Sunday, June 18, 2023

Sunday Long Read: For Christ's Sake

There is a deeply damaged section of evangelical Christianity that is dangerous, political, and violent that is openly preparing for conflict with the nation, and in this week's Sunday Long Read, Frederick Thompson at Salon notes that this brand of "prayer warriors" just so happens to be targeting the biggest swing state that went for Biden in 2020 and where Dems flipped a US Senate seat to boot: Pennsylvania. 

"You've got a friend in Pennsylvania!" was the theme of the state's ad campaign to promote tourism in the 1980s. That was a veiled historical reference to the Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers, the liberal Christian sect to which William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania is named, belonged. But since the early 2000s there has been a quiet campaign in the Keystone State and beyond to unfriend anyone outside certain precincts of Christianity — and most Quakers would almost certainly be among the outcasts.

That campaign got a lot less quiet this April, as many leaders of the neo-charismatic movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, who have been hiding in plain sight for a generation, began ramping up a contest for theocratic power in the nation and the world. Their first target is Pennsylvania.

On April 30, Sean Feucht, a musician and evangelist for conservative Christian dominion, spoke at Life Center Ministries, the Harrisburg megachurch of Apostle Charles Stock. (The honorific "Apostle" designates a leading church office in the NAR. That said, there are many apostles in the movement, and not all of them pastor churches.) During his appearance, Feucht highlighted his national tour of state capitals, called Kingdom to the Capitol, that he was conducting along with Turning Point USA, the far-right youth group led by Charlie Kirk. "[W]e are going to end this 50-state tour here in Harrisburg," he announced.

It will probably be three to four weeks before the general election. This is a state, it's the Keystone State — the seed of a nation — God is not done with this state.

The "seed of a nation" refers to the famous 17th-century words of William Penn. (Much more on this below.)

Sometimes Feucht's tour has ventured into darker terrain. He told an audience in Austin, Texas, that "no one has hope for" their city:
Why are we going to all these 50 capitals — because they're amazing cities? … they're actually not. They're the most horrible cities in America.
Indeed. Feucht and his movement consider the 50 state capitals to be demon-infested bastions of ungodly government. His tour has openly become a campaign to "unfriend" the nation. He wrote in an "Open Letter to Church Leaders" on April 23:
Unfriend? That seems a little harsh for some. Yet [New Testament author] James didn't seem to think so — "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

Feucht's effort to connect young people with what his movement considers William Penn's ancient vision for Pennsylvania is part of the wider, epochal campaign of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a movement at the cutting edge of Pentecostal and Charismatic evangelicalism, which is now the second largest Christian faction in the world after the Roman Catholic Church and the largest growth sector in American and global Christianity.
This is a central story of our time, and one that has scarcely penetrated our national consciousness. Sean Feucht's ministry, for example, is overseen by NAR apostles — but media coverage does not reflect that context.

The goal here is to capture entire states and then the country as theocratic dominions of a God that sees anyone else as enemies to be exterminated in His name. People like Charlie Kirk and Sean Feucht want not just a Second Civil War, but a Holy Crusade to boot. 

They will do everything they can to get both.


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