Category Archives: Politics

Conservatives and the Evangelical Vote

Why Conservatives are still in the race for Governing Canada even though all the facts are against them. It is the Evangelical grass-roots support that gives them the advantage.

Many Evangelicals side with Stephan Harper and the Conservative party because it is the only one that potentially represents their values. However, although religious representation does exist in the Party, the Conservative psyche hardly promotes or defends these constituents core values. This behaviour is still better than the NDP and the Liberals who have shown open hostility to the Evangelical movement. The Evangelical movement in Canada is a large voting block, arguably between one to four million Canadians.

This does not mean all Evangelicals side with the Conservatives but it is safe to say that a large percentage do. Harper realizes, as Davies notes in his Guardian article, Stephen Harper: the Master Manipulator, this constituency has no voting alternative. I am no statistician, but this appears to be a large advantage. If one combines those voters who are staunch Conservatives without a religious affiliation, the lowest base that the Conservatives could achieve in voting is around 24 percent. This leverage means they only need to sway an additional 10 to 15 percent of the populace to return to power. The Conservative strategy to get the extra percentage is to target those who are concerned about security and to a lesser degree economic issues. Although it is clear to most Canadians that the level of secrecy the Government has conducted itself in, the revelations of major misdeeds within its tenure, and how the severe autocratic control of the Prime Minister’s office undermines democracy, the Conservative formula for success still works.

The Dark Side of the Canadian Barbaric Rhetoric

Who are the Barbarians?

The open use of barbarian in the Canadian political vocabulary during the 2015 election demonstrated Canada could potentially be sliding into ethnic isolationism. This ideology was very dangerous, and Canadians narrowly avoided the acceptance of this word into the cultural psyche.

This article was generated during the Canadian 2015 election. The Conservative Party of Canada has since regretted their use of the word ‘Barbarian’ during their election campaign.

Act-S7, commonly known as the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act was introduced and enacted on June 16th, 2015, in the Canadian Parliament. The Act is a piece of legislation that allows every Canadian citizen the right to consent to marriage, whether in Canada or abroad, and must be over 16 years of age. Anyone found aiding or abetting a forced marriage is liable to up to five years in prison.

Was Act-S7 even necessary? Probably not. This type of behaviour is restricted in other established Canadian laws. However, the timing of such a law exacerbates the current phobias generational Canadians have with immigrants. The tone and timing creates an atmosphere of distrust between generational and new Canadians.

The spirit behind this legislation is moving into further controversial areas. Conservative politicians Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, who was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the time, proposed a Barbaric Cultural Practices tip line. A phone number that any concerned citizen can call if they think an immigrant is practicing something that is in contradiction of standard Canadian values.(1)http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-barbaric-cultural-practices-law-1.3254118

The hotline is reminiscent of the Japanophobia that occurred on the west coast of British Columbia during the Second World War. A time when the people of Japanese descent were treated as second-class citizens and potential enemies of the State. Over 10,000 persons of Japanese descent were slated for deportation because of ethnic fears. They also lost all their properties, businesses, and jobs during this period. It took until 1988 for the then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, to offer an apology and compensation to the Japanese community.(2)http://pw20c.mcmaster.ca/case-study/racial-discrimination-and-internment-cooperative-committee-japanese-canadians

Fortunately, Canadians did not approve of this concept at the voting station, and the whole Barbaric tip line hurt the Conservative cause for re-election.

The word barbarian is of particular concern as a title. The historical meaning of this word does not mean foreigner, but something inferior. Meriam-Webster defines it as, “of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people.”(3)http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/barbarian

It is a serious error for Government representatives or politicians to use this word. The wording of the title suggests this is a polemic against an unnamed entity. The likely targets are the Muslim or East Indian communities; ethnic groups whose values on marriage, and other practices are distinctly different than Canadian standards.

The idea of barbarian has been expressed in numerous ways in the Canadian political system for at least ten years. The official use of the word is the culmination of this mindset that must be purged.

The Conservative Government also pushed restrictive laws against immigrants in other areas. They introduced legislation that allows to strip Canadian citizens of their citizenship if they were previously or remain a citizen of another country. This rule can be enforced if a Canadian citizen who is an immigrant has been found to have broken Canadian law. These Canadians are then forced to return to the country of origin. This type of attitude represents a self-patronizing attitude and separates Canadians into two tiers; those that were born here, and others who immigrated. Immigrants are now conditional Canadians based on whether their values and behaviour continually align with Canadian principles.

The Canadian Government also has a policy of not allowing women from certain Asian countries from entering, even as a tourist. These women, unless they have clear documentation of professional status, business credentials, wealth or titled property holder, cannot enter Canada. The Canadian Government believes that there is a statistically good chance that a women from a foreign, impoverished country, will not return to their place of origin, or will be used by unscrupulous Canadians in the sex trade. Although the Canadian Government has real concerns, a complete barring of women from Asian developing countries is discriminatory and represents a self-aggrandized attitude. There has to be a better solution than this.

Foreign workers have also been discriminated against and considered a lesser person. There is difficulty in some provinces for employers to attract Canadians for entry level or service oriented jobs. The solution was to allow temporary foreign workers to fill the need. However, there were some loopholes that made these workers into potential slaves. Some paid substantial fees to recruiters to come to Canada. Upon arrival, they were housed in sub-standard living conditions, and on some occasions, after landing a job, did not receive any or proper pay. The temporary worker loathed to complain because of employer leverage. If the person complained, the employer had the power to contact the Canadian Border Services Agency, and the foreign complainant would be immediately deported without reason. An Ontario human rights tribunal recently noted that a woman was “forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home.”(4)http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/28/temporary-foreign-workers-vulnerability-noted-in-sexual-harassment-case_n_7455636.html. Attempts have been made through legislation to improve these conditions, but the underlying problem of tiered citizenship and an exploitive attitude towards immigrants still exist.

