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Folks who are regular readers of this column know that I'm particularly focused on political links to dominionists in this column.  Today will not be an exception.

It's rather rare that I refer to dominionist preachers as literally being chunder-inducing; it's even rarer when this is literally accurate.

In the case of John McCain's present "spiritual advisor", John Hagee, the comparison is both literal and figural--right down to the "deliverance ministry" practice of upchucking the Devil (no, we aren't making this up).  Thanks in part to a successful expose by Matt Taibbi that finally blows the cover off the "private face" of neopente dominionism, we learn the vomit-induciveness isn't just figurative.

Binge and Purge for Jesus

In yesterday's post, we went into detail on how Matt Taibbi recounts the process of "recruitment" in Hagee's church and in particular an "Encounter Weekend"--essentially a "Jesus Camp for grownups" that combines coercive tactics with pop psychology (in a manner that has more in common with Scientology "auditing sessions" than your typical prayer retreat).  Along the way, I've noted how several of the tactics do compare with those used in coercive groups and themselves raise multiple red flags among those of us familiar with how religiously abusive groups work.

Taibbi notes this it's revealed that on Day 2 the punchline to the madness is finally delivered--again, taking a page straight out of Scientology's book, apparently all problems are the result of "engrams and thetans", erm, "generational curses and demonic oppression":

But then, midway through Saturday, Fortenberry and the coaches started to show us glimpses of the program's end game. The wound, it turned out, was something that was inflicted upon us because of a curse, a curse that perhaps spanned generations in each of our families. Alcoholic parents abused their children, who in turn carried their parents' curse to their adult lives and became alcoholics themselves — only to have children and continue the pattern again. Now, why was that curse there to begin with? Here was where we could get into religious explanations, see the footprint of Satan, etc. We were unhappy because of earthly troubles from our childhoods, but those troubles were the work of a generational curse, inflicted upon us by devils and demons — probably for unbelief, bad behavior, disobedience, worship of the wrong gods and so on.

This little bit of semantic gymnastics helped transform all of us at the retreat from being merely fucked up to being accursed carriers of demons. Having ridden an almost entirely secular program to get our biographies out in the open in a group setting, Fortenberry could now switch his focus to the real meat and potatoes of the weekend: Satan and the devils inside us.

Again, red flags are going up all over the place.  Literally every checklists of coerciveness flags this: BITE (major portions of Emotional Control axis including sections 4 and 7; Information Control axis, sections 3 and 5; Thought Control axis, section 1 and potentially 2); ABCDEF (sections 3, 4, 5, 15, 17); Lifton's (Sacred Science axis as well as major sections of Doctrine Over Person axis); and Thaler Singer's ("Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group's ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors"; "Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person").

In addition, it can legitimately be argued that the entire concept of "generational curses" can be seen as a form of use of loaded language (see previous post).

For that matter, this also does some major pinging of "deception" sections of most checklists. This includes BITE (section 1, 2, 3, 5 of Information Control), ABCDEF (section 3, 4, 5, 11), Lifton's (portions of Mystical Manipulation and Milieu Control axes), and Thaler Singer's ("Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how she or he is being changed a step at a time")

Suffice it to say, this is Bad with a Capital B.  Previously, I did a direct comparison of neopentecostal dominionist "deliverance ministry" and Scientology "auditing sessions" and "introspective rundowns"; now we get to see how "Deliverance" goes from abusive into downright psychological torture.

After a particularly extreme bit of Generational Curses 101 (in which apparently labour pains are a direct curse as a result of Eve convincing Adam to nosh on that apple) which includes some decidedly unconventional theories--like "alcoholism is the result of a 'generational curse'" (genetics has a bit more to do with this--not your ancestors being naughty) and "every gay man on the planet is the result of anal rape by paedophiles" (which ties in to an urban legend among neopentecostal dominionists that all "out of the closet" gay men are potential boy-rapists)--asthmatic attacks of children are literally blamed on Harry Potter books by Pastor Drill Sergeant (no, I am not making this up--see here, complete with lurid descriptions of kids gasping for air until "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is torn asunder and chucked out the window).  We've officially boarded the train headed for Joel's Army Whackyland.

