Report: A Gathering of Eagles

It is difficult to imagine where else a Christian activist, in a single weekend no less, could-

  • Explain what’s wrong with the laughably misnamed “fair tax” to an otherwise well informed and viable candidate for Congress
  • Watch as a group of well-known pastors and Christian activists completely fail to answer the question “can you define existentialism and cultural Marxism?”… at a Christian worldview conference!
  • Engage in a spirited discussion with a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination about whether or not the President and Congress can surrender US sovereignty to the UN via the treaty mechanism described in article VI of the US Constitution (They can’t. The candidate disagrees)
  • Sell a respectable number of Reformed and Covenantal Theology themed books (not to mention having one stolen- from a church foyer) in a gathering overwhelmingly populated by self-described hyper-Arminian Open Theists, full and semi-Pelagians and Pre-millenial Dispensationalists
  • That is only some of what I recently experienced at the recent Gathering of Eagles event in Warsaw and Coshocton OH, December 14 & 15, 2007.

    While part of this meeting was a leadership summit involving several Christian groups, the Institute For Principled Policy was not a direct participant in these activities, nor were we invited to be a part of any of the leadership summit activities. Institute representatives were there as observers.

    Being both a veteran attender and teacher at Christian worldview seminars and conferences, I had rather high expectations regarding what I would see and hear. To be sure there were some excellent presentations on subjects that one would expect to see at a Christian worldview event. But also be sure that there were probably at least an equal number of presentations that could only be described as “fire and brimstone” revival sermons, complete with high-decibel (not to mention high dudgeon) bellowing for repentance and Finney-ish alter calls. Not the usual fare at worldview events.

    One excellent presentation was given by E. Ray Moore of the Exodus Mandate Project. Moore’s Power Point presentation on the rapidly fading Christian worldviews of Christian children educated in public schools vs. those educated in home and Christian schools was an eye-opening presentation. The Institute For Principled Policy is currently working to make closer ties with the Exodus Mandate. Watch for details.

    Other fine presentations in the Christian worldview category were given by Mark Harrington of the mid-western office of the Center For Bioethical Reform, who informed us of his efforts related to the GAP (Genocide Awareness Project) and his “truth trucks.”

    Pastor Joe Larson of What’s Right What’s Left Ministries also gave an all too quick survey of Christian worldview education and understanding competing worldviews.

    Another excellent presentation was given by Pastor Rick Scarborough of Vision America. It was his testimony of the circumstances which drug him into the political arena and demonstrated to him that there is no neutrality in issues which effect our homes, families, communities, states and nation. Every pastor should hear Dr. Scarborough give this testimony!

    James Hartline gave testimony regarding his journey into the depths of homosexuality, drug abuse and addiction, disease and prison followed by his salvation and his calling of God to help guide others out of the lifestyle of disease, depravity and death by the light of Jesus Christ. James has been very active in the San Diego homosexual community, managing to be a leader in closing several bath houses and other sexually oriented businesses in his community. He is also active in helping to save the Mt. Soledad Cross.

    Pastor Mark Holich gave a presentation on the use of the IRS as a gag for the mouths of pastors and para-church ministries through the abuse of the 501(c)3 “rules.”

    Finally, Dr. Alan Keyes, the headliner of the conference who also happens to be a Republican presidential candidate, gave a presentation in which he pointed out that the US is currently rapidly changing from a republic to a democracy. Unfortunately, Dr. Keyes revealed that his understanding of the definition of a republic is at least somewhat flawed. He began at the Declaration of Independence as the philosophical underpinnings of the US Constitution. In this he is correct. The Constitution cannot be understood except in the context of what is written in the Declaration. Where Keyes went astray was his insistence on quoting Abraham Lincoln, the President who, arguably, fashioned the democratic noose with which the founders’ republic has been strangled. He insisted in building a bridge between the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s prevarication regarding his purpose in waging the War Between The States from the Gettysburg Address

    …that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (emphasis added).

    Can there be a better definition of government unchained from the rock anchor of higher authority and replaced with “the will of the people” in the guise of a just avenger bringing a “new birth of freedom?” Rhetoric sound familiar? Isn’t that nearly identical to the spiel coming from the current occupant of the White House about events in Iraq even now?

    We will further discuss Dr. Keyes presentations in the light of dinner conversation in a moment but we must endeavor to complete a report on the second day of the Gathering of Eagles.

    In the afternoon presentations were delivered by several well known and not so well known Christian activists. Peter La Barbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality talked about efforts to expose what actually happens at San Francisco’s infamous Folsom St. Festival. He explained that local, state and national authorities have worked diligently to keep the details of this sanctioned public street debauch from the public at large, knowing the revulsion that would be generated.

    Lt. Col. James Klingenschmidt gave a blow-by-blow description of his ordeal over praying in the name of Jesus Christ while in his Navy uniform. The story is quite stunning in its entirety, involving his disobedience of direct orders from superiors up to and including the Chief of Naval Operations. Klingenschmidt is currently petitioning for reinstatement. Please contact the Institute if you are interested in signing one of these petitions.

