‘Pay to pray’ scam exposed

Desperate people are easily exploited and now another one of those exploiters has been exposed. An outfit called the Christian Prayer Center advertised that they could get many people to pray for one’s need and provided testimonials to the power of such mass prayers. It turns out that those testimonials were fake and that no one actually was praying on behalf of those who sent in money.

One couple’s complaint led to the exposure of the whole scheme.

“They had a child with a rare terminal illness,” said assistant attorney general Daniel Davies. “They were looking for hope anywhere they could get it. One of the places they turned to was the Christian Prayer Center.

“When they are going through incredibly difficult situations, often times people turn to prayer,” Davies continued. “They see a website touting that thousands of people will pray for you. They have a pastor, testimonials on the website of people whose prayers were answered.

“The pastor was a sham,” he said. “The testimonials were fictitious as well.”

The child is still dying.

And the family paid and paid. The first $35 they gave to the Christian Prayer Center to help their ailing daughter was one kind of fraud. No one was praying. There was no one there to help.

The second and third times the family were charged constituted yet another kind of fraud, because the center continued to charge the family’s credit card without consent. When the girl’s father spotted the unapproved charges, he investigated and then contacted Davies’s office.

The young girl’s parents who made the investigation possible have requested anonymity and do not want their 2014 letter released. “It explains that they felt terribly misled,” said Davies, who handled the case, “and that this is a horrible practice.”

They weren’t the only parents praying for a sick daughter. Davies called it a “consistent thing we see”. And then there was the cancer patient who was desperate for healing.

“It was a time of need,” he said. “They paid the money. And then they found out it was a scam. They were upset. And they feel duped.”

Rational people may wonder how people could be so dense as to not see that this was a scam, let alone buy into the preposterous idea that prayer works. Even religious people may be skeptical that prayers by many are more likely to succeed than prayer by one person, or that god is swayed by prayers that have been purchased.

But people who are dying or are caregivers of the dying are often not thinking rationally. They will grasp at any thing that offers hope and they are to be pitied while the people who take advantage of such desperation are scum and should be prosecuted to the maximum.


  1. thebookofdave says

    Sylvia Brown would be envious. Her profession had some semblance of regulatory accountability. The real surprise is a religious faith healer actually charged with fraud.

  2. lanir says

    Payment for prayer is common, just not in that format. Essentially when one pays for a funeral service or wedding at a church, you’re partly paying for the building and partly payiing to have your prayer led by someone who does that as part of their profession. In my opinion it’s the most emphasized and lease useful part of the profession but they get paid for it regularly so it is indeed a profession.

  3. says

    no one actually was praying on behalf of those who sent in money

    How did they determine this? Because the prayers didn’t work?

    “I only know one prayer and that’s ‘O lord if you get me out of this, I swear I’ll never do it again.'” -- Ray Wylie Hubbard

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