The whole affair wraps up on Sunday in a "deliverance service" where people are not only instructed not to pray (I'm sure this will horrify most of my mainstream Christian readers, if past experience is any guide--neopentes preach that instead of praying one should have "God move through them" in the form of yammering in tongues, waving around "swords of the lord", etc. instead) but which ends up turning into (to quote a certain segment of the movie "Stand By Me") a literal barf-o-rama:

Fortenberry began to issue instructions. He told us that under no circumstances should we pray during the Deliverance.

"When the word of God is in your mouth," he said, "the demons can't come out of your body. You have to keep a path clear for the demon to come up through your throat. So under no circumstances pray to God. You can't have God in your mouth. You can cough, you might even want to vomit, but don't pray."

The crowd nodded along solemnly. Fortenberry then explained that he was going to read from an extremely long list of demons and cast them out individually. As he did so, we were supposed to breathe out, keep our mouths open and let the demons out.

And he began.

After attempts to "exorcise" demons of the traditional seven deadly sins, and less-traditional sins such as "astrology", the Holy Hurlage (because "holy rolling" is so 1950s!) begins in true neopentecostal style:

Coughing and spitting noises. Behind me, a bald white man started to wheeze and gurgle, like he was about to puke. Fortenberry, still reading from his list, pointed at the man. On cue, a pair of life coaches raced over to him and began to minister. One dabbed his forehead with oil and fiercely clutched his cranium; the other held a paper bag in front of his mouth.

"In the name of Jesus Christ," said Fortenberry, more loudly now, "I cast out the demon of lust!"

And the man began power-puking into his paper baggie. I couldn't see if any actual vomitus came out, but he made real hurling and retching noises.

"Chundering for Christ" in neopentecostal dominionist "exorcisms" is something that isn't new to longterm readers of this diary--Skipp Porteous wrote about his role in these types of "puking exorcisms" for an early support group for walkaways--but this may well be one of the first works since Porteous' to describe puke-a-thon "deliverance services" in detail.

There is so much red-flagging here I'm not entirely sure where to begin. The descriptions of the pre- and during-exorcism activities manage to ping portions of each and every section of Lifton's "Eight Criteria of Thought Reform"; this is pretty damn impressive, seeing as generally only the "worst of the worst" ping everything.  The results aren't much better with other coerciveness tests, with the "deliverance service" almost batting .400 on a number of other checklists including: BITE (the entire Emotional Control axis, the entire Thought Control axis, sections 2 and 4-8 of Behaviour Control, sections 2 and 4-6 of Information Control--it comes pretty damn close to covering all of BITE as well); ABCDEF (sections 1-5, 11-13, 15, 17, and potentially 14, and the specifically anti-"lust" and anti-LGBT stuff qualifies under sections 9 and 10); and Thaler Singer's (batting .400 as sections cover the entire list).

Deliverance ministry, in and of itself, is known to be possibly one of the most abusive tactics ever documented (and I think this may well be the first time that a formal documentation of the harmfulness of a "deliverance ministry" has been done, at least based on commonly used tests of coerciveness); as it is, the service itself tests as literally more abusive in some aspects than Scientology.  In addition, people surviving this particular flavour of holy hell often end up with severe psychiatric injuries, some of which have required inpatient treatment, almost invariably lead to PTSD in survivors, and have on occasion resulted in fatalities.  

Not only is the practice done here and in Teen Challenge...but is a typical part of every Assemblies of God church service, especially those for "longtime members" and the Sunday night and Wednesday services.  Hagee's church is no exception; again, the fruit doesn't fall very far from the tree in this regard, and if anything, he seems to ramp stuff up even worse.

The chapel descends into essentially a Vomitorium for God Warriors  (including descriptions of women sounding like they are choking from "deep throating"), culminating in some very unusual diagnoses of "demonic oppression" being puked out of Mr. Taibbi:

Within about a minute after that, the whole chapel erupted in pandemonium. About half the men and three-fourths of the women were writhing around and either play-puking or screaming. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I raised my hand for one of the life coaches to see.

