|by Frederick Clarkson||[Welcome]
Anti-Abortion Escapee Joins bin Laden on FBI List |
Frederick Clarkson, October 4, 2001 -- The most recent terrorist addition to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. But he has threatened to kill Americans where they live and where they work, and anywhere he can find the targets he has selected.
His name is Clayton Lee Waagner and he has threatened to kill "as many" Americans as he can who happen to work for Planned Parenthood Federation of America--from doctors to janitors.
He is a self-described "terrorist" and he posted a manifesto proclaiming his intentions on the Web site of the anti-abortion Army of God, in whose name numerous bombings, arson and assassinations have been committed against abortion providers over nearly two decades. The FBI considers him to be "armed and extremely dangerous"--not unlike the description of Saudi exile and suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.
The FBI's addition of Waagner to the Ten Most Wanted List received little attention, however, even during the global hunt for those who committed the terrorism at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Federal law enforcement agencies led by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service are hot on the trail of this federal fugitive.
Waagner escaped from federal custody in February while he was awaiting sentencing on federal weapons and stolen vehicle charges. He faced a possible sentence of 15 years to life. He had admitted that he was heading out to Seattle to kill a doctor when he was stopped by Illinois State Police who pulled over his stolen Winnebago with weapons stashed under the seat. During his trial last year, he also had said that he had stalked and gathered dossiers on numerous doctors and clinics. His only regret was that he didn't manage to kill a doctor before he was captured.
While on the lam, Waagner has become known in law enforcement circles for repeatedly and narrowly escaping capture while going on a national crime spree. He has been indicted for holding up a bank outside Harrisburg, Pa., and he is suspected in other robberies. He has stolen numerous vehicles and has been indicted for a carjacking in Mississippi. In his flight from justice he has crisscrossed the country and had to abandon a vehicle stuffed with weapons and plans to attack clinics.
Waagner: 'If You Work for the Murderous Abortionist, I'm Going to Kill You'
In June, Waagner posted a manifesto on the Web site of the Army of God that made national news. In it he bragged of his travels, claiming to have stalked clinics, assembled a cache of weapons and compiled dossiers on clinic staff in order "to kill as many of them as I can." He said he would be "going after ... anyone who works at an abortion location or Planned Parenthood. (I don't care if their location actually performs abortions or not. ALL Planned Parenthood locations are targets.)
"It doesn't matter to me if you're a nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor, if you work for the murderous abortionist I'm going to kill you."
While Waagner has not been charged with any crimes for these threats, the seriousness with which federal law enforcement officers regard them undoubtedly played a role in his addition to the Ten Most Wanted List.
Like other religious zealots whose views have become all too familiar, Waagner envisions himself as God's representative, standing up to "the most powerful country in the world." He acknowledges and embraces the identify conferred on him by his fellow Americans.
"They're right," he wrote. "I am a terrorist. And that's the reason I'm posting this letter." Waagner believes that God rescued him from jail, so that "I might lay down my life for His will. He freed me to make war on His enemy. ... And a war it shall be. ... I do not believe I will live long enough to see this war end," he declared, "but I do believe I will see it become changed."
Waagner is known to have corresponded with Army of God members while in prison, notably Rev. Donald Spitz, of Chesapeake, Va., who maintains the Army of God Web site that posted Waagner's communique.
Ten Days After Trade Center Attacks, Waagner Joins bin Laden on List
After Waagner was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, just 10 days after the World Trade Center attacks, Spitz issued a press release in which he complained that "Clayton Lee Waagner has never hurt anyone." He called it "ludicrous to list Clayton Waagner in the same company as Osama bin Laden and said the George W. Bush administration "is still in the pocket of the pro-abortionists."
Spitz recently posted a further note regarding "Brother Clayton Waagner," stating, "Only God and Clayton know if Clayton will take action against the baby killing abortionists." Spitz compares preventing the performing of legal abortion to a hypothetical defense of the World Trade Center, writing that "helpless babies deserve to be protected and defended; just like the people in the World Trade Center deserved to be defended." He further states that those who would prevent legal abortion, apparently by any means, "are heroes; just as if someone had been able to stop the terrorist they would be deemed a hero."