References   [ + ]

Evangelicals in the Canadian Political Realm

How Evangelicals can and can’t contribute to the diverse Canadian social mosaic.

Many Evangelicals hold to an ideology that to bring about positive moral change in Canada is to directly influence those in power, and the values endorsed by the powerbrokers will trickle-down to every part of society.

In order to bring about this type of revision, the Christian movement needs leverage, clout and people power — a force that draws the attention of the key public decision makers, who then recognize the political necessity to change. If a maxim existed for such an approach, it would be, If you want God’s kingdom to have a strong influence on this land, learn to influence the key decision makers in all.

This immediately poses a number of questions. Two especially come to mind: is this trickle-down concept moral or the best methodology the Evangelical community can provide? And, are religious leaders properly equipped to delve into the political realm?

Religious Canadian leaders have successfully entered the political realm. Powerful voices in the such as J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, and William Aberhart have contributed with great success. Their experience has demonstrated lessons for others who follow. However, the line today between religious and civic leaders are drawn with little crossover. It is a new era where those Evangelicals entering today must be fully aware of what they are getting into. It can be done and is necessary, but most churches are not prepared, nor politically astute enough to provide the proper checks and balances.

Religious leaders can be exploited because of their lack of experience with the political system. David Kuo, former second in command to President Bush’s office admits to milking the religious right for their allegiance. In a Time Magazine article, he quoted Chuck Colson, once aide to President Richard Nixon, saying, “I arranged special briefings in the Roosevelt Room for religious leaders, ushered wide-eyed denominational leaders into the Oval Office for private sessions with the President,” and then Colson adds, “Of all the groups I dealt with, I found religious leaders the most naive about politics. Maybe that is because so many come from sheltered backgrounds, or perhaps it is the result of a mistaken perception of the demands of Christian charity … Or, most worrisome of all, they may simply like to be around power.”(1)David Kuo. Tempting Faith. And Inside Story of Political Seduction. New York: Free Press. 2006. Pg. 172

The late Chuck Colson, who was an important aide to President Nixon, and later a born again Christian, added that Christians must be engaged, but with eyes open, aware of the snares and to not be beholden to any political ideological alignment.(2)Charles Colson. Kingdoms in Conflict. New York: Harper PaperBacks. 1990. Pg. 477

No religious leader can remain altruistic. One of the key components of political involvement from a faith perspective is recognition that no matter how moral or pure our intentions are, the quest for power exists in every individual and must be publicly recognized.

Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to the concept of power and one-upmanship as being motivated by the ‘Drum Major Instinct’, and that no-one, including himself, is outside its influence.(3)http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/ If this is true, one of the key components of political involvement from a faith perspective is recognition that no matter how moral or pure our intentions are, the drum major instinct exists and must be publicly recognized.

If people or organizations from a faith perspective do not acknowledge the drum major instinct within their realm, along with the proper checks and balances to control, potential problems may arise in the future that not only defeats the aims of the political activist, but harms the corporate religion.

Another important point Canadian religious leaders must be mindful of is public fear that religious advocates would force their agenda. Preston Manning opined this at McGill University’s “Pluralism, Religion, and Public Policy” conference held in 2002, “When advocates of faith-based positions convey the impression that they would force their positions on the rest of the population, if only they had sufficient power and influence to do so, is it any wonder that the rest of the population is reluctant to grant them standing and influence?”

From a Canadian standpoint, this fear is very ubiquitous and is found both in our creative literature and in politics. For example the well-known Canadian literary giant, Margaret Atwood, wrote a fictional novel, The Handmaiden, on what she thought could potentially happen if protestant fundamentalists took over the government — an event that she perceived would have catastrophic repercussions on the role of women in society.

The public ideological alignment of Evangelicals with the Conservative Party of Canada could especially have long-term negative damage. Although this party may best represent many Christian principles, it is still a political party, and any large political fallout with the public by way of hypocrisy, scandal, war or moral debate may cause a harsh public backlash against the Evangelical Church and foment publicly acceptable anti-Christian and Church rhetoric.

A closer look at Jesus teachings on leadership indicate that the trickle-down theory was antithetical to a message to the majority of people whom He served. He did not come to persuade the powers-to-be. He came directly to the disenfranchised and gave them hope.

Traditional Evangelicals may posit that the power Christians are to wield in this world is evangelism. Social reform is dependant and can only happen through widespread personal repentance and submittance to God. Although evangelism has a high importance, this is an incomplete answer that is over-simplistic.

Many belonging to the burgeoning charismatic movement would argue that power is to be defined in supernatural terms; it is to destroy the works of Satan. This too is not a consistent nor a comprehensive definition of power from a heavenly perspective.

Nor is it the Churches purpose to respresent, lead, and empower the oppressed and marginalized to overthrow tyrannical despots, or corrupt leadership. This is also a top-down strategy that is ineffective.

St. Francis of Assissi provided part of the answer when he wrote: “where there is hatred, let me sow Your love” which tends to go nicely together with Christ’s admonition, “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either”. This may seem like such a cowardly withdrawal from conflict that allows for exploitation or abuse, but rather, it is breaking the cycle of absolute power. They are encouraging people not to be controlled by conventions of worldly power, but guided by a higher law of love and servanthood that is not subject to corruption, dishonesty, anger, bitterness or revenge.

Jesus described the heavenly definition of power as that of servanthood, “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.” And also, “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve”. His definition of power ascribed almost the exact opposite of what we instinctually believe it to be.

The idea of leadership from a heavenly perspective is about the person who is most willing to do whatever it costs for the betterment of another being and respects everyone as equal partners. In many circles this is called service. It is the opposite to pursuing power. Carl Jaspers, a humanist philosopher concluded this when he wrote, “Where love rules, there is no will to power and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.”

