Updated: Aug 1, 2019
I wanted to clarify a few things in regards to this post. There have been many wild accusations thrown out there in regards to my past work relationship with Carl Crew and the California Institute of Abnormalarts. Sadly, this is even coming from pastors and church leaders that you would expect more from.
Carl Crew is a brother in Christ. All of the Christians that speak into his life and pray for and with him on a regular basis can attest to not only his salvation but the Holy Spirit working in his life through the sanctification process. Is he perfect? No. Has he sinned? Yes. But who hasn’t? Has his past sins, many of which have been broadcasted for all to see on Social Media, disqualified him as a Christian? Has he lost his salvation? No. I’ve seen increased evidence of salvation and the fruit of the spirit in his life. And I’ve literally never seen someone be used through personal evangelism by God as much as Carl. I stand by that claim.
Now, to clarify, many of the claims being made about Carl and myself are either partial truths or completely false. I’m not going to refute them one by one as new ones are being made up as we go. However, the claim that I support “Christian Necromancy,” as is claimed in the title of a recent article on a supposed “Discernment” Blog, is absurd and outright false.
And finally, I find it repulsive the attempts to link this issue with Brannon Howse and WorldView Weekend. Not only does this have absolutely nothing to do with Brannon, but this was never discussed on my radio show hosted on his network, and my blog post discussing my experience with Carl and the CIA was not posted on the WVW website. What’s interesting is that these same pastors linking WVW to the CIA are the same one who used the “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” argument to defend their favorite pastors from separating from false teachers. This has nothing to do with Brannon Howse or WorldView Weekend. Any attempt by these pastors to create that link are not only wrong, but full of hypocrisy.
I saw a lot of crazy things when I worked for the CIA. I saw a man eat glass. I saw another man lie on a bed of nails. I saw a guitar playing carrot front a band of Radioactive Chicken Heads. I even saw a man allow people from the audience come up to the front and staple dollar bills to his body. As you can gather from this description, I was not referring to the Central Intelligence Agency, but the California Institute of Abnormalarts (CIA).
What is the CIA, you ask? It’s a venue in North Hollywood with a Circus & Freak Show theme. It’s a place where performers that might not find another venues to perform at would come and put on their performances for the NoHo audience. This would range from magicians to standup comedians to bands to independent movie premiers to Freak Shows to any other type of performance you can think of.
It is owned and operated by Carl Crew, an actor most famous for playing Jeffrey Dahmer in the movie The Secret Life of Jeffrey Dahmer, of which he also wrote. Yes, Carl is a “little” eccentric. But he’s also a famous fixture of North Hollywood… because of the CIA, he’s known as the Barnum of Burbank Blvd. Why, you might ask? Because he’s seen as the modern day PT Barnum, giving a platform for performers that you would rarely see elsewhere.
The CIA is also famous for its collection of rare artifacts. If you were to ask Carl for a tour of the club, you would see the body of a two-headed baby, a Fiji mermaid and a casket with the body of a dead clown from over a hundred years ago embalmed in mercury and arsenic. Everything that Carl showcases in his museum there at the CIA has a story or legend that he was told about these artifacts when he got his hands on them. In fact, one of his artifacts was even featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
However, what you may not know (especially if you’ve never visited the CIA yourself), is that Carl Crew is also a devout Christian. I’m not going to share his testimony, but I may do an interview with him at some point in the future so that you can hear the work that God has done in his life. But what I will say is that God has freed Carl from the sinful snares found in Hollywood and has performed an amazing work in him.
The reason I said that you may not know that Carl is a Christian IF you haven’t been to the CIA is that Carl is always ready to share his testimony with anyone he comes in contact with. If you were to show up for one of his Freak Shows that regularly occur at the club, he’s the guy you get your tickets from. He’ll more than likely speak in a unique accent with each person, and always gets a laugh out of everyone. But the fascinating thing for him is that, while many Christians would never step foot in this scene, Carl thrives in building an instant relationship with someone and be able to share the Gospel with a very anti-God, anti-Christian clientele. And because these people can clearly see that he believes every word of what he’s saying, they listen to what he has to say. Sometimes they are hostile, a lot of the time they are receptive.
I’m reminded of an accusation hurled at Jesus during His ministry. Matthew 11:19 says, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” What’s interesting is that Jesus went to the sinners where they were, and they were attracted to Him. Why? Because He wasn’t like the religious elite, always looking down on them and having nothing to do with them. What did Jesus do? He would have dinner with the tax collectors and prostitutes. Mark 2:15 tells us that “And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.”
It’s really easy for Christians to live in their own little bubble. Talk about hyper-separatist! We go to church, spend time with our church friends and do business with Christian companies. We have nothing to do with those SINNERS over there!
See, Carl embodies this aspect of Jesus’ ministry more than anyone I know. The Bible says to “always (be) prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) When I was working at the club, I would literally see Carl witnessing to multiple people every single night. If someone shared that they were going through something, he’d put his hand on them and pray for them right then and there. It didn’t matter what was going on. He could’ve been standing next to the dead clown or yelling over the top of a heavy metal screamo band. It didn’t matter. Nothing was more important than that person, that conversation, and the need to pray for that person.
Say what you want about the types of shows he has at his venue, but by attracting the kind of clientele that come to his club, he is able to reach an entire group of people that the church simply doesn’t have access to. What does that say about us as believers? In Luke 5:32 Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” So who did Jesus spend time with? The righteous goody two shoes who were clean cut and fit in with the religious elite? No! He spent time with the sinners, those in need of a Savior.
Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We see this in Luke 18:9-14: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even life up his eye to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
The question is, which one are you? Are you the one praying to God “Be merciful to me, a sinner!” Or are you the one saying, “Thank you, God, that I am not like that man over there!” Except, here’s the thing… That man over there is actually being used by God to further His Kingdom. I’m thankful for my time working at the CIA. I received an appreciation for meeting people where they are, not looking down on anyone based upon how “lost” or sinful they are, and realizing that we are all in need of saving. It doesn’t matter how little or how much you’ve sinned, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Everyone needs the Gospel. In fact, God typically chooses to save the worst of us, not the best of us. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
Additionally, Paul wrote: “Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
I’m not ashamed for working at the California Institute of Abnormalarts. I’m not ashamed for working with Carl Crew. I’m proud of my work history. Why? I worked alongside a man who loves the Lord and literally depends on Him constantly. I would show up at the club at 6pm to setup and then spend time with Carl and his business partner Bob praying for those who would show up for the show that night. Then, after everyone left, we’d sit and talk about some of the conversations that we had with people that night, and then pray that God would work in their lives.
Do I agree with everything that he says and does? No. If I was running a venue would I book some of these performers? No. Do I count him as a brother in Christ? Absolutely.
So, the question is: Are you going to be like the Pharisee or the tax collector? What are you going to thank God for today: That you aren’t like that other guy over there, or that you are thankful to receive the gift of salvation that you don’t deserve? Are you going to judge someone you’ve never met or are you going to take the time to thank God that He’s using that man for His Kingdom? I pray you make the right decision.