My brother receives Jesus Prayer Rug scam.


The prayer rug.


The sales pitch.

My brother contacted me through MSN Messenger last night to tell me about this amazing item he had received in the mail yesterday from the fine folks at Saint Matthew’s Church out of Tulsa, Oklahoma that just sounded amazingly wonderfully amazing: The Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug.

Now most of you don’t know my brother, but he’s largely responsible for my education in evilness and the darker side of my sense of humor is a result of his influence over the years, which is a fact I’m sure he’s quite proud of. This makes it perfectly understandable that someone out there might see him as a soul in desperate need of saving, but it turns out that’s not what this amazingly wonderfully amazing bit of mail was all about. No, the mail assumes that Wes is already saved and it offers to help bring the Lord’s blessing down upon him and his family. In particular, the mailing makes a point of emphasizing the idea that the Lord will grant him a financial blessing. All through the amazingly wonderfully amazing power of the Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug. As a bonus the rug itself will perform a minor miracle to prove its authenticity:

Notice the face of Jesus on this Church Prayer Rug. When you first look, you will notice that His eyes are closed. If you relax and continue looking straight into His eyes, you will see His eyes slowly opening, and He will begin looking back at you. Jesus sees your needs (Philippians 4:19). Use this unusual, important, Church Prayer Rug for tonight only.

Let us ask you: Would you like to have God’s blessings upon Your home, your family and your finances? Say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I do need Your financial blessings upon me and my family’s finances!” Deuteronomy 28:6 Just put a mark (√) by your needs below, telling us that you want prayer. Also, check any other needs you are facing. Pray about sowing a seed gift to the Lord’s work. Give God your best seed and believe Him for His best blessing (St. Luke 6:38). Now, go and use this Church, Faith, Prayer Rug. The Lord is watching and waiting. You are about to enter the Holy Spirit of God right here in your home, through this faith exercise. Then, it is a must that you return it for another to use.

You can see part of the sales pitch by clicking on the image to the right underneath the amazingly wonderfully amazing Anointed Jesus Prayer Rug. As it turns out this whole thing is another religious based scam that promises the overly credulous true believers riches from God in return for a little “seed money” for Saint Mathew’s Churches, which only exist in the form of a Tulsa post office box, natch. The only person getting rich from this scam is the Rev. James Eugene Ewing who seems to have built up quite a racket with this and other similar scams to the tune of several hundred million dollars:

The approach reaped Ewing and his organization a gross income of more than $100 million since 1993, including $26 million in 1999, the last year Saint Matthew’s made its tax records public. And while much of the money is spent on postage and salaries, Ewing’s company receives nonprofit status and pays no federal taxes.

Though Ewing claims it is a church, Saint Matthew’s Churches, once called St. Matthew Publishing Inc., has no address other than a Tulsa post office box. It has two listed phone numbers in Tulsa and both are answered by a recorded religious message.

The organization is not related to other Tulsa-area churches named St. Matthew’s, though many of them have received calls asking to be removed from its mailing list.

Ole Anthony, founder of the Trinity Foundation, a nonprofit religious watchdog group, has tracked Ewing’s organization for years. The foundation was largely responsible for exposing televangelist Robert Tilton in 1991 after Anthony said he found prayer requests sent to Tilton in Tulsa trash Dumpsters.

Doing a Google search for Jesus Prayer Rug will reveal that a lot of people have written about this scam including our friends over at Chaotic Not Random as well as Ryan Cragun who handily provides a PDF of the complete mailing that he scanned in. This mailing and others like it are sent out at an estimated rate of 1 million a month and are aimed mainly at the hardcore true believers who are poor, uneducated, and most vulnerable to promises of financial reward for a demonstration of faith. The mailing includes a story about a woman who received a $46,000 windfall and another of someone receiving $10,000 after using the prayer rug. Gee, that God Guy sure is generous!

At the time, Tilton and Ewing shared the same Tulsa attorney, J.C. Joyce. Saint Matthew’s Churches is incorporated at Joyce’s downtown Tulsa law office and the organization paid Joyce’s law firm more than $2.6 million for legal services during three years, records show.

Anthony has also obtained documents that describe how Ewing and his organization use demographic data to target the poor.

