Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I’m going to start another new feature here, only because this subject fascinates me so much. It will be a series of posts on the subject of fringe religious groups, particularly those in the loonier groups of the religious right wing in the United States. I make no pretense of being fair minded in their regard, I think those who populate such organizations are generally in need of serious psychological help. But still, I’m quite fascinated by the various strains of the fundamentalist mindset in its crazier manifestations. I also make no pretense that such people or groups in any way represent all Christians, or even all fundamentalists. I know far too many brilliant and well educated Christians to put them in the same barrel with the nuts I intend to shine a light on during this series. I do not draw the line between myself and Christians, I draw the line between me and the reasonable Christians and the whackos on the lunatic fringe; I also put the loonies on the non-Christian fringes, like the idiots who tried to get the UN to ban religion worldwide, in the same package. As Eric Hoffer put it, “Though they seem at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet.”

The first group I’d like to look at is the Embassy of Heaven Church. I found this group by way of another right wing whacko, Kent Hovind, a creationist con man from Pensacola who is, yet again, in trouble with the government for not paying taxes. Hovind’s attorney in this matter is Glen Stoll of Remedies at Law, who also represents the Embassy of Heaven cult. What Hovind shares with the Embassy of Heaven cult is the idea that because they claim to be God’s ministers, they are therefore exempt from essentially all manmade laws

The Embassy of Heaven goes so far as to claim that they are citizens of the “Kingdom of God” and that their church is the official embassy from that Kingdom to the earthly governments. They believe that since they are citizens of Heaven and not citizens of the United States, they are exempt from any legal requirements imposed on them by the local, state or federal governments. They even go so far as to issue their own driver’s licenses, license plates and passports, which they amusingly present at airports thinking that they are going to be allowed on a plane with them. The three or four hundred Embassy of Heaven members nationwide who have attempted to drive their cars with Embassy license plates, using Embassy driver’s licenses, and without car insurance, have often found themselves being arrested. They then refuse to recognize the authority of the courts over them, refuse to post bail or enter a plea, and the courts typically hold them for a few weeks before deciding it’s not really worth it, then they let them go. Needless to say, the cult members take this as proof that the world is evil for persecuting them and they have a webpage devoted to jailings of their members around the country.

One of the church members arrested who is listed on that page, John Joe Gray, is now in the 6th year of a standoff with the police in Texas inside his apparently heavily armed compound. Among those in the camp are Gray’s daughter and her two children, over whom she does not have custody. The father of the children has begged the FBI, the Texas state police, the local sherrif, the US Marshalls, and anyone else who will listen to do something to get his children back, to at least serve the court order on the family, they have done nothing. Gray has repeatedly threatened the police with violence if they try to come near the compound and the authorities, apparently afraid of another Waco situation, have twiddled their thumbs since 1998.

To give you an idea of just how thwacked this group is, some members of the group, tired of being perpetually hassled by the police, suggested that perhaps they should ask the Supreme Court for an injunction against any action against the cult’s members unless they constitute an immediate threat to someone else’s life or property. No way, says their leader, who calls himself Paul Revere:

The only function such a document would serve is to pray to Antichrist for relief…

What the Church is really struggling over is authority. We want to have a standing in Christ. We don’t want a standing recognized by the world, for what communion has the Kingdom of Light with the Kingdom of Darkness?

The officials of the Church will come into authority because they are acting in His name, in a righteous manner. Everyone will notice who the real Authority is. The real question is, “Who sits on the highest throne?”

We, as Christians, have been given the highest Authority, and we need to act in a Christian manner as we carry out His commands. We must joyfully accept the plundering of our property and meekly suffer, rather than retaliate…

The unbelievers need to take the initiative in making a place for God’s elect, lest they be destroyed in their way. We are not called to “plea bargain” with the unbelievers, but to rule the earth and make them His footstool.

Wow. Here’s probably my favorite argument they make. Try to top the incomparable idiocy of this reasoning for why the state can’t write them tickets while using the roads and highways:

They cannot overcome the fact that we are not using the highways in their state. We are using the highways in the Kingdom of Heaven. Most people do not realize that the same stretch of concrete has multiple jurisdictions. State of Washington claims certain highways as their highways. But the Kingdom of Heaven claims these same highways for their purposes. And no one can deny that claim…

There are many jurisdictions claiming authority over the same highways. For instance, the United States Army has military highways for purposes of defense. The United States Postal Service has post roads for purposes of delivering mail. The state has “highways in this state” for purposes of regulating its drivers, and the Embassy of Heaven has “highways in the Kingdom of Heaven” for purposes of proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. All these authorities have “concurrent jurisdiction” over the same physical highways. But those of us claiming the Kingdom of Heaven highways have the paramount claim to the highways because our Father created them and His son commanded us to use them. (See Matthew 28:18-20)

The state and its political subdivisions are stewards for the maintenance of the highways. That does not mean they own the highways. Specific government entities are charged with the maintenance and construction of the highways. To identify the custodian of these highways, they are designated State Highway 22 or County Road 208. It may appear that the state or county owns the highways, but they are merely stewards.

