Here's what seems to me to be a fairly objective news report on the organization, from 1981:
Because of this tendency of his I have to suspect that his stuff in general should be taken with a grain of salt even on topics for which you can find solid Christian criticism elsewhere. Ten years ago by now there was information available about the heresy of the Hebrew Roots movement, for instance, and I've personally encountered people in that movement myself and some of their bizarre unbiblical beliefs, so I'm happy to see Johnson discuss it in some detail and give quotations to expose its unbiblical teachings. But Johnson also often gets off into decoding symbols, such as the six-pointed "star of David," beyond their historically traceable occultic associations, into accusing people of PRACTICING the occultism they most likely know nothing about. I don't doubt that Satan's hand is in just about everything that draws people away from the true revelation of God, but that doesn't mean the people in a particular group are consciously involved in it. Yet he tends to talk in strident condemnatory tones about these things even if there is no evidence that a symbol is functioning that way for the users of it. He often gives interesting information about the occultic meaning of a symbol but his attitude tends to be that if that's what the symbol historically means then they are practicing that meaning whether they know it or not.
I don't know if that's true or not. He's claimed it many times -- also in regard to so-called "cursed objects" -- but if a person isn't attributing occultic powers to a symbol what's the evidence that the symbol has any power simply on its own to affect him? I have to say that in my own experience mere symbols CAN radiate an occultic power, but I've experienced it as a discordant and abrasive or repellent force, as I think other Christians also must if they are sensitive to them, but not all are sensitive to them. Whether such symbols exert any actual power over a person I don't know, but if he wants to WARN them of this, it would help if he'd offer some evidence of a real danger instead of merely asserting it. I'd like to hear a good evidenced discussion of "cursed objects" myself.
For the most part his discussions of those things appear to be informative and useful, however. But now he's talking about The Bohemian Grove and this is a different kind of territory that needs a different kind of treatment and his methods become very questionable. There's nothing Christian about it so it isn't a heresy. There's nothing even religious about it, so you can't really discuss any symbolism in it the way you can discuss the Masonic symbols. It's not an occultic discipline where supernatural occurrences can be expected as expressions of Satan. Yet all of the above is how it is getting treated by Johnson and some others.
It's a fraternity, similar to the Skull and Bones club which he also discussed a while back and treated the same way.
World leaders go to these things, so their rituals, and especially their secrecy, can appear to have a lot of sinister implications, especially in this time of the end, but he takes what are not PROVABLY anything more than sinister implications and treats them as fact and reality. He almost puts heads of state on the same plane as, oh, Aleister Crowley or Madame Blavatsky, although all he has to go on is their attendance at and enjoyment of these fraternal groups, and some facts about the entertainments provided at their events, in which dark occultic rituals are supposedly discerned.
At the summer three-week camp-out at Bohemian Grove, there's a ritual of "human sacrifice" for instance, involving an effigy of a dead body (it "speaks" but it's called a "dead" body), that they call "the Cremation of Care," a metaphor for doing away with the cares and worries of their stressed lives for the duration of the event. The effigy is named Dull Care. As you can see from the picture to the right, taken in the early days of the club, it had pretty primitive origins, but in more recent years it's acquired some sophisticated trappings, involving some symbols of pagan religion and its gods, a high priest in robes and pointy hat, fireworks and a huge bonfire, pompous words, appeals to the huge owl statue "deity" and so on.
This ritual originated as part of a play or musical production the group puts on every year during this event, from its earliest days over a hundred years ago. The paganesque ritual was originally part of the play but got moved to the first day of the event, according to Wikipedia, where it now does function as a mock religious invocation of blessing and exorcism of cares and worries for the gathering.
The event in the California redwoods was originally a party for the Bohemian Club, which was founded in San Francisco in 1872. The club was started by a group of San Francisco actors. ACTORS. Actors like to act. They like to put on plays. They do a number of performances at different locations within the Bohemian Grove during the summer camp, which is a grove of huge California redwoods that is part of Muir Woods.
At one early camp they put on a play that included a mock pagan sacrifice. It took on a life of its own over the years. Is this the same thing as the practice of witchcraft, as Johnson and others say? REALLY?
