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In 2008 Duke Aiona, GOP Candidate For HI Governor, Claimed Membership In Group That Burns Native Artifacts

Running in a currently tight race against former Democratic Congressional Representative Neal Abercrombie to be Hawaii's next governor, Republican Lt. Governor James "Duke" Aiona has disavowed his relationship with an international evangelical ministry called the International Transformation Network, whose leaders advocate burning religious artifacts and native art. But in newly discovered video footage from 2008, Aiona enthusiastically stated that he was indeed a member of the ITN's Hawaii chapter, Transformation Hawaii. ITN leaders claim to fight "witchcraft" and burn native art, depict non-charismatic Catholics as damned, try to cure HIV and AIDS with faith healing, and allege homosexuals are possessed by demon spirits. [for background to this story, see Transforming Hawaii, part one and part two] Hawaii media covered Aiona's relationship with the ITN in May 2010 when Hawaii environmental activist and radio show host Carroll Cox filed an ethics complaint [link to PDF file of complaint] against Lt. Governor Aiona for accepting over $7,000 in gifts, in 2006, to travel with his wife to Argentina and attend a religious conference held by evangelist Ed Silvoso and his International Transformation Network (ITN).

In an extended interview with KITV reporter Daryl Huff, for a May 4, 2010 KITV feature story, Aiona stated flatly, "I am not a member of Transformation Hawaii [a chapter of the ITN], I am not a member of the International Transformation Network."

But Duke Aiona had enthusiastically endorsed Ed Silvoso at an  International Transformation Network Hawaii conference held only six months prior, in November 2009. And video from a July 2008 prayer rally in Hilo, Hawaii shows the Lt. Governor telling an audience, "I'm a part of a prayer evangelization program called Transformation Hawaii."

One of Ed Silvoso's closest colleagues and most regular ITN conference faculty members has been Cindy Jacobs. During a worship service that evangelist Cindy Jacobs held on October 7, 2008, at Ed Silvoso's 18th International Institute on Nation Transformation, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Jacobs called on [video link] assembled local area pastors at the conference,

"Pastors, sanctify your people! You go and you tell 'em, if you have any idols in their homes we're gonna to burn 'em! If you have any witchcraft items in your homes, you bring 'em Sunday and we're gonna burn 'em! We're not gonna have witchcraft in this church!"
As Cindy Jacobs wrote in her book Deliver Us from Evil (Regal Books, from Gospel Light, 2001),

"There are certain occult items were are not to possess. If we own any of the following objects we need to get rid of them. If the object was at any time worshiped as a god or used in the worship of a false god, then we should burn it or otherwise destroy it.
   It is not unusual for tourists to bring home keepsakes from faraway lands that have demonic attachments or are idols. What we often do not realize is that these objects can curse us. For instance, many people purchase African masks that have been used in worship ceremonies. Others buy native art such as Kachina dolls, statues of Hindu gods and statues of Buddha. Back home, havoc starts to reign in the form of sickness, tragedy, depression of marriage break-ups. Usually the person does not know why these things have happened." (Deliver Us from Evil, pp. 223-224)

Jacobs went on to describe an alleged, contemporary religiously-motivated destruction of native art in the U.S. state of Hawaii:

"Pastor Jim Marocco... planted a church on the island of Maui. He had people bring and burn occult items, specifically objects that were worshiped as part of their native religions. After the objects were destroyed, his church experienced great growth." (Deliver Us from Evil, page 225)

Cindy Jacobs then proceeds to give an account extremely similar to that offered, below, from C. Peter Wagner, on a mass-burning of allegedly "occult" items that Jacobs, Wagner, and Ed Silvoso helped orchestrate in 1990 in the Argentine city of Resistencia. As Peter Wagner wrote in his book Hard-Core Idolatry - Facing the Facts,


"Burn The Idols!
Doris was preparing to travel to Argentina with Cindy Jacobs for the climactic evangelistic campaign. As she was reading scripture the morning she was to leave, the Holy Spirit told her that in Resistencia they must burn the idols, like the magicians did in Ephesus. Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacob and the Resistencia pastors agreed. So the evening before the evangelistic crusade, all the city's believers came together for prayer. The leaders explained how important it would be to do spiritual housecleaning in their homes before they came to the meeting. They began mentioning the kinds of material things that might be bringing honor to the spirits of darkness; pictures, statues, Catholic saints, Books of Mormon, pictures of former lovers, pornographic material, fetishes, drugs, Ouija boards, zodiac charms, good luck symbols, crystals for healing, amulets, talismans, tarot cards, witch dolls, voodoo items, love potions, books of magic, totem poles, certain pieces of jewelry, objects of Freemasonry, horoscopes gargoyles, native art, foreign souvenirs, and what have you.

