As a new Buzzfeed story demonstrates, South Korea is another theater in the global war, from Brazil and the U.S., over to Africa, across to Eastern Europe and Russia, and to eastern Asia, that’s being waged against LGBT rights by the radical charismatic Christian movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation – which, beyond its anti-gay activism, globally aspires to undermine and subvert, and eventually supplant all other forms of denominational Christianity and all other belief systems (e.g. Islam, and atheism.)
Despite its efforts (for example, NAR prophet Lou Engle helped organize the 2008 voter turnout for California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8) within the United States the NAR’s anti-gay crusade is being decisively routed.
But in areas of especial strength (such as in sub-Saharan Africa) the movement is effectively beating down nascent LGBT rights movements, pushing harsh new anti-LGBT laws, and generally blurring church-state lines – in alliance with national leaders who publicly proclaim the dedication of their nations to the Christian god (here is one notable example, from Uganda.)
With NAR encouragement, Russia is now a global stronghold of Christian-based anti-LGBT persecution, and other major nations, from Brazil to Indonesia to China, loom as possible future theaters of conflict in the U.S. exported anti-gay culture wars.
Meanwhile, in South Korea – where the NAR movement is deeply entrenched but not overwhelmingly dominant, the battle tide may be turning. While a majority of South Koreans still oppose same-sex marriage, those attitudes are, as in the U.S., most strongly rooted in an aging demographic; and unlike in many Christian-dominated anti-LGBT rights nations (such as Russia and several sub-Saharan African countries) the South Korean government is not dedicated to the promotion of anti-gay propaganda through official state media, government organizations, and anti-gay rhetoric from prominent politicians: possibly a crucial difference.
A new story from Buzzfeed global LGBT rights reporter Lester Feder (with Seoul-based journalist Jihye Lee) highlights the conflict between Korean evangelical Christians and South Korea’s robust gay rights movement which, on the morning of Sunday June 28, 2015, held a major LGBT pride rally in the South Korean capital attended by tens of thousands of supporters.
A counter-protest organized by a Christian anti-LGBT coalition (which had earlier tried to prevent the Korean Queer Culture Festival from obtaining a permit for the rally) drew what Buzzfeed estimated to be 2,000 church members whose protest featured powerful sound systems “blasting hymns, prayers, and sermons so loudly that at times it overwhelmed the festival’s sound system” according to Buzzfeed (note: this was a repeat – in Summer 2014, conservative Christian protestors attempted to stop a parade at the 2014 Korean Queer Culture Festival by laying in front of marchers.)
As it happens, the 2015 anti-LGBT coalition was led by Lee Young-hoon, the head pastor of Seoul’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, one of the nation’s biggest megachurches. Founded by embattled evangelist David Yonggi Cho (sentenced in 2014 to three years in prison for tax evasion), the Yoido church represents the vanguard of the New Apostolic Reformation movement in South Korea
According to Buzzfeed, Lee Young-hoon (also known as Young Hoon Lee), who also “heads the Christian Council of Korea, which claims to represent 60,000 churches with 12 million members”, stated at the June 28 anti-gay rally, “Our prayers will open the sky and the homosexuals will fall, we will be blessed with victory”.
Within charismatic Christianity, Lee Young-hoon enjoys an international leadership profile – as suggested by his membership in the Christian Zionist leadership group Jerusalem 2015, which includes NAR stalwarts Cindy Jacobs, Samuel Rodríguez, Jr., and Steven Strang (founder of Charisma magazine) along with top anti-gay African dominionist NAR leaders such as Nigeria’s E.A. Adeboye (who along with Nigeria’s David Oyedepo has participated in the NAR’s International Coalition of Apostles [see footnote 2] that was headed through the 2000s by C. Peter Wagner.)
The New Apostolic Reformation is a global movement in charismatic Christianity that bills itself as a second Protestant Reformation and whose apostles and prophets are leading anti-LGBT efforts on multiple continents, from Brazil to the United States, to multiple nations in sub-Saharan Africa, to South Korea.
Also bitterly opposed to legal abortion and a steadfast promoter of ‘abstinence-only’ sex education, NAR politics tend to skew hard right and towards the John Birch Society domain of the political map.
The NAR is also within global Christianity a remaining stronghold of “reparative therapy” for homosexuality, with prominent NAR leaders such as Ed Silvoso (whose NAR associates are playing a major role in the ‘transformation” of Uganda) claiming that the divine power of baptism can “rewire” human brains, thus changing basic sexual orientation. Same-sex orientation, within NAR teaching, is viewed as resulting from the influence of demon spirits, which can exert sway over individuals, cities, towns, or entire regions.