Indeed, Spitz's Army of God Web site hosts the "authorized home pages" of Army of God "martyrs," including Paul Hill, who sits on Florida's death row for the double murder of an abortion provider and his escort and the wounding of another escort, as well as Rachelle "Shelly" Shannon, who is serving a long sentence in a federal penitentiary for the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kan., and for the fire bombings of clinics all over the West.
Someday, Spitz may get to host the official Clayton Waagner home page. But for now, the FBI 's Web site is featuring Waagner.
Originally published Sept 29, 2001 by WomensENews, at http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/668, republished with permission. Frederick Clarkson has written about the intersection between religion and politics for almost 20 years. He is the author of "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy," Common Courage Press, 1997.
Promises To Keep
Frederick Clarkson, August 7, 1997 -- In June of 1996 some 37,500 men converged on the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. They had come from all over the East Coast and Canada to learn how to be better Christian men.
But the crowd -- mostly white and in their 30s and 40s, with a smattering of younger men and some boys -- acted more like sports fans than church-goers. At times the gathering seemed like a giant pep rally for Jesus. Thousands at a time chanted such lines as "We love Jesus! Yes we do! We love Jesus! How about you?" Even the emcee laughed.
It was an easygoing summer afternoon, not a three-piece suit or a clerical collar in sight. An enormous sound system brought a 12-piece band and 20-man a cappella gospel choir to all parts of the stadium. Between sets of bouncy anthems and updated traditional hymns, big-name evangelists wearing blue-and-purple striped polo shirts held forth on how to be better husbands and fathers, how to abandon racism, and how to honor one's pastors. Throughout the rally, which lasted two days, the men batted beach balls around the stadium and craned their necks to see where they'd land next. At times, arms would rise heavenward, palms up in the Pentecostal style. Men would lay hands on each other in prayer. There was lots of hugging.
It was a typical mid-sized gathering of the Promise Keepers, a $100-million-a-year nonprofit business and the vanguard of the Christian men's movement. Previous rallies in L.A. and Detroit had filled stadiums almost twice the size. The Syracuse rally was the Colorado-based movement's easternmost gathering to that point.
Last month, Promise Keepers advanced into New England for the first time with a rally at the Worcester Centrum. The men who attended the July 26 half-day event experienced something a bit different than those at Syracuse. The auditorium was filled to less than half of capacity. There was some hugging, and some real men cried real tears; scattered arms reached upward, accompanied by the murmurs of men speaking tongues. Attendees promised to be better Christians. But there was no doing The Wave for Jesus, as there had been at other rallies, and there were no spontaneous chants. Organizers were clearly disappointed by the turnout.
It has taken the Promise Keepers six years to become what it is today, but it has taken less than one year for it to rush to the brink between financial collapse and possible world prominence. Worcester epitomizes the story of the 1997 rally season, which has been marked by low turnouts, massive revenue shortfalls and rumored staff layoffs. Those with an itch to name the trend may be tempted to dismiss the Worcester rally as a sign that Promise Keepers is past its peak and headed for a free-fall. But Worcester also portends a shift in PK's market strategy, to target smaller cities and charge lower prices in the year ahead.
Worcester also signaled a new effort to target the Northeast, an area largely avoided before now. But most significantly, the rally was designed to rouse and raise up what speakers called an "army" of men for a long-planned march on Washington, D.C. In what it has dubbed "Stand in the Gap: A Sacred Assembly of Men," the organization is calling for a million men to assemble on the Mall in October. PK's history of mounting dynamic stage shows suggests that Stand in the Gap may be among the best-produced, most dramatic marches on Washington in American history.
Promise Keepers is one of the most colorful and dramatic movements in modern politics and religion, but its story is rarely -- or barely -- told in the mainstream media, which have tended to focus on the touchy-feely pictures of beefy guys hugging each other. But behind the superficial, media-friendly facade lies a far less sunny -- and for many, deeply troubling -- agenda of fierce anti-abortion and anti-gay activism, a misogynist version of Christianity, and an ominous ideology of Christian nationalism.