‘He capitalizes on the isolation of the loneliest and poorest members of our society, promising them magical answers to their fears and needs if only they will demonstrate their faith by sending him money,’ Anthony said.

‘He is, quite literally, the father of the modern-day ‘seed-faith’ concept that fuels the multibillion-dollar Christian industry known as the ‘health-and-wealth gospel.’—Religion in America:  ‘St. Matthew’s Churches’ Mail Ministry is Highly Lucrative

It’s hard to say how illegal this sort of scam might be. While recipients are encouraged to send in money in return for the blessings promised in the mailing, there’s nothing that states it as a requirement so it’s technically not selling you anything other than a false hope. My cynical side says this is what you get when you buy into a concept as ridiculous as Gods and that those folks who are fleeced by it deserve the pain they’re bringing on themselves for being so credulous, but my sense of fair play also seeks to see people like the “good” Reverend here strung up by his testicles for taking advantage of the willfully stupid in the population.

It doesn’t take much cleverness to fleece folks who will believe wholesale in the idea of a Virgin Birth and who put more stock into Genesis than Evolution and that’s the biggest crime Christianity has visited upon so many of its believers. Some of you folks truly are like sheep and you’re just as defenseless when the wolves like Rev. James Eugene Ewing put on sheep’s clothing and come prowling around.

257 comments

  1. I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing too, Les.  On the one hand, giving money to scum like this can be regarded, as my brother says, as stupidity tax.  On the other, taking financial advantage of the credulous poor is about as slimy as it gets, and being strung up by the testicles would be an appropriate punishment.

    Ole Anthony seems to be quite a character- a fundamentalist who takes Christian charity seriously, so much so that he and his Trinity Foundation are constantly broke.  The New Yorker had a nice article about him last month, available online at:
    http://www.thedoormagazine.com/archives/newyorker.html

  2. Hey, you can’t even check ‘I wanna get laid!’ (or the Christian equivalent) – you can only have them pray for ‘Confusion in your home’. Weird wink

  3. Anyway, prayer rugs? Isn’t that more of an islamic custom? The style of that thing looks pretty middle-eastern to me too…

    I mean, I don’t know much about ‘christian style’ in the US, but wouldn’t your average Jesus suburbanite think so too?

  4. Hey, don’t forget—Jesus was Middle Eastern

    GM – Actually I do know that, and was aware of it while typing my reply. But I think the connection is a bit lost on some Christians anyway.

  5. I got this same prayer rug last fall. It’s sitting right here. I haven’t thrown it away because it’s frustrated the hell out of me! (Does that mean I’m saved??) I’ve assumed that the Jesus image is one of those tricky optical illusions, and have spent a lot of time staring at it, waiting for its eyes to open. I’ve chalked their failure to do so up to a failing on my part. You know, like not being able to make a stereogram image form.

    I suddenly wonder if maybe I’m a dupe after all, and there’s just no illusion there… I hope that doesn’t make me even stupider than people who send in money.

    But, Les, you didn’t mention the aspect of this mailing that I consider the most perverse… the guilt factor. On the front reads this instruction:

    Please return this Prayer Rug. Do not keep it.

    and on the back

    “This Prayer Rug is Soaked with the Power of Prayer for you. Use it immediately, then please return it with your Prayer Needs Checked on our letter to you.” It must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing after you use it.

    In other words, I am depriving some poor bastard of the power of prayer if I fail to return this thing. I’m going to hell for sure. I don’t care, of course, but someone a tad more gullible or more desperate might.

  6. Well I stared at that picture for a long time, with faithfulness. Eventually Jesus opened his eyes and looked at me. Then he closed them again.

    I am taking it as a personal snub and am refusing to send any money.

  7. (Hi Les and all…it’s been a long time!)

    I just had to comment on this one b/c it’s so weird. I haven’t visited SEB in quite awhile, and popped in today to read up on the goings-on. I chuckle at the Prayer rug scam, then go home for lunch.

    Guess what was in my mailbox when I got home? No kidding!

    Now I have my very own Prayer Rug. I put it on the fridge to scare my husband when he gets home.

    What a ginournous crock of shit.

    In other words, I am depriving some poor bastard of the power of prayer if I fail to return this thing. I’m going to hell for sure. I don’t care, of course, but someone a tad more gullible or more desperate might.

