Beyond the obvious hypocrisy inherent in GOP Senator and Promise Keepers member John Ensign's recently disclosed extramarital sexual affair, there's another notable aspect to Ensign's religious affiliations that has so far escaped public notice: exorcism.
Senator John Ensign belongs to a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, that promotes a new health care paradigm in which both physical and psychological maladies can be cured through the casting out of demons. In the new approach, individuals can even heal themselves by exorcising their own demons, through a process that a 2003 Associated Press story characterized as "do it yourself exorcism".
From John Ensign's college introduction to the Promise Keepers movement, through the Senator's current membership in a Las Vegas church within the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel denomination, to his current residence in a house owned by Youth With a Mission, a parachurch evangelical organization founded in 1960 by Loren Cunningham -- who espouses a doctrine of Christian infiltration of key societal sectors, Senator Ensign has throughout his political career associated with charismatic Christian religious entities in the forefront of promoting a radical and new approach that is redefining Christian evangelism, which now includes a heavy emphasis on the exorcism of demons as a key to a healthy, productive, and moral life.
In the vanguard of the now international demon-deliverance movement is pastor Jack Hayford, who co-authored the 1997 book "Loving Your City Into the Kingdom" together with former National Association of Evangelicals head Ted Haggard. According to Journalist Max Blumenthal, writing for The Daily Beast, Ensign is a confident of Jack Hayford, and other evidence substantiates John Ensign's strong ties to the denomination, which Hayford has headed for five years.
In 2003 the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel paid for Senator Ensign to travel to Philadelphia, where Ensign addressed the Foursquare denomination's yearly convention. In 2006, Ensign addressed the Foursquare Gospel yearly convention via a videotaped speech.
Ensign's connection to Hayford is further underlined through the mutual involvement of the two men in The Promise Keepers, a movement that during the 1990's drew crowds of hundreds of thousands of men to Christian rallies. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ensign addressed a 2003 Las Vegas Promise Keepers rally, and Jack Hayford has played a substantial role in the Promise Keepers movement. GOP Senator Ensign's recent disclosure of an extramarital affair is particularly damaging because Ensign has campaigned on a family values platform, and the Promise Keepers seven vows include the following:
"A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity.
A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and Biblical values."
A lesser-known aspect of the Promise Keepers is the ministry's promotion of charismatic doctrines, as evidenced in its promotion of Dove Ministry founder Bill Subritzky, who teaches demon deliverance practices.
In late June 2009, a YouTube video from a Bridgeport, Connecticut black evangelical church, showing an attempt to exorcise a "homosexual demon" from a sixteen-year old teenager sparked national controversy, as well as condemnation from the left and from gay rights advocates.
But at least one report suggests that a program which seeks to exorcise gay demons was during the 1990's institutionalized at Ted Haggard's Colorado Springs New Life Church. Beyond promoting dubious attempts to banish homosexual demons, former head of the National Association of evangelicals Ted Haggard and current president of the 5-10 million member strong (estimates vary) International Church of the Foursquare Gospel Jack Hayford have each promoted exorcism, nationally and worldwide as well.
As reporter Richard N. Ostling described, in a May 9, 2003 Associated Press story, Cleansing Stream Ministries originated at Jack Hayford's Van Nuys, California Church on The Way, and Hayford still presides over the entity - which is part of a controversial but growing "demon deliverance" movement (sometimes just referred to as "deliverance"), that, according to Ostling, teaches "do-it-yourself exorcism" methods. Ostling's AP story described controversy within the American evangelical community that new "spiritual warfare" doctrines were provoking in the early part of the current decade:
"Evangelical Protestants, who generate many of American religion's notable innovations, are at war over one of them, known as "spiritual warfare."
This expanding movement believes that Christians regularly become captive to indwelling demons, which are often said to specialize in particular sins, geographic locations, objects or age groups.
The believer is taught to rebuke the demon and command its departure in Jesus' name, sort of a do-it-yourself exorcism....
Spiritual warfare proponents include the international Cleansing Stream Ministries, at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif..."
Richard Ostling's story focused on criticism of the new demon-centric approach to health care from conservative evangelical Christian Hank Hanegraaff, a Christian Research Institute member popularly known as the "Bible Answer Man", who charged the new approach derived from secular pop-culture:
Hanegraaff charges that the "deliverance industry" mimics secular pop culture. He says major Christian emphasis on demons and deliverance emerged only after the 1973 movie "The Exorcist" and other entertainment vehicles."
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