29 May 2008

Reporting undercover from an evangelical spiritual retreat

Via BoingBoing, where I seem to be spending a lot of time lately: Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi attends a spiritual retreat run by John Hagee's Texas megachurch and lives to tell the tale. Taibbi paints a picture of desperate, manipulable people who come to the retreat for spiritual direction, culminating in a frankly creepy exorcism of "demons" ranging from "lust" to "intellect." And the picture that develops is not good: by the end of the retreat, the attendees accept anything their leaders might assert:
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.
And I guess that's where this gets scary; the "retreat," though it strongly resembles a secular self-help workshop, turns into an indoctrination session.

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