The speakers in Worcester were franker than most about PK's mission: They plan to take America in the name of God.
The story of the Worcester rally really begins in 1990, when former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney convened the gathering of 72 men who would become the first Promise Keepers.
The Denver-based organization grew quickly. With financial and organizational support from two major Christian Right organizations -- the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family and the Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ -- Promise Keepers was able to draw as many as 72,000 men to major stadiums in the U.S by 1994. Last year they filled sports arenas of various sizes in 22 cities and claimed a total attendance of 1 million. Their expenses for the year topped $100 million.
Promise Keepers carries forward a long tradition of revivalism, epitomized in recent history by the tent revivals of Oral Roberts and the stadium "crusades" of Billy Graham. The group's founding text, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, is a compilation of essays on each of the seven "promises" -- akin to a Boy Scout oath for evangelicals. The Promise Keeper commits to:
1.) "honoring Jesus" and obey[ing] God's Word; 2.) "pursuing vital relationships with a few other men ... to help him keep his promises"; 3.) "practicing spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity"; 4.) "building strong marriages and families"; 5.) "supporting the mission of his church ... and praying for his pastor"; 6.) "reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity"; 7.) obey ing"the Great Commandment and the Great Commission." (This refers to the evangelization of the world before the final harvest of souls -- the physical battle with the forces of Satan at the end of time and the Second Coming of Jesus.)
Promise Keepers rallies -- smartly packaged and mediagenic -- have been the slickest religious consumer product since televangelism. A hybrid of elements of arena sports, tent revivals and rock concerts, they are well-paced, interspersing chants and speeches with upbeat music, evangelical songs and traditional hymns. They're usually homey, fun and designed to create a comfortable place for men to bond and reflect upon what it means to be a "Christian man."
But Promise Keepers is also a slick nonprofit business. Tickets to stadium rallies run about $60. The PK Apparel & Gifts summer catalogue offers a kind of a Lands End look, with seven styles of PK headgear. The PK product line also includes mugs, pens, books, videos, CDs and cassettes of the greatest hits of PK rallies past. The PK edition of the New Testament, Promise Keeper: Man of His Word, makes the Good Book look like a cross between a product catalog and Sports Illustrated.
Interspersed between the books of the Bible are personality profiles of Christian athletes. In the back are ads and tear-out cards for PK products.
The organization's public-relations people insist that it's all about personal commitment to family and Jesus. Men pledge to lead their families: to be faithful to their wives, to support their children, not to abuse alcohol or drugs, to spread the message of evangelical Christianity, to be "men of integrity." But the image of masses of men forswearing their wicked ways is misleading.
Reporters are drawn to the emotional elements of the rallies like moths to a flame --particularly when the hugging is interracial -- giving the impression that Promise Keepers represents something new and hopeful. But most attendees already are evangelicals, for whom the emotional style of worship present at PK rallies is customary. The vast majority (88 percent, according to one survey) are married. Only 21 percent have been divorced, well below the national average.
While strengthening marriage and family is one of the Promise Keepers' most publicized goals, and many say it has made a positive contribution to their lives, this happens strictly in the context of a theological patriarchy: God the Father, Jesus the son; male pastors; women "in submission."
Promise Keepers spokesmen deny that the organization encourages men to dominate women, but again and again, the words of Promise Keepers own leaders and supporters make clear their views on male-female relations. Reflecting on a PK rally at his Liberty University, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said: "It appears that America's anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and it is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement."
Here's how to begin "Reclaiming Your Manhood," according to the Rev. Tony Evans in the group's founding text, The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper: "The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like this: 'Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.' Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I'm urging you to take it back." (Emphases in the original.)
