Piece of Propaganda #1: Ann Graham Lotz.

ERRATA: I have first written this post with the idea that the Lotz quote was about Kathrina, but it was in fact about 9/11. I apologize for any inconvenience. Stop sending me emails about how atheists are stupid and you hate me just because I made a mistake. My article still applies in its entirety.

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This is the first of my “Pieces of Propaganda” series, where I examine propaganda from any source and analyze it. To start, I chose an easy one. This is a quote from Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, interviewed on “The Early Show” on CBS on September 13th, 2001. This quote has been circulated in chain letters by Christians eager to validate each other’s beliefs.

CLAYSON: I’ve heard people say, those who are religious, those who are not, if God is good, how could God less (sic) [hurricane Kathrina] happen? To that, you say?

LOTZ: I say God is also angry when he sees something like this. I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we’re sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life. We put our trust in you. We have our trust in God on our coins, we need to practice it.

Ann Graham is the leader of AnGeL Ministries, which is solely dedicated to her preaching work. So not only was she raised by exploiters, but she is an exploiter herself. Therefore we may presume that she spreads her extremist brand of Christianity on television in order to promote herself, her legitimacy, and the legitimacy of the belief system that sustains her fortune. If television pundits ignored religious insanity, as they should, the legitimacy of religion would be much reduced.

The Early Show is a “morning news” program. An insane preacher like Ann Graham will be featured on such shows because of the myth of “equal time” and the belief that religious leaders have something meaningful to say about reality.

Here Ann Graham is using a favourite tactic of extremist Christians, which is to pin the blame for natural disasters on individual desires. Of course our individual desires are portrayed as childish rebellion (shaking one’s fist), and submission to “God”‘s will as wisdom. “God” is portrayed positively, as a “gentleman”- instead of the hateful warmonger portrayed in the Bible- and “Americans” are portrayed as juvenile haters who have taken “God” out of schools, government, business and marketplace, even though such a thing has not actually happened. And all of this with the nice bonuses of talking about how “Americans” act, and using the “In God We Trust” stamped on American artificial coinage (public currency), which are nice references to the mutually-reinforcing fantasies of the state and religion.

The memetic method at work here is an extreme form of victimhood, although somewhat indirectly. Victimhood consists of portraying oneself as being a victim, which implies moral superiority, instead of a bully. This tactic is especially used by bullies, and Neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust are an excellent example of this. Christians also use victimhood heavily, claiming to be persecuted even in “countries” (such as the United States) where their religion occupies all spheres of life. Victimhood provides three main benefits: more member activity, stimulation of the “us vs them” complex, and a feeling of moral superiority.

Here, Graham uses victimhood is a slightly roundabout way, not directly claiming persecution, but claiming that widespread rejection of “God” (and by implication Christianity, since within her worldview the existence of “God” is only compatible with Christianity) is to be blamed. Of course, such rejection is a fantasy, but if you can get hookwinded by her extremist brand of Christianity, you can’t possibly have much regard for honesty in the first place.

This form of victimhood guides some of her premises in this extract. I already mentioned the “angry rebellious children” vs “gentleman God” dichotomy (while it is interesting to note that “God” also gets angry). There is also the idea of the consequence of this rebellion- that “God” removes “his hand of blessing and protection”, which presumably caused the hurricane. Finally, the idea that the only possible solution is to grovel back to “God” in total submission and ask it to reinforce religio-political exploitation, which of course in practice means that religious propagandists like Graham should have more power.

This is, in essence, the attitude of a self-appointed victim lashing out at her presumed bullies. Of course, Graham is not part of her own construct “the Americans”- she is part of the exploiter class, and thus cannot be blamed for anything. Like politicians who represent “the people”, she desires to be seen as a mouthpiece and nothing more, with no moral responsibility whatsoever.

The small extract also presents two interesting contradictions. It is claimed that “God”, this all-powerful puppet in the sky, gets angry when it sees events like hurricane Kathrina. Anger is an emotion, which means it depends on a material brain. Does “God” have a material brain? And why does it get angry at its own creation? Did it not know that its weather system would create hurricanes? Is “God” stupider than your average meteorologist?

