the pathology of TV evangelism

tv evangelist pathology cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

“The Pathology of TV Evangelism” (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)

I usually get a few links per week of some preacher or teacher or evangelist of any stripe displaying exactly this kind of pathology. Sometimes entertaining. Always disturbing.

Some people will believe anything if it exists, is emphatic, and costs money.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Funny how the first Protestants were against the notion of buying one’s way into Heaven, and yet we have Televangelists…

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    It is also funny that the first Baptists strongly supported the notion of separation of church and state. Now many want a theocracy. (I used to go to a Baptist church…)

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Progress, am I right? :P

  • klhayes

    And the Prosperity Gospel.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    I believe that most Evangelists don’t aim at your money (at least in France and in Germany) but they have approaches which are utterly inappropriate to gain converts to their Conservative or fundamentalist forms of Christianity in a Western secular context.

    Shouting that God is going to eternally torture every human being if he does not freely and sincerely believes in Him sounds as meaningful as saying that Reptilian Aliens are among us and they are going to devour you in three weeks if you don’t adopt five turtles as pets.

    I believe that this rabid evangelism stems from a deep-seated belief in eternal torment for anyone not having given his life to Christ on this side of the grave.

    This an absurd blasphemous doctrine http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/salvation-by-love-erlosung-durch-die-liebe-unten/ which is completely incompatible with God’s love, from which it naturally follows: whoever truly desires to be with Him will be with Him.

    I see Evangelism as simply trying to follow Jesus, letting Him shine through my actions and attitude and honestly answering as best I can challenging questions.

    Friendly greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Almost goes hand in hand, really.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I’m going to focus briefly on one line that bugs me whenever I hear such: “Shouting that God is going to eternally torture every human being if he does not freely and sincerely believes in Him”
    Last I checked, that’s extortion and abuse.

    To the topic, though, evangelism can be rightly done, but, too often, it’s more threatening and abusive and hateful. Even if some have a really powerful message of LOVE to offer, to first say “GOD HATES YOUR SIN AND YOU DESERVE HELL FOR IT” really does nothing but terrify. Any message that requires terror does not inspire love of God, but the true meaning of the word “fear,” as in “I am fearful for my life if I don’t give this robber my wallet.”

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello Cecilia, you’re quite right!

    Albert Einstein once said:

    “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. … ”

    We definitely need to move beyond the conservative preaching of God’s eternal wrath and the liberal denial of the existence of sin.
    We need to see God’s anger as judgement as flowing quite naturally from His love.

    Friendly greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Careful, as “liberal denial of the existence of sin” sounds just as spiteful as “conservative preaching of God’s eternal wrath.” Both statements still follow the pathology mentioned.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Of course I am being provocative and intentionally consider the two most extreme positions.

    I am well aware that most Christians lie somewhere in between.

    To your mind what should be our attitude? And how are we to express our convictions?

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    In other words do you believe that both attitudes are pathological, or do you believe that my choice of words is pathological and that I ought to be much more respectful?

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Cecilia Davidson

    This is just my humble opinion, but perhaps we should stop projecting our wrath onto God. A deity should not be abusive or hateful to their creation lest they wish to be seen as such. If one’s message is GOD WILL SEND YOU TO HELL, then it’s really the messenger, more than likely, hoping they’ll never see you in Heaven.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Ah, but to answer your question, yes, i do believe both attitudes are pathological. To deny that we can even sin is lunacy, but to say that we must attain salvation in a specific way and under specific conditions is the same lunacy in different clothes.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Then it looks like we quite agree :-)

    We have yet to find a loving way to confront “lunatics” wherever we find them.

    And we also ought to honestly confront the lunacy which is sitting deep down within our own heart.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Cecilia Davidson

    When I say “sin,” i really do mean both accidental and intentional fault. To say we don’t sin is incredibly stupid.

  • Livin

    Of course without God we first have to define good. Without God anything can be considered good.

  • Livin

    Love is nothing without Hell. You can’t have good without knowing evil.You cannot have up without down etc….
    Hell is what a free being chooses when they deny God they want to go there.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    If you need a deity to define ethical and moral behavior, your morals and ethics are in want

  • Al Cruise

    Amazing how much money can be earned by playing the “hell card”, the irony is just as amazing, ” money the root of all evil”.

