The international evangelical organization whose Christian claims on government became an issue in the governor’s race is back in Honolulu this week.
But this time it appears that no local political leader is participating in the “Transform Our World” conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village presented by Harvest Evangelism and the International Transformation Network.
The office of Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona says the event is not on his public schedule. As did the offices of other elected leaders.
It’s difficult to know whether any Hawaii public official is attending this year because the conference is private. Civil Beat was told by the group’s press officer that none of the sessions would be public.
Aiona made an issue out of his relationship to the organization just before election day when he denounced what he described as “despicable attacks” by a senior member of his opponent’s campaign. He accused Neil Abercrombie‘s social media director of directing the public to a video that he says gives the false impression that he embraces the organization.
In an interview with Civil Beat, Aiona downplayed his involvement with the group to a single occasion. But a search of the public record, including web pages that are no longer available but were found using a service that archives web pages, found strong evidence that casts serious doubt on Aiona’s claim that his “only involvement” with its founder Ed Silvoso was at a religious conference in Argentina in 2006.
It’s unclear why, given the statements Aiona has made in support of the group, he would minimize his involvement with it, unless the words of Aiona that Silvoso has shared might have negative political fallout, both short-term for the campaign and long-term for any future political office.
The Civil Beat investigation of the lieutenant governor’s involvement stemmed from an interview published Oct. 25. The entire text of the section where Aiona discusses his relationship with Silvoso is below.
Civil Beat Reporter-Host Chad Blair: There’s talk about how International Transformation, Harvest Evangelism have been involved in Uganda and may be influencing the government there about homosexuality. Do you have any connection with that at all?
Aiona: None. I have no knowledge on that. None. My involvement with Harvest Evangelism is through a person by the name of Ed Silvoso who comes to Hawaii periodically. In fact, I went to one of his international conferences in Argentina and that’s been my only involvement with him and it was strictly a religious conference that was not connected…it wasn’t anything that was out of the ordinary in regards to just a Christian conference. And I don’t know anything about Uganda and what their policy is in regards to Uganda. Except that I know when that allegation came out I know that they corrected, they tried to correct (the) record and say that wasn’t their policy etc.. But I don’t know anything about that.
Civil Beat first submitted its questions to Aiona’s team on Oct. 30 and repeated its request one more time before the election. Our most recent attempt to contact the lieutenant governor about the topic came this week when we were told we would need to request a new interview. Silvoso did not respond to a direct requests for an interview or a request through an intermediary.
Here’s what our reporting revealed:
In February 2005, Silvoso published a “Silvoso News” newsletter, prominently featuring Aiona. A section with the headline “The Pacific Theater,” cited Hawaii as “a particularly potent example” of a place in the forefront of transformation.
As part of his “dossier” on “the effort in Hawaii,” something he calls “Theater of Operation: Hawaii,” Silvoso wrote:
RECENT INTELLIGENCE: One of the most significant spiritual acts in modern times took place in Hawaii when on December 8, 2004, Lt. Governor Duke Aiona issued a proclamation (see text below) dedicating Hawaii to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a manifestation of the emerging transformation in the Hawaiian marketplace. Never before has such a high official publicly and without reservations turned an entire state over to Jesus!
Prayer of Dedication over Hawai’i Led by Lt. Governor Duke Aiona December 8, 2004
Right now, Whether we feel it or not, Whether we know it or not, Whether our circumstances show it or not, We declare, By faith, In our Lord Jesus Christ, That He is the Light of the World. He is the Light of Hawai’i.
And we invite you, Lord, To be the light of our school, To be the light of our community, To be the light of our city, To be the light of our island, To be the light of our state, To be the light of all of Hawai’i!
And we declare, That our school, Will become God’s school. Our community, Will become God’s community. Our city, Will become God’s city.
Our island will become God’s island. Our state will become God’s state. Our Hawai’i will become God’s Hawai’i. Lord Jesus Christ, As it is heaven, So also in Hawai’i, Let Your kingdom come! Let your will be done! Amen!
A short segment of the prayer also appears in a promotional video titled “Transformation in Hawaii.”
Later in 2005, Aiona was listed in a color brochure as a “faculty member” at Silvoso’s “Light the Bay II” conference in the San Francisco Bay Area in August, 2005. To see the brochure, click here.
The page about Aiona in the brochure describing faculty for the event says of the lieutenant governor, “He is Honorary Chair and active participant in ‘Transformation Hawaii’.”
A July 21, 2005 article in the Almaden Times Weekly, serving San Jose, California’s Almaden Valley, says “some of the conference’s speakers include Hawaii’s Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona as well as other respected public and private sector leaders.”
A Harvest Evangelism newsletter confirms that Aiona attended:
During Light the Bay several of this group, including the mayor, participated in a private lunch with the Mayor of Elk River and the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii.
We don’t know how Aiona reconciles his attendance and participation in Light the Bay with his statement that he’s only been involved with Silvoso once.
Aiona attends International Transformation Network conference in Argentina in November 2006 and records a video testimonial for use in promoting future Silvoso conferences. This is the one involvement with Silvoso that Aiona acknowledges.
In a 2008 brochure for a Harvest Evangelism Global Summit in Argentina, right under a picture of “Institute Host Ed Silvoso,” is a quote from Aiona, identified as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor:
It has taken me 9000 miles away from home – to understand what is happening in Uganda and what is happening in Argentina, what is happening in cities across the US and other nations around the world.
Aiona has had much more “involvement” with Silvoso than he admitted in his interview with Civil Beat.
To track their relationship, Civil Beat put together the following chronology and collection of documents.
|December 2004||Appears in photograph with Ed Silvoso in Hawaii published on Harvest Evangelism site||Link|
|December 2004||Appears in promotional video for Transformation Hawaii DVD on Harvest Evangelism site dedicating Hawaii schools to God||Link||Video|
|February 2005||Appears in Silvoso News newsletter on Harvest Evangelism site under “Theater of Operations: Hawaii”||Link|
|August 2005||Appears as “Faculty” alongside Ed Silvoso in advertisement for Light the Bay II on Harvest Evangelism site||Link|
|December 2005||Newsletter confirms Aiona attendance at Light the Bay||Link|
|December 2005||Identified as “Honorary Chair and active participant in Transformation Hawaii” on Harvest Evangelism site||Link|
|November 2006||Attends International Transformation Network conference in Argentina and appears in promotional video||Video|
|October 2008||Appears in promotional brochure for 18th International Nation Transformation conference in Argentina on Harvest Evangelism site||Link|