When ‘evangelism’ intends to alienate and exclude

That Truth for Youth culture-war Bible we discussed yesterday is destined to be poorly received.

I think that’s by design.

The purpose of this new, improved Bible, allegedly, is to “reach youth with the gospel.” By the “gospel,” unfortunately, these folks mean the culture-war gospel — not the good news of Jesus the Christ, but a collection of sermons condemning abortion, homosexuality, sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. But set aside that little matter of blasphemy and let’s just consider this publication’s purported “youth appeal.”

It doesn’t have any. And, again, I think that’s the point.

Imagine the certain fate of any poor kid who accepts the purported premise of this special Bible and attempts to do what he or she has been instructed to do with this Truth For Youth comic-book enhanced edition of the New Testament. Imagine what will happen — not what might happen, but what will happen — when this child takes copies of this horrifying book into school and attempts to distribute them to his or her classmates.

That attempt will not end well. “Here, this is for you. It’s a Bible — but you should like this Bible because it’s a special Bible just for you. It has comic-book stories about abortion and witchcraft in it.”

That will go badly, in part, because the “youth appeal” of this thing seems to have been crafted by people whose understanding of youth culture is roughly that of Principal Weatherbee in old Archie comics. But more importantly it will go badly because what these poor kids have been commissioned to do is deliberately inhospitable and rude.

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of evangelism practiced and promoted by American Christians. One is hospitable and the other is not. One approach aims to cross lines and to erase boundaries. The other aims to draw lines and to enforce boundaries.

The latter always pretends to be the former, but that pretense is exposed by the way its practitioners determinedly stick with what isn’t working. When their approach offends, alienates and ostracizes the very people they claim to be trying to “reach,” they never reconsider or readjust that approach. They double down.

Because the truth is that their approach is working. It’s working perfectly. It’s doing just exactly what it was designed and intended to do: offend, alienate and ostracize.

That’s the point. Offensiveness is a feature, not a bug. Widening the gap between Us and Them was the plan and the purpose all along.

The poor kids being sent forth with those copies of Truth For Youth to give out at their schools don’t realize this. They’re young. They still believe what they’ve been told — that they are being sent out to share God’s love and to rescue sinners from the fires of Hell.

“Give these out to your unsaved friends,” they are told. And they will, and they do. And very soon, as a result, they have no unsaved friends — no friends at all outside of the tribe.

And that was the plan all along. If you want to control someone, you need to cut them off from every outside influence. Their loyalty to the tribe will be guaranteed because they will have nowhere else to turn.

After the debacle with their classmates, these children will return to church and will be far more receptive to the notion that American Christians are suffering “persecution” for their faith. Sent forth to give offense and to induce mockery, they will inevitably suffer mockery, and that can be twisted into evidence that the tribe is marginal, vulnerable, put-upon and grievously burdened.

Objectively, it’s not easy to convince American Christians of such a thing. It seems laughable to suggest that a pampered majority religion that enjoys countless privileges and cultural hegemony is somehow suffering “persecution.” But by encouraging young people to provoke the hostility and rejection of their peers, you can make those young people more likely to accept this absurd claim. And that’s useful, because fostering a sense of grievance and a persecution complex is an invaluable tool for maintaining control and discipline over the tribe.

All of which is to say that the Truth For Youth Bible will be spectacularly ineffective as a “soul-winning” evangelism tool. But it will be very effective, indeed, for it’s intended purpose.

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  • Ya know, I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of this myself Fred; but you make an excellent point here.  It’s a way to reinforce the untenable nature of the bubble…but it won’t work, not really.  Oh it’ll alienate a few kids* – cut them off, damage their childhoods…

    And then they’ll grow up, and most of them will be confronted with a never ending onslaught of completely decent, ordinary people who are not in the tribe.  The lie will become apparent, and eventually for most, there’ll come a point of epiphany where “If they lied about this… what else have they lied about?”  – And another one leaves the bubble, and quite possibly the faith altogether. 

