from the world's big
Rick Perry and the Satanic Statue of Liberty
Texas Governor Rick Perry's August 6th prayer rally, The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis, has already garnered criticism for being a Christians-only affair that blurred the line between church and state and featured speakers with extreme beliefs far outside of the mainstream. One of these beliefs in particular caught my eye – the claim by John Benefiel, head of the Heartland Apostolic Reformation Network, that the Statue of Liberty is "a demonic idol, right there in New York harbor." * [EDIT: Please see below]
Here's what Benefiel said in August of last year:
Libertas is also called the Freedom Goddess, Lady Freedom, the Goddess of Liberty. You know there’s a statue in New York harbor called the Statue of Liberty. You know where we got it from? French Free Masons. Listen folks that is an idol, a demonic idol, right there in New York harbor. People say, ‘well no it’s patriotic.’ What makes it patriotic? Why is it? It’s a statue of a false goddess, the Queen of Heaven. We don’t get liberty from a false goddess folks, we get our liberty from Jesus Christ and that Statue of Liberty in no way glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no connection whatsoever. So I’m just telling you we practice idolatry in America in ways that we don’t even recognize.
Benefiel is part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement, a loosely defined Protestant movement with elements of Pentecostal and Charismatic theology. NAR was founded by C. Peter Wagner, an anti-idolatry zealot best known for burning statues of Catholic saints in Argentina. The defining belief of the NAR is that "God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle." And who are these new Apostles and Prophets? Why they are, of course.**
Let's look at Benefiel's assertions.
Is the Statue of Liberty really Libertas?
Yes. The statue, entitled Liberty Enlightening the World, is a representation of Libertas, the Roman goddess of Liberty. Britannia, the personification of Great Britian (and ancient goddess in her own right) is considered another version of the same idea, as is Columbia, the personification of the United States. I should probably mention here that Benefiel also wants to change the name of the District of Columbia because of this association. Libertas also appears on the coinage of those noted heathens, the Swiss.
Did French Freemasons give it to us?
Yes, in large part, but when Benefiel says "Freemasons" he really means "Illuminati." And by "Illuminati" he means "secret Satanic overlords who really rule the world." Think I'm kidding? Watch the video below where he claims that homosexuality is an Illuminati plot to control the world's population. He clearly states that he believes the Illuminati to be "over, above" Freemasonry. Benefiel also believes the Unites States to be in the grip of the ancient god Baal, who he claims is responsible for "all of the sexual sin and perversion in America." You are forgiven if all this is starting to sound like an Alan Moore comic.
Freemasons were very involved in the creation of the statue. The idea itself came from Édouard René de Laboulaye, a French jurist, author, and Freemason, who conceived the project as a token of fraternity between the two countries and a big middle finger to the policies of Napoleon III. The project was continued under the auspices of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who was a Freemason, and the Union Franco-Americaine, largely made up of other Freemasons. Freemasons in the United States raised the money to build and design the base. As you can imagine, they are pretty proud of their contributions to the both the statue and the freedoms allowed by the United States.
They should be. The founders of this country, the gentlemen who put in place the very freedoms that Benefiel currently enjoys were largely Freemasons. George Washington was a Mason. Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and John Adams were all Masons. Many other signers of the Declaration of Independence were as well.
Here’s what President Grover Cleveland, by all accounts not a Freemason, said at the statue's dedication:
We are not here today to bow before the representative of a fierce and war-like god, filled with wrath and vengeance, but, instead, we contemplate our own peaceful deity keeping watch before the open gates of America, and greater than all that have been celebrated in ancient song. Instead of grasping in her hand the thunderbolts of terror and of death, she holds aloft the light that illumines the way to man’s enfranchisement.
Sounds good. Now let's look at some of John Benefiel's beliefs.
Benefiel wants to rename the District of Columbia the “District of Christ.” He believes the country is under a curse from God. And just spent 40 days laying “spiritual siege” to the capital to free it from Baal’s influence. He thinks homosexuality is an Illuminati plot to control the population. Given his association with anti-idolatry C. Peter Wagner, I think we can assume that he has no use for the pretty lady in the harbor either.
Which group am I supposed to be afraid of again?
Does Perry share Benefiel’s beliefs or is their alignment just a political convenience? Someone should probably ask him. I hear he's running for president - this is might be a good time.
And a final note to John Benefiel. If you really want to crusade against removing Lady Liberty from public life you can start much closer to home than the east coast.
She’s also on the dome of the state capital of Texas.
*I should have been clearer here - I'm not sure Benefiel spoke at The Response but he is reported as an "Official Sponsor." I don't know for certain if he spoke or not because the web site about The Response has already been closed down. Make of that what you will. My apologies.
**Detailing the strange theology of the New Apostolic Reformation would take much more room than we have here but you should read this excellent article by Forrest Wilder of The Texas Observer to gain more insight.
Photo: William Warby/Creative Commons/Flickr
Other Recent Posts:
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."