Thinkin’ Out Loud: Media Evangelists… and Money, Money, Money!

By Lewis Willis

I make no apology for writing so frequently about greedy television preachers. It is hard to imagine how they come up with so many ideas to spend the money of their listening audience. I sometimes wonder how they can keep a straight face when they make their money appeals. If they decide they want to do something badly enough, they’ll spend half, three-fourths or all of their program time literally begging for money. If it were not so grave a sin it would be laughable. Of course, all of them have just had a miraculous visitation from God and He has revealed a new way for them to get into the wallet of those who hear them.

I made some comments about some of these promotions on our local radio program and several of our listeners responded by sending me newspaper clippings from their areas regarding them. From both Columbus and Mansfield, Ohio, I received copies of a Dear Abby column. It was the same article but each had a different heading – “`Miracle’ Cure Costly” and “A Prescription for Poverty.” The writer said, “I have a problem that is eating my insides out. I started writing to a T.V. evangelist because I have multiple sclerosis . . . . The problem is he always wants more money. I sent him $100.00. Then he wrote to me personally and told me something great was going to happen to me, but 1 had to send him another $100.00 first – even if I had to save my pennies and get the money any way I could! . . . That comes very close to saying God can be bought . . . . Please tell me something positive about these T.V. evangelists. I’m beginning to believe all they want is my money – money I don’t have.” Signed: Got To Know. Abby answered, “God cannot be bought, nor does He reserve His blessings for those who send money to a T.V. evangelist” (Edited, all emphasis mine, L.W.).

Bless her heart! This worldly woman knows more about the truth than these television preachers. Never have a group of preachers conducted themselves in a manner as to be so obviously condemned by the word of God! “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:10). Now, don’t be disturbed if these fellows look happy instead of sorrowful. The sorrow is coming! Judgment day for them shall be an unspeakable sorrow. There they shall not covet money – they will covet mercy.

The Akron Beacon Journal (1/10/83) reported a fund raiser by Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority. “An unidentified backer offered him $5 million if it could be matched with gifts from supporters by December 31.” He hit the airways and raised, not $5 million, but $14 million, “including $1 million in one day.” When Falwell announced the original gift, he set a target date for matching it. Do you think he announced before that date that the $5 million had been matched? Not on your life!! That’s how he got $14 million. He now has $19 million to buy more time which he will not so subtly use to raise that much more. It never ends. The coffers of these fellows are never filled. You can always think of something to buy if you’re spending someone else’s money.

I admit that I get somewhat exercised over the money raising exploits of these guys. It really gets under my skin when they lie to their listeners, saying the Lord told them to do this or that. The Lord has neither part nor lot in these things. The only way the Lord wants money raised is by the first day of the week contribution (1 Cor. 16:2). Their sin, like that of David of old, gives “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Sam. 12:14).

To illustrate what I mean, consider the following letter that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (1/25/83). “You report a colossal Jesus told Oral Roberts the other day to hit each of us for $240 to cure cancer? That sounds like blackmail to me. Besides, Roberts’ vision doesn’t hold a rubber shepherd’s crook to what my god (an omnipotent chicken that speaks in tongues) proposed this morning: She told me to ask each of you for $120 to create a disease that strikes only devious clergymen and the fools who buy them their Cadillacs. Make checks payable to yours truly. VISA and Master Charge accepted.”

We shall not engage in such promotionalism nor shall we be silent in opposition to it. I was just thinkin’. – if infidels and enemies of God can see the sham of such, why can’t the supposed friends of God see it?

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 6, p. 165
March 17, 1983