The Tabernacle of Hedonism, a mock church in that meets in Gainesville, Fla., held an exorcism in anticipation of Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida on Thursday.
The Independent Florida Alligator reports that about 25 audience members attended the event at Maude’s SideCar Bar in Gainesville on Monday to see George “Fodder” O’Brien and other “actors” perform the exorcism, which lasted two hours.
Holding a beaded skull in one hand and an instrument made of fake goat toes in the other, O’Brien mumbled verses in what was described as “Tibetan throat singing.”
The event began with an hour of stand-up comedy by Miller and then continued with a group prayer “dedicated to medicinal marijuana and the church’s god, ‘Jamba.” Then O’Brien, who wore a long coat, top hat, and calf-length socks, took the stage.
“The self-employed puppeteer and oddities performer struck his Tibetan singing bowl with a wooden mallet about every 30 seconds as he hummed droning melodies into the microphone, competing with the volume of the ceremonial backtrack that filled the room,” according to The Alligator.
O’Brien then violently raddled his goat toe shaker, chanted in broken Sanskrit and mumbled incoherently.
He finally held the skull prop in both hands above his head as he bowed before the audience, and a long silence followed.
The mock exorcism was complete.
“The best way to deal with something like this is to just turn your back on it,” O’Brien said. “Toss it in a dumpster, forget it, learn from it, and don’t forget, by God, to brush your teeth before you go to bed.”
Evan Teal, a 20-year-old Gainesville native who was in the audience said, “Some of that stuff was pretty crazy.” He added, “It wasn’t a bad way to spend a Monday night, though. I’d come back and see another one of these.”
Miller emphasized that the Tabernacle was a place for the community to come together and to confront ideas with which they disagree with mockery.
“This idea of going back to the ’50s and ethnic cleansing, it’s so abhorrent to the way the universe actually works,” Miller said. “We’re all about peace. That’s the crux of the whole Tabernacle in a nutshell.”
In the end, the exorcism failed to derail Spencer’s white nationalist-themed speech. It went off mostly without a hitch on Thursday. Under heavy security, with police in riot gear and helicopters circling overhead, the anticipated Charlotte-like violence — Governor Rick Scott had declared a state of emergency — never materialized. Attendees — both supporters and protestors — chanted at various times throughout the speech, but they remained mostly peaceful.
At the end of his speech, Spencer thanked the crowd for coming. To the protesters, he added, “You think that you shut me down? Well, you didn’t. You actually even failed at your own game. … The world is not going to be proud of you.”