Attempts At Pop Culture References

For all of their aversion to the evil in popular culture, fundamentalist preachers still somehow manage to bring it up fairly frequently in their sermons — often in unintentionally humorous ways. For whether it’s a warning against a TV show that went off the air ten years ago or rantings about the evil lyrics of “that rapper fellow, Snoopy Dog Dog,” the fundamentalist pastor rarely gets the details of his target exactly right.

In fact such is the regularity of these mistakes that one almost has to wonder if these flubs are intentional. For when the pastor is too accurate in his observations the obvious question is:  “where is he getting his information?”  Is there a designated person deemed spiritual enough to spend hours in a bunker deep below the church watching reruns of Will & Grace looking for sermon fodder? If there is no good Christian is watching, listening, or reading this the worldly filth he’s preaching against, then how does he know about it at all? We certainly know that he doesn’t keep unsaved friends around who might fill him in on what’s popular.

If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes trying not to laugh while listening to someone preach against the evil rock and roll of “The Jonah Brothers,” you might be a fundamentalist.

133 thoughts on “Attempts At Pop Culture References”

  1. They taught at Hyles that you shouldn’t be too current with your ‘worldly illustrations’ so as not to appear too ‘of the world.’

    It was only a few years ago I was hearing about the dangers of Megadeath/Poison/ACDC etc.

  2. In my experience fundy preachers get their pop culture info from other fundy preachers and forwarded e-mails. It’s like a game of hamartiological Telephone. Back when Harry Potter was the target of the week, I sat through a sermon that railed against the Satanism in Harry Potter, et cetera ad nauseum. When he mentioned where he got his information–because he hadn’t read those book, amen?–it was in an e-mail forwarded to him. That e-mail was written by a preacher somewhere in Washington state, I think. And I’m pretty sure one of that guy’s sources was the famous Harry Potter article from The Onion. No wonder the info wasn’t good, much less the interpretation.

    Anyone else at BJU for Dr. Bob’s aside about social networking sites, and how too many people spend too much time on “MyFace”?

  3. I heard Jack Hyles preach once in the late 90’s. He told us “youngsters” that he was about to tell us a story that would keep our attention riveted on him. He then told us about how he met Elvis on an elevator.

  4. “They taught at Hyles that you shouldn’t be too current with your ‘worldly illustrations’ so as not to appear too ‘of the world.’”

    The problem with that is that it makes all the young people in their audience immediately discount them as being pointlessly out of touch. If you REALLY wanted to warn teenagers against sinful influences in the world (and not just get points with the old folks for being AGAINST SIN), you would actually talk about the things that are popular RIGHT NOW. And of course to be effective you shouldn’t just yell about how it’s wrong and how anyone who likes it is a hell-bound sinner but actually reasonably discuss it from a Biblical POV.

  5. Two years ago while preaching in chapel at BJU, Barry Webb ranted about Petra. The students, most of whom were born after 1988, didn’t have a clue who he was talking about.

  6. “Anyone else at BJU for Dr. Bob’s aside about social networking sites, and how too many people spend too much time on “MyFace”?”
    @ Jordan M. Poss

    I believe the two evil social networking sites were “MyFace” and “SpaceBook.” I tried very hard to hide my laughter. I didn’t want him to see me and call me up to the platform after Chapel. Because we all know that “sin is no laughing matter.”

  7. @JollyGreenGiant @Jordan M. Poss

    I remember MyFace and SpaceBook!!! Maybe some people tried not to snicker, but where I was sitting (balcony) everyone just roared with laughter. There was no holding it in. I remember he looked sort of confused, but he kept on yelling anyway.

  8. So true! I can remember sitting in on a week long chapel series on the evils of rock and roll (the speaker’s name was something like Skip? I can’t remember.) Anyway, he would play snippets of songs to make his point about rock and roll being all about sex or leading to drugs, or Satanism. I can vividly remember him saying, “And this next song, by a wicked group called Van Halen shows the influences of the drug culture.” He than began to play the song, except it was “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News. The whole week was like that. I talked to him about halfway through the week and told him that if he wanted to be taken seriously he should at least get his facts right. He told me that my friends and I had un-confessed sin, were on the road straight to devil worship, and that his facts were right it was we who were confused due to be under conviction.

