Religion is sold to the masses daily. In 1925 it was sold to the masses in the form of printed material by Bruce Barton. In 1960 it was sold to the masses by way of a film entitled Elmer Gantry. Bruce Barton sold a different idea of Jesus than most people were familiar with. In the film, Elmer Gantry sold religion with bravado and arrogance which was not the typical way of selling religion either. In each work, religion is being sold but Elmer is a more exciting and relatable character than Bruce Barton’s Jesus. Elmer Gantry sold religion in a similar way to Barton’s Jesus but did so in a more relatable manner.
In both works, each character sought out to sell religion. Although the major characters in each work were selling religion, their reasons for selling it were completely different. When Jesus was preaching religion, his reasons were noble. In The Man Nobody Knows, Jesus sold religion to save people. He claimed to be the son of God and was doing God’s work. He not only preached to the masses but also apparently had superhuman powers which cured the ill. “A woman who had been sick for twelve years…she said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole” (Barton, 1925). Not only could he heal people with a single touch, but his powers were so great that he did not even have to touch them to be healed.
An ordinary person cannot relate to having superhuman abilities. Although Barton’s Jesus was portrayed to be greater than he was portrayed in the Bible, most people would be able to relate more to the Bible version of Jesus. Barton took Jesus and made him into an even greater character. The Jesus in Barton’s book is a very strong and muscular man who can use his words to influence anyone. Average people cannot relate to this character because they do not know such a man and may not want to know Jesus as this type of person. Although, Jesus saved people because it was a duty imposed upon him by his father.
Elmer Gantry however, had a different reason for preaching the word of the lord. Elmer found it convenient to preach about the lord when he knew he could get something in return. He had no ulterior motive than to use the words in the Bible to his advantage to gain something for him. In the film, Elmer sees a good thing in Sister Sharon Falconer's evangelical troupe and cons his way into her tent-tabernacle, her graces, and her heart (Weiler, 1960). Elmer used the Bible to get closer to and ultimately to win over Sister Sharon. Elmer Gantry was an opportunistic character. He used religion when it could benefit him. Not only was Gantry opportunistic about religion, but was opportunistic when it came to sex and alcohol as well (Bluestone, 1961).
Many people can relate to a character such as Elmer Gantry. When the opportunity arises for something to go in his favor, he grabs the opportunity. Many people may feel the same way today. If an opportunity arises to get something for yourself, you...