Today we're publishing a fascinating, troubling investigation into something called the "International House of Prayer", the center of a charismatic Christian movement located just outside of Kansas City. It is a hive of young believers with branches across the world and a theology with a world-leaders-murdering Jesus which many evangelicals claim is distorting Christianity or even heretical. The movement has admirers and severe detractors within the broader charismatic and evangelical movements. And it has thrived on reputation for a less "muted", more radical and heroic version of the Christian message. One sermon, since removed from the group's website, speaks of the power of members' prayers which will soon bring a day "when every head of state in the United Nations will be killed by the prayers of the saints answered in person by Jesus."
The founder and leader is "prophet" Mike Bickle. And despite the extreme views on virtually everything, Bickle's movement put deep roots down into the right-wing of the Republican party, with ties to top leaders like Govs. Sam Brownback, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and many others. AIPAC has also partnered with one of the group's key members, despite a theology which claims Jews are consumed with hatred of Jesus which will soon change on a dime as the Israeli Knesset embraces Jesus as the world hurtles toward its end.
Reporter Sarah Posner looks at IHOP's activities in Kansas City, Uganda, Jerusalem and other global locales and the internal strain of authoritarianism which gives IHOP many of the characterized many of us would associate with a cult. The organization 'prayer warriors' are made up of idealistic young people who serve as "interns" at the Kansas City headquarters and are often convinced to forego college and other planning for the future in light of imminent end of the world.
The piece is part of our TPMPrime longform series, so it's published for Prime members only. But we've put a sizable chunk of the piece available to all readers. So even if you're not a Prime subscriber there's enough to read which you'll find fascinating and likely appalling. Click here to read "A TPM Investigation: The International House of Prayer."