Ever since the Great Awakening (1730-1755), fear has been the tool of choice to motivate Americans. Jonathon Edwards crafted the sermon “Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God” and brought the fire and brimstone style of preaching into the church. Ever since then, preachers have been using lurid accounts of hell and the fear of hell to motivate people to accept Jesus.
In the 1970s, the fear of hell wasn’t strong enough. So, enter the fear of the rapture. The low-budget A Thief in the Night, shown around the country in church youth groups, scared many teens into a fear of getting left behind and tortured. I watched as my friends filed down the aisle to commit or recommit to Jesus.
In 1995, LaHaye and Jenkins would churn out a series of poorly written novels presenting a mix of Christian torture porn and dispensational theology. It scared another generation into “accepting Jesus.”
I have a general rule; if any preacher is trying to make you afraid, they are trying to manipulate you. Currently, in March 2020, huckster preachers are using the fear and panic of the coronavirus to fleece the flock of their cash.
Right Wing Watch tweeted out a link to Jonathan Shuttleworth’s ministry broadcast that proclaims if you are a friend or partner (Give money) to his ministry, you will be protected from the coronavirus! Oh Jesus, here is my check, don’t let me get sick. I guess the American attention span is too short to worry about hell or the rapture; you got to hit them in the current news cycle. I’m not sure who I’m angrier with: Shuttleworth for selling this scam or his gullible listeners for buying it.
However, convicted felon and fraudster Jim Bakker never misses an opportunity to sell snake oil. He’s already selling his doomsday prepper supplies, which include a silver solution that is a cure-all. Bakker pointed out that it will even kill the coronavirus.
He was told by the FDA and FTC to stop making that claim! A copy of the warning letter can be found at this link: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc/fda-covid-warning-letters/wl_to_jim_bakker_covid-19_occ_cleared_3-5-20_cleanversion_qtt_rq.pdf
Again, who should we be angry with? Yes, we should be angry with these scammers who use God’s name to bolster their fraudulent claims. We should also be upset with all the gullible people who don’t even bother with a simple Google search to debunk these claims before sending in a check.
If you are feeling the need to recommit to Jesus or write a check because you are afraid, you are being manipulated! By the way, in the King James Bible, the words “fear not: appear 74 times and the words “be not afraid” appear 29 times. The words “send money now” appear zero times.
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