Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Religious Exploitation of a Child (Marjoe Gortner)

Who is Marjoe Gortner? - Marjoe is an American born, former evangelical and childhood preacher and was ordained when he was just 4 years old. The name Marjoe, is a coupling of the names Mary and Joseph. If you wanted to do a serious study into child abuse, through religious exploitation, then you could do little better, than to start by looking into the childhood of Marjoe Gortner.

Marjoe seemed to have a natural talent for public speaking and this was exploited to the full by his parents. His father would present him, fully suited to the media, who would be surprised by his 'adult demeanor' and verbal dexterity.

Marjoe was trained in gestures and articulation by his father; a pentecostal minister. He was essentially groomed to preach and this was exploited to the full.

Marjoe was drawn to public awareness, through an award winning documentary called 'Marjoe'. In this documentary a curly haired boy, can be seen ranting and raving, about the sins of the World and how the unrighteous are going straight to hell. He was like a mini version of Ted Haggard or Pat Robertson.

His verbal virtuosity, was also directed by a set of hidden commands from his mother, she would have key words like 'Jesus' if he was talking to slowly or 'glory be to God' if he needed to speed up. There were even verbal triggers at the point where as Marjoe put it "you've got the people where you want them, now take some money'.

It could be fairly said, that the media, was as much to blame for the exploitation as the parents, it made good television and great headline stories. Nobody seemed to stand up and say there is something rather creepy and not quite right about this. Indeed, the parents fed off the media interest and the fascination with Marjoe grew and grew. His parents even arranged for him to performed a wedding ceremony, in front of the camera, for Paramount Studios.

Marjoe would even bless little bottles of water and sell them to his 'followers'. And Marjoe as well as being a preacher became a rather good businessman. It was estimated that the Marjoe family amassed around three million US dollars.

Marjoe and his parents spent much of the time on the road, traveling from State to State and preaching in one town after another. When he was not preaching, Marjoe was having Biblical passages 'hammered' into his brain... Not only so he knew them, but so that he knew them 'backwards' and could repeat them verbatim. In learning passages from the Bible, If marjoe was not doing as well as his mother would like, she would sometimes smother him with a pillow or hold his head under a water faucet (according to Marjoe) , but always being careful not to put marks on his body... The last thing she would want, when he had to perform in front of an audience.

It is surprising how many ministers stood up at the time and said that it was an exploitation of the church and several individuals, when referring to the wedding ceremony he performed, called it an insult to the sanctity of the marriage ceremony. But it is strange that very few individuals, recognized the most disgusting aspect of the whole sordid business, the exploitation of a child.

When Marjoe was 16, his father ran of with the money and because of the disharmony with his mother they split-apart too. Marjoe spend several years after this as a drifter. He got into the film industry as an actor, but had mediocre success. He left the film industry and is now involved in sponsorship work in several different industries.

Marjoe Gortner, to his credit, had a 'guilty conscious' about his 'fire and brimstone, 'your going straight to hell' preaching, that he had inculcated into the minds of the gullible... and he did a final 'sermon tour' with film crew in tow. When he wasn't preaching, he was backstage talking to the camera crew and revealing all the exploitation trickery, to grow the 'Marjoe bank account'.

The one saving grace for Marjoe Gortner is that even when he was preaching, he said, he never really believed any of it. Unlike many adult preachers who do 'apparently believe their own hype (or do they really), Marjoe saw through the whole thing as a set-up-job, simply to exploit the masses of non-thinking dupes. Thus, when he was old enough to stand on his own two feet, he bust the whole thing wide open, in the Marjoe documentary.

Nobody could of course blame marjoe for exploiting the gullible. The blame lies directly with the parents and indirectly with the media. The parents of course, exploited their child for money and at the expense of a normal childhood. But without the obsessive media coverage, then perhaps it would not have continued as long as it did.

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