ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH

Bait And Switch “Christianity:” Do Better, Christians!

unconditional love cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
David Hayward aka @nakedpastor captures the challenges we often see in churches in his drawings.

A few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement on Facebook: a bluegrass group was coming to town:

A spirited night of singin’, laughin’, and stompin’ yer boots.

It’ll be the show you can’t stop talking about – the event of the fall!

The concert was free, but we needed to register, so we did. I was really looking forward to getting out of the house (which also is where I work remotely), in the fresh air, and hopefully safely distanced (thanks to Covid) from people to enjoy a relaxing night of music.

We then realized it was located at a local church’s outdoor venue. Hmmm…..the original advertisement didn’t say that. Ok, so upon further investigation, we discovered this was a Christian bluegrass group. Well, ok, that should be fine. But once again, that’s not how it was advertised.

When we got to the venue (which was really cool, btw), it felt like a church service. They began the “concert” with the church’s worship band and held a worship service.

Um . . . there was nothing advertised about going to a worship service. This was advertised as a bluegrass concert.

We listened to approximately 30 min. of this worship service. As they worshiped, the audience was asked to stand. We stood. When the leader started to pray, we bowed our heads. I don’t think I was that into it. Hey, we were there for the advertised concert. I immediately felt guilty that my heart wasn’t aligned with them in this. Do I like worshipping? Sure. But this felt weird to me – like I drove to the wrong place.

The advertised band then came to the stage and started to perform. They were really good musicians. But . . . as I said earlier, they were Christian, and this was not just about a night of playing fun bluegrass music, there was an intentional agenda. And we were forced to be on this bait-and-switch ride as we sat front and center in our lawn chairs.

After only a few songs, we were directed to watch the screen while the leader talked about their recent trip to an impoverished African country. He set the mood and tone talking about oppressed families who had escaped their war-torn country and moved to refugee camps in a neighboring country. His voice cracked as he talked about the children, some who came with family members as they escaped, others who came as orphans with no known family members.

The video showed a bus with adults and children arriving at the refugee camp. But then the video zoomed in primarily on the band members, who were obviously overcome with emotion. I kept wanting to see the bus and people leaving the bus, but the camera focused on the teary-eyed band members. We were held captive to pay attention to this sponsor-a-child sales pitch (unless we were to abruptly leave, which we could have done, but is kind of embarrassing when you’re both over 6 feet tall and sitting near the front). When the video was over, band members passed out paperwork and invited people in the audience to sign up to sponsor a child.

This was absolutely not the atmosphere they presented as “A spirited night of singin’, laughin’, and stompin’ yer boots” in their advertisement. I felt my mind and emotions being yanked around, forced to think about these defenseless children and immediately felt sad and depressed and angry all at once.

The band leader told us that at the concert they performed the previous night, 50 kids were “sponsored.” I think he said that as an attempt to say we could and should do better with our larger crowd size . . . . sigh.

I just wanted to go to a concert. To hear cool music. To get out of my home/work environment. To enjoy the fresh air. To enjoy the time with my son.

After that, the band leader said they would take an intermission while they collected paperwork from those who had signed up to sponsor kids. He also encouraged us to check out the band’s swag near the entrance as people got up to stretch. This was to last about 15 min. I was struck that they had an intermission after so few songs . . . because so much time was spent on the video. This really wasn’t much of a concert at all.

My son and I looked at each other and decided that we didn’t need to stay any longer. On the way home we discussed how the concert was advertised and what was clearly left out. We both felt like we were taken for a ride . . . by Christians. And we are Christian.

I don’t like bait-and-switch Christianity. There is no reason why this could not have been billed as an outreach to raise funds for orphans and displaced families in war-torn African countries. This is not something that needs to be hidden. And I certainly don’t object to coming alongside efforts to help those in harm’s way. But let’s be transparent and honest in our behavior. This is what gives Christianity a bad name.

24 thoughts on “Bait And Switch “Christianity:” Do Better, Christians!”

