayer and sustain it, forget it let’s not even go there, you get demons seven times worse.” So yeah, there’s that to chew on.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a back clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At hi death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

Wheat became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

From Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

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.

Evan Hurst: An Eyewitness Account of Lou Engle’s “Stealth Bomber Meeting”

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2010

As we reported earlier, Lou Engle is holding a series of talks every night in St. Louis between June 19 and July 12. These nightly sessions are taking place at the Gateway House of Prayer on S. Lindbergh Blvd. in the western St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill. Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out traveled to St. Louis to attend one of Engle’s talks, and he lived to tell about it. It turns out that Engle has a rather high opinion of himself:

He asserts at the beginning that he is a prophet, and not a teacher, which is telling, for several reasons. It shows that we’re dealing with a person who is not only delusional, but also not really a scholar of his chosen subject, the Bible. Engle introduces the story of Jezebel and Ahab, found in 1 Kings, to draw a parallel to modern times where, Engle believes, other Christians who he views as unorthodox are the root of most problems. On one side are Lou, his followers and like-minded people. He will later refer to them as the “Yahweh Separatists.” On the other is basically everyone else in the world, including most Christians, who he refers to as a “Jezebel” generation. He intones the call of the Calvinist reformers, “Sola Scriptura!“, which I think would probably amuse those old Calvinists, considering.

And it apparently doesn’t take long to get to Engle’s thoughts on homosexuality:

If we’re struggling with a homosexual, same-sex desire, LET THE BIBLE KILL YOU, rather than make it easier for you, and say well, there must be a better scriptural answer to this … Brothers and sisters, let the Bible kill you rather than you twist the scriptures! And in that killing, it will break you so that you can find a redeemer and a savior! Oh, I believe there are those struggling with same-sex desires who will stand, having done everything to stand, and maybe they won’t find the deliverance they’ve been looking for, but they refuse to let the world dictate their theology; they’re gonna stand on the Bible. And they may go for thirty years in an agonizing struggle, but they go into heaven because they stood with God rather than standing with the ideologies of this world.

There is so, so much more, including audio clips. The clips show Engle’s vision for a theocratic America and his paranoia that demonic powers are currently roaming the halls of government. Particularly interesting is Evan Hurst’s observation that Engle occasionally teeters on the edge of “Things He’s Not Supposed To Say,” as Evan puts it. And at one point, Engle falls beyond that edge:

Our president two days ago came out and said ‘We bless the fathers of families that have two fathers’! This is a decree, a blessing, called this month, LGBT pride month. When decrees come from high places, it actually opens doors! It is a key! It unlocks the spiritual realm for the fueling of the demonization of culture! Is this being taped?” [voice from bouncer/heavy off to the side interjects “We can erase it.”]

Again, Evan has audio of all of this — including Engle’s “prophetic dreams,” which you just have to read for yourself.

Engle isn’t the only person who thinks God talks to him in his dreams. He comes from a movement that was started by the controversial Kansas City Prophets. When I wrote that piece, I was accused of being paranoid and delusional, and that the piece itself was pure fantasy. But with Evan’s eyewitness account and audio recordings, I have to ask: Who’s delusional now?

Does Lou Engle Really Oppose Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” Bill?

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2010

The answer to that very simple question was never clear. Today, we might have a bit more clarity than before. If so, the news isn’t good.

Lou Engle addressing a rally in Kampala, Uganda. (Marc Hofer/New York Times)

American evangelical leader Lou Engle traveled to Uganda last month to put on another of his TheCall rallies on the sports field of Makarere University in Kampala. That event turned into a political rally in support for passage of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The rally featured key bill supporters like MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor; Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, and Ugandan pastor Julius Oyet. Just before Engle traveled to the rally, he released an extremely ambiguous statement in which he promised that he “will not promote this bill.” He continued:

In fact, we challenge the Church of Uganda to join with Christians around the world, to first examine our own moral failures, confess our own lack of love, and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.

But news reports from Uganda itself suggests that Engle went back on his promise and spoke in favor of the bill. The New York Times reported that he praised Uganda for its “courage” and “righteousness” in proposing the bill. Further reports indicate that while Engle was clearly careful in not calling explicitly for the bill’s passage, he nevertheless gave his implicit support by defending Uganda’s pastors who were dealing “with a controversy they never wanted.” He also refused to comment when other speakers took the stage and demanded the bill’s passage. It’s pretty obvious from several reports of people who were there that the crowd was left with the distinct impression that Engle supported the bill, and Engle did nothing to disabuse them of it.

Five weeks later, and almost immediately following Exodus International president Alan Chambers’ contrite statement regretting his failure to more vigorously oppose the infamous “nuclear bomb” conference held in March of 2009, Engle tried to jump on the same bandwagon. Just two days later, Engle issued a press release:

I was actually asked to release a petition at TheCall for the people to sign in support of the Bill. I did not allow that to happen because the purpose of the gathering was not a political gathering; it was a prayer gathering. However, I had to leave the prayer meeting early to catch our flight back home. After returning home, I was told that the Bill had been clearly promoted after I left the meeting. I apologize that this took place and that my stated purpose of not promoting the Bill was compromised. I take responsibility for what was done on the stage of TheCall, even in my absence.

Engle’s apparent defense is that his tacit non-endorsing endorsement could have been worse. He could have circulated a petition that would have removed any lingering doubt whatsoever as to his real stance on the bill. Thanks for small favors.

But even if we try to look at this with the deepest rose-colored charitable glass-half-full benefit of the doubt, Engle’s true position on the bill still remains ambiguous at best. Even in this latest statement, he repeated his admiration for Uganda’s commitment ” to raise up a principled stand to protect their people and their children from an unwelcome intrusion of homosexual ideology.”