    Needless to say, the dark side is hiring bakers. >_>

    *Great fucking job assholes.

  • You know, I wonder if a much better way to legitimately evangelize wouldn’t be to just ask ordinary teenagers who’ve managed to successfully stay socially connected to the mainstream how they might go about ‘marketing’ the Bible.

    One attraction I could see is that for teenagers questioning their place in the universe – what their purpose is – one possible answer is given in the Bible and its associated faith. But it has to be a process of self-discovery. You can’t just patly supply the answer and expect someone to uncritically accept it; that’s not the bedrock of a proper foundation of a faith-based existence.

  • Edo

    Having been proselytized by Moonies and Jehovah’s Witnesses before, it strikes me that for Christian-y sectarian religions the key part of aggressive cold-call missionary work isn’t the few converts they make, but the MANY doors that get slammed in their faces. (It lends itself to kinda sinister sermons on 1 John 3:13 – you grew up in that milieu; did you ever hear sermons like that?”)

    There’s a bigger question here, about outreach vs. inreach (and the fact that there’s so *much* inreach disguised as outreach), but I’m not qualified to write it right now.

  • It might be just me, but my recollection is that even as a member of the evangelical bubble, when I was a teenager I was automatically put off by anything explicitly labeled as ‘For Youth’ or ‘For Teens’. Are today’s kids any different?

  • DCFem

    A question about the market for this “bible” — would parents who will spend money on this piece of garbage actually send their kids to a public school? This seems like it’s tailored to the evangelical school & home school market where kids can be “shielded” from the truth of the original bible. And by truth I mean the lack of attention Jesus pays to abortion, homosexuality, sex, drugs, etc.

    I was not raised an evangelical so I don’t know what it’s like inside that bubble. But I wonder if problems with kids actually reading the bible and deciding that they want to be like Jesus and help the poor is the impetus behind the creation of this new garbage bible. People struggling to raise kids in their own image have got to be sick and tired of some of those kids reading the bible and having empathy for the poor and sick (like Jesus), and not a whole lot of hatred toward gays and sexually active women. This new garbage bible seems to me like it was created to guarantee more Franklin Graham’s than it was to just draw more lines in the sand between us and them.

  • MaryKaye

    A “for youth” label is not necessarily the kiss of death–“Young Adult” classification novels sell very well, though I’m told that they sell particularly well to 10-13 year olds rather than the older teens one might picture from the genre label.  But there are some awesomely good books in that classification.  Church-based youth/teen stuff?  Well, it would depend on the church, but there’s certainly a large chance that they will be anti-this and anti-that and no fun at all.

    When I was a teenager I did tons of youth/teen stuff at my girlfriend’s Methodist church, because they did good stuff–choir and plays mostly.  (I was Mary Magdalene in _Godspell_, a very good experience.)  I did not do youth/teen stuff at my own Catholic church, because they didn’t.  (The reason I didn’t therefore become a Methodist was that I have a strong need for ritual and they didn’t have enough.)

  • Not for nothing, but the evangelical bent of Christianity is also a reaction against exactly this sort of things.  Dietary law & clothing restrictions are there to keep the tribe of the Jewish religion apart from the rest of the world; it is there because it is a JEWISH religion, & they are markers of Jewishness.  Which I don’t say to condemn Judiasm but rather just to point out how badly the intention of the gospels is being mangled.

  •  And then they’ll grow up, and most of them will be confronted with a
    never ending onslaught of completely decent, ordinary people who are not
    in the tribe.  The lie will become apparent, and eventually for most,
    there’ll come a point of epiphany where “If they lied about this… what
    else have they lied about?”  – And another one leaves the bubble, and
    quite possibly the faith altogether.

    I hit college, specifically a secular, state college, with every intention of becoming a pastor.  I was in the local InterVarsity chapter and they put me in charge of outreach.  It was difficult, since I was one of the few people who actually hung out with non-Christians.

