Yesterday, Fresh Air with Terry Gross featured an interview with Rachel Tabachnik who recently wrote a post at Alternet about a new religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. Paul Rosenberg wrote a followup post titled “The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event“. I highly recommend these pieces to those of you who are not familiar with this new cult of evangelicals who are planning to conduct spiritual warfare on an institution or religious affiliation near you.
I don’t know what effect they will have on the political system if they ever get a politician in the White House but if we give them some rope, they just might hang themselves. I call them malignant because they really don’t care what sect of Christianity *you* believe. There is only one truth according to them and it is the one they define. They have absolutely no respect for your religious beliefs. They don’t believe in tolerance. They’re cultlike in that they have cultivated a mindset and thought stopping ideas and it is impossible to argue with them. You can’t reason with people whose minds exist in a parallel universe. They are end timers who put their faith only in God. They are waiting for a critical mass of Jews to accept Christ before the end. Unlike some evangelicals, they don’t necessarily believe in the Rapture. They expect that they will have to go through the tribulations on earth before Jesus comes.
In many respects, they are indistinguishable from Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is pretty surprising. When I was a kid, Jehovah’s Witnesses were thought of as eyes-glazed-over zealots with no sense of humor and a stubborn streak of anti-intellectualism. Now, a whole new generation of evangelicals has adopted their theology lock, stock and barrel and probably don’t even know it.
These new apostles claim they don’t belong to any church. They belong to a movement. Their movement is obsessed with the idea of demons everywhere, another feature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yep, if you are a freemason in the Midwest, you just might find a bunch of these people standing on the lawn to your temple, driving a stake in the grass and praying fervently to drive the demons out. In most other respects, they are like the religious right. Adamantly anti-abortion, they also think that homosexuality is perverted. It’s not just that they think it’s immoral, the very thought of gay sex is mentally and emotionally revolting to them. I find this aspect really weird but it does tell you something about the age of some of these participants. Bedroom practices for gay and straight couples don’t really differ a lot these days but you don’t hear the religious right spazzing out about married heterosexuals performing oral or anal sex. If it’s immoral to use the wrong orifice, it’s wrong for anyone who does it. Consistency, people. It would make you a whole lot more credible.
They also seem to think that the government has too much of a safety net and that the responsibility for helping people in need belongs to the church. This is really strange because these people don’t belong to physical churches and they detest the mainstream religious institutions so who’s supposed to be doing this stuff for the poor? And what do the poor have to give up in exchange? It’s funny how these people think the unemployed are parasites after people such as myself paid more in taxes in a year than some of them made in salary. We’re out of work but we still pay taxes on severance benefits (if we’re lucky enough to get them) and our unemployment checks. But when the severance is gone, so are the taxes. You’d think that the New Apostolic Reformation would be banging down the doors of Congress to get politicians to focus on unemployment but you would be wrong. Because these new apostles don’t believe in the government of man. They’re waiting for the end time to come. Any effort towards solving the economic crisis would be a waste of time and besides, that would deprive them of their ability to look down on anyone not like them.
I call it malignant. It spreads and it causes great harm to the body without providing any positive benefits. Tabachnik says it’s gaining in popularity but I would hazard a guess that it will become a lot less popular after 2012 when the obsession with Mayan numerology takes its course and we’re all still here in January 2013. Or when Glenn Beck exhausts his good will among the survivalists. Or when Rupert Murdoch finally has to explain himself before a Congressional committee.
But keep the malignancy aspect in the forefront of your mind. The New Apostolic Reformation has nothing to offer this country or the world or you personally. The politicians who pander to it probably don’t either.