"Need . . . a . . . bag," I said as he came over.

He handed me a bag.

"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!" shouted Fortenberry.

Handwriting analysis? I jammed the bag over my mouth and started coughing, then went into a very real convulsion of disbelief as I listened to this astounding list, half-laughing and half-retching.

"In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!" Fortenberry continued. "In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!"

Cough, cough!

(Yes.  Anal fissures.  As in tears in the skin of your poop-chute, which last I read tended to be caused by physical means like being horridly constipated or from not using lube when, ah, engaging in anal intercourse. Yes, you're reading this right: aforementioned God Warrior accused Taibbi of being possessed by a demon of torn assholes.  In the immortal words of Dave Barry, "I am not making this up".)

After another guy is diagnosed with being possessed with a demon of "philosophy" (You always wondered why there's such a hatred of science and hard thought among neopente dominionists? It's because they literally think it's demonic!), and after the mass hysteria goes on for some time, Taibbi gets a new perspective on just why politicians associated with the "Joel's Army" wing of Christian Nationalism give the screaming, shitting horrors to those of us who survived that stuff:

Afterward, a frightening thought shot through my head. It occurred to me that over the past decades, any number of our prominent political leaders (from Jimmy Carter to Chuck Colson to W himself) had boasted publicly of their born-again experiences, broadcasting to Middle America an understanding of their personal relationships with God. But whereas once these conversions were humble things — Billy Graham whispering and putting his hand on W's shoulder in Kennebunkport, or even (in the case of Tom DeLay) a flash of recognition while watching a televangelist program — the modern version might very easily be this completely batshit holy-vomitus/demon-exorcism deal. The thought that any politician could claim this kind of experience and not be immediately disqualified from public service seemed utterly terrifying.

He'd be right to be terrified.  In fact, Jimmy Carter left the SBC because this stuff is becoming more popular there--and it's part of why some of us worry re "The Family" and Hillary Clinton's connections with them.

So far, two of the four checklists we're using have had every warning sign flagged, and BITE is damn near completely covered (literally the only section of BITE that has not been pinged yet is the Behaviour Control axis, section 3--"Need to ask permission for major decisions"--and the cell group probably covers that once they're recruited.  ABCDEF is almost entirely pinged too; the only sections I have not specifically noted so far are sections 6-8, 16, and 18--and the parent church pings all of those.

In short, we are literally dealing with a group that by four separate coercive group identification frames is probably one of the most abusive groups yet documented, particularly in "deliverance ministry" services (which have been previously documented to be so harmful that mental breakdowns are not uncommon).  It's not entirely surprising in this regard that Matt Taibbi was starting to develop a "cultic personality" in less than three days.

Afterwards, people are annointed with oil--typical in Assemblies services, and usually cheap olive oil or even Wesson oil (the actual Biblically mandating "annointing oil" used for the coronation of kings and blessing of priests in ancient Israel would literally cost as much as a brand new Kia or Hyundai to make)--of note, this is the same sort of stunt that was attempted on the floors of the Senate by one of the major informers as to Hillary Clinton's links with "The Family"--and are practically coached in how to "speak in tongues" (a skill I never quite mastered--too much internal honesty :D).  Taibbi has a wee bit of fun with them in speaking the lyrics to "What Is Autumn?" by Russian rockers DDT, and the result is nothing short of bizarre:

"It's important that you practice," said Pastor Fortenberry. "It sounds silly, but when you're at home, when you have a little time, just try to let it out. You'll get used to it, and soon you'll be speaking in tongues like nobody's business!"

He then pronounced us baptized in the Holy Spirit and fully qualified now to cast out demons.

(One now wonders at the effectiveness of J-Rock or K-Pop, much less "Dragostea Din Tei" or "Caramelldansen", in the use of the Rite of Exorcism.  Reportedly this is by far not the only incident like this--people who can speak in the Hebrew language whilst "speaking in tongues" are apparently seen as especially "blessed", and it has not been unknown for persons to have a wee bit of fun with this.)

