Undercover: Into the Bowels of the Evangelical Movement
No matter what you’ve already read and heard about deranged herds of bookburning tongue-speaking “Christian” wackjobs, there’s always something even worse that’ll have you going “WTF??? Oh. My. God!”
Matt Taibbi went underground and infiltrated a 3-day workshop put on by John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. Aside from being one of John McCain’s friendliest bedfellows, John Hagee is the leader of Christian Zionism. This is the belief that America and Israel should unite for the purpose of speeding up the arrival of Armageddon.
As True Believers all know, Jesus will be reappearing, but not until after Israel is involved in a final bloody showdown with the forces of Satan. And then — ooooohhhh I’m so excited! — the RAPTURE! Come on, let’s get this party started!
When you think of “Christian” demagogues, you probably think of those wacky televised presentations. As Matt Taibbi describes it: “Perfectly groomed people in pale suits and light-colored dresses, smiling and happy and full of the Holy Spirit, robotically singing hymns at the behest of some squeaky-clean pastor with a baritone voice and impossible hair.”
But: “We don't get to see the utterly batshit world they live in, when the cameras are turned off…in other words, there's a ready-for-prime-time stage act — toned down and lip-synced to match a set of PG lyrics that won't scare the advertisers — and then there's the real party backstage, where the spiritual hair really gets let down.” And does it ever!
This is a long article but it’s an excellent read. It has all the suspense of a cop show when somebody goes undercover and infiltrates a vicious gang. Obviously the author came out unharmed since his article was published. But all through the article there’s this nagging tension, this sensation of “oh my God, what if he gets recognized? What if somebody figures out he isn’t one of Them?”
During the final day of the “Encounter Weekend” (as they called it), there was a fire-and-brimstone ceremony for exorcising demons. The workshop leader (his name was Philip Fortenberry) repeatedly yelled out “In the name of Jesus I cast out the demon of _______.” These are the demons that were cast out (in order): Incest. Sexual abuse. Astrology. Lust. Cancer. Handwriting analysis. Intellect. Anal fissures. Philosophy. Pornography. Disconnect.
And the Encounter Weekend wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory Harry Potter anecdote. Philip Fortenberry (again) mesmerized the audience. His nephew had called him up one night, frantic. His two young sons had collapsed on the floor and they were writhing and gasping for air.
“And I said to my nephew, I said, 'It isn't something they've done. It's something you've done.' I told my nephew to look around the house. I said, 'Do you have a copy of Harry Potter?' And he said yes. And I said, 'That's your problem.' So I told him to go get that copy of that book, tear it in half and throw it out the window. So he does it, and guess what? Both of those kids stood up completely recovered, just like that." Praise the Lord.
Damn You Harry Potter!
Enjoy this article. You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. You’ll clench your fist and yell out a few cusswords you haven’t even thought of since high school. And you’ll probably need a massive hit of your favorite drug.
This is a necessary glimpse into America’s seamy underside. It isn’t pretty, but we need to recognize and acknowledge it. And if you’ve ever wondered how rightwing “Christian” demagogues could have so much power — remember, there are millions of Americans who are exactly like the people portrayed in this story.
cross-posted at Bring It On!