‘Charisma’ filled with spirit of Romney campaign, endorses mendacious Mitt with dishonest column

Stephen Strang has crammed almost as many falsehoods into his endorsement of Mitt Romney — “‘Charisma’ Publisher Urges Americans to Vote for Romney” — as Romney himself manages to pack into a campaign speech.

If you’re not familiar with Charisma and Strang, here are the relevant points:

Stephen Strang (left) with WorldNetDaily columnist Pat Boone (center) and famed Tinky Winky-foe Jerry Falwell.

1. Charisma is big, with a circulation of about 275,000 (more than twice as big as Christianity Today), and it’s the primary paper of record for American Christians in the Pentecostal and charismatic branches of evangelicalism. The ads — particularly the smaller ones — are a depressing tour of the most credulous and cynically corrupt grifters in the revival racket. Every Gantry-esque Benny Hinn- or Cindy Jacobs-type huckster fleecing the flock by hosting a conference or revival wants to buy an ad in Charisma. And Stephen Strang is always happy to sell them one.

2. Strang has a ton of money and influence in evangelicalism. He is not a fringe figure, but he promotes some far-right whackaloon fringe ideas. Think of him as a print version of Pat Robertson — too nutty to take seriously, but too established and influential (i.e., too rich) to dismiss.

And here is a third point, massively underscored by this endorsement column: Stephen Strang is not an honest man. Nor does he care about being an honest man.

Consider:

The list is astounding of ways [Obama] has diminished religious freedom, like celebrating Muslim holidays but making no mention of God in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation, or not having a White House observance of the National Day of Prayer. David Barton documents many more examples on his website.

Yes, David Barton has many, many more such examples, because David Barton is a notorious con-artist and liar. Barton’s other examples — like the two Strang cites — are also false.

Stephen Strang is bearing witness. That witness is false.

But Stephen Strang isn’t done bearing false witness:

Obamacare forces religious institutions to provide abortions in health insurance or morning after medications.

This is not true. The Affordable Care Act does not force religious institutions to provide abortion coverage. It does not force anyone to provide abortion coverage.

The original act did not provide abortion coverage, and then the redundant Stupak amendment underlined that in bold type. Charisma covered the debate over the Stupak amendment, so Stephen Strang knows that what he wrote there is not true.

Stephen Strang is deliberately lying.

The hackery and the lying continue throughout the remainder of Strang’s column — in which he also commends Lou Engle and Bishop Harry Jackson as credible and reasonable sources of political wisdom.

It is disturbing and dangerous that somebody as manipulative and dishonest as Stephen Strang is permitted to wield such influence in American Christianity.

And it is beyond depressing that “mainstream” evangelical leaders will never criticize or challenge a shameless liar and partisan hack like Strang because he’s too rich to question, and because they are too busy patrolling the “progressive” border of the tribe, parsing every statement for anything that smacks of liberalism.

  • Fusina

    Proverbs 17:5

    Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;
       those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished. Someone quoted that in the comments section of the Charisma article. I repeat it here as it is relevant.

     

  • Lunch Meat

    The list is astounding of ways [Obama] has diminished religious freedom,
    like celebrating Muslim holidays but making no mention of God in his
    Thanksgiving Day proclamation, or not having a White House observance of
    the National Day of Prayer.

    Even if the examples were true, they would in no way be examples of “diminishing religious freedom.” Even if Obama was a Muslim and celebrated Muslim holidays, that would not diminish anyone else’s religious freedom. My freedom to thank God on Thanksgiving Day and pray during the National Day of Prayer is not diminished by anyone else’s choice not to do the same. In fact, if the President of the US was a Muslim and felt free to express that without being impeached and persecuted as a terrorist, that would be a wonderful sign of how much religious freedom the country has. We have not yet attained to that level of freedom. It would be awesome if we made it there.

    How anyone can read that statement and nod and say, “Yes, that sounds logical” is beyond me.

