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The pastor and the Ponzi scheme

Pastor Michael Wilkerson of the New Millennium Life Restoration Fellowship in Spring City, Pennsylvania, preached the “prosperity gospel.” The basic idea is this: God wants his followers to be prosperous, and they can find the road to wealth in faith, positive thinking and contributions to the church.

This is what Wilkerson preached, and he followed up by inviting congregants to invest in his company, which was acquiring suburban mortgages. Last month, however, federal prosecutors accused Wilkerson and two others of conspiring in a $6.3 million mortgage fraud. The congregants have lost everything.

The whole story appeared in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. What I found really interesting about this article is that it put the pastor’s misdeeds in context—religion based  affinity fraud is big business:

A 2006 study by the North American Securities Administrators Association estimated that losses from religion-based affinity fraud had reached $2 billion. Those rip-offs have only become more common since, said Ole Anthony, who helms the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group that investigates the financial misdeeds of religious figures.

“In the past several years, I’ve seen more and more fraud in the name of God,” he said. “It remains a serious problem.”

It’s a problem that can be seen all over very-late-night television, which my husband sometimes watches if he can’t sleep. He considers the televangelists to be great theater. And they would be, if they weren’t so dangerous.

I imagine some of them are legitimate. But many of these TV preachers seem more interested in the money than the message. And to further their agendas, they engage in the worst type of manipulation, playing on people’s faith, hopes, dreams and fears.

Speaking in mesmerizing cadence, televangelists rhapsodize about the riches that God wants for us, the sleepless viewers. We can, they say with hypnotic certainty, achieve everything we ever wanted. All we have to do take the first step and plant a seed by sending the good pastor a contribution of $100, $1,000, or even more.

My guess is that the only one getting rich is the so-called preacher. Like the good Pastor Wilkerson. He owned a $1.7million home in the country, with a Lexus and an Escalade in the garage. Not bad for a guy with a long rap sheet, including drug trafficking and theft. But then, of course, he found religion, and the road to prosperity.

Read Church folk stuck when they gave pastor their faith and their money, on Philly.com.

 

 

 


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29 Comments on "The pastor and the Ponzi scheme"

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I read the article – these types always have excuses for their misdeeds, never admitting to the truth. Pastor Wilkerson was arrested for check fraud (he wrote “a $110,000 bad check for a new Mercedes”), but according to him, ” the incident was nothing but a misunderstanding with his wife over shuffling money between accounts.” Yeh, right. Our spath wrote bad checks and he always had some lame excuses for writing them. Now, he’s finally in trouble for writing bad checks and rather than face the music, he’s on the run.

The new testament writes against the Pharisees making money out of people’s faith, and in the middle ages popes sold indulgences. Abusing faith to fill their own pockets was one of the reasons protestantism arose. It’s very low to use people’s hopes and despair in such a way.

How else but by God’s grace could this guy achieve so much? Poor followers. They couldn’t see that it wasn’t grace at all, it was their money.

No matter what the reason, when we throw logic out the window, and just start believing, we set ourselves up for abuse by someone who see’s our lack of reasoning as an opportunity.

The last spath I tangled with was a ‘shaman’. He’s really just a low-life exercise instructor, who has ripped off lots of new agey concepts and mashed them all together and sells his crazy workshops to people who think if they move around uninhibitedly, make strange noises, and pay him 200.00 they will be more of ‘who they were meant to be’. Oiy Vey!

His sock-puppet devotees, who he calls ‘goddesses’, have fund raisers for him so he can pay his bills, go to the dentist, and fly around saving people. He doesn’t own a thing. Has had two vehicles in his 50 years, and totalled them both. Now he ‘preaches’ mass transportation because he is so ‘concerned for the earth’. Really he just doesn’t have two dimes to rub together and cannot responsibly handle a car, and has to take mass transport. Plus, getting rides from his students and participants helps him run his con, cause he seems so humble and it gives him time to ‘connect’ with the drivers.

He lives like a disorganized pig, and parties like there’s no tomorrow.

These folks minds just work differently. They are ALWAYS on the make. If they are not sleeping, their minds are organizing their thoughts, actions, and speech to gain advantage. I don’t think their minds ‘give’ them downtime. More and more I am convince they will need some kind of brain adjustment to change. Not just will power over their ‘badness’.