Taibbi wraps up with a sentiment very remarkably similar--eerily so--to what I have been stating regarding neopentecostal dominionism for fifteen years and what Troutfishing has been posting on extensively:

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. Once you reach that place with them, you're thinking with muscles, not neurons.

By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet, and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you've gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. 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. There is this "our thing," a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that's all.

You folks wonder whom the "Nineteen Percenters" are who still support George W. Bush?  They're folks like that.  As Taibbi accurately reports, it can be literally stated people are not entirely within their right minds in these groups (it is probably not exaggeration--coming from someone who's been there--to describe it as a form of induced insanity)...and whatever the pastor states is law:

The crowd swallowed that one whole. One thing about this world: 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. Some weeks later, I would be at a Sunday service in which Pastor John Hagee himself would assert that the Bible predicts that Jesus Christ is going to return to Earth bearing a "rod of iron" to discipline the ACLU. It goes without saying that the ACLU was not mentioned in the passage in Ezekiel he was citing — but the audience ate it up anyway. When they're away from the cameras, the preachers feel even less obligated to shackle themselves to facts of any kind. That's because they know that their audience doesn't give a shit. So long as you're telling them what they want to hear, there's no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.

Needless to say...this is a recipe for very, very, very bad things to happen.  This is, in part, why Holocaust-revisionist hate groups like "Watchmen On The Walls" are not only encouraged but promoted and even given offical sanction.  This is why paramilitary groups and women's clinic bombers are not only tolerated but lauded.  It is not exaggeration to state, in seeing this, Sinclair Lewis' observation that "When fascism comes to the United States, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross".

Even on coerciveness checklists, this puts the final piece of the puzzle in place--on no less than four separate tests of coerciveness, the pastor being the "ruler of all" (and the pyramidal structure, as proven by the use of cell-church groups divided into "Tribes") means that each and every single warning sign on each and every one of the four checklists I have used in testing this show conclusively that not only Cornerstone Church is highly abusive but may be one of the more decidedly psychologically abusive groups ever documented. (This actually shocked the hell out of me when I totaled this up; cumulatively, Hagee's church--and most other churches sharing similar practices and theology--literally score as bad as Scientology or the Moonies.  This is especially the case when one figures in that "deliverance ministry" is a staple of Assemblies and "Assemblies daughter" church services--and is actually part of the core theology of these groups.)  

Hagee's statements, as previously documented, would also fall under the missing portions of ABCDEF (not only hypocrisy, but also sections specifically calling for violence against others--and when you talk about wanting to see LGBT people genocided and actively call for not only turning Iran and Russia into glass parking lots but the literal omnicide of everyone who isn't a neopentecostal dominionist...well, you can't really get more for "calling for violence" than that).

Now you know why I wonder for my sanity some days!

And hence why it was in fact terribly dangerous for Taibbi (and frankly, I still hope he's taking serious measures to protect his personal safety--I think there will be a number of folks less than amused to see his exposes).  At any rate, I'm grateful he took the risk--maybe, for once, us survivors will be believed.

Originally posted to dogemperor on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I too attended a penticostal church for a (14+ / 0-)

    short time and now I am a non-believer too but not just because of the Penticostal church as I grew up in the Catholic Church.  I was spanked by a Priest twice, with my pants down, with a electric cord before the age of 13.  The reason for the spanking; 1. For touching myself and 2. for skipping rocks accross a pond.

    Kill your TV, especially the FOX, ABC and CNN channels.

    by ajleiker on Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:31:30 PM PDT

  •  These people (6+ / 0-)

    are one of the reasons I own as many guns as I do.

    They want power, ad if they get it, they will not give it up peacefully.


  •  Come into the Dark (10+ / 0-)

    Jeepers, this stuff scares me.  My grandparents were Baptist, but that was long ago and far away.  If the church decided they didn't like a pastor, they voted him out.  I'm thinking that there aren't any votes in Assembly churches.

    This glimpse into the dark places is important, but I can see why you found it necessary to read Taibbi's story in more than one session.  