  • Lori

    The list is astounding of ways [Obama] has diminished religious freedom 

    This statesmen is true, just not the way Strang meant it. It’s the list itself, not Obama’s supposed actions, that’s astounding. There’s something sort of jaw-dropping about telling that many lies and then presenting them as a list, especially when you consider that this is just a subset of the total number of lies they tell about Obama.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    It requires understanding that for those on the conservative side of the aisle, “diminishing religious freedom” means “diminishing the overwhelming privilege that white, protestant males wield in our society”. 

  • Carstonio

    Some of these folks define religious freedom according to the old Puritan and Pilgrim concept. Not as a right to follow one’s religion but as a right to live in a society whose institutions are based on that religion. In a multi-religion society, that definition amounts to privilege for members of one religion over others. While Barton and Strang are deliberately lying, I suspect they also deliberately refuse to recognize that their vision for the role of religion in society is fundamentally incompatible with individual freedom of any sort. They’re speaking a different language from the rest of us and they damn well know it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Muslim holidays???

    News to me! When did, say, Obama ever proclaim the beginning and end of Ramadan?

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I keep wondering whether there is any Christianity left in conservative Christianity.

  • Jim Roberts

    I go to a conservative Christian church. There is much Christianity to be found there. Somewhat tarnished, but it’s there.

  • Lori

    How anyone can read that statement and nod and say, “Yes, that sounds logical” is beyond me.  

    Logic is not their strong suit, that’s for sure.

    Another example—the Bishop of Peoria sent a letter to all the churches in his parishes basically ordering parishioners to vote, with it strongly implied that they must vote against Obama. 

    The first line of his message:

    Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more
    threatening to our religious liberty than the present.  

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/peoria-bishop-orders-catholics-polls

    Jenky’s stirring defense of religious liberty went out under the following note:

    By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I
    require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4.  

    Ah, I love the smell of hypocricy in the morning. It’s so bracing.

  • Lori

    Didn’t you get the memo about Eid now being a federal holiday? Obama signed an executive order on September 31st. Spread the word.

  • Magic_Cracker

    The continued existence of non-Strangists violates Strangists’ belief that they (well, he) is the One True Faith(TM), thereby violating their (well, his) religious freedom.

  • Carstonio

    Yes, and that concept probably works as a dog whistle, more sublimated than, say, the longstanding practice of bashing “welfare queens.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Couldn’t tell if sarcasm, but it’s not on Wikipedia, so I assume sarcasm. :( it would be lovely if he really had. Also a scattering of important holidays from polytheistic religions and however one’s meant to describe Buddhism, just to deflect the ‘Muslim president’ nonsense.

  • Claude

    not having a White House observance of the National Day of Prayer?

    http://youtu.be/TBEjbTUDw94

  • Claude

    OK,the National Prayer Breakfast is not on the same day as National Prayer Day. I get it all confused. But any excuse to listen to the divine Alison Krauss sing a hymn.

    Strang is lying, regardless.

  • Andrea

    Sarcasm. The hint is in the “September 31.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    *beats head on desk*

  • Tricksterson

    One also has to wonder how one could celebrate a Muslim holiday without praising God since, you know, “allah” is simply the Arabic word for God, not a specific name of God.  Oh, but wait, in order to know that you’d have to have at least a minimal knowledge of Islam, which would make you a traitor to your faith I’m sure.

  • Lori

    It was sarcasm. (The date was the clue.)

    ETA: I see Andrea beat me to it.

  • Tricksterson

    You know of course that there are people who will read this and miss the sarcasm.

  • Tricksterson

    Now how can you call that a real observance when not one homosexual was burnt alive?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     It’s not clear to me that this objection would even make sense to the audience under discussion. That is, it’s not just a question of being ignorant of Islam, or of Arabic… there’s a deeper chasm than mere ignorance.

    I think there’s a significant community out there who consider the name of god to be “God.” Not a name, mind you, but the name. In English. And that when Jews pray to “adonoi” and Spanish-speaking Christians pray to “Dios” and Arabic-speaking Muslims pray to “Allah,” we’re all just getting his name wrong.

