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Holy Handkerchiefs and stealing from the poor
Erika and I were laughing the other day at a mailing we got from an organization called Saint Matthew's Churches, that contains a "Bible Faith Handkerchief" that has the power to bring miracles and blessings to our house. According to the accompanying letter, we are supposed to write our name and a prayer concern on the handkerchief (it's actually a regular piece of paper with a plaid border). We are then to place the handkerchief in our Bible (turned to Acts 19:11-12--more on that later) for JUST ONE NIGHT (why not longer, I don't know). We are then told to send the letter back to the church so that they can pray for us.
The basis for this whole ministry, apparently, is the aforementioned Acts 19:11-12, which says, "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." The person writing the letter claims that this verse is a command for "ministers to send Bible faith handkerchiefs to people's homes." That's quite a stretch.
When we got this letter, we laughed at the absurdity of its claims. At first, I was disturbed by what the envelope has printed on the front:
God said, "I was to loan you this to start turning things around for you...so here it is. Use it and be blessed."
It seemed to me that whoever wrote this was blatantly inventing a fake quote from God, until Erika pointed out that it's probably meant to say this:
God said I was to loan you this to start turning things around for you...so here it is. Use it and be blessed.
I haven't written anything on my blog lately, and I thought this gross misinterpretation of scripture was funny, so I thought I would share it. Before I did, though, I decided to just do a little Google search for Saint Matthew's Churches, to see if I could find out anything more about this organization. I was a little disturbed by what I found. According to the Tulsa World, James Ewing, the guy who runs this organization, makes millions of dollars a year from mailings like the one Erika and I received. In 1999 alone he made over $26 million. The article goes on to say that Ewing even uses demographic data to target the poorest and loneliest people in society.
This is sickening. I don't understand how a person can prey off of people's superstition and gullability like this. It would be nice to think that it's only a few con artists who act this way, but there's one quote from the previously mentioned article that stand out to me:
"He is, quite literally, the father of the modern-day 'seed-faith' con cept that fuels the multibillion-dollar Christian industry known as the 'health-and-wealth gospel.'"
Perhaps the reason that people like James Ewing are able to find so many suckers for their scams is that American Christianity in general focuses so much on the material rewards we can (supposedly) reap from a religious life. It wasn't too long ago that the Christian media industry was swept up in a frenzy over the Prayer of Jabez--a book that preaches this very principle.
This is crazy, and sickening Mr.S! I hope ya have a great summer!
oh man, oh man, it is things like this that infuriate me.
Wow…sorry for the late comment, but that is messed up.
I swear…sometimes I am really embarassed to call myself a Christian.
I want to be very careful to not question other peoples’ faith, but in this case, I don’t see any reason to assume this guy is even a Christian. It sounds like he’s just running a racket.
I suppose, though, that someone outside the faith may see no difference between him and, say, the 700 Club.
it’s been a little over a year and half since you wrote this, so I’m not sure you’ll even see this message, but I thought I’d share a laugh because I got this same letter yesterday. I wrote about it in my blog as well.
It’s by far one of the most absurd acts by a supposed “Christian” that I’ve come across. And quite scary, too.
I got one of those. I tore open the prophecy and read it. It was generic about setting and reaching your goals. I am on a spiritual quest but don’t think I will find it by helping a man become a millionaire through duping the poor into believing myth or legend. We’re on the brink of discovery if only the collective conciousness would embrace good and reject the evil energies and entities we find ourselves surrounded by. Other than this, life is pretty sweet. :)