Matt Taibbi Goes to a Christian Retreat

You may know of journalist Matt Taibbi because of his articles in Rolling Stone and his reporting on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Next month, Taibbi’s book The Great Derangement will be published.

Matt discovered in his travels across the country that the resilient blue state/red state narrative of American politics had become irrelevant. A large and growing chunk of the American population was so turned off—or radicalized—by electoral chicanery, a spineless news media, and the increasingly blatant lies from our leaders (“they hate us for our freedom”) that they abandoned the political mainstream altogether. They joined what he calls The Great Derangement.

Taibbi tells the story of this new American madness by inserting himself into four defining American subcultures: The Military, where he finds himself mired in the grotesque black comedy of the American occupation of Iraq; The System, where he follows the money-slicked path of legislation in Congress; The Resistance, where he doubles as chief public antagonist and undercover member of the passionately bonkers 9/11 Truth Movement; and The Church, where he infiltrates a politically influential apocalyptic mega-ministry in Texas and enters the lives of its desperate congregants. Together these four interwoven adventures paint a portrait of a nation dangerously out of touch with reality and desperately searching for answers in all the wrong places.

Part of his book recounts a trip to an overnight Christian fellowship. He found out about the retreat from advertising at that aforementioned church — Pastor John Hagee‘s Cornerstone Church.

Here are a few excerpts of his faith-based weekend, courtesy of Rolling Stone (names below were changed in the book for privacy reasons):

… there is something very odd about modern Christian men — although fiercely pro-military in their politics and prehistorically macho in their attitudes toward women’s roles, on the level of day-to-day behavior they seem constantly ready to break out weeping like menopausal women…

[Pastor Phil] Fortenberry then started in on a rant against science and against scientific explanations for cycles of sin. “Take homosexuals,” he said. “Every single homosexual is a sexual-abuse victim. They are not born. They are created — by pedophiles.”

The crowd swallowed that one whole. One thing about this world: Once a preacher says it, it’s true. No one is going to look up anything the preacher says, cross-check his facts, raise an eyebrow at something that might sound a little off. Some weeks later, Pastor John Hagee himself would assert that the Bible predicts that Jesus Christ is going to return to Earth bearing a “rod of iron” to discipline the ACLU. It goes without saying tht the ACLU was not mentioned in the passage in Ezekiel he was citing — but the audience ate it up anyway. When they’re away from the cameras, the preachers feel even less obligated to shackle themselves to facts of any kind. That’s because they know that their audience doesn’t give a shit. So long as you’re telling them what they want to hear, there’s no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.

A team of twenty of the world’s leading scientists wouldn’t be able to convince so much as one person in this crowd that homosexuals are not created by pedophiles.

By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstacy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.

By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you’ve gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.

I can’t say much about the first excerpt; I’m no expert on the modern Christian man.

But as for the others, I did notice in my own church visits that there was very little time (if any) for questions even when the pastors said some ridiculous things (even outside Biblical stories).

My own fact-checking did reveal errors in what some pastors said.

I did hear unnecessary attacks on non-Christians.

I want to be more optimistic that Christians who attend these types of churches have the mind to disagree with at least some of what they hear. Taibbi makes me think this happens far less than I imagine. I haven’t come across very many people who think like Hagee, but they obviously exist.

To those of you know who more about this: Is this problem as rampant as he makes it out to be? Have any of you attended these retreats and had similar experiences?


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • cipher

    Not being part of that world, I don’t know how prevalent this kind of scenario is. If what we encounter online is any indicator, I’d have to assume it’s fairly common.

    Naturally, “Liberal” evangelicals tell us that we only focus on the extremists, and that they don’t represent all evangelicals. I see the same sort of denial in the Jewish world. For decades, the ultra-Orthodox (the black hat and coat crowd) have been taking over Orthodox Judaism. The more assimilated Modern Orthodox react in much the same way as do “Liberal” or “Progressive” evangelicals; they’re embarrassed, they prefer to ignore the problem and they insist that the fundies are a minority – even as fundamentalist attitudes infiltrate their own ranks.

    I must say that Taibbi’s assessment of their mind states is just about the most insightful I’ve ever encountered – You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy and Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons. Absolutely spot-on. I keep saying it here – it’s a form of addiction. It needs to be viewed – and dealt with – as such.

