I have fielded phone calls from both the A.P. and CNN over the past couple of days. I swear. You work for one little, multi-million dollar televangelical outfit, and you’re marked for life. While I am always willing to talk and cooperate, I try to be very careful with when and where my name is used. I’ve been a reporter, which means I worked with reporters, and I trust the media about as much as I trust televangelists. I need to be able to control my message, and I can only control my message when I control how my name is attached to it.
I am getting calls regarding a recent measles outbreak that stems from a church, which is associated with a little, multi-million dollar televangelical outfit. Reporters want to know if I have information about anti-vaccination policies. I don’t–mainly because I haven’t been out there in 12 years. But that isn’t really the right question, and the answer to the right question takes so long, and is so layered that I’m not sure you could fit it into a single column.
The first thing I will always tell you about my experience with the ministry is that they were not anti-medicine (they for sure aren’t against plastic surgery.) They encouraged you to use doctors, but the examples they gave were always last resort examples, and the ideal was that you should maintain your health through faith in God, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If you were not yet strong enough in your faith to withstand sickness, you needed a doctor, and you should go to a doctor using your faith. But, the ideal was to be so secure in your standing of righteousness, that your body didn’t dare break down in any way.
I will tell you that there was a period of time during which I refused to see a doctor, until my mother went nuclear about it. By the time she did, I was halfway to an I.V. drip and a hospital stay. But, I was in Bible College then, and we were pretty much encouraged to infect one another with whatever typhoid we were carrying as practical education/experience in faith healing. No, no one said, “Lane, don’t go to the doctor. Go cough on Michael and let him faith heal you,” but the implication was always there. Always looming. If you go to the doctor, you are less than. If you go to the doctor, you are limiting yourself by not exercising your faith. If you go to the doctor, it’s like only ever eating baby food and not making it to solids. But you go if you have to, darlin’. We’ll understand. Bless your heart. You’ll get there one day. You just keep plugging along.
This is one of those cases where I don’t expect anyone to understand. I don’t expect anyone to believe me. I hardly believe myself. It’s no easy thing to tell you how willfully ignorant I was, and how I compromised my own intelligence in an effort to be faithful. I’m not stupid. I know if you’re coughing up blood, you need a doctor. And yet…
I am the special kind of idiot who actively aided in programming myself to fit the mindset of the ministry. One of the ministers I respected said that the best way to get close to God was to remove all barriers between you and Him. On that minister’s advice, I turned off television, the radio, put away books, magazines, and newspapers, and fed my mind and soul on a steady diet of nothing but the Bible, Bible studies, Bible television, Bible music, and Bible friends.
I kept scripture taped up everywhere. On my breaks I read the Bible and practiced memorized prayers. I meditated on scripture. I memorized it and spoke it aloud. I read the Bible over and over again. I immersed myself like a sponge until that’s all that came out of me. It only took about 3 years, but I kept that up for 7. –I don’t regret having been faithful, and having tried to make a difference in myself. It kept me off the streets, kept me out of trouble, and there are more dangerous drugs. I’m explaining so you know where my head was.–
I’m pretty sure I was unbearable, and my only redeeming quality was the sincerity with which I pursued my faith. I wasn’t out for any gain other than a closer relationship to God. I wasn’t looking for money or a platform–and if I saw a platform coming, I was very careful to weigh my motivations. If I had even the slightest impression that I wanted applause or attention, I would avoid the opportunity.
So, when I finally made it all the way out onto the compound as an employee, I was a freak of nature–even among them.
When I talk about them, I always want that to be clear: I take responsibility for having turned myself into a zealot. No one made me. No one forced or coerced me. I went whole hog because I believed it was the right thing to do, and because I believed if I gave myself entirely to God, He could use me to a purpose.
What crushed me was the slow road to realizing that everyone wasn’t like me, and what made me different was how I took responsibility for my own actions*.
See, when you say “I have heard from God, and The Lord told me…” no one can argue with you. If “The Lord” tells you to buy that BMW, you buy it. Who can question? For no one can know the mind of the Lord. And if you are a terrible driver, and you keep stalling out the car on the railroad tracks, and you say, “The Lord told me to sell this BMW because it is possessed,” who can question**?
It’s a lot easier to say that God wants you to have a Lexus, than to say you want a Lexus. If you want it, that is a signifier that you are attached to material things. If God wants it for you, that’s just a signifier that you are loved, blessed, and highly favored. Of course your heavenly Daddy wants good things for you! And who are you to deny His affection?
And me, driving around in a car with no air conditioning, with a 1.5 hour commute in the hottest summer Texas had on record…well, I just wasn’t faithful enough yet, so God couldn’t shower me with sweet, sweet a/c. I believed that. If I worked hard, showed my faith, and rooted out every possible stain, I could have a car with air conditioning.
I spent a lot of time in meetings where we discussed offerings and tithes, and how to encourage people to give. At first, I was excited. Giving is part of how to bring blessings! I wanted to encourage people to give so that they could activate their heavenly blessings. Give and receive. Awesome! And it feels good to give. It feels good to help. No, I hadn’t seen any return yet, but I was going to! It was coming!
I had people glowering at me because they thought my sincerity was facetious. Leadership questioned me about my sarcasm. My genuine enthusiasm was read as sarcasm because they knew better than to be genuinely enthusiastic. That broke my heart–slowly. Willful ignorance had turned into plain stupidity by that point.