    Eric Hoffer, in "Flight from Freedom", hypothesized that for many people the greatest fear was choice, or freedom - it terrified them not to have a fixed system of beliefs to fall back on.  We can see this fixation, refusal to open one's mind to other ideas, even here at DailyKos from time to time.  Here, however, it is not coerced or enforced.  Happily, this is a zone where the vast majority seem fine with freedom.  

  •  so this is the "how" - but "why"? (8+ / 0-)

    It's very interesting to me that it's obvious that when it comes to the "exorcism", all of them know they are faking it - and that seems to be part of the thought control, to believe that you are the only one faking and so you'd better toe the line lest the others notice....

    But anyways, I see a social structure that is self-perpetuating through these methods - and that it's hard to rescue people from this mind-set. And I can see  a little more clearly why an Assemblies person would shut me out despite the fact that I am a Christian. I saw this in action a few years ago when a college student who didn't like our discussion of feminist theology got huffy: "That's not what MY pastor says!" & she never came back.

    ANYWAYS, it is something that runs along and grows like an invasive weed. Invasive weeds don't know anything - they just enjoy the sun and rain and do their thing, growing and crowding out other plants. Do you think that the people at the top of this structure really have an agenda, or are they just milling around at the top of this twisted universe? The difference between the two is the difference between plotting to take over the world as opposed to incrementally wanting to be a bigger fish in a small pond. I wonder how many of the leadership have full awareness that they are deceitful. I can't tell what that drill sergeant guy really thinks.

    Thanks - I would like to rescue these people if I could. I'd also like to rescue the reputation of Jesus, and I'm very sorry that they latched onto him in the first place.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:48:27 PM PDT

    •  They most definitely have an agenda. (9+ / 0-)

      Generally, the people at the top of the pyramid do have an agenda of world domination--as far as politics go, much of the impetus for Christian Nationalism in these groups is a direct extension of "deliverance ministry".  (Essentially, they believe the US is being "oppressed" by all manner of "generational curses" and "territorial spirits", and that it is furthermore a "chosen nation" alongside Israel that (in the exact same Scofield Reference Bible "prophecies" that make up that end-of-the-world jazz re Russia and Iran) is literally commanded to become a theocracy and kick everyone's asses to maintain its status as "chosen nation" before the Rapture (and to get as many people converted as possible).  In other words, the ultimate goal is to have a massive national perpetual "deliverance ministry" service (it is claimed in this that America will be restored to greatness)--and the neopente dominionists as "chosen people" in their own mythologies have had an agenda stretching back to at least the late 1920s, and probably at least as far back as Prohibition, of attempting to take over the US in the name of "deliverance".

      Pretty much all of the unethical tactics I have documented throughout my diaries, and in particular in the last two, are directly descended from this belief.  Unethical recruitment practices, involuntary commitment and "exorcism", and so on are justified by a neopentecostal dominionist version of the "spiritual warfare" meme, much as Al Quaida and the Taliban make heavy misuse of the Islamic concept of jihad (often translated incorrectly as "holy war" but more approaching "righteous struggle"--rather close, in fact, to the conventional image of "spiritual warfare" and "putting on the armour of God" in mainstream Christianity).  

      Specifically, they believe that all of humanity is divided up into the Chosen Folk and the Devil's Own, and they may have only a short time to claim as much "territory" as possible in both the literal sense and the sense of people's souls.  (In many neopente dominionist groups, this goes pretty extreme; the entire basis of the "Joel's Army"/"Joshua Generation" movement and its increasing military imagery and militarisation is that there is supposedly a "last outpouring" to create a force of God Warriors, and all of humanity are literal and spiritual descendants of either God (through Seth, and ultimately Adam) or Satan (through Cain, who in "Serpent Seed" theology--which had its origin in the early pente dominionist movement--was descended from a coupling of Eve and the Serpent).

