Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Burning Hell, Part Seven, Dr. Bob Gray Edition

This is a picture of Dr. Bob Gray, who died in prison shortly before his pedophilia trial was scheduled to begin.

We'll get to Dr. Bob in just a moment, because another Sunday morning is here and it's time to visit the Mississippi Baptist Hell of Reverend Estus Pirkle.

Filmed in the early 1970's with the help of B-movie kings Ron and Tim Ormond, Pirkle's "The Burning Hell" scared the daylights out of every church youth group that saw it. I'm posting excerpts from the film each week because I saw the movie when I was twelve or thirteen, believed every minute of it, built a lot of my life around it, and therefore suffered extreme mental, spiritual, psychic, and emotional harm.

Now I'm getting even by parsing it every Sunday morning. This is cheaper than a psychotherapist, and causes less long-term harm to the community than climbing into a tower with an assault rifle.

To recap the previous episodes.... Two hippies, Ken and Tim, have a discussion with Brother Pirkle about the reality of hell. Their preacher has taught them that hell is only a metaphor. Pirkle disagrees. Pirkle vividly paints a picture of non-believers burning for eternity in a massive field of mud and slop. Ken and Tim object to Pirkle's reasoning and leave the church on their motorcycles.
Ken has an accident, and is decapitated.
Rather than wait around for the police or an ambulance, Tim decides to go to church.
You can hit the Pirkle label at the bottom of this post to see each episode in its entirety. Even if you're in a hurry, you've GOT to see episode #4 with the worms.
At the end of last week's clip, Pirkle was telling the biblical story of Dives and Lazarus. Lazarus was a good man who died poor. Dives had refused to give Lazarus any money, died suddenly, and woke up in hell. In the middle of last week's episode, Father Abraham, who has an unlikely "just south of Memphis" accent, was explaining to Dives why he wouldn't be able to warn Dives' family about hell. (Luke 16:19).

If you find my commentary helpful, it continues after the clip.

:00 Father Abraham, on loan from his job as a Memphis Mall Santa Claus, finishes his explanation about why warning Dives' family about hell just wouldn't be fair.

:08 The undead live and walk among us.

:50 Think about it. Let's assume there was a wealthy ruler named Dives. According to fundamentalists, Dives is STILL being Bar-B-Qued without a break for things that happened 2,000 years ago. This puts Stalin, Mao, Saddam and Hitler into perspective, doesn't it?

2:20 Pirkle: "Neither words nor pictures can describe all of (Hell's) terrors". Including that tie.

2:35 The timeline begins. Hundreds, Thousands, Billions, and Millions of years. Then comes the chart. Everyone who saw this movie remembers the decapitation, the worms, and this chart.

3:00 The chart. That's a lot of zeros.

3:40 Now we have a word from Dr. Bob Gray. (Pirkle likes to have guest preachers popping in and out of his movies.) While researching one of the previous guest speakers, Dr. Jack Hyles, I found that Dr. Hyles had been involved in some sex scandals.
What are the odds against Pirkle selecting two preachers with the same problem for one movie?

To read about Dr. Bob Gray dying in prison before his pedophilia trial could get underway, go here. (Gray pled the 5th amendment 150 times during questioning.)
To read about the fifteen women who came forward saying that Gray sexually abused them as children, go here.
To read about the church kinda knowing it had been going on for a long time, go here.
To read the best single page summary of the whole sordid mess this Witch Doctor created, go here.


4:40 In an outbreak of Christian compassion, Pirkle tells Tim that Ken is roasting in Hell, and will be there forever.

5:00 Pirkle digs deep into the Book Of Revelation to find some of the creatures called Locusts that inhabit hell. They have the body of a horse, an iron breastplate, hair like a woman, a tail like a scorpion, and teeth from the Wal-Mart Halloween aisle.

5:50 Scenes of horror as the Mississippi Drama League portray Biblical and contemporary sinners of all ages being tortured forever. Why? Because they didn't, wouldn't, or couldn't agree that Jesus (1/3rd of a single supernatural being) was born to a virgin mother somewhere in Palestine 2,000 years ago and was killed by the Roman army in order to satisfy an obscure requirement in Jewish rituals about animal (blood) sacrifices being required for the forgiveness of sins.

6:45 The story of Cain and Abel.

7:24 Back to Dives, resting with his souvenir from Burger King.

I started posting clips from this movie as a joke, more or less. This thing really did have an impact on me when I was a kid. The more I look into it, 35 years later, the more perverse satisfaction I'm getting from learning that clowns like Jack Hyles and Bob Gray had no more spiritual or moral authority than anyone else.

Never, ever trust authority.


Skahmo said...

Thank you, DAP, for allowing me to join you on your quest to undo the years of mental bondage in which this movie held you, as it certainly did for me. Seeing it now, with the perspective of time, and especially with your annotations, has been a very liberating experience for me.

Several years ago, I mentioned this movie to an Evangelical, with whom I was having a friendly debate. I told her that I felt this movie scared people into becoming Christians. Her response was, "I don't care how they get there, as long as they get there."

