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False Prophets Motivated Events At US Capitol – OpEd

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More than 780 US Capitol rioters have been arrested in nearly every US state and Washington DC. The Justice Department says over 245 of them have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. More than 250 riot defendants have pleaded guilty, mostly to nonviolent misdemeanors.

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Robert Palmer is the 65th defendant of the 780 charged to be sentenced in the assault on the US Capitol. Like many others he realized too late that he had been misled by fake news and false prophets. Palmer said in a handwritten letter to the judge that he felt betrayed by Trump and his allies who fed them conspiracy theories.

According to the Hebrew Bible a false prophet is one who pretends to speak for God but in reality speaks for himself and is moved by his own intentions, emotions and political commitments. (Jeremiah 14:13–15; 23; Ezekiel 13:2, 3, 10, 11).

Unlike Prophet Jeremiah, who had at least three false prophet antagonists; Ahab (Jeremiah 29:21), Azur (Jeremiah 28:1), and Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:5) Prophet Muhammad had lots of enemies in Macca, but none of them were false prophets of the one and only God. So one might think false prophets are no longer around.

Yet today’s False Prophets are getting more popular ,and had a religious hand in motivating the terrible events at the US Capitol according to Brad Christerson, a professor of sociology, at Biola University, a nationally ranked private Christian university in Southern California and a member of the Council for Christian Colleges.

Professor Christerson has written a very perceptive article (in The Conversation) about the self-proclaimed ‘prophets’ from a small but growing evangelical Christian movement who provided religious motivation for the January 6 events at the US Capitol. Since they think Donald Trump is God’s chosen candidate, they believe any other candidate, no matter what the vote totals show, is illegitimate.

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Many white evangelical leaders have provided religious justification and undying support for Trump’s presidency, including his most racially incendiary rhetoric and policies. But Professor Christerson argues that a particular segment of white evangelicalism that he and his colleague Richard Flory call Independent Network Charismatic, played a unique role in providing a spiritual justification for the movement to overturn President Biden’s election, which resulted in the storming of the Capitol.

Independent Network Charismatic Christianity is a group of high-profile independent leaders detached from any formal denomination yet cooperating with one another in loose networks.

In the days and hours leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 the group Jericho March organized marches around the Capitol and Supreme Court building praying for God to defeat the “dark and corrupt” forces that they claimed, had stolen the election from God’s anointed president – Donald Trump.

Jericho March is a loose coalition of Christian nationalists formed after the 2020 presidential election with the goal of overturning its results. Jericho March’s main activity is organizing prayer marches around state Capitol buildings throughout the country after the election.

By imitating the “Battle of Jericho” in the Bible when God commanded the army of his chosen people, the nation of Israel, to blow rams horn trumpets and then march around the city walls until God brought the walls down so Israel could conquer the city. Jericho March members believe that their prayer marches will help defeat the corrupt forces they claim, “stole” the election.

Some of the Jericho marchers even carried ram’s horns, 10-18 inches long, or the more distinctive 3-4 foot long spiral Kudu Yemenite Shofar Horn which costs $125-200. These marchers are generally Independent Network Charismatic Christians and are very rarely Jews.

Before the 2016 election a group of Independent Network Charismatic “prophets” proclaimed Trump to be God’s chosen candidate, similar to King Cyrus in the Bible, whom God used to restore the nation of Israel to the Land of Israel.

After their prophesies of Trump’s winning the 2016 election came true, these “prophets” became enormously popular in Independent Network Charismatic Christianity. According to the World Christian Database there are now over 36 million people attending U.S. independent Charismatic churches – that is, churches not affiliated with any traditional Protestant denomination.

Independent Network Charismatic promotes a form of Christian nationalism the primary goal of which is not to build congregations or to convert individuals, but to bring heaven or God’s intended perfect society to Earth by placing “kingdom-minded people” in powerful positions at the top of all sectors of society.

Professor Christerson writes that many of those referred to as prophets in Independent Network Charismatic Christianity predicted another Trump victory in 2020. After Trump lost the election, they did not recant their prophecies, but adopted Trump’s conspiratorial rhetoric that the election was fraudulent. Many believe that demonic forces have stolen the election but can still be defeated through prayer.

Yet Jesus had warned his followers in the Gospel of Matthew: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) and “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many [believers].” (Matthew 24:11)

So we all should watch out: “For there shall arise false Messiahs, and false prophets, and (they) shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (themselves)” (Matthew 24:24)

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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