A few days ago, I had reported onhe steeplejacking of AWARE, a women's NGO in Singapore (which effectively operates as *the* major NGO that focuses on women's issues); the rough equivalent of what happened in the US would be if (for instance) the National Organisation for Women had been taken over from within by dominionists.
Even more disturbing, the particular group in question behind the steeplejack is an NAR church that was actively implementing the steeplejacking as early as December 2008 and also had links to the SG affiliate of Focus on the Family. (And as to how deeply they were into NAR stuff--well, in essence, it's a direct "granddaughter" of none other than the infamous Hillsong Community Church in Sydney and its direct "parent" church in Perth manages to be even more outwardly extreme re NAR promotion than Hillsong itself is.)
I do have good news to report on this, fortunately.
Thanks in part to not only international publicity about the steeplejacking but some good-old-fashioned group activism (including, largely, networking via blogs including Livejournal) the dominionists are out and the "old guard" of AWARE has seized its org back:
* Motion to remove new AWARE exco from office and elect new president has been passed. Ms Josie Lau and her exco have stepped down. Former President Dana Lam has been elected President. *
3(a) The Exco has lost mandate/confidence of the members of the Society because it has not acted or is acting in the best interest of the society.
Number of Votes IN FAVOUR = 1411 Number of Votes AGAINST = 761
3(b) The Exco has lost mandate/confidence of the members of the Society because they do not appreciate or share the values of the society.
Number of Votes IN FAVOUR = 1412 Number of Votes AGAINST = 762
3(c) The Exco has lost mandate/confidence of the members of the Society because they does not have requisite experience of carrying out the society's work or is otherwise inadequate to further the society's objectives.
Number of Votes IN FAVOUR = 1419 Number of Votes AGAINST = 755
Before a formal ouster could begin, the dominionists stepped down from the leadership--this means that AWARE is, finally, back in control by its members and not by the steeplejackers.
Dominionists tried to derail, and (fortunately) met with FAIL
In addition, more info has come out regarding the integral role of the NAR-linked "Church Of Our Saviour" in the steeplejacking--further pointing to an attempt to essentially turn AWARE into a COOS frontgroup. Per the Straits Times (which is actually a fairly conservative and pro-government paper in Singapore), reportedly COOS's pastor explicitly exhorted the church to support the "new leadership" after AWARE was steeplejacked. Amazingly enough, the sermon in question is still online (and part of a general anti-LGBT rant), and included such statements as "It's not a crusade against the people but there's a line that God has drawn for us, and we don't want our nation crossing that line." (Of note, COOS is known to have planned the steeplejack based on claims that AWARE is somehow "pro-lesbian"; in truth, they are unhappy the group doesn't exclude lesbians, or try to refer them to bogus "degaying therapy" of the sort that COOS explicitly promoted in its sermon.)
This was, of note, in direct response to folks opposed to the steeplejacking of AWARE joining the org and wishing to join the emergency meeting to such an extent that the site of the general meeting had to be moved to a larger venue. Even then, the AWARE steeplejackers tried to have it moved to the same venue as an NAR conference and was reportedly encouraging its membership to try to pack the emergency meeting with "yes" voters.
Meanwhile, The Straits Times learnt of other misgivings expressed over the Expo as a venue. Netizens and supporters of the old guard had pointed out that a two-day Christian conference, Transformation 2009, was also being held there.
They were concerned that people attending the conference would swamp the Aware meeting and outnumber supporters of the old guard hugely.
The Christian conference is being organised by LoveSingapore, an inter-church organisation founded by Pastor Lawrence Khong from the Faith Community Baptist Church.
Its committee members are pastors from different churches, including Pastor Derek Hong from the Church of Our Saviour in Margaret Drive, where several of Aware's leaders worship.
As we'll note below--this would appear to have been no less than an attempt to have the emergency meeting at the same location as an NAR revival/planning meeting (with a speaker notorious for promoting steeplejacks of businesses from within as a form of "taking back the world for Christ").
Fortunately, the Singapore police intervened--refusing to allow the permit to change the venue there, in part because of concerns re conflicts between the "old guard" and the dominionist steeplejackers.
Even after this, the dominionists didn't stop. A particularly damning bit of info showed a series of emails were sent directly tracable to Church Of Our Saviour explicitly encouraging women to join AWARE en masse and attempt to derail the emergency meeting on 17 April--to the same network of email addresses (presumably to cell church leaders) that the previous "organising the steeplejack" emails had gone to..
