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Apr. 5 2010 - 12:25 am | 10,885 views | 1 recommendation | 27 comments

Christian ‘comedian’ accidentally exposes evils of indoctrination

I was raised very, very Christian. So Christian, in fact, my family wouldn’t even identify their denomination — which is to say, they were in the anti-denomination denomination. They preferred the term “nondenominational.”

Even as a child, I carried an ever-present suspicion that everyone I knew was completely Fucking insane.

As an adult, I realize how foolish and even frightening some of their indoctrination was. I also recognize the mark it left on me, the shame I’ve felt over perfectly natural impulses and my persistent battle to maintain self-confidence, all of which was bestowed by a fiercely religious, conservative upbringing in the midst of the Christian Right’s rise to power.

Some of my experiences from within the belly of American fundamentalism — like having a serial spouse abuser in a blue tuxedo squeeze my trachea while “speaking in tongues” in front of an audience, all in the name of a miracle cure for strep throat (among others) — would make even the director of Jesus Camp wince.

The teachings of Christ still get my respect, mind you. But please understand, I enjoy a bit of good-natured religious ribbing, especially on Easter, slightly more than the next guy.

Some of it is fantastically sarcastic, like Prayer Hour, a satire so deadpan I honestly thought it was a serious production for approximately one minute. Another clever spot for delicious, delicious sacrilege is Christwire, which featured a yummy bit about Zombie Jesus that got my blasphemy flowing this past Easter Sunday. Go look at it. Seriously. It’ll put what comes next in proper context.

Done? Yes. Good.

Fresh off reading that post, I stumbled across the following video, thinking it sly bullshit. It was not. Everyone in the video below is entirely serious.

That poor girl probably thinks these people are her friends. Did you see that look she gave? It was like a caged animal that just realized it’s about to be thrown into a boiling stew. She really believed her very holy, very white crowd of associates had been magically spirited away into the clouds, leaving her and the rest of humanity’s filth to suffer the tribulations.

The guy at the beginning calls himself Rich Praytor, a Christian “comedian” with a big idea: fooling deluded people into thinking they’ve been “left behind” with all the sinners on a post-rapture Earth.

… All of which is about as funny as telling a little boy that his parents were ground into sausage by the goddamned Santa Clause and he’d accidentally eaten his mother on Christmas eve.

On his Web site’s “about” page, Praytor brags about taking his little show on the road, even winning the participation of one Ryan Dobson, son of James Dobson, the recently-retired right wing fundamentalist who founded the ultra-conservative media company “Focus on the Family”.

While Praytor’s DVD features other filmed stunts posing as pseudo-humor, it’s his rapture shtick that quite accidentally exposes the completely evil nature of this indoctrination; this so-called “prank” hinges entirely upon the subject fully believing that one day very soon, all their troubles will end in an instant if they just keep on giving money to the church and doing everything their authority figure tells them to.

Yes, ho-ho, very funny. These are the folks who picket and boycott films over dick and fart jokes. I’d wager a few Federal Reserve notes that most of Praytor’s fans are oblivious to how completely sick this “prank” is.

To be clear, this “rapture” is not in the Bible that most Christians know. It was invented by an Irishman named John Nelson Darby and made popular by evangelist author William Eugene Blackstone in the mid-1800s. It didn’t really become a force in mainstream Americana until the Christian Right movements of the 70s and 80s. Now, this illogical creation of man is everywhere in American Christiandom.

The rapture has essentially become a tool, widely used by master manipulators to engender obedience, loyalty and a steady cash-flow from the faithful … And this guy, once recognized as “Best Comedian of the Year” at the American Gospel Music Awards, has found a way to capitalize off it. Uniquely American, is it not?

From the perspective of a child with absolutely zero social input outside their parents’ church, the rapture is an absolutely terrifying prospect to consider. Surrounded by people who believe their fantasy to be common knowledge, one becomes a freak or a sinner or the lost for thinking otherwise. To an adult, challenging the established Truth from within such a circle can be social and sometimes even economic suicide … For me as a kid, even a mention of my fomenting thought rebellion was a sure way to get bent over and lashed raw — and I don’t mean like an actress in a Maybelline ad.

Growing up in this group insanity is like constantly reliving that line from Dogma, where the two fallen angels are laughing about how man has warped Christ’s teachings, making God out to be this bearded man in the clouds who will “fucking spank you” if you’re not enough of a fan. (A line made more humorous because that’s really how life was explained to us.)

Watching that poor girl’s reaction made me finally understand that rapture enthusiasts really aren’t so far away from falling in line with the God Hates Fags crowd. Even though the word “hate” is usually quite a distance from their vocabulary, the mentality is identical. The methods of propaganda are identical. The only difference is the prejudice of the propagandist, reflected uniformly across their followers.