  • http://pastorwick.blogspot.com WICK

    Actually was just given Hagee’s book by someone. Didn’t know much about him. It is frightening the amount of influence he and others like him have over people who have given up their right to even own their faith, let alone combine it with their ability to think.

    I doubt this article in Rolling Stones will go very far in terms of a dialogue between communities.

    But if the Church can’t quiet someone like Hagee…maybe Rolling Stones will at least cause less people to listen to his shouting. We can hope.

  • http://dcberner.blogspot.com Derek

    I can’t say much about the first excerpt; I’m no expert on the modern Christian man.

    Oh, yes, growing up Christian, it was considered quite masculine to be able to weep on command.

    I found it disturbing and superficial. I also thought that my visceral reaction was Satan trying to lead me astray.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I want to be more optimistic that Christians who attend these types of churches have the mind to disagree with at least some of what they hear. Taibbi makes me think this happens far less than I imagine.

    I’d think he’d need to be a little more immersed in that subculture than just one weekend retreat to really make the claim that no one is doing any critical thinking at all.

    In my experience (not that most of my experiences were quite as extreme as the Hagee set) there are a quite a few quietly discontent people in any church. As you say Hemant, questions are discouraged or at least not made room for, so most of these people tend not to voice their disagreements with what is being said from the pulpit, but they are there, and I’ve been discovering that there are more of them out there than most pastors realize. Just like Obama can attend Trinity UCC without agreeing with everything Jeremiah Wright says, there are lots of people who attend their church for reasons other than because they always agree with whatever their pastor says.

    And then there’s churches like mine where we actively encourage discussion and diversity of opinions, and we are also part of a growing movement.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    questions are discouraged or at least not made room for, so most of these people tend not to voice their disagreements with what is being said from the pulpit, but they are there, and I’ve been discovering that there are more of them out there than most pastors realize.

    I find this to be true as well. I had the same thoughts as I was reading the post.

    And then there’s churches like mine where we actively encourage discussion and diversity of opinions, and we are also part of a growing movement.

    Mike, I’m glad that you are doing this with your church. I know it’s difficult for any leader to have his/her followers constantly challenging what they say. My pastor encourages diversity as well, but he is often criticized for his lack of firmness (as they see it). In any group, the peers can be more of a problem than the leadership. He often finds himself taking the hit to protect the freedom of expression in our church, not to mention the disapproval and criticism from other pastors.

    I don’t know if I’d be able to take that on a regular basis.

  • http://talesofordinarygirl.blogspot.com Ordinary Girl

    I was brought up in churches much like Hagee’s. And that last paragraph was definitely something I came across a great deal, especially in the concept of spiritual warfare. If you believe that demons are purposely putting thoughts into your head, how can you trust your own thoughts? It completely discourages critical thinking.

    The only way I learned to think for myself was to get away from the church while I was in college and see another part of the world. Without that I don’t think I would have ever broken free. I was completely insulated from the world, growing up in Christian schools, with Christian television and music, and also Christian friends. There was nothing outside of the church in my life. Maybe as an adult I would have eventually seen through the BS, but I don’t know if it could have happened without outside influences.

  • sabrina

    As you say Hemant, questions are discouraged or at least not made room for, so most of these people tend not to voice their disagreements with what is being said from the pulpit, but they are there, and I’ve been discovering that there are more of them out there than most pastors realize

    You may know more about this, Mike, but I think the pastors know people are questioning and not believing. I wonder if this is what fuels those ultra-conservative sermons; a kind of, if I say it enough they’ll believe me. And calling anyone who disagrees with them demon possessed. Just from browsing the web, I see many Christian institutions passionately against people like Rob Bell or progressive churches like yours. I think its because they know people are drawn to them, and once people enter those churches, the days of the political Christian right are over. I wonder if that fear of losing political power is fueling these types of retreats/sermons more than anything else.

  • Polly

    Oh, yes, growing up Christian, it was considered quite masculine to be able to weep on command.

    I found it disturbing and superficial.

    The youth pastor at the church I (now seldom) attend cries EVERY GODDAMNED time he gets up to the podium, even if he’s just reading the frickin’ announcements! And, yes, he is definitely the Head of his Household at home. HS-Football player, BBQ-griller, hunter, patriarch, and over all macho man…in every other way, that is.