Of course, after the news came out regarding COOS's integral role in the steeplejacking, the church went into classic "damage control" mode--first trying to deny they were behind the steeplejack, then--when threatened with its outing as an NAR church in Anglican drag when tthe National Council of Churches of Singapore issued a statement condemning the mix of religion and politics (NCCS is the main ecumenical body for mainstream Christian churches in Singapore--including the Anglican church, the denomination NCCS (falsely) claims to be part of)--issued a very-much CYA "apology". In fact, the smackdown wasn't just by the Anglicans--literally every mainstream religious group in Singapore issued statements supporting NCCS's stand, including representatives of the mainstream Buddhist, Taoist, and Moslem faith groups.
(For the record, if anyone has contacts with the National Council of Churches of Singapore, I'd appreciate it if you'd forward them the info re COOS's actual theology, thanks. I think the legit Anglican church might want to know about the steeplejacking.)
An attempted diversion...to an honest-to-dog Joel's Army revival
As it is, AWARE (thanks to the intervention of the Singapore national police) may have dodged a potential cannonball--and the attempted move of the emergency meeting to the same expo center as the "Transformation 2009" conference gives a rare glimpse on just the sort of tactics Joel's Army groups like to use to solidify control once they have it and fear losing it.
Actually, to term the "Transformation 2009" conference (which would have been held, coincidentially, the very next day after the EGM of AWARE--as attendees would have been arriving, or would have already arrived, for the conference) as merely being a conference of evangelicals is not quite accurate.
In fact, it would be extremely inaccurate.
There's actually only one group I've seen that uses that phrase on a regular basis for conferences--namely, NAR-connected groups, and those closely connected to C. Peter Wagner at that. (Among other things, there's a series of videos called the "Transformations" series that is popular in NAR circles; fellow researchers have written some informative material on that series which essentially lays out the long term "game plan" for NAR groups to steeplejack society at large.)
My Spidey-sense on this is, as usual, (unfortunately) quite accurate in this; the main speaker is Ed Silvoso, who is not only a direct C. Peter Wagner (aka "Mr. Joel's Army") acolyte but also one of the major architects of NAR planning for taking over the world--particularly using cell-churches explicitly as "cuckoos" and in remarkably similar ways to Marxist "people's revolutionary cells":
"Silvoso bases his strategy on four fundamental principles: 1. [t]he spiritual unity of the churches of a city, 2. [p]owerful intercessory prayer, 3. [s]trategic-level spiritual warfare, [and] 4. [m]ultiplication of new churches. Peter Wagner says, 'The most sophisticated strategy for evangelizing a city we have at the present time is Edgardo Silvoso's Harvest Evangelism.' To see how spiritual mapping fits into the whole evangelistic design, allow me to summarize Ed Silvoso's six steps for taking a city... [Step] 4. Infiltrate Satan's perimeter. Launch the 'air attack' of specific and strategic intercessory prayer through hundreds of thousands of prayer houses (prayer cells), having the objective of weakening Satan's control over the unsaved, claiming instead a favorable disposition to the gospel. At the same time begin to plant embryonic churches ('lighthouses') in anticipation of an abundant harvest. [Step] 5. Attack and destroy Satan's perimeter. Begin the 'frontal assault.' Launch the spiritual takeover of the city, confronting, binding and casting down the spiritual powers ruling over the region... Disciple new believers through the established lighthouses." (Excerpt is from Victor Lorenzo's "Evangelizing a City Dedicated to Darkness," a chapter in C. Peter Wagner's book, "Breaking Strongholds in Your City" (Regal Books, Ventura, CA, 1993). The parenthetical comments are in the original.)
And, as we'll see, Silvoso is actually one of the nastier NAR promoters.
The group actually holding the conference, LOVE Singapore, is quite possibly the "mother ship" of NAR churches in the Singapore area, or at least its primary "five year planning committee"; along with the (extremely NAR, Latter Rain-derived) usual neopente 40-day marathon fasting (yes, people willingly deprive themselves of food for 40 days and are expected to on multiple occasions a year in these groups as part of their "name it and claim it" theology; even the fast of Ramadan does not cover nights, equivalent Orthodox and Eastern Rite Christian churches usually restrict themselves to vegetarian fasts or *short* fasts of 1-3 days (generally the Dewahedo Orthodox tend to have the strictest fasting outside of NAR churches, but even here they tend to be vegetarian fasts) and doctors note that fasting of over 10 days continuously is very dangerous) we have plenty of indications we're dealing with an NAR group and quite possibly among the most hardcore (the Wagner-lineage NAR promoters).
