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Sat Jun 22, 2019, 10:48 PM

a modern Church has taken over a small California city

How Redding, California, became an unlikely epicenter of modern Christian culture
By Vanessa Rancano, KQED | June 18, 2019 | CALIFORNIA DREAM

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In the two decades since the School of Supernatural Ministry’s founding, more than 10,000 people from around the world have made the same pilgrimage, turning Redding into an unlikely global epicenter of Christian culture.

Today, walking around this former logging town of 90,000 residents, you can meet people from a dozen countries in a day. This year, the school graduated 2,500 students, representing more than 70 countries; the youngest was 18, the oldest 85.

It was founded by a fifth-generation pastor, Bill Johnson, who heads up local Bethel Church, and started with a few dozen local students. Today the school enrolls more international vocational students than any other school in the country, by far, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data. In 2017, Bethel had 1,792 international students enrolled. The institution with the next highest enrollment was Dean International, a flight-training school in Florida, with 888 international vocational students.
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But some Redding residents don’t want to be part of the experiment.

“Redding is their test case of turning a city that is a democracy into a theocracy,” says Laura Hammans, a member of Investigating Bethel, a Facebook group with more than 1,000 members.

Hammans is one of a dozen members of the group meeting at a Redding park one afternoon. Another member, Donna Zibull, is passing out stickers that say, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.”

“We’ve handed them out freely because we want to get the message out there,” Zibull says. “Some people are afraid to put them on their car.”

Afraid, she says, because the church’s influence feels like it runs through the core of the city. Redding’s mayor, Julie Winter, is a Bethel elder; Bethel paid the salaries of several police officers when the city couldn’t afford to; a Bethel-connected nonprofit took over management of the city’s civic auditorium and now holds Supernatural School classes there; Bethel’s influence was central to getting a direct flight from LAX to Redding approved last year; and there’s a $150 million Bethel expansion underway that will triple the church’s capacity and allow the school to grow by 1,000 students.

https://calmatters.org/articles/bethel-church-redding-california-modern-christian-culture/

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply a modern Church has taken over a small California city (Original post)
Demovictory9 Jun 2019 OP
flying rabbit Jun 2019 #1
PSPS Jun 2019 #2
shanti Jun 2019 #8
obamanut2012 Jun 2019 #15
bitterross Jun 2019 #3
Mosby Jun 2019 #9
Traffic Interruptus Jun 2019 #16
Clash City Rocker Jun 2019 #27
Traffic Interruptus Jun 2019 #30
Clash City Rocker Jun 2019 #34
smirkymonkey Jun 2019 #17
Mosby Jun 2019 #18
bitterross Jun 2019 #19
Mosby Jun 2019 #24
hunter Jun 2019 #21
bitterross Jun 2019 #22
gtar100 Jun 2019 #28
msongs Jun 2019 #4
Brother Buzz Jun 2019 #5
Demovictory9 Jun 2019 #6
Brother Buzz Jun 2019 #10
Thomas Hurt Jun 2019 #26
dalton99a Jun 2019 #7
CDerekGo Jun 2019 #11
Midnight Writer Jun 2019 #12
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2019 #14
bitterross Jun 2019 #20
lindysalsagal Jun 2019 #25
stopdiggin Jun 2019 #13
clementine613 Jun 2019 #23
hunter Jun 2019 #29
GulfCoast66 Jun 2019 #31
SayitAintSo Jun 2019 #32
Demovictory9 Jun 2019 #33

Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 10:58 PM

1. Interesting read nt

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:09 PM

2. Another Rajneeshpuram

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Response to PSPS (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:50 PM

8. Exactly

Antelope, Oregon.

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Response to PSPS (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 07:16 AM

15. Agreed

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:13 PM

3. Frightening. Let's test the power of prayer scientifically.

Wait, that's already been done. Several times.

Prayer has, at most, a placebo effect.

For patients in double-blind, randomized studies who don't know they are being prayed for it has no positive effects. NONE.

These people are joining another cult. If I lived in Redding, I'd hope the property values go up as people move in so I could sell and get the hell out. No pun intended really.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #3)


Response to Mosby (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 08:26 AM

16. And they lie,cheat, and steal as much as or worse than everyone else

 

and stick around for the small-minded gossip, shunning, and judgment in a church environment!

