God is for Suckers featured a post on burning churches, and I was suddenly reminded of an old movie I saw in High School in some film appreciation class. I can't remember the title. It was black and white, and about an evangelist couple.
They end up getting inspired into doing big traveling revivals in circus tents. Revivals get bigger and bigger to a point that a fire marshal ends up giving them warnings that if a fire breaks out, people won't be able to escape. They manage to avoid shutting the events down, despite those problems. Think part of it entails holding the revivals outside city limits.
The lead woman ends up inventing faith healing. They face criticism from a newspaper writer who essentially says the people who go end up wailing and vowing to change, but don't follow through, so they're just selling false highs. The climax happens when they stop by a big city and get confronted by the mayor, the local fire marshal, and said newspaper critic. They "win" by interrogating the critic about whether or not he believes Jesus was divine, and once out of the room, congratulating themselves on how badly they owned him because he stumbled, stuttered, and didn't answer.
Anyway, the show goes on, fire breaks out, kills the male lead and presumably many attendees, just like the fire marshals had been warning. Female lead vows to carry on with more shows, and somehow, we're supposed to think the whole thing is inspiring. Or at least that's what I thought the filmmakers were going for.
Anyway, I think this movie played a big part in convincing me that charisma does not go with religion.