When I think of charismatic, I still think of the traditional description of people who have that certain je ne sais quoi, that thing that makes them draw others toward them like flies to honey.
Then I’m reminded of the charismatic religious movement and how flies are also drawn to manure. Talk To Action has a disturbing article up regarding the “spirit warriors” of the New Apostolic Reformation and their alarming attitudes toward demonic influences in America.
NAR leaders gain credibility through telling of their encounters with Satan worshippers or, even better, having defeated them in spiritual warfare. As Bruce Wilson has pointed out, tales of witch hunts are a badge of honor for the NAR’s leading apostles and prophets.
Ted Haggard, the Charismatic former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (before his scandal) and one of the pioneers in the formation of the NAR, burnished his image with claims of encounters with witches. This past week a popular Christian radio personality and Christian rock star who has been supported by politicians including Michele Bachmann, claimed that government officials are covering up the abduction of thousands of people snatched for ritual murders. This is a widely preached (and demonstrably false) claim spread by numerous Charismatic leaders.
Author of the piece, Rachel Tabachnick, notes that the leaders will also claim to have dallied in that satanic life but gained salvation, much the same as others might play up their addiction to drugs or alcohol to gain (dubious) credibility in the minds of potential followers.
She brings up a good question, wondering if the obsession with the demonic that started picking up steam in the 1970s was a direct result films like The Exorcist, or if Hollywood just picked up on an interest already there and catered to it, much the same as filmmakers have glutted the vampire/werewolf/zombie market now. There were books published on the subject prior to the films, though, so it’s hard to say what would have been the more likely catalyst.
This obsession with the demonic was followed by waves of ‘Satanic Panic’ and the belief in widespread Satanic ritual abuse (SRA). In addition to evangelists preaching about demons and Hollywood’s sensational movies, some psychologists and social workers bought into the concept of SRA and began teaching seminars to emergency workers, counselors, and parents.
By the 1980s a string of cases, now largely discredited, were brought against nursery school employees and owners, including the McMartin family who were accused abusing children as part of Satanic ritual abuse. By the early 1990s the SRA panic spread to England. The press, largely unquestioning, published incredible tales of secret underground tunnels, rituals, cannibalism, and the abuse of thousands of children.
Canada was not immune to this, either. Here in Saskatchewan in 1992 a little daycare in Martensville made country-wide headlines after a mother accused the operators of sexually abusing her child. Rumours of satanism followed shortly after.
This week radio personality and Christian rock bank leader Bradlee Dean claimed that the Department of Justice and FBI is forced by people above them to cover up ritual sacrifice of children.
“America, we’re talking about 58,000 children in this country that have been ripped off, out of your country, by forces behind this government stealing children.”
The guest on the show was Judith Reisman, a Jewish culture warrior, leader of the anti-Kinsey movement (and endorser of Scott Lively’s The Pink Swastika) who spouted other right wing mythology, claiming that the cover up is because of gays and is, at the same time, empowering “a Muslim takeover of the country.”
So it’s not really demons they’re after; it’s people they want to demonize. I think Tabachnick is on the right track when she writes, “If your enemy is demonic, any action against him is permissible.”
It’s all about power and control and who has it and who wants more. Plain and simple. If the best way they’ll get it is by dehumanizing entire swaths of the population, they won’t hesitate to do it that way. A lot of people are primed to think about the Other that way already.
In part, you can even blame Sesame Street for starting it. “Three of these things belong together, three of these things are kind of the same. One of these things does not belong here, now’s the time to play our game, time to play our game.” When you start pointing at the humans that “don’t belong here” instead of fruits and vegetables, it ceases to be a game and becomes a very big problem.
edit Oct 2/10: fixed embarrassing French mistake. Yeesh. Hope my mother never saw that…