Why I don’t support The Call

By Aaron D. Taylor

I was born and raised a Pentecostal/charismatic Christian. While I don’t attend a charismatic church right now, the Pentecostal/charismatic movement remains the backdrop through which I interpret the Christian faith. I believe in speaking in tongues, casting out demons, and healing the sick. I attended one of the flagship Pentecostal Bible schools in the country, and I spent years traveling the world propagating charismatic Christianity. To give you an idea of my immersion in Pentecostal-speak, one time, a friend of mine was explaining to me how an electric device works, and in order to speak my language, he used an analogy comparing how electricity flows through a cable to how the Holy Spirit flows through us as vessels. He knew I’d understand the Holy Spirit part.

Though I treasure my Pentecostal heritage, these days I feel like an outsider looking in, because though it started out as a pacifist movement in the early 20th century, today Pentecostalism (at least in America) is largely known as a religion that spawns extremist movements that trumpet militarism and bigotry.

Chief exhibit: The Call

Founded by Lou Engle, the Call is a movement that regularly holds massive prayer events in stadiums across the country. Engle is part of a network called the New Apostolic Reformation, which believes that God is raising up an end- times army of apostles and prophets to take over earthly governments before Jesus comes back. A few of its prominent leaders are Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, and Mike Bickle. Though the end-times theology of these individuals may vary, the underlying principle that binds them together is the idea that Christians are called to dominate earthly governments and civil society, and that apostles and prophets are supposed to pave the way to make that happen.

While they fashion themselves as champions of racial reconciliation, the reality is the leaders of the Call have traded one form of bigotry for another. They lure African Americans, Latinos, and other racial minority Christians into their program by conducting ceremonies of repentance for past sins, but then they use their expanded platform to demonize Muslims and gay people, and promote an extreme Christian Zionist agenda. While I don’t mean to suggest that they’re being intentionally dishonest, the language, terminology and ideas promoted by leaders of the Call and the New Apostolic Reformation provide for some bizarre ironies.

Irony #1:

I believe the movement’s leaders are sincere when they symbolically repent for the historical sins of slavery and native American genocide, yet the same people teach that Jews and Arabs will always fight (until Jesus comes back) because Jews are sons of Isaac and Arabs are sons of Ishmael. That sounds a lot like the black-people-are-under-the-curse-of-Ham argument that white racists used to justify slavery.

Irony #2: A big part of the prayer agenda of this movement is to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”, but the funny thing is that when they “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”, they’re not actually praying for peace. What they actually mean is “pray that Jerusalem will stay in the hands of Jews, and that if the Jewish majority is ever threatened in a political settlement, pray that the U.S. will side with Israel in a future war.” Peace = War. Doublespeak.

Irony #3. Leaders of the Call routinely cast themselves in the role of the persecuted minority, but they use their “persecuted minority” status to demonize—minorities .

For example, in a conference call leading up to the recent Call Detroit event, “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem made the absurd claim that Obama wants to impose Sharia law on America, implying that the listeners should be afraid of a group of people that represent a fraction of the U.S. population. Another example is even after the secular media raised concerns about the so-called “kill the gays” bill in Uganda, Lou Engle organized a rally in conjunction with key sponsors of the bill. And in the irony of all ironies, in another conference call leading up to the event, state senator Mark Jansen was invited to weigh-in, the same man that voted to attach a “religious freedom exception” to Michigan’s anti-bullying legislation, essentially saying that it’s okay to bully a gay kid—as long as it’s for religious reasons.

It takes a serious persecution complex to side with conspiracy theorists, kill-the-gays legislators, and high school bullies, but such is the nature of extremism. I’m sad that it has come to this. I pray that American Pentecostalism will find it’s way again…before it’s too late.

Posted on November 16, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Seems to me you go from one extreme to the other . First its supporting America Fight in the War In Iraq , vote republican to save the unborn and support the Family . Now its paint that side of the political compass and church with the same brush you used at one time for the other side . Instead of learning you have just switched one black and white view for another .Suggesting extremist such as Lou Engle eeven come close to the over all heart and beliefs of Pentecostals is bizaare . The belief right or wrong of so many Americans that the terrorism and murder that was espoused on 9/11 somehow calls for a blood lust belief of conservative minded Christians is false . I am against the War In Ira and Afganstan . But clearly the reasons for it were are not based in blood lusting , they were based in the hope of securing peace . To mis represnt the views of thos who disagree in it with some kind of religious based CNBC mentality is obvious to most readers . I originally read your essay on the liberal religious left web page by Jim Wallis, claiming to be Evangelical organization . Yet a majority of the bloggers supporting it are either democratic party activists , liberal protestants that vary to Unitarian beliefs , and a vast majority supporting gay marriage , abortions rights while demonizing as you have those who disagree with sterotypical depictions . Lets see 56 million abortions since 1973, Four murdered abortion providers . Those four who were murdered can never be defended , but my word supporting those who concentrate on that fact while leaving the 56 million and growing numbers out of the issue while claiming Christian understanding is an oxymoron. . Some of the official bloggers on your prefered networking site are authors also who have stereotyped Evangelicals in the war mongering hate group you have done here . I noticed you attacked the Assemblies of God also . The biggest Missionary Church in the united States , providing more food and medicine in other countries then many other denominations combined . With lesser numbers . Plus part of the few grwoing churches in America , Preaching Salavation and reaching out to the least of these . Have you ever wondered why your more popular in the secular end of the spectrum ? Did not Jesus speak directly to the Pharisees, he did not talk about them behind their back in audiences where he would receive high fives . Fit right in the non Evangelical world better then you the Christian Church it seems to me. I have more Faith and rust in the Lord I guess. The very fact Pentecostals have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savor as a mainstay of their beliefs , leads me to the conclusion that the Christ can over come the many cultural pressures that have the American church to such laziness in tending to the least of us . But I believe Christ has overcome the world , and I am not waiting for His return to set things straight , I He already has . The Power of Christ is in this world , and Our Lord will not fail us .As a minister you are accountable to what you say , I pray no new converts come upon your readings Especially those who may be new in our Lord and in a Pentecostal Church . Perhaps being as loving to your Brothers and Sisters in the Lord as you claim you are to the world would be a good New Years Resolution .

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