There are many implications of holding onto such a philosophy, especially where faith and politics intertwine. First of all it changes the role of the Christian. Instead of the Christian standing aloof and judging against the world, the main purpose is helping others arrive at completeness in whatever area they lack, whether spiritual or physical.

It also avoids and corrects the idea that the Church and Christians want to lord over others and force their opinions.

The mission of helping others then becomes the message. People such as Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, and lesser-knowns such as Dr. Paul Brandt, a specialist in leprosy, the late Winnipeg Pastor and activist, Harry Lehotsky, and more whose mission to serve has naturally also became the message. These names are all a positive part of the public conscience and transcends racial, socio-economic, cultural and religious barriers.

The Church then becomes a center for serving those in need and constantly making adjustments as the needs arise. By doing this, the Church through service will become an active part of the Canadian mosaic rather than an outside bystander.■

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Fanatics, Extremists, and Religion

The difference between fanaticism and true religion.

Fanaticism is an unhealthy set of principles that takes the letter of the law too literally and avoids compassion or feeling towards self or others. It is found in all faiths and ideologies. It is part of the human narrative.

On the other hand, true religion is one who lives by the higher law of love and commitment to truth. A condition that takes much more effort, patience and sacrifice to achieve than simply following a legal code.

There are good Christians and bad Christians, same with socialists, capitalists, Jews, and also Muslims. History shows that even non-religious systems such as Communism, and the attempted establishment of Western Democratic countries in the Middle East have run into the same problems of fanaticism. The ancient texts and modern history weaves the account that wherever humanity exists, greatness is found, but also the element of corruption and inhumanity always runs in parallel.

Is it the fault of religion or ideology? No. Any system designed for the benefit of humanity can also be a source of bondage. From my observations as a member of the Charismatic Church community, there are many stories where people are rescued from their own destructive behavior and discover a newfound sense of community. However, there are also those who have personally suffered either at the hands of those asserting legal principles over human need or are using religion to avoid dealing with their inner demons.

How can that be? If one lives simply by the rules and adheres to the Bible as a legal text of dos and do nots, it absolves one of any personal responsibility. The letter of the Law does not require one to love another, or even care while the spirit of it does.

The present Church is a combination of some who just go by the letter, and those who strive hard to go by the higher law. Most vacillate between the two sides – not because these are bad people, it is because the Church is a human entity. Being human is a problem of imperfection, and the ensuing challenge is to go beyond self and to be altruistic. The achievement of such a condition is not an easy path to follow.

The legal vs. spirit of the law is not just an ancient religious problem. It is a common theme today but masked in different motifs. It is seen in my place of employment where the Collective Agreement between the Union and Management is like a Bible. There is no higher standard than the words in the agreement between the two parties. Management does not have to care at all about the individual employee in any decision-making, and can harass, shame, or push for productivity as long as it does not contravene the Collective Agreement. The Union too can call out names and shame management, and treat with contempt because this behavior is not explicitly found in the Collective Agreement and therefore not punishable. The Agreement is not designed to force anyone to like, respect, or treat each other humanely. This is not in the spirit how people should treat each other, but this is the reality.

People can easily hide behind the façade of the secular Western democratic systems of governance and justice.The halls of democracy can equally abuse as that of a religious system. If people follow the legal text without being encouraged to reach for a higher standard above the Law – that is of loving one another, then it fails.

When the Law becomes a daily part of our lives, and the spirit of the Law is removed, it takes away the responsibility to think about others, communicate, or even care. Inhumanity then easily can sink in.

Are there fanatical Christians? Yes. Fanatical Muslims? Yes. Fanatical Jews? Yes. Fanatical secularists? Yes. Are most people fanatics in any system or ideology? No, but the majority voice of compassion and patience can be drowned out by a small minority of passionate zealots. Fanaticism is not the fault of any religion or ideology, it is simply the dark part of the human character that hides behind legal texts for its self-seeking purposes, and thus avoiding any personal responsibility. It’s an easy-way-out.

To not recognize or address fanatical elements in any religious system or ideology is an immature view of our human capabilities for both good and evil. It is also dangerous because ignoring the fanatical dark side in any movement can have damaging future consequences.

Where have all the Prophets gone?

The need for modern prophets in the age of spin.

Prophet is an old term used for people who have the capacity to discern between the lines. These people have the ability to discover and expose the truth where things appear unclear or hidden. They don’t take things at face value but look into the motivations behind the words. These type of people are independent, free-thinkers, who are devoted to the truth and are not bound to any particular brand, organization, or institution.

Today, the title of prophet is little used, and the noun journalist is preferred.

Unfortunately, the prophet as journalist is disappearing. It takes a lot of work to be a prophet and communicate to the masses. It is not simply an esoteric task that happens in an instant moment where someone is suddenly inspired. It takes time, research, networking, access to key persons and literature on a subject, and finding those that are in the know. It is a full time job which requires compensation and teamwork in order to succeed.

Newspapers, radio and television organizations supplied a highly developed journalism department backed by strong administrative and legal support. Today, this is no longer economically viable and the journalism that society has counted on for generations is dying. Those that do remain are forced to compete with the myriad of amateur perspectives posted on the internet. If they are not picked up by a major media outlet, their message can easily be lost. Most media channels, due to the present lack of a strong journalism department, simply restate whatever press release is given by a government or corporation.

There are many prophet/journalist wannabees who do proliferate the internet and many magazines with stories that are not grounded on truth but are written to either titillate or provoke, improve readership, their own image, or make easy money. These are false-prophets and are a different genre altogether. This further erodes public confidence in investigative journalism.

This is a dangerous time. With the erosion of the journalist role in society, governments and monolithic corporations can do or say whatever they want with impunity.