Not surprisingly, women are scarce at Promise Keepers rallies, which are intended for "men only." Most of the women who could be found at the Worcester gathering were volunteer staffers who were required to stay outside the arena during the event. The few other women present were reporters and two brave souls who overcame the "men only" policy by insisting that the Centrum is a public facility, open to all.
Strident anti-gay rhetoric is also common at Promise Keepers events. Gays, if there were any, did not draw attention to themselves in Worcester.
The mood at the Centrum was uncharacteristically subdued throughout most of the July 29 rally. During the music and speeches there was a lot of standing in line for expensive hot dogs and super-size Cokes.
But Promise Keepers' startling political and religious agenda, submerged behind the pep-rally atmosphere at previous rallies, emerged full-blown in Worcester. The organizers revealed what had previously remained implicit: that they are planning one of the greatest mobilizations of evangelicals in history, nothing less than a 20th century-scale Great Awakening, the advent of the Christian nation -- and possibly the fulfillment of the biblically prophesied end of the world.
At this point, the men of Worcester began to take notice.
Attendees were shown a promotional video for Stand in the Gap, the precedent for which, they were told, lay in the Great Awakenings of the 18th century -- the explosions of popular religious fervor that swept the country as famous evangelists held forth.
The first Great Awakening, led by Jonathan Edwards, was centered in Northampton from the 1730s through the 1750s. It spread beyond New England as other evangelists inspired local pastors to step up their personal efforts. The Second Great Awakening spilled out of New England in the 1790s and early 1800s, generating outbreaks of religious enthusiasm in Kentucky at the great camp meetings of 1800 and 1801.
The most groundbreaking message of the Worcester rally came when the Rev. Larry Jackson stepped up to the podium and into the spotlight. Within 45 minutes he had the men on their feet and cheering a message that destroyed any popular understanding of "male responsibility."
Jackson linked the more mundane, if controversial, message of "man as head of the household" to the unleashing of supernatural powers. He referred participants to the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, the basis for an old gospel song, which goes in part, "dem bones dem bones, dem dry bones ... Now hear the word of the Lord!" Not only have men failed to lead their families, Jackson declared, but they have "abdicated responsibility to preach the word of God." Like the prophet whom God commanded to speak the Word of God to the "dry bones in the valley" and thus breathe life into them and raise them from the dead, so, Jackson thundered, a man must "prophesy" to his wife and children. The "dry bones," he said, are the condition of the family, the church and society. God's breath, in the form of the Holy Spirit, must be breathed into them, he said. Paraphrasing Ezekiel, Jackson said the Holy Spirit will come as the four winds to Stand in The Gap.
The rally name, in fact, derives from another story in Ezekiel, in which God, angry at a society that had fallen away from His laws, looked for a man who would "stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not destroy it, but I found none."
Jackson told attendees that every Christian man is to be a prophet in this sense, that God is speaking to him and through him. "You cannot be led by your own mind," Jackson insisted. "He wants to see men of POWER!"
In the rally's finale, Promise Keepers national staffer "Doc" Reed rebuked the various demonic spirits he believes control New England. He condemned "the spirit of individualism" which he seemed to feel hinders the PK cause, and he railed against "racism," "sectarianism" and "intellectual pride."
Promise Keepers' public-relations people deny the organization promotes a right-wing political agenda. But the leaders' own words contradict the PR.
Personal religious "revival" is not enough, Campus Crusade for Christ leader Bill Bright writes in his book The Coming Revival: America's Call To Fast, Pray, and Seek God's Face, which is sold at Promise Keepers events. Christians must "[b]ecome actively involved in restoring every facet of society, including government, to the biblical values of our Founding Fathers," Bright writes. "Unless our nation returns to God -- from the top down, where our laws are made -- permanent change will be extremely difficult."
Bright believes the U.S. was founded as a "Christian Nation" but has lost its way and must be restored.
It is true that the original 13 colonies were largely Christian theocracies for 150 years.
But the framers of the Constitution rejected the bitter history of religious warfare in Europe and religious persecution in the Colonies. Unanimously and with little debate, they adopted Article VI of the Constitution, which bars "religious tests" for public office. The U.S. was thus the first nation in the history of the world founded without an official God and premised on religious equality.
