116 thoughts on “Swallowing Goldfish”

  1. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that done on a bus. I didn’t understand the purpose and I thought it was disgusting and still do.

  2. Aside from being a progressive fundy (evidenced from the backwards hat), he must be ecumenical too, if he crossed himself before eating the fish.

    1. sarcastically crossing yourself is considered really highbrow humor in fundyland.

        1. Well, not being Catholic, when I cross myself, I usually accompany it with the double-edged: “Just in case the Catholics are right.”

          True fundies don’t actually laugh at that one. πŸ™‚

      1. Or the ever popular touching your forehead, chest, and then wiping the edge of your hand under your nose.

        This was always good for a chuckle in 5th grade boys Sunday School.

      2. I’d never heard of that as some kind of bizarre humor. When he did that, I totally thought “this guy’s a Catholic” and just on a trip with youth group or something. Had to check the video title to verify it wasn’t.

  3. He did that sign of the cross thing. I’m with @KelRet I never understood the entertainment of eating “gross” things. Especially eating them live.

  4. They all do it because it is in that Wilds youth outreach/activity guide with the funny name that churches consider the definitive resource for planning any event involving youth.

    1. Eating live goldfish was a college prank in the 1920s – 1950s, along with stuffing people into a phone booth and panty raids. Not exactly high humor now, if it ever was.

  5. Gross dares are the best way to relate to the target age group. πŸ˜•

    Ah, and the familiar newscaster ‘do on the guy holding the fish bag. It doesn’t look quite tapered enough to be a REAL sold out for Gawd indy fundy, though.

  6. πŸ™„ Looks like Jackass has finally become accepted in fundy circles. Why do youth pastors always assume kids will relate to gross stunts? I always thought they were sick, myself.

    1. Now Jackass would be COOL. I’d love to see the parental release form for some of the stunts like dressing a guy up in a chicken costume, catapulting him into the air and shooting him with a paintball gun.

      But uughhhh, I agree with you, a lot of it turned my stomach. According to the youth pastor in this article, it teaches kids how to be fearless in standing up for Jesus: http://www.folioweekly.com/documents/main092909_001.pdf

      Maybe so, but there should be lines drawn somewhere.

      1. Right, because that is what being fearless for Jesus is about, seafood. How many people would flock to church if they saw just one pastor be fearless for Jesus in the way he actually lived. What if he was fearless enough to give “his” money to the poor, or not be afraid of dems peoples who want to destroy our country, like dem arabs and mexicans and gays. I would love to see a ministry leader be fearless for Christ and not just a jackass.

    2. I remember my former fundy chuch bringing in a martial arts evangelist who performed risky stunts WITH KIDS INVOLVED!

      I wondered why parents had to sign a release form before their kid was allowed to ride a bus, but did not have to be notified that their child was going to hold a balloon while the evangelist hurled a sharp object at it. 😯

      Seriously unbelievable!

        1. “Once [sic] of his more famous shows featured Crain slicing a watermelon on Micheal [sic] Jordan’s stomach when the basketball legend was attending the University of North Carolina. During the show Crain’s knife blade sliced Jordan’s hip, leaving a permanent scar.”

          … And people let him keep doing this jive, even AFTER one of his botched stunts maimed a famous basketball player? What the heck is wrong with most people?

  7. of course, if a non-fundy did that, they would be considered seeker friendly.

    on a serious note, I’m still rejoicing since the burden of thinking I had to be something I’m totally not (an overzealous, go-get-em’ style clown) in order to do ministry.

    1. They’ll just never see their own hypocrisy: they attack “seeker-sensitive” churches for “appealing to the flesh” but they’re also trying to attract people – and swallowing goldfish ain’t the Gospel.

      I guess it just falls under the old “if we do it, it’s OK; if they do it, it’s bad.” Insanity.

  8. 1) This reminds me of Roman colluseums or something, when the kids are screaming for him to eat it alive? Ehh.