They probably live longer because being a hypocritical busybody keeps the mind and body active.

Plus seeing the Devil in everything probably keeps them on their toes, too.

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Response to Traffic Interruptus (Reply #16)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:41 PM

27. You seem to have a number of stereotypes

Not all religious believers are the monsters you seem to think we are.

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Response to Clash City Rocker (Reply #27)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 10:19 PM

30. yup

 

There isn't anything monstrous about what I described. It's human nature. You're the one who came up with "monsters."

Why did you make that up?

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Response to Traffic Interruptus (Reply #30)

Tue Jun 25, 2019, 05:59 PM

34. Hypocritical busybodies who see the devil in everything aren't monsters?

So I guess that describes you too, since you see it as “human nature.” It doesn’t describe me.

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Response to Mosby (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 10:42 AM

17. It's probably because they are less isolated and have more social support.

I don't think there is anything particularly meaningful about the religious part of it.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #17)


Response to Mosby (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 12:39 PM

19. Not at all what I posted about. Your post title is misleading too.

First of all, your title is misleading. The ONE study you link to in the Time article and at the source is only of women. Further, it is only of female nurses. A group that has, in the past, shown significant differences from the general population when it comes to health.


You might notice, in my post, I said prayer can have a placebo effect. I suspected that people who do positive things for themselves would benefit from the same effect as you seem to think that study suggests religion does. So I searched for "meditation and mortality rates." It seems that meditation is associated with lowered rates of heart disease, stress, depression and mortality.


Also, from the study you linked:

A meta-analysis of studies on the connection between attendance at religious services and mortality between 1994 and 2009 concluded that religious service attendance helped reduce mortality by 18% in healthy populations.9 Research on religion and health has led to some controversy.9-12 Sloan et al13,14 questioned the validity of these studies and argued that the evidence is often weak and unconvincing, with poor methods and study design. Denberg criticized this kind of research as “simply reporting an association and then calling for more future research,” arguing that it was “trivial and unworthy of publication.”15(p430) Koenig et al16 responded that the review by Sloan et al was highly selective and biased with a misunderstanding of the epidemiologic method.

Peer review seems to have come to no conclusion one way or the other.

As for the study to which you linked, the only thing it concludes is there is a correlation. It does not provide any evidence of direct causation.

I stand by my statement that no scientific study provides a single bit of evidence that prayer heals. People who think that you can pray for other people to be healed and they will be are WRONG. It doesn't happen.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #19)


Response to bitterross (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:02 PM

21. The placebo effect is real. It can be a sugar pill or a religion.

In this case it's a religion.

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Response to hunter (Reply #21)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:10 PM

22. Yes, it is. But it's not Religion doing the cure.

The sugar pills are not credited with the cure when the placebo effect happens. Religion should not be credited with the cure either. It is not responsible for it. The mind and body are doing it. Not some magical sky daddy. Not the Holy energy of the peoples' prayers.

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Response to bitterross (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:58 PM

28. The placebo effect ought to be the most interesting part of a study.

If just belief in being cured actually cures, gotta say...isn't that fascinating. Could we get a better handle on that process, if at all possible? Simply dismissing something as a "placebo effect" is overlooking some compelling evidence for the role of our own minds in the health of our bodies.

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:24 PM

4. its all about the $$. ignores the rich man, camel, eye of needle heaven thing of course nt

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:26 PM

5. The most outspoken critics are evangelical Christians who are deeply troubled....

by Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry's theology. Go figure.

BuzzFeed has another bang-up article on them from 2017:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/mollyhensleyclancy/meet-the-young-saints-of-bethel-who-go-to-college-to

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #5)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:45 PM

6. red city gets influx of young, diverse population attending a church with female & male leaders

I wonder if Redding will turn blue

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Response to Demovictory9 (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 12:12 AM

10. If that happened, it would a blue island in a red sea.

California's 1st congressional district would not flip, and their nimrod congress critter, Doug LaMalfa, isn't going to slink away.

