GREAT DIE-OFF: Pastor Francis Austin, Author, Televangelist, and Celebrity Pastor
Excerpt from "COVIDsteria: An Oral History of America's Great Reset" - see https://covidsteria.substack.com/p/covidsteria-table-of-contents
More liberal mainline Protestant churches were slowly dying long before the Great Die-Off - a mass extinction event for their congregations and those of new-age churches. Surviving televangelists, celebrity pastors, new-age gurus, and other false prophets now struggle to earn a living and find relevance.
With liberal mainline Protestantism and the cult of science now thoroughly discredited, surviving devotees of both have sought answers from more traditional religions. This search for the truth has led to a great reset in American religion and a boom for Orthodox, Catholic (especially Traditionalist Catholicism and Eastern Catholic Churches), Mormon, and evangelical Protestant churches. At the same time, Jewish people have flocked to conservative or orthodox Jewish synagogues while other religions (including Islam and Buddhism) have expanded their footprints.
But as with conservative pundits, former celebrity Pastor Francis Austin has struggled after the great reset in American religion. Christians now read the bible themselves rather than read or listen to reinterpretations of it. They have also proved unwilling to fund the lavish lifestyles of celebrity pastors or attend their impersonal megachurches to be constantly solicited for donations.
I visited Florida to interview Pastor Joe. It turned out that he also happens to live in the same trailer park where former Conservative pundit Ann Lamia now resides. But unlike Ann, though, Pastor Joe can at least afford a double-wide - still a far cry from the mansions, Gulfstreams, and yachts he once owned...
As with former Ostrich News Network (ONN) correspondent Fredo Ratto, I was surprised by Pastor Joe’s aged appearance in person; and without all the pancake makeup televangelists or celebrity pastors usually wore on stage. However, I had to keep my sunglasses on during our chat by his carport as his teeth glistened so much in the Florida sunlight, I was afraid of getting blurry vision...
I come from a long line of pastors. My father, grandfathers, and some of my great-grandfathers were pastors of community churches with small congregations.
However, I was born slightly dyslexic with a bad stutter when I am in front of an audience or speaking in public. I also had crooked teeth that no dentist could fix. There seemed to be nothing any earthly power could do to fix these problems. It looked as though my destiny was to be the handyman at my father's church or to find another path in life outside his ministry. After all, how can a pastor with crooked teeth give a sermon if he has trouble reading the bible and speaking in front of a crowd?
But God Almighty had bigger plans for me than my parents or I could ever have imagined! My destiny was to become a bestselling author and the pastor of one of the largest ministries in America who also had the best teeth in the country! [He smiles, and his teeth glint in the sunlight.]
And how did all of that come about?
One day, as a young man, while up on a ladder cleaning out the gutters at my father’s church, I came upon three frogs. And one of the frogs started speaking to me. The frog told me…
I am sorry to interrupt you... A frog started talking to you?
As the son, grandson, and great-grandson of pastors, you did not find it a bit odd for a frog to just start talking to you?
God often works in mysterious ways! [He smiles, and his teeth glint in the sunlight.]
But I would think you would be leery because, in the Book of Revelation, the three frogs turned out to be…
[He interrupts.] Yes, I am aware of the Book of Revelation! I am a pastor! [An annoyed look appears on his face.]
But what difference does it make? The least I could do was listen to the frog to hear what it had to say!
And what did this frog say to you?
The frog told me, “My son, it is me, God Almighty! I have a new gospel to reveal to you! And if you learn this gospel, you will become a best-selling author and the richest pastor in America with the biggest congregation in the country!”
“But I cannot give sermons!” I told the frog, or rather God Almighty. “I have a bad stutter when I speak in public or when in front of an audience! I am also slightly dyslexic, making it hard for me to read the bible, and my teeth are all crooked!”
“What difference does it make?” the frog, or rather God Almighty, replied. “I have a deal to make with you. As long as you preach the gospel that I will reveal to you and people listen, do not worry about your teeth, stutter, and dyslexia. I will also shower you with prosperity! Now go find a mirror to check your teeth and a book to read out loud!”
I got off the ladder and ran into my father's church to check my teeth and find a book. And guess what? God Almighty had fixed my teeth and my dyslexia! [He smiles, and his teeth glint in the sunlight.]
Hmmm... and what about the rest of the deal?
The rest of the deal involved God revealing a vision to me! And not the kind of vision Catholic maidens or Shepard children on hills or in caves receive! God revealed to me something much bigger than the Virgin Mary mirages Catholics always seem to get! [He smirks.]
God gave me a revelation that allowed me to build one of the largest congregations in the country! The revelation was the prosperity gospel! [He smiles, and his teeth glint in the sunlight.]