How Revivalist Preachers Work
If you’d like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in an alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.
Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trancebody relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will probably come out. He usually speaks with a pretty good “voice roll.”
Voice Roll Technique
A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several of whom are highly trained hypnotists, when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.
Now the assistant pastor begins the “build-up” process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generate the excitement and the expectations of the audience. Next, a group of young women in “sweet and pure” chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great for building excitement and INVOLVEMENT. In the middle of the song, one of the girls might be “smitten by the spirit” and fall down or react as if possessed by the Holy Spirit. This very effectively increases the intensity in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience’s attention span is now totally focused upon the communication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.
Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced alpha mental state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate or basket. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, “Give to God . . . Give to God . . . Give to God . . .” And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already wealthy representative will.
Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He induces fear and increases the tension by talking about “the devil,” “going to hell,” or the forthcoming Armegeddon.
In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a “bloody axe of God,” which everyone had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone saw itthe power of suggestion given to hundreds of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.
In most revivalist gatherings, “testifying” or “witnessing” usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up o n stage and relate their stories. “I was crippled and now I can walk!” “I had arthritis and now it’s gone!” It is a psychological manipulation that works. After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings, the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed. The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement, and expectations.
Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, “Be healed!” This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.
For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will last four days to a week, which is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestion given to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healing doesn’t last, if they come back every week, the power of suggestion may continually override the problem . . . or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physical problem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the long run.
I’m not saying that legitimate healings do not take place. They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativity that caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet I contend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mind function.
The techniques and staging will vary from church to church. Many use “speaking in tongues” to generate catharsis in some while the spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.
The use of hypnotic techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around the country. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man’s track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.
Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primary importance in inducing an altered state of consciousness I’ve been using them for years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the process and what they can expect as a result of their participation.