    Pastor Ernie Sanders of What’s Right What’s Left Ministries gave an excellent summary of the Marxist worldview, how it remains alive, well, active and entrenched in many institutions, both public and private. Ernie always gives a great presentation and is a perfect example of leadership by doing. He is pastor of a large congregation in Geauga County OH, is head of the Geauga County Right To Life, is a radio talk show host and is quite active in his community.

    Tom Condit, an Ohio attorney in private practice for the Rutherford Institute gave a presentation on his and the Rutherford Institute’s efforts to help protect free speech. Condit has been involved in several important cases involving suits against Planned Paenthood’s provision of abortions to minors without parental consent, defending Christians who protest against strip clubs and porn shops, etc.

    Following this presentation There were several that I listened to from our booth in the foyer. Essentially, they were the same presentation, slightly rearranged, delivered in a variety of tones, from fiery to mild. All called for repentence and a national return to Christ. The presenters included the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America, author and independent presidential candidate Peter Grasso and Dr. Mark Kiser, president of Asleep kNOw More Ministries. Dr. Patrick Johnston of the Association of Pro-life Physicians gave another excellent presentation his efforts to promote the pro-life cause and educate physicians so that they will no longer perform abortions.

    What followed was one of the most interesting dinner breaks in memory. It was relatively uneventful until nearly the end. Many of the participants in the rally were seated together in a buffet style restaurant. Towards the end of the meal it became quite obvious that Dr. Keyes was becoming agitated about his participation in the recent Republican presidential debate in Iowa, and rightfully so. This exchange may shed some light on what was eating Keyes. Listen to the exchange on global warming and especially the “Doctor, heal thyself” comment beginning around the 4:00 mark. Several claim that Dr. Ron Paul made this remark while others claim it was Tom Tancredo. In any case it clearly agitated Dr. Keyes and he was still feeling the sting 3 days later.

    I was sitting with an Institute colleague in the next table. My colleague was wearing a “Ron Paul for President” t-shirt over his sweater and Dr. Keyes, who was sitting with Lt. Col. Klingenschmidt, began getting louder and louder in editorializing about Ron Paul to other members of the group. It was the standard Republican Party Ron Paul name calling mantra- “isolationist,” “foreign policy amateur,” “doesn’t understand the Constitution” and possibly the worst, that Dr. Paul was “not really pro-life” because he is a federalist on the abortion and euthenasia question. Both Keyes and Klingenschmidt insisted that Paul said he would have allowed Terri Schiavo to “starve and dehydrate” rather than to intervene based on his Values Voters Debate answers. Of course, they missed the point that Paul’s answers could only be understood in light of Paul’s legislative efforts like the “Sanctity of Life Act” which declares unborn infants to be human beings then returns the questions of abortion and euthanasia to the states and strip federal judges of the authority to hear cases on the subject, thus no longer would abortion be a constitutionally protected “right.”

    Finally, Dr. Keyes approached our table and my colleague asked him if he thought we should be in the UN and whether the UN should be in the United States. Keyes said he thought that we probably shouldn’t be in the UN but that there was nothing that we could do to get out nor were we able to evict them from US soil due to treaty obligations and the fact that treaties become the highest law of the land. I pointed out that article VI of the Constitution militated against his position, since no treaty could be legally made except that they be subordinate to the constitutional rights, duties and obligations as outlined in the Constitution itself. Dr. Keyes implied that I didn’t know what I was talking about and I asked if he’d read Madison on the subject, since Madison was clear that no treaty could supercede the Constitution (at this point, clearly out of his element, Lt. Col. Klingenschmidt beat a hasty retreat). Dr. Keyes admitted that this was true but said it was simply not a practical interpretation of the Constitution for today’s world. In other words, he adopted a “living document” interpretation of article VI of the US Constitution. Keyes constitutional interpretation gets very interesting in light of events as the evening progresses.

    Frankly, I did not listen closely to several of the speakers after the dinner break, since much of what was said was more of the same revival style presentation. I don’t have any problem with revivals. I don’t think that worldview seminars are where they should be held. I think you would have been hard pressed to find anyone in the audience that did not think that America needs repentence and a return to the message of Christ to regain God’s favor as a nation. I would be willing to wager however, that there were plenty of people in the audience who desperately needed to know how to combine efforts to spread the Gospel of Christ while being an influence in steering the culture in a Christlike manner and the biblical basis for doing so.

    I did pay attention to Dr. Alan Keyes closing speech. What made this speech so interesting was Dr. Keyes made an impassioned and complex logical argument against the income tax based on original intent of the Constitution’s framers, especially the 10th amendment. Note that I said “original intent.” During Dr. Keyes demonstration of his logical capabilities I leaned over to my colleague and pointed out that it was too bad that he had been unable to apply the same logic or constitutional hermeneutic in our discussion of the UN and article VI of the Constitution. Two diametrically opposite methods of interpreting the Constitution, original intent and “living document approach,” in a 4 hour period is pretty bad, even for an accomplished politician like Alan Keyes and it says a lot of what you could expect from him as president.

    All in all, it was a good but not a great conference, as it could have been.