We'll discuss our concerns about "Pray for Newark," a local New Jersey branch of a fast-growing worldwide Christian religious movement (the "New Apostolic Reformation") which explicitly aims for full-blown theocracy (the "seven mountains mandate," as they call it).
While we don't believe that theocratic-minded Christians will succeed in their ultimate goals here in the U.S.A., there are nevertheless enough of them to cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people. It behooves the rest of us to know who they are and what they are doing.
"Pray for Newark" itself looks benign at first glance. It's a "prayer-walking" campaign, a religious variant of a neighborhood watch program, with the stated aim of reducing violent crime. People "adopt a street," promising to walk up and down the street regularly, praying for the safety of people on the street. So far, no problem - and it's no wonder that the police and politicians love it.
But our concerns are these:
In other cities around the world, prayer-walking has been accompanied by "spiritual mapping," which involves "enemy identification" -- mapping out the locations of what are seen as demonic strongholds, including GLBT groups and any and all non-Christian places of worship. In some cities, "spiritual mapping" has led to severe harassment of non-Christians and assorted "sinners," which is sometimes bragged about. (For an example here in the U.S.A., see Soldiers of Christ: Insider America's Most Powerful Megachurch (http://www.rickross.com/reference/fundamentalists/fund196.html) by Jeff Sharlet, Harper's Magazine, November 2, 2006 , about Ted Haggard. This article includes the following: "He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches — in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation 'prayer-walked' nearly every street of the city." See also the thread harassment of non-Christians by "prayer warriors" (http://www.meetup.com/nyarbb/messages/boards/thread/8710038) on our message board.)
The Pray for Newark website includes some nostalgia for the days when Newark was a theocracy, founded as a "covenant city" by the Puritans. (See links to relevant pages here (http://www.meetup.com/nyarbb/messages/boards/thread/8436947#[masked]).)
Prayer walking campaigns give theocratic-minded Christians an opportunity to cozy up to the police and various government officials. Therefore, we are concerned that "Pray for Newark" may result in increased police harassment of GLBT people and religious minorities -- especially Pagans, occultists, and Satanists -- and, these days, Muslims too (and people who get confused with Muslims, such as Sikhs).
In other cities around the world, prayer-walking campaigns have been used as a first step toward massive evangelization by theocratic-minded Christians, sometimes culminating in a massive ritual destruction of non-Protestant religious items, along with other items that are seen as demon-infested. (See Mormon Candidate For Governor Of Hawaii Tied To Movement That Burns Books of Mormon (http://www.talk2action.org/story/2010/9/10/105928/829/) by Bruce Wilson, Talk To Action, September 10, 2010.)
Therefore, Pray for Newark should be watched carefully by people who care about GLBT rights and the rights of religious minorities.
For more information, see the thread Police-endorsed (!) mega-exorcism (!) in Newark, NJ (and many other cities around the world) (http://www.meetup.com/nyarbb/messages/boards/thread/8436947) on our message board.
This meeting will be a follow-up to the annual Pagan Pride festival (http://www.meetup.com/nyarbb/calendar/13373064/).
Our meeting, over dinner, will be preceded and followed by some time for informal socializing.
We welcome all who oppose the religious right wing. We especially welcome people who can inform us about issues affecting their own particular minority group or subculture.
Location and how to find us: We'll be meeting at a Chinese restaurant on 7th Avenue, near Rockefeller Center. (The exact address, and other details, will be visible to you once you join this Meetup group.) The nearest subway stop is 49th Street on the N, R, and W lines (7th Avenue). Other nearby subway stops are 50th Street on the 1 line (Broadway), 50th Street on the E and C lines (8th Avenue), 47th to 50th Street on the B, D, F, and V lines (6th Avenue), and 7th Avenue on the B, D, and E lines (53rd Street). For those coming from outside the city, Pearls is also approximately a 15-minute walk from Penn Station and approximately a 10-minute walk from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Ask a waiter for "New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry."
We'll be at a table in the UPSTAIRS part of the restaurant. There will be some NYARBB literature on the table.