    2) This also reminds me of Ozzy and the bat.

    3) If I were a kid on that bus, I’d likely never board a church vehicle again. I was more of a keep-the-fish-for-a-pet kinda kid.


    1. I remember some of the riders being horrified when we had goldfish Sunday, complete with swallowing. I always felt a little bad about it myself.

  9. Maybe I am the only one who’s weird, but any time I see some guy wearing a baseball cap backwards, I want to turn his head around so the peak points in the right direction.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?

    1. Possibly. Backwards hats were forbidden in my childhood. I never did, and still don’t, see what the big deal was/is. Depending on the direction of the sun, among a few other factors, my hat may face one direction or the other. People who find this annoying can get over it.

    2. Almost as bad as wearing a fedora backwards. Which, I have it on good authority, only happened to Darrell once, and it involved a sizable portion of Bombay Sapphire.

    3. During the height of the backwards-cap fad, I was hoping to get a grant to fund teaching young guys which end of the cap is the front. Due to assorted bureaucratic complications, though, my program never got off the ground.

  10. So if the goldfish survives the swallow, it swims around in your stomach until it is eaten alive by your stomach acid. That is absolutely gross!!!!!!!

    1. Kinda like what was going to happen to Luke & Han in “Return of the Jedi” – we were going to be fed to the Sarlacc…

  11. I have never seen this done, but some of the bus captains at my fundy church have talked about doing this on their busses in the past. They said that they stopped because some of the children were no longer allowed to go to church there anymore because the parents didn’t like the goldfish stunt.

    However, they still do all kinds of gross competitions (which I find stupid and repulsive). I don’t want to go to church and have to watch teenagers eat baby food out of a diaper. Sometimes I show up late on purpose just so I don’t have to sit through the games. To me, it’s just boring and a waste of time.

  12. I’ve seen the goldfish thing more times than I care to think about, but I’ve also seen a slightly less daring (perhaps less fervent?) variation–eating raw eggs. It seems like most years at Neighborhood Bible Time the visiting evangelists would do one or the other as an end-of-the-week prize for attendance or offering or something. The really weak ones would just have the kids hit him with shaving cream pies.

    1. I would be more worried with eating raw eggs, than an undead fish. Salmonella poisoning isn’t worth the risk of a stupid stunt. That being said, once I have this baby, I’ll probably go right back to licking the cake batter and eating raw cookie dough πŸ˜†

      1. WoB: There’s probably a much higher risk of getting Salmonella from eating raw fish (especially cheap goldfish, which are usually kept in very unsanitary conditions) than from eating raw eggs. Not that I advocate eating raw eggs, but let’s keep it in perspective.

        1. Ewww, Big Gary, I found the whole thing so repulsive that I didn’t even THINK about the disgusting tanks goldfish are usually swimming around in. In most stores, the $0.17 goldfish are about 200 to a tank, and the water is filthy green, with the live goldfish snacking on the dead ones. But hey- if those fundies want to take that chance for a laugh, I guess that’s their right. Survival of the fittest! πŸ˜€

        2. Yes, Lamb, that’s exactly where those goldfish were shortly before the exhibitionists swallow them.

    2. Wow – and NBT reference! I haven’t heard of them for years — didn’t know if they were still around!

  13. I hate this stunt.
    1. It is disgusting.
    2. It doesn’t glorify God (we fundies like that phrase, unless it’s something we do).
    3. It kills a fish. There was no need to kill that fish! I’m not a PETA person, but that was truly a waste.

    My notes about the video:
    * He was wearing a ballcap backwards. I wasn’t allowed to do that either. Something about counterculture? Nowadays the “gansta” crowd wears them sideways or with a flat brim in any direction. Backwards is old-school, which I would have thought would be acceptable.
    * He prayed with his hat on. Are you sure that’s a Fundy?
    * He crossed himself? Never seen a fundy do that before. I think I did it once as a joke when I was about to do something really stupid, so maybe it’s OK… But I always thought that was a ritualistic Catholic thing We Weren’t Supposed to Do (TM).

