A few years ago I met a most interesting man. He was a carnie; a stage magician, and a hypnotist. He was, of course, a former pastor of an Evangelical church, until he was fired for schtupping the church secretary, so he transitioned easily into his new scam. He explained to me how the scam works:
Since many health issues are psycho-somatic and can be “cured” with a placebo, all it takes is “hypnotizing” someone to believe that their illness has gone away, and because of the placebo effect it often actually provides some temporary relief. This guy explained that that is what the “faith healers” are actually doing.
In the “Pentecostal” Evangelical movement, they “speak in tongues,” which, when studied, is exactly the same as “baby talk” – a native English speaker will simply take common English syllables and mix them randomly together, imitating a baby still learning language. A Chinese person will use Chinese syllables. The preachers that do the “speaking in tongues” are fully conscious of what they are doing, and they know that it has a hypnotic effect on the audience. Just like a hypnotist will find a suggestible person in the audience, bring them up on stage, and hypnotize them to cluck like a chicken, the Pentecostal pastors do the same, hypnotize a congregant and convince them to spout baby talk.
The only difference is that at a hypnotism show, everyone will laugh at the moron clucking like a chicken; in an Evangelical church, everyone pretends that it’s some religious thing and be very quiet and serious about it.
The pastors of Evangelical churches are literally laughing all the way to the bank.
Every Evangelical pastor in America essentially aspires to be an Oprah Winfrey; they all want their own talk show and to sell books. While Oprah Winfrey will just latch onto whatever is popular among dim housewives, the Evangelicals have to keep it somewhat related to Bible stories. This is much easier than it seems.
From the 1970s to the 2012 elections, the “religious right” was a political force, and a key component of the GOP coalition. Many political insiders have explained how the GOP suckers the Evangelicals into voting for them. (Interestingly enough, there’s a racial angle. Black churches get out the vote for the Democrat party, white churches get out the vote for the GOP. They both use the same Bible and profess the same beliefs.)
A GOP explained how easy it was to get Evangelical support. He said the pastors were the easiest to bribe. All they had to do was send them a signed pictures of George Bush, or a keychain, or a calendar, or – for the really important ones with huge mega-churches – an invite for a 3 minute hand shake with Bush. The pastors would take their photographs and key chains back to the church, get on stage, and brag to their audience about how they got to meet Bush, and what a strong Christian he was, etc. The pastors would try to out-do the pastor of the rival church down the road, the guy who got the handshake beat out the guy who only got a keychain.
Even easier were the Seventh Day Adventists. The GOP asked the SDAs what they wanted; they said that they thought the government was hiding evidence of Noah’s Ark, and they wanted satellite pictures to prove there was actually an ancient boat on the top of a mountain in Turkey. This was easy; the GOP insider just called up the NRO, got some photographs of some mountainous terrain in Turkey, circled a rock formation, and sent it to the pastor. The next week the pastor gets in front of his audience, shows they satelite imagery, and declares the story of Noah’s Ark to be literally true and that the government gave him the proof. The audience is gratified, reaches into their wallets and purses, and gives the pastor some money.
Quite literally, Evangelicalism is a scam, it’s a tax free way to sucker little old ladies, men who really should know better, and to make mini-Oprahs of men who didn’t have the brainpower to study something useful in college, so they went to the seminary instead. All pastors in all Evangelical churches are fully aware that they are lying and running a scam, generally speaking, they are sociopathic individuals.
There was some illiterate cult group in the 1800s called the Millerites; their cult leader declared that “The Rapture” would happen on such and such a date, so his congregants all took off their clothes and climbed trees so it would be easier for Jesus to snatch them up into the sky. When nothing happened on the appointed day, he set a new date for a year later. Most of his cult members left after the second failure. This idea has no support in historical Christianity, it’s literally just a fable invented by uneducated frontier preachers based on random passages in the books of Revelation and Daniel.
This stuff still happens, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article a few years ago about a radio preacher telling his audience that D-Day was going to be such and such a date. This guy had already predicted it would be 1996, wrote a best selling book about it, then when nothing happened, went quiet for a few years. Until he was ready to retire, then he ran the scam again. The Journal interviewed his radio fans, some were literally selling everything they owned, quitting their jobs, and moving out close to the guy’s studio, giving him all their money, and waiting for D-Day.
Nothing happened. The guy was asked if he was going to give people their money back. No guesses on his answer – hell no.
Back in the Cold War, the Evangelicals virtually all said that the “Final Battle” was going to be the atheist communists vs. the Christians. “Gog and Magog” were actually Soviet Russia. Then, the USSR fell apart, and the Evangelicals lost their favorite bad guys. No problem, a few years later a *cough* certain event happened, and the entire Evangelical subculture turned on a dime – now, the forces of the Anti-Christ were, of course, the Muslims.
When Israel was preparing to genocide Palestinians and invade Lebanon, they paid certain Evangelical pastors cash money to endorse their scheme. The pastors lined up to take the money, and then all of a sudden declared 2,000 years of Christian teaching was all wrong, actually, Israel was the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy. The Southern Baptist Convention put up a video on their main website declaring that the Bible said that Iran would attack Israel; this was part of a coordinated political campaign to support Israel’s war. When it didn’t happen, the SBC just took the video down. Jerry Falwell was “gifted” a private jet by the Israelis; John Hagee gets a handsome salary for his Christians United for Israel front group.
While I’m sure there are well meaning Christians, there are no well meaning pastors. They – all of them, 100% of them – are fully aware they are running a scam, none of them “believe” the things they teach. They actually learn these hypnotic techniques in seminary. If you are a church-goer, I feel sorry for you. You are literally the victim of a scam, not that much different than the Nigerians who claim they will give you a million dollars from some deposed dictator if you just send them your bank account details. Hey, there’s one born every minute. I’m pretty good at public speaking; I could easily start a church and run the same scam myself.
Except, you know, I’m not a lying sociopath.