Taibbi quedó sorprendido de como la gente abandona todo uso de razón al participar en estos retiros y absorben todo lo que dice el pastor, sin importar cuan absurdo o ridículo sea. Basicamente esta gente no es capaz de cuestionar a sus líderes religiosos y pierde la capacidad de pensar criticamente. Ejemplo:
Fortenberry then started in on a rant against science and against scientific explanations for cycles of sin. "Take homosexuals," he said. "Every single homosexual is a sexual-abuse victim. They are not born. They are created -- by pedophiles."
The crowd swallowed that one whole. One thing about this world: Once a preacher says it, it's true. No one is going to look up anything the preacher says, cross-check his facts, raise an eyebrow at something that might sound a little off. Some weeks later, I would be at a Sunday service in which Pastor John Hagee himself would assert that the Bible predicts that Jesus Christ is going to return to Earth bearing a "rod of iron" to discipline the ACLU. It goes without saying that the ACLU was not mentioned in the passage in Ezekiel he was citing -- but the audience ate it up anyway. When they're away from the cameras, the preachers feel even less obligated to shackle themselves to facts of any kind. That's because they know that their audience doesn't give a shit. So long as you're telling them what they want to hear, there's no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.
A team of twenty of the world's leading scientists wouldn't be able to convince so much as one person in this crowd that homosexuals are not created by pedophiles.
By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to "be rational" or "set aside your religion" about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you've made a journey like this -- once you've gone this far -- you are beyond suggestible. It's not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that's the issue. It's that once you've gotten to this place, you've left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you're thinking with muscles, not neurons.
Son estos individuos y esta mentalidad los que pusieron a George Bush en el poder por 8 de los peores años en la historia presidencial americana y nos trajeron lo que consideran la "guerra santa" de Irak.
Aqui les proveo los primeros parrafos del escrito. Para leerlo todo, vayan aqui.
I pulled into the church parking lot a little after 6:00 p.m., at more or less the last possible minute. The previous half hour or so I'd spent dawdling in my car outside a Goodwill department store off Route 410 in San Antonio, clinging to some inane sports talk show piping over my car radio -- anything to hold off my plunge into Religion.
There was an old-fashioned white school bus in front of the church entrance, with a puddle of heavyset people milling around its swinging door. Some of these were carrying blankets and sleeping bags. My heart, already pounding, skipped a few extra beats. The church circulars had said nothing about bringing bedding. Why did I need bedding? What else had I missed?
"Excuse me," I said, walking up to an in-charge-looking man with a name tag who was standing near the front of the bus. "I see everyone has blankets. I didn't bring any. Is this going to be a problem?"
The man was about five feet one and had glassy eyes. He looked up at me and smiled queerly.
"Name?" he said.
"Collins," I said. "Matthew Collins."
He scanned his clipboard, found my name on the appropriate sheet of paper, and X-ed me out with a highlighter. "Don't worry, Matthew," he said, resting his hand on my shoulder. "A wonderful woman named Martha is going to take care of you at the ranch. You just tell her what you need when you get there."
I nodded, glancing at his hand, which was still on my shoulder. He waved me into the bus.
I had been attending the Cornerstone Church for weeks, but this was really my first day of school. I had joined Cornerstone -- a megachurch in the Texas Hill Country -- to get a look inside the evangelical mind-set that gave the country eight years of George W. Bush. The church's pastor, John Hagee, is one of the most influential evangelical preachers in the country -- not because his ministry is so very large (although he claims up to 4.5 million viewers a week for his Sunday sermons) but because of his near-absolute conquest of a very trendy niche in the market: Christian Zionism.
Y aqui tienen uno de mis pedazos favoritos.
Morgan turned, glanced again at my name tag and sighed.
"Well, uh, OK, then," he said. "Matthew, do you want to tell your story?"
My heart was pounding. I obviously couldn't use my real past -- not only would it threaten my cover, but I was somewhat reluctant to expose anything like my real inner self to this ideologically unsettling process -- but neither did I want to be trapped in a story too far from my own experience. What I settled on eventually was something that I thought was metaphorically similar to the truth about myself.
"Hello," I said, taking a deep breath. "My name is Matt. My father was an alcoholic circus clown who used to beat me with his oversize shoes."
The group twittered noticeably. Morgan's eyes opened to tea-saucer size.
I closed my own eyes and kept going, immediately realizing what a mistake I'd made. There was no way this story was going to fly. But there was no turning back.
"He'd be sitting there in his costume, sucking down a beer and watching television," I heard myself saying. "And then sometimes, even if I just walked in front of the TV, he'd pull off one of those big shoes and just, you know -- whap!"
I looked around the table and saw three flatlined, plainly indifferent psyches plus one mildly unnerved Morgan staring back at me. I could tell that my coach and former soldier had been briefly possessed by the fear that a terrible joke was being played on his group. But then I actually saw him dismissing the thought -- after all, who would do such a thing? I managed to tie up my confession with a tale about turning into a drug addict in my mid-twenties -- at least that much was true -- and being startled into sobriety and religion after learning of my estranged clown father's passing from cirrhosis.
It was a testament to how dysfunctional the group was that my story flew more or less without comment.