An inside view of Hagee's evangelical church camp indoctrinationThis article was stunning. The adult version of "Jesus Camp," reporter Matt Taibbi joined Pastor Hagee's Cornerstone Church to attend a 'Christian Encounter Weekend' in the Texas hill country. What he observed was absolutely nothing short of psychological abuse and conditioning. You have to read it to believe what goes on in such evangelical ministries ... and this is no small wacky cult. This megachurch has 19,000 active members and a TV audience in the millions. Pastor Hagee has been an outspoken Christian Zionist and recent endorser of John McCain.
Taibbi, an atheist, wanted "to get a look inside the evangelical mind-set." And boy did he ever, what he found was scary.
The 'encounter' began with an imposing macho leader, gaining the emotional empathy of the crowd by telling a tearful story of how his father had failed him and was unfaithful to his mother. Confessions of this 'childhood wound' was the basis for gaining the required emotional leverage of members, setting up 'the deliverance' to come:
"The wound theory was a piece of schlock biblical Freudianism in which everyone had one traumatic event from their childhood that had left a wound. The wound necessarily had been inflicted by another person, and bitterness toward that person had corrupted our spirits and alienated us from God."
After mind numbingly long 14 hr days of group confessions, prayers and singing hymns, the flock would be gathered to hear the leader demonize everything from gays to Harry Potter. Indoctrinating the flock in a weakened state, as Taibbi observed, the crowd "swallowed whole" anything told to them:
"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."For the grand finale, the deliverance, all were assembled and instructed not to pray and to keep their mouths open because, "When the word of God is in your mouth, the demons can't come out of your body. " The leader flanked by his 'life coach' assistants began to read off a 90 minute list of demons that included everything from ailments to philosophy to intellectualism. In an ever increasing fever pitch of pandemonium, the crowd gets emotionally involved and starts imitating those they see writhing around the floor, pretending to vomit into bags, speaking in tongues, scream, etc... They were brought up one by one and coached to speak in tongues. (Taibbi got by by reciting song lyrics in Russian). After this final step, the leader pronounced the flock 'baptized in the Holy Spirit and fully qualified now to cast out demons.' Many triumphant hallelujahs followed accompanied by arm raising.
Taibbi summarizes the experience:
"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 ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks.... 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."
People like this have formed the evangelical base of the Republican party. People like this are squarely responsible for voting Bush into 2 terms, and now they want McCain.
Taibbi's full story is available in the new book: The Great Derangement