My interest in this subject began with a simple child’s plea. “Mommy, it’s gonna get me!” The child cried out during a worship ceremony as the mime in painted face walked out and began performing. I listened intently as my friend recounted the story of her nephew’s fears and it made me wonder how this experience may have had future implications on his life and his understanding of Jesus Christ.
Marion Witcher is an author and founder of New Hope for Special Needs, a ministry devoted to meeting the spiritual needs of those affected by disabilities. Nearly a decade ago, she prohibited the participation of painted face pantomimes at NHFSN’s His Ability Over Disability annual special event. I asked her why she made the controversial decision to exclude mimes.
Our mission is to provide Christ-honoring activities to persons with disabilities and their families. Mimes are anti-Christ in their origin and a source of confusion for many with intellectual disabilities. As visual learners, many are unable to interpret abstract activities; they just don’t understand the relationship between God and what they view as scary looking clowns. (Witcher 2015)
Witcher’s video “Exposing the Spirits Behind Pantomime,” provides an historic account of mimes and their appropriateness in worship to a Holy God within the context of Scripture. The video warns believers that the white painted face is a death image from the ancient mime culture. Indeed, there seems to be some validity to this statement, when you consider that mimes were hired at funerals to play the part of the deceased person.
The mime’s whole task was to create an eerily accurate personification of the corpse. No one is completely sure, but to possibly placate the ancestral spirits as well as to lighten the funeral gloom. To do his job, the funeral clown wore the newly deceased’s clothing along with his insignia of high office. He also donned a death mask of the man’s likeness. (Vicki Leon 2007, p 301, p 3).