Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Low on cash? Make a religious threat

Back in 1987, televangelist Oral Roberts decided that he needed to shake up his followers a bit.

Facing huge expenses from an ill-conceived hospital project (never mind why an alleged faith healer needed to build a hospital), he made what would today be called a viral video announcing that if his flock failed to fork over enough money, god would basically carry out a hit on Roberts.

In other words, kill Oral Roberts. Of course, Roberts didn’t come right out and say god would kill him. He said god would call him to heaven.

Instead of just circulating among the deluded faithful, though, the whole thing went viral and was one of the biggest stories of the year. I have a recording of a CNN report – and others – from a tape made in the late 1980s by a guy in Boston who watched TV evangelists so the rest of us wouldn’t have to. It’s chilling.

“Send Oral to heaven in ‘87” was a popular chant back then, but someone came up with the money at the last minute, and Roberts didn’t die. That time. It was said that he had made that threat before.

So now we have Harold Camping and his absurd pronouncement that the world is going to end on Saturday, May 21, 2011. He has his deluded followers, too, and after the prediction fails to come true he’ll have a whole array of excuses, including mathematical errors, that indicate another date.

Look, folks, let’s get real here: Religion is a business. A good friend told me that years ago. It’s the biggest, most profitable business in the world, and all you have to do is keep coming up with new stuff for the believers to frighten them to keep the money rolling in.

Harold Camping has, no doubt, found a whole new array of followers who will tithe to him after this is over. After all, Hal Lindsey turned his book “The Late, Great Planet Earth” into an industry of failed predictions after the world didn’t end in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.

So long as the money keeps rolling in, the liars for a nonexistent god will keep lying.

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May 21, 2011 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , ,

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