    Also, most of the people in IV turned out to be assholes.  I’d started questioning all kinds of aspects of my religion and finally decided that the best approach was to say, “Eff this.”  I stopped hanging out with IV and hung out with the people I was supposed to be winning for Jesus, instead.  I still don’t regret that decision.

    So there’s another entire aspect of things: a lot of Christians are assholes.  That’s not surprising, since a lot of people are assholes.  But, at least in my experience, a certain kind of assholery is allowed or even encouraged in Evangelical circles.  Basically, if you play the Jesus card just right you can also play the, “That person over there isn’t being Christian enough,” card.  And that always ends well…

  • Edo

    I’ve been mulling over something like that myself, albeit on the product end of things: looking over the Bible I was given by my church at age 13, and the shelves of Bibles that are specifically marketed for target demographics.

    What strikes me is how ill-conceived the whole thing is. Evangelicals have tons of teen Bibles, with very specific culture-war topical notes and horrid garish finishes that instantly doom them to a fate no Bible should ever have: being outgrown. (I can’t speak for the mainline, but I was given more or less a bonded-leather pew Bible; I have sentimental bonds to it but it’s been totally unapproachable my whole life.)

    Teenagers are questioning and establishing their place in the cosmos, and the Bibles they’re given either give them pat answers or walls of text that are clearly meant to be filled in by an outside source (which teens are *challenging.*) From a product-side view (inspired by lurking on the Better Bibles Blog), somebody needs to design a Bible that lends itself to being both critically engaged and *kept.*

  • fraser

     I don’t agree Fred. There’s such a long tradition of insanely clueless pushing of morally uplifting books to kids, I don’t see a need to assume an ulterior motive.
    Case in point, Dr. Laura wrote a book called “But I want It!” nominally geared to kids: Kid begs Mom to buy him more toys. She humors him and does so. Then he realizes the only toy he really cares about is his beloved old “Mr. Cat” stuffed animal and he agrees to give the others away.
    I have flipped through this in the store simply from bafflement at who they think this message is going to reach. It’s so utterly boring and preachy (and it has no purpose other than preaching) that I can’t imagine any kid reading it by choice, let alone learning Valuable Lessons. So I’m guessing that like most uplifting literature, buying it is a way for parents to feel good about themselves.
    Same with this comic-book Bible thing.

  • vsm

    The Truth for Youth Ministry’s  website is totally rad: http://truthforyouth.com/

    You can even read some of the comics there. They’re drawn in a pseudo-manga style, feature racially diverse groups of friends and try for some sort of mainstream appeal. For instance, they  condemn gaybashing (because those poor souls need to be cured, of course) and racism (and link it to the theory of evolution, obviously). I don’t think it’s going to fool anyone either.

    Would anyone by chance be familiar with the Christian comic called Serenity, very much unrelated to the works of Josh Whedon? It tells the charming story of a bunch of Christian kids who decide to convert bad girl Serenity by harassing and borderline stalking her. It has plenty of objectionable content, but I kind of like how it doesn’t portray Christianity as a magical cure for everything that ails ya and had fairly well-rounded characters. For instance, one of the kids has a low self-esteem due to his body, and one is unsuccessful in praying her lesbianism away (though the story implies she should keep at it). At the very least, it doesn’t come off as a bad-faith effort.

  • TheDarkArtist

    You’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to the problem we have in this country right now, Fred. Let me share a bit of the story of how my  beliefs evolved.

    My family was always had kind of a post-Christian American secular belief structure. We believed in a God, but we didn’t go to church or read the Bible, and we definitely didn’t blaspheme, but it was because we respected all peoples’ religions.

    Then, when I was 12, my teacher for Physical Science saw me reading sci-fi books every day and gave me a copy of A Brief History of Time, and my world was instantly changed. I realized that I had no reason to believe in God, and I became a de-facto atheist right then. That also led me to be interested in finding out what it was about Christianity that made people flock to it in such numbers.

    When I looked, however, I didn’t like what I found. The people who represented the religion seemed to go against the grain of everything that I believed or held to be true, due to the fact that the most conservative voices tend to be the loudest and easiest to find (and this was in the days before blogs, Wikipedia, or even widespread internet access).

    So, I essentially evolved into an antitheist. I’m not proud of it (most of the time), to tell you the truth. These guys would hand out little mini-Bibles to people, and my friends and I would take them, find something that we thought was ridiculous, rip out the page and use it to roll a joint. To be fair, those things do make really good rolling papers, but I digress.

    Through an internet forum, where I befriended a moderate evangelical Christian, and had many long hours of online debates and discussions with him and other believers and atheists, I actually finally came to respect and understand the beliefs of people like him more than I had before.

    I even considered converting, oh why lie, I guess that I kind of did convert, but I must have done it wrong, because it didn’t stick very well. I think that a person needs many more coats of primer than what I had.

    All of which is to say that I absolutely agree with your point. I don’t necessarily think that the effect of separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were, is what they want, but I also don’t think that they’re disappointed that it happens. Because, as you point out, it reinforces that old idea of persecution and tribal resentment.

    The thing is, until that chance meeting online, I had never had any positive interactions with Christians, at least not with Christians acting in their capacity as religious people spreading the faith. When I complained and organized a group of atheists in my high school to have a bunch of posters with Christianity-based quotes taken down, I had people threatening to kick my ass or even kill me because of it (this was in the 1990’s, before that kind of thing was really zero-tolerance, and anyway, I don’t think many of the school’s administration disagreed with those students. The principal of the school made his disdain for my beliefs fully known to me).

    It’s a sad state of affairs that it puts us in as a community, and by “us” I mean “western civilization” and the US in particular, because all this tribalism does is foster resentment and intolerance. If I hadn’t eventually befriended a kind, patient and welcoming Christian, a huge part of my life would be different, I think, and not for the better. It’s kind of sad that such is the case. I’ve never had any interaction with a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Wiccan, or a Hindu, Buddhist or any other religious person where they threatened to kick my ass or kill me for wanting my rights as a non-believer to be respected in a public place. That’s how things should be, because that’s the decent and neighborly thing to do, whatever your religion or lack thereof.

  • Joss Whedon, not Josh.  

  • Murfyn

    I think that you underrate Principal Weatherbee.   
    This is from Wikipedia  (which I rarely cite as a source):
    “In Archie Digest #233, Archie’s father accidentally reveals that Waldo was known as “Wild Wally” in high school. Wild Wally was a troublemaker, and, after the kids find out, contrary to what he expects, they learn to appreciate it. Many stories feature Archie and his friends discovering that Mr. Weatherbee in his younger days was thin with red hair and had many adventures similar to Archie’s. These stories often result in Archie worrying that as an adult, he will become more like Mr. Weatherbee.”

  •  It might be just me, but my recollection is that even as a member of the
    evangelical bubble, when I was a teenager I was automatically put off
    by anything explicitly labeled as ‘For Youth’ or ‘For Teens’. Are
    today’s kids any different?

    The Bible I carried through junior high and up until sometime in my freshman year of high school was one of the first of the experiments in marketing Bibles to teens.  It was filled with little stories and anecdotes and margin notes.  I think it was one of the first things that caused me to really take steps in doubting Christianity.  They’d have stories and link them to Bible passages that seemed to be completely unrelated unless I’d squint really hard and tilt my head to the left.  There would be links to say, “Here’s a prophecy from the Old Testament that came true because of Jesus,” and I’d flip back to the old “prophecy” and think, “Wait, what?  How does this one sentence that’s obviously about something else become a prophecy?”

