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Pat Robertson’s Prayer Scam

I grew up watching the 700 Club. It was on in our house every day because my stepmother loved the show. And one of the regular features is Pat Robertson praying and telling unnamed people that God is answering their prayers. It’s done in the form of “there’s someone out there right now with lumbago; God is healing you right now.” On a recent show, he said God was going to give someone a million dollars:

It’s the perfect scam because it can never be shown to be false. And once in a while, someone watching the show will have some ailment and it will get better (usually because they’re getting medical treatment for it) and they’ll write in to say that the prayer came true, God really healed them! It’s such a transparent fraud that it’s almost hard to believe that people can fall for it, but they do.

Comments

  1. tbp1 says

    A lot of these guys do this. You’d think an omniscient, omnipotent being could be a little more specific, along the lines “Mr. John Mxyzptlk, of 3426 Lois Lane, Metropolis, is being cured of his stage IV lung cancer right now. This will be confirmed by doctors at the hospice in the morning.”

  2. Draken says

    On a recent show, he said God was going to give someone a million dollars

    …namely, to a certain P.R. from Virginia, who already has a few hundred million anyway.

  3. says

    “there’s someone out there right now with lumbago; God is healing you right now.

    There’s someone out there, right now, who’s happy, in love, and feeling that they’re in the prime of life – and they’re wrong; god just gave you colon cancer and you’ll be dead in 18 months.”

    There’s someone out there right now; that child you’ve been praying for? God just gave you another miscarriage.

    There’s a virus out there right now… god is trying to find a small grubby child to get near the reservoir where it’s been mutating to put its dirty fingers in its mouth and go to its first day at its new school so it can be patient zero in the new plague god is unleashing that will kill 20% of Earth’s human population.

    There’s an asshole televangelist and god – keeps supporting and tolerating him because god doesn’t care enough to drop even a little bitty lightning strike or give an archangel the kill list and have him silenced forever.

  4. peterh says

    All that vacuous blather from someone who can find demons in second-hand merchandise? It is to larf.

  5. says

    For every person god kills with cancer, how many does he heal? And for how long?
    I think it’s just god’s practical joke, anyway. They’re gonna die in a measly human life-span anyway.

    Now, admittedly god isn’t a super-mega-asshole like I’d be if I were god. If I were god I’d randomly make a few people immortal and unkillable. Just to make all the mortals extra miserable with their lot.

    (@Bree – aww, thanks! shucks…)

  6. busterggi says

    Prostitution may or may not have been the first profession but religion was certainly the first con job.

  7. mithrandir says

    There are some televangelists, so-called “family values” advocates, and others of that ilk who I believe to be sincere in their delusions of having a personal line to the Almighty.

    I futther believe that Pat Robertson isn’t one of them – he’s a straight-up con man. The Liberian gold mine business is one of the major factors in my disbelief in Robertson’s sincerity, but almost as important is his regular predictions of natural disasters which uniformly fail to come true.

    To those in my acquaintance who are more religious, I refer to Pat Robertson in particular as a “false prophet”, in the Biblical sense of one who speaks a thing in The Lord’s name, and that thing does not come to pass, therefore being a thing The Lord has not spoken.

  8. atheist says

    @Marcus Ranum – March 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm (UTC -5)

    “there’s someone out there right now with lumbago; God is healing you right now.

    There’s someone out there, right now, who’s happy, in love, and feeling that they’re in the prime of life – and they’re wrong; god just gave you colon cancer and you’ll be dead in 18 months.”

    There’s someone out there right now; that child you’ve been praying for? God just gave you another miscarriage.

    There’s a virus out there right now… god is trying to find a small grubby child to get near the reservoir where it’s been mutating to put its dirty fingers in its mouth and go to its first day at its new school so it can be patient zero in the new plague god is unleashing that will kill 20% of Earth’s human population.

    It’s a more reasonable interpretation of god, isn’t it?

    From Joseph Campbell, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”:

    There is a folktale told by the Basumbwa of East Africa, of a man whose dead father appeared to him, driving the cattle of Death, and conducted him along a path that went into the ground, as into a vast burrow. They came to an extensive area where there were some people. The father hid the son and went off to sleep. The Great Chief, Death, appeared the next morning. One side of him was beautiful; but the other side was rotten, maggots were dropping to the ground. His attendants were gathering the maggots. The attendants washed the sores, and when they had finished, Death said: “The one born today: if he goes trading, he will be robbed. The woman who conceives today: she will die with the child conceived. The man who cultivates today: his crops have perished. The one who is to go into the jungle has been eaten by the lion.”

    Death thus pronounced the universal curse, and returned to rest. But the following morning, when he appeared, his attendants washed and perfumed the beautiful side, massaging it with oil. When they had finished, Death pronounced the blessing: “The one born today: may he become wealthy. May the woman who conceives today give birth to a child who will live to be old. The one born today: let him go into the market; may he strike good bargains; may he trade with the blind. The man who is to enter the jungle: may he kill game; may he discover even elephants. Because today I pronounce the benediction.”

    The father then said to the son: “If you had arrived today, many things would have come into your possession. But now it is clear that poverty has been ordained for you. Tomorrow you
    had better go.” And the son returned to his home.’

  9. anubisprime says

    Them thar’ ‘mericans sure dig ‘em some snake-oil spiel !

    It has not changed in over 250 yrs except from the back of a travelling wagon to a TV studio…you would think they would have got bored of it by now, just goes to prove there are naive, some would say dumb, legions born every generation.

    Pat sussed that early on, and is making a killin’ thank ya kindly jeey-sis!

    But the scam is at the end of the bell curve, and is palpably diving for the X-axis, not soon enough to see Pat penniless but maybe soon enough for folk to start regarding the avaricious cretin as an ornament from a by-gone age.
    Not sure what his viewing figures are, still far to high I would wager, but certainly not the hordes from yesteryear!

    It will take time but as soon as the bulk of the elderly shuffle off from this mortal coil, in the next 5-15 yrs that curve might even hit the giddy depths of the negative values…and religion might well be regarded as a subject not suitable for polite company.

  10. Sastra says

    This just reminded me of a very old memory.
    When I was very young my baby brother and I used to watch a tv show (I think it was ‘Romper Room’) which ended with the hostess looking at the camera through some sort of “magic mirror” through which you could see her face. She would say good-bye to her viewers by reciting variations of “I see Margaret and Jimmy and Susie and Michael and Bobby and — oh — I see you too Debbie” and every week we’d watch hoping she’d see us, too! Me, she regularly saw; I don’t think my brother, who had a more uncommon name, came into her magical line of vision. We were both convinced that the lady could actually look out of the television set into all the living rooms of the boys and girls. It was on tv. And she said so. And sometimes she saw me, so there was confirmation right there.

    Of course, I think I must have been about three years old at the time. But still — it was all very convincing.

  11. JustaTech says

    Sastra @ 14: Long, long ago in Seattle they had a children’s show that went one farther. On the J.P. Patches Show, at the end of the show the clown would wish children happy birthday, and then sometimes tell them where a present was hidden. He could do this because it was a local show, so parents would call up and say “Today is Timmy’s birthday, would you tell him to look behind the couch?”

    But that only works if someone has actually put a present behind the couch, so it wouldn’t work so well for prayer scammers.

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