The Real Game: Is This Evangelist Serious or Acting?

(via Christian Nightmares)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • RedGreenInBlue

    I’m laughing as I sit here watching the video, comfortably removed in space and time, and I can’t quite imagine that he’s serious. However, if I were sitting in that auditorium and… that happened, I don’t think I’d be laughing at all. I’d be surreptitiously scanning for the nearest exit and preparing to make a run for it in case the audience started getting caught up in the fervour, fake or genuine.

    • Lee Miller

      Having lived in the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture, I can assure you that he’s not acting. He’s 100% serious. He’s simply showing what they believe is the true emotion connected to the horror of all those poor people burning for eternity. He’s freaky and disturbing, but totally authentic.

      • GeraardSpergen

        He could actually believe it – while still putting on a histrionic show for the crowd. Hard to believe he’s that horrified 24/7.

        • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

          Agreed — It may reflect what he believes, but the outburst was definitely acted out. Notice that even after he shifted into weepy mode he could get his words out without choking or stuttering.

      • Shane Corbett

        Yep, I was raised in a church where scenes like this were the norm on sunday night, very sincere and very wrong. What good is a “good” heart if the head that drives it is soooo messed up and lost?

  • Ella Warnock

    THIS is a game!

    • Jim Walsh

      If I were Parker Brothers, I’d sue their asses back into the Stone Age…

      • EdmondWherever

        Is “Opoly” a trademarked suffix?

    • JT Rager

      As a troper, I feel obliged to post this:

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheMoralSubstitute

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

        Brings to mind atheist rap, atheist rock concerts, atheist shoes, atheist church, atheist bibles, and even an atheist version of “Amazing Grace.” Thanks for sharing.

    • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/ Toranse

      My family owned this growing up.

      It’s fucking ridiculous. You don’t really buy a property, you just kinda buy the ability to build a church on one. First one who builds a full church wins, but then you have to help others build their church. It is the most boring shit ever, which is probably why, despite us owning it, I think we only ever pulled it out twice.

      • Ella Warnock

        You could really liven it up a little, though, by employing a little usury so that the Jesus piece could storm in and turn the board over and scatter all the currency and other game characters.

    • invivoMark

      Is that… a wizard hat on that piece? I’m gonna pretend it’s a wizard hat.

      • Ella Warnock

        Heh, good catch.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I’ll guess that he is putting on an act.

    You cannot always tell, with this emotional style of preaching.

  • baal

    The sign in the back ground says liberty-U. It’s real.

  • Randy Meyer

    I’ve always wondered…. is it the heat or the humidity of Hell that is supposed to make it hot? Or is it a dry heat that lacks humidity?

    • David McNerney

      I would imagine that Hell is a lot like a volcano. In fact, you might even make the mistake of thinking that the ancients who wrote about Hell saw a volcano, were unable to explain it and invented the idea that there was an underworld – boiling lakes of fire, brimstone and all that.

      But you would obviously be wrong… Hell must be real and not just a necessary invention to keep your suckers in line.

      • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

        The biblical Hell was originally a burning garbage pit outside of Jerusalem (described in Joshua 15:8). Most large towns and cities – especially under Roman control – would have these places where they disposed of garbage. Though not only that, they’d toss in undesirables such as criminals, radical zealots, and unwanted children.

        • Brad

          The dry heat is bearable. It’s the combination of heat and humidity that makes it feel like hell.

          If there were volcanoes or flaming garbage pits nearby, and if you could get rid of the stench of sulfur and rotting garbage, they would lower the humidity and make hell seem preferable to spending eternity with Jebus’s genocidal dad.

  • averydashwood

    If this is so appallingly horrifying, how come he worships the entity who makes it happen?

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      Hmm, maybe to avoid the appallingly horrifying consequences of not worshiping it.

      • newavocation

        Don’t forget he needs your money too. AC is expensive.

      • phantomreader42

        So, to save his own worthless hide. He’s a coward dedicating his life to sucking off the most evil being imaginable until the end of time.

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

          “Maybe,” I said. I wouldn’t fault him for his cowardice.

        • Nemo

          I’m gonna be real honest here. If I found out fundie Jesus was real, I’d worship too. There is nothing I could do to stop him from crushing the skulls of anyone who doesn’t bow down, so I might as well serve him out of pure self interest alone. That is what is known as a loving relationship.