Yonggi Cho, the longtime head and founder of the mammoth Yoido church, is a close movement colleague of American NAR Leaders (some known to the US LGBT rights community for their high profile anti-gay activism) such as Cindy Jacobs, Ed Silvoso, C. Peter Wagner, and Rick Warren [on Warren and the NAR, see footnote 3.]
Yonggi Cho can be found at major revival events with NAR apostles and prophets such as Cindy Jacobs and Ed Silvoso [at the Jakarta, Indonesia World Prayer Assembly 2012 (GodTV footage of event) David Yonggi Cho shared a stage with E.A. Adeboye, Jacobs, Silvoso, Graham Power, and other top NAR leaders] and has contributed writing to a number of NAR movement books churned out over the past several decades by Wagner and his NAR colleagues (such as the Wagner-edited book Engaging the Enemy: How To Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits.)
Yonggi Cho’s Yoido Full Gospel church, housed in an enormous structure resembling a sports stadium and which claims upwards of 800,000 members (almost 2 percent of South Korea’s population), has long been renowned within the NAR movement as a pioneering, successful example of “church growth” methods – including the “cell church” technique, accused by critics as a coercive technology of social control, in which small groups function as semi-autonomous mini-churches, for the teaching of church doctrine and the enforcement of behavioral codes, within the overall church body.
The stature of Yonggi Cho, as a movement pioneer and innovator, is such that he helped launch the evangelizing career of NAR leader Ed Silvoso – who in 1999 in turn helped launch one of the NAR’s biggest and most influential organizations (see footnote 2), the International Coalition of Apostles. Describes Silvoso,
“In 1987, Dr. David Yonggi Cho asked us to organize his visit to Argentina. Seven thousand pastors and leaders from all over Argentina and neighboring countries attended the four-day seminar. We worked very hard to make it a truly interdenominational event. It was a resounding success with all denominations benefiting from it. As I like to say, ‘from the juiciest charismatics to the crunchiest evangelicals,’ everybody was there and went away blessed. Dr. Cho’s visit catapulted us to national prominence.”
It was in Argentina that Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, and other NAR pioneers developed the movement’s characteristic Spiritual Warfare/Spiritual Mapping (SWSM) ideas and practices through which NAR leaders attempt to identify and then expel demon spirits and powers thought to control towns, cities, and regions (see this dissertation, by Rene Holvast, on the history of the SWSM movement.)
Spiritual Warfare/Spiritual Mapping is an especially toxic paradigm because, through it, either individuals or even entire social/people groups (such as LGBT populations) can be associated with demon spirits that represent the forces of absolute evil.
As another expression of that imperative, to battle and vanquish evil spirits and their influence, top NAR leaders such as C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Ed Silvoso, Chuck Pierce, and others have stressed in their writings the need for believers to destroy or dispose of, by burning, flushing down toilets, or other methods, all art objects, books, and scripture associated with competing belief systems.
In his 1999 book Hard-Core Idolatry – Facing the Facts (1999, Wagner Institute For Practical Ministry), C. Peter Wagner lists items to be destroyed or disposed of:
“pictures, statues, Catholic saints, Books of Mormon, pictures of former lovers, pornographic material, fetishes, drugs, Ouija boards, zodiac charms, good luck symbols, crystals for healing, amulets, talismans, tarot cards, witch dolls, voodoo items, love potions, books of magic, totem poles, certain pieces of jewelry, objects of Freemasonry, horoscopes, gargoyles, native art, foreign souvenirs, and what have you.”
Around the same early 1990s time period, Yonggi Cho, C. Peter Wagner, and Cindy Jacobs collaborated in a vastly ambitious but ultimately fruitless effort to evangelize in Japan and convert, by the year 2000, ten million people to Christianity. During the 1990s Cho also participated in an early proto-NAR network formed by Wagner, Jacobs, and others called the Spiritual Warfare Network.
In recent years, substantial funding for Cho’s Yoido church has come from a prominent American Silicon Valley technology entrepreneur (founder of INMAC and the multi-billion dollar Ariba Technologies) who is officially an elder at Yoido Full Gospel Church.
That entrepreneur is Ken Eldred. C. Peter Wagner has described Eldred, in Wagner’s 2008 Dominion!, as a workplace apostle. Wagner’s term refers to the so-called “7 Mountains” approach to taking dominion in which believers actively proselytize in, and seek to build influence and power in, all sectors of society (see footnote.)
