In Part I we looked at many probable causes religion came to be such a powerful force in the world. Even today with all of mankind’s scientific advances and latest technology, religion still has its hand on the power of most all the governments of the world. In the Ronald Reagan era of the early to mid-1980s we saw how religion could actually help elect a Hollywood actor president of the United States. The Moral Majority, invented by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, grew to be the nemesis of Democrats. Falwell told his flock and the television world that Democrats were immoral, killed babies, and were pro-gay marriage. These godless liberals Falwell said needed to be weeded out at the ballot box. Falwell preached on, and many Democrats in congress were toppled for 8 long years in favor of Republicans, Falwell’s chosen party of God, or so he said. Falwell’s notorious “hit list” of Democrats that needed to be voted out of office nationwide, proved effective. Most all on his list were toppled from elected seats of government all over America in favor of Republicans. How Falwell escaped being audited by the IRS for violating his tax-exempt church status as a religious leader, only God knows. God wanted what Falwell said He wanted, and that was that. No argument, no discussion, the Almighty had spoken and made His wishes known to Falwell, His messenger. And President Ronald Reagan loved it. As a result, Falwell’s popularity and television stations and Liberty University in Virginia brought in many millions in tax-free donations to Falwell’s ministry. That he could tap into the tax-free donations of his parishioners and television viewers to defeat Democrats seems downright dirty and illegal, but as Falwell probably said, “God moves in mysterious ways.”
There were other religious television evangelists of note, and as always, the money, the millions and billions of dollars continued to flow into the pockets of these dubious preachers. And these self-proclaimed messengers of God just knew that God loved Republicans most, you see, because the bloody Democrats were Pro Choice and the Republicans, Pro Life.
Back when Richard M. Nixon resigned as president of the United States, Billy Graham, famous TV evangelist and world Christian minister, chartered a passenger jetliner and flew to San Clemente, CA to hold Nixon’s hand and comfort the ex-president at his beachside home. Imagine how much it cost to charter a commercial jet airliner, and please tell me that all the tax-free donations to the Billy Graham ministries were best served in the name of Jesus. My God didn’t Graham do the math or what? Chartering a jetliner to comfort an obvious crook would feed a lot of starving people of the world, you think?
Later on, Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, became the head of his father’s ministries. He awarded himself over $2 million dollars in bonuses and salary. Coming under fire from the Charlotte Observer newspaper, Graham said he enjoyed the work for Christ so much that he would do it for free if he had to. One of the Observer’s readers wrote in, saying, “Then do it. Give up your take of the offerings for Christ and give it to the poor.” As of this writing, Franklin Graham has not donated his salary and bonuses. To anybody.
He also dabbles in politics. Graham supported Donald Trump for president, of all things.
Note: Graham for Trump
Franklin Graham let Sarah Palin, former candidate for vice president of the United States (and chronic air head) use the Billy Graham Ministries private jet to fly all over America to promote her book. Was this a special book tour for Jesus? Blatant abuse of religious entities remaining tax-exempt in all the millions they rake in in the name of Jesus? Of course. Would Jesus approve of a company private jet in His name? Sure thing, Billy and Franklin. Power corrupts, and religious power corrupts most divinely.
So how are the Grahams and the other television evangelists different from the Spanish Conquistadores who brought religion to the Americas not to save the savages, but to steal their gold? I mean, private jets? Chartered jetliners to fly to Nixon’s side? Jesus.
Take Jim Bakker. Please. Remember him? He sold 3 times the number of time shares to those who bought them in Heritage Village, his religious theme park in South Carolina. He was indicted and sentenced to federal prison where he served 4 years of a 25 year sentence. Note: Jim Bakker Scandal
Bakker’s PTL Network (Praise the Lord) ran for years on prime time television. Behind the wide smile there was sex, stealing, fraud, misuse of donations for air-conditioned dog houses and golden bathroom faucets, do you love it? Oh the sins were most deadly ones during the times of the Bakker Scandal. Jessica Hahn, a secretary, was involved sexually with Bakker, then married to Tammy Faye, now deceased. Bakker and another official of the PTL Ministries traded Hahn about without batting an eye. What would Jesus say about that?
