Religious hucksterism goes back a long way in the American story. Before Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, there was Marjoe Gortner, who The New York Times called "evangelism's answer to Mick Jagger." Prior to them, Bob Harrington, the dubious "Chaplain of Bourbon Street," and sensational tent revivalists (including an early Billy Graham), who stormed the countryside, preached the Threat and the Promise—and unfailingly took up "love offerings" to continue their "good works."
These days, serious money backs the boy bands and others who make up the social marketing arm of conservative Christianity. While we're waiting on a musical about the guys offstage who are actually pulling the strings, the NC Theatre production of this sly 2005 comedy pokes fun at the effects, if not the causes, of those whose well-paid mission is to make God sufficiently cool for adolescents—and those who act like them. —Byron Woods