Well, they do indeed say such things.
Apparently somebody named Alex Jones crashed a Bohemian Grove event and filmed this Cremation of Care, and has been going around accusing the members of this club of sinister intentions -- and even mere invitees who have never attended. The film at You Tube shows the "sacrifice" or Cremation to be a huge bonfire with men in robes standing around like priests, in which a wooden effigy is burned, but rather than recognize it as a dramatic production, they treat it as an actual pagan ritual involving the demon god Moloch in the figure of a 40-foot statue of an owl (although in historical reality there was never any connection between Moloch and the owl).
Johnson spends much time detailing the meaning of the symbolism of the giant owl statue, which takes him off into connections between the owl and various goddesses starting with the evil Lilith. Lore of Lilith is explored, a demonic entity connected with Satan, in occultic tales the first wife of Adam, with various spinoffs in goddesses of many cultures and so on and so forth. She's a succubus spirit that is assocated with the owl, whose symbolism is also explored, and with the killing of babies, abortion, etc. etc. etc. He also goes into the meaning of Moloch, although he was unable to find any connection between Moloch and owls. All of this is more or less interesting in itself but you have to ask what it has to do, really, with these wealthy and powerful men cavorting about the California redwoods for a few weeks in the summer. You SHOULD ask yourself that very seriously. He doesn't ask it, he simply ASSUMES that if such symbolism can be found in occultic lore, if you can associate an evil goddess with an owl idol and so on and so forth, then you've found The True Evil Reason for the gathering. He doesn't seem to question it for a moment, just as his sources on the subject of the Bohemian Grove don't. Jones and Johnson are not alone among Christians in this turning of art (however silly, however bad) into reality.
This is ridiculous, perniciously ridiculous. Typical nineteenth-century rationalist mentality was probably the mindset of the early attendees, which included an attitude of anti-religion of all sorts unless it was vaguely deistic in some cases. The owl would simply represent knowledge or wisdom to such men. A giant owl statue would naturally lend itself as "deity" in a mock pagan ritual of some sort once it entered their minds to enact one. It's mockery, it's jokery, it's tongue in cheek. This is typical sophomoric or high-school level "high jinks" to use a slang term from the era of the BG's founding -- and that's what they call their performances, High Jinks and Low Jinks, according to the Wikipedia article. From a Christian point of view there's evil enough in such antics and certainly nothing to be praised in any of it, but we're talking about UNBELIEVERS, here (perhaps some nominal "Christians" -- same thing) and we should at least try to get THEIR take on it. They don't BELIEVE in Satan, they don't BELIEVE there's anything to pagan rites or anything else that invokes a real supernatural. It's all drama to them, or maybe a kind of "therapy."
That Wikipedia article has a sane comment on the Jones view of it:
On July 15, 2000, Austin, Texas-based filmmaker Alex Jones and his cameraman, Mike Hanson, infiltrated the Grove. With a hidden camera, Jones and Hanson were able to film the Cremation of Care ceremony. The footage was the centerpiece of Jones' documentary Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove. Jones claimed that the Cremation of Care was an "ancient Canaanite, Luciferian, Babylon mystery religion ceremony," and that the owl statue was Moloch. The Grove and Jones' investigation were covered by Jon Ronson in Channel 4's four-part documentary, Secret Rulers of the World. Ronson documented his view of the ritual in his book, Them: Adventures With Extremists, writing that it was a startling, immature, and bizarre way for world leaders to spend their summer vacations, but that he did not see evidence of covert Satanism. According to his description of the account it was nothing more than a fraternity-esque ritual, and the only reason one could see it as Satanic was if one were looking for Satanism in it to begin with.Well said: A "startling, immature and bizarre way for world leaders to spend their summer vacations." Indeed. For sure. Comment on THAT for starters! But Satanism, overt or covert? THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR THAT. It's all silly adolescent mockery, blasphemous at times no doubt but Satanic? THAT idea is silly, and it's unbecoming of CHRISTIANS to make such unreasonable and uncharitable accusations.
