Fundamentalist preacher “debates” religion with Oprah

It’s the funniest and most pathetic fraud I’ve come across in quite some time.

A couple of months ago,, in March, the Rev. Bill Keller, founder of a Florida-based fundamentalist Christian “ministry” named Live Prayer (and yes, it deserves the scornful quotation marks), publicly challenged Oprah Winfrey to a debate about religion. Here’s the YouTube clip:

In the clip Keller announces to the world that Oprah Winfrey, because of her promotion of Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth, is leading people to hell. At one point he tells her, “God will take you down. It was God who raised you up and it is God who will take you down.” He concludes by not only asking but demanding — he uses the word itself — that she engage him publicly in a debate about religious matters.

To my surprise, Fox News gave Keller a huge platform by interviewing him remotely about his views on Oprah. (Or maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it’s Fox News we’re talking about.) The ostensible justification for the einterview was the kickoff of Oprah’s network reality show Oprah’s Big Give but Keller devoted the whole of the three-minute interview to explaining why he believes Oprah is “the queen of the New Age gurus.” He even called her “the most dangerous woman in the world,” since she is “leading people down the path of destruction” if “you believe that the Bible is true and Christ is the only way to be saved.”

Here’s the YouTube clip of the Fox interview:

And now, most recently (as of April), Keller has posted to the Internet a video of the supposed interview he ended up conducting with Oprah. You can watch it below, but first be advised that the whole thing is a fraud. When I saw the title of the video, I was momentarily shocked that Oprah would even give the guy a second thought. Then as I went to click the link, before the video even started playing, I thought the thing had to be a fraud. Then I thought, “No way. He wouldn’t be that ballsy.”

But in point of fact, yes, he would. Observe:

What Keller has done is to create the illusion that he is debating with Oprah, with him sitting in a chair in his personal production studio and asking Oprah questions while she answers via video link from the studio where she held her webcasts for A New Earth. But what’s actually happening is that Keller has simply recorded himself asking the questions and then edited in segments of Oprah talking to the camera during the Tolle webcasts. He asks her what she thinks of Jesus Christ. Then he inserts a clip of her talking about her understanding of Christ. And so on.

I watched the video with a mixed emotion of hilarity and incredulity. Even when I caught on to what Keller was doing — which took about 30 seconds; it’s really a clumsy piece of work he’s put together — I kept thinking there was no way he could play it straight all the way to the end. I thought he would have to break down at some point and admit that this was all a simulated debate. I figured he would justify it by saying something along the lines that he had to do it this way, since Oprah wouldn’t respond to his challenge and the issue was so danged important.

But no, he played it as genuine all the way through. If you watch the video, I hope you pay particular attention at around six minutes into it when Keller cuts back to a shot of his own face while the Oprah clip keeps on playing. He winces. He rolls his eyes. He mugs shamelessly for the camera to show his disdain  for what Oprah is saying. Then he starts taking her to task and laying down “the truth” for her. In other words, he really works hard to pull off the illusion that he really is debating her live, and that she really is present on the other end of a video linkup, responding in real time to his questions and comments.

Not since the glory days of deliriously fraudulent, fatuous, and breathtakingly funny Robert Tilton in the late 80s and early 90s have I witnessed such televangelistic gall. Tilton fell like an anvil dropped from the Empire State Building after ABC’s Primetime newsmagazine exposed him for what he was. I have to wonder whether Keller will suffer a similar fate, since he seems to be possessed of the same astonishing audacity and cartoonish presentation. If Sister Oprah decides to turn her baleful eye upon him, we can know that his fall will be great indeed.

Not incidentally, aside from his really amusing theatrics and lies, the man also amuses by mispronouncing Tolle’s last name as Toll, like in “toll bridge” (the name is correctly pronounced “Toll-ay”) and claiming that Oprah is promoting something called “A Course on Miracles” when it’s actually “A Course in Miracles.” He can’t even bother to get his facts straight, so it’s hard to take him seriously.

But then, he positively begs not to be taken seriously via the media persona he has deliberately cultivated. Is he maybe winking at us all as he drives home his schmaltzy schtick? I don’t think so but I can’t rule it out. So in the absence of evidence either way, I’ll just adopt an attitude of (sharp-edged) amusement toward him and enjoy the show.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on May 21, 2008, in Religion & Philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. As much as one can disagree with Keller, his point is quite biblical. I’m all for Christians embracing Oprah’s movement, maybe it will cut down on the number of sects ravenously seeking and tormenting others for conversion. But even for all the points you can mock him on, his stance is well fortified in the bible, so its comes down to the practitioner to decide if they want to be truly Christian or sample the pagan tastes.

    http://www.QuestioCuctus.com

  2. Oprah is pushing “spiritual crack”! LOL. This is what evetually happens when you let delusion peddlers make money without taxing them. This country is in serious trouble.

  3. This was pretty funny, actually. I wouldn’t like to be stuck in a lift with the guy, though.

  4. That guy Bill Keller is quite funny, but everything he says is actually straight from the Bible. His conservative and provocative personality may not fit with everyone, but you can’t argue what he’s saying if you claim the Bible to be true. At first, it looks as though you can’t take him seriously, but then everything he says is correct. Jesus’ purpose was to die so that we can be saved through his sacrafice. And New Age thinking does lead you down a road to destruction because it thinks of sin as a splinter, while true Christians know that sin is a Cancer and deadly if not treated. New Age none believers in Christ don’t think this way. So Oprah claiming to be a Christian, then telling the world what she thinks needs to be corrected and answered by someone with the correct understanding of the Bible. There is only One Truth. What we believe doesn’t matter. The truth is still the truth no matter what we think. Jesus said those things in the Bible, we’re just following what he said. You either discover who Jesus really was or you create your own truth and live with it (as Oprah is doing). If that’s your thinking, good luck.

  5. He’s no less fraudulent than winfrey.
    They are all shit sucking scum.

  6. bill keller and the 9-11 christina center are scrambling to do damage control.

    http://tothewire.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/its-just-not-about-hate/#comment-17844

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