Live and let live, I always say. Sure, sure, I vent on my blog. That’s what the blog is for-not to change anyone’s views or “convert” anyone to my ways of thinking. It is a place for me-to dump my occasional
frequent frustration about living in a town where I see commercials for local political candidates who say, “I’ll uphold the teachings of the Bible and the Constitution,” and don’t even realize they just contradicted themselves and proposed a violation of the First Amendment…of the Constitution. Sigh.
One of my fun hobbies is watching televangelists. I also greatly enjoy tuning into Fox News. I like to frequent the talking heads there and just marvel at the alternate universe they apparently live in. Did you know that our president wants to do away with Christmas and all religious holidays? Yes. It’s true. Soon, hard-working, honest to God Americans won’t be able put up a simple Christmas tree in their homes without having to pay socialist commie taxes to do it!
So, I know that snake oil salesmen have been around since the beginning of humanity. First they were the shamans who drilled holes in our skulls to banish evil spirits. Then they were the priests who sold us indulgences to absolve our sins for money. Now they are the greasy polyester suits who hock one ounce of olive oil for twenty-five dollars at 2:00 a.m. on TBN.
I recently read that the founders of this travesty of television dedicated to profiting off of ignorance and desperation were again being investigated for…wait for it…
“financial impropriety.” Fraud.
I know, right? Who saw that coming?!
The other day, while I was making a yummy baby sandwich for my boyfriend, he flipped on TBN. The audience was full of crying people, and a man was telling them that they needed to send in one thousand dollars to “plant a seed, to expect your harvest” from Jesus. “Are you suffering financially? Physically? Plant that seed, and expect your bountiful harvest from Jesus. Show him your commitment. Send that thousand dollar, er um, ‘gift,’ and your problems will be solved,” the man with the microphone slimed.
So let me get this straight. You give us “practical” advice which consists only of metaphors such as “open your heart,” “love and honor your King above all else,” “give up control,” and “plant seeds,” then you promise us that our foreclosed home, our dying father, or our pancreatic cancer-our serious fucking problems-will be resolved?
Hey, are you broke? Send money.
My boyfriend’s face turned red. He snarled, “This is criminal. It’s like selling thousand dollar lottery tickets for a jackpot that doesn’t exist!” When I saw the expression on his face, I suggested that he should change the channel. It really was causing him distress.
As it should. These people who lie about the blind man in the audience who left with perfect sight, do not believe they are helping anyone. They know, unlike perhaps your small-town preacher or traveling missionary, they know they are hurting and manipulating people and taking them at their weakest.
Yet the lines to get into the healer shows, to write checks to the charlatans, to send money for a vial of healing prayer oil or a mug with Pat Robertson’s face on it don’t end. They keep coming back for more.
And so I slid a little further into anti-theism this weekend-toward the realization that religion, though many of you say, “What’s the harm in what I believe?” can be truly harmful.
It is the moderate approach toward religion that allows the most radical and dishonest practitioners of snake oil promises to keep on doing their thing. Somehow, the special place that religion holds in our society makes it exempt from criticism. Fraud is illegal, right? If you went on television and sold a bottle of water as a cure for cancer, you’d get in some legal trouble, I assume. What is the difference in selling prayer cloths? Where is the fucking small print? Where is the, “Results not typical” disclaimer?
There is no disclaimer. They get away with it, don't they, simply in the name of the precious “freedom” of religion.
Where do you draw the line on blatant fraud in the name of God?
To accept money from someone begging for their child’s lymphoma to remit is not just fraud. It is cruel. When I see a grandmother who receives her food from Meals-on-Wheels writing a check for one thousand dollars to TBN, a corporation that rakes in billions of dollars every year, to build a giant, gaudy Holy Land theme park in Orlando, buy private jets and thirteen mansions, and whose founders have a separate $100,000.00 mobile home dedicated just for their toy, purebred dogs?
I get stabby.