I write this title in jest, but I find the subject I’m speaking of all too serious. Odd and unsettling, even. What am I talking about? Well, something that’s got a number of Pagans – and even more non-Pagans – buzzing: The New Apostolic Reformation. Particularly the DC40 campaign.

Unfamiliar with the NAR?

 Imagine a religious movement that makes geographic maps of where demons reside and claims among its adherents the Republican Party’s most recent vice presidential nominee…

It’s a movement whose followers played a significant role in the battle over Proposition 8, California’s anti-same-sex marriage initiative, and Uganda’s infamous proposed Anti-Homosexuality Law… the movement we’re imagining encompasses the humble and the elite alike, supporting a network of “prayer warriors” in all 50 states, within the ranks of the U.S. military, and at the far reaches of the globe — all guided by an entire genre of books, texts, videos and other media.

Imagine that, and you’ve just dreamed up the New Apostolic Reformation, the largest religious movement you’ve never heard of.

– By Bill Berkowitz Heads Up: Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin are Organizing Spiritual Warfare to Take Over America

These folks (who I’d never heard of before last week) are doing real, physical damage. They hold political power (indeed, that seems to be one of their main goals). They’re proud of themselves for whipping people around the world into a frenzy of condemning (what they consider) aberrant behavior and setting fire to “demonic” objects, such as travel souvenirs and images of Catholic saints.* And the NAR is pretty damn indiscriminate on who they turn their vitriol toward.

“It is characteristic of the movement that religious items associated with major world religions such as Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are lumped together with “pornography”, “drugs,” and faddish commercialized occult objects such as Ouija Boards.

The inherent disrespect of world religious traditions, some going back thousands of years, is intrinsic to the basic outlook of Wagner et. al – there can be only one truth, one correct belief system, and all pretense otherwise is mere compromise.”

– Bruce Wilson New Apostolic Reform Leaders Burn Native Art

And now they’re launching a DC40 campaign, 51 days of prayer (40 in DC, hence the name, and 11 in Philadelphia) to take place starting on October 3. (They picked the dates so that it would happen on top of the biggest Pagan festival day – they even named October 31 “Reformation Day” – as well as an Islamic celebration;  did I mention they hate us?) Each day a different state will take “point” on the prayer campaign, ending with the “District of Christ.”** In their own words from the DC40 website, they are: “Releasing the light and sound of eternal worship over the District of Christ” because one of them had what I can only describe as a psychic vision in which s/he, “heard very clearly within me, ‘This city [DC] needs a siege laid to it.’” The post ends, “If you are reading this, I would suggest to you that you may be called to play a part, for we were all born for such a time as this.” Pardon me as I give a little shiver from the wiggins those words inspire. (I’m sorry, but linking directly to their site from ours gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I’m going to be superstitious and not do it. But the google-y oracle will easily take you there to see the ickiness for yourself if you ask it.)

And what is this “siege” meant to accomplish? In one of their commercials (you can see it in the suggested videos after the one I embedded above; it’s the guy whose face is half shadowed), the speaker says they are praying for politicians to:

 “…find that compromise is not the way. You can’t compromise with unrighteousness. It’s either righteous or it’s not righteous. You can’t compromise with immorality. It’s either moral or it’s immoral. You can’t compromise holiness. It’s either holy or it’s profane… Give us leaders once again who know the difference. Give us leaders once again who have a fear of God in their heart. That’s what DC40 is, us crying as a nation. God deliver us.”

They are whack jobs, no doubt. And normally I give whack jobs exactly what their drivel deserves: a blind eye and a deaf ear. Normally I wouldn’t worry about this sort of thing because in a sane world like ours, wingnuts like this don’t rise to power or make a big difference.

