They Haven’t Seen “Marjoe”


Have you?

One of the youtube channels I occasionally check out is a guy who remixes Jim Bakker’s horrible advertorial prayer shows, and not very subtly cuts them to bring out the stupid. Not that it takes much to bring out the stupid, because finding the stupid in a Jim Bakker video is like finding your ass with both hands while you’re wearing a kilt and sitting on them to keep them warm.

This episode had some creepy pastor who was using a child as a ventriloquist’s mannequin (watch at 0:27). That was the childhood of Marjoe Gortner, who was a young “child preacher” trained by his mom using operant conditioning techniques like smothering him with a pillow and beating him where the bruises wouldn’t show. Marjoe eventually took a form of revenge by going back out on the preaching circuit – but this time taking a camera crew and recording all the other religious scammers dividing up the “take” after the tent meetings. [imdb]

Bakker is out of prison after his 1988 conviction for fraud, having diverted millions of dollars from his evangelism empire to buy big houses, a fleet of cars, and a luxurious lifestyle. His sentence was originally 45 years, but was cut down to 8, and he was released after 4. [nyt]

What amazes me about these people is that they’re obvious frauds and, yet, they have followers (and people who will buy their buckets of survival glop. I guess that when Bakker got out of prison, he went back to doing the only thing he knows how to do: making religion look bad.

When we say (as we do) that Trump voters are nationalists and white supremacists, we’ve also got to remember that there’s a good dose of religious chucklefucks in there too: people who freak out when they’re told someone is a muslim (not that they know what that is) or that socialism was invented by Karl Marx who was descended from the devil. I put these people on a continuum with Alex Jones and Jim Jones. They’re the people P.T. Barnum was referring to when he said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

“There’s not a bottle in the world that takes out radiation.”

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I don’t think I want to buy anything from Bakker’s website – it probably gets you on all sorts of mailing lists. Or, maybe I should, just to see what kind of bizzare crap lands in my inbox.

I have some uranium (yes, wrapped in lead foil, in another building 10 miles from where I live) and it’s kind of tempting to buy a radmeter and experiment with one of the bottles. I’m not sure if it’s that tempting, though. If I start experimenting with Jim Bakker stuff the inevitable end-point will be me trying to eat some of his survival bucket food substance.

Comments

  1. says

    They’re the people P.T. Barnum was referring to when he said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    I wouldn’t call them “suckers” or any other similar words. Many of these people aren’t guilty of anything. They simply were unlucky to be born in bad families where they received awful education/indoctrination.

    I don’t think I want to buy anything from Bakker’s website – it probably gets you on all sorts of mailing lists.

    It also means you give some money to a bad person.

    I have some uranium (yes, wrapped in lead foil, in another building 10 miles from where I live)

    How did that happen? Is it really possible for a curious citizen to just buy some uranium on aBay?

  2. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#3:
    Is it really possible for a curious citizen to just buy some uranium on aBay?

    Of course not! You buy it from [United Nuclear]
    (Before I went to Chernobyl I thought it might be wise to make sure my radiation meter was working correctly)

  3. says

    Caine@#1:
    I saw Marjoe in 1972. At the time, it was quite enlightening.

    I never even heard of it until the 00s. It was definitely eye-opening. I’ve given copies to true believers; I wonder if they enjoyed it.

    The kid in the Bakker video – all I can think of is Richard Dawkins’ comment about religion being child abuse. What’s that kid’s life going to be? Doomed to ignorance and trained to con people; what a great start.

  4. says

    I vaguely remember all the controversy over Marjoe back in ’72. There weren’t protesters at the theatre like when The Exorcist played, but the doc was considered scandalous by all the religious communities, and it was condemned as being faked, and there was a great deal of hatred directed at Gortner. It was definitely a popular topic and source of arguments. One thing I didn’t know back in the day was that it was a highly limited showing, being stopped at Iowa, so as to not upset all the people in the bible belt.

    I was 15 at the time, and rather delighted at just how much it upset all the religious people.

  5. johnson catman says

    The water bottle claim that it “even takes out radiation” should be a testable claim that, when proven false, should qualify Bakkker for another stint in the pokey.

  6. says

    johnson catman@#9:
    The water bottle claim that it “even takes out radiation” should be a testable claim that, when proven false, should qualify Bakkker for another stint in the pokey.

    I’m not sure whether that’d be regulated by FDA (which seldom does anything) or by FTC (which seldom does anything) – in either case Bakker has it rigged so he can just be shocked, shocked if it doesn’t work, and can try to nudge the water bottle maker under the bus.

    I think it’d be fun to test it, but mostly because I think I’d wind up with a filter element that was mildly radioactive and some water to dispose of carefully. I think it’s plausible it’d work – it’s not like the water would become and stay radioactive – all the filter has to do is get the uranium dust out. But then there’s “Radon Water”(tm) the healthy high energy drink, which Bakker would be selling next.

  7. says

    Caine@#8:
    One thing I didn’t know back in the day was that it was a highly limited showing, being stopped at Iowa, so as to not upset all the people in the bible belt.

    The suckers get pissed off when they realize how they’re being fleeced. It’s bad for business.

    But it’s temporary. I’m sure Bakker’s making pretty good money again. Same shit, different day.

  8. Simple Desultory Philip says

    linky thing i hope? i don’t do html much – interesting vice article that i read a few years ago, interviewing one of the directors, sarah kernochen, about marjoe. this is how i learned about the existence of the documentary – i’d never heard of it before. i streamed it from somewhere after reading this, so it’s probably still discoverable for free somewhere on the intertubes.

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