It takes a special person to be a prophet, and every society needs this type of function. It is an outside agent that calls against the excess of any social system. In the past it took the form of spiritual enlightenment where God reveals in a dream or circumstance to a person the most intimate things involving those that has significant importance. Such as the prophet Nathan being told by God of King David’s selfish act of murder to hide a secret liaison. However, this wouldn’t go over too well today in such a direct fashion. Or it could be, as Thomas Aquinas insists, the highest ability to gather all the information available; the words, the circumstances, the spirit, non-verbal expressions, testimonies, history, and any other finite detail, and make cohesive sense out of it all. Prophetic voices are needed on so many fronts from ecological, to medical, moral and economic concerns that have generational impacts.

However, this is not happening on any large-scale to counter the rhetoric being spewed by large institutions. This does not imply that institutions are inherently bad. The problem is the lack of accountability. The present social system is deeply flawed.

The Catholic Church continues to issue a prophetic voice to the nations, but this is not enough. The Occupy Wall Street movement is also a prophetic movement, albeit without the religious doctrine, on the corruption of the financial system, but is failing because of a lack of structural organization. The Muslim community is also issuing a prophetic voice — though because of the violent tactics used and misogyny within its circles, the West refuses to listen to moderates that have valid points. Organizations such as Sojourners attempt to regain the prophetic voice for Evangelicals, but it is relegated to being a special interest group. If the Evangelical Church refuses to acquire a prophetic voice, which should be a base of its activities, it will continue into its progression of being a superficial artifice. This lack of a prophetic voice will permit the growth of a society that no longer has the ability to discern good from evil.

The Evangelical Church, because of its heavy influence on American social life, which in turn effects the international psyche, needs to encourage prophets and the prophetic voice. It has the finances and resources to do such a thing. This would be a big factor in bringing accountability and justice throughout the world. It is hoped that the young people growing up in the Evangelical movement will embrace the prophetic role. It will not only change the world around them, but will also rescue the Evangelical Church from its current evacuation of young people from its ranks. ■

The Journey out of Christian Zionism

Why I am no longer pro-Israel, nor pro-Arab, but pro-human.

Hopefully the Evangelical Church will soon take this position too. It would be a factor in bringing resolution to the Arab–Israeli conflict.

My own change of mind began with a scholarship to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984. The stay in Israel was after three years of Bible College training. It was exciting to live and study in the actual place where most of the Biblical writings took place.

Like many other Bible believing Christians, my mind stopped at 33 AD; full of antiquated stereotypes and assumptions about modern Israel. Before the trip began, I didn’t know what Israel geographically looked like, nor was personally familiar with anyone of Jewish heritage, and absolutely ignorant of contemporary Middle East affairs. I was ideologically a Christian Zionist — a person who supported the State of Israel because of the numerous historical and apocalyptic references to this nation found in the Bible. The Arab community hardly figured into this initial picture.

My departure from Christian Zionism and the movement to a more balanced perspective began after a conversation with a man who called himself Brother David. He was living on the Mount of Olives as part of a controversial group that was waiting, praying and encouraging the end of the world to come. They called themselves the House of Prayer. While waiting for a Jerusalem Christian Assembly Church(1) Now known as King of Kings Community Jerusalem service to begin, I asked Brother David “Did you hear about the Arab riot?” This was in regards to a violent riot in Bethlehem that had ended with military intervention the day before. He replied with a sudden look of happiness and emphatically stated, “soon they won’t be with us anymore”. His words alluded to an assumption many evangelical circles hold that any opposition to the modern State of Israel are enemies to God. These enemies are pre-ordained to be destroyed.

I was of the same opinion at the time, but when he verbalized these beliefs, It shocked and deeply troubled me by what those words really meant. In Canada, these thoughts were a combination of my active imagination, a heavy dose of apocalyptic literature, and over-simplification. Israel is thousands of miles away. The black and white belief of a righteous Israel with unrighteous enemies poised to destroy the chosen people never seemed to hurt anyone, but now it was apparent these ideas did serious harm. To imagine saying to an Arab that his opposition to Israeli policies is a foretold doom and thus already write him off, or to not care when their homes were demolished by an Israeli edict of some form, or to see a Palestinian child sleep alone under a desolate tree, or catch a glimpse of an Arab family living in poverty and not care because “soon they are going to be gone anyways” was not right. On the contrary, my beliefs were fostering injustice, hatred and prejudice.

Looking out the window of the transit bus on my daily excursions and seeing both Israelis and Arabs going about the regular busyness of their days, my apocalyptic anticipations became quieter. Perhaps the end is coming and the formation of the State of Israel and the opposition against them are definite signs, but the fulfillment of prophecy is God’s job, not mine or anyone else’s. To do it ourselves invites many to freely perform criminal acts, to engage in hate and be ignorant of real consequences. There are misplaced priorities where the cost of human life and the related quality of life, especially one of an Arab or Palestinian, is almost viewed as a necessary sacrifice, or ignored, in light of this fervor.

Having been surrounded by an Arab populace, my preconceptions were challenged. These were real people. It forced me to change, and I wondered about myself and evangelicals as a whole. How have we gotten this so wrong?

This was a hard topic to work through and likely one of the biggest lessons I learned while hitchhiking and busing in Israel; discovering that one of the greatest sins is the person or society being convinced they are doing and propagating a good, such as those trying to manufacture events to encourage fulfillment of perceived end-time prophecies, but instead are bearers of ignorance, hatred, and injustice.

References   [ + ]

Pentecostals and Israel

The connection between Pentecostals, Christian Zionism, Judaism and the State of Israel.

