Beware of Those Who Bear Gifts

I typically don’t write articles related to religion, I know little about it, and you’ll find that I’m more of the secular variety.  On top of that, I personally don’t find that religion and personal finance hold a direct correlation to each other.  However, I do find that the world of religion and personal finance both cater to their fair share of shysters, swindlers, and snake oil medicine men.  I absolutely cannot stand deceit, especially when that deceit is centered around the self- proclaimed righteous and their smooth talking ability to pilfer money from their less than aware victims.

We all anticpated the end of the world this past Saturday, did we not?  If you’re one of the few who didn’t visit a search engine homepage, or pick up a copy of pretty much any news publication last week, we were told by some lunatic that the world would end on Saturday.  This specific lunatic goes by the name of Harold Camping.  This is the second time that his prediction was incorrect, and he still had the nerve to predict a third, so make sure you live it up before October 21st this year.  Does it bother me that he claims to know when the end of the world will take place? No.  Does it bother me that he was wrong twice now? No.  Does it bother me that his new prediction is a mere 5 months away and I only have a short amount of time to right my wrongs? Absolutely not.  I’d have to both believe and care if any of that were to bother me.  What does bother me is the amount of money this man has swindled out of retirement accounts, savings accounts, and the general pockets of people each week.  I read an article that said his minitries assets were valued over $100 million.  This dip$h*t is actually so well known, and worth so much, that he has earned himself a place on the Celebrity Net Worth website…check it out here. (Net Worth = $75M)  My question to Harold is, if the world was supposed to end this past Saturday, why is your ministry still collecting donations?  Do you take the millions with you in the afterlife?  Why not give all of your worldly possessions away?  Well he in fact did answer that last question, though not to me directly 😉  Apparently he feels that he much continue to have a house to live in, and a car to drive until the world ceases to exist, which at that point the belongings would be of no value to anyone regardless.  The man has sound logic on this…that is if you don’t factor in the $75 million in cash and assets he has above and beyond his car and home.  Please Harold, if you want credibility then simply donate $10 million (a fraction of your net worth) to charity and make some people happy for the next 5 months…ya know, until the world ends…again.

Ok, so the real reason I wanted to write this article was to discuss a story from Easter Sunday that a friend of mine was telling me about this past weekend.  He was laying around at home after having some family time when he popped on an infomercial with some guy asking for a $1,000.  What does the $1,000 get you, you ask? Apparently it buys you a miracle, and typically in the form of a financial windfall.  My friend was so heated when he saw this ridiculous commercial on Easter Sunday that it prompted him to call “the number on the screen”.  Another shyster picked up the phone and was unable to calm my friend down, as well as unable to answer the question of “why would I give you $1,000” with little else than “good things will happen to you”.  This particular gentleman calls himself Mike Murdock, and I encourage you to watch his infomercial here.   He has a catchphrase about “sowing your seed” by donating to his sham of a ministry.  Looking through past commercials on youtube, I see that he has offered discounted miracles for merely sowing a $58 seed, and a $75 seed.  Obviously if you seek a miracle on Easter Sunday then the prices goes up quite significantly… I wonder if he had any black friday/cyber monday deals? As a personal finance enthusiast it is my duty to tell you to bargain shop for these types of miracles.  It’s amazing how many people he gets on camera to explain that after making a donation they won thousands of dollars, or had $25,000 medical bills get wiped away.  What angered my friend the most, and I have to say myself as well, is that Mr. Murdock encourages those on fixed incomes to just pony up the $1,000 regardless.  Further, he wants you to empty your savings, your retirement account, to disregard your financial situation no matter how dire.  He wants you to donate by literally any means possible, and of course you will be rewarded for this.  If I had seen this commercial I may have called their divine hotline as my friend did, if only to say my piece of mind.

While I don’t consider myself to be a very spiritual person, I certainly don’t begrudge those that are.  There are many Christians out there debunking Harold and Mike, and rightfully so.  It just never ceases to amaze me how many people fall victim to these scams.  There have been countless articles since Saturday that have interviewed the disgruntled followers of Harold Camping that have emptied their bank accounts on his behalf.  Shame on him, but shame on them as well.  Part of being successful with your finances is quite simply not being dumb.  Much like everything else that involves money, don’t squander it, especially by lining the pockets of snake oil medicine men.

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20 thoughts on “Beware of Those Who Bear Gifts

  1. Ashley @ Money Talks

    Like 10 years ago my ex saw an infomercial for “fee miracle water”. As a joke he ordered a vile of this miracle water. It came, and so did years worth of mail fraud. the one that sticks out the most is they sent a 2×3 inch of canvas and said that if I write my name on it and send it back with something like $250 I would get my prayers answered, or something. It was CRAZY the things they sent out.

    1. admin Post author

      Yeah I would be very cautious about sharing my home address with those types of people. Good story though!

  2. Hunter

    Justin, love this write-up. I saw the title earlier today, and I’m glad I cam beack to read the full article. I couldn’t agree more, and I like your humor, thrown in for good measure.

    I’m piritual, but not religous or churchy. My idea of spirituality is riding the perfect wave, or hiking in the mountains with family, and having the best of laughs wit friends.

    I’m skeptical of organized religions, mainly because of so much corruption and child abuse that we hear about all the time. I can put this down to two things in my past. Working as a credit analyst, you are trained to question EVERYTHING. I’m sure you can relate to that.

    Growing up in Australia is very different to the U.S. Only about 7% of Aussies go to church. It’s a long story, but we have a healthy disrespect for authority.

    It’s interesting to see blogs that ride on religious themes…skeptical.

    When I first saw your blog, I thought it was a religious theme. Clearly, I am wrong. Awesome.

    Hypocrisy is everywhere, and if you can’t see it, you’re not paying attention.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Hunter. I didnt know that only 7% of Australia attend church, that surprises me quite a bit. Even more reason for me to go and visit there, Ive always wanted to.

      Haha that’s funny you thought my blog was a religious theme, my friends and family would laugh at that one.

  3. Paula @ AffordAnything.org

    Great question — if the world is ending, why ARE you still collecting donations? I feel sorry for so many of his followers who believed the world was ending and therefore spent every penny of their life savings.

    1. admin Post author

      I want to feel sorry for them, and in part I do…but these people are the ones who did it to themselves.

  4. Judith

    I think that part of being successful with your finances is searching for spouses, friends and jobs that bring happiness. Money is squandered, even by lining the pockets of snake oil medicine men, when we need to buy happiness because we’re not getting it from our spouses, friends and jobs.

  5. Small Footprints

    I suspected that he had monetary reasons for his predictions … but wow … he’s worth $75M??? Yeah, that could feed a lot of hungry people and offer shelter to many homeless … it could provide clean water to those who don’t have it and the bare necessities to many of the world’s poor. But I guess that his so-called religious beliefs don’t necessarily include caring for others or any humanitarian endeavors. After all .. he must NEED that much money, right? The unfortunate thing is that he uses people’s spiritual belief against them … and it’s often the people who are least able to give that predators, like him, focus on. It’s despicable! Shame on him & those like him!

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  10. Jacob LaFountaine

    Always be scams out there. I hate people trying to sell magic potions to cure diseases

  11. Carol Bryant

    I abhor people/organizations/etc who prey on people’s hopes and desires to rob them of hard earned money.

  12. Judith

    It’s hard not to be dumb about finances when your emotions rule your actions. In the past, men would hunt and women would gather. So, women squander money because they are driven to spend money in order to gather possessions.

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