But we all know that’s not always true, just usually true. (Just ask Norway. They’ll tell you all about the lack of damage crazy people do.) Every dangerous regime in history was once a group of f***tards that nobody thought would amount to anything because they were too insane to be taken seriously. Then an economic depression/recession hit and an outside force threatened their physical well-being, leaving people on edge, hungry for answers, and wishing they had somebody to blame. And suddenly society was ripe for the insane to move in and take over. Sound familiar? And the NAR has made it clear they want political power and are aggressively pursuing it. They have ties to Sarah Palin, presidential hopeful (and my governor, gods help me) Rick Perry, and a host of other politicians whose popularity has not been affected by their association with these crazy people – in fact, there are times when it seems to improve. ***

I’ve seen several Pagan responses to the New Apostolic Reformation’s DC40 Campaign (and their other assaults on America’s good sense). Jason Pitzl Waters at the Wild Hunt, whose writing I very much respect, has written quite a bit about them, and in one post  even states, “I hope they are simply an aberration that will fade away, but I’m not sure. I think they are gaining in influence and popularity,” along with a caution that we should keep our eye on these guys and encourage mainstream news to do the same.

Hecate Demeter, a witch living in DC, wrote this about ignoring them:

 But I just have to ask: How’s that approach working out for us?

These people are a rather small percentage of the population, yet they have an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. (In other words, their magic works.) And they’re attacking the primary Goddesses of our Nation (Columbia, Lady Liberty, etc.) and doing it during our high holy season. (Imagine for a moment how provocative it would be for Pagans to plan a similar event of “magical warfare” against the Christian deities during, say, Easter or Christmas. We’d never hear the end of it. We could issue ersatz “divorce decrees” and “petitions for declaratory orders” asking Columbia to make clear that America has nothing to do with Christianity and isn’t a Christian nation. And the Dominionists would go ballistic and the press would give them coverage. Well, when we’re attacked, I think it merits a response.)

– Hecate Demeter, This Time It’s Personal 

I agree. I don’t think we can ignore these people. Like Jason Pitzl Waters, I think they need to be watched and talked about. Like Hecate Demeter, I think we need to respond. These people are hiding their endgame in a big bucket of faux patriotism, and a lot of people haven’t seemed to notice.

Next week I’ll get back to my title (and what that has to do with anything). This whole issue has me contemplating some serious stuff about the power of prayer (which I believe is a type of magic) and the power of concerted unity to effect change, and next week I’d like to share some of those “thinks” I’ve been thinking.

What say you? Have you heard of these guys before? Do they look scary or am I unintentionally sensationalizing?

* For those who think burning objects is not in the same league as getting people into the White House, I would like to point out the historical connection between “penchant for setting things on fire” and dangerous evil. Setting something on fire is not merely separating yourself from an idea you don’t like, but symbolically destroying that idea in the most complete way possible. It’s why some people burn pictures of their exes instead of throwing them away (which can be a good thing if a total disconnection is what’s needed) and it’s why some governments have burned people at the stake instead of “merely” executing or banishing them (never a good thing). We burn something when we want its influence utterly negated. It’s visceral and it’s personal.

** NAR renamed DC because Columbia is a Pagan goddess linked (somehow that I don’t understand) to our country’s marriage to Baal – I am not making this shit up; you can see for yourself on their website. They have issued a Divorce Decree.  That’s the actual one from their website. Go ahead. You know you want to read it and see what the crazy people say. What is far more frightening than that weirdness, however, is their Divorce Writ  in which they declare that all material wealth which belonged to Baal before the divorce now belongs to The People of God (i.e. them). Maybe I’m completely misreading their terrible attempt at legal jargon, but it sounds like they’re saying member of the NAR can rob my house or take over Guatemala or whatever they want because after the divorce they own everything. The words “plunder his house” are actually in the writ.

*** It isn’t just pagans who are worried. The link I just led you to is a Christian website. Here’s another one that cracked me up: this group thinks Harry Potter is evil, evolution is a myth, and Roleplaying Games lead to demonic worship. And they think the NAR is a group of dangerous nuts. The NAR is being rejected by many groups of radical conservative Christians… and somehow still being embraced by mainstream ones. It’s weird.

+ Featured Image: Genius of America (Pediment over the east central entrance of the U.S. Capitol) Luigi Persico, sandstone, 1825-1828, Copied by Bruno Mankowski in marble, 1959-1960