A Review Article Lessons From An Apostate -- By: Richard J. Vincent
RAR 9:3 (Summer 2000) p. 171
A Review Article Lessons From An Apostate
Jesus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: From Fundamentalist To Freedom Writer, Skipp Porteous. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books (1991). 313 pages, cloth, $27.95.
Whether it’s the message of Christ or defending the Bill of Rights, Skipp Porteous is ever the evangelist. After many years of service as a Pentecostal minister, Skipp became disillusioned with religion and abandoned his profession. He then took up the cause of defending the Constitution from the threat of extreme right-wing zealots. These zealots predominantly arise from fundamentalist Christianity. The story of Porteous’ rise and fall in the faith and subsequent move into defending First Amendment rights is recounted in Jesus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
Skipp Porteous grew up in a home where “religion, although mostly in the background, seemed a natural part of [his] life” (28). His grandparents were devout believers. Skipp writes, “From early on I was influenced by their religious zeal, which was strict but never approached fanaticism” (28). His parents also had a high respect for religion. Prayer, church attendance, respect for the Bible, and “sword drills” were a routine part of his life (28–31).
RAR 9:3 (Summer 2000) p. 172
As an adolescent, Skipp attended a Baptist church. Through this affiliation, he ended up spending two summers at evangelist Jack Wyrtzen’s Word of Life Ranch. The first summer he was crowned the Word of Life Boxing Champ. The second summer he became, in his words, “a certified fanatic” (42–43). He said, “The Baptist Church and Word of Life ranch turned me into a disciple of Jesus, a diehard Christian fundamentalist” (42).
Skipp readily accepted teachings on “personal separation” by living according to the standard fundamentalist list of “do’s and don’ts” (primarily don’ts—don’t drink, smoke, dance, gamble, go to movies, listen to rock music, etc.). He was taught that this was the way believers “showed their unwavering dedication to the Lord” (42). Skipp also desired to preach the Gospel from a street corner in his hometown, but his mother forbade it (43).
Then, as with many young converts, his zeal dissipated. Skipp writes, “I tired of Christianity; all of my interest in the Bible disappeared. Soon, I passed my religious experience off as mere childhood foolishness” (45).
Leaving home to attend the Pan America Art School in New York he got a taste of city life with all its various experiences. After finishing school, he took a job as an assistant at Villagio Italia, a resort in the Catskills. Here he...
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