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New Ipswich Select Board plans special meeting to address controversial evangelist’s week-long traveling tent revival 

  • A photo on Torben Sondergaard's Facebook page from the Des Plaines, Illinois events. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/3/2020 3:38:46 PM

The New Ipswich Select Board will hold a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss a planned tent revival event led by controversial Danish evangelist Torben Sondergaard.

Sondergaard’s “The Last Reformation” is an evangelical organization which practices faith healing and claims that conditions like autism can be cured by casting out demons via baptism.

Last week, the organization made headlines in Illinois, where The Last Reformation held a series of revival events in Des Plaines during which hundreds of people camped and gathered under tents, violating the city’s face covering and social distancing orders.

Concerns over the revival acting as a COVID-19 super-spreader event led the Des Plaines city council to impose stricter face covering orders that extended to private property where large groups gather. 

Sondergaard called those orders a “Socialist agenda” in a letter purportedly sent to President Donald Trump.

“Our freedom to worship is now being attacked by an overinflated COVID-19 pandemic Trojan horse,” Sondergaard told the Des Plaines, Illinois Patch.

On his social media feed, Sondergaard has often likened the COVID-19 pandemic to the “end times” and posted information – flagged by Facebook as false – about the harmful side effects of wearing masks. “It’s not about the virus, it’s about the end times, it is about control, fear, manipulation, lies, fake news, all of that,” Sondergaard said in a video posted to YouTube.

The Last Reformation’s “Mobile Pioneer Training School” is set to come to New Ipswich Aug. 14-23 for a series of events at Republican State Representative Paul Somero’s sweeping Locke Road property, which has been used in the past for music/worship festival Hillfest, among other events.

The event page encourages those traveling to attend the revival meetings to stay at local campgrounds and hotels, shop locally and eat out in local restaurants. Previous training school events have included members going out into the local community to recruit new members and perform acts of faith healing.

Sondergaard’s organization has been labeled a “cult” by former members as well as Danish anti-cult group InsideOut. Last year, Sondergaard moved with his family from Denmark to North Carolina, claiming religious persecution forced him from his home country – a claim InsideOut chair Camilla Johnson said is untrue.

“We simply want to let you know and stress that this claim is not true,” Johnson told the Des Plaines Patch. “Instead, we do suspect that Torben Sondergaard fraudulently claims he is entitled to asylum in the U.S. and he is using his position as a leader to coerce his followers to comply and participate in this scheme.”

The Select Board’s special meeting takes place Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. at the town offices.




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