Therein lies the problem.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I really can't tell you how many emotions went through me when I started Googling Dr. Bob Gray, and found THAT HE WAS AN ACCUSED PEDOPHILE ! !
Same thing with Jack Hyles, and all the other "authorities" that were trotted out to keep people in line, obedient, and conforming to whatever the Powers That Be wanted.
There are a couple of other preachers in the movie with cameo roles that I haven't started researching yet. I'm honest-to-god putting it off til the last minute next Sunday. It's either too much candy, or too depressing. Dunno which.

If I'm honest with myself, I'd say that I stopped buying into the substitutionary atonement, save me from hell business about 25 years ago. But the guilt and the fear and the indoctrination haven't been purged yet.
Ripping the lid off this trash every week has helped.

Hope you can come out for a baseball game soon !


TarrantLibertyGuy said...

I wonder if Trinity Baptist (if I remember the name correctly) was found to have willfully harbored a pedophile as their Sr. Pastor, think the SBC would kick them out? Nahh. Me neither. He was victimizing little girls - not boys. A perfectly normal perversion!

Anonymous said...

o.m.g. My sister and I attended Bob Jones schools. That in itself was bad enough. But they showed this movie to everyone, including the little kids at Bob Jones Elementary. I was 10 years old when I was forced to watch it with everyone else. I suffered through years of nightmares as a result, and like so many others, tried to mold my life around this fear.

Thank god it didn't work. Once I grew up, I slowly realized this was nothing short of severe mental and emotional abuse. But even nearly 4 decades later, it still haunts me, as it haunted my sister. She was damaged for life as a result, trying impossibly to reconcile the realities of life with that kind of fear and forced "Christianity." She finally committed suicide as an adult.

I will never forget the horror of being 10 years old and told, "THIS is what will happen to you!!" And I will never, NEVER forgive the idiots who thought it was a great idea to brainwash kids with this kind of crap.

Thanks for "outing" the real story.

Anonymous said...

If I can make a few corrections...

1. There is nothing wrong with warning sinners of a burning Hell. It is our job. If you choose to reject that, you will find out when you die.

2. Nobody has committed suicide because of a video on Hell, in fact, it has been known to have prevented suicides.

3. Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville FL is not a SBC Church, it is an Independent Baptist Church.

4. Dr. Gray, who I did not know, was not a child molester, he was accused of the child molestation. There was no trial and there was no verdict, the man is dead.

Preachers today are accused of all sorts of stuff, some may be true, but the fact of the matter is most is nothing more than Character assassination. It begins with one disgruntled former Church member, and then pretty soon others jump on the bandwagon. Once a preacher has been accused of such a crime, whether he did anything or not, whether he is found guilty or not, his life is destroyed. There are people out there who love nothing more than destroying other peoples lives (I have a brother that gets his kicks that way.)

I don't know whether Dr. Gray did or did not do what he was accused of doing, but I do know that God saw fit to take him out of here before his reputation could be further destroyed. That is an indication that he may not have been guilty. As for his warnings on Hell, I would heed them if I were you, Hell is a very real place.

Pastor Moss

Anonymous said...


When we die we do not have to stand before and give an account of our live's to Dr Bob Gray or Dr Jack Hyles. We must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ if saved or the great white throne jdugement if unsaved. Comparing your life to someone else's is a deception and lie and delusion of Satan. Any comfort or psychotherapy you get from posting these articles is a false hope and fools gold. Jesus first words preached are still true today "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." I will pray for you that your eyes will be opened to the gospel and you will be saved before it is too late. Romans 10.13

buy facebook fans said...

Very well put together,I agree with this what " TarrantLibertyGuy "just said...he was a perfect normal perversion...lolls

Anonymous said...

I'll make a few corrections too then... As a child who went to Trinity back in the 60's and 70's it was common practice for the nursery to strip the kids out of their clothes so they looked neat and clean when their parents picked them up and not give them anything to drink or eat all day because they didn't want dirty diapers. After a year there, I and my brother looked like we were in a concentration camp. My parents finally figured out what was going on and pulled the family out of the church with Bob Gray claiming we were all going to hell for leaving. Quite frankly it's one thing to preach about the realities of heaven and hell and its quit another to use the threat of Hell to beat people over the head with it on a month to month or week to week basis in many cases to manipulate other people to do what you went them to do. I have always said I don't need to know every detail about Hell because as a Christian I won't be going there.

Anonymous said...

If he were so innocent, then why did he flee to Germany for 10 yrs to be a "missionary" when the accusations started and the church couldn't hold back the accusers anymore. I went there as a kid, and I grew up looking back at all of the brainwashing I went through. Thankfully I was able to figure out reality for myself. I don't think alot of kids ever did thanks to their crap. I remember vividly an anti-abortion that, yes we were forced to watch, showed dead babies and fetuses. One being on a plate with a knife and fork next to it. So, don't tell me about how great Dr. Gray was. I'd like to piss on his concrete pulpit headstone.

Mark said...

Oh, don't get me started on that insipid "B.H." (more like B.S.) movie. We see Lazarus telling the people how Jesus died for his sins, yet in the myth according to Luke Jesus tells of Lazarus' death. And if "Father Abraham" is in Paradise in the earth what's he doing pontificating from "heaven"? And what's with all the "Hebrews" with a southern drawl anyway? To think I studied under Gray in 1982 - 1983. So happy I dumped it ALL! I really need to burn that old KJV with Hyles' and Gray's and a few other Indie-Bap's autographs and post it on YouTube.