Bethel Church’s Use of Lord of the Rings Staff to End Racism Sparks Debate

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Bethel Church’s Use of Lord of the Rings Staff to End Racism Sparks Debate


A recent event at Bethel Church involving a Lord of the Rings-like staff and a line from the film has sparked a social media debate over its appropriateness.

The moment took place toward the end of the two-hour “Transformation NOW!” event on June 12 that featured multiple speakers, including Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson, addressing ethnic reconciliation and social justice. It was livestreamed on Bethel.TV, YouTube and Facebook Live. The congregation is located in Redding, Calif.

A Twitter video of the moment has been viewed more than 300,000 times.

Marlyne Barrett, a pastor at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, held the wooden staff on stage, surrounded by the speakers.

“I am an artist,” said Barrett, an actress known for her role in NBC’s Chicago Med and Chicago Fire. “… One of the movies that has really touched my heart is Lord of the Rings.”

Barrett referenced the night’s speakers and how they had impacted and inspired her to help bring the body of Christ together. She then mentioned a scene in the film trilogy in which Gandalf battles a demon known as Balrog on a bridge over a hellish-like abyss. In the scene, Gandalf holds his staff and shouts, “You shall not pass!” Half the bridge crumbles, and Balrog falls into the abyss.

Speaking of the “racist spirit in America,” Barrett said, “We are going to lift the staff — and we’ll command the spirit, not…

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