Capital 'prayer warriors' fight myriad demons with vigor

The Sacramento Bee/September 25, 1984
By Diane Divoky

The name, Free Love Ministries, seems wrong.

It suggests a remnant from the 1960's: latter-day flower children teaching peace and universal brotherhood. In fact, the dozen or so people who live at "the camp," four communal houses on X and 22nd Streets in Sacramento that make up the ministry's base, see themselves as warriors doing battle daily with the world and all its demons.

And battle is the right imagery. Jim Green, the ministry's leader, fills his monthly publication, "Battle Cry: Aggressive Christianity," with illustrations of swords, soldiers, knights in armor, battlements, grotesque demons, devils, lists of feared black arts and a barrage of scenes of violence and confrontation.

Green, who does not think his lack of any theological training limits him in his role as spiritual leader, believes in a military approach to Christianity.

"If you want a nice family Church, this ministry is not the place," said Lila Green, his wife and colleague in the ministry. "God is going to send many of the soldiers we're training to the mission field."

Established in Sacramento two years ago, the group, which has at least 50 members, although Green refuses to give exact figures, has become a source of controversy recently after a Christian radio station declined to broadcast its programs because of their un-orthodox content. Some parents also have grown concerned about personality changes they say their children have undergone since joining the group.

The ministry's daily radio program, "Battle Cry," warns listeners to prepare for war as God calls up an army to do battle with Satanic forces, demons that promote everything from homosexuality to karate to psychoanalysis to fairy tales. As many as 6,000 demons can inhabit one person, a Battle Cry broadcast in may said.

The ministry's preoccupation with demons is what led KFIA, a Sacramento radio station that airs programs for a broad spectrum of fundamentalist Christian groups, to stop broadcasting Free Love Ministry's program recently.

"Basically, what Green was saying was that any particular problem was controlled by a demon. Colds were caused by a cold demon," said station manager Tom Wallace. "And if you needed deliverance, you just had to attend a Jim Green service. He taught that Christians could be demon-possessed. We were concerned that many could be misled into thinking the only solution would be to go to Green, and they would build up a 'Jim Jones' type emotional dependence on him. We didn't want to be associated with one of those cultish groups."

After being ousted from KFIA, the ministry secured air time at KJAY, an open-access radio station in West Sacramento. There the content of Green's message is not a problem. If you pay your bills you get air time, said John Wachter, KJAY program minister. He added that Free Love Ministries is "the most unusual of the religious groups" the station broadcasts, pointing to one tape of an exorcism of a young man possessed by the demons of rock 'n' roll.

In person, Green 19, belies the stern hostility of the messages his group sends out. He is a slight, personable man with Kentucky in his voice. "We cast out devils, and we see a lot of miracles," he remarks as casually as if he were talking about the weather.

"There are real demons walking the earth," said Green, who describes rock music as having "deadly effects" on young people. "We do a lot of prayer and fasting to overcome them. Fasting is Bible, and it's good for you. Ten times as much work gets done when we don't eat. And when you fast, you're more sensitive to God."

Fasting is as central as prayer in the ministry. Jim and Lila Green sometimes go on 30-day fasts, taking in nothing but water, and al members of the community, including the Greens' two youngsters fast.

Last fall the ministry asked its followers to fast 50 days, seven days on liquids only, seven on water only, seven on fruit juice only, 21 on a special bread and water, six days on fruits and two days on vegetables.

Casting out devils and healing the sick are staples of Green's revivalism. Prayer sessions in the large renovated basement room in the Green's house have the flavor of a tent meeting. Followers stretch their arms to the ceiling, babble in tongues, moan and cry out.

Both Jim and Lila preach. Lila, 37, a native Sacramentan who said she attended California State University, Sacramento, and worked at University Medical Center, is perhaps the more riveting speaker of the two.

"She's a hot preacher, a fantastic prayer warrior," her husband says.

Where the Greens are perhaps most at odds with their charismatic Christians is in their use of revelations.

The Greens maintain they have revelations from God routinely and that all of their actions - taking their family off to Latin American missions a few years back, settling in Sacramento and buying their houses - are directed by God.

Many of the more innocuous revelations are passed along to the faithful Battle Cry. In the July issue, Lila Green told how God spoke to her and gave her a recipe to prepare "travel bars," even specifying ingredients such as health-food store powdered mild and directions on wrapping the bars in aluminum foil.

"Although the devil tormented me, I obeyed the Lord and the results were delicious, nutritious and kept very well under conditions of extreme heat and humidity," she wrote. "The Lord told me these travel bars were an excellent item to carry when traveling."

However, few items in Battle Cry area s homey as inspired recipes.

Like other tracts the ministry also produces on its printing press in the Greens' home that get mailed all over the nation. Battle Cry articles strike out with bunker mentality at most other religions and beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists, Mormons and Christian Scientists are attacked, as well as less traditional beliefs such as Scientology and Transcendental Meditation. Even fundamentalist Protestant groups are criticized roundly for hypocrisy and lax spirituality.

The fundamentalists themselves area clearly uneasy about Free Love Ministries.

"I believe Jim Green is a Christian, but he's in great error and heading for destruction because of what he's into," said Viola Larson of Apologetics Resource Center, a local fundamentalist group that researches cults and aberrant Christian groups.

"He changes and adds into Christian doctrine. He teaches some things that have nothing to do with Christianity. His ministry is at the very far end of the Pentecostal movement. They're very legalistic and very scary."

Bur the Greens' most sustained and vicious attack is directed at the Roman Catholic Church, described as "Mother of Harlots and Abomination of the Earth" in ministry publications. Those articles usually are written by Alberto Muniz, who was raised a Catholic and had completed two years at the University of California, Davis, by last fall when he joined the ministry and began living at the "camp."

His parents, Terry and Bill Muniz of Pittsburgh, said they became worried when their once-sociable son, who used to read and travel widely and enjoy each theater, told them his only recreation now was reading the Bible and said the world would end soon.

When the ministry made plans to send Muniz to the Phillipines as a missionary this fall, his parents retained a Sacramento attorney, Robert Blasier. After Blasier contacted the Greens, plans to send Muniz abroad were dropped. However, Muniz said he isn't going because his passport was lost as a consulate.

Instead, Muniz is now overseeing the home-schooling of six children of ministry members, using a Christian correspondence school in Concord for the curriculum.

In addition to the Muniz family, Lila Green said other parents have been concerned for their children's welfare. She said that while some ministry members have dropped out of school, she contended it is not unusual for college students to drop out and return to school later.

Jim Green believes that ministry members, many of whom he describes as down-and-out people formerly involved in drugs or crime, should work, and many of the converts who come into the ministry work at one of the three branches of The Art Store, a successful Sacramento area print and framing operation.

David Gain, who lives at the "camp," owns the stores, where ministry members work alongside other employees. Checks from Gain also pay the bills for the ministry's radio broadcast.

Green said that customers at Gain's store had objected to ministry workers proselytizing, so now they simply do their jobs. However, at one shop a sign announces to customers that pornographic materials will not be dealt with, and pictures of owls, unicorns, and frogs are blotted out in paintings and sketches in print order books. Gain said those creatures are satanic.

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