There is one form of stewardship we do not recognize. That is when the state takes dominion over the highways, treating them as their own. They start regulating who can and who cannot use the highways through their licensing programs. They not only regulate their own people, but they regulate anybody who uses “their” highways. When these stewards claim the highways as their own, they have become wicked husbandmen. (See Matthew 21:33-46)

When the sheriff in Washington wondered where the designations were for the Kingdom of Heaven highways, he was expecting that we would have markers on the side of the road. We don’t need road signs. Our highways have already been published in the Bible under the Great Commission. Christ said, “Go to all nations.” And His command to “Go to all nations,” means that all the highways and byways and paths leading up to everybody’s doorstep are designated as Kingdom of Heaven highways. Wherever we go, we are on the Kingdom highways.

If we faithfully stay off the highways in the state and remain on the highways in the Kingdom, there is no way we can trespass upon the state. We cannot commit traffic crimes against the state because we are not using their highways. Some jurisdictions are beginning to understand this and are dismissing charges against our ambassadors.

State motor vehicle statutes mean absolutely nothing to us because they only apply to those using highways in the state. They do not write statutes for those using highways in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is outside their jurisdiction. State law enforcement must come onto the highways in the Kingdom of Heaven in order to stop us. And if they cite us with violations of their statutes, they are trespassing. They do not supervise the Kingdom of Heaven highways.

There is no way to reason with such people. There is no way point in even attempting it. This is fanaticism on such a level that using logic to speak to someone who could believe something this stupid is as futile as trying to teach a card trick to a dog.

Comments

  1. #1 DS
    April 27, 2004

    Holy frijoles, that’s some scary stuff.

    ~DS~

  2. #2 red
    April 27, 2004

    Oh please continue this series. I find these stories fascinating and disturbing.

    I was wondering why Embassy of Heaven wasn’t listed on this “cult database” site: http://www.rickross.org – Are you aware of Rick Ross? Mr. Controversial Cult Expert?

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    April 27, 2004

    Fascinating and disturbing is a good phrase for it. Equal parts of each, I think. I’m only vaguely familiar with Rick Ross, but I’ll root around his website and see what I find.

  4. #4 Lynnie
    April 27, 2004

    Ed, I have seen that website and when you and I discussed cults the other night I also looked for Embassy Of Heaven in that site. I looked under the pastors name Paul Revere also, I might add. It’s an interesting website but must not be up to date.

    Lynnie

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    April 27, 2004

    Ed, I have seen that website and when you and I discussed cults the other night I also looked for Embassy Of Heaven in that site. I looked under the pastors name Paul Revere also, I might add. It’s an interesting website but must not be up to date.

    Hi honey. It doesn’t surprise me they’re not in there. I don’t know that technically they’d be considered a cult, though the definition is pretty fluid. Though Paul Revere is their leader, he doesn’t appear to be a classic cult leader who gathers his followers around him, takes the women for himself, etc. These kinds of whacky militia types are all around, with tons of groups, and no one could keep track of all of them. But this is an interesting website and it gave me some information about a group that I am familiar with. I’ll probably post something on it soon.

  6. #6 red
    April 27, 2004

    The thing about that Rick Ross site is any group which generates complaints – no matter how small -gets a mention. I am crazy enough to check that site a lot – Cults are a big fascination of mine…and it is updated quite a bit. At least articles about groups such as these are added on an almost daily basis.

    A lot of these groups have multiple names, so I wondered if Embassy of Heaven had other monikers floating about.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    April 27, 2004

    You were both right, of course, that the Rick Ross site didn’t mention Embassy of Heaven by name, or Pastor Paul Revere, but I did some searching and it does mention several times the guy down in Texas who is affiliated with them and has been in a 6 year standoff with the authorities. He’s not technically a member of the church, I guess, but they believe all the same things and the Embassy of Heaven are big supporters of his. There are articles about it here, here, and here.

  8. #8 Lynnie
    April 27, 2004

    Ed honey,
    One would think that Kent Hovind’s name would be mentioned in the Rick Ross list. If it is there I didn’t come across it.
    As recent as last Wednesday that cult was raided by the FBI. I call that current. This isn’t the first time this has happened, as Steve pointed out in his article posted on The Panda’s Thumb.
    I might add that Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land is a real joke. Did you happen to see those so called “rides?”