      The scary thing is, one can't really say at this point that it's purely hucksters manipulating people.  We are now in likely the third generation of modern dominionism (the first generation being represented by groups like Eagle Forum and the Moral Majority, the second by groups like the AFA and Focus on the Family, and now Rob Schenck and John Hagee are among the ringleaders of an incipient third and far more hardline generation of groups like the "Patriot Pastor's Network", Wallbuilders, and so on)--and, as I've noted, the Assemblies and its "daughters" have had a pretty unbroken line of advocation of dominionism dating back before World War II (the only other extant dominionist group with this long of a heritage is "The Family", which is the world's oldest still-operational political dominionist group) and flaring back up in major style starting in the 50's with the Cold War.  

      Hagee would definitely count in with those "true believers with an agenda", as would Schenck, as would Joseph Fuiten (who will likely be one of the leaders of the "third generation" of dominionists), as would Ken Hutcherson of "Watchmen At The Walls" infamy--all of them have been in the movement for quite some time.  Even some of the "second generation" dominionist leaders are not only multigenerational dominionists but "true believers with an agenda"; the leaders of the American Family Association and Focus on the Family both would qualify.  And in fact, as multigenerational dominionists are getting in control of these churches, they get more extreme--I saw this myself with the church I escaped from, especially when the son of the former pastor took over upon the pastor's death.

      It is probably not a huge exaggeration at this point to put the leaders of dominionist churches in a similar role to that of Taliban leaders or, more specifically, the people who ran the madrassas in which the Taliban were trained in Pakistan.

      •  so each generation gets worse... (5+ / 0-)

        Sounds like it just gets crazier the longer a family is entrapped in this mire - which probably applies to ALL cults, it's just been rare (up to now) that a cult does not tear itself apart within ten years or so. I can see how this kind of thought control would indeed apply to hardline Muslims. They also started thinking along dominionist lines in the years since WWII.

        In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

        by Lefty Mama on Sat May 10, 2008 at 09:56:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  how can they tarnish the beauty of pentecost.... (6+ / 0-)

        I'm preparing for church with the children tomorrow... it's Pentecost, and I'm printing out "I love you" in different languages. I'm going to give each child a language that is special to another child in the class - and see if they will recognize them! We have Japanese, Arabic, Ojibwe, Spanish, Cherokee, Blackfoot, Polish, Irish, Chinese, & Swahili to represent African Americans.

        In the Bible, the spirit comes as tongues of flame, and each person touched by this flame speaks a different language. There are also in the room people from different countries, and they recognize their own specific dialects being spoken by some fishermen from Galilee.

        That story is about understanding people who are different from you - and it's also about how God loves everybody, and being different does not matter. That's what I'm going to teach my class tomorrow.

        These creeps you write about have turned all of that into a carnival sideshow.

        In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

        by Lefty Mama on Sun May 11, 2008 at 02:01:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was Pentecost Sunday at the Disciples (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cathy Willey, Lefty Mama

          of Christ church I've been attending.

          Which for that particular congregation meant that it was Priesthood of the Believer day in Sunday School. I was very happy to get to read one of the passages in Sunday School about it out loud to the group.

          I find it horribly and horrifically ironic that the groups that claim so strongly to celebrate the day the Holy Spirit came down ignores so entirely the most basic meanings of that. So a church member can speak in tongues, but can't interpret so much as a verse out of line with what one very human authority figure says?

  •  was it really olive oil? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since he name-checked the movie "Stand By Me", it could conceiveably been cod liver oil. [snark]

    I'm at the junction of short, nerdy, and oddly attractive.

    by Pan Zareta on Sat May 10, 2008 at 08:07:31 PM PDT

    •  More likely, Wesson oil. (5+ / 0-)

      The use of oil in neopente dominionist churches is...shall we say...rather unique among religious denominations.

      The theory is that it isn't the ingredients of the oil, but (for want of a better term) it is imbued with "intent" when used as essentially a "tagging" or "Territorial pissing" to mark something for "naming and claiming".  (This is why they don't bother to try to re-create the Biblical formula--not just because it'd cost as much to make as it does to buy a new Kia, but because it's used solely for tagging purposes and not in the traditional manner to bless--in fact, it's disturbingly common to see people using "annointing" as a specific form of hexing someone in the name of Christ.)