The believers agreed to obey God and to cleanse their homes, even if it meant giving up what might have been expensive items. They were to wrap each item in newspaper to protect privacy, and then cast the objects into a 55-gallon drum set before the platform the following night. The drum was heaped to overflowing! They poured gasoline on it and set it on fire." - C. Peter Wagner, Hard-Core Idolatry - Facing the Facts, 1999, Wagner Institute of Practical Ministry

As I describe in my Talk To Action story, New Apostolic Reformation Leaders Burn Native Art, Jacobs and Silvoso are part of an entire movement within charismatic Christianity that seeks to destroy opposing religions and native cultures perceived to be in the way of their evangelizing agenda.

Aiona's extensive involvement with the ITN and Transformation Hawaii traces back at least six years. As reported [1, 2] at the time by Hawaii media, in December 8, 2004, at a Hawaii public school, Aiona led a Transformation Hawaii religious ceremony, broadcast across Hawaii's islands, in which Aiona dedicated Hawaii and its schools to Jesus. But whose Jesus?

As religious studies scholar Kathleen Sands wrote in an April 7, 2010 op-ed, members of Ed Silvoso's (and Duke Aiona's, it would seem) movement target,  

"not only gangs and drugs, but also Hindus and Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, gays, practitioners of new age spiritualities -- in short, anyone who opposes their Christian theocracy.

So if you care about the Constitution, Aiona's involvement with Transformation Hawai`i and the ITN is not "attractive" at all. Both the federal and Hawai`i Constitutions prohibit any "law respecting the establishment of religion." That means, at the very least, that our governments may not endorse one particular religious viewpoint over others."

The movement Ed Silvoso is helping to lead considers Mormonism to be a "false religion" and ITN CEO Silvoso claims that only born-again, charismatic Catholics go to heaven. The latter distinction is quite notable given that Duke Aiona himself is Catholic.

As Ed Silvoso wrote in his 2007 book Transformation - Change the Marketplace and You Change the World (Regal, from Gospel Light, 2007), on page 62,

"Of all the nations in Latin America with sizable born-again population, Guatemala is at the very top. It is estimated that between 47 percent and 52 percent of the people are evangelicals-and when born-again Catholics are added to the numbers, the percentage can easily reach 75 percent. This means that three out of four Guatemalans are saved."

The implication is that Guatemalan Catholics who are not born-again are not saved, damned to hell that is.

Besides the December, 8, 2004 dedication, Lt. Governor Aiona is reported to also have dedicated Hawaii to Jesus  at a February 2005 ITN conference in Hawaii which laid the groundwork for a May kickoff event to launch Transformation Hawaii. Starring in a promotional video for the May 19-21, 2005 Transformation Hawaii launch event, identified in the video as Hawaii's Lt. Governor, Aiona touted the upcoming May event and stated, "A movement is happening, a movement is going, and we all need to be a part of it."

Aiona was one of several prominent Hawaii politicians to attend the May 2005 International Transformation Network conference at the Neal Blaisdell Center near Honolulu, including Democrats such as Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu city council member Gary Okino, and Hawaii state senator Norman Sakamoto.

At the capstone event of the 3-day conference, Ed Silvoso and other ITN leaders "commissioned" several thousand attendees as "marketplace ministers" to bring their charismatic version of Christianity to every sector of Hawaiian society, including government, business, media, and education.

Later in 2005, as shown in the official ITN promotional brochure [link: PDF file] for the event, during the summer of 2005 Duke Aiona was a featured speaker and official ITN faculty member at Ed Silvoso's San Fransisco-area ITN event "Light the Bay II." Another featured speaker at the Light the Bay II event, according to the September 2005 newsletter of International Transformation Network West Coast Director Ted Hahs was Julius Oyet who, along with Martin Ssempa, is one of the most active instigators of anti-gay hatred in Uganda, where a bill before Uganda's legislature threatens to mandate the imprisonment or execution of much of Uganda's homosexual population.

Julius Oyet and the International Transformation Network

ITN connections to Julius Oyet aren't limited to a single event however. International Transformation Network team member Os Hillman (listed as faculty along with Aiona at the Light the Bay II conference) states that he met and befriended Julius Oyet in late 2005 at one of Ed Silvoso's conferences, and in 2006 Hillman traveled, together with another ITN faculty member, Pat Francis, to Uganda to join Julius Oyet in an evangelistic "crusade" in Uganda's Gulu province.

At the event, according to Hillman [ PDF file ], Julius Oyet "called for people to lay down their witchcraft tools and condoms. These things were thrown onto the stage. This was an amazing spectacle." It was probably not an isolated incident. According to one report [ PDF file ] in early 2004 Oyet held a revival "crusade" in Northern Uganda at which the evangelist "called on all attendants to forward their rosary beads together with condoms they carried in their pockets, to be burnt off since they belong to the same category of deviation from the way of God."

As I detailed in my 20-minute mini-documentary Transforming Uganda (cited in Congressional testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in January 2010), Ed Silvoso's International Transformation Network is working with Uganda's Born Again Faith Federation, for which Julius Oyet serves as Vice President and apostolic overseer. The Born Again Faith Federation represents about four million Ugandan evangelical Christians, over ten percent of the country's population.