In May 2007, Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey, and IC’s Development Director Chris Sarette, submitted an application, which identified Invisible Children as a “ministry”, asking for support from the Barnabas Group — a politically far right-wing Christian nonprofit which helps cutting edge stealth ministry evangelizing efforts that target Jews and Muslims, youth, Hollywood, and even apartment dwellers around the globe.
The Barnabas Group, which takes on only a small number of elite applicants per year from the Christian ministries that seek its support, accepted Invisible Children’s application. The Group assists such evangelizing efforts by networking them with Christian business leaders and entrepreneurs, and with Christian foundations.
In 2006, a post on the Invisible Children website declared that IC “is not a religious organization, meaning we are not affiliated with a certain church or ministry” and according to Josh Kron of The Atlantic, on March 18th of this year a statement on Invisible Children’s website read, “Invisible Children is not affiliated with any religious organization.”
Judging by its stable of ministries – which, along with Invisible Children, also includes the Family Research Council, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, the Barnabas Group is dedicated to evangelizing, fighting LGBT rights, and advancing Christian supremacy worldwide.
Leading up to this point, there has been considerable evidence of Invisible Children’s stealth ministry nature: a 2005 declaration from IC co-founder Jason Russell that Invisible Children functions as a “Trojan Horse” and 2011 statements made by Russell at evangelical Christian Liberty University; Invisible Children’s funding from major right-wing evangelical financing entities; and the organization’s extensive social and institutional ties to the Washington D.C. based global evangelical network known as The Fellowship (also known as “The Family”.)
In sum, that evidence is compelling. But Invisible Children’s membership in the Barnabas Group is unambiguous. The Barnabas Group only accepts applications from Christian ministry efforts.
The Barnabas Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and its 2009 990 tax form filed with the IRS identifies the nonprofit venture as “a collaboration of church and marketplace leaders working together to change the world and build God’s kingdom”.
In a Barnabas Group promotional video uploaded to Youtube on November 30, 2010, Barnabas Group co-founder Bob Shank states that “The Barnabas Group is an environment in which ministries can come in looking for collaborative leaders who are going to partner with them, and the synergy that comes from those partnerships makes the contribution that they make go off the charts in terms of value and leverage.”
As a networking opportunity, Barnabas serves to connect ministries in its stable with some of the biggest foundations that back the politicized evangelical right on Earth – such as the National Christian Foundation, which gives on a financial scale roughly comparable to that of the Ford Foundation and has bankrolled both Invisible Children and The Fellowship – credited with having helped inspire and provide “technical assistance” for Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill.
Many of the ministries supported by the Barnabas Group oppose or even actively fight LGBT rights, including Advocates For Faith & Freedom – a legal effort that has battled court challenges to California’s Proposition 8. Some Barnabas Group ministries do humanitarian work, such as running orphanages and distributing hundreds of thousands of low-cost wheelchairs in the developing world.
But most of the Barnabas ministries evangelize, in a dizzying array of niche efforts that target Muslims, Jews, the children of United States military personnel, even apartment building dwellers.
The group encourages bold thinking. In a September 2003 Barnabas Group newsletter, co-founder Bob Shank was described as having taught, shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, a workshop in which Shank mused, “Learn? From terrorists? They were certainly evil but they were also effective… What were some of the transferable principles used by Al Qaeda that we should ponder?” The newsletter went on to list Shank’s noted principles, including “Decentralized command structure”, “Autonomous cells”, and “Innovative strategies”.
Some of those “innovative strategies” seem to involve stealth, judging by Invisible Children or by Lamplighter Ministries, whose head Mark Hanby, appears in a presentation given to Barnabas Group members and posted March 19, 2011 on Youtube.
In the video, Hanby advertises his ministry as having been launched off a serendipitous meeting at Focus On The Family; “My wife and I were invited to be part of a strategic planning meeting at Focus On The Family… Someone at Focus looked at me and said, “Have you ever considered adapting your books into radio drama?” “
Hanby then describes a series of near-miraculous, last minute financial rescues that have allowed his Lamplighter Ministries theater to continue and expand. After one such cash infusion, according to Hanby,
“I called the producers, I said, “We’re on our way to Hollywood. Get the writers writing! The door is now open to infiltrate Hollywood!” With the help of Tim Conway and John Rhys Davies of Lord of the Rings, we produced an epic drama called “Sir Malcom and the Missing Prince” “