          • ShoeUnited

            If Fundie Jesus is real, then his father knows my thoughts and actions. So he’d know if I was just trying to fuck him over for a better seat. Revelations mentioned once, may as well bring it up again: Revelation 3:16 http://biblehub.com/revelation/3-16.htm

            Fundie Jesus/God only like devout Christians and devout Atheists. Everyone else he hates. Better to be true to who I am than to suck up. Either way I’m getting tortured, but at least I know I can live with myself for all eternity a little better speaking my mind.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              Exactly. It’s the big flaw in Pascal’s wager. Any god worth a damn would know that I was faking the belief act and send me to hell anyway. So why bother?

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    If he is not acting then it looks like he truly understands the horrific brutality of burning people for eternity. Is there any chance this might lead him to the obvious conclusion that any god that would do this is a twisted immoral monster that is entirely undeserving of worship or praise and that he has been living his life in the service of the most despicable entity in all existence?

    • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/search?q=j.+m.+green&max-results=20&by-date=true J. M. Green

      Probably not.

    • Octoberfurst

      I would say no also. He probably just feels “blessed” that he is on good terms with his “loving God” so he won’t be tortured forever.

    • Golfie98

      If he actually came to that conclusion just think of the problems he would create for himself realising that he is in fact a quisling, A collaborator for a cruel and corrupt power structure to which he tries to pull his fellow man in to be enslaved by.

      Problems down the line there !

    • Baby_Raptor

      Hah, no. He’ll just carry on about how “loving” god is for giving us the ability to kiss his ass to avoid the hell we “deserve” to end up in because of how he created us.

    • Machintelligence

      Here is one of the best answers that I have seen, The author is Brownian on Hank Fox’s blog, back when he was at FTB.

      Oh, no need to worry about the heat. I was just kidding about going to hell. There’s no one there.

      Consider these points:

      1: Heaven has an army. Angels, flaming swords, non-iron chariots, all that. And what is an army for but to defend that which needs to be defended from enemies, external or internal? So heaven is vulnerable.

      2: Hell is full of history’s most tactical masterminds. Alexander, Hannibal, Sun Wu, they’re all there. And if the stories of hell are true, they don’t want to be.

      3: Hell is the worst possible punishment God could come up with. He’s got nothing worse. So what possible deterrent could there be against trying to break out of hell and overthrow heaven? Try and fail, you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t tried at all. You’re still in hell. And if at first you don’t succeed, there’s always tomorrow.

      4: Heaven and hell are both eternal. Infinite in time. If something has a non-zero probability of happening, given an infinite amount of time in which to happen, it will.

      5: Nobody’s heard from God in a long time. Generations ago he was meddling in the day-to-day affairs of mortals, smiting this city, turning that one into a pillar of salt. These days he seems to have turned off his cellphone ringer and didn’t even bother to set his out-of-office email autoresponder.

      Therefore, the inescapable conclusion is not just that heaven will be overthrown by the denizens of hell, it’s highly likely that it’s already happened, and the God that Christians pray to is just a head on a pike.

      • Scott

        This is the whole plot to Supernatural. Mmmmmmm…Sam and Dean. :P

      • 3lemenope

        Point #4 is a problem, because while it is intuitive, it happens to also be completely incorrect.

        The overall thing is still damn funny, though.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    Regardless, it seems like an excellent way to encourage evangelism. Appeal to emotion.

  • Mario Strada

    Serious, and seriously unbalanced.

  • Mark Caesar

    I think he is totally acting. What is he like outside of church? If he is sincere then going on that performance I would imagine he would be on about it incessantly. If he just does that in church then he is an actor for sure. It is possible he’s a fervent believer/fool.

  • Greg G.

    I see it this way. According to Christian theology, the soul is the seat of free will and the possibility of sin is necessary for there to be free will. So, if souls go to heaven, there will be free will in heaven that requires the possibility of sin.

    Revelation tells us that a third of the stars will be swept out of heaven to earth. Since the first star to fall would vaporize the earth, it must be metaphorically referring to a third of the angels being swept out of heaven so it is possible to be cast out of heaven. If a third of the angels can only make it a few thousand years, how long will it take human souls with the possibility of sin to be cast out? It’s only a matter of time before every human soul commits an inevitable sin.

    Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, the heat of hell will not be evenly distributed. The first souls there will be able to settle into the marginally cooler spots. The last souls damned to hell will have to take hotter places. The marginal extra heat will cause an extra marginal amount of suffering. Multiplied by eternity, the extra heat will cause an infinite amount of the extra wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Since it is inevitable that you will be damned to hell eventually, the sooner you get there the better as the latter damned saints will experience an infinite amount of additional suffering than the first arrivals.

    That guy is only making it worse for the temporarily saved. That is, if you believe Christian theology.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Well when you put it that way, how can I not?

    • ShoeUnited

      Revelation also states that God shines with the brilliance and heat of 7 suns and that you have no choice but to praise him for all eternity.

      I don’t know about you, but that sounds like hell.

  • Suzanne

    No, it’s not a game. It’s a scary children’s story. Maybe that’s what he’s realizing…

  • Gitte

    Why don’t they put that energy and passion into helping the homeless and starving. I don’t have any tolerance for people like that who will do anything they can to get you to believe in what they do then they cut you loose. “You’re a believer now, so what if you are homeless and hungry, when you die you will go to heaven”. Bah!

  • Tony Cummo

    ‘snake oil’ springs to mind..

  • Art_Vandelay

    I respect the hell out of this guy. I mean…he’s a complete idiot but if you really think I’m going to hell…you should be freaking out over it. You’d be a moral monster to treat that claim with apathy.

    • EdmondWherever

      …and then a respectable, moral non-monster eventually begins to realize… ?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is not a game!

    That’s correct, it’s not a game. It’s an extortion business, a protection racket. Worship the “God who is love,” and this is very important, bring your money to his “worship me station,” or he will treat you with infinite hate. How is this any different from Guido the neighborhood mobster telling you to pay him to “protect” your store from getting firebombed?

    Whether or not this guy or any other particular sales representative has personally bought into the scare tactic is irrelevant.

    • Mick

      It’s been a protection racket since day one:

      Exodus 30:12
      When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must
      pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no
      plague will come on them when you number them.

      Pay up or die!

  • http://kch.me/ silent0

    As an ex-evangelical I can definitely say that this guy seems legit. Hell is hard if you have a conscience. Christian churches and preachers like this guy do a good job of rationalizing this demented system and explaining that without “God’s grace” we would all deserve to suffer in eternity because we are such dirty rotten sinners to the core (this logic applies even if our worst misdeed was telling a white-lie to our parents or fantasizing about someone of the opposite gender). According to one of my former pastors, we all sin pretty much 24/7 inside of our heads with numerous “rebellious” and “ungrateful” thoughts against our perfect Creator. Blech.

    It’s a powerful system. I was quite motivated to share my faith with any friends who would listen. I was also one of those Christians who memorized Scripture passages so that I could more effectively spread “God’s Word” to strangers that I met. (yeah, I was *that guy*, sorry world)

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      But for people who believe that this stuff is true, that’s the only decent reaction. If someone really believes I’ll go to hell if I don’t believe in their religion, then they should do whatever it takes to keep me out of hell. What kind of horrible person wouldn’t want to keep as many people out of hell as they could. It must be stressful to live that way. Worrying endlessly about every acquaintance (and even yourself). The guilt trip is very powerful and allows religious leaders to manipulate very good and decent people.

      • indorri

        It’s not the only decent reaction. In fact, it’s not a decent reaction. The decent reaction would be to call the wrath of humanity down on hell, find a way to tear it apart into its constituent atoms, cast what’s left into a black hole, then turn that wrath onto the Great Evil that is its creator.

    • SpyPlus

      i was right there with you. :(

  • Thin-ice

    First, I think he believes what he is saying is true. Second, however, is that he IS acting, primarily so he can get the students’ attention and keep it, and get them to buy into believing it as well. That’s his job: he is either a preacher or a professor at a Bible college.
    But if he truly felt it as deeply as he pretends, he would spend every spare waking moment “witnessing” and trying to get non-believers to believe.

  • katiehippie

    He’s the horrifying one. Yikes.

  • indorri

    I’m… honestly not sure whether to laugh at this or be angry. Though that last bit as it was graying out totally made me guffaw.

