Religious Frauds Don’t Get More Brazen Than This

On Tuesday I received an email to my freethoughtblogs.com email address from The Prayer Connection. I immediately sent back a message telling them to take me off their list, but then I clicked on the link out of curiosity. It’s a website where you can pay people to pray for you. Seriously.

The Prayer Connection is a vast network of thousands of good, hardworking Christian volunteers that have dedicated a large amount of their time to pray for your loved ones in their time of need.

We here at The Prayer Connection know that the power of prayer and faith in God is the strongest force in the world. It can heal the sick (when no other “medical science” can), save the lives of non-believers by introducing them to the Lord to sway them off their destructive path, and even bring the light of God to people around the globe who’ve never even seen a Bible before!

As fellow Christians, we know this already. We know and understand the miracles that will take place when we come together and make a daily, concentrated effort to pray about the things and people that matter to us.

Most importantly: our loved ones.

By contributing to The Prayer Connection, you’re not only becoming part of something much larger than ourselves; you will be directly helping the specific people you love. Even at our minimumcontribution level, our thousands of volunteers will pray for your loved one every. single. day

for an entire year.

They’re not kidding:

50 comments on this post.
  1. timberwoof:

    “It can heal the sick”.

    That’s medical fraud.

  2. Olav:

    Ed, I am not clicking the link in your article. I am unsure if it is wise to link to such sites directly. Might give them more traffic or search engine exposure.

    It is probably better to just report them to the FBI, the Mounties, or whoever is the relevant police force in this case.

  3. raven:

    I’m always happy about how the fundies spend (or waste really) their money. Tens of millions to conmen, the Prosperity Gospelists, faith healers, and assorted affinity group frauds.

    That’s money that can’t be used to take over the USA and destroy it, at least.

  4. raven:

    I am unsure if it is wise to link to such sites directly.

    QFT.

    I’ve noticed a long time ago that xian websites can be full of assorted malware.

    A recent study corroborates this. You are more likely to get malware from a religious site than from a porn site.

    Not sure why this is, general incompetence or actual malice, or both.

  5. imrryr:

    Ninety-nine dollars?! And the Lord sayeth, “Chuh-ching!”

  6. neonsequitur:

    On the other hand, that might be exactly what the owners of this website plan to do with the money….

  7. The Lorax:

    If you want to make money, start a religion.

    … wait a minute…

  8. reverendrodney:

    It says “volunteers” do the praying. So they don’t get the money.

    Gee, I wonder who keeps the money!

  9. Jasper T:

    Why should it take more than one person to pray?

    Is God deaf and it takes more than one person to get through?

    Is it a democracy and the prayers are actually casting votes for who to help?

    Is he an Ori, and he gets power from the prayer to do things?

    Why pray at all? Doesn’t he already know?

    Or does he only help people, not based on whether he cares about them, but by whether others do – and if that’s the case, does it really help if complete strangers do it?

  10. Raging Bee:

    I don’t suppose there’s any to verify that anyone is actually praying for the stated amounts of time…or that they’re saying the prayers the offer promised…

    If someone managed to observe and record the daily actions of the “good, hardworking Christian volunteers,” and found they weren’t praying for the number of hours promised, that would be fraud independent of the validity of the enterprise, wouldn’t it?

  11. Raging Bee:

    Why should it take more than one person to pray?

    Not sure…how many of them does it take to change a lightbulb?

  12. Marcus Ranum:

    I’ m willing to pony up some $ to pray for the site’s owner to develop a colon cancer.

    Since I don’t think prayer works, I don’t think that’s even immoral.

  13. Alverant:

    Bee, they say they will pray every day for a year. So here’s what they have to say, “Oh God, please accept my prayer for all the people I’m obligated to pray for today.” That’s it. Everyone is covered. If I thought about it some, I bet I can even get it shorter and if I was less ethical, I’d work it into a phrase I say every day so I don’t have to bother remembering.

  14. cag:

    Just remember that contributions to scam artists religious organizations are considered charitable donations for tax purposes (at least in Canada and USA), so all of us are paying for these despicable crooks to have their mansions and yachts. Add that to the property tax exemptions and all the other tax benefits accorded to these scum workers for the lord and we are involuntarily contributing financially to the dumbing down of the world.

  15. Alverant:

    Isn’t there something like this in Catholicism and Buddhism where you pay priests to pray for you?

    I wonder, if a family pays these people to heal their child and their child dies, can they sue?

  16. cag:

    Raging Bee #11, they have servants for that.

    In keeping with corporate policy, the prayers are now being outsourced to an as yet unnamed foreign country. All it takes is zero employees after all, the suckers will never know. The owners of the site do, in fact have a prayer- “Thank you lord for all the gullible people, Paypal and the postal service. Amen”

  17. Area Man:

    I’m always happy about how the fundies spend (or waste really) their money. Tens of millions to conmen, the Prosperity Gospelists, faith healers, and assorted affinity group frauds.