    I am very disturbed by it and wonder if he has some kind of buried, emotional trauma rather than the visiting of the “Holy Spirit” on his heart, as he puts it.

  • Andrew

    A team of twenty of the world’s leading scientists wouldn’t be able to convince so much as one person in this crowd that homosexuals are not created by pedophiles.

    We (Americans) are still a product of our times, and reason is a strong part of how we make decisions. It isn’t that big a stretch to imagine that at least some of the people at that service didn’t agree with the above, quoted statement.

    I try not to make the same kind of absolutist asumptions about the religious that they do about atheists (and other things). It all seems rather silly, not to mention hypocritical, for an atheist to play at that level.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    I want to be more optimistic that Christians who attend these types of churches have the mind to disagree with at least some of what they hear. Taibbi makes me think this happens far less than I imagine.

    I’m not really convinced by this excerpt that Taibbi is necessarily correct that the congregation takes everything the preacher says uncritically. I want to see the evidence. For example, maybe Taibbi could interview a few congregants and ask what they really think.

  • mikespeir

    “I’d think he’d need to be a little more immersed in that subculture than just one weekend retreat to really make the claim that no one is doing any critical thinking at all.”

    I think I would agree with this assessment. I was in this movement for many years and, obviously, I eventually summoned the necessary critical thinking skills to escape. Indeed, I believe the reason the likes of John Hagee have to rant their narrow, fideistic viewpoints from week to week is that they know very well that their congregants will just naturally lapse into critical evaluations of the beliefs if they don’t.

  • Karen

    Taibbi is basing his opinion as an outsider looking in at a highly charged event – a retreat – being put on by a fundamentalist group rather at the extreme end of the spectrum.

    I can understand how it looked frightening from that perspective. Indeed, it would probably frighten anyone to see a leader making such outrageous claims and a group responding so uncritically.

    In my experience, the majority of the group probably is indoctrinated enough to believe most of what Hagee tells them. The criticism of science and the focus on spiritual warfare is very common, and it does make it difficult to counter the arguments.

    However, I’m sure there are dissenters and people who think for themselves. But I’d say they wouldn’t be the core group of this kind of church, and they wouldn’t stay in the church very long if their questions were so effectively quashed.

    And, yes, he is definitely the Head of his Household at home. HS-Football player, BBQ-griller, hunter, patriarch, and over all macho man…in every other way, that is.

    I am very disturbed by it and wonder if he has some kind of buried, emotional trauma rather than the visiting of the “Holy Spirit” on his heart, as he puts it.

    We had a very tough, former Marine and retired missionary who often gave bible studies at my old church. It was a given that he’d get choked up and start weeping every time he took the podium, which got really uncomfortable. I think perhaps men like this are so constrained from expressing any emotion in their everyday lives, they find church freeing in the sense that they can stop being so cut off emotionally.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com Arkonbey

    I’m actually EXTREMELY pissed at the ‘all homosexuals are products of pedophiles’ statement. So much so that I can hardly remember the rest of the article.

    I’d like them to meet my mother-in-law’s brother: A happy, well-adjusted, intelligent, funny guy, who happens to be a homosexual in a long-term monogamous relationship (with another really nice guy). As far as I know, he was never abused by anyone. Even the merest thought that someone would suggest that a family member had done the deed or had even allowed it to happen makes me seethe; this family is the most open, giving, accepting and loving family I have ever had the honor and pleasure to meet, let alone be a part of.

    In a related note, my wife an I have both hung out, talked, ate with this guy and his partner. We’ve even *gasp* hugged them and yet, our marriage still persists and our love has not been diminished at all by the fact that they are together.

  • cipher

    We had a very tough, former Marine and retired missionary who often gave bible studies at my old church. It was a given that he’d get choked up and start weeping every time he took the podium, which got really uncomfortable. I think perhaps men like this are so constrained from expressing any emotion in their everyday lives, they find church freeing in the sense that they can stop being so cut off emotionally.

    I think that accounts for much of the attraction of groups like Promise Keepers as well.

    It has seemed to me over the years that there is a disproportionate number of former jocks and military types among fundie ministers. Has anyone else had this impression?