Anywhoo….off topic, a bit.

Slim

These “televangelists” and “preachers” use religion to hide more than financial fraud….they use it to hide sexual perversions with children, multiple women, and their life styles all together.

I don’t usually read “the National Enquirer” but a while back I was standing in the long grocery line and bored and it was right before my face so I picked up one to read as I stood in line….and the story was the LAVISH HOMES OF THE TELEVANGELISTS….and the Inquirer had used helicopters to make photos of the lavish compounds of MULTIMILLION DOLLAR HOMES that every one of these folks owned, from Joyce Meyer on down. Remember Joyce Meyer’s security chief killed his wife so he could marry his GF. These lavish homes are tucked back inside large multi-acre compounds or located far from a street view and are only visible by helicopter or airplane. I notice too that they aren’t featured in House and Garden magazines, guess they wouldn’t want the old ladies who send them their social security checks to see how they live.

I don’t have a problem in the world with ANY person who spends their life preaching their gospel (whatever religion it is) drawing a reasonable salary, but the LAVISH LIFESTYLES that these people have is beyond “a reasonable salary”—Even the Apostle Paul spoke to this subject about ministers being paid, and stated that he, as a full time minister had a RIGHT to be paid, but he said that because he didn’t want anyone to be able to say he was “in it for the money” he supported himself at his trade, which was as a tent maker.

Whether it is the Pope or any other “minister” living lavishly like a king, I think the very fact that they LIVE LAVISHLY when Jesus himself “didn’t have a place to lay his head” speaks to their sincerity in their gospel preaching. That is one reason I highly respect the SALVATION ARMY ministers, as they draw living expenses on a modest scale and actually get out and MINISTER TO THE NEEDY with the contributions of people who give money to their cause.

People like Mother Teresa and others who live on a modest scale and spend their time, energy and contributions helping others, those are the people I respect as “ministers” and “preachers,” not those who drive Bentleys or live in palaces.

Slimone,

your post said it all: They are ALWAYS on the make.

They will even use their flaws in their cons. Your exspath used mass transportation, mine used his inability to spell.

It works nicely in the pity ploy as an excuse for why he can’t get ANY pilot’s license but still is entitled to work as a commercial helicopter pilot.

Yes, their minds are always thinking…always turning, planning and thinking about the next con. You can see the glee in their eyes.

@ Ox Drover
Your comment “These “televangelists” and “preachers” use religion to hide more than financial fraud”.they use it to hide sexual perversions with children, multiple women, and their life styles all together.” is SPOT ON!! I could not agree with you more!! My ex was a “pastor” and he is a registered sex offender (pedophile), con artist, fraud, liar, sex addict, cheater, narcissistic sociopath! He conned the church and he conned me. They will use whatever method works best with that particular person, for me is was the pity play…he painted an elaborate image of a man down on his luck, persecuted, misunderstood and working hard to make something of himself. He spent so much time with me as a friend having conversations about how to do church better and make things better for the outcasts of society and disenfranchised. I grew to trust him because of what he said and the amount of time that he spent with me without ever coming-on to me. He talked about God and love and ministry in a way that melted away my inhibitions. I fell in love with him over time. After about one year of conversations over coffee he told me he was attracted to me and we started dating. After we dated for about a year he told me that God told him to marry me. It was all fake. After we were married the mask came off. He never cared about me at all. He made up horrible stories about me and told everyone that would listen. He basically accused me of what he was doing to me (projecting, projecting, projecting!!), or sometimes he just made stuff up. You all know the story! Living in the Twilight Zone, waking up every morning to a freaking nightmare!!

I THANK GOD THAT DIABOLICAL MONSTER IS OUT OF MY LIFE!!!! AND I PRAY THAT HE WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL IN HURTING AND DECEIVING ANOTHER WOMAN!!!

There are good pastors out there and good churches, BUT I agree with Oxy…I have trust and respect for the ones that don’t live a lavish lifestyle because of the sacrificial tithes and offerings of their congregation! All church staff and ministry leaders need to be very good stewards with the money entrusted to them! I will be much more careful to only trust those believers that actually walk the talk. Show me the fruit (actions)!! There must be evidence (fruit) that they actually minister to the needy and spend their time, energy and money to help helping others!! TALK IS CHEAP!!