    I’ve said it before, and I will continue saying it. Anyone who believes in hell, who believes it’s a just system, no matter how much emotion into saying it’s horrible, is morally reprobate.

    • ShoeUnited

      I feel more sorry for the people like the pastor above. He’s trapped in an abusive relationship he had no choice in joining and can’t clearly see a way out.

      I don’t hate Stockholm Syndrome victims.

  • advancedatheist

    But if you go to hell, won’t you know for sure that your earthly life had meaning and purpose after all?

    Makes you wonder what this guy thinks of Calvinism. Calvinists apparently believe that you have absolutely no control over you eternal destiny, so that if god condemns you to spend eternity with him in heaven, you can’t do anything about it; in other words, you can’t refuse or rebel.

    • ShoeUnited

      These kinds believe in free will, calvinists believe in predestination. So, he believes people have a choice. That’s what fills his fear.

  • diogeneslamp0

    Maaaster Thespian!

  • EdmondWherever

    I want to get so ANGRY at this guy, and everyone who listens raptly to him! If he’s acting, then I want to slap him in the face! If he’s NOT acting… then I want to slap him in the face! Why is the creator of this system WORTH WORSHIPPING? How can people tell you that this is a loving and just god, and then this all STILL makes sense?
    I’m CERTAIN, that by Christian standards, my “S.O.U.L.” is broken, and needs Jesus to fix it. I’m gay, I’m an atheist, and I don’t feel much like repenting or seeking atonement for those things, let alone whatever “sins” I’ve committed and haven’t apologized for to anyone other than those I directly wronged. I’m certainly not asking the SKY for forgiveness.
    For this, I should burn. I DESERVE it. Forever. Pain that never ends should be my “punishment” for feeling sexual and romantic attraction towards my own gender (something I cannot control), and for pursing that attraction of course, even with other like-minded consenting adults, and also for finding stories about magic (and loving torture?) unbelievable. For these “crimes”, I must be locked out of any kind of happy eternity, and permanently sentenced to despair, pain, and then more despair and pain. For all eternity. Because of the way that I feel love, and how I feel about stories with magic.
    Christians BELIEVE that I DESERVE this punishment. They believe that it represents justice and righteousness for me to receive this punishment (and never STOP receiving it, EVER). It’s moral for this to happen. No matter how HORRIFICALLY they may describe it, you will NEVER hear a Christian say that they believe it’s WRONG for God to do this, to run the universe this way.
    And then they wonder why I don’t believe them? They wonder how atheists can BE atheists. That all makes perfect sense to them, not only in its own context, but also in the context of eternal love, eternal existence, and eternal foreknowledge of events. Some bizzare, incomprehenisble mental blockage prevents them from understanding how we see this entire doctrine as disgusting, inhumane, flawed, and infinitely unprovable. They’re actually at a LOSS as to why we don’t embrace this system, and recognize it as undeniably, obviously true.
    FUCK! Really??? Sigh.
    /rantsorry

  • sdfgsdfg

    I think the biggest fear that professional evangelists have, is that the “flocks” will start shrinking as more and more people lose their blind delusional “faith”, and that their income stream will start disappearing.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    If you had the power of God, would you allow Hell to continue to exist?

  • Mick

    He’s just getting his rocks off. Trying to put himself in the position of the victims in order to appreciate how much better off he will be when he gets to heaven.

    Here’s what other Christians have said about watching their friends and relatives burning in hell:

    Johann Gerhard: The Blessed will see their friends and relations among the damned as often as they like but without the least of compassion.

    Thomas Aquinas: In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.

    Jonathan Edwards: Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell … I tell you, yea! Such will be his sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish his bliss.

    St. Anthony Mary Claret: A mother will look from paradise upon her own condemned son without being moved, as though she had never known him

    And more recently

    J.I. Packer (Christianity Today Magazine, April 22, 2002): Love and pity for hell’s occupants will not enter our hearts.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      So apparently all your sense of compassion is removed when you go to heaven? In what sense are you then still even you?
      And, on a related note, if compassion is removed from those in heaven, why would a Catholic expect any results from praying to a saint for intercession? According to this, the saint should not be expected or able to care.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Yep. Eternal life death can only work if everything that makes a person a person is removed from them. And ha! I hadn’t considered the saint thing before.