If people can be so thoroughly indoctrinated they truly believe everyone they know and love simply vanished one day, people can also be made to believe a particular type of person deserves to be eradicated. Like the Jews. Or the gays. Or you.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in history.

(Hat tip: Disinfo.)


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  1. collapse expand

    Great piece, Stephen.

    I, too, grew up in a very religious household and am quite familiar with The Indoctrination. Personally, I think The Indoctrination is a fantastic way to create atheists (as I am now)! I know many people who grew up like this only to become non-believers (or, at the very least, agnostic) once they were allowed to think rationally and for themselves.

    I disagree with you on the Rapture bit, though. I found the video hilarious and educational. Why? Sometimes it takes a massive jolt like that for people so entrenched in this mindset to see past The Indoctrination of fear. My father, a former pastor with a Masters Degree in theology, is a prime example. He’s agnostic now because he was betrayed by the very people he was teaching. He found out in the harshest way possible that The Indoctrinated are ruthless, power hungry people. They are so disconnected with reality that they are at the opposite end of the field from the actual teachings of the one they profess to follow, Christ. The sad thing, of course, is that most of them are completely oblivious to this fact.

    Again, great piece and thanks for adding to the pool of rational thought.

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    The comic book image at the start is so obviously unrealistic… in real life, those teen boys would be really saying, “Look, I can see up her skirt!”

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    I was pretty young when I became convinced that the Bible stories that I was being taught were no different than the Disney movies I was watching. In fact, it was probably more easy for me to believe the movies, because in church the words didn’t reflect the actions of the speaker once the services were over. This caused me to believe that I was an atheist until I was probably in my 40’s.

    I agree with you Stephen that Jesus was a pretty cool guy, and that Sermon on the Mount carries a great message of love and forgiveness. However, like most prophets, his message was corrupted by the very people that were to carried the message to the masses. In Jesus’ case I think this first happened when Paul was hoofing it to Damascus or Tarsus or wherever he was going. Quite a promoter that guy.

    Another thing that I object to is the exclusiveness of most religions. “If you don’t worship my version of God you are going to burn in Hell for eternity.” I never could reconcile how God would punish that poor kid that happened to be born in Iran, China, Africa, or wherever with no chance to be taught Christian ideology. Made no sense to me.

    Spirituality is a very important component of my life today and I gain comfort and strength with the connection to my higher power. Most religions have become institutions of money and control using fear and ignorance to maintain their hegemony. I also want to respect other people’s beliefs and usually can as long as no judgement is passed on me or others. Without religion, bad people do mostly bad things, and good people do mostly good. With religion, bad people do bad things and good people also do bad things.

    • collapse expand

      Hello Kim Lancaster,

      My experience is sort of the opposite of yours. It is not that the stories I was told about in the Bible were no different Disney movies, I discovered that almost none of the stories I was told were in Bible were not actually there. The whole story about how the souls of the dead will be judged in some afterlife with the good going to heaven and the evil going to hell is not actually in the Bible (it is actually an Egyptian story). There is nothing even close it there. The same is true for the whole Satan as a proud rebellious angel cast out of heaven by an angry insecure God is also completely absent. The Satan hardly shows up at all in the Bible and when he does, he is a faithful, trusted agent of God on Earth.

      So your faith in the God of the Bible was misplaced not because the stories turned out to be false but actually missing.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    I chose to be a Christian fairly young, age 20 and probably wasn’t ready then. I’m an old fart now but more convinced of the truthfulness of the scriptures more now than ever. I’m not attending church as I would constantly be in conflict with most of those sunday morning pew-filling hypocrits. Not much has changed as man often uses the scriptures to justify their thinly veiled disguises and actions. I heard Ghandi quoted once that if he had ever seen a Christian, he might have become one. How is that for a one-liner commentary on the way “so-called Christians” behave.

    One fact that I would fly in the face of most of them is that pot should be part an integral part of our lives as it was called Kaneh Bosm (canabis) by the Hebrews and was part of the anointing oil described in the old testament but the translators made a mistake along the way, and now the bibles say it was calamus. Christ means the “anointed one” and he was the original hippy introducing mankind to the peace, love and hair grease as it had fallen out of favor with religious leaders of the day whom he called hypocrits.

    Do your research (it’s on the web, not your local library) and you will find that scriptures say in the last days it will be outlawed by the docrine of demons, go figure.

    And then, you can go to the end of the Bible (Rev 22:1-5) and the scriptures says that the “tree of life” leads to the throne and that there is no more curse (as was in the garden)but it is a blessing and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. On other plant could solve the problems of this world today but canabis.

    I also live in Williamson County, TX (22 yrs) and they haven’t busted down my door yet but I believe there are some that are catching on to the message of understanding. I’ve posted before but here it is again, http://www.livingwater-4-all.org or http://www.truth-4-life.org

    Cheers, now that is what I call the Good News!
    Have a glass of wine now.