But Christian nationalism remains one of the driving myths of the Christian right, including Promise Keepers leaders. And there is an even more disturbing vision beyond, or perhaps a logical extension of, Christian nationalism. The Rev. James Ryle -- who is Bill McCartney's personal pastor and a Promise Keepers board member -- believes Promise Keepers is the fulfillment of a Biblically prophesied army which will destroy sinners and unbelievers in the end-times. "Never have 300,000 men come together throughout human history," he told journalist Russ Bellant, "except for the purposes of war." Promise Keepers leaders at all levels use military metaphors to describe their activities. All this is particularly disturbing because a number of the organization's senior staff are former military officers.
The apocalyptic war imagery is disturbing also because there is a certain desperation in Promise Keepers land. They believe that the men of the church have failed to be in charge in the home, the church and society, and that their failure explains abortion, homosexuality, crime, drugs and natural disasters -- which they take to be warning signs of God's displeasure. In D.C., they plan to repent their failures and raise up what rally speakers describe as an "army" to stay God's hand, lest God destroy our nation like Sodom and Gomorra. The Washington rally, Promise Keepers staffer Reed told the men at Worcester, was not "our idea." Attendance, he said, is "a matter of obedience."
Pat Robertson, who has said he expects to broadcast the Second Coming of Jesus live from the Mount of Olives in Israel, has started to pull out the stops for Stand in the Gap. He plans to broadcast a series of six promotional segments on his 700 Club program featuring Promise Keepers staff. Robertson and Bright were prime movers behind two similar rallies on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1980 and 1988, called Washington for Jesus. Ostensibly about repentance and revival, the rallies drew several hundred thousand participants each and served as catalysts for Robertson's political ambitions.
During a 40-day fast for revival in December 1994, Bright hosted a three-day gathering of some 600 evangelical leaders. He said that "the Holy spirit assured me again and again that God will send a great revival to America and the world ... I am confident that this awakening will result in the greatest spiritual harvest in history and that the Great Commission will be fulfilled in our generation."
Bright, who provided 85 staffers from his organization as an in-kind contribution to Promise Keepers, evidently views Promise Keepers as a vehicle for the final revival.
It appears that the novelty and excitement -- not to mention the time and expense -- of the big rally phenomenon have worn thin. Attendance has dropped dramatically this year. Last year's Promise Keepers rally in Los Angeles sold out 75,000 seats six months in advance. This year, Promise Keepers filled less than half of that stadium and many others. With ticket sales and point-of-sale merchandising as its major sources of revenue in a budget of more than $100 million, a cash crunch seems likely. The New York Times last week reported that PK now has a staff of 300. If this is correct, it represents a staff reduction of at least 100, since PK has claimed to have more than 400 employees.
In explaining the low turnout, Promise Keepers officials claim that the D.C. march is competing for attendance with their regional rallies. But they present no evidence to support this explanation. More likely, Promise Keepers has saturated its base and hasn't grown much beyond the Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian communities.
On the surface, Worcester was simply a scaled-down version of Promise Keepers stadium rallies. But the fact remains: the Centrum was only half-full. One staffer said attendance was "in the fours" -- that is, less than the 5,000 that Promise Keepers claimed had preregistered. Thus, when they arrived, participants had to be herded into their seats, row by row, leaving the higher balconies empty, to create the feel, if not the fact, of unity.
While the Promise Keepers' ability to fill stadiums may have peaked, the Worcester rally may signal the future of Promise Keepers -- smaller rallies in smaller cities that require men to travel shorter distances and pay lower prices ($25 for the Worcester rally). But Promise Keepers' ongoing significance lies in an infrastructure of established PK cells in churches nationwide. PK will probably not wither but adapt to the new market conditions. Much will depend on the success of Stand in the Gap.
Their organizational difficulties notwithstanding, Promise Keepers promises to be an ongoing cultural influence for the foreseeable future, and its members will continue to serve as advance men for the political agenda of the Christian Right.
