Spiritual Warfare

by Jay Taber
Long before Indigenous peoples had to deal with Pentecostals and other Evangelicals committed to converting them from heathenism, there were the Puritans. In America, these religious fanatics — who washed up on the shores of Wampanoag territory and repaid Indigenous generosity with murder — have themselves undergone quite a transformation.

“The central tenet of Puritanism,” notes Wikipedia, “was God’s supreme authority over human affairs, which led them to seek both individual and corporate conformance to the teaching of the Bible, pursuing moral purity down to the smallest detail. The Pilgrims (the separatist, congregationalist Puritans who went to North America) are famous for banning from their New England colonies many secular entertainments, such as games of chance, maypoles, and drama, all of which were perceived as examples of immorality. They believed that secular governors are accountable to God to protect and reward virtue, including ‘true religion’, and to punish wrongdoers.”

“The popular image,” it goes on, “is slightly more accurate as a description of Puritans in colonial America, who were among the most radical Puritans and whose social experiment took the form of a Calvinist theocracy.”

In Laurie Goodstein’s 24 October 2008 New York Times article YouTube Videos Draw Attention to Palin’s Faith about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, it was noted that videos taken in her church during her campaign for Governor of Alaska revealed her praying that God protect her from witchcraft, and acknowledging the Last Days prophecy of approaching “end times.” According to Goodstein, Palin’s long associations with religious leaders who practice a particularly assertive and urgent brand of Pentecostalism known as “spiritual warfare” is noteworthy in that, “Its adherents believe that demonic forces can colonize specific geographic areas and individuals, and that ‘spiritual warriors’ must ‘battle’ them to assert God’s control, using prayer and evangelism.”

“The Kenyan preacher shown on the video anointing her as she ran for governor,” says Goodstein, “is celebrated internationally as an effective spiritual warrior who led a prayer movement that drove a witch out of his town in Kenya.”

“Critics,” notes Goodstein, “say the goal of the spiritual warfare movement is to create a theocracy. Bruce Wilson, a researcher for Talk2Action, a Web site that tracks religious groups, said: ‘One of the imperatives of the movement is to achieve worldly power, including political control. Then you can more effectively drive out the demons. The ultimate goal is to purify the earth’.”

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