Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Long, but worth your time


In this Daily Kos article, a fellow infiltrates some of the more radical Christian sects, and gets a close-up look at how they operate.

It's long, but worth your time. Here's a bit to whet your appetite:

Quietly choosing to study my cousin`s church... and its neighbors... and its national machinations, although there is a lot to worry about, I believe the keys to turning back the tide are there to take. My cousin was a real ultra-serious wingnut the first time I came out to visit the family in Nevada. The first time he got into financial trouble and couldn't just dole out time and money to his evangelical church, they turned on him. They shunned his kids and humiliated his wife (about her being overweight when they had 'no' money for their obligations) in front of all of their friends. Just to be clear, they didn't talk to me knowing that I was going to do this. They are taking their social beating and going back for more. But the pain has loosened their tongues. A lot.

Infiltrating the TNPG (Tuesday Night Prayer Group):

Prayer groups and bible study groups are important all across the evangelical spectrum, the flock will tell you, because prayer and knowing your bible is the most important thing in a believer`s life. If you are in an evangelical institution you are going to get asked why weren't you in church, why you didn't come to last Tuesday's prayer group, why weren't you in bible study this week by the people that you come to know. But here is the thing: as you get closely involved in the prayer meetings... you soon discover that actual prayer and bible study is less than a quarter of what is actually going on week to week. The rest is politics, planning for political action, and pushing/selling products that have to be purchased to `understand` Christ's will.

This was how Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was 'cocoanut telegraphed' into its success. Preachers didn't call from the pulpit to see the Passion nearly as much as we thought they did, that is a misunderstanding of how the evangelicals operate based on remembering TV evangelists ranting on a screen. Its much more sophisticated and tailored than that, but rather they showed videotaped movie previews of the film in the more intimate setting of their prayer groups. It's a spiritual Tupperware party. Even in these churches have grown so large, and unwieldy in some cases, that standing up in front of two thousand people and saying `go see this' is the show, but the scale of these crowds can lessen its punch. They do use the pulpit, sure. But by having cells of believers subdivided into manageable groups for individual selling sessions, you get the control of a salesman making a presentation to a small group of consumers to really drive it home. Like a Tupperware lady gathering up 12 of her friends to push Tupperware sets as opposed one man or woman alone on a stage. It works in large and small churches. It is done in large and small churches. And almost all of the "stuff "at their disposal is carefully prepared by conservative Republican groups, think tanks, and evangelical `franchise' organizations that are run like McDonalds. (You pay a fee, or pay as you go, and your particular church is folded into the network as a 'partner' church or an affiliated church and you are now an outlet -part of that nationwide 'fast religion' information franchise- for their materials and you get packages of carefully consumer tested materials to aid you in your goals. )

The whole article, although a bit unpolished, is worth the look and very insightful.


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