*Televangelist, Bread and Circuses If you're one of those unfortunate people who can sit d

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Skeptic Tank!

*Televangelist, Bread and Circuses If you're one of those unfortunate people who can sit down on Sunday afternoon, or late at night, and tolerate almost any program that happens to come across your television screen, whether it be the telephone auction or a weight loss seminar, you may have already come to the conclusion that there isn't much difference between televangelism and professional wrestling. The similarity became obvious during the early days of the PTL scandal, when most intelligent people found themselves wondering, "is this real, or is it all just part of the act." The startling revelation of Jimmy Swaggart's disgraceful mortal sins has to be the most astonishing turn of events since Andre the Giant became a villain. Swaggart was once the ultimate fundamentalist, preaching out against the evils of our modern society. Jimmy was always so frighteningly believable that people who didn't believe in what he was preaching still took him seriously because he seemed so committed to his cause -- however fascistic it may have been. When Jimmy Swaggart turns out to be an adulterer, you've got to start wondering what's going on. What follows is a brief comparative list of a few of the many traits televangelism and pro wrestling share. Coincidence, or more? You be the judge. 1. Like pro wrestlers, evangelists are not nearly as scary as the people who believe in them. Sure, Tammy Faye is frightening, but we all know she's not real. The people who send Tammy money for mascara are the frightening ones. 2. Despite claims to the contrary, there appear to be no rules. Pro wrestling is the ultimate anything goes sport. The referee affects the final outcome of the match about as much as a pro football cheerleader might influence the final score of the Super Bowl. Evangelists heal people, stop hurricanes and claim God is holding them hostage for $8 million ransom. There's nothing to stop any of these people from testing the outer limits of acceptable conduct in their professions. 3. Both have their own special languages. From body slams and back sliders, to pile drivers and the rapture. They even share some common jargon, like the classic, but meaningless, phrase "believe you me." 4. Good guys are subject to become bad guys overnight, without prior warning. According to this theory we can expect to see the return of Jim and Tammy sometime in the near future. As all wrestling fans know, once you've changed from good to bad, the cycle isn't complete unless you come back into favor before the end of your career. 5. Both attract large T.V. audiences of non-believers who, despite their doubts, are still fascinated by the unbelievable spectacle of the whole thing. 6. Long a part of wrestling, costumes and outlandish outfits have become a recent fixture for many of the more flamboyant televangelists. In fact, there are even a few Tammy Faye clones around the country. It may not be long before we see evangelists in those ridiculous wrestling masks. 7. The participants are prone to becoming instant media celebrities no matter what horrible events they may have recently perpetrated. Breaking legs, embezzlement, adultery -- it doesn't really matter. Regardless of your past criminal record, success awaits you in these chosen fields. 8. Outlandish claims and lies. Treachery of the first degree and slanderous name calling. It's all there in abundance in both of these sports. The ultimate proof, however, is that Oral Roberts, Jim and Tammy, Jimmy Swaggart, and all the rest, wouldn't seem out of place if they suddenly showed up as managers in the World Wrestling Federation. Could we possible be witnessing the strange plot development of the next Wrestlemania? -30-


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