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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2010 09:26:27 -0700
-J. Lee Grady.

Let's stop the hypnotism, the guilt manipulation and the high-
pressure gimmicks. It's time to reclaim our lost credibility.

Normally I'd rather go to the dentist for a root canal than watch a
telethon. But while channel surfing a few nights ago I tuned into
PBS and discovered that Aretha Franklin, the legendary Queen
of Soul, was hosting a fundraiser for the network. Seated at a
piano, she was offering a 5-CD collection of classic rhythm and
blues hits in exchange for a donation to public television.

It was simple. There were no gimmicks, no games and no strings
attached in Aretha's offer. If you gave the suggested gift, she
explained, PBS would mail you a big slice of American pop
culture—including songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey
Robinson, the Four Tops, Al Green and Aretha herself, singing her
classic "Respect."

My respect for PBS was still intact when the telethon ended,
thanks to this low-key, no-pressure approach to fundraising. I
can't say that for some Christian networks, which have shame-
lessly extorted money from viewers over the years using heavy-
handed guilt manipulation, hypnotic control and bizarre Scripture-

During the PBS telethon I wondered why Christian networks couldn't
simply offer music, books or other premiums instead of resorting to
the typical arm-twisting and tear-jerking that we've come to expect.
We need an overhaul in this area. Somebody needs to lead the
way in pioneering a new style of on-air fundraising that doesn't treat
people like brainless zombies.

Here are five of my least favorite fundraising tactics. I wish all of
them could be banned from the airwaves.

Gimmick #1: The magic Bible verse. You know the drill. The
evangelist quotes Psalm 37:37 and then announces that if you will
send $37.37 ("No more, no less!") God will unleash all the blessings
of King David upon you. (Hint: The phones seem to ring more
frequently when the number seven is included in the Bible reference.)

Gimmick #2: The urgent, time-is-running-out plea. Before the
preacher asks you to reach for your wallet, dramatic music is piped
in. Then "Reverend Cheatem" talks about how the crippled man
waited by the pool of Bethesda, hoping that the angel would trouble
the waters so he could be healed. "God is troubling the waters right
now, my dear friend," the preacher says with his eyes closed. "Go
to the phones now, before it is too late. Only those who give in this
holy, anointed moment will receive a supernatural blessing in return."

Gimmick #3: The memorialized gift. One popular evangelist
announced on-air that she needed thousands of dollars to build a
prayer room. She promised that those who funded this noble effort
would receive recognition with special brass nameplates that
would be mounted on the wall of the facility. The implication was
that people could buy prayer coverage, sort of like a spiritual
insurance policy. (I'm not surprised—since this woman offered
her loyal followers the status of  "spiritual son" or "spiritual
daughter" if they paid a $1,000 annual fee.)

Gimmick #4: The debt-breaking anointing. One preacher who
specializes in telethons has raised millions by telling audiences
that they are just one donation away from eliminating all red ink.
All they have to do is give a sacrificial gift (usually four figures) to
the TV network in the next few minutes. If they do this, God will
wipe out their debts, no questions asked. No lifestyle changes
necessary. (This technique was especially popular before the
mortgage crisis.)

Gimmick #5: The Day of Atonement offering. This particularly odd
strategy has been popular in the last couple of years, especially
among gullible Christians who believe God blesses anything and
everything that has the word "Israel" attached to it. The preacher
announces that if you write a check to their network, and wave it
in the air before you mail it (preferably while wearing a Jewish prayer
shawl), God will forgive your sins, restore your health, bring back
your wayward children, provide angelic protection and bless you
with more than a dozen other special favors.

I still don't know what is more outrageous: That programmers allow
such insanity on Christian television, or that gullible Christians fall
for it year after year. Hopefully, emerging leaders in the religious
broadcasting industry will restore our lost credibility by insisting
on integrity, authenticity and good taste.

-Please comment on this topic at the following website-


-J. Lee Grady is former editor of Charisma and author of the
new book The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale.

SOURCE: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones