Mike Warnke was a con artist. He traveled the country for years, packing the pews of evangelical churches with his message of salvation from Satan, selling thousands of books and records while hauling in millions in donations for the children he had supposedly rescued from the clutches of Satan-worshipping abusers.
But that huge eager audience he tapped into is still there. The fascination or temptation or corruption that made so many evangelicals so enthusiastically gullible, so willing and eager to believe stories of imaginary monsters, is just as pervasive and popular as it was in Warnke’s heyday.
That demand-side aspect of the story is a much stranger phenomenon than the supply-side con game Mike Warnke was running. It’s not hard to understand what he was after or what he gained from selling his lies. He got rich and famous and lived the life of a rock star.
But what did his audience gain? What were they chasing after in choosing to believe his unbelievable and implausible tales?