Posts Tagged ‘Marcin Druzdzel’

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Abject Terror: My Experience at the Anchorage Baptist Temple

September 9, 2009

[Contributed by our friend Marcin Druzdzel.]

I have only recently become informed of a very very conservative group within Anchorage. I did not know anything about the Anchorage Baptist Temple until I got involved at the Ordinance 64 Assembly meetings, and they definitely shocked me with their backwardness, stubbornness, and dogmatism.
For the past few months I have wanted to go to an ABT service to see what it’s like—to go to the lion’s den and see what makes the people against gay rights be against gay rights. Earlier today, I finally went to one of the services. Like I said earlier, I was shocked and scared at what I saw.

Grandparent's Day is September 13th

Grandparent's Day is September 13th

The subject of the sermon was “Grandparents Day”, which Pastor Prevo decided to celebrate a week early in order to remind the congregation to send cards to out-of-state grandparents in time for the national Grandparents’ Day next Sunday. Mellow enough topic, right? Nothing controversial there at all. What intrigued me, however, was how he elaborated on the importance of grandparents, telling the story of Noah’s genealogy (from Enoch to Shem in Genesis). Anyone familiar with the Bible should remember that these figures allegedly lived for a very long time (Methuselah being the longest-lived at 969 years old). Pastor Prevo stated that because of Noah’s virtue, he was spared from the flood and lived to father the ancestors of Abraham. He made some allusions to the wickedness of Noah’s contemporaries and the modern world. Touchy, at least getting really close to controversial. Most conservatives are quite worried about the moral decay of society. Also, I was under the impression that the Old Testament wasn’t followed at all, or at least that’s the impression I got in my discussions with the protestors at the rallies. Perhaps they only believe the useful parts (which would make them hypocrites, as they accuse more tolerant churches of doing that too).

Jerry Prevo identifies with Noah

Jerry Prevo identifies with Noah

What started to get disconcerting was the pseudoscience that went into Jerry’s explanation of the flood. Before the flood, he said, there was no rainfall and no oceans, but instead the atmosphere was heavily-laden with water vapor, which kept the plants moistened, distributed heat all across the globe (accounting for dinosaur fossils in currently inhospitable climates [Dinosaurs are apparently just reptiles that lived a long long time and kept growing]), and dissipated the sun’s UV rays enough to allow for the extreme longevity of the Biblical figures (no account, of course, of Telomerase protein caps on the DNA strands in the chromosomes that limit cells to about 50 divisions). That’s scary in itself; that someone with that much sway over the mindset of so many (the congregation is numbered in the thousands) puts absolute faith in an old book with many unknown and anonymous authors (at least he acknowledges that God ‘inspired men’ to write it), and bullshits his way through specific scientific facts to make the story sound legitimate. He also stated multiple times that faith was genetic, hereditary, and in the DNA (does evolution exist or not, pastor?).
Now, the thing that does worry me is the mindset that the Pastor is fostering. Time and time again, he alluded to Noah’s contemporaries. Just as Noah’s contemporaries laughed at him for building a boat on a hill, because they didn’t know what rainfall or floods were, that outsiders of the modern churches would laugh at their (and by extension, his) beliefs. Then, just as in this age, they would realize too late that it was them that were wrong. In Noah’s time it was this mysterious water that fell from the sky, but God’s going to mix it up and annihilate people in some different way next time. They believe that the rapture is coming. Wait, that doesn’t express it enough….they REALLY believe Jesus is going to show up next week and spirit them into heaven, and they don’t get disappointed by the fact that he’s a no-show. They just keep waiting and hope he shows up the week after that. This worries me too, as how much can you care about the well-being of a planet you’re planning on leaving sometime next week?
This mindset that I am so appalled and scared of, the stubbornness the Pastor was instilling in the congregation, has many implications. They are taught to believe that they are the only right ones, and that leaves no room for compromise, as there is only one way to earn God’s salvation–God’s way. This puts them in a black-and-white mindset that undoubtedly transfers into the rest of their lifestyle. How can they compromise in politics, or come to mutual agreements with coworkers at their earthly jobs if they feel like only they are entitled to the truth, and that they are on the path of righteousness? How can they be tolerant of other beliefs? They can’t… any time they refer to the First Amendment, it is an effort to either shield their views from criticism or to try to push them on other people.

This mental block prevents them from being able to debate towards a greater truth. This was quite apparent at the assembly meetings. They stated the same things, over and over and over again, with no regard to counterarguments made by Ordinance 64’s supporters. This arrogant righteousness is what puts me off of debating religion. It ends up being an exercise in futility, as they are too stubborn to question their values and beliefs, much less change them. I saw this all too often. Now I am beginning to understand how this mental block got put in place.
sheepleI must say I felt something when I was there. The music, the lighting, the sermons… something almost supernatural. There was something more there. However, I must hope that I’m not the only one who can see the puppet strings. I saw what technicians labored to accomplish behind the scenes, because that’s all it was, complete with a glitch or two. The congregation was captivated like strung-up puppets. Simple, repetitive musical pitches and vocal inflections along with synthesized drums made a very simple but potent mix of music that sounded damn near inspirational. Prevo used many different vocal tones to captivate the audience. He was definitely a skilled puppet master, a shepherd of sheeple. It was a bit annoying to hear some guy in the pews moaning “amen” after everything the pastor said. They also had a visiting Christian musician, Dennis Agajanian who had some acoustic guitar skills, which did surprise me. I was under the impression that Christian musicians were simply bad musicians cashing in on the faith factor. That’s not based on reality though, but instead on South Park. I’ll look into it if I continue studying ABT’s services.

At the end of the service, Pastor Prevo briefly referred to the bill to notify parents of their children’s abortions, and mentioned something about either a vote or contacting politicians (I don’t remember which it was). Doesn’t that violate the 501(c) status (or whatever the tax-exempt status is called)?