Pharyngula

Witch doctors

Bob Larson.

Pam has the story—he’s an evil evangelist whose scam is to snooker people into coughing up wads of cash for his “exorcism” services. He’s a first rate kook, a flaming wicked con artist who may well be so deluded that he actually believes in his own magic powers, but who cares? He’s nuts. His followers are nuts. Most Christians aren’t going to complain if you point out that he’s a loon—most are going to be vaguely embarrassed by these fringe quacks flourishing within their religion.

This picture, though, is not from the Bob Larson article.

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Palms upraised and eyes closed, the workers sit in silent adoration around a conference table as religious music plays on a laptop computer. One member suddenly drops to his knees in rapt devotion.

That’s from the front page of today’s Star Tribune, part of a longish article on the growing practice of flaunting faith in the workplace. It’s a non-judgmental article that mentions that “The Twin Cities is becoming a leader in the application of faith at work,” gives lots of of space to the Christian advocates, and only briefly acknowledges that members of minority religions might find it somewhat oppressive. It fails to mention the central point: these people are nuts.

I don’t see anything to distinguish a Twin Cities CEO saying they need to “Lead like Jesus” and Bob Larson admonishing everyone to “Do What Jesus Did.” It’s people who believe in magical thinking and create an environment in the workplace to pressure other sheep to go along—they believe in stupid things and are spreading the Stupid Word. I think this is a bigger problem than the Bob Larsons of the planet; this is the work that paves the way for greater and greater foolishness, and it’s generally given a pass or even encouragement.

Let’s stop, OK? Can we please start asking pointed questions of all these rubbish spreading clowns and make them feel at least a little bit uncomfortable about their foolishness?

Comments

  1. #1 Dustin
    February 26, 2006

    Ahh, Bob Larson. Another of Colorado’s finest.

    I wonder why it is that one of the states with the most compelling geology in the continuous 48 is home to these kinds of weirdos. I mean, if you wanted to persist in the belief that an all-powerful toddler created the world a mere 5,000 years ago, I’d think that the last place you’d want to live would be the bottom of the Cretaceous sea.

    I’ve known several people who, upon visiting Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or the span between Denver and Colorado Springs, mention something like, “Wow, it almost looks like we’re underwater”. It’s that obvious. There are remnants of coral reefs everywhere, and they’re packed with fossils of things that just aren’t here anymore. Mention any of this to the average resident of Colorado Springs, though, and they’ll give you their best look of mock-puzzlement, and then they’ll give you some kind of hogwash about the flood.

    Oh, that makes sense, I mean, coral reefs that leave fossilized remains which are literally hundreds of feet tall can totally form in a paltry 40 days. What was I thinking?

    It gets better… some of the canyons here have exposed rock that goes all the way back to the Cambrian period. This state has such a rich fossil record that very casual fossil enthusiasts can, just by walking around, find fossils that make seasoned field guys turn green. I have a huge fossil collection that I’ve put together by nothing more complicated than walking along the bank of Fountain creek (which cuts through the Pierre Shale), or walking up one of the Bluffs near UCCS. Hell, some of the petroglyphs left by the natives that you can find around here are thought to be more than 5,000 years old.

    I think that’s what bothers me the most about the mindset that religious people can take on — the evidence contradicting their beliefs can be found by looking at the ground while walking the dog, and they continue to insist that it just isn’t there.

  2. #2 Dale
    February 26, 2006

    DW

    You may be on to something. FSM in a hostile takeover sounds like a good thing.

  3. #3 J Bean
    February 26, 2006

    God or whatever damn it! Everybody else has all the fun. I moved to Orange County. In preparation I bought a coffee mug and bumper stickers and came loaded for bear, but when I took a job I wound up in a nest of flaming liberals. We sit around at lunch shaking our heads and agreeing with one another. It takes all the fun out of it.

  4. #4 mark
    February 26, 2006

    Mencken described a scene such as pictured above very well in 1926:

    From the squirming and jabbering mass a young woman gradually detached herself…Her head jerked back, the veins of her neck swelled, and her fists went to her throat as if she were fighting for breath. She bent backward until she was like half a hoop. Then she suddenly snapped forward. We caught a flash of the whites of her eyes. Presently her whole body began to be convulsed–great throes that began at the shoulders and ended at the hips. She would leap to her feet, thrust her arms in the air, and then hurl herself upon the heap. Her praying flattened out into a mere delerious caterwauling.

    Maybe next week I’ll bring some snakes to the office to toss around.

  5. #5 Rey
    February 26, 2006

    MATTHEW 6:6!

    You know it used to be that being religious meant going to church every week and being charitable and loving the least of your brothers. Now it’s all about the merchandise. It’s all a big tribal sports-team mentality, and I think that’s what fuels the rise of fundamentalism. One-upmanship. “I’m more Christian than you!” “Oh yeah? Well I take everything in the bible literally!” “The New Testament? Or BOTH?” And eventually they’re painting crosses on their chests and naming their children after biblical figures. Oh yes, and pushing oppressive legislation.

    As an additional note, I think part of being a meek God-in-the-heart-and-not-plastered-all-over-the-car-bumper Christian is not calling other Christians out on their BS, because then you wouldn’t be meek and un-prideful, and non-judgement-passing anymore.

  6. #6 Axel Hein
    February 26, 2006

    My goal in life is buy the fastest road into heaven that money can buy!!

  7. #7 Todd
    February 26, 2006

    Big Bob Larson fan. I saw him do one of snakeoil shows way back before he become the world’s foremost authority on exorcism. Back then, he was the world’s foremost authority on the horrors of rock music. Most of his die hard fans, however, know him as the world’s foremost con artist and adulterer. You know you’re a circus sideshow freak when the wack jobs at Trinity Broadcasting yank your trainwreck of an act from their coveted 2am time slot.

    For cheap entertainment, his live act is definitely worth checking out.

  8. #8 Dark Matter
    February 27, 2006

    From the article:

    Jeff Hagen, founder of the Hill Cities ministry, said changes in the business community help explain the rise of faith groups in the workplace and the “booming market for spirituality.”

    Americans are spending a growing percentage of their lives at work, he said, even as downsizing and outsourcing are making workplaces feel colder and more transitory than ever. In that context, a faith community in the office can provide a welcome counterweight for believers frustrated with the disconnect between Sunday services and the rest of their lives.

    “Church can be a ghetto. Even Bible study can be a ghetto,” Hagen said. “The workplace is the village we all live in. It’s where people have meaningful relationships now.”

    Maybe they should be more concerned why their employers are eating up more and
    more of the time they have set aside for a private life!

    So if this spreads, what is going to happen when the Muslim, Sikh, Scientology, Jewish, Wiccan, Raelian, etc., etc., etc., employees at companies start demanding worship time at work?…

    Sure enough, the excuses of refusal will be “Oh, we’ll have a drop in productivity, and people will start arguing about religion, and there’s not enough people in religion x to justify setting a room aside, and our Christian employees think you worship the Devil and will be offended, and blah blah blah…..”

  9. #9 wamba
    February 27, 2006

    In this morning’s Strib:
    Spiritual adviser seeks harmony of faith and work

    “God said to quit the job and jump off of this cliff,” said Evenson, a 46-year-old single parent.

  10. #10 Gray Lensman
    February 27, 2006

    Don’t they know that stuff doesn’t work under flourescent light?