Many people do not realize that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian religion in the world with an estimated 497 million followers world-wide and expected to top 1 billion by 2025.(1) This is according to noted Pentecostal statistician David Barrett as found in http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/pentecostalism_polomaart1.html, The Spirit Bade Me Go: Pentecostalism and Global Religion by Margaret M. Poloma. The University of Akron. August, 2000 This is a sharp contrast to the 13 million people who call themselves fundamentalists.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed in Israel, who have wanted their share of this Pentecostal growth in their country. They see it as a serious economic contributor and a powerful political alliance.

Pentecostals have inherited and modernized the fundamentalist end-time system that believes a number of prerequisites must occur before the end of the world: the establishment of Israel as a geographical entity with borders very similar to what was outlined in the Bible, the return of the Jews from exile, and Armageddon — a final war between Israel and all its enemies.

Pentecostals and Christian Zionism

Persons of Jewish heritage that support the formation and expansion of Israel on religious grounds are called Zionists. Most media outlets define Christians who align with the Zionist movement as Christian Zionists. The greater Evangelical community, Pentecostals in particular, do not use the term themselves. The majority, if asked directly whether they are Christian Zionists, would not even know what the speaker is talking about and would categorically say no, though the overwhelming majority do fit within the definition. Some Pentecostals may even feel insulted with them being identified this way. Most would simply think they are following what the Bible tells them to do.

The difference between Pentecostalism and fundamentalism.

Pentecostalism has a major doctrinal difference over fundamentalism that is important to understand: it promotes personal involvement rather than being a third party observer.

This may seem trivial, but it has serious ramifications.

The Fundamentalists who previously monopolized the Evangelical perspective on Israel do not believe Christians can personally intervene in the events and circumstances that will ultimately unfold into the end of the world. Their support is done en masse with visible spokespersons such as Hal Lindsey, Bob Jones or John Walvoord.

The role of prophecy, dreams, and prayer for Israel.

Pentecostals understand the future events from a prophetic perspective. Prophetic can mean God speaking directly to a person to complete an objective. The cause does not necessarily need to be rational, predictable or major.

This could be a financial commitment, planting trees, political involvement, volunteering, helping in immigration, all night prayer vigils, fasting, raising specialized cattle, evangelism, etc.

For example, some have heard God call them to help Jews return to the Holy Land. One of the better known Christian organizations, Ebenezer Emergency Fund’s Operation Exodus, was started by a prophetic vision to the South African Steve Lightle.(2) http://www.ebenezer-ef.org/UK/frameset.htm “In 1974 God showed Steve Lightle in a vision that it was His plan for the Jews to return to Israel from Russia, as prophesied in Jeremiah 16:14-16. When Gustav Scheller heard of this vision in 1982 he went to Jerusalem in search of Steve. From that time on they worked together to bring this message to the Church, and to pray together with others, for its fulfilment. During an Intercessory Prayer Conference in Jerusalem in 1991 Gustav heard God say ‘Now you can begin helping my people to go home’ – and this was confirmed by others, including Johannes Facius, international speaker and bible teacher.”

Dreams facilitate some to unusual acts. Like Bruce Balfour, a Canadian affiliated with the pentecostal based Maranatha Evangelistic Association. He believed he was called of God in dreams to plant trees in Lebanon.(3) http://www.christianweek.org/Stories/vol17/no11/story3.html in an email sent to Christian Week, Canada’s National Christian Newspaper, Balfour stated, “Months before I came on this journey, my Master showed me through many dreams that I would be imprisoned for His sake so He could mold and shape me into a vessel of His choosing, to accomplish His purpose here. I did not rejoice over this.” I asked him in a phone- conversation to confirm this, but he refused.

Others feel called to expedite God’s plan for the end. Clyde Lott, a cattle rancher and an ordained National Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ Minister in the United States, had an epiphany from God to raise red heifers according to Old Testament requirements for the new Temple.(4) http://www.aasfe.org/morrison.html, Believers, breeder await sacred cow. By Kara G. Morrison, Lincoln Journal Star. Lincoln, NE

It can be financial giving. Maoz Israel Ministries — a messianic Jewish ministry in Israel relates on their website about a 9 year old boy, Christian, who believed God had called him to send his $10.00 of birthday money for Israel.(5) http://www.maozisrael.org/site/PageServer?pagename=maoz_partners_say This may not seem like much, but this is a grassroots event that Christians are doing all over the world. One Jewish fundraiser, Yechiel Eckstein, has raised over $250 million dollars from roughly 400,000 Christian donors(6) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/24RABBI.html alone. This market is seen as a veritable gold mine by the Israeli Government.

Some may feel inspired to accelerate armageddon. In 1969, Dennis Michael Rohan, an Australian sheep shearer and Pentecostalist, “acting upon divine instructions”(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dennis_Rohan attempted to and almost succeeded in burning down the Al-Aksa Mosque situated on the Temple Mount.(8)Kate Miriam Loewenthal. Religion, Culture and Mental Health: Cambridge University Press, 2007. pg. 18. http://books.google.com/books?id=jbhbK-ypBHYC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=denis+rohan+israel&source=web&ots=k9_GH8w9mG&sig=DhTPlZ5C2QiNDfd8Es3P7IOE23g&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result

The call to prayer for Israel is big with Pentecostals. Robert Stearns, who grew up in an Assemblies of God Church, the world’s largest pentecostal denomination, helped organize the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, “instituted with the endorsement of hundreds of Christian leaders from around the world, representing tens of millions of Christians.”(9) http://ew.us.churchinsight.com/Groups/1000002767/Eagles_Wings/DaytoPray/Day_of_Prayer.aspx It is arguably the biggest annual protestant rite held in the world.

The mystic side of Pentecostalism exists as a doctrine that transcends denominations and religious institutions — even parts of the Catholic Church. It is also a physical entity as expressed in Churches like the Assemblies of God in the US, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. There are hundreds, if not tens of thousands, independent Pentecostal Churches around the world with little or no denominational affiliation. Jack Hayford, Jimmy Swaggart, T.D. Jakes, and Pat Robertson are leading Pentecostals.