    That’s the part that’s killing me. Are we supposed to believe this tissue-paper piece of printed abomination is THE one and only Prayer Rug? Sure, there’s not 50K others just like it in the same mass mailing. It came just to ME. ‘Cause I’m special.

    As an aside, I can actually see the eyes. If you stare very closely, and iris and pupil are hinted in the picture, causing you to see it staring at you after a minute. I’m going to bring my artist’s loupe home and check it out more closely. smile

  8. Now I have my very own Prayer Rug. I put it on the fridge to scare my husband when he gets home.

    You have a cruel and unusual sense of humor, brandi wink

  9. As an aside, I can actually see the eyes. If you stare very closely, and iris and pupil are hinted in the picture, causing you to see it staring at you after a minute. I’m going to bring my artist’s loupe home and check it out more closely.

    I actually initially thought in the picture that Jesus’ eyes were open and he just had on a lot of eye liner (I thought it might have been a tacit endorsement of homosexuality or gothic fashion).

  10. Yes I do, ingolfson. My husband’s mother is quite the Catholic, so religion is a large target of humor in this house. If I had a plastic jesus and a crucifix nail, I could make a shadowbox! Whooo-weee!

    I just can’t throw it away…it’s too WEIRD. I like it the way I like a velvet Elvis.

  11. I received mine in the mail about 6 months ago.  I poked out the eyes and wore it as a jesus mask.  Is that so wrong?
        – Matt

  12. I received mine in the mail about 6 months ago.  I poked out the eyes and wore it as a jesus mask.  Is that so wrong?

    Eminently and evidently. You are SO not getting anyone to pray for ‘confusion in your home’.

    PS: How thin is the stuff anyway? Otherwiese it would cost a lot to mail, wouldn’t it?

  13. Les should send out a prayer rug blessed by Satan. Instead of opening its eyes it could shoot the bird if you stared long enough.

  14. Les should send out a prayer rug blessed by Satan. Instead of opening its eyes it could shoot the bird if you stared long enough.

    Cynical, buddy. I’d prefer a version where Jesus opens his eyes and mouths: “Get off you ass and do it yourself or at least ask someone real for help, klutz!”

  15. Maybe they could have laws against abuse of the faithful, much like the laws against abuse of the elderly…

    My grandmother was swindled by a similar, non-God-related scam and lost quite a lot of money.  I believe that sort of thing is now punishable by law.

    Anyway, I’m sad I haven’t got one…need to call my parents and see if they’ll save one for me.  It would be excellent for my junk wall.

    Sure, there’s not 50K others just like it in the same mass mailing. It came just to ME. ‘Cause I’m special.

    This reminds me of all the people who thought Osama Bin Laden was coming to firebomb their garages…you know, because he has any political interests whatsoever in Joe Smith’s split-level.

    Actually, Matt, that is just SO right.
    I totally want an official SEB bird-flipping rug.

  16. Hey Les—if you go here, you’ll see that I requested prayers for you when I originally sent the letter back along with my $0.01 “seed gift.” They sent me some highly entertaining mailings and trinkets for a while, which made me feel good because I figure every penny these hucksters waste on material and postage is a point for the good—er, evil—guys.

  17. JohnFen,
    It really works, but it’s like the Shark they used to put on the back of the POP-TARTS [no offence poptarts] box [ditto]. I did take the time to load the paid postage envelope up with lots of heavy stuff and drop it in the local post box. My Wife doesn’t see Jesus’ eyes , but she can’t see the shark either.

    brandi
    …there might be something to it, it is the only rug in the house my dog hasn’t insisted on scooting her ass all over…i just don’t know anymore.

  18. I seem to remember a Saint that curred hemorhoids, so I don’t believe that would be “one of the unforgivable sins,” shana. Did you notice there was no box:
    (  ) Jesus, deliver me from your followers.
    nor:
    (  ) Save me from religious scammers.

  19. I sent back the prayer rug, along with about a pound and a half of other junk mail that was cluttering up my desk.  You’d be surprised at how much can actually fit into that postage-paid return envelope.  I figured that if they’re so concerned about me, then they wouldn’t mind the fact that I don’t want my local landfill clogged up with unwanted junkmail and that they wouldn’t mind disposing of it for me.