      • Obazervazi

        Honestly, I find Heaven even more terrifying than Hell.

  • MadAxeMan

    To borrow a line from the late great Christopher Hitchens – “He’s so full of shit if you gave him an enema you could bury him in a matchbox.”

  • Georgina

    Can this man provide any proof of the existance of this *hell* he refers too? I’ll even accept a statement of personal experience.

  • Latraviata

    My professional opinion:
    Vigorous sedation and immediate loony bin admission.

  • Brian Oliver

    i don’t understand why the devil tortures the bad people. Isn’t he the top badie? Aren’t bad people on his side? Why would he want to punish them? You think he’d reward them for their wickedness by making hell a fun place. This would also encourage others to join in.

    • Georgina

      I rather like the islamist take on this one “there are more women in hell than in heaven”, possibly because the islamist heaven is a sort of rape paradise, but still, Lucifer must have something going for him.

    • CTCodemonkey

      There are a lot of common misconceptions in your comment. The bad people are not “on his side”, he has no power to punish them and he has no power over hell. The devil hates humans and God, and tries to get people to sin because it is the best way he can inflict pain on God. For the record I don’t believe any of this but i thought you should know how most Christians would respond.

  • Fentwin

    0:25 into the video;

    Now my hearing is not the best in this world, but I swear it sounds like he almost dropped the F-bomb for Jesus.

    • Timmah

      No he cut himself off in the middle of saying “horrifying” because he was “so choked up”.

      • Fentwin

        Ya, that makes better sense.

        :)

  • Marisa Totten

    I don’t know, but it brings me back to the question I’ve always had for these folks: If you believe that’s what your god will do to people you obviously care so much about, then why do you worship him? I’ve often wondered, who’s worse: the devil who tortures you for eternity or the god who consciously sends you to him?

    • Savoy47

      Because if they don’t worship him they will burn too. Remember believers believe. If someone poured gasoline on you and said,.”Give me your wallet or Burn, your choice” what would you do?

      • Marisa Totten

        After gasoline has been poured on me, wherein lies my choice? LOL

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    As someone who studied acting (I suck, but I did work with some good teachers) I have a problem with the question. He seems serious AND he’s acting. Those are not mutually exclusive states. In fact an important part of giving a convincing performance is to believe (at least in terms of a character in a specific moment) every word that you are saying.

    If you are asking if I think he’s a fraud a la Marjoe (if you haven’t seen the documentary go straight to Netflix and put it at the top of your queue), then the answer is no. But if you are asking if he’s allowing himself to go over the top to appeal to an audience then the answer is most certainly yes. In addition I suspect (but could never know for sure) that like a great many people he has bought his own bullshit. it happens all the time. (It’s common, for example, for con artists who pretend to be psychics to get so good at cold readings that they begin to convince themselves that they really do have psychic abilities.)

    If that’s just an act, he’s one of the best actors of our time. Actors pretending to be men like this usually fail miserably (at least to anyone who has seen the real thing in action).

    • allein

      He seems serious AND he’s acting.

      My thoughts exactly.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Serious.

  • Rain

    OH THE HUGE MANATEE. HORRIFYING. THE HUGE MANATEE.

  • JustT

    I would say that this character is overselling a very weak point, and hamming it up so much that the message is lost behind the peals of laughter it induces.

  • Robster

    Jees…I thought it WAS a game…silly game but a game all the same.

  • Robster

    Imagine going through life sincerely believing that shite. Why would anybody buy into it? It presents nothing at all that could be considered desirable.

    • baal

      The longer I’m away from the RCC, the more this idea resonates for me. It’s farging loopy to praise the teachings of early iron age middle eastern tribes folks and much of the bible content is flatly bizarre (and hence the Jefferson bible).

  • WayPastDueToo

    I remember being brutalized as a young Christian with messages just like the one in this video.
    I remember how my emotional heart strings were pulled so tight, I’d sob in anguish over a dying world.

    I remember being told to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’.
    I remember Keith Green saying, “If you aren’t called to stay, you’re called to go.”

    I remember selling all my belongings to go to Africa to do just that: Preach the gospel to save souls.

    Then I remember being told: “But wait! You’re a GIRL! You can’t PREACH!”

    What a mind-F*#K that was.