KCOP-TV Profile of Dr. R.L. Hymers, 1988: The Final Installment

by Little Miss Attila on June 3, 2010

This is the third segment from that three-part special report on R.L. Hymers, Jr. from the late 1980s. This one aired on Channel 13 in Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 17th, 1988 at 10:00 p.m.

You’ll want to note that “media-savvy” and “new media-savvy” are two distinctly different things.

Announcer: “For the past few nights we’ve been telling you about Reverend R.L. Hymers. He’s the flamboyant Baptist minister who’s been accused of running a religious cult, here in Los Angeles. Well, News Thirteen’s Pat Anson takes a look at Hymers and how he uses the media to get his message to the public. Pat?

Anson: “Wendy, the stern voice and combative style of Reverend Hymers has become familiar to many of us over the past few weeks. Hymers received a tremendous amount of publicity for his opposition to the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. There are people who hate the man and there are those who love him. But they all agree, he’s incredibly shrewd at using the media.”

Hymers: “We’ve had some people from, I think, Channel 5, Channel 7 … Who else was out there, Doc? Channel 11 … What newspaper was there?”

Anson: “He studied journalism in school and as a young man had a brief career as an actor. But, now, he stands at the pulpit of the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle.”

Hymers: “These news people say, ‘I don’t like R.L. Hymers. Well, the feeling is mutual!’”

Anson: “Hymers may claim he hates the media, but he’s learned to use it as shrewdly as any Hollywood publicist.”

Hymers: “Boycott Universal forever!”

[Hymers' Demonstrators]: “Boycott Universal forever!”

Anson: “Instead of calling a press conference to get coverage, Hymers stages a carefully timed event so that reporters can meet their deadlines and have a story to write about.”

Hymers: “On television you have to have something visual happening. You have to have a man doing something. So if I want to say ‘This film is bad,’ I can stand and read it from a piece of paper [in monotone] ‘This film is bad.’ You wouldn’t put that on T.V. But if I stand up and wave an American flag and say ‘This film is filthy,’ and a bunch of people applaud, you’ll put it on—it’s interesting.

Patrick Goldstein: “Well, I think the Reverend is a very learned man, certainly in the ways of the media.”

Anson: “Patrick Goldstein is an entertainment reporter for the Los Angeles Times.”

Goldstein: “The media has become a junkie for sensory stimuli. You have to come up with something new to get the story on the top of the news.”

Anson: “Who is exploiting who[m]?”

Goldstein: “I think that’s the great thing about media politics—everybody gets to exploit everybody.”

[Newscaster]: “A preacher storms off Larry Atabury’s Top Story set Wednesday night.”

Anson: “When Hymers stormed off the set of KCOP last month, the station used it as a news promotion. Other stations took note and invited Hymers to appear on their set, where the same thing happened all over again.”

Hymers: “What church do you go to and when was the last time you went?”

[Host]: “I’m going to ask a question . . . ”

Hymers: “What church do you go to, and when was the last time you
went?” [stalks off]

Hymers [to Anson]: “I thought it looked so good on Top Story that I decided ahead of time that I’d do it again on The Late Show. That was planned.”

Anson: “Why?”

Hymers: “Why not? It’s a good way to exit.”

Anson: “That’s true.”

Hymers: “Everybody remembers it. You remember it. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life: me walking out of that program. I made my point. You’ll never forget it.”

Anson: “Hymers has used similar sensational techniques to attract new members to his congregation. Years ago he passed out flyers inviting people to exorcisms, to learn about sex after death, or to find out if John Wayne went to hell. He even used to show free movies, like Dirty Harry and Flash Gordon. Today, he shows his congregation videos of his most recent appearances on T.V.. And inside the church bulletin, they’ll find newspaper clippings.”

Hymers: “And on the back of that, I put the headline of The Los Angeles Herald Examiner.”

Anson: “I think it was the Herald Examiner‘s editorial in which they made that reference, ‘media-wise pastor.’”

Hymers: “‘Media savvy,’ I think they called it, yes.”

Anson: “And you took it as a compliment?”

Hymers: “Sure, well, because it takes a little time and effort and thought to become media-savvy.”

Anson: “The former members of Hymers church who say he’s running a religious cult have just recently formed an organization of their own called the Association of Concerned Former Members. They can be reached at (213) 452-2854. So far, they have 85 people in the association, and they are trying to contact other former members, or even the ones still in Hymers’ congregation who wish to leave, but are afraid to.”

[Other newscaster]: “Pat, does any of this border on the de-programming that we used to hear about with cults?”

Anson: “It’s really informal, if any type of de-programming is going on now, it’s just informal among these former members. There’s been no organization like this one until the past couple of days.”

[Other newscaster]: “He hasn’t been on the circuit last few days, but it’s hard to imagine him going back quietly to his parish, or his congregation.”

Anson: “That’s true. “I asked him what his future would be, a couple of days ago and he told me he wanted to get back to preaching and running his church. But a man who’s so obviously ‘media savvy’—as he put it—you have to think he’s going to find some cause or some issue to get his face on TV again.”

[Other newscaster]: “He has TV ministry written all over him, too.”

Anson: “Sure.”

[Other newscaster]: “I think we’ll see him again.”

Anson: “Good chance.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ExEB June 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

If you ask me id say at present in my opinion, it seems to me the whole of religion/faith worldwide is seeming to be a lot like one big extended cult .Built up out of lots and lots of differing shisms and fractions, with some tending to be lots more forceful controling and overbearing than maybe some others are.

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