After Sunday’s massacre, will we see Senator Obama renounce his decision to appear with and submit to questions from an eliminationist right-wing hate preacher?
I’m not talking right-wing preachers who keep their eliminationist beliefs in the closet. Nope — I’m talking mega-published globe-trotting eliminationist right-wing preachers: the sort who tell the Pew Forum:
By the way, my wife and I had dinner at a gay couple’s home two weeks ago. So I’m not homophobic guy, okay?
– and then later flies off to Kampala to preach the opposite … stoking intolerance and prejudice among "Christians" who often kill their fellow believers for being gay.
The Kampala Monitor reports:
Warren was speaking in support of Ugandan Anglicans who intend to boycott the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, and this harsh rejection of tolerance for gays and lesbians may have serious consequences in a country where homosexuals face harrassment and and the threat of imprisonment.
Warren’s comment is of a piece with his support for Martin Ssempa, the Ugandan evangelist who has been a keynote speaker at a Warren conference, and who has received US global AIDS prevention funds. As I wrote in August, Ssempa wants to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal and that gays and lesbians are identified in the public mind as sexual abusers. Ssempa calls for media censorship against opposing views and the dismissal of dissenting academics, and last summer he organised a rally with the theme "A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality", at which he railed against "molestation and sodomy." Another past Warren conference delegate is Janet Museveni, wife of Uganda’s increasingly autocratic president. I discussed the dubious consequences of Mrs Museveni’s evangelical approach to HIV and AIDS on Talk to Action here; Esther Kaplan has explored the issue in further depth.
Of course, Warren continued to obscure the reality in this fluffjob for Time:
Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.
With nearly 18 million active Anglicans in Nigeria, Akinola’s flock dwarfs the mother Church of England’s membership. And since he is chairman of the 37 million—member Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, when he speaks, far more than just Anglicans pay attention. Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism.
He has been criticized for recent remarks of frustration that some felt exacerbated Muslim-Christian clashes in his country. But Christians are routinely attacked in parts of Nigeria, and his anger was no more characteristic than Nelson Mandela’s apartheid-era statement that “sooner or later this violence is going to spread to whites.” I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.
So who’s this Akinola, “lion” of Rev. Warren’s pantheon? Like Warren, he preaches the gospel of intolerance for gays:
[Akinola] has been a mouthpiece for the most homophobic tendencies within the church, telling the New York Times that he jumped back in horror the first time he met a gay couple, comparing homosexuality to everything from pedophilia to zoophilia, and pushing for Nigeria to enact a five-year mandatory sentence for homosexual acts or "associations", a bill so broad that it could lead to the imprisonment of AIDS caregivers.
Why stop with locking up gays?
Real eliminationists preside over militia that massacre their percieved enemies — especially the civilian ones. Why bother with Jesus’ teaching when your militia can smite babies?
In May, The Atlantic magazine raised new and more troubling concerns about Akinola. In “God’s Country,” the writer Eliza Griswold, daughter of the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, describes a retributive massacre in the Nigerian town of Yelwa carried out in 2004 by a well-organized band of men, wearing clothing and tags that identified them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Akinola was president of CAN during the massacre, which Human Rights Watch reports claimed the lives of approximately 700 Muslims. Dozens of others were kidnapped, raped or maimed…
When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said. “No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet.” He went on, “I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence.”
That’s only abroad, right? Surely Rev Warren and his church don’t work with eliminationists here, right?
Mark Carver, a top aide to mega-church pastor and best selling author Rick Warren, has resigned as a business advisor to Left Behind Games, the developers of a video game in which Christian militias wage physical and spiritual warfare using the power of prayer and modern military weaponry to convert New Yorkers and kill those who resist. Mr. Carver’s abrupt resignation, announced in a statement e-mailed to Talk to Action by Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Ministries on June 6, 2006, came in response to a two-part series on Talk to Action that criticized the game’s antisocial nature (warriors shout "Praise the Lord!" as they blow infidels away, and players can switch to the side of the AntiChrist to kill Christians). The series also revealed the game developer’s links to Mr. Warren’s empire and their emulation of his network marketing techniques. For example, Mr. Carver, Executive Director of Purpose Driven Church, served on the Advisory Board of Left Behind Games, a corporation formed in October 2001 (weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center) to develop the violent video game and distribute 1 million sample discs through pastoral networks and mega-churches. And until June 6, the Left Behind Games web site featured Mr. Carver’s name and detailed his prominent role in Purpose Driven Church. [Update: here is a screen shot from the Left Behind Games site taken before June 5, showing Mr. Carver's name and invoking the name brand of Purpose Driven Church.]
Although Talk to Action did not claim that Mr. Warren himself had developed, distributed, or endorsed the game, it held him accountable for the use of the Purpose Driven name brand in the game’s web-based marketing material, and asked whether his mega-church and global pastoral network planned to distribute the game. In response, Mr. Carver has requested that his name as well as the Purpose Driven name brand be removed from the Left Behind Games web site (which actions followed promptly), and Purpose Driven Ministries has promised not to distribute or promote the game. In its statement, Mr. Warren’s organization criticized Talk to Action’s approach, but did not rebut any of the facts or claims presented.
Do we think that Mr. Warren would allow his name brand and reputation to be casually invoked in a major business venture that involves one of the largest publishers in the Christian marketplace, who published the Left Behind novels, one of the best selling fiction series of all time? Does anyone think that Left Behind Games invoked the name brand of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Church without his permission? Since this possibility is farfetched, what we are looking at here is a business/marketing alliance between several evangelical business and ministerial entrepreneurs for whom the Great Commission also means great profits.
After Sunday’s massacre I’d love to see all US politicians — and most of all the two major party Prez candidates — renounce hate preachers, eliminationists, and those who support them.
If McCain won’t, I hope Obama will: starting with Mark Carver’s long-time employer and Akinola’s fanboy: Rev. Warren.