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.