Category Archives: christian anarchism

Should you take the “Jesus Radicals” with a pinch of salt?

Please read this comment from a prominent Jesus Radicals member before proceeding with the whole article. Jesus Radicals were unaware of Fleming’s activities with Tobin and Piper.

Here it is reproduced in full:

Hi,

I am one of the main people behind the Jesus Radicals website. We do not promote, teach, endorse or in any way link up with the ideas of holocaust deniers or anti-Semitism. You are absolutely correct to point out the influence of Jacques Ellul, whose writings continue to inspire many of us. John Howard Yoder is also a major influence. His book, The Christian/Jewish Schism Revisited, which laments the early split between Jewish Christians and other Jews, is another influence.

I was not involved in organizing the 2009 conference, but I am certain that the organizers were not aware of the things you pointed out about Eileen Fleming. From what I saw of her there, she did not say anything that denied the Holocaust, but her presentation was not well received and seemed to lack the sensitivity required to talk about race, ethnicity and class. She is not really an anarchist to be honest.

Here’s the original post; my concern about Fleming is expressed in the last four paragraphs.

Barthsnotes has a post providing more information about recent events at Gloucester Cathedral. As well as discussing Israeli preacher David Silver’s religious views, as does a commenter, Bartholomew also highlights that Hebden holds to Christian anarchist beliefs.

Keith Hebden is the editor of the Christian anarchist blog A Pinch of Salt. Hebden himself interestingly links to the story reported on This is Gloucester of his arrest and subsequent release without charge. Just as I was thinking that it seems rather odd to draw attention to ones’ own arrest without providing any further comment, I read a bizarre sentence on his blog in reaction to the arrest of CPT activists in Sweden.

Hebden wrote:
 

Whatever we do in the courtroom, or upon arrest, we are generating stories – like the prophets – that go beyond the actions we perform and take on a life of their own.

Whilst I’m of the opinion that getting arrested in order to generate stories is not the best way to get one’s message across, I can accept that this is Hebden’s position. However I wonder whether this affected Hebden’s decision to interrupt the service at Gloucester Cathedral. According to one eye-witness account:

The evening meeting was a worship service held in the actual cathedral (the nave, to be precise) and it was this that Rev Hebden disrupted in the manner described. At the point he made his protest, David Silver hadn’t even been invited to take the platform!

One also wonders whether Hebden’s calls for a boycott of Israel had anything to do with his opposition to Silver, an Israeli pastor, being allowed to preach in the Gloucester Cathedral. Hebden promotes this image on his blog and on his facebook profile:

 [boycott+zionist+goods.jpg]

For those unaware of the UK Jesus Radicals, Hebden’s religious and political views are of notable interest. Hebden has previously suggested that ‘Perhaps, in Britain, the Christian symbol of the cross should be replaced by the splintered skull. Why not, if the MPs insist on reminding us daily of their privileged use of the skull-smasher?’ Hebden has also cited recent protests and violence in Nepal as evidence that ‘There’s no such thing as a complete revolution, a utopian end-point.’

Keith Hebden’s Pinch of Salt blog has published an article by blog contributor “AdR”, accusing Israelis of ‘blackmailing’ the pope over his Nazi background, whilst drawing attention to Israeli gas companies whose global bodies profited from selling gas for gas chambers to the Nazis. This appears to me an unfair and insensitive reaction to the Israeli complaints about the Pope’s words over the Holocaust. 

Hebden himself has described the story of two women who broke into a politician’s home as ‘beautiful’, as the politician had excessive expense claims. Hebden commented:

“So why aren’t Christians doing this kind of thing? Some are but few; most of us are just looking on in awe and a certain amount of trepidation.”

Aside from the Pinch of Salt blog, Hebden is involved in the Jesus Radicals movement. Ekklesia identifies Hebden as a spokesperson of the UK branch of Jesus Radicals. Whilst the Jesus Radicals claim to be Christian anarchists following in the footsteps of Jacques Ellul, a Christian anarchist theologian and French resistance fighter, there is perhaps more here than meets the eye.

Interestingly the USA branch of Jesus Radicals hosted a conference last month in August 2009, where Eileen Fleming was invited to speak. Fleming was banned from the Daily Kos website for antisemitism. However, the Jesus Radicals‘ promotion of Eileen Fleming seems to jar with the Jesus Radicals’ interest  in Ellul and his theology, given that Ellul was awarded the title Righteous Amongst the Nations for his efforts to save Jews during World War II.

Fleming, on the other hand, has marched alongside Holocaust deniers (warning: link takes you to Far Right website of former KKK leader David Duke) Fred Tobin and Michael Collins Piper in Washington:

Perhaps though, the Jesus Radicals were unaware of Fleming’s involvement with the Far Right. Nevertheless, it certainly appears insensitive of the Jesus Radicals to the legacy of Jacques Ellul. Then again, perhaps Christian anarchist theology is moving away from Ellul?

For those new to Christian anarchist theology, Hebden provides this ‘primer’ to Christian anarchism on the UK Jesus Radicals website.

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