Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Spiritual Scams and Fraud

The Many Faces
of Spiritual Scams (pg 33)

History is full of religious and spiritual scams and scandals. Religious scams can be found anywhere, but they are a particular problem in the United States. Here, the ideal of freedom of religion ends up allowing all kinds of con artists to get away with their scams. Gurus, cult leaders, swamis, ministers, televangelists – they all come in guises, seeking power and money. The most important piece of advice I can give you: Be aware and wary, especially when you’re in an emotionally vulnerable state. That’s when you’re most likely to fall for a religious con.

How to Spot the Spiritual Fraud (pgs. 37 - 38)

Genuine religious leaders, including swamis, ministers, rabbis, and other spiritual leaders, are primarily interested in saving souls and persuading people to follow their teachings. A con artist pretending to be interested in your spiritual well-being, however, will insist on proof of your faith in the form of large gifts to him or her.

Ask yourself the following questions: Is the person extraordinarily charismatic? Do you feel totally swept up in the moment when you’re in his or her presence? If the religious leader weren’t personally involved in the religious movement, would you still believe in what he or she professes? Is there any secrecy or “us-versus-them” involved? Have you been asked to contribute what you consider a large amount of money? Can you specifically identify where the contributions are going? Your answers to these questions should help you decide if you are being conned.

Lesson: Con artists have invaded the ranks of the clergy just as they have invaded other respected professions. Realize when you’re emotionally vulnerable and especially susceptible to those who’ll steal from you in the name of religion… Plan ahead and put limits on your gift giving. Be wary of zealots who promise more than they can deliver.
Lindon said...
It does not even have to be a large amount of money. Tithing is an OT law that has been brought into the NC as a man made tradition. The NT teaches giving and not necessarity to an 'institution' but to other believers who need help and to those working in the Great Commission. There is no percentage or amount mentioned.

If a pastor or elders confront people about not tithing or focus too much on this, beware. If they are teaching 'tithing' a percentage of income, just know that is OT Law and is not a command for following Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the Body would be better off if we gave offerings to those within the Body who are needy or to those carrying out the Great Commission. Paul made tents so he would not be a burden.

January 22, 2008 7:06 AM

Cindy said...
When I typed this up, I thought of adding some additional examples of what we might be asked to give a spiritual leader. Many people are asked to give their confidence and trust. Many are asked to keep the secrects of unjust authority. Some are asked for trade-offs."If you do this, I offer you this."I've recently spent a lot of time in my mind recalling the memories of my friends that were molested by their pastor. He asked them to give not only their bodies but their confidence and their voices as well. He offered them acceptance and "access to the king" (sometimes an aluring power and sense of specialness or uniqueness) in exchange for their self-respect. I know that he offered "protection" to one young man. Yet there was always a price to be paid and an economy of exchange...
Perhaps this is why we sometimes get deceived by these con artists? Is there a part of us that just can't seem to comprehend that God offers us His Righetousness through imputation as He receives our sins? In our natural understanding and our carnal mind, we just cannot comprehend the significance of what HE has really done for us, all by grace and not by virtue of anything we offer Him.
The Gospel of Grace and Forgiveness is so fantastic, it is only In Him that we can begin to comprehend and appreciate what He has done for us.
Glory to the Lamb.

January 22, 2008 7:31 AM