The story’s a two-pronged cautionary tale targeting these type of religious outfits. For those who would follow, it pulls back the curtain on the people that generally gravitate to the evangelical profession (namely charlatans and hucksters knee-deep in the sin they accuse their own flocks of), making a clear case why you shouldn’t give them your hard-earned money. And for those who would lead (i.e. the Jim Bakers, Jimmy Swaggarts, Jerry Fallwells etc.), the point couldn’t be sharper -- if you’re going to con people of their money on the basis that you’re a shining example of God’s light, then you better damn well make sure your closet is clean of prostitutes, accounting scandals etc.
Yet the Bakers, the Swaggarts, the Fallwells still made the same mistakes as Elmer Gantry some sixty odd years later. Pretty stupid. All they had to do was take their noses out of their Good Books for a moment and read the Elmer Gantry Cliff Notes. But I guess there’s no money in that.
As you can guess, I really don’t have much respect for televangelists to begin with. When I was growing up in
Elmer Gantry took me back to those Sunday mornings, not spent in church but watching the tube. If there were someone as charismatically crazed as Burt Lancaster is in this movie up in the pulpit, then -- hell -- I actually might have enjoyed going to those stale Methodist services I was occasionally dragged to as a child.
I wholeheartedly agree. Put away those childish things…so we can get back to more wrestling.