    That’s money that can’t be used to take over the USA and destroy it, at least.

    This an enticing line of thought, until you realize that the money winds up in the hands of people who are evil, whereas the people losing it are usually just stupid. I’d rather the money stay with the stupid, and hopefully they’ll just waste it on lottery tickets.

  18. d cwilson:

    I bet I can even get it shorter and if I was less ethical, I’d work it into a phrase I say every day so I don’t have to bother remembering.

    Hell, record an mp3 of your prayer, then just hit “play” every morning while you’re brushing your teeth.

    It looks like the fundies are taking a lesson from Scientology: Ask for the money upfront.

  19. pladypus:

    I don’t think this is too much to worry about it. I clicked the link, it’s not their own website, it’s just a client page on a Kickstarter-like website. I doubt they’re going to reach their contribution goal.

  20. bksea:

    Raging Bee: “how many of them does it take to change a lightbulb?”

    On average, you need 8 people in the room. That will give you 7 god-botherers praying and 1 atheist to go get a ladder.

  21. BrianX:

    For what it’s worth, I think they’re just copying off of Catholic bereavement spirituals and jacking up the price. Now as for the fraudulent part — i suppose it wouldn’t be a fraud if they didn’t make any promises.

    I don’t know… does it qualify as fraud if you do exactly what you say you’re going to do but your only audience is the hopelessly gullible?

  22. Sastra:

    Raging Bee #10 wrote:

    I don’t suppose there’s any to verify that anyone is actually praying for the stated amounts of time…or that they’re saying the prayers the offer promised…

    O ye of little faith — I’ll have you know that the prayers are always faithfully performed by the very same technicians who are sequentially diluting and succussing every homeopathic preparation hundreds and thousands of times till Avogadro’s number is exceeded. If you can trust a naturopath, surely you can trust a supernaturopath even more!

  23. michaellatiolais:

    @Alverant,

    Isn’t there something like this in Catholicism and Buddhism where you pay priests to pray for you?

    Not familiar with Buddhism in this regard, but you can certainly “donate” to parish priests to dedicate their daily Masses to your prayer intentions. This is functionally paying them to pray for you.

    I wonder, if a family pays these people to heal their child and their child dies, can they sue?

    They’ll just use that old dodge: “God must have said no.”

  24. Alareth:

    Ed, I am not clicking the link in your article. I am unsure if it is wise to link to such sites directly. Might give them more traffic or search engine exposure.

    Indiegogo is a legitimate site. It’s a competitor to Kickstarter. I’m not sure about this usage though. It could be against the TOS for the site.

  25. d cwilson:

    They’ll just use that old dodge: “God must have said no.”

    And isn’t that wonderful?

    Gawd is just a cosmic Roullette wheel that may or may not pay out for you regardless of what you do.

  26. peicurmudgeon:

    It’s called Intercessory Prayer, as as noted above, it has a long history in the Catholic Church. My ex wife was/is a RC and we were constantly bombarded by requests for money to support some specific order of monks or nuns in which they promised to say prayers for us or our loved one. Money for nothing.

  27. anandine:

    There is a number in Jerusalem you can fax your prayer to, and thy will roll it up and stick it in the prayer wall, for a nominal fee.

  28. raymoscow:

    OK, I admit I had a hand in this some years ago, but it still surprises me that someone is actually pulling it off: http://tcsec.webs.com/clapp.htm

  29. Kamaka:

    Even at our minimumcontribution level, our thousands of volunteers will pray for your loved one every. single. day…

    for an entire year.

    So thousands of volunteers are going along with this scam, doin’ the prayin’, while the genius who thought this up keeps the money? Really?

    Oh, wait! Silly me. That’s religion’s business model.

  30. Spanish Inquisitor:

    @28 That’s hilarious! “Get CLAPP. Learn to Pray”

    I was going to scroll down here and suggest that the site is actually owned by an atheist, preying (pun intended) on Gullible Christians™, on the theory that parting a fool and his money is a good business model. You beat me to it.

  31. jefferylanam:

    That’s how all the monasteries and convents got started; some wealthy noble endowed them to pray for their soul. Kill a few Saxons or knock up some peasant wenches? Cut your time in Purgatory the Benedictine way!

  32. raven:

    There is something wrong with this whole idea!!!

    It is 2012 for Cthulhu’s sake.

    Should prayer have long ago been computerized? This is a task just made for computers and it wouldn’t even take a particularly advanced system for it.

    God, the all powerful should figure it out easily inasmuch as a smart grade schooler could these days. Now we know what to do with our old computers.