    • collapse expand

      I understand that argument has been successfully used as an affirmative religious defense in marijuana cases. Good on you.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Hello fredpaul,

      Kaneh Bosm does not refer to any of the three species of Cannibis. Kaneh is a stiff wood made into cane while the stem of all three species of Cannibis have pliable, soft stems inappropriate for making cane. Kaneh Bosm references a plant with fragrant oils while Cannibis does have oils, they are not particularly “fragrant”. Moreover, the oils are extracted with alcohol which was a technique not available to the ancients and not consistent with the text. Something closer to Pinus lambertiana would make more sense.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Punk’d in JesusLand!

    The real tragedy in this is how Corporate Hollywood Nielsen-Capture techniques like “Punk’d” have been adapted by MegaChurch PR Grifters like Rich Praytor to keep Young Impressionable Nobodies enslaved and “inside the MegaChurch fence” for use by ultra-rightwing fascist septuagenarians like James Dobson and Tim LaHaye.

    Shouldn’t our youth be busy studying engineering, maths, and science in order to build our way out of a potentially toxic future, instead of engaging in Internet-prank shenanigans?

    The religious dimension to this social control strategy is just a cog in a larger apparatus. It’s a propaganda machine that’s grinding America’s future into mincemeat for immediate Corporate consumption before our very eyes.

  6. collapse expand

    Um, this is entirely stupid. Stephen, I want to like you, but you’re basically an idiot.

    This prank is obviously faked. The “victim” is the worst “actress” I’ve ever seen.

    Like I said: stupid.

  7. collapse expand

    “Now, this illogical creation of man is everywhere in American Christiandom.”

    Really? Three years attending the Protestant services at a Navy base, ten years as a member of a Presbyterian church, and a year (and counting) at a United Methodist Church–not a single mention of the r-word or any concept close to it. Maybe I can follow your example and generalize from my experience of not hearing about the rapture and conclude that NO ONE ever hears about it. But I know better.

    So, no, it’s not everywhere in Christiandom (sic). Not even close.

    Oh, and f-word, f-word, f-word.

  8. collapse expand

    That’s ’cause your exposure is to Presbyterian and UMC doctrine, which is much more reasonable than what’s taught at the churches entrenched in the Christian Right. Drop in on a group of Pentecostals or evangelicals one Sunday and see if it doesn’t tighten your wig.

    • collapse expand

      You stated that the rapture is everywhere. Doesn’t “everywhere” include Presbyterian and UMC “doctrine”?

      Mainline Christianity is a completely different animal, in my view. It’s not merely more reasonable, it’s the correct approach to religion–finding meaning and truth in its symbols and myths–vs. the invalid approach of taking those myths and symbols as literally as possible. I’m constantly being told that reasonable C. is simply Crazy Christianity Lite. I hope you’re not of that view.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        I actually have a great aunt and great uncle who both have their own UMC churches. My uncle on the other side has been a UMC preacher and at 62, he just quit attending the UMC. ALL 3 of them learned to preach pre-trib rapture doctrine and had it preached to them. So if you weren’t exposed to it in the UMC, it’s NOT like it doesn’t exist there. You just got lucky that your pastor wasn’t fool-hearted enough to risk the Rev curse for falsely teaching the book. Oh yeah, my first exposure to the word rapture was a Christian Presbyterian boyfriend at 15. The pre-trib doctrine is EXTREMELY wide-spread, since Hal Lindsey wrote the abomination “Late Great Planet Earth” in the 70’s or 80’s. I’d be willing to bet you were exposed to the once saved always saved doctrine that makes Christians think their crap doesn’t stink and that they have nothing to worry about?? There are SO many false doctrines in the churches that few people will believe the real ones.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          “I’d be willing to bet you were exposed to the once saved always saved doctrine that makes Christians think their crap doesn’t stink and that they have nothing to worry about??”

          I ran into this idea courtesy of a group of fundies while I was in the Navy–I quickly decided it was horse hockey. Nothing of that nature showed up in the base’s Protestant services. Never ran into it anywhere else. Even when my present preacher gets a little too evangelical for my taste (too “praise God”-ish, too inclined to attribute “miracles” to a higher power), there’s nothing remotely resembling the idea you cited. It’s exactly the reverse–that we need to do the 24/7 work of being good people. It’s a doctrine of moral self-examination. Bible passages are quoted to demonstrate how imperfect we are in our understanding of things, and how far short we come in terms of goodness, perfection, etc.

          We’re striving for goodness and some reasonable degree of comprehension of God’s will, vice striving for anything material, or piling up points for a reward. The pre-trib stuff is part of a highly materialistic worldview, whereas Christianity consistent with Christ errs on the side of denouncing materialism. To put it mildly.