Pentecostal organizations and leaders in Israel.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, one of the largest and few growing denominations in Canada, founded a Church in Jerusalem. It was originally called Jerusalem Christian Assembly, but is now known as the King of King’s Community Jerusalem.(10)http://www.kkcj.org/ The Senior Pastor of King of King’s, Wayne Hilsden, is an ordained Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada minister.

Wayne Hilsden is an important key in the administration of Christian Zionist causes. He describes himself as a pastor, and preacher, and one who, “travels the world sharing with the nations about the restoration of Israel.”(11) http://www.kkcj.org/people/info/wayne-hilsden/ He was also in charge of Aliyah Ministries Network, a logistical centre for other Christian Zionist based Jewish immigration agencies that existed at least until 2001, (12) Jerusalem Post, “On Wings of Faith”, December 14, 2001. By Patricia Golan. There has been no mention in any recent literature that this organization exists today. and a board member for the Ebenezer Emergency Fund — a Christian organization with the expressed aim of helping Jewish people abroad emigrate to Israel.(13) He was a board member in 2007, as listed on Ebenezer’s UK website at that time, along with a photo. It has since been removed and there is no mention that he has continued or discontinued in any documents. The Sector.ca records him in 2011 serving on the Canadian board of Bridges for Peace(14) http://thesector.ca/cyclopedia/charity/9433 a large, well-known Christian organization who “. . . are giving Christians the opportunity to actively express their biblical responsibility before God to be faithful to Israel and the Jewish community.”(15) http://national.bridgesforpeace.com/index.php?page=canada.

The King of King’s Community Jerusalem is the largest evangelical Church in Israel and has the strongest pro-Christian Zionist sentiments as a Church body in Israel. The PAOC was asked by the Israeli Government to come.(16) http://www.visionledd.com/about-visionledd/our-team/ Jim Cantelon was the founder of Jerusalem Christian Assembly and has this bio on his website: “In 1981, at the invitation of the Israeli government, Jim, Kathy and their three children moved to Israel where they helped pioneer the Jerusalem Christian Assembly, now called King of Kings, which is the largest evangelical congregation in Israel.”

The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, one of the largest and most prominent pro-Israel Christian organization in the world, is a world-wide non-profit Christian group that supports Israel. Stephen Sizer, a researcher and writer on Christian Zionism, described it as a self-regulated entity that “draws its support almost exclusively from charismatic, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians particularly in the USA, Canada and South Africa.”(17) http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/icejmelisende.htm A look at the leadership list substantiates Pentecostal and Charismatic leanings. The present executive director, Jürgen Bühler, is a licensed minister with the German Pentecostal Federation.(18) http://int.icej.org/dr-jürgen-bühler Juha Ketola, the ICEJ’s International Director, has both credentials with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Finland.(19) http://int.icej.org/rev-juha-ketola-0 The previous executive director was South African born Malcom Hedding. He, along with his Dutch predecessor, Bill van der Hoewen, are also from the Pentecostal/Charismatic realm.(20) Malcolm was the pastor for my Hebrew University Bible study group in 1985. He is from the South African Assemblies of God http://www.uptozion.com/hedding.htm. Bill van der Hoeven’s is based on personally witnessing his public acts of piety, which are consistent within the P/C community. The ICEJ, has an annual Feast of Tabernacles held in Jerusalem, which is attended predominately by Pentecostals and Charismatics.(21) This was my observation from attending the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles in 1986.

Problems related to Pentecostal fervor.

The problem of Pentecostal prophecy is unpredictability. Mainline Pentecostal Churches are quite conservative on prophetic impulses and inspiration. However, it does suffer from a great amount of denominational and independent fragmentation and these elements can especially lead to concern. For example, it is not out of the question that one of these independent Pentecostal groups or individuals could be prophetically inspired to actively participate or encourage the destruction of the present artifices of the Temple Mount.

On the other hand this prophetic impulse is a financial and political bonanza for the State of Israel, but as the Pentecostal community grows, extreme expressions may become more commonplace.■

For further reading see, The Alliance Between Israel and Evangelicals.

This article was originally published on ScribD, Edocr and WordPress.com websites in 2007. It is republished here with some major changes.

References   [ + ]

The Alliance between Israel and Evangelicals

The financial, political, social and religious connections between the nation of Israel and Evangelical groups abroad.

The growing relationship between Israel and Evangelicals is largely due to domestic problems inside Israel and the greater Jewish community. The Jewish liberal monetary support has been declining, partly in protest to the encroaching rhetoric of Jewish fundamentalism into mainstream Israeli politics, such as the transfer of power to a Likud based party, the redefinition of the Jewish identity by a stricter set of rules,(1)http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week122/cover.html “Israeli Alliance with American Evangelicals” January 30th, 1998 Episode no. 122. An interview with Benjamin Natanyahu by Paul Miller, Religion and Ethics and the religious fervour of Westbank community settlements.

The Evangelical alliance also gives the Israeli Government political insurance if there is potential fallout of goodwill within many of its western democratic government allies.

The initial passion for the restoration of Israel can be found in the Evangelical movement over 100 years ago and was so pervasive that Dr. Stephen Sizer, an Anglican Minister and one of the foremost authorities on Christian Zionism, believes that this was a key force in allowing the reformation of the physical entity of Israel in 1948.(2) Stephen Sizer. Christian Zionism: Fueling the Arab-Israeli Conflict. CD pre-release version. Chapter 5: pg. 305. No Date Given but is the rough manuscript to the final print version, “Christian Zionism: Road Map to Armaggedon?”

