Friday, November 19, 2010

FIGHT! Conference in Los Angeles

The International House of Prayer, TheCall, and the Luke 18 Project hosted the FIGHT! Conference in Los Angeles on November 11-13. Geared toward youth, the FIGHT! Conference featured New Apostolic Reformation speakers such as Lou Engle, his son Jesse Engle, Cindy Jacobs, Brian Kim, and more.

To watch the full event online at GOD TV, click here. I skipped through the video, listening here and there to young people praying passionately for conversions on college campuses. From time to time, an attendee would pray into the microphone, some working themselves into tearful repentance or prayerful ecstasy. Young people bowed or rocked back in forth in devotion as Cindy Jacob beseeched God to guide them and Lou Engle urged them to pray for their schools.

At the 130:15 mark of part I, Jesse Engle gave the microphone to a young woman who screamed out furious, tearful prayers at the top of her lungs. As odd as her hysteria seemed, I couldn't laugh at her. Pity rose up in me because of the pain I saw in her flushed face, the grief I heard in her voice.

Was she wounded once? I wondered. Is all of this spiritual fervor an outlet for some hidden pain?

For young people who are hurting, a religious movement that allows them emotional release and gives them a family to belong to must be very comforting indeed. That comfort, however, comes at a steep price: critical thought, autonomy, and brotherhood with non-believers. For some, maybe the trade-off is worth it.

At the 131:30 mark of part I, David Sliker (senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri) spoke to the youthful audience. Sliker condemned university campuses as cesspools of falsehood and evil, entreating listeners to promote their faith at college.

"If you're on a college campus, you're doing teen ministry because you're creating the context for that bright-eyed 17 year-old graduate that's coming behind you that's wandering into the lion's den of false ideologies and lies of the Evil One, and the spirit of intimidation that's looking to break what was established in their youth off of them, and get them into the rebellion of their generation."
Sliker urged listeners to take part in ministry and pour out their zeal in high schools and colleges.

Shouldn't they be focusing on their studies instead? I thought.

Soon, I would hear familiar right-wing rhetoric about prayer in schools. Sliker blamed immorality, violence, and poor school performance on the 1962 Engle v. Vitale case. Why examine the complex roots of violence and academic performance when it's easier to blame a lack of prayer?

"1962. Engle v. Vitale. Prayer is removed from high schools. In the decades after that, God is removed from high schools. In the decades after that, graduation rates begin to slide. In the decades after that, immorality, wickedness, violence! High schools are being handed over to the spirit of the age. Americans, many Americans have made their choice. They've made their decision. They want God out of high schools. That's the decision. We need to reverse it."
It's called separation of church and state, I thought. Why do you want to dictate how and if young people should worship?

To my shock, Sliker encouraged home-schooled minors to infiltrate schools for the purpose of proselytization, arguing that school officials wouldn't know to kick them out.

"Here's the thing. You're home-schooled, you're one of the best missionaries to a high school campus in your town. There is no better missionary to your high school campus than you.You've got lots of time, you've got lots of freedom, you've got lots of free time, and if they catch you in the halls, they won't know to kick you out."
The video below features a much shorter excerpt from FIGHT! featuring Lou Engle. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

In the video excerpt, Engle told his youthful audience that Muslims are supposedly invading American universities, urging them to pray against this "threat".
"I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, we don't have to go overseas to find that the Muslims are in our own universities. I went into a Muslim--into Harvard, and they're having thirty, forty Muslims bowing down and praying. God has said, "I want to raise up a house of prayer that challenges Islam in the universities of America!" God is saying you don't have to look far. They're coming, and they're coming to your doorsteps. And they're coming with their fastings, and they're coming with their prayers, and their radical abandonment. There were open air--proclaiming in Harvard. They're being funded by the millions out of the Middle East. They want your universities. But God is saying, "I want to raise up a Daniel army that will contend in the universities of America! . . . Brothers and sisters, Muslims are fasting and praying, and spiritual powers are fueling their sacrifice. Will the church of America raise up a challenge of that kind of prayer in the universities of Babylon?"
He continued in his usual bombastic style, urging prayer for the sake of changing the educational system. Engle envisioned professors and deans either converting to his faith, or being replaced with those who did.
"There is a Daniel anointing* that's going to come for the high places of every bit of culture. For Hollywood, the Daniels are going to challenge the powers. For the education systems, the Daniels are going to get the powers ... Folks, brothers and sisters, we are launching a 1 Tim 2 movement. 1 Timothy 2, praying for those in authority ... Whereas Berkeley was a radical, violent rebellion, there's coming an underground spiritual revolution. It is 1 Timothy 2, praying for those in authority. We're going to pray for professors, we're gonna pray for the deans, and God's gonna begin to cut their heads off. Not violence, but begin to break the ideologies that are ruling over the universities. God will convert them with dreams. God will remove them and raise up righteous education leaders."
At the end of the video, Engle announced a 2011 gathering of TheCall in Detroit that would target "radical" Muslim students. He prayed that Muslim university students would convert to Christianity and preach the gospel in their native countries.

Don't hold your breath, Lou, I thought.

As with other events involving Lou Engle or TheCall, these speeches left me unsettled. The stereotyping of all Muslims as dangerous enemies and the demonization of secular education were disturbing (and familiar) enough, but the fact that this was all part of brazen indoctrination of young people added another level of horror. It makes sense, though, that the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) would aim its efforts at young people. Many teens and young adults are enthusiastic and malleable, making them receptive to the movement's messages. When those young people encounter other perspective and real-life realities, however, will they still be loyal to NAR's message?

For additional commentary on the FIGHT! Conference, visit the Right Wing Watch link below.

Right Wing Watch: Cindy Jacobs and Lou Engle Pray For America's Schools and Universities

* = Daniel anointing is a New Apostolic Reformation term referring to an extended period of fasting and prayer in the hopes of receiving revelation through dreams and visions. The term is derived from Daniel 1:8-17, in which Daniel and his companions ate a vegetarian diet and were healthier than the king's own servants who ate rich food. As a result, God gave the young men wisdom and allowed Daniel to understand visions and dreams.

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