  • Lori

    I’ve edited to make it clear.

  • Carstonio

    The references to “God” on US currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance are probably viewed by the vast majority of US citizens as explicitly Christian, or at least treated that way. The Knights of Columbus intended for that when they pushed the Pledge rewording.

    I suspect many US citizens wouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that non-English-speaking Christians and Jews use a different name. But they probably make that mistake for Islam not just from cultural ignorance but of deliberate ignorance based in bigotry.

  • Not

    >>>> 
    “mainstream” evangelical leaders will never criticize or challenge a shameless liar and partisan hack like Strang  because he’s too rich to question, and because they are too busy patrolling the “progressive” border of the tribe

    I am skeptical of this explanation. A much more parsimonious explanation for why mainstream evangelical leaders never criticize or challenge the likes of Strang is that they agree with him.

    If mainstream evangelical leaders had shown, in other aspects of their dealings with the world, a prominent concern for the truth even when it goes against their political interests, or a concern for avoiding partisan hackery, then Fred’s explanation might be necessary to account for their approach Strang. But no such concerns are in evidence. 

    Thus I submit that it is much more likely that they actually do agree with every word he says.

  • Lori

    I’m sure that some people feel that way, but the folks I know have a different issue. The best I can describe it is that think the Muslims have it so wrong that they’re essentially worshiping a false construct and in that sense Allah =/= God.  I’ve never personally known anyone with an issue with “Dios” and I’m not convinced that any of them are even aware of adonoi.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yeah, I agree that there’s also a substantial group of Americans who aren’t as confused as the ones I described who understand that “Dios” is a way to refer to their god but don’t believe “Allah” is.

    Though once we get to that community I’m not sure they’re exactly wrong.

    That is, there’s a reasonable argument to be made (at least if one is an atheist, and potentially even if one is a theist) that  the name of a god used within a religious community is simply an aspect of that community’s worship practice, so what it means for two names to refer to the same god is for those names to be used in analogous ways by the same religious community.

    On that account, if an American Christian who considers a Guatemalan Christian but not a Syrian Muslim part of her faith asserts that when the Guatemalan says “Dios” he means God but when the Syrian says “Allah” she doesn’t, the American is I suppose correct.

    Then again, Christians mostly finesse this question using “Jesus.”

    (Edit: This is similar to Lori’s comment below, as well.)

  • Carstonio

     I would like to see their reaction upon encountering an English-speaking Muslim who uses the term “God” and an Arabic-speaking Christian who uses the term “Allah.”

  • Lunch Meat

    Don’t Syrian Christians also pray to “Allah”?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) Yeah, I know some folks like that as well.

    I actually don’t have so much of a problem with them… they’re free to have their beliefs about God, and if that implies that other people are worshiping false gods that’s OK with me, as long as they don’t try to impose temporal sanctions based on that belief.

    That said, I had a fascinating conversation once with some guy* in Tennessee once who solemnly expressed his concern about all those misguided Hispanics worshiping Dee-ose. So, I dunno.

    * – Who I really really want to believe was just fucking with the Yankee, much like the two teenage girls who didn’t believe I was Jewish because I didn’t have visible horns. That was a creepy trip, and I have never been so eager to return to the Northeast.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I know, right? I suspect they would correct the latter and get angry at the former.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I believe so. I’ve never discussed the matter with any Arabic-speaking Christians, but it would be consistent.

    I am reminded now of a Passover Seder I attended once with an Egyptian Jew. I expected her to be really alienated by the whole anti-Egyptian narrative of the Seder, but she explained that one learns to compartmentalize that pretty early on. It helps, I suppose, that she doesn’t speak Hebrew, so doesn’t really think of herself as one of the “Mitzri’im”

  • Claude

    Maybe they were saving that act for the National Prayer Lunch?

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Wait a minute – I thought Stephen Strang was the Sorcerer Supreme, the world’s foremost practitioner of the occult arts! I’m surprised so many charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, who believe all forms of the occult are Satanic, would be interested in his newspaper!

