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Monday, 9 July 2007

That VooDoo You Do

First the Smalkowski Affair, now this. What is Oklahoma coming to? According to the Edmond Sun, students and adults from the See You At the Pole group wrote the names of "nonbelievers" on pieces of paper then nailed them to a cross.
What the pagans — and please remember, this is how they describe themselves — found “disturbing” about the article was how these young people wrote down on small pieces of paper the names of “non-Christian students” at the school and nailed them to a cross they brought to accompany the prayer service.
Christian spell casting. Why then are they so afraid of Harry Potter and Wiccans, when they to the same thing?

These Christians in this group seem to be some sort of Pentecostals or Holy Rollers (as we called them in the South). Hexing people so that misfortune would befall them as long as they did not convert to Christianity was fairly common in southern Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God. According to dogemperor on Talk2Action, also marking territory by anointing with oil is common.
The use of cooking oil to "annoint" objects is a peculiarity in pentecostal circles that are descended from the Assemblies of God and within the AoG; the practice originally started with "name it and claim it" faith healers, and is now heavily used in "spiritual warfare" circles within those churches--partly as an extension of the "dominion theology" that both are extensions of (within the Assemblies of God and its related groups such as International Foursquare, Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, etc.). Seeing as one of the explicit teachings in "word-faith" theology is that all illness--including infectious diseases such as the cold or flu--is the result of demonic possession (infectious disease is seen as "solidified living corruption"--demonic ectoplasm--and hereditary diseases are seen as the result of "generational curses") this is actually a somewhat logical extension in the strange world of dominion theology.

Annointing with oil is also generally not done to explicitly bless an object or person, but rather as a sort of territorial marking. Examples of this in dominionist circles include this page (which shows the original bit of scripture-twisting used by word-faith preachers to do the whole "annointing with oil" thing; the site's links page is explicitly not only dominionist but premillenial-dispensationalist), this site (demonbuster.com is a dominionist "deliverance ministry" site) that uses excerpts from an exorcism manual distributed by Moody Bible Institute; a dominionist "word-faith" healing manual that notes the use of Wesson oil (this church may be affiliated with International Foursquare, a descendent denomination of the Assemblies of God (and the world's first "radio church") or the Evangelical Covenant Church, and is apparently premillenial dispensationalist); and finally another example from a dominionist church noting how the Wesson oil is seen mostly as a "tie" or "representing the Holy Spirit", not explicitly to bless someone.
According to Allen Anderson in The Origins of Pentecostalism and its Global Spread in the Early Twentieth Century:
Although it is clear that several centres of Pentecostalism emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century, the movement was first given national and international impetus at Azusa Street. Some scholars have referred to the ‘myth’ of Azusa Street that has overlooked the importance of other centres and have suggested that its role was not as central a has been generally accepted.17 There were other important early centres of Pentecostalism independent of Azusa Street, in particular Marie and Robert Brown’s Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York City (which commenced in 1907), William Piper’s Stone Church in Chicago (which became Pentecostal in 1907), and Ellen and James Hebden’s Queen Street Mission in Toronto (the Hebdens were baptized in the Spirit in 1906). There is no record of these centres being linked to Azusa Street at any time, or of them deriving their impetus from there, and these centres also sent out workers to other parts of the continent as well as internationally. But what cannot be denied is that for three years, Seymour’s Apostolic Faith Mission at Azusa Street was the most prominent and significant centre of Pentecostalism on the continent. That this was a predominantly Black church and leadership, rooted in the African American culture of the nineteenth century, is really significant. Many of the early manifestations of Pentecostalism came from African American Christianity and were also found in the religious expressions of the slaves. These expressions were a reflection of the African religious culture from which slaves had been abducted and Seymour himself as deeply affected by slave spirituality.
Perhaps some of the earlier African traditions were incorporated into these churches and later into Pentecostalism. Another similarity seems to be between "speaking in tongues" and other emotional experiences, and being "ridden by the loa". Both involve being possessed by supernatural entities trying to express a divine message. This is an interesting comparison between these traditions, worth further study.

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