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← An Atheist Goes Undercover to Join the Flock of Mad Pastor John Hagee

An Atheist Goes Undercover to Join the Flock of Mad Pastor John Hagee - Comments

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 1 by ksskidude

This should be great! I hope Matt doesn't convert! Hahaha NOT!!

Really though, this could be rather interesting.

Wed, 07 May 2008 12:49:00 UTC | #167494

~manic-depressive's Avatar Comment 2 by ~manic-depressive

That's it; I've decided to lay claim to first post (or in this case second) whenever I can because the chances are that this is the only happiness I'll get from reading about more religious idiocy perpetuating human suffering.

"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." Ah, yes, that great science of demonology again. More priestcraft yet again.

Wed, 07 May 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #167495

nlewkowitz's Avatar Comment 3 by nlewkowitz

This looks like a fun read!


Wed, 07 May 2008 13:15:00 UTC | #167506

Demotruk's Avatar Comment 4 by Demotruk

I'm some way through it now. Scary read, although nothing particularly surprising yet.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:28:00 UTC | #167510

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 5 by Cartomancer

Ugh! I had little idea such vile things went on in this world. These people sound utterly revolting - foul, swaggering, macho-posturing, militaristic, homophobic, anti-intellectual, anti-rational, hyper-conservative, nauseatingly arrogant demagogues who prey on the vulnerable and the confused. Everything I most despise about america rolled into one sickeningly awful package. I think I need more than a couple of those anti-daemon sick bags myself after reading that.

People often say that Richard is going too far in comparing religious behaviour with psychological delusions, but from this account I think that his comparison hardly does it justice.

Surely there must be some way these people can be closed down for hate speech against homosexuals or scientists, or libel against JK Rowling, or taking advantage of the vulnerable or something? The more I hear about these horrible cult brainwashing events the more I am convinced that they must be expunged from civilised society once and for all, and sooner rather than later.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:34:00 UTC | #167512

Alkal's Avatar Comment 6 by Alkal

Its an amazing read

he is so absolutely right about how it is with the compliance of everyone in it that this kind of nonsense is what goes on.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:42:00 UTC | #167517

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 8 by Frankus1122

I am okay with casting out the demons of astrology and handwriting analysis, but this:

"In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!"

He seems to have been successful.

Perhaps I was wrong about the casting out of demons.

"In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!"

Oh, yes please.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:48:00 UTC | #167525

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 7 by Szymanowski

I do recommend reading the whole article, though it requires a strong stomach.

Cartomancer: unfortunately it's one of the sacrifices of being in a civilized, liberal society that these things have to be allowed. The only premise I can think of for legal action would be "practising medicine without a licence" or something along those lines, but it's really not likely that they can be "expunged" unless a crime has actually been committed. Although... it seems like a situation ripe for a Lisa McPherson-like tragedy. :(

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:48:00 UTC | #167524

~manic-depressive's Avatar Comment 9 by ~manic-depressive

I had little idea such vile things went on in this world.

Really, Cartomancer?

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:49:00 UTC | #167527

Dane's Avatar Comment 10 by Dane

"Hello," I said, taking a deep breath. "My name is Matt. My father was an alcoholic circus clown who used to beat me with his oversize shoes."

The group twittered noticeably. Morgan's eyes opened to tea-saucer size.

I closed my own eyes and kept going, immediately realizing what a mistake I'd made. There was no way this story was going to fly. But there was no turning back.

"He'd be sitting there in his costume, sucking down a beer and watching television," I heard myself saying. "And then sometimes, even if I just walked in front of the TV, he'd pull off one of those big shoes and just, you know -- whap!"

I looked around the table and saw three flatlined, plainly indifferent psyches plus one mildly unnerved Morgan staring back at me. I could tell that my coach and former soldier had been briefly possessed by the fear that a terrible joke was being played on his group. But then I actually saw him dismissing the thought -- after all, who would do such a thing? I managed to tie up my confession with a tale about turning into a drug addict in my mid-twenties -- at least that much was true -- and being startled into sobriety and religion after learning of my estranged clown father's passing from cirrhosis.

It was a testament to how dysfunctional the group was that my story flew more or less without comment.

wow... this book might be interesting...

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:53:00 UTC | #167528

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 11 by Bonzai

I thought this is about Richard Morgan's latest conversion. I was wrong.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:54:00 UTC | #167529

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 12 by Cartomancer

Really, Cartomancer?
Indeed so. I've encountered the idea of cultic brainwashing in fiction before, but I always assumed that it was all highly exaggerated and hardly ever happened in the real world (generally the sinister cults in the sort of books I read use diabolic magicks to control their victims - I tend to write off cults as a fantasy phenomenon, like griffons and dragons and the living dead). I still find it very difficult to believe that there are a significant number of people who really behave like that - how can they just suspend their critical faculties without a moment's pause? Why do they buy in to such obvious nonsense? The phenomenon is one I struggle very hard to understand.

But it's the manipulators who I find hardest to understand. Can they really be so unscrupulous and unprincipled? Do they seriously believe their own nonsense? Seriously? Surely it's just cynical advantage-taking? But can human beings really be that cynical?

I guess I've never actually been to a religious service of any kind before, so I haven't really got a point of reference for comparison. People tell me that sporting events and musical concerts are similar, but I've never been to one of those either. The closest I've come to experiencing that sort of focussed communal event is probably attending theatrical performances - but this weird feeling of uncritical assent to dangerous nonsense he describes in the article was entirely absent.

Wed, 07 May 2008 13:57:00 UTC | #167531

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 13 by mordacious1

Oh crap! There is one part where the "coach" says that when jesus returns he's going to personally seek out the ACLU. And me with one of their membership cards in my wallet.

You'd think he'd have better things to do like maybe punishing the witch who stole Ben Stein's penis.

