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1 JeffFX  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 8:29:06am

I posted this link to a thread yesterday, but I think it makes your point.

Opportunists like Palin and Beck tapped into a pre-existing cult mentality in some Christian sects, that makes it really easy to take advantage of the believers.

People really believe this stuff:

THIS IS FROM DICK ADAMS IN SAN JOSE, CA. DICK IS A PRAYING BELIEVER, AND NEVER SENDS ME ANYTHING UNLESS IT IS FROM THE HEART OF GOD. I BELIEVE THIS MESSAGE IS FROM GOD, AND THAT EVERYONE WHO KNOWS THE LORD MUST READ IT NOW!

[Link: www.christian-forum.net...]

2 Randall Gross  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 8:52:54am

If you encase your pitch in some xenophobic tribalism it also makes for an easier sell to the mark. This is why we have megachurch pastors with lear jets in this country.

3 Romantic Heretic  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 9:10:41am

Yes it is often easier for the religious to be targets of scams. Mostly because God, Allah to Zeus, is invoked. Since God, Allah to Zeus, isn't around to say, "Hey! That's you speaking, not Me!"

When God talks to a believer, what choice do they have but to listen?

4 CuriousLurker  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 10:27:36am

I would think it's less about the involvement of religion than it is about (misplaced) trust, as the article states:

"The underlying issue, I think, is the question of mutual trust," agreed Nancy Ammerman, a Boston University professor of religion and sociology. "These schemes rely on and exploit that trust, and people within religious communities tend to have high levels of trust for others within their community."

I can't prove it, but I suspect scamming would be easier within any group where there is a high level of trust between members—e.g. police, firefighters, veterans/military, etc.—IOW any group where the members view each other as "brothers" (or sisters).

5 theheat  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 12:20:16pm

I think it's easier, and that's why so many grifters entrench themselves in religious groups. For one, you have people who want to "believe"; many of them look to their church to make even simple decisions. And two, most religious people want to believe people are good. So, you have these assholes walking among church peeps ripe for the picking.

I know several criminals that made a habit of involving themselves in different churches, whose sole ambition was to con them. It works like magic.

6 reine.de.tout  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 12:53:15pm

re: #4 CuriousLurker

I would think it's less about the involvement of religion than it is about (misplaced) trust, as the article states:

I can't prove it, but I suspect scamming would be easier within any group where there is a high level of trust between members—e.g. police, firefighters, veterans/military, etc.—IOW any group where the members view each other as "brothers" (or sisters).

Agreed.

7 Our Precious Bodily Fluids  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 12:55:18pm

I guess nobody has ever heard of Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, or Jim Bakker - all presently or formerly multimillionaires through demonstrably fraudulent means.

8 CuriousLurker  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 1:49:34pm

re: #5 theheat

I think it's easier, and that's why so many grifters entrench themselves in religious groups. For one, you have people who want to "believe"; many of them look to their church to make even simple decisions. And two, most religious people want to believe people are good. So, you have these assholes walking among church peeps ripe for the picking.

I agree with you on those points, at least where the extremely devout are concerned. But still, con games (like the Nigerian 419 scam, Madoff's Ponzi scheme, pyramid schemes, etc.) play primarily on human greed.

I know several criminals that made a habit of involving themselves in different churches, whose sole ambition was to con them. It works like magic.

IMO, in the case of religious people it's just greed of a different sort. What I mean by that is it that the scams usually promise an easy shortcut, a way to "buy" God's pleasure, or blessings, or the expiation of sins. Writing a check is much easier than actually going out and doing good deeds, seeking forgiveness from those one has wronged, or performing the often unpleasant task of self-introspection necessary for spiritual evolution.

9 Our Precious Bodily Fluids  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 2:41:07pm

I think - as in my earlier examples - the worst harm comes in the form of the celestial snake oil salesman who slaps his victim on the forehead and tells them to go home and throw away their medication because God has healed them, hallelujah.

Or the carnival barker cleric who insists that there's one specific person in his audience who absolutely needs to send him their last little bit of money, as a sacrifice. This will, of course, prove their faithfulness and God will then miracle some cash into their bank account. It's repugnant.

10 yasharki  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 10:17:45pm

Scams referenced in the article, and in general are always based on people's greed. Religion, nationality, color, social status, sexual orientation, whatever, are just means to find common ground upon which some sort of trust can be established, once that's done all scams boil down to playing on people's greed, or instinct of self preservation.

That's all folks, move along, basic instincts, nothing to do with religion. It seems obvious...


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