Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Psychology Of A Religious Revival
by [?]

Traveling to and fro over the land and up and down in it are men who manage street-fairs.

Let it be known that a street-fair or Mardi Gras is never a spontaneous expression of the carnival spirit on the part of the townspeople. These festivals are a business–carefully planned, well advertised and carried out with much astuteness.

The men who manage street-fairs send advance agents, to make arrangements with the local merchants of the place–these secure the legal permits that are necessary.

A week is set apart for the carnival, much advertising is done, the newspapers, reflecting the will of the many, devote pages to the wonderful things that will happen. The shows arrive–the touters, the spielers, the clowns, the tumblers, the girls in tights, the singers! The bands play–the carnival is on! The object of the fair is to boom the business of the town. The object of the professional managers of the fair is to make money for themselves, and this they do thru the guaranty of the merchants, or a percentage on concessions, or both.

I am told that no town whose business is on an absolutely safe and secure footing ever resorts to a street-fair. The street-fair comes in when a rival town seems to be getting more than its share of the trade. When the business of Skaneateles is drifting to Waterloo, then Skaneateles succumbs to a street-fair.

Sanitation, sewerage, good water supply, and schoolhouses and paved streets are not the result of throwing confetti, tooting tin horns and waiving the curfew law.

Whether commerce is effectually helped by the street-fair, or a town assisted to get on a firm financial basis through the ministry of the tom-tom, is a problem. I leave the question with students of political economy and pass on to a local condition which is not a theory. The religious revivals that have recently been conducted in various parts of the country were most carefully planned business schemes. One F. Wilbur Chapman and his corps of well-trained associates may be taken as a type of the individuals who work up local religious excitement for a consideration.

Religious revivals are managed very much as are street-fairs. If religion is getting at a low ebb in your town, you can hire Chapman, the revivalist, just as you can secure the services of Farley, the strike-breaker. Chapman and his helpers go from town to town and from city to city and work up this excitation as a business. They are paid for their services a thousand dollars a week, or down to what they can get from collections. Sometimes they work on a guaranty, and at other times on a percentage or contingent fee, or both.

Towns especially in need of Mr. Chapman’s assistance will please send for circulars, terms and testimonials. No souls saved–no pay.

The basic element of the revival is hypnotism. The scheme of bringing about the hypnosis, or the obfuscation of the intellect, has taken generations to carefully perfect. The plan is first to depress the spirit to a point where the subject is incapable of independent thought. Mournful music, a monotonous voice of woe, tearful appeals to God, dreary groans, the whole mingled with pious ejaculations, all tend to produce a terrifying effect upon the auditor. The thought of God’s displeasure is constantly dwelt upon–the idea of guilt, death and eternal torment. If the victims can be made to indulge in hysterical laughter occasionally, the control is better brought about. No chance is allowed for repose, poise or sane consideration. When the time seems ripe a general promise of joy is made and the music takes an adagio turn. The speaker’s voice now tells of triumph–offers of forgiveness are tendered, and then the promise of eternal life.

The final intent is to get the victim on his feet and make him come forward and acknowledge the fetich. This once done the convert finds himself among pleasant companions. His social station is improved–people shake hands with him and solicitously ask after his welfare. His approbativeness is appealed to–his position is now one of importance. And moreover, he is given to understand in many subtile ways that as he will be damned in another world if he does not acquiesce in the fetich, so also will he be damned financially and socially here if he does not join the church. The intent in every Christian community is to boycott and make a social outcast of the independent thinker. The fetich furnishes excuse for the hypnotic processes. Without assuming a personal God who can be appeased, eternal damnation and the proposition that you can win eternal life by believing a myth, there is no sane reason for the absurd hypnotic formulas.