Being born again, and the process it entails, is more often about submission and the surrender of moral responsibility than genuine belief.
I attended a five-day seminar at Coral Ridge in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I was taught, often by D. James Kennedy, the techniques of conversion. The callousness of these techniques—targeting the vulnerable, building false friendships with those who were lonely or troubled, promising to relieve people of the most fundamental dreads of human existence from the fear of morality to the numbing pain of grief—gave to the process an awful cruelty and dishonesty. I attended the seminar as part of the research for my book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Kennedy openly called converts “recruits” and spoke about them joining a new political force sweeping across the country to reshape and reform America into a Christian state.
“I would always go in first, introduce myself, Jim Kennedy,” Kennedy told us. “I’m checking the lay of the land and I will look around the living room and see if there’s something there that I can comment about. Frequently, there will be a large picture somewhere and where did they put it, this picture … why would they put it over the fireplace? Significant.”
“In Ft. Lauderdale you don’t find too many fireplaces,” he added smiling, “but there’s some kind of central focus. Maybe … golf trophies … I’m over here looking at these golf trophies … painting … I say… beautiful painting, did you paint that? The first rule about looking at trophies, don’t touch them … did you win all those trophies? So we have a little conversation about golf, but I know enough about golf to have this conversation … now what have I done? I’m making a friend.”
“Compliment them on whatever you can,” Kennedy said, “discuss what they do, you’re going to find out what are their hobbies, maybe right there in the living room. Then you’re going to ask them about what they do, where they’re from, how long they’ve been there … something to discuss with them … in doing this, you have made a friend.”
We are told to “emphasize the positive” and “identify with your prospect.” We are encouraged in the green “Evangelism Explosion” instruction manual to use sentences such as “It is wonderful to know when I lay my head on my pillow tonight that if I do not awaken in bed in the morning, I will awaken in paradise with God.” We are told to paint graphic pictures of personal tragedy that God has helped solve, such as: “I had a Christian son killed in Vietnam, yet my heart is filled with peace because I know he has eternal life. Even though he was killed by an enemy mortar, he has a home now in heaven, and one day we’ll be reunited there.” We are instructed to pepper our testimonies with words like love, peace, faithfulness, forgiveness, hope, purpose and obedience and remember to talk about how we have found, in our own conversion, “courage in the face of death.”
Since this site is only rated PG-13, I can’t go on with the quoting. You will have to follow the link for the rest of the obscenities.