    The thing that really tore it for me, though, was that it was a Living Bible, which is one o’ them paraphrased and modernized versions of the Bible.  I found myself reading passages that, I kid you not, spoke about the slave owing the master thousands of dollars.  I just couldn’t take that kind of crap and dumped the Bible in favor of a cheap NIV pew Bible.  Eventually I dumped that for a NASB pew Bible.

    But, on some level, I guess I should appreciate that youth Bible more.  Because in their zeal to convince me to read the Bible the “right” way, they actually convinced me not to trust the Bible and certainly not to trust anyone who told me the right way to read it.

  • The rock music comic is fantastic – Madonna Dahmer – even if the message it tries to convey is utterly awful.

  • I think why I like the Revised Standard Version, besides the fact that I was given such a Bible in my youth, is that the preface to that Bible explained, in exhaustive detail, how they researched and translated it, taking care to note that they tried to find the oldest extant texts (as the Dead Sea Scrolls had been discovered not too long before the RSV project started, this was of particular note), while attempting to retain some of the linguistic flow of the King James (without being excessive about it).

    That, and while the language is sufficiently ‘antique’ to carry a kind of otherworldly flavor, it’s also well-annotated with proposed alternate translations and is reasonably accessible. I was reading the RSV at the age of eight, for example, and grasped most of what it had to say when I did read it.

  • “Wedging”, a strategy that they taught us to look out for in high school health class.  In that context, wedging was something that an abuser did to isolate their partner from support networks other than them.  The lesson was that if a partner seems like they are trying to undermine your friends and family to draw you closer to them, that is a warning sign that you should get out of the relationship fast.  Someone who genuinely loves you will not try to do that.  

    The context is different, but I see that same strategy here.  Get those youth away from a support network that might tell them otherwise, and you can tell them whatever you want and they will pretty much have to accept it because they have no where else to go. Heck, if those youths are homosexual (for one example) then yes, I would even go so far as to call this emotional abuse if the intent is to keep them ashamed and in the closet as long as possible.  

    I find it ironic that many of these families in The Bubble keep their kids out of public school or secular secondary education because they are afraid of secular “indoctrination”.  Seems almost Orwellian, a “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” kind of thing.  Emphasis on that last one.  

  • JenL

    And then they’ll grow up, and most of them will be confronted with a
    never ending onslaught of completely decent, ordinary people who are not
    in the tribe.  The lie will become apparent, and eventually for most,
    there’ll come a point of epiphany where “If they lied about this… what
    else have they lied about?”  – And another one leaves the bubble, and
    quite possibly the faith altogether. 

    Well, 2 things.

    For certain groups of “them”, the kids are sent to church elementary schools, where they are told that the public schools are full of horrible mean kids.  They then go on to church high schools, where they’re told that the public schools are full of drugs.  They go on to church colleges, where they are told that the public colleges are full of sex and alcohol (in a bad way).  And any networking that was done along the way was with folks in the church.  So where do they look for jobs?  Within the church.  Church-run hospitals, church-run schools, church-run businesses. 

    The ones who go to work for completely outside enterprises either are on their way out of the church to begin with, or go to work every day guarded against the people around them.  Those co-workers might *seem* pleasant enough, but if they’re not following the proper church teachings, they are mislead. 

  • This gives me flashbacks to high school. There was a small clique of evangelical kids (maybe 15 students out of a student body of 400+) that met from time to time in my first period classroom. It was always the same group – no one ever brought friends for “witnessing.” They only ventured out of that room on rare occasions, for Rally Round the Flagpole or to stealthily drop tracts on windowsills (which my smart-ass friends and I would immediately collect). In class and on trips, they hung together and seldom tried to interact with anyone else. When they did, it came in two forms: Flat-out accusing students of being degenerate sinners, or playing weird little logic games that didn’t make much sense. People learned to give them a wide berth and never, ever bring up religion or politics when they were around.