  14. Nice crotch shot – LOL. The crossing himself was totally disrespectful – like the cross is something to make fun of. Lutherans, Episcopalians and some Methodists make the sign of the Cross. I make the sign after I take communion at the rail. I remember our bishop making the sign and a friend freaked out. My comment was “Catholics don’t own the cross”.

    The praying for the nutritional value of the fish was also disrespectful. Maybe if I pray for God to bless my beer, it will make it less fattening!

  15. Ah! You finally did a post on this. I saw a post from waaay back where people suggested post ideas and I saw “swallowing goldfish” as one of them.

    I’ve seen this celebrated a number of times at my church. I’m not in the bus ministry, so maybe I’ve missed it there, but this has always been a kids Sunday School kind of thing to do. I’ve always hated it. It’s stupid and disgusting. Poor goldfish. ::shudders:: Use feeder fish for OTHER fish, not fundies.

  16. This is one of the most gross and stupid stunts ever. It is the typical armenian stunt of the ifb.

    Replacing the power of God with the absurd…go figure.

    1. ArmInian. NOT ArmEnian. I am an Armenian – Armenia is a state near modern Turkey and Georgia in the Caucusus mountains. I am NOT an Arminian. I’m a Calvinist actually.

    2. I’m Arminian, but I’m not Armenian.
      I don’t see what either has to do with swallowing live goldfish, though.

    3. So I wasn’t paying attention to the spelling. Forgive me. The fact is that this kind of garbage is a result of bad doctrine.

      People rely on gimmicks rather than truth.

    4. Also, for those who attribute doctrinal ignorance to misspelling, I would like to add that some errors are due to living outside the US for most of my life. AT LEAST I DON’T BLAME IT ON “GEORGE”.

  17. I recall the day FBC had “Baby Chick Sunday” on the buses and PETA was called. I think that almost shut down the buses because of animal cruelty. I think a bunch of bus route moms called either PETA or the police about the goldfish too–lol…we had some crazy “get em on the buses” gimmicks- have I ever shared the jar of pickles promotion?

    1. Yeah what is Baby Chick Sunday, and def I haven’t seen the Jar of Pickles story if you posted it on here.

    2. Ah baby chick Sunday! I wondered if anyone else remembered it. Haha. Ray Young and brilliant ideas that is all I have to say….

        1. One year at the beginning of the spring bus program at FBC Hammond the bus director at the time Ray Young decided it would be a brilliant idea to have “Baby Chick Sunday”. Well they ordered thousands of live baby chicks to hand out on the bus for the gimmick of the week. It turned out more baby chicks died at the hands of bus kids than made it home. So someone called PETA and it caused some legal issues for FBCH.
          After that they still had goldfish Sunday but no more live animals. Dr Hyles acted like he had no clue Ray Young was going to do this. Which is hilarious since he had final veto over the spring program and purchase orders. I’m sure a costly purchase order of a couple thousand baby chicks was run by him first for his approval.

      1. I didn’t think he was capable of having an idea that didn’t originate with Dr. Hyles.

  18. Yet another gimmick, and a stupid, juvenile, and cruel one at that.
    His “asking a blessing” before consuming the poor fish just makes it worse.

  19. We had dares at camp, and some kid ate a baby crawfish. πŸ˜• Said he was burping lake water all day. blech

  20. I remember our pastor preaching from the pulpit how proud he was of our teens and one girl in particular because she was willing to eat dog food to score points for her team on Wednesday night. Gee, so it is ok to succumb to peer pressure when it comes to doing something idiotic like eating dog food, but β€œlook out” if that same girl would go to a G rated movie or listen to CCM!

