Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Get Rich as a Televangelist or Faith Healer

I heard the author of this book interviewed on the Infidel Guy show a couple of months back. It was reasonably interesting, so I thought I'd buy and read the book.

Its a short book. You could probably read it in a single sitting if you had a few spare hours. It is also reasonably interesting and informative, even if it does have a few annoying characteristics, which I'll get to in a mo.

However, its not a particularly uplifting or affirming read (as you might have guessed) and is downright depressing at several points.

The author of the book is clearly a disgruntled guy who got taken in by some religious con artist a couple of decades ago. He presents himself as a once gullible, evangelical Christian, but doesn't really say what his beliefs are now, which is a big hindrance to fully understanding where the book is coming from.

Even having finished the book, I'm not sure if the author's main point is:
  1. "All successful Christian leaders are charlatans and just out to make money out of your gullibility; there is no God really...", or
  2. "These are the techniques the bad guys use to lead good Christians astray, watch out for them and keep following the good guys..."
I suspect the author's intent is actually somewhere between the two, while this is not stated in the book, I suspect the author was raised in a fairly fundamentalist church, had a bad experience or two and now is an agnostic or an atheist.

So anyway, the book is presented as a 'how to' guide, but is really more of a guide through some of the more colourful pseudo-Christian con-men (and women) of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

The book presents all of these characters as being corrupt and charlatans from the outset, whereas in some cases I have sometimes wondered whether some of these people started out with the right intentions and gave in to the temptations that their positions afforded, ending up being out for their own gain, but possibly starting off with a gospel agenda. I mean, some are clearly con-artists at the start, but maybe not all of them. Or maybe I'm being too naive.

I recently blogged about the Lakeland 'outpouring' and Todd Bentley. Given that this book was written last year, it never mentions Todd, but it is amazing just how much of a fit there is between the 'instructions' given in the book and the things that seem to have happened at Lakeland. A few good Christian people have told me good things about their experiences with the Lakeland thing, but I must admit that I am still agnostic on this one. I'm considering 'revisiting' Lakeland in another post soon...

So, you're probably wondering how to go about getting rich as a televangelist or faith healer. Well, there's a few easy steps to follow. These are:
  1. Get some form of credentials, but not from a prestigious institution. Some small bible college that nobody has ever heard of is good. There are several online ones that will ordain you for cash. These are fine.
  2. Present yourself as the mediator between God and man. Yes, the bible presents Jesus as the only mediator, but you need to present yourself as the mediator between the people and Jesus, who then mediates between you and God.
  3. Build your mailing list. It is reasonably easy to persuade people to part with $1 or other small amounts of cash, but to make money this way you need a big mailing list.
  4. Target Christians from specific denominations only. You'll get nowhere going for folk from the big denominations like the Anglicans and the Presbyterians, but rather target folk from the smaller denominations with names like "Full Spirit Assemblies of the Family of God"...
  5. Preach the 'prosperity gospel' and look the part - your 'flock' will expect you to have a big car, a big house, expensive suits, expensive jewelry, etc.
  6. If you're balding, wear a wig. Its all about image.
  7. Learn some bible verses and quote them often, but be careful which ones you use.
  8. Avoid actually preaching about what the bible says about Jesus - I mean, he doesn't exactly promote the prosperity gospel, does he? He loved the poor and saw riches as a hindrance to getting to heaven. What you need is 'Diet Jesus'...
  9. Demonise your opponents. Anyone who says anything against you must be in the control of Satan.
  10. Speak in tongues. Any random string of syllables will do.
  11. Be careful who you attempt to 'heal'. You're not gong to be able to heal amputees. Bring people onto the stage in wheelchairs, but only those who are capable of walking. Only heal non-visible illnesses, cancer is good, etc.
There is other advice, but you get the idea.

The thing is, you come away from reading this book wondering if there are any genuine or honorable 'televangelists' out there. Are any of them serving the gospel or are they all con men?

There probably is an answer to that, but not in this book.

So, all in all, this is an eye-opening read but is probably not recommended for anyone as it will make Christians less sure of their own church leaders, and will give non-Christians a skewed view of honest preachers and genuine healers (if such people do exist).

1 comment:

PoSeidon said...

Watch the movie Faith Healer with Steve Martin it's a great look into the lives and motivations of these conmen.