    I never really understood their coarse behavior. It was a very pious community, but most of the churches were mainline or Catholic. Evangelicals were a definite minority – I think they were outnumbered by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A situation like that calls for a fine touch. As a liberal in a overwhelmingly conservative area, I learned quickly that getting in people’s faces and ranting wasn’t the best way to challenge people’s beliefs. None of the evangelical kids ever learned that lesson, no matter how often it was taught to them.

    It wasn’t until I started reading accounts from current and former evangelicals that I realized that this is probably how they were taught to preach. I’m with Fred on this – that approach makes no sense if you’re trying to win hearts and minds, but it makes perfect sense if you’re just trying to keep the infantry in line.

  • Its, no apostrophe, is the possessive.

    Are high school kids actually going to try to distribute these to friends? Middle school kids, maybe… but middle school is even more of a cannibalistic free-for-all than high school, so I doubt it. It took enough courage for one of my friends to ask me if I was saved in 10th grade; I can see him handing out normal New Testaments, but not this junk. I can’t see him thinking this junk was anything but junk either, though. Teenagers are a lot smarter than they get credit for.

  • What’s interesting about those comics is that they all feel just this side of dated, like they were aiming for Gen X appeal without realizing that X-ers are all adults now.  I think the artistic style is actually just as telling as, say, the railing against death metal (“Madonna Dahmer”? Really). Manga was very popular in the 90’s due to the comic book revival and the increasing interest in Japanese pop culture. These days, though? Manga is considered a nerd’s hobby, and the manga/anime style is rarely used outside of webcomics. They’re twenty years behind the curve.

  • I was a teenager in the 90s, and didn’t even know what manga was. Now there are large sections for it in mainstream bookstores. It is significantly more popular today, whether it’s considered “nerdy” or not.

  • That’s a fair point, and one I really should have thought of myself.  *sigh*  Well that’s depressing.

  • October

    This is found other places besides the youth bible market. Recently I was at a mega-church attending a wedding. I expected the church to be on their best, most inclusive, behavior, but in fact it was just the opposite. The clear message was – If you don’t endorse our list of right wing talking points, you don’t belong here. Even communion was framed as a loyalty test rather than a sacrament. How did they get to be ‘mega’ if they keep turning people away?

  • A “for youth” label is not necessarily the kiss of death–“Young Adult” classification novels sell very well

    “Young Adult” has “adult” in it; it acknowledges that the target reader isn’t a child anymore at an age when they’re desperate to prove that. “For youth” is condescending – it calls back to those “___ for Children” books and magazines in the pediatrician’s office.

  • That may be your experience, but the rise of manga was definitely a product of 90’s culture and the demand for more edgy entertainment. For instance, one of the earliest successes in US manga was Fist of the North Star, translated in the early 90s and released as a comic book. The interest precipitated a limited release of the anime, the production of the American film, and the importing of FotNS arcade machines. This, in turn, demonstrated that Japanese culture could sell in the United States, leading to MTV’s brief flirtation with anime. This led to the popularity of shows like Evangelion and Aeon Flux, which in turn led to the rise of anime and manga clubs which made Japanese entertainment more accessible to Americans, which in turn encouraged the creation of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. It’s an interesting demonstration of the mainstreaming of outside entertainment, and most of it happened in the 90’s.

  • They’re twenty years behind the curve.

    There is a trope for that.

  •  Yes, exactly. Also, “Young Adult” books don’t generally have that in the title, only maybe somewhere on the spine. Or nowhere at all on the book, just that they’re in the YA section of the bookstore. Funny, I still read YA books, but I have never willingly read anything titled ‘xyz for youth’ or ‘xyz for teens’.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    According to the Truth for Youth website, their plan is to “legally smuggle Bibles into the public schools of America! Consider this: There has never been one law passed to prohibit the distribution of Bibles in America’s public schools.”

    I think I owe them an apology. I thought for sure they are going to claim the Bible has been banned from sch-

    “[T]oday many are trying to stop us from giving Bibles to the students in America’s public schools.”

    Getting closer…

    “Young people are being given condoms, but Bibles are forbidden! We have had to create drug free zones today as a result of creating Bible free zones in the sixties.”