    Meanwhile teens from our local Lutheran church trained and ran a marathon to raise money for the local food bank. Because the marathon was held on a Sunday morning it would have been a major no-no in fundyland. πŸ™„ (Not to mention the ever scary girls in shorts. 😯 )

    Certainly those worldly Lutheran kids should know that it is better to go door knocking and eat animal food than it is to feed the poor.

    1. Ughhhhh!! Are food relays another SFL? ‘Cause I had to participate in so many in youth group, college, AND as a single. I’ve had to eat dog food too, and that experience pretty much ruined food relays for me. Yes, like everyone points out to me, dog food is not bad food and it could have been worse. Doesn’t make eating a whole dog biscuit in less than 5 minutes any better.

  21. I want to know when the backwards hat went from rebellious to cool. It’s kinda like the turned up shirt collars from the 80’s – just kinda dumb.

    1. When I used to be a partial season ticket holder for baseball games, I would wear a hat for sun purposes for like 45 minutes then turn it around once the stadium was blocking the sun. Most of the time I don’t like wearing hats except if I don’t feel like showering that day for bad hair purposes. I do find wearing them the say way (forward or backwards) painful and switch back and forth, but I really don’t wear them much.

  22. Here’s how and where the fad of goldfish-swallowing started:


    And here’s what happens to a live goldfish in your stomach:


    It’s all pretty gross, if you ask me. And if that’s what you feel is necessary to draw non-believers to Christ, you must not have much confidence in the Gospel you profess to preach.

    1. It’s not only gross, but cruel. I’m not a big animal rights freak or anything, but to me it’s senseless to kill a harmless fish for idiotic, low-brow “humor” stunts. It’s not as if he were eating the fish for nutritional value. Somehow, that just makes it seem different to me than eating meat at a meal, for nutritional purposes. I just really don’t think Jesus would find the needless killng of small animals for fun to be a good way to point people to Him… what’s next? “And next week at the Bus Ministry, kids: Pulling the wings off of butterflies!” 😯 πŸ™„

  23. When I was a kid at camp one counselor swallowed a worm. Then there was a popular skit where a row of people rinsed their mouths with the same water, spitting it back into the same cup all down the line, and then the last guy drinks it.

    1. I remember a game at camp about building a hot dog: there were two teams of 5 people. They had to pass each part of the hot dog down the line using only their mouths. Once all the pieces got to the last person, they had to put it together and eat it. Whoever did it the quickest won.

      There was also a game about making orange juice by squeezing it out of an orange with your mouth and spitting it into a cup, and someone drinking it.

      Games like this really bugged me 😑

      1. Games like those have always disgusted me. Why would I want to drink/eat something that was touched by a number of other people in such a manner? Gross!

    2. So, apparently Fundies are highly entertained by bad hygiene. I guess the outbreaks of flu, cholera, etc. a few days later are even funnier.

    3. By the way, goldfish are high in thiaminase, which destroys thiamin (Vitamin B1), potentially causing a severe deficiency.
      Here’s a short article about thiaminase:

      If you swallow one goldfish, thiaminase is not going to be a big deal. But if you follow in the footsteps of Gordon Southworth (swallowed 67 goldfish in one session) and Joseph Deliberato (89 goldfish), you may be headed for trouble.

    4. Random fact, but apparently merely double-dipping your food exchanges the same amount of bacteria/germs as kissing does. I can only imagine that the stories listed above are the germ equivalent of french-kissing.

  24. The problem with using sensationalism as an attractant is that tolerance (in the drug sense) sets in pretty fast, so you have to keep upping the ante. Maybe this week you eat a worm or a bug, next week it’s a live fish, but soon enough the kids get bored with that, so you find yourself eating a live chicken, or biting the head off a wriggling bunny. Next thing you know, someone’s daring you to eat some raw human flesh, and then … 😯

  25. In response to all this, a highly recommended book, if I may: ‘Jesus Manifesto’ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. The gist of it is, basically, “Cut the crap and get back to preaching Christ.”

