What happens when people with the mentality of Moonies and the morality of drug dealers set up an international partnership?
If any sociologist would like to find out, an interesting case study has been quietly coming together in the last year at the heart of the island’s equivalent of a Deep South bible belt. I am sure that within the next year something awful must happen, if anyone could hold their nose long enough to be a participant observer.
The thing is that for some years now the south of the island has been plagued by an evangelical church whose happy-clappy trading name could have been coined by an AA attendee after the morning’s drugs kicked in, but which is better known as Living Hell.
The plague started when a few Ulster evangelicals fled their home turf, not so much to escape sectarianism as to peddle a subtler version here. The fishing village where they based themselves used to be a pleasant enough place, but as the cult gained power it went downhill rapidly, fast becoming the kind of dive where getting pregnant and dropping out of school is upward mobility, and selling skunk or skag the nearest thing to steady employment.
We really cannot say if the arrival of the church and the descent of the community into something resembling an Alabama trailer park are related misfortunes. We can, however, note that (a) such cults thrive wherever they can prey on the ignorant and vulnerable and (b) several devotees hold the kind of public and third sector posts or committee memberships which are supposed to deal with social problems but instead tend to perpetuate them, thus keeping those failing to tackle them in steady employment.
Like every other Northern Irish hatemonger, Living Hell also had shady American friends, and for some years enjoyed a useful (and untaxed) second income running the Manx franchise for various US evangelical bogus charities. Unfortunately for the church, one side-effect of increasing attempts by US authorities to crack down on tax-avoiders (amongst whom evangelical entrepreneurs figure prominently) is that financial transactions between the US and Isle of Man are now closely monitored. So endeth the free invites to prayer breakfasts at the White House.
So I should not have been so surprised when last week inane comments made (he thought only to a tame audience) by a numbskull ‘star guest’ at an upcoming Living Hell faith convention reached me too. I was intrigued enough to check out the speaker, and this revealed something both surprising and funny. It appears Living Hell have traded in their US sponsors for a stake in a Jim Jones-lite Afrikaaner cult.
As the only specimen of homo sapiens on this planet as dumb and loutish as the Ulster Unionist is the Boer, any collaboration between these two sub-species of humanity has to be a disaster. I should know, having had to work with both in recent years. They are vile creatures, possibly the best (semi-)walking argument against Biblical literalism I can think of. If any god really made these saps in his image, he should be laughed out of existence.
The countdown to this impending doomsday should be one to monitor with interest, and tongue firmly in cheek.