Labels: buzz-words, demonizing, Fundamentalist, homosexuality, Lou Engle, Pat Robertson, Rod Parsley, Satanism, teenagers, The Call, Uganda
Is Lou Engle The Most Dangerous Man In America?
In 1996, editor (AU magazine) and writer Rob Boston wrote The Most Dangerous Man In America? Pat Robertson And The Rise Of The Christian Coalition. I've read the book and appreciated its straightforward take on Robertson's hypocritical form of Christofascism. I recently perused some of the reviews of the book on Amazon.com:
But the man [Robertson] is fringe. He's dumped his own personal fortune into his misguided ambitions. His movement is fading. At worst, all he did was channel folks who would have otherwise supported Pat Buchanan or third parties behind the established Republican candidate. His "Family Channel" - his main cash cow - is long gone, and the 700 Club will be off the air when the Disney Acquisition of the Fox Family Channel is complete.
Pat Robertson is history, not the bogeyman.
That review was written in 2002. "The 700 Club" is still broadcasting specious stories of "inspiration" and "decadence" and Pat Robertson is still broadcasting his talks "with God" and somewhere in America a little old lady in a rest home or a trailer park still touches the screen when Robertson appears hoping that he'll manage to cure her hemorrhoids. Yes, Pat Robertson is still with us, but his bloviations about Katrina, Haiti, Hugo Chavez, Ariel Sharon and all things gay have chipped away at the man's charisma. Many people think that senility has finally settled in Robertson's brain.
The problem is that Robertson still gets recognition. At 80, Robertson has a bigger political base than his father (Senator Absolom Willis Robertson) ever achieved. He has the ability to get attention wherever he is. And he uses that recognition with wild abandon.
But is he still the "Most Dangerous" in America's all-male political elite?Or has raspy-voiced evangelical Lou Engle taken over that role? Fiery preachers have come and gone, but Engle's violent speech is in league all its own:
My son, Jesse, he's nineteen years old. God has given him dreams, to go to San Francisco to launch a house of prayer - one block frpom the Castro District - where homosexuals boast the dominion of darkness. He's going there with weeping in his heart. With a dream that prayer is stronger than the dominion of that spirit.
...he's starting to cast out homosexual spirits out of our new converts. Its scary as hell... but fathers are to send their sons into the darkest places. ...St. Francis - Francis means 'free man'. San Francisco is the City of the Free Man.!
This last pronouncement I looked up. "Franciscus" means Frenchman. And while Francis, in some etymologies, means "free," Francis does not necessarily mean "Free man!" BTW: interestingly, the nickname "Francis" was given to Giovanni ("John") di Bardone by his father who was, at the time, an Italian cloth merchant enamored of all things French.
O.K., so that's a little picky, but expand Engle's half-truth into an hour-long sermon. Throw in some quotations from one Bible translation, then from another. Keep on demonizing, demonizing, demonizing until people think that a place like San Francisco has everyone practicing Satanism on the streets. Make people think that walking near 18th and Castro is an act of foolhardiness or extreme courage for anyone who is righteous. Make them think that everyone they see will automatically go to hell if they do not listen to your message. Make them think they may be coerced into homosexual acts in order to obtain dominion over a person's soul.
Engle uses pre-teens and teens in an indiscriminate, manipulative, and destructive way: both he and his son use Fundamentalist Biblical buzz-words constantly and never, ever let up. From start to finish, they never give the teenage mind a chance to question, a chance to think. The teenager is bombarded, pummeled with confusing sentiments:
TheCall belief and intent has never been about promoting hatred toward the homosexual community as a whole or towards individuals who identify as LGBT. We have always sought to offer a message of love and redemption to those with same-sex attractions, though at times our communication could have been expressed more effectively and graciously.
Considering the vehemous condemnation of an entire group of people as being possessed by demons, any statement of the sort is disingenuous at least, or an ugly lie at most. I've tried to figure out exactly how teens have gotten hooked on his sermons: he has no more charisma than any other street preacher who screams redundant word after redundant word. In a sermon given to "Holywood", Los Angeles in 2007 during a pre-TheCall rally, (and during the most virulently anti-gay portion), Engle refers to "God" 44 times, himself ("I") 31 times, "Dream" 15 times, "Mel" or "Gibson" 10 times, "Jesus" 6 times, and "Christ" 4 times. "Love" is never mentioned.
Like Rod Parsley, Engle's rhetoric is somewhat military in tone, but "blood" is given a more commanding presence. Like other firebrand preachers, the frequent mention of "God" is the vengeful, jealous, self-righteous God of the Old Testament.
Engle, along with Scott Lively and a small band of other preachers/lawyers were very instrumental in encouraging Uganda on its "Kill the Gays" bill. It would be unnecessary to say more, but to the politically and morally obtuse: Lou Engle bad - tolerance good.