  9. #9 red
    April 27, 2004

    Woah. I read those articles. It’s very disturbing.

    I remember one day getting completely SUCKED INTO the Scientology section on that site – I felt like I would never come out again!

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    April 27, 2004

    One would think that Kent Hovind’s name would be mentioned in the Rick Ross list. If it is there I didn’t come across it.
    As recent as last Wednesday that cult was raided by the FBI. I call that current. This isn’t the first time this has happened, as Steve pointed out in his article posted on The Panda’s Thumb.

    Well, Hovind’s beliefs certainly fit the cult profile. He’s in trouble with the law for doing the same thing the Embassy of Heaven group does, and for the same reason. He’s definitely a nut, but he doesn’t have a group of followers or a compound, so I don’t know that they would list him. I guess it depends on how broadly Rick Ross wants to make the term “cult”. Then again, he has Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker listed, so maybe Hovind belongs there too.

    I might add that Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land is a real joke. Did you happen to see those so called “rides?”

    LOL. Yes. This “theme park” is really just his back yard with some wooden cutouts of dinosaurs and a couple of hundred dollar rides. It would need a promotion to get to be cheesy.

  11. #11 Lynnie
    April 29, 2004

    This is a quote taken from

    Cult Group Controversies:
    Conceptualizing “Cult” and “Sect”
    at:
    http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/cultsect/concult.htm#scholar_v_public

    “My class lecture notes, along with selected readings, offer a systematic examination of a large number of questions that can help one better understand why “cults” are so controversial. How are cults and sects different? How do they form and develop? How central is the role of charismatic leader? Who joins and why? Is conversion a useful concept, or might we be better served by other concepts? What factors contribute to enhanced commitment or gradual disengagement? When and why do people leave? Why does the death of a founding leader result in a crisis of succession, and how is this usually resolved? Why are cults controversial, and what is the pathway that eventually leads some of them into the mainstream of society?”

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    April 29, 2004

    Thanks for that link, honey. As it points out, there is a lot of controversy over exactly what a cult is. Rick Ross’ site doesn’t seem to have a coherent definition of one. I think personally, since the term is so immediately negative in everyone’s minds, I would attempt to define it pretty narrowly and specifically. I would probably limit it to those groups with a single charismatic leader who is virtually or literally worshipped, who exercise some measure of brainwashing, and whose followers gather around them in the sense that they live in groups of members of the same cult and shut out the rest of the world. At a minimum, I’d use that definition. But there are so many other factors involved. It may be that there just isn’t a single good definition.

  13. #13 Tim B.
    April 29, 2004

    >I remember one day getting completely SUCKED INTO the Scientology section on that site – I felt like I would never come out again!

  14. #14 Tim B.
    April 29, 2004

    Somehow, I lost the rest of my previous post. I’ll try agin:

    >I remember one day getting completely SUCKED INTO the Scientology section on that site – I felt like I would never come out again!

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    April 29, 2004

    The same thing happened to me one day on a site about the roots of Mormonism. I spent *days* in fascinated reading about Joseph Smith and his “discoveries.” Apparently, he and his family had been vagrant ne’er-do-wells who prefered treasure hunting in the hills of New York state (if I’m remembering correctly) instead of working a job. One of the texts he supposedly unearthed and translated into divine revelation has turned out to be an Egyptian laundry list.

    Hi Tim. I have a brother who is a Mormon elder and I did some research on it too, long long ago. It is pretty funny stuff. It’s one of those things you read and think, “Wow. There are people who actually believe this. A lot of people.”

  16. #16 Paul
    June 2, 2004

    Hey Ed – Thanks for the post. Embassy of Heaven Church is right on.

    I did some research and found out that Kent Hovind does not represent the Church and dinosaurs are not part of their platform. Also, Glen Stoll does not represent the Church and they do not believe in defending themselves in court. As far as John Joe Gray is concerned, John Joe left the Church because he uses weapons. The Church is peaceful and does not believe in the use of weapons. In fact, the Church is not part of any militia.

    They are pretty much a tame bunch of people. They have been very successful in many of their efforts. I was most impressed by the fact that they actually travel using Heaven Passports. The airports require government issued identification to fly. These people actually fly on commercial flights using Heaven Government issued passports. If there is any question about their Heaven passport, the Federal Security officers use this site to verify their identity. These people really do fly with Heaven papers!

    Their most impressive work is the scriptural support for God’s Government being established on the earth by Jesus Christ. You can find it at Kingdom of Heaven Unlocked. In a nutshell, Jesus completed His work at the constitutional convention commonly known as the Last Supper. We, as Christians, have been focusing on what Jesus and the apostles were eating instead of what they were doing while they were eating. Jesus gave us the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 22:29). By free choice, we can become citizens of Heaven, the Government of God on earth. Since you can only obey one Master, you cannot obey both God and the world. So, that means that the Embassy of Heaven Church members can only obey the Kingdom of Heaven and they expect to be held accountable to God’s Law. They are not lawless!