  • Worthless Beast

    A good way to cure this condition without the patient becoming a TV Evangelist: The doctor should hand him a Nintendo system and a copy of one of the “Legend of Zelda games.” You get to run around with a sword screaming “Hiyaa!” and invade people’s homes, smash up their pots and take their rupees (in game gem-money). The hero is not punished for this (except in a couple of games where NPCs yell at him). It’s a good way to get those invasive urges out, though it may give you a “pot” addiction.

  • Livin

    Nice quip but it is false. If you have no ultimate authority on good or evil then you must make up your own definitions.
    Do you plagarize modified Christian morals? That is what secular humanists do.
    Do you kill anyone with mental problems as Hitler did? If their is no good or evil then no one can say he is wrong if he can rationally define his reasons for doing so.
    As a atheist you have to define good then how to go about it. But as an atheist you cannot say your morals are better than Hitlers.

  • Livin

    The TV evangelists don’t play the hell card anymore like they should. It is all about feel good materialism mixed in with entitlement captialism.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    It is an open question whether there is a single universal objective morality but let’s put that debate aside for the moment. Let’s consider the case where there is a single universal objective morality. The question then becomes how do we discover what that is? The secularists would say we have no choice but to see “what works” in crafting a society where people seem happy and there is justice and fairness. A religious person might point to some authority (like a holy book) that spells out some kind of moral code. The problem here is how do you know that the authority actually has the single universal objective morality? Even the religious person will need to see “what works” in crafting a society where people seem happy and there is justice and fairness.

    Saying that the authority is God and God by definition knows the single universal morality is really a cop-out for how do we know the holy book was in fact authored by God? We don’t. We only have people that say it was. People can say all sorts of things.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    i’m sorry, but Hitler was a practicing Christian. Please try again.

  • Livin

    Why dose society need to be happy and why is happy what works?

    “Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.”

  • Livin

    Lo He was born a Christian and tried to use it for propaganda but Hitler declared Nazism the state religion and the Bible was replaced by the Mein Kampf in the schools. Also Hitler forbid the SS to believe in God.
    Historian Paul Johnson wrote that Hitler hated Christianity with a passion, adding that shortly after assuming power in 1933, Hitler told Hermann Rauschnig that he intended “to stamp out Christianity root and branch.”
    Please learn your history.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    That’s an interpretation of history Livin and is highly contested. Most historians agree that Christianity and the church posed no real threat to the rise of Nazism and the plan was to reach an agreeable compromise with the church for Nazism. It is probable Hitler had his own version of Christianity that he intended to impose not only on Germany but the world once he ruled it.

  • Livin

    Plus Celilia lets say for a moment that you were correct. In atheism there is no good or evil. So even a Christian totalitarian dictator who kills people like Stalin did cannot be called evil by a atheist.

  • Livin

    I understand that but Cecilia dose not know it. She dose not realized that Hitler included Christianity,some Atheism, Nordic and Roman Paganism etc… in his beliefs depending on who he was talking to. He was trying to be his own God with his own religion tailored to suit what he needed at the time.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Come on Livin. Time to put your thinking cap on. There is as wide a spectrum of atheists as there are Christians.

  • Livin

    I do have my thinking cap on :) But Atheism by definition cannot handle moral concepts. All it can do is say yes or no to the question of a God or gods.

  • islandbrewer

    There’s actually a really cool infographic about megachurches.

    http://www.onlinechristiancolleges.com/megachurches/

    Edit: linked directly to infographic, now.

  • DoctorDJ

    And every one of the guards in the concentration camps were good practicing catholics or lutherans.

    Please learn your history.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Please learn yours. The Nationalsozialismus (National Socialism) party was never a religion.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    He was still a practicing Christian who practiced Theosophy. Please, for the sake of debate, stop blaming atheists for the ills of the world when we all share the blame. Also, please stop your attack on my person for being an ex-Catholic who is very well educated. I will not stand for your insulting my person

  • Cecilia Davidson

    That choice is ultimately yours. I still practice good (sharing of extra with those who have not, not killing, and so on)

  • Cecilia Davidson

    I couldn’t help myself. but there’s actually a punishment in said game -
    “HEY, LISTEN!!!”

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Not. Even. Close. Try again.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    as a friend stated elsewhere, you can get more bees with honey.

  • Worthless Beast

    And the chickens. Don’t forget revenge-chickens.