Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Godly Men" and Access Codes. What is David Sweet Up To?

Many of the threats from the Religious Right are visible and already on our radar. However, there are a great many more that don't get as much attention as they should, and one of those comes from a Harper backbencher, David Sweet, and his group the "Promise Keepers".

When Sweet first ran in the 2004 federal election, in the Ontario riding of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Westdale; he posted on his website the fact that he was the Canadian founder of the Promise Keepers. When the media and others did a little investigation and discovered what PK really was, they went public and Sweet lost the election.

Learning his lesson, by 2006, he had removed all mention of PK and his name was all but purged from their website. At issue then was an old quote where he had said something to the effect that there was a reason why Jesus only called men as his disciples, because apparently they are "natural influencers" while women are "natural followers". Whatever.

I had researched the group a bit then, but most of the information available was from their U.S. counterpart, and according to Sweet and his supporters, they were quite different. Fair enough. Besides for awhile it appeared that the movement was fizzling out. Membership was down and their budget was shrinking. What was so threatening about a bunch of cowboys, getting together for a bit of scratch and sniff?

However, I came across an article from last summer, and apparently they are back and stronger than ever. Their founder has re-emerged and they have expanded their ministry. And guess what their goal is now? According the the Los Angeles Times, they are Plotting the Exit Strategy, with the help of McCartney's new organization "The Road to Jerusalem."

For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it. Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah. For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

WHAT???!!!

I'm getting too old for this.

And they have already "re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets ...." What no balloons? This sounds more like a Jason Kenney bachelor party for one.

It would appear that the PK have now invited Messianic Jews to join their club because as McCartney claims: "The Bible says Jews will be brought to jealousy when they see Christians and Jewish believers together as one -- they'll want to be a part of that. That's going to signal Jesus' return." Even the 700 Club Promotes this movement.

With this new information, I thought I'd take another look into David Sweet and his fundamentalism again, and I have discovered a pattern with the PK, that is disturbing without the whole white robe, gold breastplate thing. (and Sweet is still involved, mentioned as a speaker at their events)

David Sweet and the Promise Keepers

In the 1998 Canadian Christianity magazine, they ran an article about Sweet: Calling Men to Walk Together.

PROMISE KEEPERS (PK) want to be catalysts in the renewal of men across the nation. David Sweet, the 41 year old president and first CEO of the movement in Canada, is adamant that we're living in a time when Holy Spirit-driven men's ministries are crucial.

Citing the decay in moral and political authority that's increasingly becoming evident, Sweet observed that in any age we err if we take a look at the fruit of the age and determine what our behavior should be.

"This is the first time . . . historically that we have decided that we'll march to a morality drum that is governed by the voice of the day rather than having any bearing on what we've lived by in history" ... we have developed a psychology in our culture that we can divorce politics and morality. That is impossible to do."

Sweet goes on to tell the story of how he was arrested at the age of 12 for stealing cars and spent four years behind bars. I can imagine at that age, that it would have been quite traumatic and I'm glad he gave up that career choice.

At the time, PK was on their 'Living a Legacy' tour, and Sweet was appearing with some pretty heavy hitters in the evangelical trade. David Ring has been on all of the main mega church shows including John Hagee's. The late Selwyn Hughes also on the circuit and had written, according to his bio, 50 books on Christianity. Lee A. Jenkins runs a corporate Bible industry, promoting a theory of personal wealth paving the way to salvation (I paraphrase).

Steve Masterson and Brian Warren are both involved with the Canadian PK group. Masterson is listed as the Director of Teaching, Training & Development. David Warren is an ex-CFL player turned pastor, who is also on the PK 'team'. You can hear him speak a bit here.

So far, so good. Nothing yet to make you want to hide under the bed. But let's take a closer look at these 'Godly' men and their ministry.

Chest Thumping and Cross Bearing

Journalist Matt Taibbi went undercover on a weekend retreat with John Hagee's Cornerstone Church, and wrote a very revealing piece: Jesus Made Me Puke. Now some people might think that he was being sacrilegious, but I understand why the need for levity. It's often a defense mechanism.

Anytime I investigate these groups, I eventually have the same reaction, especially if I watch the videos. There is something about them that can be overwhelming. Watch the video at the bottom of this posting, and I think you'll see what I mean. They kind of tap into a raw emotion, and I can understand how the vulnerable could become mesmerized. The fact that I have to put it at the bottom says a lot. I'm not prepared to watch it again, and it's not the worst I've viewed in the past few hours. There were many I would never share with anyone.

But what Mr. Taibbi describes is an indoctrination.

Here I have a confession to make. It's not something that's easy to explain, but here goes. After two days of nearly constant religious instruction, songs, worship and praise - two days that for me meant an unending regimen of forced and fake responses - a funny thing started to happen to my head. There is a transformational quality in these external demonstrations of faith and belief.