  9. Darrell I’ve thought the same thing. I think they intentionally mess things up so that it sounds like they weren’t watching or listening to whatever they are railing against. If I mess up the name than I didn’t actually spend 3 hours listening to NIN right?

    In the music library at BJU there were several amazing finds that were marked ast “faculty only.” One was of an opera performance where the demons are dressed in a little less than BJU dress code. But a few other things were, for example, a Beatles record. Now the fact that it was a Beatles record gave me pause. This meant it was purchased eons ago and likely near its inception. Which made me wonder if it might have been purchased as fodder for a sermon…then again maybe it was just donated, but why not just give it back because it is evil? Anyway it was telling. Our students and adults associated with Fundy land should not even think to touch this sort of thing, but faculty and pastors are ok particularly if it is to disprove its validity or prove its evilness.

  10. I think they purposely flub up the names cause they know they’re hopelessly out of touch. I first listened to an opera at BJU – Berg’s LULU, where one of the characters is a lesbian – I shocked and intrigued at the same time.

    @ Mark – The Beetle’s song “Revolution” was popular fodder for the Garlock/Hamilton anti-rock crowd because it had a subliminal message. Also, youtube the MEFISTOFELE opera from San Francisco. It’s got naked people in it. You won’t see that at 1700 WHB.

  11. Then there were the BJU professors who showed too much cultural awareness when they gave illustrations from Lord of the Rings – claiming they were talking about the book while using details found only in the movies.

    I remember the MyFace sermon as well. As I recall the whole FMA erupted into laughter and even Dr. Bob cracked a smile and tried to turn it into a joke. He did know how to laugh at himself. Remember the Spandex?

    1. LotR movies were kind of an “open secret”. Under Fac/Staff policy there wasn’t really any way we should have seen them but almost everybody had.

      What was really funny was listening to co-workers giggle and talk in hushed tones about last night’s “American Idol”.

      1. I’m just tired of that kind of hypocrisy. The pastor says one thing from the pulpit, the people nod and “Amen”, but then they go home and live however they want. It’s dishonest, especially if the leadership is complicit in it. (I’ve heard of a Christian college where influential faculty members listen to CCM in private.) If it’s wrong, don’t do it. If it’s not wrong, stop preaching against it or at least preach against it honestly: say, “This is probably not good for you because of xyz, but you have the Christian liberty to disagree.” (I’m applying this more to churches, especially people who attend a large, very legalistic fundy church and look down on other Christians because they don’t go to THEIR church. I realize that faculty members at BJU sneaking to see LotR really have no power to change things, and they would get canned if they spoke up, but I do think there ARE people in decision-making positions who officially put out the “rule” and then privately live by a different standard. This is ridiculous and ungodly, in my opinion. Stop preaching man-mad standards, especially if you’re not going to live by them yourself.)

        1. PW, this describes my former fundy church to a tee! And that is my major problem with them they keep preaching that things are wrong and everyone does it privately. And I just wish they would admit that it’s not wrong and stop preaching about it. They seem to just pass the buck when called on it but at some point someone is the one that can say, this is b.s., let’s stop telling people they can’t do these things. 😈 😈

    2. I had a teacher that referenced R-rated movies all the time in her history classes. Her desktop background was from the LOTR movies. After the year was out, she had a bunch of students over to watch Princess Bride because it came up in our Middle Ages class for some reason and she wanted to see it.

      And her dresses never checked. There was ALWAYS a little bit of cleavage going on. Nothing scandalous, but it was there.

      Did I mention that the students LOVED her? She was probably the most normal teacher I had the entire time I was there. She had an Oxford (yes, that Oxford) grad degree and looking back, I’m betting that BJU loved having somebody from Oxford on their faculty, and she knew it.

  12. @Joe the Jonas Brothers are too evil to describe. Count yourself blessed!