    Seems particularly applicable with regard to goldfish-swallowing, hot dog-assembling and all that nonsense.

  26. I remember baby chick Sunday, goldfish and even lizard swallowing at HAC. I also remember a calf with the squirts on the bus and kissing a pig at other fundy places. At HAC I also had to wear a rubber hot dog squeaky toy around my neck for not having enough 1,2,3 prayers recited.

      1. 1,2,3 prayer– closing the sale after reciting the carefully scripted Fisherman’s Club or Phoster Club plan ending in a “repeat after me” magic prayer after which you can count the person as being saved.

        1. Ah, yes, the Magic Jesus Prayer. My favorite. And a form of psychological manipulation and degradation for failure to engage enough lost souls with this wonderful witchcraft. Sounds like my cup of tea.

  27. The poor goldfish! Why did it have to die just for some idiotic stunt like that? πŸ˜₯

  28. The bus ministry must be very popular in Japan and China. Don’t they all eat raw fish?

    1. And clean. And the product of 1,000 years of refined culinary culture. This…well, neither clean nor cultured apply here!

  29. Why is this a thing????? Ok, I’ve been a lurker for a while now, but I had to break my silence because I just don’t get this. Please, will someone clue me in?

    1. It’s just a gimmick, a stunt, apparantly as a reward: “Beat our record for kids on the bus and brother so and so will eat a goldfish” – or kiss a goat” or something else embarrassing to get a laugh.

  30. he did it for having 60 on his bus…..what is legel amount of riders……oh but thoses rulre dont apply to jesus…right??

    1. Back in the day, I had 124 on a 72 passenger bus. Glad the minions of Satan didn’t pull us over and persecute us.

  31. In reference to the backwards hat, if you’ve ever worked on a car while wearing a hat, the only way to wear it is backwards…the bill just gets in the way when you’re trying to grab the oil filter on a Kia or other small car.

  32. At least this isn’t as bad as that youth minister or whatever who dumped a whole tank of goldfish on the floor of the church during his sermon and then watched as all of the horrified kids scrambled to scoop up and save as many fish as they could before they died. Apparently, it was supposed to demonstrate that the kids were more willing to save a bunch of fish than they were in going out and saving humans. Frankly, the only thing I think it proved was that that minister guy is a disgusting sociopath who has no business being around children in the first place, but what do I know?

    1. “… the only thing I think it proved was that that minister guy is a disgusting sociopath who has no business being around children …”

      Yes, exactly.
      What’s he going to do next?
      Threaten to shoot a dog if the kids don’t bring 100 new people to church?
      Say he’ll hang himself if they don’t memorize their Bible verses?

      1. In our fall program, the each kid who brings a visitor will get to will get to throw a baseball to try to knock a box of kittens into a turkey fryer full of hot oil. Don’t miss our Big Day with the puppy pinata. (That was all a sick joke) But… my sister did swallow goldfish on the bus–actually, she put them on a hot dog bun and crunch,crunch, crunch. GROSS!!!

      2. “What’s he going to do next?
        Threaten to shoot a dog if the kids don’t bring 100 new people to church?
        Say he’ll hang himself if they don’t memorize their Bible verses?”


    2. @Gwiwer, wow! What manipulation! πŸ˜₯

      Jesus wants us motivated out of love for Him and out of the joy and peace we have in our hearts, not out of fear, obligation, guilt, or the desire to look good in front of the other folks at church.

  33. This is what Fundies must resort to in order to keep those kids in the bus. Their gospel doesn’t work, so this is their next best.

  34. In 1977 I swallowed a goldfish on my bus route at HAC. To the best of my knowledge it had all been guys who did it before then, so they thought I was a great sport to do it. (Being just a girl and all) Looking back, that goes in the file with all the other things I did that I would hope my kids never do. My goal is that they are being raised to think for themselves a little more than I was.

  35. Wow…I know the guy in the back with the combover, this all fits too well for him

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