  • James F

    I don’t have any insight into the fundamentalist evangelical Christian tradition, but for what it’s worth I have yet to hear an anti-homosexual or anti-atheist homily at a Catholic mass. There are often prayers for the unborn, but not in the form of promising damnation for abortion doctors. So while there is a strong sense of doctrine it tends to focus on charitable works and leading a good life rather than condemning others.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Karen said,

    I think perhaps men like this are so constrained from expressing any emotion in their everyday lives, they find church freeing in the sense that they can stop being so cut off emotionally.

    and cipher said,

    It has seemed to me over the years that there is a disproportionate number of former jocks and military types among fundie ministers. Has anyone else had this impression?

    hmm… Karen brings up a good point. And what cipher said makes me think, although I don’t know if there really is a “disproportionate number” of them.

    Men are traditionally expected to always be the provider… strong, able, and always in control (more so in some cultures than others). I’ve always felt that is a tremendous burden on the men in general. They are human, after all. They have emotions. I can see why Christianity is appealing to them, in that it allows them to let go and be vulnerable for a change without being judged by the group.

    I don’t think that part is such a bad thing, is it?

  • Bostonian

    We (Americans) are still a product of our times, and reason is a strong part of how we make decisions. It isn’t that big a stretch to imagine that at least some of the people at that service didn’t agree with the above, quoted statement. I try not to make the same kind of absolutist asumptions about the religious that they do about atheists (and other things). It all seems rather silly, not to mention hypocritical, for an atheist to play at that level.

    Hear, hear. We do have to be careful of stereotyping. And I’d also assume some of these people think independently and disagree with many of the things that are said.

    That said, if a few people do think independently, what are they doing in one of these a megachurches? And why aren’t they speaking up (or leaving) when they hear things they disagree with? It’s safe to say that at least in these extreme examples, most people present are happy to be there, and agree with the pastors most of the time.

  • http://redwinegums.wordpress.com Red Wine Gums

    Hey,

    Love the blog and will have to check out your book. A few points.

    1. I think John Hagee is a certifed heretic at this stage as he denies Jesus to be the Son of God. Obviously for us Christians that’s a rather important point.

    2. If you take the recent Reverend Wright/Obama incident as an example; those preaching from a pulpit can say a whole range of crazy things. There’s been many a time I’ve sat in a meeting and exchanged knowing glances with friends about stuff that’s been said. Logical fallacies and leaps tend to abound on occasion.

    3. The manner, according to the Bible, in which a false teacher should be dealt with is to be counselled and taken aside. It should be done in a constructive manner. Standing up in the middle of the congregation and shouting, “Burn the heretic!” doesn’t really work.

    4. One figure puts Christian denominations as high as 35,000. Christians between themselves disagree on an incredible amount of issues.There’s certain things people disagree on and are willing to live with. This doesn’t change the fact that there are things said at the pulpit that are bigoted and wrong. And that there are people who believe those wrong bigoted statements

    I’m not sure how much is media presentation. I heard one American pastor mention how he had been invited onto some local news channel in the USA once. He was asked what he would say in relation to Islam and terrorism etc. He wasn’t put on TV because he wasn’t extreme enough for the story the editors wanted to tell.

    For me personally, if there’s something said that I disagree with I’ll sit and stay silent. If it’s something that’s fundamentally wrong or bigoted I’ll walk out. But I’m not your usual Christian in a lot of ways.

  • cipher

    I can see why Christianity is appealing to them, in that it allows them to let go and be vulnerable for a change without being judged by the group.

    I don’t think that part is such a bad thing, is it?

    I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing. I just wish that they could get in touch with their emotions without adopting a belief system that condemns everyone who disagrees with them to hell.

  • cipher

    That said, if a few people do think independently, what are they doing in one of these a megachurches? And why aren’t they speaking up (or leaving) when they hear things they disagree with? It’s safe to say that at least in these extreme examples, most people present are happy to be there, and agree with the pastors most of the time.

    Yeah… I think I have to agree with this. And, even when they don’t agree, the sense of belonging and of having their beliefs validated obviously takes precedence over other concerns.

  • cipher

    I think John Hagee is a certifed heretic at this stage as he denies Jesus to be the Son of God.

    I’ve never heard Hagee say anything of the sort. I have heard him say that he denies dual covenant theology, the idea that Jews have a separate salvific deal with God. On the contrary, he has affirmed that he still holds that no one can get into heaven without Jesus.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    MikeClawson said,

    I want to be more optimistic that Christians who attend these types of churches have the mind to disagree with at least some of what they hear. Taibbi makes me think this happens far less than I imagine.

