Up for some Flirty Fishing, anyone?
Ouch, where exactly did the point of that fish hook go?
It seems that the religious organization (“cult”, to its detractors, but then every small marginal religion is a cult to its detractors) known as “The Children of God” or “The Family” used to practice a modern form of temple prostitution, both to gain new adherents and to earn revenue for the organization. They called this practice “Flirty Fishing”:
Flirty Fishing (FFing) was a form of religious prostitution practiced by the Children of God/The Family cult from 1974 until it was officially discontinued in 1987 (due, in part, to the AIDS scare). Its etymology can be traced to Matthew 4:19 where Jesus says “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Flirty Fishing was a subset of The Family’s love bombing activities and involved the use of sexual attraction and intercourse to win converts and favors. Female members were told to be “God’s whores” and “hookers for Jesus”, and soon after its launch as a method of witnessing, sex was given to complete strangers in combination with a request for a “donation”, or for a required fee in line with Escort Servicing (ESing) or freelance ESing.
There’s nothing new about fishing for converts using loving, available women as bait. But these people didn’t shrink from their metaphor:
Ouch, again. The text is explicit about this piercing business:
Art thou willing to become my bait? Then yield thyself therefore to be pierced through by many sorrows!
For the bait is placed again and again on the hook and pierced many times ere it is finally devoured, that it may catch many for my kingdom!
The bait is taken:
Make no mistake, though; this was not a joyous nor a sex-positive operation. Dig the text from the tract (my emphasis added):
“Art thou willing to kiss many with My kiss of life? Through thy death to thyself thou shalt bring life to many that would devour thee and feast upon thy flesh. You flirt to entice them that they may be caught!”
There are a great many more of these well-illustrated True Komix tracts on various subjects — apparently tract sales were another source of revenue — and sexual imagery was prevalent, and often very attractively presented:
But the whole sex / piercing / death theme is never very far away:
Did I say “Ouch” yet?
Given that we live in a world where popular religions are either actively hostile to sex (the sex people actually have all the time, I mean, not the limited subset involving marriage and procreation), or are (at best) tolerant of it, it’s a bit mind-warping to find religious advertising that makes graphic use of sexual imagery. Doubtless they got a lot of attention for themselves using these seductive tactics. But I think the “big-nail-driven-into-her-pussy” image says all we really need to know about the role of women in that church. Ugh.