One of the things Silvoso likes to promote is the concept of essentially setting up front companies for the sole purpose of gaining "marks" for conversion, as well as redirecting funds towards dominionist groups. In fact, the Transformation 2009 brochure helpfully promotes his book on the subject--as well as noting his links to a number of American political dominionist groups with extensive linkages to C. Peter Wagner's network of NAR "apostles" (including Mission America) and his role in promoting NAR theology in Argentina.
In fact, a legitimate argument can be made that in fact LOVE Singapore is nothing but a Silvoso frontgroup--apparently he actually founded the org as essentially a very large "nest" for a whole mess of cell-churches and NAR-linked groups.
And I'm *not* kidding when I state Silvoso is a nasty bit of work. Among other things, he is in part responsible for not one but two major epicentres of NAR activity in the past 20 years in North America--namely, the Toronto Airport Fellowship and Brownsville A/G (in Pensacola, FL) NAR "revivals" which led to popularisation--and spread--of NAR theology outside of neopentecostal circles. It can be, quite literally, stated that Silvoso himself is one of the "generals of Joel's Army".
Notably, his group where he promotes the concept of front companies as "business evangelism" only has a transparency grade of "C" on ministrywatch.com--one of the worse ratings, at that (only a few, known, outright fraudulent televangelists tend to get worse).
And--notably for our discussion of the attempted steeplejack of AWARE--Silvoso does like to actively promote the idea of setting up "cuckoo" cell-churches in businesses if you can't set up a front business yourself:
The quote above comes from a chapter in C. Peter Wagner's book The Church in the Workplace, which is an account of the marketplace transformation movement. This book is an attempt to justify a new role for the church co-mingling with the corporate business world, based on the newly concocted doctrines of C. Peter Wagner, George Otis, Ed Silvoso, Dennis Peacocke, and a host of other Latter Rain and Reconstructionist leaders.
In a chapter entitled "Apostles in the Workplace," Wagner details the "strategy for war" for marketplace transformation, and puts out a plea for leaders to "standardize our terminology" for the "7 spheres" or "7 mountains" or "7 gates" of society that must be transformed. Wagner suggests "using a list that can be traced back to Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade." (p. 112)
In addition, the "Baptist" (and there is a very specific reason I use that phrase in quotes) church in question linked to the conference is, just like Church Of Our Saviour, an NAR rabid dog in a non-NAR church's "sheep's clothing". In fact, it seems to have been set up explicitly as an NAR church from the very beginning and deceptively named a Baptist church; it's certainly not affiliated with any legitimate Baptist denominations. In practice, it's a typical NAR neopentecostal church of the sort that would be branded "nondenominational" here in the States; the *true* denominational affiliation would be with a small NAR paradenomination that recruits members primarily through cell-churches and "encounter weekends" (where people are isolated from outside contact and by their own admission subjected to a hard-sell via essentially a neopentecostal revival in a closed environment).
These are *incredibly* coercive in practice; Matt Taibbi has written about his own experiences at an "encounter weekend" and some evaluations indicate these "weekends" and the groups that hold them may be literally more abusive than Scientology (especially if the use of abusive "cell churches" is also considered--cell-churches and similar "shepherding" tactics being among the most documentably coercive and harmful tactics known to be in wide use in abusive religious groups).
Fortunately, the attempt to derail the emergency meeting by redirecting it to essentially the same location as a Joel's Army revival (ironically featuring a speaker who talks openly of setting up exactly this type of steeplejacking attack against legitimate businesses as a form of "evangelism"!) failed.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
That said--the folks at We Are Aware will need to remain vigilant. Undoubtedly, the dominionists *will* attempt to fight the result of the vote and/or try to steeplejack again (and in fact the recently booted dominionists have in fact made a veiled threat to do just that). Fortunately the folks at AWARE have learned from this--one of the thing being proposed are changes to the NGO's constitution to try to make the org more steeplejack-resistant including having been an active volunteer for a year before running for high-level positions.
Still, though, the beatback of the steeplejack does prove one thing.
People *can* take back power, and they *can* stop the dominionists in their tracks.
It takes education and motivation to get to that destination--but the folks at We Are AWARE--and thousands of Singaporeans--have proven it's possible.
May we all be inspired by their example, and may they continue to successfully prevent a steeplejacking--and hopefully even us folks in the States can learn by example.