Of course, if people like Graham actually tried to conceive of an infinite non-material being instead of the frustrated, ill-tempered magician they actually imagine (a necessary limitation in order to justify natural evils), their religious belief would be severely hampered, if not shattered. It is necessary for extremists like her to maintain the “Bruce Almighty” version of theology in order to have a role to play in the religious fantasy.

Also, one wonders how all the other hurricanes in history have happened while “God”‘s “hand of blessing and protection” was still present. Once again, not a very powerful “god” now it is?

This kind of propaganda is supposed to make us feel guilty for either rejecting “God”, or failing to support “God” in public life. Like all forms of victimhood, it strengthens the “us vs them” mentality. We are supposed to reject individual values further and demand intellectual submission- from teachers (start teaching more Creationism), political leaders (pass more laws favouring Christianity) and business leaders (stop selling sin).

In times of trouble, people turn to their mental or spiritual bedrock for guidance. For millions of people, this brand of extremism is their bedrock. This particular interview is extremely popular, which proves that it is still an effective form of propaganda for collectivism. It serves to reinforce Christian beliefs and boost the victimhood complex of Christianity. It also contributes to the visibility of Christianity in the media, an important element of legitimacy. And it also openly serves the interests of a particular faction of the state, and state power in general.

I think this will probably be the longest propaganda analysis on this blog, as Graham’s quote is packed with premises and full of meaning. I expect to mostly review sparser material which forms a gestalt of propaganda, rather than packed texts like this. Nevertheless, I hope this analysis was entertaining.

15 thoughts on “Piece of Propaganda #1: Ann Graham Lotz.

  1. […] COTG regular Francois begins a new series dissecting propaganda from behind enemy lines. In this entertaining essay he trains a bead on raving ghoulface Ann Graham Lotz, spawn of the ‘king of the evangelicals’, Billy Graham. Ready, aim, FIRE! […]

  2. love and rage » Blog Archive » cotg #46 September 19, 2006 at 16:03

    […] COTG regular Francois begins a new series dissecting propaganda from behind enemy lines. In this entertaining essay he trains a bead on raving ghoulface Ann Graham Lotz, spawn of the ‘king of the evangelicals’, Billy Graham. Ready, aim, FIRE! […]

  3. lsj521 November 29, 2007 at 23:46

    That quote from Ann Graham makes me want to vomit. People forget that religion was invented by humans to make them feel better about the uncontrollable events in their lives (like cavemen trying to understand why their friend was eaten by a tiger laid the reason on an angry omnipotent being that was seeking revenge upon them).

    I’d like to think that most people are smarter than that, but apparently not. Christians can’t complain one bit about being “persecuted” in this country. Those religious sects that are actually being persecuted are awfully quiet because it’s probably more fun to sit back & watch Christianity make a fool of itself.

    This was a great blog – more worthy of being passed around that Ann Graham’s moronic interview.

  4. Francois Tremblay November 30, 2007 at 00:08

    Sure, but they need to feel persecuted anyway, because that gives them the moral high ground… No one wants to believe that he is on the “bad” side (in fact, I don’t think that’s actually possible).

  5. lsj521 November 30, 2007 at 18:18

    Oh of course. As long as they’re persecuted, they’ll have all the reason they need to continue fighting holy wars. And sucking us all along with them.

  6. roma38 December 19, 2007 at 16:10

    The hurricane happened. Why?

    1) some people claim it was done deliberately and the levees were destroyed to de-populate the area and re-populate with the rich…it is good Real Estate an upcoming Vegas.

    God presumably still allowed these people to go ahead with their plan. So that the people can learn not to trust the State and its agents…they care for no one but their own.

    2) The US State is responsible for much destruction and murder both abroad and at home, yet many Americans blindly support their State…..Katrina was a wakeup call to these people to recognize who the real culprit it and to identify it. Ignore the Propaganda.

    Christianity as adhered to by the agents of the state aligned to the state…is a completely false religion, designed to keep people in awe of the State and to worship it as representative of God. Jesus the man if he was around would have rejected it and the State which is responsible for murder and plunder.

  7. unitedwelay1 July 30, 2008 at 09:46

    Insteresting. I’ve found that in disputing with the religious, it’s easiest to keep angry rhetoric away fromt he conversation and relate to them on something they understand. Jesus was a philosopher, and his philosophy is atually useful, especially when discussion religion with those who claim to follow him.