Jerry Falwell, mentioned above, tried and succeeded in taking over Bakker’s PTL Ministries after Bakker went to prison. Some believed that Falwell sought to continue the word of God in an established Christian-faithed ministry. But Falwell smelled money. Years after, both Bakker and his deceased wife, Tammy, said that Falwell was a huckster who misused the PTL Ministries for his own personal gain. Imagine that. Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority helped elect Reagan to two terms in the White House and his ministry never paid a dollar in income tax. Neither did Liberty University that he established years before.
But just when you thought religious charlatans and crooks were down and out, think again. Today Jim Bakker is out of prison, and broadcasts a very successful television show from Branson, MO. Millions of dollars flow to him again in the name of Jesus. His most recent scheme is conceived out of brilliance. In hard times survival food is doing well as a business in America, but Jim Bakker gives it God’s blessing as well. So for what Bakker calls a small “love offering” of a few thousand bucks, you get food with a long shelf life, blessed by the Almighty, of course, sent to you to help you survive Armageddon and the destruction of society as we know it. So he sucks in those who truly believe the world is coming to an end and those Christians who believe Jim Bakker is doing the work of God as a minister. Gives new meaning to the words “double dipping” doesn’t it? Note: Bakker’s Comeback after Prison
In 1966 Bakker and his first wife Tammy did a television program for kiddies in Virginia in the early days of the Pat Robertson 700 Club ministries. Robertson mentored many a crook in exploiting Jesus for big bucks. Pat Robertson trained not only Bakker, but Ralph Reed who formed another political religious group, the Christian Coalition. Reed helped elect right wing public servants much in the same way as did the Moral Majority. Reed, Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff (now doing 11 years in prison), were all mixed up in pitting Texas’ only two Indian Reservations against each other in gambling permits. They all received big bucks for their trouble, but some of them were prosecuted and are scheduled to do time or are presently doing time. Sound like God-fearin’ Christians to you? Hmm.
Jimmy Swaggart Ministries of Baton Rouge, LA is still standing after Swaggart was caught and forgiven twice for masturbating in the backseat of a vehicle to a whore who joined him. He’s still around after being caught twice for jacking off in public? And his ministry is still alive and raking in the tax-free bucks? No way, right? Wrong!
Then there’s Oral Roberts and his son, Richard, who flew his daughter to expensive vacations in the Bahamas on (here it comes again) the private Oral Roberts Ministries jet. This same son remodeled his personal residence 11 times in 15 years, and he fired some key managers of Oral Roberts University because they knew and talked too much about his lavish tastes and misuse of church funds. Roberts also charged at least 50 students to campaign for a political candidate which is against the tax-exempt code for religious institutions. His daughters were privy to lavish personal lifestyles from college funds and tax-exempt offerings from faithful Christians.
Note: Richard Roberts Scandal
Roberts stepped down as president of Oral Roberts University but still receives money from the tax-exempt income of the ministries.
The list is long on how religion takes money from faithful followers. The Roman Catholic Church is most probably the richest entity on planet earth with billions, maybe trillions in real estate holdings alone. Funny thing about the faithful Catholics is that after the altar boy scandal of priests sexually abusing them for years, the membership is still the largest of any Christian church. That priests seem unrepentant for the crimes against children, seems blatantly anti-Christian. Especially in lieu of being shielded by the higher-ups of the Catholic Church. The church has paid out many billions of dollars to those victims of these homosexual child-rapings, but then Rome decreed some 7 years ago that each church parish had to stand on its own in paying damages for the outrages committed against innocent children who trusted the Church. In other words, if the parish ran out of money due to payouts of abuse claims, then the church, the parish had to dissolve because the Church of Rome would not make good the claims from its general funds or immense wealth. There was even a statute of limitation of 10 years for abuse cases suggested by the Bishops of the Church.
So is religion taken at face value the biggest business in the world? Probably. It is more immense than even government, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and Wall Street combined. And remember, all the money taken in is TAX-FREE. Makes a difference. And we haven’t even spoken about other world religions like Islam, Buddhism, or the likes. So when it comes to saving souls, is that the primary concern and business of religion? Or is it the bottom line of how much they can take in while professing to bring the Word of the Lord to the masses? Churches engaging in the political process now is a smoking gun, you think? You decide.