Hosanna:

UGGHHH…PROJECTION!!! I hate that and if I had only known more about it at the time…wow, the heartache I would have saved myself.

Dear Hosanna,

I’m glad you have “seen the light” as well! I wish that more people would realize that these creeps who live like “kings” on the offerings of others –Jim and Tammy Faye Baker were one of the first that were unmasked of the Televangelists–but the others that are on the tube now are for the most part living the life style of “kings” as well, and some of those in the larger “mega churches” as well as some like this guy in the article.

But….it has been like that from the “get go” in organized religion, and it was what Jesus himself preached against! The Pharisees who pretended to be so “holy” while in actual fact, they were doing the very things they preached against and only pretending to be “holy” and worship God.

I think one of the best of Jesus’ stories was about the publican (tax collector) and the Pharisee in the Temple praying. The publican threw himself on the ground on his face and prayed “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The Pharisee stood there in his ARROGANCE and lifted up his face to God and said “Thank, you God that I am not a sinner like that publican.” LOL

There are so many examples in the Bible of the arrogance and narcissism of the “holier-than-thous” in the religious world. It doesn’t matter if it is Islam or Christianity or Any other religion, there are those who will posture and pretend to be “holy” and “good” when in fact, they are anything except “good.”

Oh my this one strikes a chord with me as well. Mine is currently searching for a faith to believe in. Or rather a new place with new faces, people who aren’t ‘on to him’ and his lines of crap, hidden in his great stories…

We will each find our own way in life and when you can give what you want to and can afford, it is nice knowing your money is going towards good. I just am not a fan of supporting someone who bellows about fire and brimstone, telling me I’m going to Hell, yet says their God is loving, all knowing and forgiving.

From the article
>>Pastor Wilkerson was arrested for check fraud, but according to him, ” the incident was nothing but a misunderstanding with his wife over shuffling money between accounts.”<<

THIS is exactly WHY I closed our joint account and opened my own. My money is now separated from his and I am not linked in any way to the financial mess of his account, his credit cards, his business or any 'shuffling of money' that is going on there. The overdraft charges alone were bad enough. I don't need Uncle Sam breathing down my neck for anybody elses misdoings.

I WILL BE ON AFTERMATH RADIO THIS AFTERNOON AT PACIFIC TIME 4:30-5:00, I’m not sure why it won’t come up on the list on the left, but Donna put up a notice about it on the LOVEFRAUD BLOG so you can find the links there on the list of articles.

We will be discussing my son Patrick’s upcoming parole hearing and how I have decided to present his diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder to the parole board….and make them understand that he WILL REOFFEND again and again and should never be let out of prison.

Oxy, there was a phrase developed by others online that describes the “Holier than thou” (as long as nobody else is looking) crowd. Garbage Can Christian. Of couse this could apply to any religion really.

They are all shiny and look good on the outside, but when you truly get to know them…

Phew! They are rotten to the core.

Dear Phoenix,

THANKS that is a great one!~ Garbage-can Christian! I love it! It is so true! Not only with Christians but with anyone who pretends to be “soooooo nice” when in fact, they are ROTTEN TO THE CORE!

I LUVVVVV it!~ Thanks, Phoenix, I gotta steal that one!

I have been keeping up with the trials of the two men who broke into the Petit home and murdered the two daughters and the wife. Now the younger of the two murderers is on trial and the defense is presenting testimony from his adoptive mother and father with this HUGE PITY PLAY, and now they are going to put his 9 year old daughter on the stand to elicit sympathy for this MONSTER. I am normally not in favor of the death penalty because there is usually not all that much REAL EVIDENCE that someone is guilty, but these men were caught running out of the house on the spot…so there is NO doubt that they are guilty, but this PITY PLAY BY THE DEFENSE just makes me sooooo angry!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2055786/Connecticut-home-invasion-killer-Joshua-Komisarjevskys-900-porn-sites-murder.html

Oxy-
>>I LUVVVVV it!~ Thanks, Phoenix, I gotta steal that one!<<

Go Ahead! I already did… lol

Oh, Lord…didn’t know where else to post this and it’s only celebrity gossip, but Kim Kardashian filed for divorce already after only 72 days of marriage. And after they spent millions on a wedding and her ring, etc. I am so sick of hearing about the Kardashians. What is the world coming to?

