Lincoln Steed, editor of Liberty magazine, the flagship voice of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on contemporary religious liberty issues, came to the Greeneville, Tennessee S.D.A. church on Sabbath January 22, 2013 to present the sermon address and an afternoon program on religious liberty. As this is a topic of much interest to all Seventh-day Adventists we were pleased to have an opportunity to attend and ask Elder Steed some questions.
During his sermon address he made a fairly strong sales pitch for the Liberty magazine interlaced with stories and religious liberty cases of interest. At one point he was commenting that how in many cases a matter ends up in court on rather trival matters, but the real issue is that our faith as Seventh-day Adventists is on trial. He then cited an example of the Davidians involved in the 1993 burnout at New Mt. Carmel Center near Waco,Texas and stated plainly before the entire congregation that “Davidians are not Seventh-day Adventists, except culturally.” He failed to make any distinction between the branch Davidians who were involved in the Koresh fiasco and orthodox Davidians who follow the original message of the Shepherd’s Rod published by the late V. T. Houteff. Also he did not define what he meant by a “cultural Adventist.” I have heard this phrase used against ultra-liberal S.D.A.’s who believe in evolution, women’s ordination, homosexually, etc. but this a first for what some in the church consider to be the most extreme ultra conservative Adventists, the Shepherd’s Rod. This is to be expected as we do not think he intended to do any such thing but rather his intent was to marginalize and plant into the minds of his captive audience that Davidians are not Seventh-day Adventists and therefore are not entitled to basic rights and privileges as good standing church members, such as attending church services on the Sabbath and the participation in Sabbath School lessons even though nearly all Davidians were baptized Seventh-day Adventists in good standing at the time they took the effort to study the Rod message and verify its claims. Those who took an open stand for the reforms that the message advocates are soon after deprived of their privilege of church membership on unbiblical grounds.
This tactic psychological warfare used by Elder Steed and other high profile Adventists leaders, such as Doug Bachelor and Harold Cunningham, the ministerial director of the Georgia Cumberland Conference, is meant to dehumanize otherwise faithful and morally upstanding Seventh-day Adventists and thereby justify whatever means is needed to silence their testimony including disfellowshipping or even violent removal from the church premises by law enforcement officers as we recently reported on the Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church in Long Beach, CA. What this amounts to is, that while on one hand the Seventh-day Adventist Church proclaims to be champions for religious liberty for the minority whose religious expression is oppressed around the world yet, on the other hand, deny this most basic and inalienable right to those within their own fold whom they consider to be dissidents, offshoots, separatists, and the what not. This blatant hypocrisy has been documented and exposed in numerous incidents over the past eighty years by the Religious Liberty Hoax website.
Elder Steed’s open hostility against Davidian Seventh-day Adventists is plainly manifest in an interview he did with the notorious con artist David Mould in 2010 prior to the GS Session in Atlanta, Georgia. In a previous post we have a 4 minute audio clip in which Elder Steed and Mr. Mould make very derogatory and false accusations against Davidians.
In the afternoon session Elder Steed was asked a question about the case of the Creation Seventh-day Adventist Church where is pastor, Walter “Chick” McGill and his associate Lucan Chartier were incarcerated in the San Bernadino County, CA jail for using the name “Seventh-day Adventist”. He replied that the pastor was jailed because he disobeyed a court order in an attempt to dismiss church from responsibility. He was reminded that the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists were the plaintiffs in the case who brought the charges against the tiny church of around twenty members. At this point he back peddled a bit and admitted that the jailing of the pastor was ill advised but then went on the say that most issues within the church do not involve the religious liberty question. This is a classic sleight of hand maneuver that professional politicians routinely use when they are confronted with thorny issues.
Another question was asked of Elder Steed as to how the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church regards the religious liberty of various groups under the broad umbrella of Adventism they consider as dissidents such as, the anti-trinitarians, the 2520 year prophecy folks, the evolutionists, and the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists. He barked back quickly and said firmly, “Davidians are not dissidents, they are separatists, that is part of this obscure group that rose up in the 1920′s and later broke away from the church.” No mention of the other groups was made. Of course this false charge against Davidians has no basis in fact but rather is repeated as part of a long standing disinformation campaign to lead uninformed S.D.A.’s to believe that Davidian Seventh-day Adventists are rebellious offshoots who left the church and are therefore not entitled to their name and beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists, their religious liberty, their right to attend church services, to participate in Sabbath School lessons, to invite members to Bible Studies, to witness in behalf of the Rod, etc. Some of the reckless and unwarranted charges against the Shepherd’s Rod and Davidians have been refuted in a recent video presentation and in an earlier post on this blog.
We were impressed that the pastor’s wife asked a question about the case of Walter Veith who is currently banned from speaking in SDA churches in Germany due to trumped up charges that he made anti-semetic statements and unfounded claims about the origin of the free masons and Islam in a recent Evangelistic seminar held in Germany. Elder Steed said he watched two of Veith’s videos and said that his facts were totally wrong about Islam and essentially charged that he was teaching conspiracy theories, the same charges that the church leaders in Europe and the ultra liberal Spectrum magazine has made against Veith. Well this outburst against Veith did not go over well with everyone at the meeting as one man stood up and said he has watched all 38 of Dr. Weith’s videos and that he backs up every conclusion with documents, articles, and references from original sources to make his case. Well, as is to be predicted in such cases, Elder Steed remarked “the time was getting late and it was about time to close the meeting, perhaps one more question so that we don’t have to end on this Veith thing.” Clever, these politicians know how to ply their trade well.
After the meeting closed one of us spoke with the man who opposed Elder Steed and their were several others who were gathered around and were commenting on how the charges against Veith were unfounded and an effort to muzzle the ox from speaking the truth that the church leaders did not want the people to hear. One church leader, a Sabbath School leader, came in and said, I know many of these guys at the top, they all come in the same way and do their show and resort to well rehearsed political tactics to get around any of the thorny issues that someone might ask about. Well I believe that pretty much sums it up, most all of our church leaders operate by policy rather than from principle rooted in the Bible. Perhaps it was best said by the Sabbath School teacher who summarized the days events, “this guy mingles with Jesuits, high level free-masons, politicians, dignitaries almost every day so how else would you expect him to operate?”