  1. Wow that is awful.
    I was raised Catholic. I can’t really remember the denomination, but my sister had a friend that lived down the street. The friend’s church heavily pressured the kids to bring classmates and friends to the “fun” youth events. Well when my sister got there–no real fun. Just fire and brimstone about how everyone is going to hell especially the Catholics. I can’t tell you how angry my dad was. From what I understood this was something this church regularly did.

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  2. Kate, I’m not surprised. I’ve also seen church youth events around Halloween time where they scare young people into making a “decision for Christ.” I am equally disturbed by that. I just don’t understand using fear to control or bait and switch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a bizarre emotional rollercoaster! That would leave me SO disoriented. You’re absolutely right, why not just make it clear what it’s about? It’s a concert, but we’ll also be doing some support raising. Totally reasonable, totally sensible, and doesn’t take advantage of people.

    This sort of thing really can be dangerous when it becomes a routine thing. If someone’s experience with Christianity is through the exploitation of someone’s feelings, emotions, and then finances, that’s… really unhealthy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well I have learnt something – I now know what bluegrass means!

    I can’t speak for the States obviously, but in Europe there are so many deserving charities wanting support that a kind of compassion fatigue has set in, and it is getting harder to get the public to part with donations. Hence adverts on telly, for example, show ever more graphic images of suffering. I’m afraid I regard this as emotional blackmail and it has the opposite effect to that intended.

    I can understand the temptation to want to get relative rich people in the West to give to those who have nothing, but still don’t find manipulation to be right.

    There is one saving grace to the concert that wasn’t – at least the church was not trying to get money for its own purposes by such means. The cause was good but the means used show up the church in a bad light. Almost an anti-evangelistic event, which could all too easily confirm the prejudice of many unbelievers that ‘they are only after your money’.

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  5. Another expression of “bait-and-switch” Christianity is when churches advertise themselves as Christian but do not love other Christians—except those who are like them and agree with them on all sorts of trivia.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fundagelicalism has not changed one electron in 40-45 years.
    You (generic you) cannot enjoy anything for its own sake; music, movies, what have you, without it becoming a sales pitch for the brand.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Is this not the norm for institutional c’hurchism? When the individual enters the courts of the 501c. 3 governmental c’hurch, the prominent assembly presumes the individual as “unsaved,” then begins their indoctrination process of “recommending” and even “generously giving” recommendations, dvd’s, cd’s, books, tickets to “conferences,” movies, music, c’hristian classes of various sorts, etc. The goal is to mold the new individual into images of themselves, another golden calf so to speak…….not to point other souls to the life saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, whom created us in the first place.

    With this common practice of guilting and shaming within visible c’hurch systems, the leadership pressures the individual to do their bidding……..which is “result oriented,” as in narcissistic personalities, or c’hurch leadership, or any social construct (including the government) which loves, enjoys, and manipulates others into making “them, the leadership or that particular denomination” look good.

    Jesus, the One and Only, is left out of the equation.

    The true congregation of our LORD Jesus Christ, does not demand attendance or membership at our local 501c. 3’s, nor does He demand all of this visible christianese behavioral patterns, ie., attending concerts, conferences, crusades, seder meals at c’hurches, small group meetings, etc., as “proven indication” that our souls are saved. These are adulterated philosophies that people are “saved” and fellowshipping in Jesus Christ.

    I remember reading about the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul. He would not receive free money from others for witnessing, evangelizing, and living a life for our Wonderful Master Jesus Christ. He actually earned an honest living working with his hands, which to me, means hands that are ugly to the visible world, for hands of hard work are calloused, scarred, discolored, and wrinkled…………..how many 501c. 3 c’hurch leaders model Paul’s witness?

    None.

    Many of us outside of the institutional c’hurch systems have been “had,” so to speak, investing volumes of our own hard earned money, time, visible resources, etc., to build up “their” kingdoms resulting in human glory, rather than, Jesus’ Glory.