Frederick Clarkson is the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, published by Common Courage Press, 1997, from which this article is partly adapted. This article prevoiusly appeared in the Valley Advocate, and is reprinted here with the author's permission.
Holy War Opposition to Promise Keepers is popping up all over the country.
Frederick Clarkson, August 7, 1997 The Nation Institute (affiliated with The Nation magazine) has established a Center for Democracy Studies, which publishes the PK Watch newsletter. Political Research Associates in Somerville, Mass. produces an organizers' packet for coping with PK at the community level. The National Organization for Women has expressed concerns about PK's agenda.
Mainstream religious leaders also have forcefully entered the discussion. Equal Partners in Faith, based at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., includes a past-president of the National Council of Churches, a former stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church, and the current Moderator of the Unitarian Universalists, among others. In a packet distributed to more than 5,000 fellow clergy since May, they criticized how PK's fundamentalist theology infers that "only fundamentalist and charismatic Christians are real Christians;" that PK "denies the spiritual equality of men and women [and] undermines the authority of women pastors;" that PK encourages people "to accept existing economic and political inequality as God's will;" that PK's approach to "racial reconciliation" ignores "concrete measures to right the historical inequities imposed on people of color;" that PK's leadership "invalidates the worth and dignity of gay and lesbian people;" and that PK is hostile to and subverts "the structures and leadership of existing communities of faith."
Their concerns are well supported if not understated.
PK and economics: Rev. Tony Evans, in The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, castigates men as if they were exclusively responsible for their economic fate. He claims that "Families today lack roots because they lack purpose and direction. They jump from place to place, job to job, looking for the good life. Their plans for the future are a muddle of self-centered whims." PK leaders make no mention, for example, of the displacement of families when companies export jobs overseas.
PK and race: Reconciliation among the races is organized only among the biblically correct. PK President Randy Phillips has said, "The goal is not integration. The goal is reconciling through relationships." In Syracuse, N.Y., last year, the Rev. Tom Claus, a Mohawk evangelist, wore a full-feathered headdress and declared that despite the history of broken treaties and genocide against native peoples, he does not hate the white man, because the white man brought him to Jesus -- and he would "rather have Jesus than all the land in the U.S." This was met with wild cheering. A song with the lyrics flashed on a giant screen described establishing "one Holy race."
PK undermining churches: PK has organized potential Trojan Horses inside both evangelical and mainline churches. Stadium veterans are encouraged to start PK cells, or "accountability groups" in their churches and to attend PK leadership schools (several are coming up in New England.) Cell leaders, or "Key Men," report to area "Ambassadors," who in turn report to PK headquarters. These groups are supposed to "help" pastors, but PK doctrines can create conflict. John Swomley, a professor emeritus at the St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, believes that PK "is particularly dangerous because of the divisions it seeks to create within mainline churches" that do not accept their fundamentalist theology and politics.
PK and homosexuality: PK founder Bill McCartney campaigned for a Colorado statewide anti-gay ballot measure in 1992 and told a Colorado press conference that homosexuality is "an abomination of almighty God." (The initiative, which sought to bar local civil rights ordinances protecting gays and lesbians, was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.) The Rev. James Ryle -- who is McCartney's personal pastor and a Promise Keepers board member, spoke at a secret 1994 conclave to plan anti-gay electoral strategies in Colorado: "The crisis of homosexuality," he declared, "is a cultural revolution, which has poised our nation precariously on the brink of moral chaos."
PK's claim to be apolitical: The PK political agenda simmers just below the surface. In 1995, McCartney told a rally of clergy that "whoever stands with the Messiah will rule with him," and urged them to "take this nation for Jesus Christ!" PK national staffer "Doc" Reed directed the men of Worcester to "take New England for Jesus!" McCartney himself has declared political war: "Wherever the truth is at risk, in the schools, or legislature. We are going to contend for it. We will win!"
Frederick Clarkson is the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, published by Common Courage Press, 1997, from which this article is partly adapted. 1-800-497-3207