But, ministry is a business. You have to make money to run a business. This business made money in two ways: Selling products (teaching tapes/cds/videos, music, and direct to video feature length movies), and through donations. Their job was to figure out how to entice people to buy more stuff, and how to entice people to send bigger, more frequent donations.
Our meetings never came down to sounding like Corporate America. We had our own language–our own way of marketing. How do you market religion, though? The same way you market anything. You use fear, you use cause and effect, and you use desire.
What are people afraid of? Sickness, poverty, and all sorts of lack. What might cause those things? An unrighteous lifestyle. How do you get health and wealth? Righteous living. How can you learn to live righteously? Read the Bible! er…no. You need to come to church to have the Bible revealed to you because it is the mystery of God, whose mind you cannot know. And if you can’t make it to a church, watch church TV. But better to buy tapes so you can listen to them on loop, and books so you can keep scripture before your eyes, and movies so you can more easily indoctrinate your easy-to-bore children.
But how do you activate righteousness? How do you demonstrate that? How do you demonstrate obedience to God? By giving of your most precious commodities. Your time! er…no. Because you can’t really give your time (I mean, you can, but your time is really pretty worthless to a ministry.) What you can give is money, which is representative of your time. You get paid a wage, which represents a certain number of hours of your day. So, when you give of your money, you are “technically” giving of your time. God loves that! God loves a cheerful giver. The Bible says so. Now, how to get them to cheerfully give to the ministry, and not to some poor stranger.
You could give your money directly to the poor, but that doesn’t help a ministry, so they encourage you to give to them with the promise that they will better distribute your gift to the needy. Sow your seeds into GOOD ground–ground that will produce and show you a return on your giving. If you just give five bucks to some poor guy, he might be unrighteous, and then your blessing is wasted.
And there we get into a new conundrum. If your blessings are activated by your giving, what happens when you have given, and given and not been blessed in return? Well, it can’t be the ministry’s fault because there is a no refund policy. They aren’t promising you wealth–they are telling you that God promised you wealth IF you are righteous.
So, either you have sin in your house, or someone is blocking your blessing. Sometimes, even the ministry wasn’t receiving, so they had to figure out what blocked the blessing. For example, I was privy to a conversation among leadership that went like this:
- Donations are down.
- This is an attack from Satan. Our blessings are being blocked because we have homosexuals working at the ministry.
- If we rid ourselves of the homosexuals, our blessings will flow freely again.
Funny that no one ever said greed was an issue. More often, the Cause/Effect had to do with strife. Someone was causing strife and unrest. Someone had upset the apple cart, and our blessings couldn’t flow.
It was never the ministry’s fault. If donations went down, it didn’t have to do with the marketing group cutting and pasting an old man’s head on a young man’s body to deceive people into believing that the old man was supernaturally youthful because of his devotion to Christ. It had to do with the evil Democrat in the White House. It didn’t have to do with people being disgusted at misuse of ministry funds. It had to do with Satan and satanic people being jealous of the blessings of God.
If you catch the measles at church, it has nothing to do with the fact that you didn’t vaccinate, and everything to do with an attack of Satan. It’s a consequence of someone’s sin, somewhere, of unrighteousness, of your lack of faith, of Satan’s desire to kill, steal, and destroy, of Satan’s desire to hurt the ministry. It’s nothing to do with science or medicine. It’s spiritual. You don’t simply catch the measles, they are a consequence of something.
If you are Important, they are a consequence of someone coming against you. If you are not important, it is God allowing retribution, or some demon flying into your eyes because of your own sin, or whatever sounds good at the moment.
I never heard anyone preach against vaccines. No one ever told me not to vaccinate. But the ideal was divine health through faith, without medical intervention. The ideal was trusting God, not science. The ideal was trusting The Prophet because, “as parents, we need to be a whole lot more serious about this … in being aware of what is good and what isn’t, and you don’t take the word of the guy trying to give the shot.”
The ideal position to be in was to have your faith working in such alignment with your body that you never needed medical care. Being vaccinated was like working against your faith. You were trusting a disease’s power to infect you over God’s power to protect you. You were taking death into your body to guard your life, and that was an act of Fear, not an act of Faith, and acting in Fear brought about destruction. Ideally, you wouldn’t ever need a vaccination because your faith was strong enough to ward off any disease.
There is always just enough wiggle room, though. No one can say they were told not to get vaccinated. They were only told to be careful, be aware, and take it seriously. And what is wrong with that? Nothing. Nothing until you understand the full context.
And full context isn’t something you’ll get with a ten word pull quote from me.
But, it should tell you something that The Prophet has had a new revelation, and now the ministry is not only encouraging vaccination, they are offering vaccinations.
*There is nothing wrong with separating a fool from her money–I got fooled. That’s on me. But there is a world wrong with taking from the mentally ill, and those who aren’t able to understand exactly what is going on. Fool me, fine. Take from the brain damaged woman whom you know to be mentally ill, and whose physical presence you have restricted because of that illness? Shame on you.
**Oh, the stories I could tell.
All of this is my personal impression and my personal experience, and does not in any way reflect anyone else’s impressions, views, opinions, spit-filled rantings, angelic visions, words from God, prophesies, or divinely inspired teachings, and is probably just Satan working through me to kill, steal, and destroy because I have been diagnosed by a high ranking minister as being oppressed by a spirit of rebellion and possibly being mentally retarded and/or dyslexic–but definitely oppressed by demons. Amen.