    The golden calves and idolatry of the visible c’hurch system globally, are abundant, and yet, to Christ’s Honor, individual souls are still seeking our Maker Jesus. To His Name, be the Glory!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And for my personal record, literally every denominational c’hurch system that I have attended during all of my Blessed years on this earth, have taught or insinuated through their own rhetorical religious methodology, that “all others” outside of “their c’hurch” are going to hell. For “their way,” is the only “way,” and their is no other “way” to entering the courts of their “jesus.”

    I truly believe to the core of my soul, that if the historical Jesus, whom was with GOD in the beginning, were to visit each denominational, governmental owned 501c. 3 c’hurches that exist today, our LORD and SAVIOR would truly, be crucified all over again for His teachings, His actions, His love, and HIS WAY.

    No doubt. And it would be the religionists, the church membership, the visible do-gooders/social justice minions, etc., that would lead their way into murdering Christ all over again.

    As I witness our personal freedoms being stolen away by a fake “caring” religious, governmental, and social system, being built by the enemy, I am convinced of Jesus Christ’s supreme Lordship over all of humanity…..for He came to save that which was lost.

    Glory belongs to Jesus Christ, and I am rejoicing in His Glory this day!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. At least the “Bluegrass Concert” didn’t end with preaching the Plan of Salvation and then the Altar Call.

    When I was at Cal Poly in the late Seventies, Campus Crusade was famous for that sort of bait-and-switch. (And we were one of the mellower Campus Crusade chapters; got some zinger anecdotes about the Fullerton chapter at the other end of Brea Canyon.) They’d set up some sort of big event, hype it over the whole campus, tell their members to invite their non-CCC friends (got another zinger about that), and when the event went down, it always segued into Global Thermonuclear War, Plan of Salvation (with Rapture boarding pass), and The Altar Call Invitation to SayTheSInnersPrayerAndAcceptJesusChirstAsYourPersonalLORDandSavior.

    Bait and Switch.

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  10. And I see Katy of the Apostrophes is back.

    Katy, sometime I’ve got to tell you my stories of c’ beginnings. It involves glottal stops, pronunciation quirks, and a now-forgotten SF author of the Fifties & Sixties with (quite a personal backstory) who wrote Mythology of the far far future.

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  11. @CindyBurrel

    The drawing nailed it.

    Naked Pastor’s drawings often do.
    Before he redid his website/blog, I used to link to his “The Theologians” all the time in my comments.

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  12. I think the “bait-and-switch” tactics prove that these churches are not selling the gospel. People came out from the woodwork to hear Jesus talk. People came out to hear the apostles.

    What they were peddling wasn’t adding another backpack of guilt and shame – based religious rituals to wear, but freedom from guilt and shame.

    That is why the modern Evangelical church – the modern-day Pharisees – have to hide their agenda of guilt and shame. They claim to serve Jesus, but their Jesus is one who coddles the elites and shames the underprivileged. Their Jesus is not different than our modern cultural priorities, and their tactics are no different than door-to-door salesmen and shameless promotion. They weaponize our kindness and respect against us forcing us to choose between being mean or buying what they have to offer.

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  13. We then realized it was located at a local church’s outdoor venue. Hmmm…..the original advertisement didn’t say that. Ok, so upon further investigation, we discovered this was a Christian bluegrass group. Well, ok, that should be fine.

    Those should have been your first two warning flags that something was wrong, even if you couldn’t put your finger on exactly what.

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  14. Headless U G said Plan of Salvation (with Rapture boarding pass), and The Altar Call Invitation

    If I recall correctly you have also in the past enjoyed the ministrations of one Hal Lindsay, who managed to take the doctrine of the second coming off the agenda in the UK single-handedly.

    The mention of the rapture caught my attention, as I have ventured back into this territory lately, being more convinced than ever that the idea western Evangelicals will be snatched away before the Big Trouble (great tribulation) is indeed a prime example of false doctrine, going back less than 200 years.

    Trying to convert anyone on the basis of this contentious point is appalling, the gospel is not a remedy against suffering in this world. The authentic gospel is meant to prepare you for trouble, not give a free ticket to avoid it, and isn’t it dishonest to pretend otherwise?