Along with Howard F. Ahmanson, Eldred has been one of the most dedicated and strategic funders of the U.S.-based, globally active anti-gay evangelical right, especially through his Living Stones Foundation Charitable Trust. Recipients of Eldred’s foundation largesse have included:
– the American Family Association (one of the most noisily and viciously anti-gay of all the evangelical right “family values” nonprofits)
– George Otis, Jr.’s Sentinel Group (which produced the propaganda “Transformations” video series)
– Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism ministry (which is partnering with an elite Ugandan anti-LGBT team that includes Julius Oyet (who claims to have helped conceive the Anti Homosexuality Bill), Alex Mitala, Joshua Lwere, Allen Kagina, Andrew Rugasira, and Joseph Okia) working to “transform” their nation)
– Campus Crusade For Christ (which, per a 2013 Truth Wins Out special report has worked to spread eliminationist anti-LGBT propaganda across Africa.)
– the Alliance Defending Freedom/Alliance Defense Fund (the most active anti-LGBT legal group in the U.S.)
– TheCall (headed by NAR prophet Lou Engle and which held a 2010 rally in Kampala, Uganda widely interpreted as being in support of Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill)
– the Yoido Full Gospel Church.
[note: for related Twocare.org coverage of NAR activity in Asia, see the special report How Radical American Christian Sects Are Invading Hong Kong and Beyond]
Footnote 1: Along with C. Peter Wagner, another of the NAR’s top strategists and theorists is Argentine-born evangelist Ed Silvoso, who is married to a sister of famed Argentine evangelist Louis Palau. Silvoso’s expression of the 7 Mountains approach to achieving dominion is that every believer is therefore a “minister”, and thus the imperative is for believers to cultivate ministries outside the physical and temporal constraints of the church; they are to be “ministers in the marketplace”. For Silvoso, the “marketplace” broadly refers to all spheres of society beyond the religious sphere.
Footnote 2: A now-deleted International Coalition of Apostles website page has credited Ed Silvoso with convening the 1999 meeting in Singapore that led to the launch of the International Coalition of Apostles which, by 2010, encompassed upwards of 500 apostles in the dues-paying global apostolic network that meets yearly in Dallas, Texas.
ICA (now renamed the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders) has recently spun off a U.S. domestic division, the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, and is fostering the creation of other national apostolic networks – such as in Nigeria and Uganda. In addition, ICA has also formerly launched a European sub-division, the European Coalition of Apostles, headed by Norwegian apostles Jan Aage Torp.
After stepping down from his position as the “Convening Apostle” of ICA in 2010, C. Peter Wagner proceeded to launch his own apostolic network, Global Spheres, headed by the Texas-based NAR prophet Chuck Pierce.
In 2013, Pierce made a trip to Africa, where he joined African NAR counterparts in “prophetic” revival events. At one of those, in Nairobi, Kenya, Pierce prophesied that Kenya would soon experience a major move of God.
Footnote 3: In his 2008 book Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change The World, C. Peter Wagner identified Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan as “stage one” in a dominionist takeover of society.
Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan efforts in Rwanda are now headed by longtime International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICA/ICAL) member Paul Gitwaza – who, as recently highlighted in a Twocare.org special report, appears to exert heavy influence over the current president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza – who in 2009 signed repressive new anti-LGBT rights legislation.
European Coalition of Apostles head Jan Aage Torp (who himself has enjoyed at least one private visit with Nkurunziza) states that the Burundi President considers himself a “spiritual son” of Gitwaza.
C. Peter Wagner served as Rick Warren’s sole academic adviser for Warren’s Doctorate of Ministry dissertation (which focused on church growth) from Fuller Theological Seminary. Warren has publicly denied that fact, that Wagner was his adviser for the dissertation, and also stated that he and Wagner are not “conspiring” to “rid the world of homosexuals”.
As reported in a 2009 story from journalist Max Blumenthal (Rick Warren’s Africa Problem), until highlighted in critical media reports (such as Blumenthal’s) Warren’s key Uganda ally, in Warren’s loudly touted anti-HIV/AIDS efforts in Uganda was pastor Martin Ssempa, who by 2008 had emerged as one of Uganda’s top civilian lobbyists and agitators against LGBT rights. Ssempa’s Kampala church exhibited many of the practices common to the NAR, including Christian Zionism and the practice of exorcism.