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Do Three GOP Presidential Contenders Embrace Anti-Catholicism?

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

PhotobucketOne wouldn’t think that seventy years after FDR declared his belief in freedom of conscience that three prospective candidates for president would openly associate with a religious movement that calls for their beliefs to be the supreme law of the land. But if one thought that, one would be wrong.

“Whoever seeks to set one religion against another,” FDR once keenly observed, “seeks to destroy all religion.” Such cynical actions stand in opposition to one of his “Four Freedoms” – “[The] …freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.” By extension (and as enumerated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group).

Over the past few weeks Rachel Tabachnick has shown that NAR seeks to eradicate various Christian denominations while creating “a unified church that will be victorious against evil in the end times.” And as she more ominously notes, “…they teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin are each involved with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) — a charismatic evangelical movement several leaders of which have made expressed profound religious hostility towards, among others, Catholics, as we shall see below. This leads to two obvious questions: How deep do these associations run? And do these candidates for the nation’s highest office share any the anti-Catholic views of these NAR leaders?

Palin and Perry

The involvement of senior pols, like these, cause problems for advocacy groups. For example, during the 2008 presidential election the conservative Catholic group Fidelis pronounced Sarah Palin “a natural choice” for Catholic voters. But Palin maintained close ties to NAR Bishop Thomas Muthee, who anointed her in a now famous ceremony. I wrote at the time that Muthee also maintains a hostile view of Catholicism:

On one of these occasions, the anointing was conducted by none other than Thomas Muthee, the internationally known star of the Transformation I video and numerous books and other materials on the methods of spiritual warfare – which generally refers to the expulsion of “territorial demons and generational curses.” There are many published photos and videos of Palin that feature pastors and churches associated with the NAR. We can reasonably ask, whether Muthee’s anointing involved the transference of anti-demonic powers, and whether those powers might be seen as necessary to combat Catholicism.

One of the goals of the kind of spiritual warfare in which Muthee engages — is to de-Catholicize communities and nations (“Brazil is occupied by Catholics,” declared Muthee in a militant sermon he gave on March 14, 2004 at a United Kingdom church, “but people are being saved anyway!”). C. Peter Wagner, of Fuller Theological Seminary, the top figure in the movement, says that the Roman Catholic Church is under the sway of a great demon he calls the “Queen of Heaven.” Top NAR leaders go on spiritual warfare expeditions to try to decrease the power of this demon. For example, following a 1997 expedition to the Himalayas Prophetess Ana Mendez said that she believed that their efforts might have cause the death of Mother Theresa. In another case, NAR took credit for an earthquake that damaged the Basilica at St Francis’s hometown of Assisi, Italy.

Diane Buker is a member of Wagner’s International Board of Apostles and a Member of the Apostolic Board, U.S. Strategic Prayer Network, as well as a Florida state prayer network leader. She is also the proprietress or the Battle Axe Brigade web site which condemns the Catholic Church as a “corrupt religion”– along with at least Mormonism, Scientology and Freemasonry.

C. Peter Wagner and his beliefs should also be of concern considering his relationship to Texas governor Rick Perry. Fresh off of The Response, his August 6th prayer event at Houston’s Regent Stadium, Perry made no apologies for sharing the stage with Wagner. As Bruce Wilson observed about Wagner in 2008:

Although Wagner and the New Apostolics characterize traditional mainline Protestant denominations as archaic, hidebound holdouts of pro-forma faith and vilify mainline churches, still holding to their traditional forms of worship, as ‘dead churches’, the New Apostolics typically reserve their harshest criticisms, of traditional Christianity, for the Catholic Church.

In Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Wagner claims that the Catholic Church in Latin America has historically prevented the spread of the Gospel:

“The spirit of religion in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries linked with the political spirit in Latin America and effectively prevented the spread of the Gospel. Once this was broken, evangelical churches began to mushroom.” [Freedom From The Religious Spirit, Regal Books, page 22]

Also appearing at the event was Wagner’s associate Cindy Jacobs who like her boss, endorses the destruction of Catholic symbols and cities populated thereof.

The above-mentioned Catholic political group Fidelis, now called CatholicVote.org, is now sending positive signals about Texas Governor Rick Perry. But just a few months ago the group ran a piece entitled, “Rick Perry’s Catholic problem.”

Did CatholicVote.org raise concerns about the Texas governor’s NAR ties? Not even close. Their “problem” was that Perry signed an executive order requiring that all 6th grade girls in Texas receive the Gardasil vaccine (Gardasil prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV), a commonly transmitted sexual disease that can lead to cervical cancer). In fact, the piece even giddily hinted that a Perry candidacy would garner a Palin endorsement.

Bachmann

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s ties to NAR Dominionism have also been recently been documented by both Ryan Lizza and Michele Goldberg. And while there does not appear to be any direct links to the previously mentioned anti-Catholic preachers, she does credit Dominionist John Eidsmoe as influential in shaping her worldview.

Eidsmoe believes that secular law should be based upon his particular understanding of Biblical Law. Would Eidsmoe’s Christian Reconstructionist ideas influence a President Bachmann to act against what is some view as “Catholic idolatry”? If so, would it be seen as a capital crime?

Do these GOP hopefuls share or tolerate the religious bigotry held be several NAR leaders? Its a fair question, and the kind of question we are likely to hear more of, as Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times has proposed. He recently wrote that he wants to know:

“…if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

And I care a lot if a candidate is going to be a Trojan horse for a sect that believes it has divine instructions on how we should be governed

Indeed. Keller has hit the right note for Catholics and for all Americans. We need to know if any of these candidates were to attain the presidency if they would set one faith against another. As FDR understood, to impede an individual’s freedom of conscience is to impede that right for all of us.

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