    I’d think he’d need to be a little more immersed in that subculture than just one weekend retreat to really make the claim that no one is doing any critical thinking at all.

    First off, to Mike Clawson: you do seem very different than the sort of religious fundies that are criticized in the postings and blogs. I bet there are a lot more of you than the people that a lot of us call nutcases, and it’s just the case that the extremists make more noise. As I have said in previous comments, it is educational to see that there is diversity of thought amongst Christians, even though a lot of them discourage it.

    (And if that sounds like I am buttering you up, you are right.) But I think Taibbi is justified in his portrait. Christians cannot make broad, black and white statements about others and then turn around and try to convince people that they are really so so so so nuanced when others criticize them. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  • Aquaria

    I live in San Antonio, not far from the infamous Cornerstone church. It’s almost impossible not to know someone who attends its screeching hate circus…er, services.

    I think it’s valid to say not everyone swallows what Hagee says whole…but it’s really difficult to remain positive when you actually hear his congregants talk about religion or Hagee. It’s “Pastor says this” or “Pastor thinks we mustn’t.” It’s not, as with some of the smaller fundie churches, “The Bible says.” The many Cornerstone members I’ve known don’t read the bible, really. They have one, of course, and will tell you what it says (according to Hagee) when it comes to general things…but they haven’t actually read it. Now all those apologetics books you see in bible bookstores? Those they have read. Cornerstone junkies are never without one.

    Some of the more “studious” ones will have the apologetic with a bible opened beside it. Don’t let it fool you. They are looking to see if the reference is accurate, not the meaning of the verse (from their interpretation) or even its context. They don’t see any contradicting verses. Not ever. I played a game with one of the Cornerstone people of for every verse there’s its inverse. I won the argument, but got the distinct honor of having her deacon or whatever they call the bloody fools declare me a heretic and possibly possessed by Satan. And, after pronouncing her church’s assessment of me, she avoided me henceforth.

    I don’t think y’all realize how powerful a hold this church gets over its congregants. If the church says to avoid someone–you do it. I know details of what the church “permits” for dating between single members of the church, and it’s a total control game.

    You wouldn’t believe how many adults go along with these things, how many of them will swallow their doubts or questions and keep going, keep putting money in the church’s till.

  • Sabrina

    I played a game with one of the Cornerstone people of for every verse there’s its inverse

    Now, that sounds like a fun game:) But not if it ends with you being burned at the stake:(

    If the church says to avoid someone–you do it. I know details of what the church “permits” for dating between single members of the church, and it’s a total control game.

    I’m really surprised adults go along with this. I guess thats why they are all pressing for a theocracy..they obviously don’t like freedom too much.

  • Beowulff

    That said, if a few people do think independently, what are they doing in one of these a megachurches? And why aren’t they speaking up (or leaving) when they hear things they disagree with?

    My guess would be that they prefer quietly listening to some things they don’t agree with over being cast out of their community and probably even out of their family.

  • cipher

    I bet there are a lot more of you than the people that a lot of us call nutcases, and it’s just the case that the extremists make more noise.

    You wouldn’t believe how many adults go along with these things, how many of them will swallow their doubts or questions and keep going, keep putting money in the church’s till.

    I’m really surprised adults go along with this. I guess thats why they are all pressing for a theocracy..they obviously don’t like freedom too much.

    I don’t see it as a matter of extremists vs. non-extremists. I think it’s just a matter of degree.

  • Andrew

    That said, if a few people do think independently, what are they doing in one of these a megachurches? And why aren’t they speaking up (or leaving) when they hear things they disagree with? It’s safe to say that at least in these extreme examples, most people present are happy to be there, and agree with the pastors most of the time.

    My guess would be that they prefer quietly listening to some things they don’t agree with over being cast out of their community and probably even out of their family.

    Right. I went to a particular “non-denominational” (but nationally organized) church through my junior-high and high-school years. The reason I started going to the church was friends from a private school that I transferred out of. I then got into the whole church thing. Went to the summer camps. But I never raised my hands during worship, because I never felt it. I really hated worship because of the way it made me feel. Now I believe everyone fakes it and deludes themselves to some extent. I’m proud to say that I never did in that regard.