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:38 PM

26. Because the Bethel's are poaching their sheep...

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sat Jun 22, 2019, 11:48 PM

7. Nice scam.

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:31 AM

11. now, let's pray

to the almighty space fairy, pass the plate, give me all of your money, come back this Sunday evening, Wednesday prayer service, extra meetings, weekend meetings, we'll get ya one way or another...oh, here have another cup of Kool-Aid

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:35 AM

12. Not seeing the problem. Are they violent, racist, abusive, terrorist supporting?

Last edited Sun Jun 23, 2019, 04:38 AM - Edit history (1)

Are they forcing people to join and stay? From this story, I see folk enjoying their First Amendment Freedoms.

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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 07:08 AM

14. The management of the civic auditorium seems to raise some issues n/t

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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 12:49 PM

20. They say the want to take over and the non-Bethel people fear them.

Their goal is to take over all parts of society. Their cult leader says this very clearly:

Ultimately, Bethel wants to be more than a school with international pull, more than a megachurch. Flory says its objective is nothing short of cultural transformation.

He describes the leadership’s goal this way: “Let’s get the right kinds of Christians in the right kind of public sectors of American society: politics, economics, Hollywood, etc., and then through their efforts we’ll bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth in the here and now.”


That statement has some ominous overtones to it. Who, exactly, are the "right" kinds of Christians? Who, exactly, here on Earth, determines that?

Also, they are in a position of so much power already that citizens fear speaking out. That is suppression of other peoples' First Amendment rights.

Again, from the article:

Hammans is one of a dozen members of the group meeting at a Redding park one afternoon. Another member, Donna Zibull, is passing out stickers that say, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.”

“We’ve handed them out freely because we want to get the message out there,” Zibull says. “Some people are afraid to put them on their car.”

Afraid, she says, because the church’s influence feels like it runs through the core of the city. Redding’s mayor, Julie Winter, is a Bethel elder; Bethel paid the salaries of several police officers when the city couldn’t afford to; a Bethel-connected nonprofit took over management of the city’s civic auditorium and now holds Supernatural School classes there; Bethel’s influence was central to getting a direct flight from LAX to Redding approved last year; and there’s a $150 million Bethel expansion underway that will triple the church’s capacity and allow the school to grow by 1,000 students.


How you cannot see this all as them being WAY down the slippery slope toward theocracy is confusing to me. I believe they are not the first group that desired to bring about a cultural transformation into a culture of their design. Prior attempts have not worked out very well. They ALL included purges, mass incarcerations and mass death.

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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:34 PM

25. This is the happy, public side. You don't know the harm they are probably doing to their own familie

families. If it's pentacostal, then it's biblical,and it's doing harm to anyone who is gay, atheist, lgbt, or of any other religion.

This Healing people crap is a cult, and it's derailing people's lives. All these scams stop working for the individual at some point, and they're left bereft, unable to trust their own judgement, and unable to function. You hand over control of your life to a hierarchy and at some point, when you want to leave, you're burdened with all the fears of hell and damnation and all the controlling poison.

This is far from harmless.

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 02:40 AM

13. ho hum, another goofy offbeat religious sect

IMO If you want to see a much more defined "take over" or outsized influence over a community .. take a good look at some of the hasidic communities in NY. 2nd place goes to some of the (openly) polygamous LDS offshoots in rural western states. Now there are some communities under control!

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:15 PM

23. Just the latest example of how harmful religion is and why it needs to be banned.

n/t

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Response to clementine613 (Reply #23)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 03:44 PM

29. China severely regulates some religions and bans others.

I don't think that's the answer.

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Response to clementine613 (Reply #23)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 11:40 PM

31. Uh, no. First amendment fan here.

And think of this...banning religion would require banning speech. Is press far behind?

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Mon Jun 24, 2019, 11:43 AM

32. This is very real

I've been researching this church for a good while I have a family member that attends. This church not only represents a serious problem for family members who are constantly asked for money to support mission trips etc. The school itself represents an extremely serious ethical breach of separation of church and state for the city of Redding. This school is beginning to own the town of Redding and implement their own theology in local schools. They are anti gay and believe in conversion therapy. They were very politically involved in past years when California was trying to pass some anti gay legislation. Something needs to be done with these Mega churches who have this favored tax status but are out there pushing political agendas that affect all of our civil rights. This issue is very personal to me hence the rant. I'm glad this made its way to DU.

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Response to SayitAintSo (Reply #32)

Mon Jun 24, 2019, 09:13 PM

33. Thanks for the additional info. The high percentage of young

Converts makes me suspicious. Sign that it operates like a cult

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