  20. I FOUND THIS WEB SITE BECAUSE I GOOGLED PRAYER RUGS BECAUSE LAST NIGHT I RECIEVED ONE, FROM ST MATHEWS, THE SAME AS YOUR BROTHER.  I AM GOING TO BE THE ONE TO TEST IT OUT.  I AM ONLY DONATING $5.00 SO I REALLY HAVE NOTHING TO LOOSE EXCEPT FOR 10 MINS OF PRAYERS AND 5.00.  I KNOW THAT YOU ALL MAY THINK I AM AN IDIOT BUT WE ALL MUST HAVE HOPE.  I DONT THINK THAT I AM PAYING FOR MY PRAYERS TO BE ANSWERED I AM JUST DONATING $5.00 FOR THE RUG AND THE LETTER.  WELL I WILL LET YOU KNOW IF ANYTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF IT.

  21. TELL YOU WHAT, GENA- YOU NEEDN’T BOTHER TO LET US KNOW IF ANYTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF IT.  JESUS WILL LET US KNOW BY WINKING AT US FROM OUT OF OUR OWN PRAYER RUGS.  THANKS AND DOGBLESS.

  22. i have recieved several mailings from saint mathew prayer by letters.
    the letters were encouraging and interesting.
    personally i feel it is not a scam, because it it up to the individual how one responds to the letters.
    i have a strong belief in prayer, prayer works, it is not harmful to receive letters in the mail that offer prayers and encouragement to continue to trust in god.
    all churches ask for money, so why are they any different. dont send money if you dont agree.

  23. Why are they different? Well, for one, they’re not a church. They’re a post office box.

    Two, they make a lot of false claims and imply that in return for sending them some “seed money”—supposedly to fund church activities—that you’ll be significantly financially rewarded by God. The only church activity your money pays for is funding the scam further and lining the pockets of the folks perpetuating it.

    Three, your participation being voluntary doesn’t mean it’s not a scam. There’s not a lot of scams out there that try to make your participation mandatory. By design they’re almost always voluntary and structured in a way that implies the more you invest the bigger your gains will be, but are careful never to promise anything.

    But hey, if you’re dumb enough to send them money because they sent you some warm and fuzzy letters that make you feel better, well, you know what they say about a fool and her money…

  24. My friend sent in $4.00 and received $102.00 within 32 hours. I guess it doesnt matter if it is a scam or not. Faith works always. God is real for me based on my experience.

  25. I guess it doesn’t matter if its a scam or not. Faith work in the 4th dimension. My friend sent in $4.00 and recieved $102 in 32 hours….go figure. God is real for me based on my experience that he is working in my life because I get things that defy logic and explanation. I just have to trust that He will provide for all my needs and the desires of my heart. Really.

  26. Once I sent in $5 and received $400 the next day … it was my paycheck.  God is real for me based on my experience that he is working in my life because I get things that my tiny mind can’t figure out.

  27. Hey, I just got one in the mail yesterday!  Cool!  But it isn’t a real rug, it’s just a piece of paper badly printed to somewhat resemble a rug.  Maybe I should laminate it.  Or would that seal up all the god-power so it wouldn’t do me any good?

  28. I just printed 32 pages of the Rip-Off report associated with this company and sealed it back up in the return envelope and tossed a fake name on the back and sent it on its way smile I wish like 3 million people would do that a month to run that guy into the ground.

  29. I got several St. Matthew’s mailings starting about a year ago. The Prayer Rug is the first one. I played along for a few months to see where it would go, but I didn’t send any money in. They send a new letter about every 3 weeks with a different gimmick for you to send back.  I guess they got tired of me not ordering my Seed Plan and not sending money, so eventually I stopped hearing from them.

  30. I just recieved this, wow, what a scam!

    Being a born again believer, myself, this prayer rug is ridiculous.  As a believer, I already have the power of God (the Holy Spirit) living in me.  This “rug” is nothing more than a peice of paper.  The person sending this is obvious either a) deluded himself in a misunderstanding of The Word or b) scum, trying to rip off people using a “faith scam”

    After all the only way to heaven is through Christ.
    John 14:6

    All of us are sinners Romans 3:23 and cannot get to heaven by our own works Ephesians 2:8-9  God loves us, however, and wishes none to perish.  Which is why He sent Jesus as the only perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. John 3:16

    Nowhere does He promise us riches, health, or ease of life on this earth.  He infact tells us it will be hard and difficult, we will be persicuted, but our rewards will be in Heaven.