          Re the influence of Hal Lindsey, the problem in a mass-mediated culture is always the lure of simple, easy, no-brainer, pre-packaged ideas from TV, movies, the press, and other outlets. Mass fads like “Left Behind,” or the power of positive thinking, or the various victimization-based pop psychologies, or the current hysteria that religion is the root of all human evil, or the b.s. of “memes,” or the notion of angels and ESP–these are mass-appeal stories that people can shape to their own views and needs. Which they can accept to whatever extent (and in whichever way) suits them. People express their personal beliefs and values in terms of the pop narratives made available to them, and today’s broader menu of pop narratives has resulted in much disconnect between what people actually believe vs. what they report believing.

          I don’t believe fundamentalism has taken over to anything NEAR the extent statistics may indicate. What we’re seeing is an increased acceptance of simple-minded thinking, but the actual rate of participation in that kind of simple, primitive thinking–that we can’t be sure of.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  9. collapse expand

    First, I must apologize for my twisted sense of humor, because I laughed at that girl. The reason I found it funny is because I KNOW better and God forgive my arrogance, but the majority of so-called Christians today are a dimented bunch of hypocrites who spend NO time at all reading the Bible and if they do-Hall Lindsey or Jerry Fallwell must interpret what is written there in pretty plain English.

    Here’s the catch- I am a VERY serious Christian. I also used to be a VERY convinced atheist. But I died for 10min during a routine medical procedure and let’s just say my atheist doctor is no longer an atheist. I also learned upon my death that there is a God. The Christian Bible IS true. But the majority of “Christians” interpret the Bible how it is convenient for them, but you are right-there is NO reference to the rapture OR pre-trib crap doctrine in it. It is the nonsense being preached all over the place in (dare I say) ALL churches for their love of money that chases people away from the faith.

    I remember at 15 after my parents were divorced having one of BH’s married ass. pastors come out of my mother’s bedroom half dresses banging on the door of my bedroom to tell me that I was going to hell for listening to Led Zep. Apparently he believed it had backwards Satanic messages in it. I told him that I wonder if God and his wife will appreciate him F-ing my mother. He told me “I am already saved by the blood!” So being who I am I recorded the music, unscrewed the tape and turned it backwards. Then I called him in playing it and asked him where and what the msgs were. He said it must be on a different album of course!! If he would have just listened to it forward he may have actually heard some Satanic lyrics. But that is how “Christians” go about things, because of religion. Jesus Himself was anti-religion.

    As for Eatser and Christmas they are Pagan rituals having NOTHING to do with Christianity. The day of rest and worship is supposed to be Saturday, but MAN decided they wanted it to be on the day of worship of the Sun god for the sake of knew believers in the 4th century. Funny I didn’t see where God ordained it!!

    As for gays and sinners, God loves them all and doesn’t wish for ANY of them to perish. His laws cannot be completely understood in this life, but in my brief death, I understood them and had MANY false doctrines exposed to me. I WAS sentenced to hell BTW and it REALLY SUCKED! Thank God I got a 2nd chance.

    As for you, I see that the church really screwed up a good thing with their crap doctrines. The faith of a small child should NEVER be played with and I personally would love to have some Old Testament punishments for these phonies, but I’m not willing to play god. I apologize on behalf of the FALSE Christians, even though I am not among them.

    As for how “Christians” treat people of the world with judgment and contempt-IF you read what the Bible says, you see CLEARLY that we aren’t to judge the WORLD, but we are ONLY to judge our fellow Christians AND ONLY when we don’t have the plank in our own eye. Most “Christians” walk around with a plank in BOTH eyes and judge the world while pretending that themselves and others in the “body of Christ” are perfect. Ironically Jesus Himself told us IF a part of the body causes us to sin, cut it off and throw it into the fire. Paul tells us that we are to associate with the people of the world and we aren’t there to proselytize anyone, just to show Christ’s love and goodness from us. <In my words. May God bless you and help you to see the truth, despite all of the false people in the churches.

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    About Me

    My name is Stephen. I am a News Junkie and an assistant editor at RawStory.com. My work has appeared in publications both printed and online, including The Dallas Business Journal, the cover of Fort Worth Weekly and in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, Envy Magazine and others. I also covered the rebirth of the U.S. peace movement first-hand for The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, starting with the city's first public screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' all the way through the end of Cindy Sheehan's stay. I've seen my reporting discussed in publications such as Time, Wired, Reason, The Washington Post, D Magazine, The Guardian UK, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Alternet, Cannabis Culture, 1-UP, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, G4TV and many others. I am currently open for freelance assignments and actively seeking a literary agent. You can follow me on Twitter @StephenCWebster, or from Facebook.com/StephenCWebster.

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