Ray Comfort is back with another cringe-worthy YouTube video that attempts to use human suffering and tragedy to preach his version of the Gospel.
His video, “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide” seems to indicate that suicide in on the rise because we are a godless society and involves several scenes where Ray Comfort preaches to people who have openly admitted to him that they are battling suicide and depression.
Instead of making sure they get the professional help they need, this multi-million dollar televangelist and street preacher decides it is more important to witness to these people and then make sure to use their stories for his own personal gain.
But what do you expect from The Banana Man, who steadfastly remains ignorant of logic, reasoning, medical science and anything else that doesn’t come from a book written by Bronze and Iron Age societies or from his wishy-washy form of charismatic street preaching which is chock-full of feel-good platitudes and non sequiturs and very little profound advice.
Comfort begins this “free, full-length movie” by finding people suffering from depression and mental health issues to prey upon. The third person he interviews apparently hates her family “for every bringing her into the world.”
Comfort tries to pass this off as a typical example of the mental health crisis in our secular society, but I figure this person is either stringing him along or has some deep psychological issues. If it was the latter, this person definitely needs professional medical help much more than she needed to be preached to for ten or fifteen minutes then dumped at the wayside after Comfort got his fifteen-second video clip.
Later was a whopper about someone who suffered from depression after she was gang-raped at her church. I know these kinds of traumatic experiences exist, but how many people did he have to walk up to on the street in order to get the perfect variety of shock value to blast viewers with?
This is followed up with several YouTube clips and interviews about celebrities who suffered from depression and mental health issues. Robin Williams makes the cut, as well as other famous musicians and actors such as Prince. He then focuses on the issue of suicide on college campuses, which has seen an uptick of stress, anxiety and mental illness in recent years.
This then morphs into a vague insinuation that it’s our secular lifestyle that is leading to this mental anguish. He plays more YouTube clips of actors talking about their atheism and intense fear of death, about how there isn’t an afterlife so life itself is meaningless and the fear of death becomes crippling.
Unspoken is the assumption that these atheists and nonbelievers are rebelling against god and heaven and that is the reason we are seeing more mental illness and suicides. And he throws in some shade against mental health professionals and psychiatry by saying depression was recently reclassified as a mental illness (apparently the 1970s is recent) and that anti-depressants are controversial (only to Scientologists and other fundamental faiths).
Not mentioned in this video is the increased stressors in our modern-day life. We’re living longer but also working longer and sleeping less than we used. We sit at desks for long hours staring at screens and technology, while a boon, has also isolated many of us and turned our natural community structures and supports upside down.
While a staunch atheist and person who thinks organized religion has done a lot of harm, the anthropologist in me realizes that we probably need alternatives. Churches did bring people together once a week as a community. And fables about a heavenly afterlife probably have had a profound uplifting effect on people’s psyches. Even if it is a lie, it probably helped us cope with the fact that we die. Archaeological excavations show some of the first things to develop with society alongside cave paintings were burial rituals.
Even if it is a lie, it probably helped us cope with the fact that we die. Archaeological excavations show some of the first things to develop with society alongside cave paintings were burial rituals. It doesn’t mean we need to believe the lie, but we should probably come up with a better and more holistic way of coping with this natural fear of death.
Instead, Ray plays his word games with college-age kids into “converting” to Christianity. He confuses them with some mumbo jumbo, speaking fast and reciting his shtick about lusting after women (like a lot of fundamental Christians, he is obsessed with sex) and accepting Jesus into your heart. If you have ever seen a street con man or illusionist, fire off a rapid series of questions to confuse his audience, you know what a Ray Comfort conversion is like.
The worst part of the movie was when Comfort shows clips of attempted and completed suicides. He apparently skulked through the darker side of YouTube to glorify those who committed suicide and shock people, like the purveyor of religious fluff and snuff that he is.
I have thought about suicide before, fantasized about it. I’ve felt hopeless and overwhelmed with life and I suffer from anxiety and depression. But death scares me even more. I love stories and experiences; if I die, then I don’t get to read one more book, watch one more movie, play one more video game or go on one more date with my partner.
This movie is offensive. But even worse than that, it isn’t helpful; not one bit. If Comfort had any faith, he’d be begging the god he says he believes in for forgiveness. He spent 40 minutes exploiting suicide to preach, confuse, obfuscate and ignore a serious problem gripping our society. But he doesn’t care, as his only goal is to “save” people. Their earthly lives have no value to fundamentalists like him (even though he has a multi-million-dollar Malibu beach home he jet sets to when he isn’t street preaching).
If you or someone you know are showing the warning signs of depression or suicide, seek professional help such as a local healthcare provider, licensed counselor, or even a trusted pastor (but make sure they help treat the symptoms and don’t just preach to you).
Talk these people. Asking about whether they are suicidal does not make them more likely to do it, contrary to the urban myth. Intervention does help.
These warning signs include:
- Threatening to or talking about wanting to die.
- Increased apathy, hopelessness.
- Poor eating and sleeping habits.
- Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills.
- Substance abuse.
- Putting personal affairs in order.
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities usually enjoyed
You can also find more resources at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255. Depression can be treated and people can live happy lives. Mental illness shouldn’t be a stigma anymore and deserves to be tackled head-on in a rational, reasonable and scientific way.