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. Don’t forget the evil Tinky-Winky! I have heard many references to “that little sissy” in fundy messages. 😉
    I heard one “sermon” expounding on the dangers of things like Barney. It seems if you let your kids watch Barney you were Opening the Doors (Favorite Fundy Catchphrase) to all sorts of evil to invade your house. First it is Barney but before you know it….heroin.

  2. Robin,

    To your question, I would say “No”.

    Five years ago, I went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (nerd alert) with a senior pastor of a very conservative Evangelical church. We were as giddy as school girls.

  3. I also believe the JoBros are evil, but not for the fundy reason. Their songs are insipid, and serve only to punish real music fans.
    @ Dan–Elvis is too alive. Very much so. He just went into hiding after the elevator incident.

  4. @Dan Keller

    Actually MEFISTOFELE was the opera I was referencing. Naked Boobs flashed all over the place. I was in that performance and a friend was helping with the chorus. We were watching it in his room when the first pair flashed. Boy were we surprised this came from the Music Library. So if you are faculty you can see it at 1700 WHB

  5. I remember growing up thinking the little troll dolls were evil. I heard a story once about a girl who had those “trolls” and some how they were demon possessed. Her parents made her throw them into a fire and they heard screaming and demonic voices coming out of the fire. Now that is great material for a “fire and brimstone” sermon – I tell you what!

  6. I remember a Barney sermon in which he was called “the Purple Messiah.” Never did figure out why.

    Also a sermon on the Turtles in which the preacher kept calling them Ninjy Turtles–I’m not certain if that is the same thing as Ninja Turtles or not.

  7. @JollyGreenGiant

    Weirdly enough I remember hearing the same thing in a sermon. Though that sounds like something out of a Chick Tract.

  8. @Bassenco
    That is a funny program. I love the endings where the Vicar is telling Alice jokes that she doesn’t get.

    Gerry: What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?
    Alice: I don’t know. What?
    Gerry: Tinselitis!
    Alice: Oh, dear, I’d better be careful, then.

  9. I purchased a Care Bear for a niece once. Was told I had invited demon’s into their home, and would not let it stay, made me take it out. Funny all I saw was a cute little bear with a heart on it’s tummy. Kept the ‘evil’ Care Bear myself. 😉

  10. And then, the ultimate for lovers of religion…..FATHER TED. If you haven’t seen these, do yourself a favor and save up for all three seasons from Amazon. If you like SFL, you will LOVE Father Ted.

  11. @JGG

    “I remember growing up thinking the little troll dolls were evil. I heard a story once about a girl who had those “trolls” and some how they were demon possessed. Her parents made her throw them into a fire and they heard screaming and demonic voices coming out of the fire. Now that is great material for a “fire and brimstone” sermon – I tell you what!”

    Burning plastic? Fear of Demons? Hallucinogenic Chemicals in the Air? Check, Check, Check.

    Here is a little known story about everyones (read: everyone elses, not mine) favourite preacher – Ray (not Ron) Comfort. In some of his earlier books (haven’t read any recent ones), he relates the story of how some girl he met was possessed by a demon living in a magic charm, and he had to wrestle the charm away from her and smash it with a mallet while she screamed and writhed in pain. This was after he had prayed for God to give him some sermon illustrations.

  12. @BASSENCO
    I found the Vicar of Dibley at my local library. The DVDs included an advert for Father Ted but I have never been able to find it. I will look for it again.

  13. We love the Vicar. Especially, Jim, “No, no, no, no, no, no, yes” and the Dibley Poisoner Lettie! But the whole show is a hoot. Anybody else like Hyacinth and “Keeping up Appearances”?

  14. My ES/HS preached against smurfs, TMNT (and cartoons in general), The Beatles (they were the only group anyone “in authority” had a recording of), and elevator music. They also preached against Care Bears, Furby, Pokemon, Anime, and Teddy Roxpin (why they should hate a teddy that reads you stories, I’ll never know). While at BJU I had teachers reference Narnia, LoTR, and other “books”. The best one was when one teacher started singing a Beach Boys song…

  15. I remember sitting in chapel in my Christian school in ’98 or ’99 hearing a sermon on “Will your life be a Pearl Harbor” and thinking to myself that this sermon would have been much better if it had been preached in ’41 or ’42

    @Bassenco and everyone else who was discussing it, I love Britcom,and recently discovered Vicar of Dibley and I loved it! The Office will always be my favorite, but Vicar of Dibley is a close second. I haven’t seen much Father Ted yet but I’ll have to check it out.

