Sunday, April 23, 2006

Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: the road to Hell

It's a pity there's no Heaven and no Hell. Heaven, because it sounds like a nice place to hang out in, although maybe a little boring. At my age, boring doesn't sound that bad, although I remember the physicist Richard Feynman was alleged to have said on his deathbed as he was lapsing into a coma, "I'm glad I only have to die once. It's so boring."

But Hell, now that's something to really regret doesn't exist. Just think of the bastards who aren't going to have to go roast in agony there, like Kissinger, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush.

And this guy.
An American evangelical franchise is plastering posters around the poorest areas of Lesotho, promising "miraculous" cures for AIDS. Headed by Ohio-based preacher Ernest Angley, the flyers effectively equate "salvation" with medical treatment, which is much harder to come by for Africa's poor. (Boingboing)
The cornu copia of AIDS misinformation spews forth from the Reverend Ernest Angley of Ohio. If you go to his site, contribute some money, because he has a lot of expenses:
Angley owns a huge complex in his home base of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a complex formerly owned by another television evangelist, Rex Humbard, and formerly known as the Cathedral of Tomorrow.

This complex now includes the Grace Cathedral, the Cathedral Buffet restaurant, WBNX as well as other companies which lease space.

Outside of Angley's evening talk show, WBNX operates as a secular TV station, and is currently affiliated with The WB Network. It is consistently one of the top 15 WB affiliates in the country. It will be affiliated with the CW Network in the fall of 2006. (Wikipedia entry)
So what's the good Rev like? Here is a personal account from someone who survived one of his marathon revival meetings in 1991. From the blog, Truly Bad Films:
I went to see the televangelist Ernest Angley at the Convention Center Auditorium in Greensboro. The man fascinated me. His fake-sounding name, his god-awful toupee, and his faith healings combined to promise a show I could not miss. And it was free!

Many people seriously claim that they have been healed at Reverend Angley's Crusades, and I'm not in a position to dispute or confirm that. I was attracted to the event as pure theater, so I looked over the audience when I got there. Elderly folks in wheelchairs were on the front row. The rest seemed to be a generous cross-section of young, old, black and white. I saw a few bad perms and I spotted one woman with her head covered in Muslim fashion. That surprised me.


The first 15 minutes was a pitch for the new book on Lucifer. "Lots of people paid $20 for it," he assured us. "Some paid $15. But today I'm gonna give it to you for a real bargain. I'll let you have it for $5.00. Get 2 copies. One for your married children."

Ernest led a sing-along during which his Lucifer book was sold around the auditorium. He sang, "I'll Fly Away," and "At the Cross," in an odd falsetto that hit every note on the scale before it found the right ones. He checked his watch during the sing-along.

"Kuwait was the last big war before Armageddon," he told us, because "Gorbachev brought the peace of the anti-christ to earth. In seven years the Rapture will take place. The anti-christ was born about 1967 or 1968. Our nation changed then. Did you know that?" Lots of uh-huhs and yes, lords were offered up from the crowd.

"If it hadn't been for God intervening, Saddam would have gotten Israel. God intervened for Israel's sake. And we lost Vietnam because we forgot God. I've been smuggling my literature into Saudi Arabia for years. You know it's a miserable situation over there!"

Then he led the room in chanting, "One flight out!" I had no idea what that meant, and I'm sure no one else did either, but they chanted it vigorously.


Then Ernest began asking for donations to his television tower fund. He had lots of stories to tell to encourage generous offerings. He started with asking for $1000.00 donations and about 50 people went up to pledge that amount. Then the donation requests worked down until he was asking the people who would give $5.00 to come forward.

He prepared to do his healings. Three ushers stood by to catch each person who passed out from the healing bolt. As he paused before each person, he motioned for them to raise their arms, he performed the healing and then blessed them with a palm to the forehead. The blessing is what caused them to fall backwards, as it concluded with a short shove backwards.

He prepared to heal a deaf man, whose arms were lifted. Ernest put a finger into each of the man's ears and vibrated his hands, saying "Thou foul deaf spirits, COME OUT!" Ernest yanked his hands away from the man's head. Then he placed his right palm on the man's forehead and gave him the blessing blast that knocked him backwards. He was caught by the ushers and lowered to the floor. Like him, many others had to be gently lowered to the floor, where they rested for awhile after their healings. Eventually they would be helped up and they returned to their seats.

One woman in a wheelchair could not stand up after her healing. Ernest advised her to, "sit and let the power work." After healing a busload of deaf people from Danville, Ernest encouraged some of them to demonstrate their healing.

"Ah!" Ernest led off.

"Ah!" said the newly healed man.

"Men!" said Ernest.

"Baby!" said the man.

"Ah!" Ernest tried again.

"Ah!" said the newly healed man.

"Men!" said Ernest.

"Buh!" said the man.

"Baby!" Ernest tried.

"Kubep!" said the newly healed.

"Ah!" said Ernest.

"Ah!" said the healed.



This went on for a long time.

At last Ernest said he saw 117 people in the audience who had a blood condition. He wanted them to stand to receive healing. Then he spied 56 who suffered from stomach aliment. They were to stand for a healing. Apparently 17 people were suffering from a "head condition." Ten people had a severe throat condition and 3 of those had cancer, Ernest said.

The he had all 27 people who were deaf in one ear, who had not yet come forward, hold up a finger. Ernest was going to empower the finger by God. He blessed the fingers and had them all insert the fingers into their ears. "Evil spirits of the ear, COME OUT!" he bellowed. I wish you could have been there to see 27 people yanking their fingers out of their own ears.

At this point, Ernest had been talking non-stop for 3 hours. He looked like he could go another three, but I was exhausted.
The good Reverend also predicted The Rapture would be about seven years from that date (somewhere in 1998 or 1999). He's still around, if you consider conning poor people in Lesotho as being around. So he didn't go to Heaven on schedule, although I'm sure he cheered George W. Bush's attempt to hasten The Day.

But then he didn't go to Hell either. As far as I'm concerned, he can.