    Best example of this in my life was in highschool we had a teacher that hated rock & roll music, and would lecture us about the Evils of Judas Preist & Black Sabbath when we were rocking out to Guns N Roses, and Warrant.

  13. @Rob M
    “Best example of this in my life was in highschool we had a teacher that hated rock & roll music, and would lecture us about the Evils of Judas Preist & Black Sabbath when we were rocking out to Guns N Roses, and Warrant”

    My experience as well; even down to Guns N Roses, and Warrant. I always found the sermons on rock music a great history lesson in classic rock. Before the days of the internet this was one of the rare ways I, as a sheltered fundy kid, had the opportunity to learn more.

  14. Joe,

    I do not know how old you are so I will attempt to make comparisons that you might be able to relate to.

    The Jonas Brothers are today what New Kids On The Block were in late 1980’s and the Backstreet Boys were in the late 1990’s. Or going back further, what David Cassidy of the Patridge Family was in 1970’s.

    What is boils down to is Fundementalists( and Evangelicals) who cherry pick cultural icons – mainly young, handsome , famous, men, with decent musical talent – who manage to capture the attention my 14 and 10 year old daughters one or two hours each week on the Diseny Channel.

    How threatening, huh?

  15. John,

    In the late 80’s/early 90’s, the evangelists in my particular church really got down to business and were suprisingly current. The railed on LL Cool J and Megadeth. It was not uncommon for a white kid in the midwest to have a library with that “godless” gangsta rap and the accompanying “soul-destroying” death metal. LOL!

  16. I find that fundies tend to be behind on most of the things they rail against.
    At my alma mater they like to write books about past movements thinking that they are current monstrosities of the evil side of Christianity.

    Radical Grace Movement – a few years after it was in the forefront.
    Seeker Sensitive Movement – about 5 years after it was fading from popularity.
    Emergent Church Movement – After it’s leaders have already called it as passe’.

    Then there is the references to rock and roll as honky tonk (I highly doubt anyone knows what that is in this generation). The evils of Amy Grunt, Sandi Fatty and Steve Green. Who I am not sure many people born in the late 80s or 90s even listen to. Of course harmless Disney movies are over-analyzed and reported on as teleportation vehicles for the demonic hords to land in your living room.

    Then of course the minute a pastor on the other-than-fundie team says anything remotely supporting the narrow viewpoint of fundies they pounce on it and propagate it to the point it is skewed so far out of context you have Bill Hybles or Rick Warren saying something like “We made a mistake and should have never made a deal with the devil”! Then the fundies scream “See, see we knew the Anti-Christ would come out of Orange County-it’s because they have rock n’ roll and use the NIV!!”

  17. @Adam
    I owe the Bill Rice Ranch a huge thank you! Without them I would have discovered Led Zepp and The Who much later then I did. I owe Hugh Pyle a thank you for introducing me to AC/DC and Motley Crue.
    The list could go on…

  18. Ah yes, I will never forget the youth camp where we learned the evils of Wang Chung. Yes, you read that correctly.

    The speaker quoted a line from “Dance Hall Days”- “…and in her mouth ENAM a fist”. The speaker then told us wild-eyed that these singers were promoting beating women! Not knowing the entomology of that curious word, I searched out the lyrics from the album sleeve. To my surprise the actual lyric was “…and in her mouth an amethyst”.

    Oh, and we also learned about back-masking…good times!

  19. And then there are those memorable instances where the speaker confuses flip-flops and thongs.

    My mom does that all the time. It can get pretty awkward, especially when she does so in public. “Mom, I’m buying flip-flops, not thongs. Big difference.” She also doesn’t understand that “Dick” is not an appropriate name for a man and that a 6-pack doesn’t necessarily refer to beer.

  20. I always enjoyed the rabid rantings from hair-weaving preachers saying: ‘YOU KIDS AND YOUR COUNTRY-WESTERN MUSIC!’

    All music not produced by fundamentalists is bad.