    I probably won’t visit this site again, but should anyone have questions, my e-mail is here: quimax@tds.net

    God Bless all of you.

  31. Uh, I have a question…..nah, I was just saying that to make myself laugh.

    Wait, I do have a question…seriously, I do!
    My question is: Have you gotten any questions?

    I have another question: If someone DID ask you a question, did you answer it correctly?

    And just one more question: Are you fucking kidding me with this?

    God loves us, however, and wishes none to perish.  Which is why He sent Jesus as the only perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins.

    So this Jesus guy was just a patsy then? An easy mark, a fall guy, a whipping boy, a stooge, a sucker, a lamb to the slaughter?

    It seems to me you should be asking YOURSELF some questions!

  32. So this Jesus guy was just a patsy then? An easy mark, a fall guy, a whipping boy, a stooge, a sucker, a lamb to the slaughter?

    Yes.

  33. I guess most of you had better hope your assessment of whether or not God exists is accurate.  I know when I die, I won’t be worried.  Will You?  Remember, you can’t go back and fix it once it’s over.

  34. So in other words you’re playing it safe? You cowardly types make me sick!

    How can you be so certain you’re worshiping the right god? Is it because your parents/friends/society told you what to believe?

    Please tell me how you KNOW for certain that you shouldn’t be worried.

  35. you know, I stumbled on this site by accident and I really can’t believe that people who claim to not believe in anything are so bothered by people who do.  If you don’t believe in ‘god’ or whatever, then fine.  But at least give others the same courtesy you want or at least claim to want.  What i really think is that you all have never really grown out of your adolescent years and must keep screaming for attention from whomever will give it to you.  Now i will let you all have your great times tearing this apart for days on end without me.  God bless you.  He still loves you even though you reject Him.  Amazing, huh?

  36. Tigergirl spewed forth with…

    you know, I stumbled on this site by accident and I really can’t believe that people who claim to not believe in anything are so bothered by people who do.  If you don’t believe in ‘god’ or whatever, then fine.  But at least give others the same courtesy you want or at least claim to want.

    You sure do like to make a lot of assumptions off a single entry. Perhaps if you would spend a bit more time perusing the archives you’d have come across any number of entries and comments where I make it clear that I really couldn’t give a flying flip if you want to believe in “Skippy The Giant Space Guppy” as your Lord and Savior if it makes you happy to do so. I only tend to be bothered by it when either you try to force said silly beliefs onto others or allow your silly beliefs to interfere with your common sense such as is the case with the prayer rug mentioned in this entry.

    But hey, if you want to insist on your right to be an idiot then who am I to stand in your way?

    What i really think is that you all have never really grown out of your adolescent years and must keep screaming for attention from whomever will give it to you.

    Screaming for attention? I didn’t ask you to come here. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. That’s that common sense thing again.

    Now i will let you all have your great times tearing this apart for days on end without me.  God bless you.  He still loves you even though you reject Him.  Amazing, huh?

    Given that I don’t believe God exists there’s nothing for me to reject. Do you reject the Easter Bunny? He still loves you in spite of your rejection of him!

    oh yeah, you sound just like all the others on this board.  does that make you a parrot?

    No, repeating the same trite cliches that every other True Believer repeats when they ‘stumble upon’ this site is what makes you a parrot. Things like, “I know when I die, I won’t be worried.  Will You?” or “God bless you.  He still loves you even though you reject Him.” is what makes you a parrot.

    If I had a dime for every time I’ve had that nonsense thrown in my face I wouldn’t have to worry about working again…

  37. You know what I think would be great.  It would be a great hoot if one of the fundies would come out and admit that they think that God loves them more than us heathens a la Fred Phelps.  That would really bring a smile to my face.

  38. I know when I die, I won’t be worried.  Will You?  Remember, you can’t go back and fix it once it’s over.

    When I die, I won’t be worried, I’ll be dead.

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