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  15. Hal Lindsay, who managed to take the doctrine of the second coming off the agenda in the UK single-handedly.

    He DID?
    (There’s got to be a story behind that.)

    being more convinced than ever that the idea western Evangelicals will be snatched away before the Big Trouble (great tribulation) is indeed a prime example of false doctrine…

    There’s a reason I call the Rapture-Ready zeitgeist of that time “Christians For Nuclear War”.

    In retrospect, I am convinced what Lindsay did was take the constant Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War jitters of the time, slap a Christian coat of paint on it, and promise a Rapture Escape Hatch from History Written in Advance. “IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”

    All before anything bad can personally happen to you.
    (Fits perfectly with the accompanying Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.)

    Nuclear War or Climate Change, “This world is NOT my home, I’m just passin’ thru.”
    DO I NEED TO TELL ANYONE HOW DANGEROUS AN ATTITUDE THAT IS?

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  16. KAS: Hal Lindsay, who managed to take the doctrine of the second coming off the agenda in the UK single-handedly.

    HUG: He DID?
    (There’s got to be a story behind that.)

    That may be a tad exaggerated, but not much!

    I remember seeing notice of a retreat by St Helens Bishopsgate, a big evangelical Anglican church in London tackling a series on the second coming to try to restore some semblance of sanity due to Hal’s books, which were very popular.

    I read them back them avidly, as they seemed to make the bible so relevant to current affairs. I now think sadly that Romans 1 rather than speculation about prophecy is a better alternative for relevance.

    One British evangelical commented on Lindsay that the bottom line in his books was to stir up fear and ensure that American defence spending was kept at a high level to counter the Soviet threat rather than a genuine attempt at understanding the end of the age stuff. Lindsay wasn’t the first and isn’t the last to misuse Christianity for more political ends.

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  17. (Part 1)
    I’m sorry about your experience with that, Julie Anne (the church not mentioning that they would Jesus Juke you at their music concert / show), but I can’t say as though I’m surprised.

    (_What is a Jesus Juke? (on Huffington Post site)_)

    I’ve actually come to expect 99% of Christians to do things like this. I’m more shocked when Christians DO NOT pull stuff like that.

    I was thinking of doing a post at my Daisy blog on something related.

    In the years after my Mom died, and I was still in the grieving process over it, and I asked some Christian family or church people if I may phone them or meet them to chat about it (I needed emotional support), and they said yes –

    One Christian lady in particular (from a church I went to for a few months years ago) could not or would not just sit and listen and empathize – well not just about my Mom, but a few years later (when the grieving process was done), I wanted to give her a second chance, because I was going through another ordeal.

    (This was about, 3 or 4 years ago.)

    This lady must have been in her late 60s or early 70s at this point. She did not have a job then. She was a housewife.

    I’ll refer to her as “Janice,” though that is not her real name.

    (continued in part two…)

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  18. (Part 2)
    I phoned this “Janice” lady about 3 – 4 years ago and mentioned I was going through something rather stressful, would it be OK for me to visit her at her home to chat about it?

    And she said OK.

    (I don’t have anyone else to phone or talk to. My extended family are no good.)

    Let me preface things by saying something positive about this Janice lady:
    God bless this woman for at least giving me her time.
    She allowed me to go to her home one day a week every week for about a month and a half and talk her ear off.
    That was far more than most any other people (Christian or no) would do for me, including family of mine (which includes extended family who are Christians).

    “Janice” at least let me talk to her.
    She didn’t tell white lies and pretend to be too busy and brush me off, as a few people did to me.
    She did not sit there and divert every conversation back to herself and her problems and her life
    (the way one of my Aunts did on numerous occasions when I called her, and this Aunt had agreed up-front I could phone her to talk about missing my Mom – this is back when I was in the grieving process – but every time, this Aunt wouldn’t let me talk, she’d dominate every one of my calls to her to talk about herself-!!!!)

