Mon Mar 18, 2013, 01:37 PM
PufPuf23 (3,711 posts)
Rios Montt and Gospel Outreach Church of Eureka, CA
The Way Cleared for a Pentecostal Prophet to Rule Guatemala Again
In 1974, when Brig. Gen. Efrain Rios Montt was robbed of his rightful election victory by former President Carlos Arana Osorio, he fled to California and joined forces with evangelical crusader and recovering alcoholic Jim Durkin, who headed the Eureka-based Gospel Outreach fundamentalist movement. To Durkin and his followers today, the ascendancy of Rios Montt provides a golden opportunity to propagate their teachings and convert Guatemala into the first Latin American country with a Protestant majority by the end of the '90s.
Rios Montt was reborn from the ashes of defeat and exile, and returned to seize power in the '82 palace coup orchestrated by junior military officers and his "gringo" evangelical cronies, co-founders of the Church of the Word (\o7 el Verbo\f7 ), a Guatemala-based offshoot of Gospel Outreach.
During his abbreviated tenure, Rios Montt preached the word of God on television while publicly executing accused communists and common criminals; in the Highlands, his army mounted a bloody counterinsurgency, named "Bullets and Beans," against insurgents of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union, who had recruited thousands of impoverished Mayan Indians.
By the time Rios Montt was overthrown by Gen. Humberto Mejia Victores in August, 1983, he had left an indelible mark on his countrymen: His scorched-earth policy had wiped out hundreds of Mayan villages, creating a million refugees and leaving 15,000 Guatemalans dead or disappeared.
Former Humboldt County Resident Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemalan Military Dictator, to Answer to Genocide Charges Tomorrow
Almost thirty years after the end of his brutal military reign, 85-year-old Efraín Ríos Montt will appear in a Guatemala City court tomorrow to answer charges that he ordered the genocide of tens of thousands of his countrymen of Mayan descent during his year-and-a-half long tenure as dictator of that country. (Coverage: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, The Guardian.)
The court case begins less than a week after Ríos Montt lost the immunity from prosecution that he enjoyed as a state official. After being deposed in a coup in 1983, Ríos Montt embarked on a semi-legitimate political career that culminated in a failed presidential bid in 2003 and eventual election to the legislature in 2007.
Sometimes noted in the current round of coverage is the fact that Ríos Montt is an ordained minister with the Iglesia del Verbo (Church of the Word). This is a Latin American offshoot of the Eureka-based Gospel Outreach, a Christian denomination that has its roots in the old Lighthouse Ranch Jesus commune on Table Bluff.
When he returned to Guatemala, Gospel Outreach went with him. Durkin remained his spiritual advisor before, during and after the 1982 coup in which he gained power. As recounted in this Peter Schrag column from 1983 — well after Montt had ramped up the murder of indigenous citizens — researchers from The Nation magazine showed that Gospel Outreach promoted Montt’s cause, raising money among its growing organization to promote their church member as a bastion against the spread of Communism in Latin America. Church leaders were promoted to high governmental positions.
A few years after Montt was thrown out for the first time, a documentary by Bay Area filmmakers Steve Talbot and Elizabeth Farnsworth, showed that the church acted as the good cop to Montt’s bad in the infamous “Beans and Bullets” program, in which hundreds of indigenous villages were razed. These days, Gospel Outreach has an open compound — a large church, plus several homes — just of Harris Avenue, about halfway between Safeway and Redwood Acres.
'GOSPEL AND GUATEMALA' A LOOK AT PROSELYTIZING
The church is Gospel Outreach, founded at an abandoned Coast Guard station in northern California in the early 1970's. Members had long hair, played guitars and conducted baptisms in the Pacific. Mild prosperity, haircuts and other trappings of respectability overtook them. The church now has a congregation of 500 in Eureka, Calif.
In 1976, a church member eager to proselytize went to Guatemala. Protestant success there in recent years, the documentary says, is a subject of ''intense speculation.'' Why has it been a success? The documentary offers two reasons: Protestant fundamentalism encourages an ''apocalyptic'' view commensurate with Guatemalan history; military regimes oppose liberal Catholics. Possibly, there is a third reason: The missionaries are awfully good at what they do.
The original church member was followed by others. An outpost of Gospel Outreach was established in Guatemala City, where it attracted upper-middle class converts, among them Gen. Efrain Rios Montt. After a military coup in March 1982, the Army called him out of retirement to head the new Government.
Thus a rural pacification program - called ''Beans and Bullets'' - was an excuse to raze villages and then make the villagers wards of the Government. Gospel Outreach, with the Army's blessing, supplied food, medicine and clothing. An old film clip from the Christian Broadcasting Network shows that even three dentists were flown in.
At the same time, Gospel Outreach spoke to conservative Christians in the United States. In an appeal for funds, Gospel Outreach said that Nicaragua was ''a model for Marxist oppression,'' while El Salvador was the scene of a ''brutal war.'' Guatemala, however, represented ''an opportunity.'' The White House, apparently impressed, allowed Edwin Meese to meet with church leaders.
Guatemalan ex-dictator Rios Montts' Gospel Outreach church based in Eureka Ca.
Rios Montt is under house arrest thes days
Rios Montt massacred 60,000 Maya Indians in 1982-83. He just lost a bid for Guatemalas' presidency.
Carlos Ramirez, co-founder and director, Linda Ramirez, co-founder, Verbo Ministries. (16,18) Jim Durkin (pres), Joseph Anfuso, Rodolfo Bianch, James Jankowiak (dir BR), Efrain Rios Montt (elder). (1,2,3)
Gospel Outreach is an evangelical Pentecostal church with headquarters in Eureka, California and Guatemala. It grew out of the "Jesus People" movement of the 1960s in the United States. Jim Durkin and Joseph Anfuso are among its founders. (1) According to Sara Diamond, a researcher on the Religious Right, Gospel Outreach practices a moderate form of shepherding because its literature emphasizes "commitment," "covenant relationship," and "spiritual authority. "(2) It is an evangelical organization that believes the Bible is the Word of God and that the authority of government is ordained by God. (3)
Under Mr. Durkin's direction the basic precepts of GospelOutreach evolved: "unquestioned acceptance of the Bible as the literal word of God; a missionary responsibility to reach out and carry the word to others; a decentralized structure with autonomous congregations and little distinction between clergy and laity; strong emphasis on family ties, and a pentecostal liturgy which includes the practice of speaking in tongues. "(3)
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