  33. truebutnotuseful:

    Rip-off! Mormons will do it for free.

    Call any LDS temple and tell them you’d like to put someone’s name on the prayer roll. They’ll write the name down on a little slip of paper, and stick it in a bag with some others. When they reach the prayer circle portion of the endowment ceremony, the officiator leading the prayer will pray for the names in the bag (not individually, though). I believe they take the bag o’ names out of rotation every few weeks, so I guess you’d have to keep calling to get a year of prayer. Still, better than $99 / year!

    As a Mormon-turned-atheist I can only imagine how many slips of paper are out there with my name on them, courtesy of disappointed parents and friends…

  34. raymoscow:

    SI @ 30: I still get tears of laughter with that page. $149.99/hour — ‘ideal for the family with a budget.’

  35. Tâlib Alttaawiil:

    holy crap, how can i get in on this action?

    i wonder if atheists command higher fees, what with us having less experience praying & all…

  36. Tony:

    We here at The Prayer Connection know that the power of prayer and faith in God is the strongest force in the world. It can heal the sick (when no other “medical science” can), save the lives of non-believers by introducing them to the Lord to sway them off their destructive path, and even bring the light of God to people around the globe who’ve never even seen a Bible before!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.
    But can it heal an amputee?

  37. Winterwind:

    peicurmudgeon @#26:

    Money for nothing.

    And your altar boys for free.

  38. Pierce R. Butler:

    raven @ # 32: Should prayer have long ago been computerized?

    I can tell ya without looking, there’s an app…

  39. Wowbagger, Vile Demagogue:

    raven wrote:

    Should prayer have long ago been computerized?

    Douglas Adams, as usual, was way ahead on this one; in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency there was the Electric Monks, one of what is described as “…coincidentally humanoid robots designed to practice religion in their owners’ stead”.

    Smart man, that one; and sorely missed.

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  42. Turcano:

    You know, this sounds very familiar, like it’s something in the Bible…

    When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

    Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

  43. greg1466:

    Oh, it can heal the sick all right. After all, it doesn’t actually say who that is. By paying for the volunteers to pray for you, the owners of the site can afford the best medical care available.

  44. faehnrich:

    As a commenter said, religious sites have more malware than porn sites. So please help keep us safe and just link to porn sites.

    Another commenter mentioned computerizing prayer. Reminds me of the electric monk from Douglas Adams’s book Dirk Gently. Just as a VCR was made to watch your TV shows, the electric monk was made to pray for you.

  45. john1941:

    Do they offer a “No win no fee” service?

  46. mwalters:

    I’ve seen these guys (or something equivalent) come up in the google ads on freethoughtblogs web sites.

  47. jerthebarbarian:

    jefferylanam @31 -

    That’s how all the monasteries and convents got started; some wealthy noble endowed them to pray for their soul.

    The idea goes back farther than that – wealthy Egyptian nobles used to endow families as Ka-priests. You’d pay them to go to your tomb and make sacrifices and prayers to your soul for all eternity. In exchange they got an endowment of land that they could feed their family with “in perpetuity”. Priests have always been good at gobbling up resources in exchange for basically doing nothing productive.

    There’s almost nothing in modern religion that doesn’t date back to ancient religions. Even the scams aren’t all that new, they just (sometimes) plug in new theological justifications.

  48. democommie:

    “Why should it take more than one person to pray?

    Is God deaf and it takes more than one person to get through?”

    It only takes one person to pray; it takes thousands to hold their pocket lighthers over their heads while waving their hands back and forth.

    “Everyone is covered. If I thought about it some, I bet I can even get it shorter and if I was less ethical, I’d work it into a phrase I say every day so I don’t have to bother remembering.”

    Like, “Thank GOD for fucking morons.”?

    As for the computerization of praying. I think Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names Of God”, predates Douglas Adams’ (who I like) tale by at least 15 years.

  49. caseloweraz:

    Pladypus wrote: “I don’t think this is too much to worry about it. I clicked the link, it’s not their own website, it’s just a client page on a Kickstarter-like website.”

    Yes: a flawed kickstarter Web site. And The Prayer Connection took those inherited errors and added some creative errors of its own.

    Says the W3 Validator: “31 errors, 11 warnings found while checking this document as HTML5!” Why is it these commercial outfits never find and pay someone who understands HTML? The “KochFacts” site… But I digress.

    “I doubt they’re going to reach their contribution goal.”

    The indicator now stands at $0 dollars raised. But who knows; there are 107 days left!

  50. caseloweraz:

    Democommie wrote: “It only takes one person to pray; it takes thousands to hold their pocket lighters over their heads while waving their hands back and forth.”

    Meanwhile intoning, “Doom… Doom…”

    (Ref: Conan the Barbarian)

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