It’s not just televangelists that are scamming old ladies with faith seed promises. Now churches that don’t exist are getting in on the fun.
Today I received a strangely decorated letter, covered in text and underlined words. It was made to look like a personal friend wrote on the envelope but it just looks someone puked random Bible verses and slogans on the envelope.
So what’s the scam?
According to the letter the recipient is supposed to kneel on the prayer “rug” and then fill out the prayer needs list. After that, the prayer rug printout needs to be returned to Saint Matthew Churches. They also urge you to follow further steps after you mail in the rug. According to the letter, the rug has been blessed for two people and it must be used and returned within 24 hours. Apparently, God’s blessings only work on bankers hours and they expire quickly. Strangely, they inform the reader that they must return the prayer rug poster as soon as possible so that it can be sent to another person who is “in need” of the poster, as if they couldn’t just print another one.
If this was the only instruction in the mailer then it could be passed off as harmless. However, that is not all that came in the mailer package.
Throughout the rest of the package there are faith seed testimonials, repeated instructions, and misused Bible verses to convince the recipient to follow more instructions. When the recipient fills out the “prayer request” letter there is a small section to fill in a faith seed amount. The entirety of the package is a large gimmick to get people to follow these instructions, in hopes that the recipient will send in a donation.
The gimmick is so crudely constructed that even a new believer could tell that the scriptures were being used out of context. The back side of the prayer rug has three verses listed to steer the reader into obedience.
…I will make all my goodness pass before thee… (Exodus 33:19 [KJV])
If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (John 13:17 [NRSVA])
Those who listen to instructions will prosper (Proverbs 16:20 [NLT])
The most peculiar thing about the 3 verses is that the scripture verse and translation are listed below each passage and they are all from different bible translations and they each use a different font….. strange. Why is St. John 13:17 in italics but not the others? Why is the first verse in Gothic font but the others in serif? It just looks unplanned.
Who’s Behind the Faith Seed Scam?
This scam might look familiar to some as there is a real church named Cathedral of Saint Matthew which participates in some mailers and faith seed scams. This church is the mother church of the big scam which is housed in a fake church named Saint Matthews Churches who’ve sent out unsolicited mailers for decades, referred to as Prayer Rug Mailers. They’ve been assessed by the CBBB and charity watchdogs in the past and claim that they are not running a scam because they are not “fund raising”, rather, they are allowing people to “worship” with their money. Seems like a convenient description. It should come as no surprise that they also collect “faith seed” offerings.
If you want to know if a religious organization is a scam or a hoax, the best method is looking at it’s founder(s). In this case, the founder is a man that goes by the name Rev. James Eugene Ewing. There appears to be multiple locations where mail is collected. The first is a PO box in Tulsa (PO Box 21210 Tulsa, OK 74121). Another seems to be (PO Box 3036 Tulsa, OK 74101-3036). The mother church is actually in Texas and has a real address which is 9101 Airline Dr. Houston, Texas 77037. When checked on google maps, the church is definitely real and looks very expensive.
So, just to summarize, there is a real church in Texas which operates a fake church in Oklahoma and they send out millions of mailers hoping to receive donations. They have a fake church send out the mailers because they don’t want the real church to be affiliated with the scam and end up losing membership.
Who is Rev. James Eugene Ewing?
Rev. James Eugene Ewing lives in Beverly Hills California, where he lives a life of luxury off the back of some of the world’s poorest believers. His actual business is listed as “Church by Mail Inc.”. Before starting his long journey scamming people through the mail, he had a career writing fundraising letters for Oral Roberts. You heard that right folks. All of these scam artists and TV preachers run around in the same tight circles together. They have fake degrees, luxurious mansions, and fake ministries. Despite the size of Oral Roberts University, it was still founded and run by scam artists and crooks. Luckily, today new faces have tried to turn ORU into a reputable school, with at least minor success.
Ewing’s business, Church by Mail Inc. struggled initially to get legal status, but eventually got it in 1992. Some of the court documents and legal proceedings can be found on the following website –> law.justia.com. The court’s initial complaints with the organization can be summed up in the following sentence from the documents.
Finally, the potential for abuse created by the ministers’ control of the Church requires open and candid disclosure of facts bearing upon the exemption application. (Source)
The organization also had a few other scoundrels in the mix, who are listed in the court documents.
Church By Mail, Inc. was incorporated under the laws of Oklahoma on November 28, 1978. The Church’s primary activity has been the preparation, printing and mailing of various religious messages, most of which include a request for money. The Church is run by Reverend Ewing and Reverend McElrath. The Church also employs Reverend O.D. Snyder, Reverend D.R. Luce and Brenda Ewing. (Source)
For more on the background of Ewing the his various organizations I highly recommend reading this report from tulsaworld.com. Alternatively, you can peruse Ewing’s own website http://www.jameseugeneewing.com. You will find that before he was a scam by mail artist, he was a scam by revival artist.
Like the goofy people in Kenya trying to convince you that you have a wealthy relative that just bequeathed you a million dollars, these scams only continue because whoever is scamming people is actually making money. This organization makes roughly 6 million dollars in a single month. (Source) Clearly, they have every incentive to continue with evil behavior.
The only way to make these crooks go away is to stop giving them money. Spread the news about these guys.
Document collection from mailer
For more information on this group, read what other’s have already posted.
James Eugene Ewing – Official Web Site – Biography of James Eugene Ewing
St. Matthew’s Churches – Old Official Web Site
St. Matthew’s Churches – New Official Web Site
St. Matthew’s Cathedral – Official Church Web Site