A Laughing Revival Service

The following is excerpted from a Media Spotlight report by Al Dager on the Laughing Revival
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In order to get the flavor of a Howard-Browne service, we offer a condensed version of one. This description is taken from a video tape of a meeting held at Carpenter's Home Church and aired on TBN. The events were exactly as we portray them, and are not notably different than any other of his meetings we've viewed.

During [the preaching] a few hoots and laughs can be heard emanating from the audience, but there is still relative order. After some ... teaching on the anointing and the gifts of the Spirit, Howard-Browne calls a pastor forward who, the night before, had said he was ready to check himself into a mental clinic. Promising a double dose of the Holy Spirit this night, Howard-Browne lays his hand on the man, who promptly falls to the floor.

Howard-Browne than puts one foot on the man's stomach and pronounces that he will go forth forever changed. This sets the stage for working his audience into laughter, and disproves the claims that he does not provoke laughing responses.

Someone said, `Why'd you put your foot on him?' Because I didn't feel like bending down and putting my hand on him."

The audience erupts in laughter; from this point on things begin to roll. Bending over the man he says, "Go ahead; let that bubble out your belly." The man laughs a little harder.

"More!"

Harder laughing.

"More!"

The man tries harder yet.

"More!"

He begins to force a laugh that sounds like cackling.

"More!"

The man kicks his legs up and pedals his feet, laughing, "Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!"

Howard-Browne states, "That's called Holy Ghost aerobics."

The audience loves it.

He then does similarly with the man's wife. Having fallen, she prays somewhat quietly. Howard-Browne tells her not to pray. He exhorts her with the words, "Joy! joy! joy!"

One person after another is called out to receive his anointing. Those who do not laugh he prompts to do so. Most take quite a bit of prompting.

One man lies there, also praying quietly. This is how Howard-Browne addresses him:

"Stop praying now and let the joy bubble out of your belly. Joy. Joy. Joy.

\Don't pray! Laugh!"

The audience laughs all the more, as he goes from person to person prodding them to laugh.

Howard-Browne kicks one man in the foot:

"You need to let that joy bubble out your belly! Stop praying, let the joy bubble out. I said stop praying; let the joy bubble out your belly! Let the joy bubble out your belly."

Going on to another:

"You, too. Let the joy bubble out your belly."

On to another.

"You, too. Let that joy bubble out your belly."

And to another:

"You too. Let the joy bubble out your belly! It's not a prayer meeting!

Joy! Joy! Joy!"

The audience is loving it all the more.

If I seem to be belaboring the point, it's to demonstrate that, contrary to claims that holy laughter is spontaneous and uncontrollable, it is more often induced through coercion. Going back to the first man he had kicked in the foot, Howard-Browne chides him:

Why didn't you listen to the preacher? Why didn't you listen to the preacher? I said laugh!"

The man is coerced. He erupts into an obviously strained attempt to laugh under this intimidation. So much for the claims that the laughter is uncontrollable and spontaneous.

Then comes Howard-Browne's ridicule of those who do not wish to enter into his laugh parade. Making a dour face he continues:

"Some people say, 'I don't want that joy brother Rodney. [His face becomes even more dour.] I'm happy just like I am. My great grandfather was sad. My grandfather was sad. My father was sad. And when he died--just before he died--he looked at me and said, 'Son, will you carry on the family tradition?' And I said, 'Yes, dad.'"

Hoots and hollering erupt from the audience as they join in laughing to derision those who don't enter in.

After some more banter calling people "ugly things" who aren't open to the Holy Spirit (read open to falling down and laughing), Howard-Browne slaps on the side of the head a man sitting on the front pew. The man falls over onto the pew, shaking his legs and hands in the air.

The audience continues to roll with laughter.

Another man comes forward, goes down under Howard-Browne's touch and begins to pray. Says Howard-Browne:

Get out of the praying mode and get into the rejoicing mode! Pray when you go home! Lord, have mercy! I mean, if their prayers had been working they wouldn't have had to come up here in the first place."

More laughter from the audience.

He begins a dissertation on the laying on of hands, pointing out that you can bless people by laying on of hands, you can heal them, and you can pass on the anointing to them.

In the same manner popularized by Benny Hinn, Howard-Browne waves his hands and people fall over.

He begins to quote Peter in Acts 2: "These are not drunk as you suppose..." He lays his hand on a lady in the front pew, causing her to shriek repeatedly, shaking her hands as if she had palsy. He points out that she is a pastor's wife. In fact, most of the front-row pews are filled with pastors and their wives.

As he repeats, "These are not drunk as you suppose," "the drunkard" begins his routine:

While sitting in his pew a man throws his head back and laughs heartily, kicking one leg up in the air. Suddenly he bolts from his seat and does a locomotive-action shuffle in a tight circle. Then he faces Howard-Browne, kicks one leg out in front and does a pratfall. Another man jumps out of his seat, does the same sort of locomotion shuffle, arms flailing wildly, and falls on the floor. Shortly afterward the first man gets up and staggers around with a mock drunken smile on his face, salutes Howard- Browne and plops down in the pew again. It is obviously contrived, but Howard-Browne and the audience eat it up.

Things continue in the same vein for the rest of the evening.

Rodney Howard-Browne likes to call himself a "Holy Ghost bartender" who dispenses the "new wine" of charismatic fervor. ...

Suddenly a man from the second row stands up. He's wearing slacks and a sport coat opened to reveal suspenders. He hooks his thumbs in his suspenders, throws his head back and in stereotypical pantomime of a comedic drunk (a la Foster Brooks or Jackie Gleason), adopts a smirk.

Peering down his nose, he looks with half-closed eyes at the audience as he sways back and forth. He then plops himself in his pew and nods as if he's drunk, smiling at Howard-Browne, who enjoys it tremendously. Loud guffaws abound.

Cannot Howard-Browne discern that this man is merely seeking attention--that he is not truly "drunk in the Spirit," as Howard-Browne claims?

And what is being "drunk in the Spirit?" Scripture makes no mention of this. The proponents of holy laughter cite Acts 2 to suggest that acting drunk by the Holy Spirit is valid. ... Acts 2:1-11 clearly teach that the disciples came forth from the upper room under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and began to preach the Gospel in the languages of those present from various nations. Although the hearers discerned their own language, they also heard all the other languages being spoken at the same time. The mockers (verse 13) did not listen to the message, but heard what seemed to them like a lot of babbling. Thus, they accused the disciples of being drunk. ... While the disciples were accused of being drunk, they were not staggering about in the manner characteristic of those "intoxicated" by holy laughter; they were accused of being drunk because, while some heard their own languages, they also heard other languages. Nor did all the people accuse them, but the mockers. It was a phenomenon they did not understand, and to them it seemed for the most part like babbling. Peter set them straight and many of them repented of their sins and were born again by the Spirit of God. (Al Dager, Holy Laughter, Redmond, WA: Media Spotlight, 1995, P.O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073).