    There it is!

    They couldn’t keep their story straight for even a few paragraphs? Is that really so much to ask?

  • Jared Bascomb

    This reminds me of the evangelicals who would come into LGBT neighborhoods on Saturday nights and do their generally non-offensive attempts at conversion. It probably: a) gave them a sense of courage, going into the lions’ den as it were, and b) reinforced their sense of persecution – and by extension, their fellow congregants’ – when they testified at church the next morning.

  • vsm

     Those comics appear to be from 2004, so they were originally only a decade behind. Thinking you could use the same allegedly hip materials for eight years might reveal an even worse disconnect from youth culture, though.

    Incidentally, manga and anime didn’t become popular in Finland until the mid-2000’s. When we had our first manga-related manufactured moral outrage, it was over Dragon Ball. It was so retro I couldn’t even get upset over how stupid it was.

  • Tonio

    The most benign outcome I can see is that they adopt the Amish model of insularity. Imagine if they formed their own communities and set up a semi-independent economy. Of course, that would require a massive shift in their attitudes toward others, particularly evangelizing.

  • So where do they look for jobs?  Within the church.  Church-run hospitals, church-run schools, church-run businesses.

    You know, I always wondered about the rise of sectarian businesses and sectarian education institutions.  Why have those things when we have perfectly serviceable non-sectarian versions of them accessible to all.  

    No I guess I know why: socially maladjusted people raised in The Bubble have fueled demand for jobs in The Bubble because they lack the skills to integrate in social environments outside The Bubble.  This in turn tends to push The Bubble to expand.  

    For some Christian Dominists, I can see that this might be the entire point.  

    Unfortunately, when The Bubble rests on the premise of being a persecuted minority, it tends to burst when it grows to be mainstream.  

  • This reminds me of the evangelicals who would come into LGBT neighborhoods on Saturday nights and do their generally non-offensive attempts at conversion. It probably: a) gave them a sense of courage, going into the lions’ den as it were, and b) reinforced their sense of persecution – and by extension, their fellow congregants’ – when they testified at church the next morning.

    In fairness, they are demonstrating great courage.  Going into gay neighborhoods to talk to actual gay people is a big risk for them.  I mean, getting to know actual people you have been demonizing means *gasp!* that you might find your conviction wavering !

  • Tonio

    I picture them reacting like Prudence Turnblad when she ventures into a black neighborhood. Do they fear that the LGBT folks will attempt to recruit them away from heterosexuality?

  • (With apologies to An(n)als of Online Dating.)
    Today, we’ll be looking at Parental Controls: The Truth About Pornography.


    +3 for literally everything about Marty. “Hey, man, let’s look at some soccer sites SURPRISE NOW YOU’RE LOOKING AT TITS HAHA!”

    +2 for “your dad’s webserver.” I half expected them to go into “cyberspace” and drive down the “information superhighway.”

    +10 for Mr. Flintner’s entrance

    Bonus +2 for his face on the second page

    +5 for “He hasn’t had much luck with women!” = “He’s a fucking serial rapist!”

    +3 for “Eve’s Garden of Eden Girlies”

    +2 for Jesse’s sole purpose in hanging out with Marty in the first place being to “witness”

    +1 for “once you’ve *looked*, you’ll be *hooked!*

    +1 for the fruit of the Tree of Life being pornography

    +4 for using King “8 Wives and 10+ Concubines” David’s affair with Bathsheba as an example of lust destroying a family, because clearly the problem was adultery and not David arranging to have her husband killed on the battlefield

    +1 for describing Bathsheba as “something that wasn’t right and wasn’t [David’s]”

    Another +4 for “Bathsheba’s Bad Bathing Babes.” Admit it you guys, you were having way too much fun coming up with Biblical-themed porn sites.

