On March 18th, Max Myers officially kicked off his campaign for Pennsylvania governor at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. Touting himself as a moderate Democrat, Myers failed to mention his leadership in a politico-religious movement that believes in casting out “gay demons.”
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is the subject of my latest Public Eye article, “Spiritual Warriors With an Antigay Mission,” and a forthcoming report from Political Research Associates (PRA). Hidden in plain sight, this antigay, antichoice, theocratic movement has gained influence nationwide over the past decade, with many of its modern-day apostles and prophets making headlines–but identified only as “evangelicals.”
The popular documentary Jesus Camp, for instance, neglected to mention the role of two of its stars, Becky Fischer and Lou Engle, in the apostolic movement. (The new documentary God Loves Uganda, on U.S. conservative evangelical influence abroad, again features Engle without identifying his leadership in NAR.) Such information on the roles of the movement’s modern-day apostles and prophets and their pyramidal networks is readily available, yet the media has failed to grasp the significance and extent of these connections.
Exceptions to this anonymity included limited coverage of movement leadership in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s 2011 Houston prayer rally, held one week prior to his presidential campaign announcement, and the gubernatorial candidacy of a NAR follower in Hawaii, which became an issue in local press and among LGBTQ rights advocates. Most of the candidates directly involved with the apostolic networks have been Republicans, a list that has included Sam Brownback, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Katherine Harris, and others.
However, asserting nonpartisanship, NAR is increasingly infiltrating Democratic politics. In Jacksonville, a widely-published apostle known for casting out “gay demons” and opposing hate crime laws was elected to the city council as a Democrat, and in Hawaii, an NAR leader bragged of having both a Democratic and Republican candidate. Now, the foray into the Democratic Party includes Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Max Myers.
Myers told reporters at a media event at the state capitol that he has “a strategy for transformation of Pennsylvania,” typical NAR phrasing the equivalent to “saving” a community for Jesus, although he declined to share the details. (See my profile on the Transformations movement in PRA’s 2012 Colonizing African Values report.) He advised his students that Pennsylvania can be a “holy experiment” and an “example to the nation.”
Myers is a former Assemblies of God pastor and, from 2007 through 2012, the head of the Global School of Supernatural Ministry of the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening (ANGA). Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a few miles from the state capitol, ANGA includes training in faith healing, expulsion of demons, apostolic network development, “raising the dead,” and the “Seven Mountains Mandate.” This mandate is a tactic in the NAR campaign to take “dominion,” or theocratic control, over seven spheres of society: arts and entertainment; business; education; family; government; media; and religion.
The Global School of Supernatural Ministry (GSSM) requires applicants to confess homosexual sex, adultery, witchcraft, or involvement in the occult. Under Myers’ leadership, the school expanded into South Africa and Brazil.
In his lectures, Myers has described the American church as losing ground on culture issues. As Myers stated on a GSSM podcast in 2012, “The abortion issue and the gay, uh, the family issue–both of those issues from a biblical perspective have gotten away from us. The sanctity of life has gotten away from us and so has the sanctity of marriage gotten away from us.”
Myers’ rhetoric compares the struggle of “turning this thing around” to that of the Civil Rights Movement, telling students that they must not be satisfied with being relegated to the “back of the bus.” And Myers appearance at the William Way LGBT Community Center suggests he has no trouble with misrepresentation and manipulation to reach his—and the New Apostolic Reformation’s—goals.