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:09:00 UTC | #167536

GoodbyeGodNZ's Avatar Comment 14 by GoodbyeGodNZ

A great and hilarious read.
I'll buy the book Matt!

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:17:00 UTC | #167541

Corylus's Avatar Comment 15 by Corylus

I feared for my normal.
Sign of sanity that.

Mr Taibbi, if you are reading this, remember to take some time out for yourself after this experience.

Your normal life can feel both real (in that it is familiar) and also unreal in that you know that there is a harsher reality elsewhere.

P.S. Loved the clown story :)

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:27:00 UTC | #167547

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 16 by Gregg Townsend

12. Comment #176544 by Cartomancer

But it's the manipulators who I find hardest to understand. Can they really be so unscrupulous and unprincipled? Do they seriously believe their own nonsense?
I've wondered how Joseph Ratzinger felt and thought after becoming Pope and discovered there is no hot-line phone to a god. Did he have a mother Teresa moment? Did he just shrug and think, "Oh well, I've got to go along with it anyway. I'd look too stupid to go back now."

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:28:00 UTC | #167550

MPhil's Avatar Comment 17 by MPhil


Ratzinger is an intellectual - he has refined the definitions and proposed mechanisms of his beliefs so far that they are perfectly compatible with just having a fuzzy feeling. I think he has thought at latest since studying theology (at the university I am enrolled in). For him, it's the Holy Spirit guiding him - he doesn't need to "hear voices" - he has to "feel the presence and guidance of holy spirit".

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:30:00 UTC | #167551

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 18 by Gregg Townsend



Ok take my comment about Joseph Ratzinger and replace the name with Thomas S. Monson.

I wonder about that too. :)

[edit] You'd need to replace the word Pope with Prophet too.

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:34:00 UTC | #167553

Partisan's Avatar Comment 19 by Partisan

Ha, this was good fun - it's a shame all the let-down, repressed and shy people on that trip feel the need to jabber in tongues and surrender their will to a man who clearly finds them an expendable source of capital. Societal casualties, I's a real shame.

Wed, 07 May 2008 14:35:00 UTC | #167554

Vendetta's Avatar Comment 20 by Vendetta

Wow. That was some read. I really like Matt's writing. I've never read anything of his before, I've only seen him do the political reporting on Real Time w/Bill Maher.

Wed, 07 May 2008 15:02:00 UTC | #167561

JamesDB's Avatar Comment 21 by JamesDB

I love when christians talk about how god controls the weather. If god controls the weather then how do they figure the weather channel works. Are the meteorologists linked to god via the super weather telephone line. The ignorance goes on and on.

Wed, 07 May 2008 15:39:00 UTC | #167571

JackR's Avatar Comment 22 by JackR

I read this article a couple of weeks back when it first came out. Brilliant. I always loved Matt Taibbi's stuff when he wrote for the New York Press and he's been one of my favourite journalists ever since.

This one is scary and hilarious. I defy anyone to keep a straight face when Taibbi describes his "wound".

Wed, 07 May 2008 15:48:00 UTC | #167572

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 23 by Border Collie

Hey, just like church camp when I was a kid ... down on the Brazos ... near Glen Rose ... where post-Cambrian cave people walked with the dinos ... he haw! They probably had scrambled dino eggs and grits for breakfast.
And good grief, THANK YOU to the racially sanctimonious who took note, generally out of context, that the author mentioned "weather beaten black people". I mean, we could all tell that he was a regular KKK member. Maybe he'll mention "weather beaten white people" next time. Then what? Isn't this a website a place for free speech.

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:11:00 UTC | #167573

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 24 by mordacious1

I'm wondering what they do with the homeless that they've recruited once they're in the "flock". Do they provide them food and shelter, or release them back to the streets? I'm sure some of these people would cut off their left (fill in the blank) for their basic needs. After a couple of weeks of this nonsense I'd have to go postal myself, though.

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:17:00 UTC | #167576

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 25 by mordacious1

This is off topic, but I just read that scientists have completed the first decoding of the platypus genome. Does anyone have any links where I can get some good info on this?

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:22:00 UTC | #167577

ACJames's Avatar Comment 26 by ACJames

Its clear, from my past experience and Matt's investigation, the billions of empty indoctrinated people, and the 100's of millions of dead around the world, that Religion is the principle tool of injustice and misery to our species.

I feel sorry for people who still feel a need to believe any religion.

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:28:00 UTC | #167578

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 27 by mordacious1

GOD is at it again. CNN is reporting over 100,000 dead in Myanmar. They must have a lot of lesbians, atheists, liberals, etc. there who have been asking for it for awhile.

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:31:00 UTC | #167579

zosky's Avatar Comment 28 by zosky

the story reminds me of when i was a teenager and attended regular "fellowship" with my mom, sister and nanny at the catholic charistmatic renewal movement (i bet no one's heard of that group before). It scared the **** out of me. The speaking in tongues, casting out demons, people wriggling and writhing front left and center. It was the stuff my teenage years nightmares were made of. As hard as i tried, i never could speak in tongues or be "moved by the spirit". Neither could my sister and mom. But our nanny was a pro, if i say so myself

Wed, 07 May 2008 16:51:00 UTC | #167582

Vandemeer's Avatar Comment 29 by Vandemeer

funny but sad.

mordacious1 here's a link

Wed, 07 May 2008 18:09:00 UTC | #167591

SomeDanGuy's Avatar Comment 30 by SomeDanGuy

Now imagine you're in seventh grade and your youth group talks of an awesome "white water rafting trip" with go-karts and minigolf. ....except it turns out that's only day 1 of 4 days. Guess what the other 3 are? :-/

Wed, 07 May 2008 18:17:00 UTC | #167596