    But. However.

    After the first few visits to Janice’s home, where she simply sat and listened to me discuss this issue or two I was having (which was wonderful for her to do, nobody else would do this for me), by the last two visits – she started speaking up.

    That’s when things began going down-hill.

    (continued in part 3…)

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  19. (part 3)
    Instead of simply empathizing and giving me encouragement (which is what I was wanting and needing) when I told “Janice” what was troubling me, “Janice” made judgmental and insensitive comments, but she also sort of treated me like I was a “project.”

    I kind of felt like “Janice” ​(and Christians like her) pull a “bait and switch” on the hurting, confused, or the stressed out who just need and want an empathetic ear – and instead of just being a friend and listening and affirming your difficulty, they have to make every thing about Jesus.

    As much as I respect Jesus (in spite of being still in a faith crisis), no, I don’t want to hear Bible verses, Christianese, or hear quotes from Jesus…
    I don’t want to be invited to numerous Bible study ladies’ tea groups at the church…
    I don’t want you handing me Gospel tracts…

    (Yes, Janice actually did those things and more.)

    I mean, this lady meant well, but she made me feel like a “religious project,” which made me feel worse. I did not feel heard by her!

    She felt like she had to save me, point me to Jesus and the Gospel, and keep giving me invitations to Bible studies, leaflets which had Bible verses on them, etc.

    Although I had explained to her a few times I was “already saved” (which I was, as a kid), she kept acting as though I was not. That also bothered me.

    I didn’t need or want Gospel tracts at that time, I didn’t want to be cajoled into attending women’s Bible tea study groups, I didn’t need to hear Bible verses quoted at me and so on.
    I didn’t need religion at that time (or other times in my life), and no, I didn’t need Jesus then.

    I just needed another human being to sit with me, listen, and pat my hand when I was done talking and have them say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. But I bet things will start looking up soon.”

    That’s it. That’s all I wanted – but 99% of Christians are incapable or unwilling of providing empathy without a Christian agenda.

    That, to me, is another form of Bait & Switch, or a variation of it.

    I don’t know why so many churches or Christians cannot simply meet a person’s immediate needs, instead of having to cram Jesus or Bible lessons (or in Julie Anne’s case, appeals for missions or whatever into a thing advertised as being about a music concert only) into every thing!

    Not every thing has to be about Jesus, Christians! There, I said it. LOL. Not every situation has to have Gospel appeals snuck in. Not every hurting person who comes to you wanting emotional support wants you pointing them to Jesus.

    I was a devout Christian for years, and I’m sorry to say (and I go into more detail at my Daisy blog about this in a couple of posts), believing in Jesus didn’t help me or fix my problems.
    There were times I just needed a friend to sit and listen to me chat about my issues over a cup of tea and empathize with me. Maybe give me a word of encouragement.

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  20. Go ahead Headless Unicorn, insult me all you want for you have a forum to do so here and elsewhere. I am not amused nor “l’aughing” at your personal hatred towards me, which is obvious.

    I will not reciprocate nor play into your version of “t’ruth,” for you enjoy insulting others, reviling, and slaying others with your vitriol, reminiscent of viper personalities.

    If you knocked on my door, as many an insulting man has (all are c’hurched m’en by the way), I would treat you with respect and share the Living Gospel of Jesus Christ after listening to your personal verbal insults designed to destroy my soul. For what exactly are the Fruits of the Spirit according to the tenants of Christ? Do we repay evil for evil? Pray, NO!

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Katy
    A beloved daughter of the King, Jesus Christ! 🙂

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  21. Katy – I must be blind as a bat. I cannot see where HUG insulted you. Can you please reference part of a quote or date timestamp so I can use the search feature?

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  22. JA – I think what has annoyed Katy was HUG’s post above:

    HEADLESS UNICORN GUY October 4, 2021 at 8:46 AM
    And I see Katy of the Apostrophes is back.

    Katy, sometime I’ve got to tell you my stories of c’ beginnings. …

    I don’t know if it was just this or this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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