    The dirty lil secret is that conveniently, they happen to be selling some Holy Spirit approved tunes in the back for a nominal fee.

  21. Yes! I sat through numerous sermons telling me how bad the Smurfs were! Also, SheRa, The Transformers (More than meets the eye! EVIL!) Batman and a bunch of other stuff that I was not interested in.
    As a child I found that I could read classic literature and everyone would look at me proudly since I was reading books and not watching television or listening to music.
    Of course those books contained rampant murder, mayhem and sex but noone ever preached against them.

  22. I don’t think I’ve ever met a fundamentalist preacher over 50 who DIDN’T meet Elvis on an elevator one time. Poor Elvis – EVERY TIME he got on one of those things he had to admit to some new preacher that he knew his lifestyle was wrong, but he loved THINGS too much to quit.

    1. From that website:

      “Most people do not realize when they see someone or something flying through the air that this phenomenon is pure Satanism.”

      Airplanes, baseballs and birds are all Satanic!

  23. Totally concur w/ everyone who learned classic rock by seeking out the outdated bands fundies railed against. I doubt I ever would’ve picked up an appreciation for Steppenwolf if not for same HS science teacher who would take a day of science class every few weeks to teach about end times or the evils of rock & roll. Totally off topic, but as long as it delayed a test/quiz was fine with us.

  24. @ Robin Yep smurfs are evil didnt need the article to know that, its right there in the name. Look at the singular form Smurf, remove the f and read it backwards you have rums. Cleary these little blue demons are promoting alcohol abuse to innocent young minds. Tosses in some obscure reference about a 6 year old caught driking IBC rootbeer while watching these little blue rums.

    Flipflops/Thongs. Thongs is also used by the older generation. I remeber hearing my parents generation using it.

  25. The Smurfs were fabulous. I remember they were GREAT until some random Evangelist came screaming about them, and like 1/4 of our school had new lunch boxes the next day. I remember something about blue meaning they were undead. They presumably were almost all gay or one big orgy due to Smurfette being the only female smurf. Gargamoyle & his cat both were very satanic, and I don’t recall what else. It felt like every month from age 7 to 17 I was explaining to my parents what entertainment & imagination were, and how they weren’t some conspiracy to trick everyone into Satanism.

  26. This takes me back. My fundy preach would go on and on about a particular afternoon kids snippet that would run between cartoons called “Most Important Person (Is You).” It was all very liberal “free to be you and me” kinda stuff, not going to fly in fundy land. Anyway, at the ripe old age of 11 it dawned on me that this fat ass had a lot of free time in the afternoons to watch TV, while I was home alone because my single mother was out busting her hump daily 9-5 with the 10% for the plate always there on Sunday. Effing ponderous.

  27. @ Private 1 – that’s what I thought, but the spell check said no, so… . :/

    I wish Elvis were alive, so he can debunk all those elevator stories.

    They always find something to rail against. From bobbed hair to makeup to HR Pufnstuf to Smurfs to Power Rangers to whatever. They’re against popular culture, unless, of course it happened about 50 years ago.

  28. Dan Keller,
    they aren’t just against pop culture, they are jealous of it. Its no different than telling the fold out chair warmers that giving to charity is sinful because you are taking money away from gawd, or that OTHER church in town has a big congregation because it appeases sin…etc.

  29. Wooooow. XD I remember this well. I went to a Fundie high school and got in trouble for talking to a friend about the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys, and had to listen to a series of sermons-on-tape about the evils of rock music during my detention. Complete with backmasking. He talked about the satanic influences of “Hotel California” and I’d never even heard of the song before. (Now it’s one of my favorite songs. Fundamentalism – my gateway drug!) But I could talk about Creed, Evanescence and Linkin Park and no one would notice or care.

    Also I was able to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! and have Cowboy Bebop and Robotech posters on my desk, but Pokemon was of the DEVIL.

  30. @Dan Keller That’s probably because computers are evil and cannot be trusted even for spell checking.

    On another note, I remember being told how terribly evil the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were. I was son intrigued that I started watching them myself.

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