The Reverend Harold Camping has decided to get out of the second coming business. One can hardly blame the 90 year old head of "Family Radio". He first predicted the end of the world would occur on May 21, 2011. When we all showed up for work on May 22nd, he revised the prediction to October 21 of the same year. And--apocalypse oops--it didn't happen then either. Unfortunately there were people who actually believed Reverend Camping. They quit their jobs and gave away all their savings to--who knows--maybe Harold Camping.
When pushed for an explanation, Camping says he sinned and will make no more predictions, presumably leaving such forecasts to the Mayans, or evangelists who are a tad more media savvy. Unfortunately for his marks, he didn't offer any refunds. Hey, in the business of God there are no returns when it comes to salvation. You pay for the ticket and you take the trip. If you don't, welcome to the Great Tribulation.
Kenny Copeland knows all about the no refund policy. The former chauffeur and pilot for Oral Roberts has made enough money his "ministry" went out and bought a 20 million dollar Cessna Citation X jet. It is unclear if Brother Copeland considered doing something else with all that cash--like, you know--feeding the poor. He also built a private airport, "Kenneth Copeland Airport" in Fort Worth. It serves private aircraft and their owners in what is, no doubt, first class style. Copeland preaches what is known in the trade as "the gospel of prosperity". In other words if you give him a huge chunk of your money the Lord will reward you with wealth beyond your wildest dreams. It is rather like a spiritual version of the Power Ball Lottery.
It is also a subtle twist on the message his mentor, Oral Roberts preached when Roberts tried to distance himself from the faith healing end of the industry. Roberts first built a university, one which Michele Bachmann attended for a while, then he constructed a useless sky scraper which was supposed to house both a hospital and serve as a monument to himself. All of it was payed for by his follower's "seed money." Yes, give me your cash and God will reward you. Be patient and trust me. If the Lord in Heaven doesn't make a large deposit in your checking account your faith has been insufficient.
I could go on and on. Benny Hinn was and presumably still is such a ruthless con man only cosmic shills like Paul and Jan Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network would associate themselves with him. Hinn, who has a hair do apparently made of cement, has unsuccessfully predicted the death of all homosexuals, Fidel Castro in the 90's, and the end of the world in 1992. He claims his ministry is anointed by God to heal the sick and infirm, but his assistants routinely refuse to allow those with obvious disabilities, such as people confined to wheel chairs, on stage. Anthony Thomas, who made a documentary of the Hinn ministry has said when they followed the "pastor's" tours they found no evidence of healing. The end conclusion by Thomas? "He has done more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist."
Yes, it is an ugly scam perpetrated by only the most stone cold sociopaths. Back when I worked at a hotel reservation center there was a supervisor who, by all measure, was scum. He claimed he was a professional photographer on the side. He used to coerce his female employees to pose either topless, or nude for him. A couple of days after each "shoot" he'd bring the photos to work in order show everyone what the women looked like undressed. When a discussion of TV evangelists arose one day during lunch he said, "I know I haven't sunk as low as I can, because I haven't gotten into that."
Everyone has limits.
Ok, at least almost everyone.