When you look into the people participating in Rick Perry’s prayer rally in Houston in 2011, The Response (you can see spokesman Eric Bearse reveal the purpose of the rally here), you’ll find some interesting sludge from the pits, and John Benefiel may perhaps be the most insane one (others are covered here). Benefiel is head of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network and thinks the Statue of Liberty is demonic: “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.” Ok, that might need some explanation, and Benefiel’s got it: “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.”
Can you guess what position Benefiel takes on the ethics of homosexuality? Or the health care bill? According to Benefiel homosexuality is part of an Illuminati plot to reduce the world's population to 500 million. “Homosexuality was and is one of [Baal’s] big strongholds […] the entity that we call the Illuminati which is really over, above Free Masonry, has stated it as their goal [no source] to limit the world population to no more than 500 million […] What do you think the health care bill is? Oh yes, it's a death culture.”
Benefiel has also broached the difficult questions concerning the name “District of Columbia”. According to Benefiel the District of Columbia is named after the “queen of heaven” instead of Columbus (the queen of heaven being probably the one that’s idolized by the Statue of Liberty; it’s all an Illuminati conspiracy, remember). Hence he has renamed the District of Columbia “the District of Christ” and some day, he thinks, it will be renamed that for reals (he has divorced it from Baal as well). Obviously, he thinks the country’s political problems are to blame on the District of Columbia’s supposedly pagan foundations – kinda similar to recognizing a national policy problem and blaming it on a group of coniferous trees outside of Tulsa. Or the Jews, which is more common.
Even though he already claims to have reclaimed the District of Columbia for Christ, he was apparently leading another effort in October-November 2011 (with Cindy Jacobs, to be covered). You can find a link to their prayer guide “Declaration of Dependence: How to Heal Our Nation Through Prayer” here. It is not … particularly moderate.
It ought to be somewhat troubling that this guy has political connections to Rick Perry. He also claims to have most of Oklahoma’s conservative representatives as followers, but it is tricky to get this verified.
Diagnosis: There seems to be some sort of competition going on in certain wingnut circles to make Pat Robertson look sane (kind of a “save Robertson by moving the Overton window”), and Benefiel’s effort is a good one. Absolutely stunningly insane.