  8. mike March 5, 2009 at 09:28

    To be persecuted is pop culture.

    Identifying with a persecuted group helps one to get scholarships, awards, books printed, get on tv and allows one to disassociate oneself from the communal guilt of selfishness and greed. Our school system is rife with the liberal idea that everyone who isnt a white male or christian is persecuted. One need look no further than the Russian revolution to see this in action and its result.

    What many refer to as god would be better described as godhead.

    When we give credit to “god” we are giving credit to the processes of nature and the universe, godhead. When we give credit to man made sciences we get guest spots on Oprah, big paychecks, awards and a multitude of reasons to further separate ourselves from each other.

    I would rather give credit to a spiritual force than to a 20 year professional student driven by ego and government grants. Besides, scientists are still wrestling with the information that their observations influence the outcomes of their experiments. Who would have ever thought?

    Just like the self proclaimed atheists who take digs and Christians for their creation, creation is a Jewish creation in the Torah not a Christian one. There is a need to get facts straight if one is to debate effectively.

    I am left with the idea that many of you dont really know what your talking about either way but fat lazy Americans seldom do.

  9. CJ Hoffman June 19, 2009 at 23:47

    I found this site by accident. I pray you do not get any deadly sickness or are ever in a war zone fox hole, or lose a loved one or have a child kidnapped or just need a friend.

  10. Francois Tremblay June 20, 2009 at 02:35

    Thank you!

  11. Steve December 14, 2009 at 12:58

    Wow – I just stumbled on this site while doing some research and after reading Anne Graham’s comments, I understand a little bit why there are Atheists.

    Your analyses of Anne Graham are interesting and I agree with many aspects. She does not speak for Christians nor does she speak for God. God does not get angry – nor does He make hurricanes. Personally I think global warming and people caused the hurricane and 911 attacks. God just permitted these events to happen through the laws of physics and our own free will.

    I do believe that our spiritual rejection of morals, prayer and God in our public institutions contributes to the deterioration of society. This is because religion defines what morals society follows. The law cannot define morals because it must insure justice. Justice and morals are NOT the same thing. Take a reputable law class and you’ll see why.

    I am curious to know what set of moral rules that Atheists follow. What principals do they teach their children? How do they teach or know what is right and wrong? I believe the atheism approach to public policy that is causing the problems because atheists have no set beliefs to follow. Sorry but your natural conscious does not count! Think of Charlie Manson, Hitler and all the other a-holes that made their own rules!

    The church should not be involved with the state. The church, which is referred to in the Constitution is an institution created by man such as the Catholic Church (organization) – i.e., the inquisition where people were burned alive because some joker said they were evil. It does not say anywhere in the Constitution that God and State should be separated. That is impossible because God created everything! This country was founded on religious freedom to worship God! Simple as that and no one can ever change that – ever!

    However, back to the primary issue. Anne Graham does not speak for God. Nor does she speak for Christianity. How do I know this? Because Jesus Christ spoke for God and Christianity. Annes Graham’s interpretations are irrelevant. Jesus’ words and life changed the entire face of the earth and His words are relevant. They can be found in the Bible if you care to look. Most bibles print Christs’ actual words in red.

    The Bible was inspired by God and though it has man made flaws, it carries the truth for those who truly seek it. On the other hand, people can twist words, misread, and distort the truth quite easily if that is the intent. It seems that everything man puts his hands on can become corrupt and distorted.

    Is there a God? I believe the answer is YES! This is because I have searched my whole life and am finally starting to understand some things including the premise that there are things that we are just not capable of understanding. God proves that he is here. Everything around you proves there is an intelligence level far beyond the limitations of our small, mushy minds. God defines everything! God includes the things we know and what we do not know i.e., see the big bang theory (everything from nothing). OK I have to move on now. Just be honest with your self and perhaps in your journey through life the truth will set you free! God is love. Jesus taught that not me. Steve

    • Mike December 7, 2011 at 19:59

      Interesting article… A friend showed me this quote and I was shocked and offended, even if it is slightly funny. I would point out some philosophical, theological and moral errors in it, but the author did a sufficient job of that, even if the article was a little overly vituperative.

      Steve- I’m glad that you appreciate the absurdity of this opinion. However, I think it a bit hasty to claim that she does not speak for God. How can one give value to one interpretation of a religious text over another? These texts are meant to be interpreted different ways and claiming that she does not speak the “true” word of God as bold as her claim that she is.

