There are two different kinds of Christofascists: one is the Elmer Gantry and the other kind is the Elmer Fudd. The one to watch out for is the Elmer Fudd. After all, he's the one with the gun.
About 35 years ago, I had the occasion to meet one of my boyhood cowboy icons. I had seen him on the 14-inch screen in black and white, but his portrayal of a Mexican cowboy with a sidekick named Pancho was colorful enough for the imagination. The actor's name was Duncan Renaldo and he played The Cisco Kid. When I met him he was in his sixties and was much shorter than I had imagined him. But his white hair was still as thick as it had been twenty years before and he still had a kind of benign intensity. He was promoting a friend's book of poetry. He talked to me about his early days in movies, when sound was in its infancy. He was in Africa for almost two years filming the classic Trader Horn. He told me that the movie made almost no money at the box-office, but the extensive footage of the Serengeti and its animals was a goldmine in studio rentals. I was anxious, however, to get to the subject of The Cisco Kid.
"You know, I had Hopalong Cassidy wallpaper when I was a kid," I said. "And I know there were dozens of other promotional toys and whatnot for different shows, but I don't recall seeing anything with The Cisco Kid on them."
"Because every time you point a gun at someone, even a toy gun, it means 'I want to kill you.'"
I've never forgotten that exchange. As The Cisco Kid, he was totally fearless. In reality, he was compassionate and peaceful. I then realized that his character's quick wit and rather sophisticated temperament was due to his own persona and not just a scriptwriter's attempt to inject something more meaningful into an early TV kids' cowboy program.
The following description of a "soldier for Christ" sounds routinely innocuous, but put it on a website that features gunshots and bullet holes and you have the makings of a hate group armed with guns as well as Bibles. This group will start with extreme intimidation, but only time will tell what it will end up with.
Let's look at the inconsistencies in their description of a "soldier of Christ":
A soldier for Christ fights a spiritual battle. The enemy is not our fellow man but the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12). (History tells us that a soldier is trained to kill whomever he perceives as the enemy. Flesh and blood humans are painted as evil incarnate by pastors.) Our mission is to do battle with the lies of the enemy. To do battle with the corruption of this world. We do this by personal evangelism, one heart at a time. (Not when you target whole groups for extreme intimidation) The first century church went out into the streets and house to house being personal witnesses for Christ. This we do as well. (No, they did not intend to intimidate, harass or threaten blackmail) The Christian soldier has three weapons in his arsenal, prayer, praise and worship, and the Word of God. (Using Scripture as a weapon in any way is not Christian is it?) The Christian soldier must have the courage to stand where others will not and to go where others fear to tread. If God the Father regarded every person's value as to be worth sending His only begotten Son to die for then why do so many Christians think that some are not worth preaching to? (Intimidation is not preaching) Regardless of the risk, regardless of the cost, regardless of the place, Christians are called to preach the Gospel to every creature. (Not to animals, since that would be putting animals on the same plane as humans) There is no excuse for cowardice in the face of the enemy. (Again, who is the enemy? How about that guy who runs the porno shop? Or the young couple in a swingers club? Or the gay couple down the street?) Jesus Christ was faithful unto death, obedient unto death and so shall we. The costs of cowardice and apathy are far too high. (Costs to whom?) A soldier for Christ wants to leave no man behind. (Easily qualified by a young soldier's mind - if a man refuses to go, then what is the soldier to do?) We will fight unto death for the cause of eternal life through Christ Jesus. We will wage a good spiritual warfare until our King calls us home. May we leave this earth desperately clinging to one more lost soul.
"Desperately clinging." In the context of warfare, those words could be taken to mean that while the right hand is clinging to someone, the left hand is searching for a place to stab with the dagger - and turn it.
Of course, this article doesn't do justice to the website. Picture it pockmarked with bullet holes.
Yes, bullet holes.
That's what got to me when I looked at the site. No matter what they say about not targeting anyone, the bullet holes make everything disingenuous. The bullet holes are there to intimidate. The bullet holes are, in fact, very indicative of their modus operandi: intentionally ruining peoples' lives to further their agenda:
From How To Have Sex In Texas:
It was members of this "soldier" group that confronted, harassed, and smeared members of the Amarillo swinger's club, employing such apparently "Christian" tactics as posting names, employers, and license plate numbers of club attendees online, resulting in lost jobs and social ostracism--which, I guess, was the point--for several members.
While I call this ideology of religious militarism Christofascism, some have other names even more sinister. Dan Savage (Savage Love) calls Christofascists The American Taliban:
They're also going after churches they believe to be insufficiently Christian (Episcopalians, Christian Scientists, Unitarians), palm readers, people who practice witchcraft, and anything and everything that might create a "demonic stronghold" in Amarillo. And they're not just threatening to pray for people: Repent Amarillo's "actions" include prayer, according to Repent Amarillo's website, "but [also] may involve more aggressive use of soldiers and prayer warriors." Check out the group's locked-and-loaded website. (Please note: Repent Amarillo's website "is not designed for non-Christians," or the wrong kinds of Christians, so don't look long lest you defile the group's website with your eyes and turn into a pillar of salt.)
So if, heaven forbid, you are ever in Amarillo, remember that Repent Amarillo will be targeting these events:
1. Gay pride events.
2. Earth worship events such as "Earth Day"
3. Pro-abortion events or places such as Planned Parenthood
4. Breast cancer events such as "Race for the Cure" to illuminate the link between abortion and breast cancer.
5. Opening day of public schools to reach out to students.
6. Spring break events
7. Demonically based concerts.
8. Halloween events.
9. Other events that may arise that the ministry feels called to confront
If Repent Amarillo seems like a terrorist organization using God as a front, we should waste no time in monitoring it VERY closely. The Christofascist Right won't do it. Progressive Christians and the rest of us must do it. Someone's life may depend upon our diligence.
A very confusing investigation into the founder of Repent Amarillo and its "parent" ministry Raven International Ministries reveals that most of the "pastors" associated with its ministries matriculated at World Evangelism Bible College - the college founded by none other than disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Neither Todd Bohn's nor (brother) Troy Bohn's profiles state that they actually graduated from WEBC, although Troy's website does state that he received a "honorary doctorate" in appreciation for his work, but does not state the source of the honorary degree. Repent Amarillo's (pastor) David Grisham is not listed with any known theological seminary as far as we know.