      By these logical and theological gymnastics, it's taught that if olive oil (not the aforementioned Biblical recipe--which was designed as something implicitly precious for the coronation of kings and the initiation of people to the priesthood, with olive oil being simply the carrier base for a number of aromatic oils--but just plain old Extra Virgin) isn't available that good old Canadian Oil, Low Acid--canola, of which Wesson oil is a popular brand--is perfectly acceptable.  An example from a Joel's Army/Joshua Generation church notes thusly:

      It also says to anoint the sick person with oil. Oil in the bible represents the Holy Spirit, and one of the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of healing.
      I will let you in on something that's sad but true. You can go to your neighborhood bible bookstore and buy a little tiny bottle of what they call anointing oil that has a pretty smell to it. But you will have to pay $5.00 and up even into the $100.00 if you are not careful. This is robbing or fleecing the flock of God and making money on what God's word says.
      In the church I go to there is a bottle of Wesson oil sitting up front that they use to anoint people. It may cost maybe $1.50, but you know what, it's not the oil that heals the person but the Lord.

      So why anoint with oil? Because it's a representation of the Holy Spirit working on the individual just as baptism does not save you, but represents your faith that you are saved and a new creation in Jesus Christ.

      •  It's magic (6+ / 0-)

        They would kill me for saying it to their faces, but the use of oil in these circumstances is a perfect example of the magical law of contagion (items in contact continue to remain in psychic/magical/spiritual contact afterwards). Physical objects that have been blessed/magically-charged transmit that energy to other items or people they touch.

        Every witchdoctor, medicinewoman, shaman, magician, and Wiccan in the world recognizes this kind of spell-casting. Which is yet another reason why the fundies want to kill all of us...

        First, oversight; second, investigations; third, impeachments; fourth, war crimes trials!

        by ibonewits on Sun May 11, 2008 at 10:20:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. Definitely cursing. (3+ / 0-)

          It is ironically as a pagan that I realised that the "naming and claiming" practiced by these groups--which not only includes tagging territorial pissings "annointing" with oil but such things as writing someone's name on a piece of paper or holding one of their possessions and having multiple people pray over it that they become miserable and fail at everything unless and until they convert--as classical cursing.  (Ironically, they fail by their own theology--technically Christians are prohibited from cursing anyone or performing negative magicks--it's one of those things that are specifically listed as forbidden.)

          This is the kind of stuff that would be considered negative workings, as harmful magicks, as what would have been termed "poisoner magicks" (as opposed to "doctor magicks") in old cultures.  This would definitely qualify as something that at least some of my ancestors, of note, would have referred to as "sorcery"--and not in the positive sense, either, as opposed to "good medicine folk"--some of which used opposition magick to protect against people deliberately causing harm to another.

          •  And *especially* doing so in Jesus' name. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cathy Willey, ibonewits

            I ran across that little point in my Bible this morning at church.

            And there are enough groups that automatically include 'in Jesus' name, Amen' at the end of prayers (SBC member churches, yes I am looking at you) that a lot of "I'll pray for you [to be miserable until you see the light, convert, recognize that you are a heretic, etc]!" probably falls specifically under that much of the time.

            And yes, dogemperor, I did think of you and the fact that you are person I remember first seeing the comparison of magic and prayer/annointing from [sunfell on LJ being the second].

      •  I remember wondering very much about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cathy Willey

        a particular shopper the last time Wesson was on really good sale at the local grocery store. She was not quite a little old lady, but getting there, with four of the really big bottles of the stuff in the shopping cart and not much else. I think my family might, might, use that much for cooking in a decade.

        •  maybe she was buying them (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to store in her bomb shelter for the day of the Final Battle. While hellfire rages, she'll be safe behind tons of concrete, cooking heart healthy fried chicken for God's warriors. [snark]

          OTOH: She just might have donated three of the bottles to the local food pantry. One can hope.

          I'm at the junction of short, nerdy, and oddly attractive.

          by Pan Zareta on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:59:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a big Taibbi fan! Looks like this book goes (9+ / 0-)

    on my must-read list.

