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Some religious right leaders warn of ‘paganism’ at Perry’s prayer event

The Response, a prayer and fasting event featuring rumored presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and financed by the American Family Association, has drawn heat from faith leaders and the civil liberties groups who say the event leaves out people who are not conservative Christians and blurs the line between church and state. But the Aug. 6 event has also received sharp criticism from within the conservative Christian movement for some of its sponsors who hail from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement, a branch of Pentecostalism that some view as pagan because it works to “divorce” America from a demon called Baal.

NAR is a branch of Pentecostalism that holds non-traditional Christian views such as belief in modern-day miracles and prophesy, and that through “spiritual warfare,” believers can reclaim communities for Jesus from spirits such as Baal.

Marsha West, a conservative Christian writer, took issue with the close relationship between the AFA and the NAR and refers to the NAR movement as a cult: “Is the fact that what many consider a cult, or cult-like, are involved just a slip up or a failure on the part of AFA to fact check? No. They know perfectly well who these people are and have decided to unite with them anyway.”

West is critical of the movement’s theology.

“The NAR also believes God is giving them new revelation, thus they are able to rewrite Church doctrine,” she wrote. “Moreover, these so-called apostles and prophets plan to aggressively ‘retake the reins of our country’ for Christ. They also hold that Jesus Christ cannot return until Christians subdue and rule the earth. You say, ‘That’s crazy! The Bible doesn’t teach that!’ True….which makes one wonder how a savvy politician like Rick Perry — who’s considering a run for the presidency — got bushwhacked by a band of religious renegades.”

Brannon Howse, leader of the World View Weekend movement, has been urging religious right leaders to stay away from the event, especially on his radio program on which he has devoted two shows this week to The Response. His critique of the event is unique; he was the director of the Minnesota Family Association, that state’s branch of the American Family Association.

On his radio show last week, he said, “I try to explain to them, ‘Hey if you are working with the NAR, we are are talking about whole different Jesus, and the reason they are getting together to pray is not for biblical reasons.’”

Howse said it was sponsors of The Response such as Cindy Jacobs of the Texas-based Generals International, Ché Ahn of the Calif.-based Harvest Rock Church, John Benefiel of the Okla.-based Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network and Mike Bickle of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer that are dragging down the event.

Howse’s guest, independent Pentecostal pastor Bill Randles, said the beliefs of these groups amounted to paganism.

“To these people, prayer is a form of spiritual warfare. It’s directly attacking… they have a whole cosmology that is unbiblical concerning the demons and territorial spirits,” Randles said. “They’ve been during this in the name of spiritual warfare for years; it’s not Christian it’s pagan.”

He referenced the goals of NAR, of which Benefiel’s group is a leader, which include “divorcing Baal.”

“You don’t see this in the Bible, you do see this in pagan religion,” said Randles.

“One of their big beliefs that they have promoted for years is territorial spirits and that the whole world is divided up by different territorial spirits and Christian spiritual warfare is supposed to identify those spirits and address them,” Randles explained. “Therefore, to them Baal, the spirit of Jezebel, the strong man — they have all these names. They’ve got a very complex spiritual cosmology that they operate.”

Randles added, “They do things like driving stakes into the corner of a city to reclaim it. They went to the high places of the hills, geographically, to reclaim whole territories for Christ; and ‘identification repentance,’ that they repent for the sins of their ancestors.”

The backdrop of casting out Baal and other demons to win land for Christ, the movement also wants to take over the “Seven Mountains.” NAR’s leading authority, C. Peter Wagner, notes on his website that he has been instrumental in bringing forth “the Dominion Mandate for social transformation, adopting the template of the Seven Mountains or the 7-M Mandate for practical implementation.”

The Seven Mountains theology aims to install NAR adherents into seven parts of society: media, government, education, economy, religion, arts and family.

Estimates are vague but sources put the number of NAR adherents at around 100 million worldwide and about 40,000 churches in the U.S. alone.

The American Family Association’s involvement in The Response has also drawn controversy. The AFA has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its false and misleading statements about Muslims and LGBT people.

The group’s Bryan Fischer has insinuated that the Nazi’s were so violent because they were composed of gay men, that LGBT people should be disqualified from public office, that religions other than Christianity have no First Amendment rights in America\ and that Muslims are a product of inbreeding.

Here’s a video clip of Fischer’s greatest hits:

Read more coverage of The Response at The Texas Independent.

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