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Selling Satan: The Evangelical Media and the Mike Warnke Scandal Paperback – July, 1993

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From Library Journal

According to P.T. Barnum, no one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public, a statement reconfirmed by this expose of the minister/comedian who supposedly went from performing cat-killing rituals for the Prince of Darkness to becoming a born-again, soul-saving Christian. Religious journalists Hertenstein and Trott reveal that Warnke, lying about his Satanic involvement, led gullible people not to Christ but to the cash register to buy his albums and concert tickets. The authors describe in detail the business of Christianity, covering everything from music ministries to the Christian Book Association. They also discuss the direction of contemporary Christianity and Satanism and include a surprise interview with Anton LaVey of California's "Church of Satan." While Hertenstein and Trott are to be praised for uncovering little-known details about this demagogue, readers would have been served better with a more secular viewpoint. For popular religion collections.
- Mike Tierno, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Pr Chicago; 1st edition (July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940895072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940895072
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Dodson on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mike Warnke was the most popular Christian comedian of the 70's and 80's. His rumpled, comfortable style of storytelling made his tales of satanic involvement "safe" for Christian audiences--sorta like a horror movie, where we have a cathartic but protected encounter with the bogeyman. As his reputation grew, so did his visibility: he was even consulted by police departments as an "expert" on satanic crimes. The albums and accolades kept on coming; Warnke was the undisputed king of Christian comedy, and the unofficial chaplain of the Jesus movement. But not all was well: under the surface, rumblings of dissent could be felt from those who knew Mike best. Friends and associates began to call the offices of Cornerstone magazine, a Christian periodical that has a long history of debunking the sensationalistic claims of religious frauds. When Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott, Cornerstone staff writers, started to review the facts, it became clear that Mike Warnke's tales of satanism were built of two parts imagination, and one part research (one of Warnke's friends during his junior college days wondered why an satanist would have to spend so much time reading books on the subject.) Mike had never had been the leader of a coven; he had never cast spells on people or hobnobbed with Anton LaVey. Hertenstein and Trott really dug in and started to uncover more and more discrepancies; while Mike's pre-conversion exploits were false, his life as a "Christian celebrity" more than made up for them. Multiple marriages, lie on top of lie, and a staggeringly profligate use of money raised for a non-existent ministry were all part of the Warnke we never saw on stage, never heard on tape.Read more ›
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128 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Lillian Patterson on August 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is depressing. I'm depressed that I have to give this book 5 stars, because I would be so much happier if the research were sloppy or inaccurate. Then I could possibly believe that the allegations about Mike Warnke were indeed false. But this book is so thurough, it's sad.
Let me explain. I stumbled accross this book while searching the Internet for information about Mike Warnke a few months ago. I had listened to a tape of his as a child, before I became a Christian (I had actually memorized many of Mr. Warnke's monologues from this tape), and it was so moving that I wanted to find out if I could order it somewhere. I was surprised to discover that Mr. Warnke had claimed to be a former satanist-the tape I'd listened to had never mentioned this part of his "testimony," and I'd never heard about it before. I came accross information about this book, got it, and read it. Honestly, it made me sick to my stomach. And I can't help but be compelled to believe the charges brought out by this book, due to the overwhelming evidence presented therein.
I grew up admiring and respecting Mike Warnke, and his observations about the Christian life became all the more relevant once I gave my life to Christ. I was saddened to find that he was not what I'd thought he was. Yes, I know that no one is perfect. David was an adulterer and murderer-and the Bible calls him a "man after God's own heart." But the thing we need to remember about David is that when confronted with the truth, he didn't just say that he repented, he really did. And he changed. Mike Warnke is still claiming to be a former satanist.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
I have been a fan of Warnke's since about '91. I was amazed when I came across this book. A part of me wanted to resist the evidence presented at the beginning of the book. I wanted to believe that Warnke's family and friends simpley remembered things differently than he did. As the book progressed however, the evidence, pictures, dates, activities, that the authors presented became harder to make to excuse. I could not put the book down once I began reading. I think the authors did a remarkable job in tracking down all the people and following the numerous information trails. There was a lot of repetition of information from chapter to chapter and it was tricky to follow the timeline of what happened in which years. However, it appears that they left no stone unturned including attempting to talk with Mike Warnke. I was very disappointed by Mike's responses. The authors bring up a very good point. Just because someone professes to be a Christian and may even bring others to Christ does not mean they should not be challenged. Being a Christian does not mean we should stop asking questions.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Scott on February 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
For many years, I admired Mike Warnke. I listened to his recordings, bought his book, "The Satan Seller" and listened to his "testimony" about being delivered from a Satanic Cult. I attended one of his Oklahoma City Concerts and donated $20 to his "ministry." Now, I would like to have the money back.

I lived in Kentucky, not far from his headquarters when the story broke. I was shocked, bewildered, and flabbergasted by the Cornerstone Article that came in just under 20,000 words. When the book came out, I read it extensively.

All through the 1980's, I heard of a vast Satanic Conspiracy that Evangelicals had lamented about. One of the two books that got it started was Mike Warnke's "The Satan Seller." Others entered the fray like Lauren Stratford (Satan's Underground), Bob Larson's "Seduction of Evil" and the fringe Rebecca Brown "He Came to Set the Captives Free." However, none of these had the impact, notoriety and visibility of Warnke.

Authors Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott (whom I've both had the fortune to meet) did the most exhaustive research any journalists ever did.

They interview college friends, high school acquaitences, Viet Nam buddies, ex-wives, and former employees. All the testimony, research and investigation leads to one inescapeable conclusion: Mike Warnke was a fraud.

Warnke never had the time or the ability to oversee a Satanic Coven. He never had the ability to get four or five Master's Degrees, and he misused funds just as bad as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.

I never knew of Warnke's ability to keep tight information on his three (now four) ex-wives, the adultery involved, and his very strange Church, the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Kentucky. I never heard of the IRS revoking his tax-exempt status.
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