    +0 for I’m pretty sure Marty’s dad just got back from raping someone

    +2 for the look of pure anguish on Jesse’s face at having encountered boobies for the first time. For the rest of his grade school and college life, this will be the day he incorrectly blames every time he sees some girl’s bra strap sticking out of her tank top and pops a shame boner

    Total score: +40

  • Madhabmatics

    You see, Evangelicals understand how city demographics work:

    Just like Saints Row. You see, if enough gay people move in, that means that their gay gang has ownership of the area and if you try to pick a fight with a gay dude a van will pull up and six gay dudes will get out and beat you with grotesquely large purple sex toys.

    Just wait for the news story next week where they drop bibles from a helicopter into a YMCA facility while playing Kanye West’s “Power”

  • Hth

    In other news, my punk rock alternate persona is absolutely going to be named Madonna Dahmer.  Thanks, Truth for Youth!

  • LL

    Yeah, but it’s not only the young people dumb enough to believe this “persecution” bullshit. Plenty of older people believe it, too. My mother, who is 67 years old, for instance. Old enough to know better. But when you’ve gone to a church for 25 years that tells you that the earth is only 6,000 years old and Santa Claus is a Satanic device to steal Christmas away from Jesus, I guess you’ll believe anything they tell you.

  • Santa Claus? SANTA CLAUS?

    *jaw drops*

    “Santa” is such a staple of modern Western culture that I can’t imagine how the Santa Claus delivers presents thing could be anything but a relatively harmless way to present the bounty and good will that people should bestow upon one another.

    I mean, just wow. O.o

  • Neutrino, Santa being out to steal Christmas from the babbyJeebus is old hat. It’s one of the many prongs of the fake “war on Christmas”. Also because Western culture (advertisers) pretty much accepted that we can use Santa as a symbol of the general goodwill around that time so that even Jewish people or Muslims or atheists* can buy stuff at Christmas. The prevalence of Santa Claus simply confirms that the big bad world is out to take even the most Christian of holidays (that we stole from the Pagans, but never mind that) and make it eeeeevil and “of the world”

  • Mary Kaye

    To be fair, for a lot of people Santa is the symbol of Greedmas.  I don’t blame people for not wanting their religious holiday to get tangled up with Greedmas–with the pathological pressure to buy stuff and to get stuff.  I have an adopted child who has  hangups in this area, and it makes me hate the whole holiday.  So if people want to rag on Santa, I feel a lot of sympathy.  Not because of his Pagan roots, but because of Coca-Cola and Macy’s.

  • Actually, I think that’s exactly what some of them think.  Listen to some Christian radio–people are terrified that if Heather Has Two Mommies or And Tango Makes Three are in the school library, little kids will be talked into teh ghey.

    And no, I honestly don’t know how they think sexuality really works: maybe they think that people wake up one morning when they’re about thirteen and just decide to be gay, because the Librul Media has made it sound so darn hip.

  • AnonymousSam

    It’s so interesting how similar these people are to what the Bible termed “antichrist”…

  • Probably by no intention of theirs, ‘Madonna Dahmer’ is a perfectly believable stage name for one of Marilyn Manson’s band members, who all follow the “Beauty Queen/Serial Killer” structure. 

  • Do they fear that the LGBT folks will attempt to recruit them away from heterosexuality?

    That may have secretly been the hope for more than a few, I suspect. 

  • WeWantPie

    This.  I have never been able to understand the popularity of these megachurches.  I hope someone with more knowledge of how they work can respond.

  • “Madonna Wayne Gacy” was the name of one of the band members from Marilyn Manson, IIRC.  I can’t recall which female icon’s first name they grafted onto the Dahmer surname, if they ever did.

  • Do they fear that the LGBT folks will attempt to recruit them away from heterosexuality?

    As a matter of fact, some do.  However, it is mostly a “Think of the children!” type fear.  In that sense, they have the courage of a parent who thinks their child is under threat.  

    Sadly, most parents’ danger sense has a habit of being a bit miscalibrated where their children are concerned…