Monday, July 25, 2005

I Must Have the Spirit of Cain

I was up last night watching TV and I came across a televengelist I had never seen before. His name is Robert Tilton, and before the half hour was over I was ready to hunt him down and drown him in a river.

During the show, all he really did was to read a few verses of scripture and then tell people to give him as much money as they possibly could.

His big schtick is that the Devil wants people to be poor, and God wants you to be rich. According to his show last night, "if Jesus were around today He wouldn't want His people driving volkswagons and living in apartments."

Then he kicked it into high gear with a testimonial from a poor family that gave their last $1,000 to Pastor Bob and then the Dad started getting raises, and the wife eventually got a job, and now they are looking for their own home. All because they give $1,000 to Bob Tilton every month. EVERY MONTH!

As you can imagine, I got pretty fired up about this guy. I mean, I live off raising support, and I need people to give to my ministry so that I can eat. This guy is making an absolute mockery out of true ministry, and getting rich in the process.

I did a little research on the guy and found out that he used to have a show going for a long time based in California. After an expose by ABC, he ended up being sued by his contributors, his wife divorced him, and he moved away to Florida. Now, he's back again and making millions.

I don't really care that he has money. I care that he's lying, taking advantage of the poor viewers who listen to him, and he's making a mockery of ministry in general. This is the kind of guy who makes me feel like a fool when I send out a support letter.

The really sad part is that he targets poor black families and challenges them to give money that they don't have. (That's why he's on BET.) He puffs himself up by claiming to be a prophet sent by God, and demands that people give him $1,000. I can't believe it, but people listen to him. Just listen to some of the stuff he has to say. These are all actual quotes I pulled from the web, and all in all this pretty much sums up his thirty minute sermons.

"Am I talking to you? I tell you someone greater than me is talking to you.

"Not only is worrying a sin, but being poor is a sin when God promises prosperity."

"Psalm 112 says, 'The man who fears God, riches shall be in his house.' Which means I've got to have a house."

"Pay your tithe and believe God will fulfill His Word of riches and wealth to be in your house"

"I like a thousand-dollar vow, because I don't like half-hearted people, lukewarm, just, "Well, I'll do a little . . ." I like a thousand-dollar vow of faith. . . . I'm not talking to you that's got it. You that's got it don't pay a bit of attention to me. I'm talking to you that don't have it, and I'm showing you how you can get it! Yes, the Lord's work gets a portion of it. But you get the biggest portion. You get the biggest blessing. I'm trying to talk you out of that dump you're in! I'm trying to talk you into a decent car!... I'm trying to help you! Quit cursing me! Quit cursing me! God, what will pull this blessing from you? I am a blessing. I have been blessed supernaturally by God. I bring a blessing to you this day, and I know it, and my responsibility is to take it to you"

“You say, ‘Well, I want to give a hundred’ or ‘I want to give two hundred and fifty,’” he would often say. “Nope. Nope. Let me tell you something, if you don’t have faith to make a vow of faith to God for a thousand dollars and believe that He’s going to show you where to get the seed to pay on it or pay it the best you can, it won’t work.”

"There's somebody out there who needs to make a $5,000 vow. You know who you are... I know you don't have $5,000, you don't even have $1,000... but you have to vow! Step out on faith! Prove to God that you will draw nigh to him and he'll draw nigh to you! God doesn't draw nigh to us! He doesn't come to us! He's God! We have to draw nigh to him! Send in that $5,000 gift and God will draw nigh to you! He is telling you to do it and you know it!"

"Every time you vow and every time you pay on your vow it rebukes demons."

"Do not attack this anointing! Do not attack this anointing, Saith God! For this anointing gives you the power to get wealth!"

"Say the word $1,000. The Devil hates the word $1,000. Say it!"

If you do send in a gift, Tilton showers your mailing address with holy trinkets. You'll get Holy Financial Prayer Cloths that have been prayed over by Tilton for you to put under your pillow. There's holy oil packets that you use to anoint your wallet, and coins that you have to rub together and say "I trust that you want to bless me God, and I vow to recieve your blessing in response to my gift of $1,000." If you stay on long enough, you might just get the eight and a half by eleven prayer poster with a picture of Tilton with his eyes squeezed shut and his outstretched hand saying "God wants you to give MORE so that He can give more." And of course, everything comes with a self addressed envelope that you can use to send your money back. On the envelope is written: "I want you to give AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN GIVE RIGHT NOW! IF YOU THINK $100 IS ENOUGH, GIVE $200! Remember this is what we call creative faith."

A woman who used to work at the Office where Tilton's mailings arrived explained how these vows were recieved by Tiltons Word of Faith ministries:

"You're sat down in a cubicle and given a letter opener. You have bundles and bundles of mail and a trash bin beside you. You slice open the envelope, take the money out and throw the letter away in the bin. The bins are picked up and emptied into trash sacks and put into a special room. They weren't there the next day. There is no one to read the letters and no one intends to read the letters that are mailed in. But you cannot help but read them. All these letters were like, 'Pray for me,' because they were terminal or their son is terminal or there was no money for food . . . desperate situations. And nearly all of the letters were from rural Florida or rural Georgia and they often contained cash in wierd amounts. There would be like $17, and the letter would say, 'I realize I have to give $2 more than I usually give.'"

"There were about a dozen other women opening mail and a bunch told me that we were expected to open enough letters to produce $1,000 per hour. It was an unstated criteria that you open enough envelopes to generate $1,000 an hour. It was unbelievable, literally unbelievable."

After opening the letters for two days, she told a manager at her employment agency that she had concerns about what was going on there. She was then told to leave mail services' office immediately and not finish the work day.

Which raises an interesting question. Tilton can't do this on his own, he needs a staff of people opening his mail, and he needs a network to air his show. If this one woman opening letters part time had trouble supporting Tilton's ministry, why doesn't BET feel like they should do something to stop this man from stealing money from their customers? "It's a serious ethical question for [BET President Robert] Johnson," said Jeffrey Haddon, a professor at the University of Virginia who studies TV evangelists. "A network that pats itself on the back by saying it serves the black community ought to stop selling time to people who take advantage of them."

I'm enraged by this guy, and I want him to stop, but I know there is nothing I can do. It's not illegal to ask people to give you money, and he's not stealing it from anyone, he's just taking advantage of people to the tune of millions a year. I don't know what I can do to stop this guy other than to tell people about him, and to boycott BET and products marketed on BET. Maybe of we got enought people together to boycott the network that makes his "ministry" possible, we could get him off the air.

Then again, who am I to talk against God's Chosen Profit. (Oops) I am just some guy. I'm not an anointed man of God like he is, and I don't have the authority to speak for God as he does. Should I really interfere with something someone has explicitly said is the divine plan of God? Maybe I shouldn't be bad mouthing him right? Afterall, Tilton himself said:

"I'm not sent to everybody, God only sends me to a few people. Some people watching will get mad at what I'm saying. That is the spirit of Cain."