While exercising the other day, I caught about 20 minutes of Mike Murdock on TV. Good thing I was at the gym, because I definitely needed a shower after that.
In case you haven’t heard of him, imagine the most stereotypical televangelist you can think of: oily, wavy hair, 80’s beard, loud suit, neon shirt, gaudy jewelery. But really, the most noticeable characteristic of this guy is the absolutely nauseating way he attempts to prey on those who have the least–by pulling out the stops to get them to give absolutely crazy amounts of money to his so-called “Wisdom Center.”
The day I saw him, he was asking for 120 viewers to send him “seeds” of $1,000 apiece. (You can see him asking for “seeds” of $777 here.) Here’s how the bargain works: you pay $1,000 as “seed money.” God “doubles your wisdom,” you get an autographed copy of the “Wisdom Bible,” Murdock personally prays for you, and God will probably end up using your money to make you lots more money anyway. The two testimonials that flashed across the screen each talked of giving the $1,000, then coming into ridiculous wealth. (One of them “paid off [his] credit card debt” with the money he got back from the “seed money.” In other words, this individual was already in debt, but chose to spend $1,000 at the request of Murdock anyway.
Those who are less financially stable appear to be the target demographic for Murdock. The most insidious part of the show was towards the end: Murdock instructed those who had already donated (or who were thinking about it) to write a prayer in the back cover of thir Bibles, asking God to “use that $1,000 seed to eliminate your credit card debt.” Sick.
I used to think, “these people are harmless. Sure, they’re goofy, but who really cares?” Well, here’s the thing: this guy is using his power as one with a direct line to God, to prey upon those who (a) are in financial need, and (b) may be more susceptible to ‘get rich quick’ scams, as evidenced by an apparent history of credit card debt.
Jesus commands us to love our God and our neighbor as ourselves. Are Murdock’s actions truly based in love for his neighbors, when he specifically targets folks in financial need and extorts them to give up enormous sums of money?
As for me, I will serve the Lord. I pray that Murdock ends his predatory practices. People in financial need are unduly targeted enough as it is, without errant false prophets preying on people’s trust, hopes and financial stability as well.