This zeal has heavily influenced political decision making. For example, in the 1980s the then President Ronald Reagan along with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Jesse Helms, were openly known to hold evangelical end-time aspirations in dealings with Israel. George Bush Jr. is also noted to hold this faith position, more so than his father.(3) American Jews and Israel: A 54-Year Retrospective University of Judaism, http://www.uj.edu/content/ContentUnit.asp?CID=1200&u=3025&t=0

Josh Pollack noted in the Jewish World Review that a significant chunk of donations to the United Jewish Appeal are from Christians(4) http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0298/evewar.html “The dance of symbols” by Josh Pollack, Jan. 21. 1998 . Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, director of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a Chicago-based organization, consisting mainly of Evangelical Christians donors, have contributed over $5 million dollars to the United Jewish appeal in 1997 and in 2006 the yearly donations skyrocketed to $39 million dollars.(5) http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/17/jews.christians/index.html The Jerusalem Post wrote that he claimed his organization to be the largest single donor to the United Jewish Appeal.(6) Evangelical Christians Supply Major Source of UJA Donations. The Jerusalem Post Thursday, November 13, 1997 By Aryeh Dean Cohen. Rabbi Yechiel’s statement may be hyperbole but it demonstrates how important Christian financial contributions are becoming in Israeli fund-raising activities.

There are other examples as well which demonstrate how widespread financial support from Christian communities have become:

  • The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that television evangelists raised over $20 million dollars to help Jewish immigration to Israel in 1997.(7) U.S. Christians paid for summer airlift of Ethiopian Jews. By Catherine Cohen , Ha’aretz. Friday, December 31, 1999. No link to this file

  • Ann Lolordo of the Baltimore Sun found that financial help for Jewish settlements could be found in the Christian Zionist community, and ironically not found from western Jewish ones. She detailed a number of Christian Churches and organizations funding endeavors such as the $5,000 dollars raised by Judy Campbell and the New Life Church in Colorado, or Ted Beckett, a Colorado developer, who started the Adopt-a-settlement program and contributed over $50,000 dollars over a two-year period. The Fellowship Church of Castleberry, Florida, donated over $100,000 dollars for a dormitory and conference center at a West-Bank settlement called Kiryat-Arba.(8) Israeli settlers find staunch friends in Christians, By Ann LoLordo, Baltimore Sun. July 27, 1997.

  • Vicki Hearst, daughter of the late wealthy businessman, Randolph Hearst, has given an undisclosed significant amount of money for facilities on the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel.(9) IBID. Israeli Settlers. LoLordo.

  • Pastor John Hagee’s Cornerstone Christian Church in Texas donated over $1.5 million dollars to the United Jewish Communities for “Israel-related causes”.(10) http://www.ujc.org/page.html?ArticleID=36411 United Jewish Communities “News: As Evangelical Christians Cheer, Preacher Gives Money to Back Israel” by Barbara Richmond. And in 2006 it is alleged he raised over $7 million for Jewish groups.(11) http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=14013 Growing Acceptance seen of fiery Pastor by James D. Besser, Thursday, Aug. 23rd, 2007 He also founded on February 7, 2006, Christians United For Israel an Evangelical equivalent of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to lobby the American congress to support Israel.(12) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hagee In that same year, Hagee was the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award by B’nai B’rith.(13) http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07b/yoffie.html Leader of Reform Judaism discourages cooperation with Christians United for Israel. May 29th, 2007.

  • The amount of money from many of these groups may seem insignificant, but there are Churches and organizations all over the world doing the same thing, cumulatively adding to Israel’s economy.

  • There are so many pro-Israel Christian groups that if one does a Google search, it will bring up over 250 organizations. It is difficult to assess the yearly economic contributions to Israel, but four of the larger well known ones, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, and Chosen People Ministries, collectively receive donations over $33 million US every year.(14) This was based on studying financial reports given on the internet for the year 2000.

This Christian zeal enters directly into modern-day Israeli politics. I was at the International Christian Embassy Feast of Tabernacles celebration held in Jerusalem in 1986, where the then Prime Minister Yitzhaq Shamir was given a standing ovation by a thousand or more Christians as a sign of prophetic allegiance. The annual rite that occurred in 2007 consisted of an estimated 7,000 Christian pilgrims from 90 nations.(15) http://www.icej.org/article/feast_pilgrims_ready_for_jerusalem_march

Benyamin Netanyahu, a former Israeli UN representative and current Prime Minister, has frequently spoken in Churches.(16) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4951.htm “The Interregnum: Christian Zionism In The Clinton Years” by Donald Wagner.  He is a cherished idol in the Evangelical community, as reflected by this blogger on Netanyahu when he announced participation in a previous Likud leadership race, “I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is the chosen man of God to help lead Israel through this very difficult time.”(17) http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/07/bibi_netanyahu_the_great_commu.php A posting by Steve Wenge, July 11th, 2007

The Knesset has formed the Christian Allies Caucus because of the decades of warm political, economic and social relationships between the Evangelical Christian Community and Israel.(18) http://cac.org.il/. http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=69672 Christian Allies in Day of Prayer for Jerusalem. See also http://www.knesset.gov.il/lobby/eng/LobbyPage_eng.asp?lobby=41

The European Coalition for Israel: the brainchild of a number of major Christian Zionist groups was founded to promote the welfare of Israel before the European Parliament.(19) http://www.europeancoalitionforisrael.org/ “A Christian initiative Promoting European-Israeli Cooperation.”

The Israeli political ethos has warmed to these Christian communities since the times of Menachem Begin, who oversaw the transition of a liberal based Israeli government to that of a Likud based one — a party influenced by orthodox Judaism — the Christian equivalent of a fundamentalist group.

The Biblical imagery and geographical rhetoric that the Likud party espouses is easily understood by the Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, which makes the attraction between the Likud and these Christians a natural one.