    The reason the courts are having trouble judging these people is because the judge has to judge them according to the Law from whence they come, Heaven. Otherwise the judge must deny the existence of the Kingdom of Heaven. That wouldn’t be too popular. The things these people do are lawful in Heaven. Therefore, they do not break the Law.

    I talked on the phone with a man in Nebraska. Recently he was arrested for driving a Heaven plated vehicle with a Heaven driver license. The Embassy of Heaven Church furnished him with a vehicle release request form and a Certified copy of the Church records for this man. He took it to the judge and the judge released the vehicle and dismissed the charges. I’m impressed!

    These people are ahead of their time. Now I understand what Baptism is all about. It is the first act of becoming a citizen of Heaven and living in God’s Government. Let’s face it, we have been fooled by the world. There is actually only one Government and it belongs to God.

    Thanks again Ed. You have set me free for life.

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    June 2, 2004

    I did some research and found out that Kent Hovind does not represent the Church and dinosaurs are not part of their platform.

    LOL. You “did some research”, eh? I’m sure it’s merely a coincidence that your e-mail is “derevoire@hotmail.com”, which is the real last name of Paul “Revere”, the head of the Embassy of Heaven church. I’m sure it was a real struggle to “do some research” for you. In attempting this pathetic little ruse, you only confirm the conclusions I formed previously.

    Of course, your points are fairly irrelevant. I never claimed that Kent Hovind represented the church, I said I found out about your group by way of him. He may not be a member of your church, but he might as well be. He shares your astonishingly stupid positions.

    Also, Glen Stoll does not represent the Church and they do not believe in defending themselves in court.

    Glen may not technically “represent” your church, since you don’t recognize the court’s authority and therefore don’t bother to defend yourselves. But he shares your idiotic views and has a law firm that defends such nonsense. And he uses an Embassy of Heaven driver’s license. And yes, he represents Kent Hovind. The point of my post was to highlight your shared lunacy.

    As far as John Joe Gray is concerned, John Joe left the Church because he uses weapons. The Church is peaceful and does not believe in the use of weapons. In fact, the Church is not part of any militia.

    But he was a member, and that was my only point. Again, the post was about the stupidity of the views you shared, not with technical relationships.

    They are pretty much a tame bunch of people. They have been very successful in many of their efforts. I was most impressed by the fact that they actually travel using Heaven Passports. The airports require government issued identification to fly. These people actually fly on commercial flights using Heaven Government issued passports. If there is any question about their Heaven passport, the Federal Security officers use this site to verify their identity. These people really do fly with Heaven papers!

    I don’t doubt that “they” (meaning “you”) are mostly tame folks who are unlikely to be a threat to anyone. But the extremist views you espouse are also pretty likely to lead at least a portion of your followers to do extreme things, like John Joe Gray. But I find it amusing that you are trumpeting your success at using heaven passports and licenses, while at the same time your website has an entire section devoted to the “persecution” that you and your followers get when trying to use them. I imagine that’s the same sort of cognitive dissonance you juggle while pretending to observe what “they” – meaning you – do.

    Their most impressive work is the scriptural support for God’s Government being established on the earth by Jesus Christ. You can find it at Kingdom of Heaven Unlocked. In a nutshell, Jesus completed His work at the constitutional convention commonly known as the Last Supper.

    Yeah, I’m, uh, overwhelmed with how “impressive” that is. Have you considered thorazine?

    The reason the courts are having trouble judging these people is because the judge has to judge them according to the Law from whence they come, Heaven. Otherwise the judge must deny the existence of the Kingdom of Heaven. That wouldn’t be too popular. The things these people do are lawful in Heaven. Therefore, they do not break the Law.

    LOL. The reason the courts eventually just let you whackos go is because no good purpose is served by keeping you locked up. Our jails are overcrowded as it is and after a while the judges just get tired of dealing with you. Since they don’t think you’re a threat, they just get it off their docket so they don’t have to keep dealing with it. They would do much the same if some other set of nutjobs was issuing Embassy of Valhalla driver’s licenses or Kingdom of Middle Earth passports.

    Frankly, I don’t think you take it far enough. I think you should print your own money, with a picture of Jesus in the middle of the bill instead of Washington or Franklin, and try to use it to buy things. Then you can scream about how persecuted you are by the Satanic owners of the 7-11 when they won’t take Heaven Cash to pay for a slurpee.

    Thanks for stopping by here to demonstrate your insanity for all to see. It’s been a hoot.

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