Oxy,

Glad to hear that you’re on Aftermath tonight. I won’t be able to listen to it today, so make sure to put up the link for the archives. You and EB both came off great when you guys were on last year, so it will be nice to hear you again. (Speaking of which, I especially liked your “southern drawl,” and also the way you dropped the “F-Bomb” in the first forty seconds or so! But don’t worry, it sounded very cute: you Grand Matron types can get away with that sort of thing!

Good luck.

Yes Louise,

TS Eliot said it best:

“This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

@Louise
I am sorry you have had the experience of projection, it is really crazy making!!! It never ceases to amaze me how these people’s MO’s are so similar!! CREEPY!! I hope things are better for you now!

Just to be clear…my ex doesn’t live a high lifestyle by any means, but I have known other pastors that did have enormous salaries. My ex is on the verge of being homeless because he refuses to get a real job. He sees himself as “special” “a genius”, “called by God” and thinks most all jobs are beneath him, although that is certainly not what he puts out to the public. He claims persecution and prejudice because of his criminal past keeps him from getting a job. He is an expert at making people feel sorry for him!! He is currently targeting women over the internet because he can “talk” to them for a long period of time online (grooming them) without them seeing his real life. Twitter, Vimeo, many blog sites and Google+ all allow registered sex offenders to use the internet to groom their next victims, these are all very powerful tools in the hands of a sexual predator sociopath!!! This man will re-offend!! He is very good at hiding his dark side!! He will quote low recidivism statistics to everyone that will listen!! I now know that the low recidivism statistics reflect that sexual predators become very skilled at hiding their crimes and also that many of their crimes go unreported! Pedophiles will also claim that most of the people on sex offender websites are because of mutually consenting sex between minors, although I know there are some of those that get caught up in the mess I do NOT believe that they are in the majority!! My ex GREATLY minimized his offense and flat out lied about it! He was 25 and his victim was 8!! I had no way of checking out the details (and I tried) until I found a transcript from the trial in some papers that he left behind after we had broken up. Facebook doesn’t allow sex offenders, but all they have to do is make a Facebook account in a false name like my ex did and they can easily get around the regulations.

And another thing…my ex was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender after a move into a different county. He was in jail for about a month, it should have been a third strike, but the police did not follow through and they released him, even though he was absolutely guilty! He went around claiming he had been exonerated, NOT TRUE! My ex also lied to the DOJ about where he was working and living when he asked to be removed from the Megan’s Law website, I have the email that he sent to them…I sent it to the DOJ….no response! He is no longer on the CA Megan’s Law website but he is still on the Illinois website but his name is misspelled…I contacted them and told them his name is misspelled and they said it has to stay the way it is….Frustrating!!!! I swear to God this guy could get away with murder!! He is on a sex offender website for Auburn CA (where he lives) named homefacts.com because they have out of state sex offenders on their site. He is a very good example of a white washed tomb that is dead inside and full of everything unclean, that the Bible talks about in Matthew 23:27-28!

Matthew 23:27-28
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Dear Oxy,
I will be looking for the radio program!! I would love to hear more of your story!

I am thankful for all the information on this website!!

Dear Constantine, thank you darling….I cringe when I HEAR MYSELF talk on a tape or radio show. We don’t hear ourselves the way we sound to others when we talk, as we are actually hearing ourselves through our SKULL BONES, but when you hear a tape you hear it through the ear drum and it sounds to you like it does to others then. OUCH! I sound to me like I am talking through my nose! Oh, well…yea, there are great advantages of being an old crone! I have learned to play it to the hilt!

I do know how to act like a “lady,” but I’ve about gotten to the point I don’t worry about it any more when I don’t.

Hosanna, That Matthew 23:27-28 is really RIGHT ON in describing those “trash can Christians” that are so pretty on the outside and so ugly on the inside.

Remind’s me of a local preacher, a few years back he was robbing banks ( without a weapon ) just handed the teller a note that said ‘give me your money and you wont be harmed..’ robbed 7 banks, also his congrets handed him their money on a plate, so he could pay for his prostitutes…he got 4 years and started his own church for criminals in the pen…I knew some of his congrets, and he had 3 daughters and a wife at home, the wife is still standing by her man…puke…I knew he was a fraud..weak handshake and no eye contact..

Constantine:

Thanks for the TS Eliot quote…it sadly seems to be the case.