So even under the most generous assumptions, Engle’s stand with this bill would still remain anybody’s guess. I think you know mine. And today, we have some more information which confirms my strong suspicion that Engle really supports the bill but won’t actually allow those precise words to escape from his lips.

Engle’s most recent statement prompted Jeff Sharlet to write about his encounter with the bill’s supporters while attending Engle’s rally in Kampala. Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, spent quite a bit of time with Oyet and Bahati immediately following the rally and reports that they were both “ecstatic at what they perceived as Engle’s strong support of the bill. They felt his rally and his statements would be a turning point for the bill, reassuring their Ugandan allies that they had support abroad.”

Sharlet also says that Oyet and Bahati both insisted that Engle had explicitly supported the bill when speaking with them, but that he had to “lie to the Western media because gays control it.” Bahati recounted that Engle spoke to the BBC against the bill, and then promptly walked over to Bahati offer his private support. Sharlet continues:

I tend to believe Bahati here, since Engle didn’t mean anything to him until he met him that day. He hadn’t heard of him and decided to attend the rally only after I’d told him a few things about Engle. In other words, he left the rally thrilled with Engle based on that encounter with Engle alone. Clearly, Engle did something to please him.

Sharlet also says that despite reports that Uganda may remove the death penalty from the bill, both Bahati and Oyet strongly support retaining the provision.

"Apostle" Julius Oyet

Sharlet confirms that Oyet is playing a very prominent role in promoting the bill, and is now officially working for Bahati. I’ve heard some suggestions that Oyet is the bill’s true author, but that hasn’t been confirmed. He is, nevertheless, very closely identified with it. For example, we know that Oyet was in the visitors gallery when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in Parliament last October, and that the Parliament’s Speaker specifically acknowledged him and commended his presence there.

Oyet is the self-styled “apostle” who is vice-president of the Born Again Federation, an umbrella group of some 10,000 Ugandan Pentecostal churches. He is also an adherent of “Seven Mountains” theology, a Dominionist theology that calls upon Christians to “establish the Kingdom of God on earth” by claiming possession to “the Seven Mountains of Culture namely: Business, Government, Religion, Family, Media, Education and Entertainment.” Oyet is also the head of the College of Prayer International’s Uganda branch. MP David Bahati, the credited author and sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is one of eight MP’s serving on COPI’s “servant leadership team” in Parliament.

Finally, according to Sharlet, “Oyet insisted that there are American church leaders who are supporting the bill privately but lying to the American media about it.” This repeats almost word-for-word what Bahati told Current TV’s Mariana van Zeller

The many friends that we have, especially evangelicals in America, when we speak to them privately they do support us. They encourage us, but they are in a society that is very hostile. And we appreciate that and we say do what you think is right for your conscience. …But we have support in America. There are people who support what we are engaged in.

At that time, I asked aloud who some of those Americans might be. Today, we may very well have one answer: Lou Engle.

Lou Engle’s TheCall Going To Uganda in 2010?

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2009
Lou Engle at TheCall in Nashville, 2007

Lou Engle at TheCall in Nashville, 2007

Bruce Wilson at Talk To Action has uncovered some very troubling information. Lou Engle, organizer of TheCall who believes that gays are possessed by demons, may be planning on taking his violence-laden rhetoric to Uganda in 2010.

Wilson uncovered a couple of indications that plans are in the works for a massive stadium rally in Uganda for late spring of 2010. Jo Anna Watson, founder of Touching Hearts International, says her November 2009 ministry newsletter:

I attended the International Call Summit, October 28 -30 hosted by Lou Engle and Stacey Campbell. Over 20 participants for other nations were gathered who are interested in holding a Call in their nation. This summit was very informative as we were filled with the DNA of the CALL and encouraged to follow through with what God has placed on our heart. On October 30th I flew to Chicago to attend the last two days of Pastor John Mulinde’s prayer summit. We met on Saturday to discuss in more detail and make preparations for the CALL Uganda to be held May 29, 2010. I will arrive in Uganda on January 6 and will be living in Uganda to partner with Pastor John Mulinde as we prepare and mobilize this Sacred Assembly, similar to the one described in Joel 2. I ask you to keep theCall Uganda and our team in prayer and if possible to fast one day a week or month, along with us, in preparation for the Call Uganda on May 29, 2010.

According to the Touching Hearts International web site, Watson has been traveling to Uganda yearly since 2002. According to a note on THI’s home page, Touching Hearts International will partner with Kampala-based World Trumpet Mission, which is headed by founder John Mulinde. World Trumpet Mission also has extensive staff in Orlando, Florida under International Director Mark Daniel.

Three weeks ago, we discussed reports by Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton and Talk to Action’s Bruce Wilson describing the importance of  the Seven Mountains Mandate and Transformations theology as key connections between many U.S. evangelical anti-gay extremists and current events in Uganda. Mulinde is an adherent to Transformations theology, which calls on churches to establish theocratic control over governments and civil society. Another Transformations adherent, Julius Oyet, heads the Kampala campus of U.S. based College of Prayer International and has been identified as a key supporter of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is now before Parliament.

If a rally by TheCall takes place in Uganda, this is the sort of reckless, fear-mongering and violence-inducing rhetoric we can expect:

YouTube Preview Image

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride

Jim Burroway

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.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

“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

Lou Engle

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.

Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones

Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones

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.)

The Call in Nashville, in 2007.

The Call in Nashville, in 2007.

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

A service of the Toronto Blessing

A service of the Toronto Blessing

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.

Steve Hill (left) and John Kilpatrick (right).

Steve Hill (left) and John Kilpatrick (right).

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

Michael Brown speaking at the Brownsville Assembly of God

Michael Brown speaking at the Brownsville Assembly of God

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.

Lou Engle

Lou Engle

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.