Again, I'm not even going to insist that it's perfectly innocent. Even a mock pagan ritual could attract not-so-mock demonic spirits. But we're surrounded by them all the time anyway, and they know how to seduce people without any ritual involved at all.
As an event, the Bohemian camp-out reminds me of the far more truly pagan Burning Man event which takes place every August on the backside of the Nevada desert, that concludes a few days of hippie style carryings-on with the burning of a gigantic wooden effigy of a man. They even name their separate camps in a way that suggests they took the Bohemian Grove as part of their model. It's a sort of poor-man's Bohemian Grove, also heavy on "art," some clever, some, well... [there's some partial nudity in those pictures at the link, by the way, pretty mild, but just so you know] but it's hippieish and "psychedelic" in atmosphere, harking back to the 60s rather than the 1890s of the BG, it's not secret, and it's for both sexes. I suspect many TRULY knowledgeable occultists attend Burning Man, Wiccans and so on (though of course they think it's all innocent stuff too), while someone with that kind of knowledge simply must be a rarity if not altogether nonexistent among the membership of the Bohemian Grove.
Even if attendees at the Bohemian Grove might possibly be affected by any such supernatural influences, I have to surmise based on what they convey in their public lives that they themselves don't regard any of it as supernatural anyway. ALL THE SIGNS ARE THAT THEY DO NOT. They sincerely regard it as merely a club, a gathering for recreation and socializing. There are interviews with some of them at You Tube, forced on them by these paranoid accusers, sad to say, by accosting them on the street or calling in to their talk shows, but it is clear from how they answer that they find the whole idea repulsive and ridiculous. Just listen to them. You can find them all at You Tube. Get the Alex Jones "expose" video up and the rest should show up in the column to the right. Actually, most of these have never attended a BG event, though they have been invited: These include David Gergen, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, ex-President Bush, ex-President Clinton. THEY ARE BEING HONEST, and all the suspiciousness and insinuation against them is uncalled for. Gergen denounces the infiltration of the Grove, Hannity calls the accusations insane, Rush laughs, Bush asks for a rational discussion to clear things up, Clinton has the guy removed from the meeting and so on. But those who are of a mind to accuse them hear something else in their statements. Any objection, sense of offense or outright denial is always going to be read by such an accusing mentality as a confirmation, such is their twisted logic.
Really, all you have to do is know something about the public personality of any of these people by having watched them on TV and anybody who has a normal ability to read character, who has a sane understanding of how people work, can't possibly think they are guilty of Satan worship. Trying to link what I know about the personalities involved with the insinuations against them is an exercise in cognitive dissonance to the point of absurdity.
I EMPHASIZE: The kind of people who go to the Bohemian Grove generally DON'T BELIEVE IN THAT SUPERNATURAL STUFF. They think it's all psychological metaphor.
In this discussion of the Bohemian Grove, Johnson mentions a book called Trance Formation of America by one Cathy O'Brien who claims to have experienced mind control and been exploited at the Bohemian Grove. I looked the book up at Amazon and COME ON, Mr. Johnson, if you read the reasonable One-Star reviews of that book (as opposed to the pantingly convinced 5-star reviews) you have to see that her allegations LACK EVIDENCE. You have to have EVIDENCE for such claims. You can't just rattle off your personal experience and expect that to suffice. You could have made it up or half dreamed it or who knows what. YOU NEED EVIDENCE, which according to the reviews it should be easy enough to produce if the story is true. Wikipedia also questions the credibility of the book. And unfortunately Scott Johnson's acceptance of it also speaks against his credibility.
Johnson seems to have a strange gap in his understanding of what constitutes evidence as he gullibly falls for things of this sort, and even CALLS THEM "DOCUMENTATION." (Gee, if it's written on paper isn't that documentation?) No, Dr. Johnson, that is NOT documentation. (in the case of Cathy O'Brien he claims he discovered the same information in research on his own as she reports in her book, but without the objective documentation that MUST be available if the witness is true, that doesn't count for anything either). And you are definitely guilty of slander of many people because you are not careful about such things. Talk to the Lord about it -- honestly.