      That said I’d like to address some of your points as an atheist. First and foremost, your categorization of “morals, prayer and God” is very presumptuous. In no way can morality be classified as an exclusively Christian or even exclusively religious entity. The extreme examples you have used are delusional monsters that would have been uncontrolled by any religion. They by no means represent the overwhelming majority of atheists similar to how you do not wish to be classified with those who carried out the Crusades, Inquisitions, or witch trials. Or even Ms. Lotz on a less extreme scale.

      Back to morality: I do not accept your claim that one’s natural conscience “does not count”. You and I both know that murder is wrong. I would be very afraid if anyone needed God to tell them this or is only held back by the eyes watching them at all times. The brilliant ideas of The Golden Rule and empathy are things that can be taught unattached to religion and are traced back far before Christianity. People use religion in an attempt to strike fear into children similar to Santa Claus. However, they are likely unable to understand the gravity of death and therefore a fear of judgement is not as prevalent as it might be in adults. However, none of this morality debate has the least to do with the accuracy of the Christian faith and the existence of a god. The simple idea that religion is useful DOES NOT have any impact on whether it is true.

      I certainly agree that church and state should be separated. However, this nation was certainly not ” founded on religious freedom to worship God”. Many of the Founding Fathers were secularists and founded the nation of freedom of religion. Period. Not the freedom to choose which branch of Christianity you want.

      Finally to address your last few claims. The Bible has been distorted time and time again over millennia and to claim that the words on those pages were actually spoken by Jesus is extremely hopeful at best. Assuming you don’t believe every word written in the Bible (ie Creation, Noah’s Ark, a geocentric universe and many other stories that have been virtually scientifically disproven), what allows you to select which passages are allegorical and which are “the true word of God”? God has yet to “prove that he is here”. I certainly concede that there are scientifically unexplained events and objects in the universe but to immediately claim that they are one of God’s mysteries is extremely hasty and frankly shows a lack of imagination and desire for knowledge.

      Hope this answered some of your questions. Thanks for your input

      • Steve Owenby December 8, 2011 at 06:28

        Dear Mike,

        I am not quite sure why I received an email showing you had replied to “my Comment.” I am not the Steve that posted this. Actually, I would be more conservative than the Steve represented by the post. So, for the record, somehow, this post is being identified with the wrong Steve. It must be some glitch on their website. I believe have posted on different some different articles at this site before, just not this particular one. Sorry about any confusion.

  12. Han November 10, 2010 at 22:41

    Thanks Steve, well written.

    I also stumbled this page. I was actually looking for references / citations for Anne’s quote, which I got from an email a friend sent me re Ben Stein’s “commentary” on Christmas…
    see http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/b/ben-stein-christmas.htm

    Long story short, the first part is true, the second, not so much…
    You can find the vid on this link: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=1134772n

    Francis, as per your grip re propaganda, spinning things to prove your point is never a good thing, the “additional” bits should really have been separated from Ben’s comments as another persons’ remarks, rather than mushed into a half-truth. Stupid move.

    That said, I “additional” comments (once we’ve calmed down a-bit) are also very insightful. They are of course one person’s point of view and understanding, but an unknown persons’ words can be just as valid as any remarks from well known personalities… so long as they aren’t being jerks ;)

    If you are willing to bear with me, I heard a great interview with a pastor on a local Christian radio show (http://sonshinefm.ws/), who approached biblical teachings from traditional Hebrew language and teachings. He teaches that many translated biblical words and phrases have a “hidden” dimension and depth, as the Hebrew language is (like Chinese) picture/character based and the sum of its strokes tells a story in each word.

    Again long story short, he talked abit about “curses”, and how God curses people in the old testament. The Hebrew defn of “curse” (you should check this out yourself of course) is roughly translated/paraphrased as “to have God with draw His presence (blessings/protection/influence)”.

    Yeah, God does smight a plenty, but always with plenty of forewarning. And in this case, God does warn a plenty that there are consequences when we choose our way over His way… many of which is: we choose to do things our way… then we get to handle this imperfect world by ourselves without His help… but He is always ready to be there when you decide that you need help and want to try out His way of doing things.

    Take care Francis.

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