The more you shout out praising the Lord, singing along to those awful acoustic tunes, telling people how blessed you feel and so on, the more a sort of mechanical Christian skin starts to grow all over your real self. You may think you know the answer, but by my third day I began to notice how effortlessly my soft-spoken Matt-mannequin was going through his robotic motions of praise, and I was shocked. For a brief, fleeting moment I could see how under different circumstances it would be easy enough to bury your "sinful" self far under the skin of your outer Christian and to just travel through life this way.

And what makes it more compelling to the average sinner are the people delivering the message. They will tell you stories of their own wasted lives, and as you identify with their 'anguish', there's a familiarity that develops. He's trusted you with his secrets.

But in relation to the PK and their retreats and conferences, they take on a 'macho' element. Some of it was witnessed during that weekend when a former athlete was whipping up the crowd.

The grown macho man unashamedly breaking into boyish tears in public is one of the weirder features of the post-Promise Keeper Christian generation, and Fortenberry - himself a Promise Keeper, incidentally - had it down to a science. "You never came to my ballgames, Dad," he'd screech, his face wrinkling like a raisin with grief at the word "ballgames

So you can imagine a conference where all of the motivational speakers are athletes and military leaders. Tough, virile men; crying and hugging each other, and encouraging others to cry and hug and each other. To take charge of their households come hell or high water. They are the kings of their castles and they now must head home to subjugate their queens.

I used to think however, that all that unleashed testosterone might encourage some men to take by force what would not be conceded, but after studying this movement a bit, I think there is a different strategy. They "love" their wives into "submission".

Love Your Wife Sacrificially

I think it's time to Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. Ephesians

That term "love your wife sacrificially' is heard a lot at these meetings. Now I can't imagine ever being loved sacrificially. And of course it's always wives, never girlfriends, fiancees or significant others. There must be a husband. There must be a wife. And there must be a "sacrifice".

I've read several "testimonials" and articles on the PK site, describing how a man must define his relationship and win over his woman.

But first, according to one of their books that you can purchase for $ 24.95, you must "crack her access code". Sounds painful.

But only then will she "... grow in becoming who God designed her to be." And after cracking their "access code", it's pretty clear that God designed her to be; a baby making machine, subservient to her husband. She just had to be "loved" into submission.

Scared Straight

Another angle, or 'promise' is sexual purity. And that's where all these 'manly' men come in. When you peruse the 'sexual purity' part of the site, there is a bit on pornography, but most of it has to do with homosexuality. They have a cure. Unfortunately they don't have a clue.

They use a 'reduce an athlete or military leader' to a snivelling wreck and then show his tough side. Their little skits are always about an abusive father, believing that caused the 'poor' man to 'choose' this 'lifestyle'. Author, historian and political activist, Anton Chaitkin, wrote an expose on the "mind control" techniques used by the Promise Keepers.

He refers to them as a "cult" and after watching some of their videos, I agree. I think that's what Matt Taibbi was sensing when he stated that Jesus made him puke. You know that there is something happening, as you watch the robotic movements, flushed faces and glazed eyes. These people are no longer thinking for themselves.

And they believe they can use this power to convince their followers that they can now 'control' their wives and 'cure' homosexuals, or possibly be 'cured' themselves.

Chaitkin refers to them as a 'military ministry', and even 'religious terrorists'.

But what happens when this group of manly, muscular Christians, who feel they now have the power to subjugate women and cure homosexuals; start turning their attention toward "Plotting the End Times"?

Their messages are not terribly subtle. Play the video on the right of this page. It's pretty clear that they see a final struggle between Gentiles and Jews. And not just any Gentiles, but Gentiles moved to tears by the Bible.

They've already ordered their white linen robes and jewel studded breastplates.

So to borrow a phrase from Rick Mercer: If you find yourself in Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Westdale, and you see David Sweet. First cross the road, make sure your access code has not been broken, then run like hell.

We really need to get this government out, because sadly Sweet may not be the craziest member of Harper's caucus. Oye!

4 comments:

  1. It is plain that this is a game..a play...full of passion and clearly blinded by that same passion to the real implications of it's busywork.

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  2. Emily, this is bone-chilling. It's bone-chilling enough to think that there is actually a group of people like this out there in our world, but that's actually NOTHING compared with the thought that some of them may have influence and power within our political institutions. I know you to be a good researcher, but even if I believed that only half of what you wrote here is true I would still be scared. I just said "scared", but the truth is that while reading this I had to take three distinct breaks while I fought nausea. This is not a good bedtime story!! I will not be able to watch the video tonight (though I am strong, and I will make myself watch it tomorrow). Thank you for your blogs. I have not been good at commenting, but I really do appreciate what you're doing.

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  3. "Conservativism" as cult behaviour: interesting article.

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