You’ve probably heard it on Christian television before. An evangelist opens his Bible, reads a Scripture and then suggests that you send an odd amount of money to keep your favorite program on the air for another month.
He begs. He pleads. He cries. And then he tells you that if you hurry and give right now, “while God is stirring the waters,” the Holy Spirit will reward you in an extra-special way.
I’ve heard different amounts suggested—such as $64.11, or $72.14, or $53.24, to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house.
To the untrained ear this may sound like a formula for blessing. Actually it is more akin to superstition—or worse, witchcraft. It’s not even remotely biblical, but those of us in the charismatic movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that we think this is standard procedure for fundraising.
Some ministers who raise money for Christian television stations have succumbed to the infamous “debt reduction” tactic. It goes like this: “God says that if you will give a $1,000 sacrificial offering right now (God always seems to be in crisis mode in these situations), you will supernaturally get out of debt! The miracle anointing is here! You can release it by writing that check! And we take credit cards, too!”
Talk about voodoo economics. This kind of manipulation is actually against the law in Canada. The U.S. government allows American evangelists to get away with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. It is a spiritualized form of arm-twisting.