  16. It seems “thongs” is an accepted regional term for flip-flops

    Perhaps in some regions, but in the same region where both my mom and I grew up it’s not. It may have been when my mom was a kid, but now it really only has the other meaning.

  17. Also, as late as 2002 my church had a copy (on VHS of course) of “Who’s Watching The Playpen?” It referenced He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons, and a whole host of other things that were popular 15 years prior. It was our only reference tool for pop-culture in the entire church. It’s probably still in the church library today.

  18. Also, as late as 2002 my church had a copy (on VHS of course) of “Who’s Watching The Playpen?” It referenced He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons, and a whole host of other things that were popular 15 years prior. It was our only reference tool for pop-culture in the entire church. It’s probably still in the church library today.

  19. Talk about “Ripped from the headlines”–Just this week I made a comment about how much I dislike Office 2010. A relative of mine, a definite fundy whom I happen to love, commented that she had never seen it, but her pastor criticized it roundly several weeks ago. It took me a minute or two to realize that she meant the TV show The Office, NOT the software package!

  20. I just took a break and watched some Vicar of Dibley online. I have the feeling it would be condemned in fundydom if they knew about it.

  21. My grandma had a fit one Christmas when my folks got me a set of Micronauts (and the Battle Cruiser!). I don’t remember much about it now, except the words “demonic” and “idols” were thrown around. Of course, she didn’t have any trouble with the graven idols of little green army men.

    Other things I heard about through my fundy relatives:

    The Transformers glorified lies and deception because they could appear to be something they’re not.

    Rainbow Brite was a conspiracy to hook little kids on the New Age Movement.

    Personal computers were a scheme of the One World Government. When every home had one, they’d be able to mind control us all! (Okay, maybe they we’re too far off on that one. Must…check…Facebook…) 😀

  22. @ exfundy, I bet purposefully messing up celebrities’ names makes the older folks laugh and wink and pat themselves on the back — “We’re too spiritual to remember their names, plus we weren’t really paying attention because they’re worldly” — but to young people, this just comes across as stupid (especially when the preacher is misnaming a celebrity from 20 years ago!)

    1. On the other hand, who can recall the nine-day wonders, the one-hit wonders, the Next Big Things (That Never Were) from twenty-odd years ago? Some people are lucky if they make the “Where Are They Now” column. 🙄

  23. The Office is pretty much the only decent comedy on TV right now . I live in NZ (and if you have been reading you will also notice me say I am an aussie. Both are true) so I don’t have any of your HOB, CSS, FOXY or Siffy channels which are all out of the pit of hell (see what I did there?)

  24. Personally, I think fundy preachers miss-pronounce their “enemies” purposely. Too many members of Fundy churches don’t know the difference, and the rest are afraid to ask. I asked once when my used-to-be pastor proclaimed that the Pope decided when Easter would by by throwing a dart at a calendar. He wasn’t smiling, or laughing when he said it. I emailed him to question him on his facts, and he said he was just joking. I called him on one other thing, and he got snerty with me, so I quit. He’s also apt to take scripture out of context, and if you question him, you get the whole spiritual warfare sermon again. I think it’s a gas-lighting thing.

  25. “and elevator music.”

    Oh, wow, I had totally forgotten about that one! Now that you brought it up though, I can remember it being preached against because it was a way to “innocently” get worldly music into your head. It was made out to be this conspiracy thing…nevermind that most elevator music is just plain awful and annoying, no…there had to be some sinister plot behind it’s existence too…

  26. Of course, once you are convicted of the evil that is the Smurfs, and the Beatles, and short skirts and what not, you have to do something with all those dominc things: How many of you have ever been to a fire service – where all these “demonic” things are being burned? I remember several as a child – and the rules were strict – onl;y the pastor and is cohorts could throw the things into the fire, as the rest of us might be attacked by the demons inside them. At some of these, they even burned stolen items that could not be returned, and innocuous items given to people by ex-boyfriends etc (because dating is eeeevil..).

    Man, have I come a looooong way by the Grace of God!

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