    So there are lots of reasons people go to church. Community and fellowship are just a couple. And some people just love their God and think the rest is “just details”.

    I have found that the people most likely to leave the church were the ones who are more rational from the get go. These people either believe EVERYTHING about their religion. And if a few things don’t make sense, seem wrong, or are just obviously inaccurate, then their entire faith is legitimately called into question in their own minds. The other type think that faith and God are the important parts, and they just don’t bother with the details.

  • Karen

    cipher:

    I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing. I just wish that they could get in touch with their emotions without adopting a belief system that condemns everyone who disagrees with them to hell.

    Agreed.

  • 5ive

    I went to see a sermon about how only God can provide a basis for morals at a local Mega-church.
    The experience was similar to Taibbi’s in that there was no way or apparent desire to question what the pastor said. The pastor only talks at people. There is no intellectual exchange. There is only one person, telling all 5000 other people what to do, what to think and how to think it. The pastor told all those people that “darwintists” (whom he equates with atheists) can only believe that “Might equals right”. He had it printed on big screens and had his congregation write it out on what looked like mock-lecture notes that were handed out before the service. The message that came across was that without god, morals change and you cannot trust someone whose morals change on a whim or who thinks only along hte lines of “might equals right”. Outside of the gross misrepresentation of the theory of evolution, the congregation left likely to think that atheists have no base for morals and cannot be trusted.
    To be fair, I have engaged in conversation with this pastor and am trying to help him see what his preachings are leaving people with and he is open to listening (which is impressive in itself and should be commended). We will see how all that goes…
    But really, church is not about learning, in fact it is entirely unfavorable to learning as there is no way to question. Not only is there no way to question, the questioning is greatly discouraged. As Taibbi pointed out, the people at a lot of churches are there in an emotional mood, not a logical or objective one. They don’t want to learn, they want to be told they are right. Cognitive dissonance, FTW!

  • absent sway

    From my experience (raised in a small fundamentalist church till age 15 and the rest of high school and college in a large, mainstream evangelical church), there is something to Taibbi’s observations but of course it is not all that is going on. In regards to the truth of his observations, I cannot deny that there is often a streak of anti-intellectualism at work in these groups which is compounded by altered psychological states (especially at retreats, and Taibbi describes it fairly well when he says “…the ecstasy of beating to the same…heart with a roomful of like-minded folks”). In regards to the rest of the story, as Red Wine Gums noted, retreats and Sunday services are not the time to be shouting dissent. If someone in the congregation is having doubts, etc. she’ll struggle through services and retreats and let off some steam in the car with her family on the way to Denny’s after the service, or tell a trusted friend in small group Bible study later. This is often accompanied by scrutinizing oneself for the plank in one’s own eye, and praying for a good attitude, etc. There is a high value placed on loyalty and respect for authority, to the point where asinine things can be spewed from the pulpit long before they are addressed, and are sometimes glossed over in the way one would excuse a rude relative–”Aw, you know Grandpa didn’t really mean it when he said you were fat!” People with lingering doubts usually choose to leave rather than risk causing discord.

  • Richie

    John “fatman” Hagee continues his rants and hatred of anything and everything. I try to tell christians that Hagee is divorced and remarried; he was committing adultery while pastoring a church; after the divorce, he married his paramour: hence, he is living in adultery (according to some christians).
    Hagee does say that one can get into heaven without accepting Jesus. This allows him to bask in the approval of the Israeli government, when he brings loads of his followers and hangers-on to the Holy Land.
    I once heard Hagee preach against… gluttony !! I’m not kidding. Obviously, he doesn’t have any mirrors in his house.
    Please study these televangelists and see exactly what they’re like. Most of them are con artists, liars, hypocrites, often described as “the used car salesmen of religion.”

  • Josie Pena

    I went to an encounter this weekend, and I was very blessed…until you have dealt with demonic forces as I have, you are in the dark. This was my first encounter, with this ministry, I am familiar with this type of deliverance practice so it was not a surprise. As I read the responses to this atheist who cannot be objective on something he has no clue about…it is sad…intellectuals are blinded by their intellect and cannot understand what they cannot comprehend. Someday, the truth will come to light…and at that time, intellect will be of no consequence.