California megachurch draws criticism for promoting use of 'Destiny Cards'
A controversial megachurch in California is being denounced for promoting the use of "Destiny Cards," which some say is just another form of tarot cards.
Bethel Church, a 9,000 member congregation in Redding, has been criticized for its alleged links with a group called Christ Alignment, which claims to employ staff members that are trained in "destiny reading, Presence therapy, trauma recovery, entity cleansing,relationship alignment and physical healing using divine energy."
Christ Alignment, which is based in Melbourne, Australia, also claims to practice a form of "supernatural healing that flows from the universal presence of the Christ."
Marsha West of the Christian Research Network contended that the Destiny Cards are just another name for tarot cards, which are commonly used in fortune telling. She also argued that the Christ being referred to by the group is the "New Age Christ," not the Christ in the Bible, because believers are forbidden from taking part in occult practices such as Destiny Card reading.
Church Watch Central noted that Bethel staff initially denied any links with Christ Alignment. Kris Vollotton, senior associate leader at Bethel Church and co-founder at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, condemned the use of Destiny Cards and reportedly stated in a deleted Facebook post that whoever is using the cards "needs to repent and stop the craziness in the 'name of reaching people for Christ.'"
The social media post was reportedly deleted after Christ Alignment members Ken and Jenny Hodge publicly wrote about their organization's connection to Bethel Church and their school while challenging allegations that they are a cult.
"We are not a cult, we hate tarot with a passion, we have not joined 'the world,' we fully support everything Bethel believes in and we do not have to repent as our ministry has nothing to repent off," the Hodges wrote.
The group claims to have developed a method to reach out to new age practitioners and it also teaches the method to other churches in Australia.
"It is ridiculous that Christians have judged us based on photos where cards appear, yet not one person has asked, 'what exactly are those cards?'" they continued.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Theresa Dedmon, a pastoral staff member at Bethel who oversees the Creative Arts Department for the church and the School of Supernatural Ministry, denied that the Destiny Cards are tarot cards and defended their use in the ministry.
Dedmon explained that those in search of a "reading" would get a "prophetic word about their destiny," which she says is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
She went on to cite why the cards were biblically acceptable and stated that they are simply "images that help to communicate the message of the Good News" to people in search of "hope and a future."