Duane and Mary Laflin
Here’s an article about a Fellowship of Christian Magicians (FCN) convention from Mother Jones magazine.
The FCM, which boasts about 2,000 members around the world, is a nondenominational organization dedicated to "the winning of souls to Christ" using "sleight of hand, optical illusion, ventriloquism, puppets, balloons, clowning, juggling, storytelling, and other visual arts." The transformation of beguilement into belief can take many forms. A mind-reading trick may illustrate God’s omniscience; an escape-artist routine reminds audiences that they can break free of sin; an illusion in which three black rings explode into color is a metaphor for what it’s like to suddenly see the light. Pulling biblical lessons out of a hat may seem forced, but as the website of the ministry Seeing Is Not Believing puts it, "Many people will come to see a woman get cut in half that would never set foot in a church building otherwise."
These Christian magicians make a distinction between Biblically prohibited magic, which is sorcery or contacting the dead, and approved Christian magic, which is sleight-of-hand or physical trickery. These performers use magic as a teaching metaphor the way Jesus used parables to teach.
I wonder how many of these gospel magicians are strict fundamentalists who believe that the Bible is literally true? Do any of them believe that the Bible stories are metaphorical? If that was true, then they might be performing magic the way Jesus might have performed magic, as metaphor. But it’s more likely they believe that their magic = sleight-of-hand = worldy = fake, while Christian magic = miracles = spiritual = true.
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Magician Duane Laflin performs