Monday, October 22, 2007

Keeping up with the Grodses

This post is chiefly inspired by sour grapes on my part: I pride myself on bringing you the latest in matters fundie/theocratic, and GrodsCorp up and steals the march on me. Twice.

Maybe I’m the last guy in Australia to know about this [nope, second last -- AV] but the Gloria Jeans coffee shop franchise is co-owned by two men with close links to the Pentecostal Hillsong Church. In addition to this, Gloria Jeans is a major corporate sponsor of Mercy Ministries which “is a non-profit organization for young women who face life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy.” Mercy Ministries is strongly anti-abortion and views “lesbianism as a sin that their residential program assists girls to ‘walk in freedom from.’”
It probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that an icon of materialism (I'm not talking about the philosophical kind; I'm talking about the praise-Jesus-and-pass-the-remote-to-the-plasma-TV-in-my-theatre-room kind) such as Gloria Jeans has such strong links to Hillsong (which, like many evangelical churches, preaches the prosperity gospel) and the religious right.

Close to a decade ago, my sister was involved with Amway and invited me to a meeting. At the time I wasn't aware of its affiliations, but the loungeroom seminar did feel strangely like my sister had invited Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses into her house to give a presentation. (Later my parents, who (being parents) had attended a few of these meetings, described the atmosphere as "cultish.") The quasi-religious ambience was no accident. In the US, Amway (founded by Rick DeVos) has been a major supporter of conservative politics (see also this article by Bill Berkowitz), disgraced private armies, and religious right causes. From Scoop:
Eric is a good example of this kind of conversion. Before he came into Amway, politics had never been an issue with him, and he was not a deeply religious person. But he soon came to believe that he was dealing with people of great faith and integrity, in part because the tapes he was instructed to listen to.

Unbeknownst to Eric, an educational process had begun that would eventually alter and control nearly all of his values and beliefs. As part of that process, he was instructed to (1) attend choreographed Amway rallies where it delivers its message, often over 2 or three days; (2) read politically charged books; (3) listen to hours of politically slanted audiotapes and voicemail messages; and (4) pay large amounts of money to listen to Right Wing Religious and Republican spokespersons at seminars around the nation.

While attending these seminars, Eric began to learn about the supposed evils of liberalism and the Democratic Party and how the liberals wanted to take from the hardworking, honest people and give to the nonproductive members of society, who were only poor because they were lazy.
I've always thought of evangelicalism as one big pyramid scheme anyway.

OT: What do these two clips have in common?