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > I thought Stephen Strang was the Sorcerer Supreme, the world’s foremost practitioner of the occult arts!

    Who can turn a cub… into a cube?
    Who can turn a tub… into a tube?
    It’s elementary, for Silent E!

  • Mrs Grimble

    I went to Wikipedia and found it doesn’t list anything for September 31st – those damm commielibruls that run it are conspiring with Obama to HIDE TEH TRUTH!!

  • Ethics Gradient

     Notice that Jenky has also gone with the ” HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion” lie that Strang chose. It looks like this is the last-gasp deception the religious extremists have decided to go for to persuade their marks that they should turn out after all and vote for Romney.

    You’re too kind to him – it’s not that he can’t remember history. He’s just lying. Bearing false witness. Fibbing. Being mendacious. Deceiving. Conning.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

     The really funny thing is that, at least from the picture above, Strang does sort of resemble some pics of Doctor Strange…

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9ktcfF84b1qhzw4ao4_500.jpg

  • Coldbeer4thesoul

    The Economist’s half hearted endorsement of Obama.
    Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

  • P J Evans

     It would be really interesting, since it’s a movable feast, like Easter. (We got fruit at work, courtesy of one of my Muslim coworkers.)

  • Tom S

    The Economist’s endorsement is one of those things that means I’m voting for Stein.

    (One of the other things is that I live in Massachusetts, so nobody gives about my presidential ballot.)

  • Lori

    This is one of those weird elections when the votes of folks in deep blue states may actually matter as far as trying to avoid a popular vote/electoral vote split. Because if there’s one thing we all know it’s that if Obama wins the electoral vote and Romney wins (or gets credit for winning) the popular vote the Right is not going to react the way the Left did in 2000. If the highly unlikely happens and Romney wins both the electoral and popular votes they’ll be just fine. Any other scenario is likely to result in ugliness, but a split result will be especially bad. Not that there wouldn’t be something entertaining about watching the wing nuts try to explain why Bush v Gore shouldn’t apply, but I can’t imagine that little bit of funny being worth the hell they’d put us through over it.

    Obviously you have to vote your conscience, but this time around you shouldn’t frame it as not mattering because of where you live.

  • christopher_young

    and Arabic-speaking Muslims pray to “Allah,” we’re all just getting his name wrong.

    Not to mention Arabic speaking Christians…

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    An Arabic-speaking Christian would probably pray to Allah, but an English-speaking Muslim is likely also to pray to Allah. Many Muslims dislike translating the term.

    TRiG.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Indeed. English-speaking Orthodox Jews are similar in some ways. We stick to the Hebrew where we can, even when we don’t understand what we’re saying.

    Actually, Orthodox Jewish culture is complex this way… our tradition is that God does have a name, which is given in the Torah, although we don’t know how to pronounce it. So when it arises in a liturgical or scriptural context, we say “adonoi” instead… roughly, “Lord”. But using even that word out of those contexts (as I just did, for example) is seen as, if not precisely sinful, at least disrespectful… secularizing what ought to remain sacred. So we typically say “hashem” (literally, “the name”), or “adoshem” if we want to preserve scansion when chanting, instead.

    Increasingly tangentially: I remember when I was practicing for my Bar Mitzvah recitation, my coach would chastise me for performing such “shem”-substitutions, his reasoning being that I would learn it wrong and then screw up during performance.

  • Carstonio

    Apparently some editorials endorsing Romney are arguing that he’ll be better able to work with the Republicans in Congress. You know, the same ones who declared that their job in office was to make sure Obama was a one-termer. The same ones who would rather see the nation’s credit rating go into the toilet rather than raise taxes on the risk. Those editorials sound as if they’re giving in to obstructionist blackmail.

  • reynard61

    “I thought Stephen Strang was the Sorcerer Supreme(…)”

    The impression I get of him is that he’s more Dr. Strangelove than Dr. Strange.


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