I hope you are well on this All Hallow’s Eve.

Louise,

I am not surprised to learn that Kim Kardashian filed for divorce. All of the gossip magazines (that we see at the grocery store check-out counters) are all dishing about how her husband, Kris, is not such a loving, devoted hubby. It’s sad. Money doesn’t buy happiness. It could be that her hubby is a user and a taker.

bluejay:

Yeah, me either. I read somewhere that he is lazy and using her for her fame and money. But isn’t he an NBA player making millions of dollars? Either way, come on…I can’t imagine it was for love…is it ever with those people??

About the Kardashian wedding…
you all believe it was real?

Just because it cost millions and was televised? So is professional wrestling. People, all of this DRAMA is meant to catch your attention and pay for the advertising. There was nothing real about any of it.

Sorry Oxy, but I’m sticking to my guns on that one. You can call me cynical but it’s obvious to me. Normal people do not televise their relationshits. Remember, the Kardashians are famous for being famous. So they have no choice but to continue to pander to the audience’s need for drama.

No kidding, Sky!

For that matter, it’s disturbing to think of all the countless scientists presently laboring in the underground CERN laboratory (where, apparently, they might have discovered something that travels faster than the speed of light: a finding, which, if accurate, will completely overturn our current conception of reality!), and yet, I bet this month’s paycheck that no one here (including myself) could name ONE of them.

But thanks to the people who manufacture these “celebrity pseudo events,” there’s probably not one of us who DOESN’T know who this horrid Kim K. person is! Actually, what is she famous for, anyhow? Didn’t she make a porno movie or something? How lovely is it that the most talked about person in the Western hemisphere is talked about for THAT?!

By the way, the only thing worse than a “televised wedding,” is when someone actually proposes to a woman on live TV. I guess it’s because I’m overly sensitive and introverted – but every time I see that I’m filled with a desire to run into the next room and hide under the covers!

Louise,

Happy Halloween to you too!

Constantine,

It were neutrinos that seemed to have traveled faster than light. But it’s only seem, because they made a mistake. The measurement was accurate. But in their conclusion they did not take into account certain mathematic results from relatitivity. In short they were measuring relatitivyt, but did not take it into account in the calculations. So, nope, lightspeed being the fastest physical speed still stands. You can find the names of scientists working at CERN I beleive on their website.

But your point is a good one: celebrities have done what for society to earn huge sums of money and get attention?

Darwinsmom,

Ah shucks – I was really hoping for another “Copernican Revolution!” But I forgot you are a physics teacher (!), so I will take your word for it. I had heard earlier in the week that they were waiting for the experiment to be “independently verified,” though from what you say it doesn’t sound too hopeful. Bummer.

On the other hand it took Einstin several hundred years to overturn Newton, so maybe if we wait long enough the same thing will happen to Mr. Einstein’s relativity theory!

Hehe Constantine… I’m trying to become a physic’s teacher 😉 Actually my math professor referred to the mistake made in some of the Euclydian space and vector math he was explaining this week. My best friend had learned of it about 3 weeks ago, and waited for the first peer reviews to come out. He told me the outcome a week ago I believe. He was very curious to what might happen 🙂

Relativity tells us that 1 second is not the same second if you travel at slower or higher speed. Travel speed determines the duration of time. This was tested with high speed airplanes carrying an atomic clock which was then compared to the atomic clock that remained on the ground. When the plane landed both atomic clocks showed a difference in time. The time on the plane was the projected arrival time. The time on the ground clock showed they seemingly arrived earlier than planned. Basically the same thing happened with the neutrinos sent from CERN to Italy. They traveled at a great speed and the measured times from clocks that did not travel along seemed to say ‘they arrived too early!’. But if the neutrinos were capable of carrying atomic clocks along their time would have been within limits.

But yes, it is possible that one day it will be overturned. Einstein didn’t like quantumtheory because I think he feared it could mess with relativity at some point. There has been a math scientist who at the first half of the 20th century put out several questions and problems he wanted to be proven or disproven. One of those questions is whether physics ha axiomas like math does or not. The question is still unanswered. Speed of light might be an axioma, but it may not be. (axiomas in math are truths taken as fact without proof… such as if you have 2 points there always can go 1 straight line through them and only one. Axiomas are then used to prove the rest)

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