    Also grateful to Matt for taking the considerable risks involved, and unmasking these fruitcakes.

    These fundy loonies scare the shit outta me!!

    Any right-thinking people should run, not walk--away from St John McSame!!

    Do ya think he'll inherit the 19% from Commander Chimpy "Mission Accomplished" McCodpiece?!

    The Hagee embracing is the worst, bar none, pandering I've witnessed.

    Aloha   ..  ..  ..

  •  This stuff is nuts, and appalling. (8+ / 0-)

    I went to an Assembly of God church for a while as a teen. when my mom went through a big religious phase, but compared to this, my church was tame.

    At least I know now why I have asthma, though. All these years I thought it was because I grew up in a smoggy steel town--but I've seen the light. It's because I'm a card-carrying Harry Potter fan...

    Lousy Bowlers for Obama

    by paintitblue on Sat May 10, 2008 at 09:12:28 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for these diaries !!!!! (6+ / 0-)

    I hope they can be published in Vanity Fair or other high profile venue - the "Family" is creepy .They are all control freaks and fascists , I think.Fundamentalist lawyers who don't "believe" in DNA - how does that work ?

    It reminds me of the Warren polygamists...basically completely controlled and brainwashed people, who were indoctrinated to believe that black people were sinners and if you sit next to one, you will start to turn black. Seclusion, secrecy, and power combine to evil purpose, and this all should be a HUGE wake up call that McCain is actually seeking the endorsement of this person, ostensibly to gain a few penti votes.

    Please continue to shine bright , white-hot spotlights on these people 24/7 - they must be exposed and their victims deserve help.

  •  but he's White (4+ / 0-)

    so that's ok then.


  •  dogemperor (8+ / 0-)

    thank you for faithfully working to enlighten us. The domininists and their descendants are a frightening development.

    I think what is most insidious about them is that most people have no idea what they do and think in terms of their own religious experience when they hear a group like that use the term Pastor or prayer or consecrating.  But in fact, they have no idea what's really meant and would be horrified if they did. They allow them latitude and respect, when they should be screaming bloody murder at the perversion of the faith Christ taught.

    Please keep up the good work.

  •  As always, your posts are top notch (6+ / 0-)

    and well researched.  I say ship all of the leaders to WV (the only state where the practice I am about to mention is legal still) and give each of them a very angry rattlesnake to handle.  My level of disgust is up about 10 notches now.  Warmest regards, Doc.

    Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

    by Translator on Sun May 11, 2008 at 09:11:38 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for mentioning my ABCDEF (6+ / 0-)

    It doesn't get a lot of press, in large part because I'm a member of a movement that many ignorant people consider "cultic" (Neopaganism).

    Ever since I first published it in 1979, I've had people sending me rankings of their mainstream churches using it, and I've been repeatedly horrified over what supposedly "normal" people do to themselves.

    Perhaps it's time to post a rogues gallery of the worst of these Christian cultists...

    First, oversight; second, investigations; third, impeachments; fourth, war crimes trials!

    by ibonewits on Sun May 11, 2008 at 10:27:55 AM PDT

    •  No prob. (6+ / 0-)

      There is an increasing awareness that the problems in coercive tactics are not with specific theological systems but a "core of coercion" wrapped up in various sorts of "window dressing";  in general, neopagan groups do not meet these criteria unless there is some fairly serious abusive dynamics going on with a group leader.  (More properly, there's as much risk as with pretty much any other faith system.)

      As it is, ABCDEF was the first cultic evaluation checklist I became familiarised with (via a post on alt.religion.scientology that did a particularly damning evaluation of Scientology based on ABCDEF), and is probably the checklist that began the process in my head of realising I grew up in something horribly coercive.  (So if anything, I have you to thank; consider this repayment of a favour done long ago and unawares. :D)

      •  You're more than welcome! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm gratified that it's been so helpful to so many people.

        If I could only get a book contract for it, I'd do an entire book of analyzing mainstream and minority religions/belief systems.

        First, oversight; second, investigations; third, impeachments; fourth, war crimes trials!

        by ibonewits on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:41:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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