Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 15 (INC Story: The Univists)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 15 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .
The INC Recorder headline was titled “The Univists”, all in simple block letters.
It was a well-crafted promotional document meant to generate a boost in membership. For years, the number of members attending Univist activities – be they Sunday Mass, Saturday BBQs, or teen ‘fun nights’ – were experiencing precipitous declines.
Traditionally, the Univists targeted North American rural families and farmers – people that were alone and separated from society and who needed a support network.
Unfortunately for the Church, over the last century, this population had been moving to urban areas. There were a lot of reasons why: declining value derived from farming, the high cost of machinery and the immense value of land fueled largely by demand for more ‘McMansions’ were just a few reasons.
As people left their farms for the cities, they were exposed to more ‘cosmopolitan’ thinking and came to accept that there are different cultures in the world and that it might be possible that they’ve been used or manipulated by the Church.
Their children were having fewer offspring, creating a cash-flow crisis for the Univist Church, as its core support network faded with age and death of the Depression-era generation.
This collection of articles was considered to be the cornerstone piece in a massive advertising campaign designed to encourage urbanites to consider returning to their religious roots. The goal was to ‘bring in new blood’. With this new foot traffic, the expectations were that the campaign would produce new cash flows where others were fading off.
The insert had eight stories in all, each one devoted to hand’s on activities that the Church leaders were engaged in within city walls. A minister in New York was interviewed and asked about his involvement with street kids, helping them fend off their various addictions while helping them get jobs at local big box partners.
A family in Los Angeles was interviewed and asked about their involvement with a new child care program that allowed them the time to work different shifts at a local manufacturing plant.
An entire congregation was spoken to about their involvement with a choir that raised funds for less fortunate orphans in developing countries.
A building group that went to New Orleans to help construct new homes for dislocated inhabitants.
A small inset article showcased how China was the next ‘big market’ for the Univist Church, given the potential for tens of millions of new members. It went to great efforts to mention how they were bringing hope to hoards of citizens that had been without water and who had been mistreated by their government and Chinese-run manufacturing facilities.
At the centre of the insert was an article that was considered by many to be a ‘think piece’ about a little-known cult that had grown out of the small towns of the USA. Great efforts were made by the authors to feign objectivity, to showcase potential criticism, but all of this was crafted intentionally to build a list of basic objections with rhetorical and well-documented responses. All of which were well crafted by those who ran the Church.
Like the Wizard of Oz running the Emerald City, some of the most influential people in the country had final say on what would be presented in this piece to ensure that the message was consistent with the image that they wanted to build for their Church.
The piece focused on the origins of the Church, although it had little mention of the man who founded it, and how his son, Griffith Garamond, had shaped it into one of the world’s largest political and economic powerhouses.
The piece outlined how the money they collected was spent on various public programs, all trying to justify their tax-free status. What it failed to mention was that about 80% of the funds collected went to off-shore accounts, never to be seen in North America again.
The insert was added to the October issue of the INC Recorder, one of the most popular months for the magazine. It was the “Thanksgiving Shopper’s Issue” that was loaded with holiday recipes, shopping tips and reminders about holiday etiquette and loads of discussion about what to buy for those busy people for Christmas.
The original authors argued for weeks about the content. Several of Garamond’s supporters wanted to itemize some of the central tenets of the Church , including references to how they believed that they were living in the ‘End Days’, where Judgment Day was just around the corner and how members were told that because of this looming Day, they should share any wealth they had with the Church so that it can fortify itself against its detractors. Or how people had a simple choice about joining God’s Army or fighting against it.
However, they eventually agreed that the piece had to be a simple puff piece that would make people feel good about the Church. They completely removed all threatening elements of the central belief system so that the readers would feel compassion for the mission that the Church was on.
In anticipation of objections that people might have about the financial requirements associated with joining the Church, the authors took great pains to elaborate on the support that the Church provided to members. They spoke of paid funerals for members, charity drives and collections taken up specifically for members that could not afford certain medical treatments.
They failed to mention that these benefits were only enjoyed by the most senior members of the Church and that a rigid set of guidelines blocked the majority of Church members from enjoying these perks.
What the authors also failed to mention was that the Univist Church had nearly every single Senator and Presidential hopeful well-funded and well aware that their volume of votes would make or break their own personal fortunes.
What was not mentioned was how the Univist Church is one of the single largest shareholders of several Fortune 500 companies, mainly as a result of ‘creative’ use of collections and donations. Investments that were made through a labyrinth of dozens of tiny little boutique equity shops, mutual fund firms and holding companies.
What was not mentioned was any of the names of the original authors of the piece or how four of the six most senior members of the INC Recorder were partners and directors with a number of companies related to the OMNINet, a major beneficiary of cash-flow generated by the Church.
Finally, what was not mentioned in this promotional piece was the ongoing and ambitious plan for Griffith Garamond to privatize Government of the United States and reunite Church and State.
(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .
Author’s Note: I have to admit to rushing some chapters in order to get the whole book out and this is obviously one of them. My gut feeling is that this chapter feels most lame, given all of the potential interactive tools available. Eventually, I intend to build this chapter out, mainly to include links to the "Univist" site (probably to a page that showcases a charity campaign to get a plane for one of the directors) and links to YouTube videos (both about the radicalism and ‘cultish-ness’ of the Univists, but also by the group themselves, which would show them in a euphoric state.