The Israeli Government feels comfortable with this arrangement because money donated comes with what appears few strings attached. An Op-Ed by Abraham H. Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League detailed this in Time Magazine, “The support comes voluntarily, and we welcome it, as long as it comes without a quid pro quo.”(20) http://www.jewsonfirst.org/howjewsseefp.html How Jews See it: Foreign Policy and Christian Zionists: Time Magazine, January 16th, 2007

The Christian organizations that offer material support believe the country and its politicians are mandated by God, and their assistance is to accelerate modern Israel’s self-determined course to Armaggedon. They feel direct intervention on how and where the money should be used would be counter-productive to the unfolding of the events leading to the end of the world.

Much of the closeness between Evangelicals and the Israeli Government can be traced to the late American Evangelist, Jerry Falwell, and his close relationship with Israeli leader Menachem Begin. It has been asserted the relationship was so close, that Falwell was loaned a Lear jet by the Israeli government. A deeper look reveals this to be false, according to the Israeli-American writer, Zev Chafets.(21) Zev Chafets. A Match Made in Heaven. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. 2007. pg. 66

Falwell once stated that the Israeli government can be confident that he could mobilize over 70 million Christians in support of Israel.(22) Donald Wagner. Evangelicals and Israel: Theological roots of a political alliance. Christian Century. Nov. 4. 1998 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_1998_Nov_4/ai_53227143/pg_4

Little is said or written about what the average Israeli perceives the Christian Zionist in a one-to-one conversation. Zev Chafets appreciates such enthusiasm to support the Israeli cause. He turns a blind eye to their religious fervour and is simply in favour of anybody who defends Israel from being taken off the map.(23) http://www.jewsonfirst.org/howjewsseefp.html On Fresh Air: Chafets shrugs off Christian Right Agenda, Israeli attack on Iran. Terry Gross interviews Chafets on Fresh Air, January 18th, 2007.

Chafets explores the modern Israeli relationship with Christian Zionism in his book, A Matchmade in Heaven. He described this association through an experience touring with a Christian Zionist couple in Israel. While they were in a store, he was talking with an Israeli clerk about his touring friends. In English, they are appreciated, but in a short Hebrew dialogue between Chafets and the clerk, they find them weird(24) IBID Chafets. Pg. 41. . When he worked in the Israeli government, he found “…that Christian Zionists were politically useful, even if their hypersincerity was a bit off-putting.”(25) IBID Chafets. Pg. 10.

This relationship is a gamble that the religious observant Jew or modern liberal Israeli has made with much trepidation. Ira Rifkin wrote in Jewish Week that he is concerned about the long-term consequences of using the Christian Zionists for the Israeli national agenda. A variety of issues could rise that deeply split the Christian from the Jewish communities and cause a new wave of anti-Semitism.(26) http://www.thejewishweek.com/top/editletcontent.php3?artid=2389 The Jewish Week: Beware of Christian Zionists by Ira Rifkin. Nov. 22, 2002. Gershom Gorenberg echoed this same sentiment in an on-line New Republic article, stating that Reverend Jerry Falwell believed the anti-Christ was alive today and was male and Jewish. This type of religious vernacular indicated to Mr. Gorenberg that Christian fanaticism could quickly turn against the Jews.(27) Tribulations: Jerusalem’s Y2K problem by Gershom Gorenberg. The New Republic: a journal of politics and the arts. JUNE 14, 1999 ISSUE

John Hagee and his organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has especially brought the relationship of Christian Zionism with mainstream American Judaism to a head. Hagee’s invitation to have a forum at a convention held by the powerful lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and CUFI’s ‘Nights to Honor Israel’, at local Churches has especially increased discussion.(28) http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07b/yoffie.html Rabbi Moline, an ultra-conservative Rabbi who fiercely crusades against intermarriage and the religious right, is a known sponsor of Hagee’s fundraisers even though he doesn’t like his theology or politics, “…we live in a time when friends of Israel are few and far between. We have to recognize that we are receiving support from the Evangelical community that we are not receiving from our traditional friends.”(29) http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=14013 Growing Acceptance seen of fiery Pastor by James D. Besser, Thursday, Aug. 23rd, 2007

The problem has been addressed by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. They called on Jews to shun the annual International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem’s 2007 Feast of Tabernacles celebration held in Jerusalem. The Rabbinate cannot comprehend the modern Evangelical end-fervor and could only logically conclude that this was a plot to convert Jews to Christianity.(30) http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2007/09/23/4520803-ap.html, Evangelicals disturbed by Israel rabbis’ call for Jews to shun holiday event. By Amy Teibel, The Associated Press, September 23rd, 2007.

What would happen if the Evangelical community discovered that they have been used by the Israeli Government and Jewish allies for their own political means? This scenario would likely never happen as the Pentecostal/Evangelical mindset on end-times is so deeply set, that it could not reach this state of consciousness.

Could the Evangelical support switch into a deep form of anti-Semitism? Contrary to the fears of many Rabbis and Jewish religious pundits, this is not going to happen. If anything, the new problem is that of Philo-Semitism, and the expectations that come with it.

What could be the potential turning point? A worst-case scenario is the election of a majority Labor government, who in turn would legislate and destroy illegal settlements, outlaw expansionism, and begin to introduce more liberal laws into Israel such as universal abortion on demand, recognition of same-sex marriages, and a significantly re-drawn two-state solution with Palestinians. The Christian Zionist organizations then would react two-fold: first, Christian Zionist money and political leverage would substantially shift from the Israeli Government to the territories and radical religious Jewish groups. Secondly, the Christian Zionist movement would become politically silent on military offences or defences for or against Israel, believing it to be a punishment on a government that has lost its God given mandate and in need of spiritual correction.■

For more information:

This article was originally published on the ScribD website in 2007. It is republished here with some changes.

References   [ + ]