Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Fake faith, con-men "clergy" and the coronavirus

I'm getting very tired of reading about this, or that, or the other preacher/clergy/rabbi/imam/whatever who's claiming that this, or that, or the other act of faith (usually accompanied by an impressive donation to the speaker) will protect believers from the coronavirus pandemic.  They've been encountered all over the world, in almost every religion or sect.  The latest one I've seen comes from England.

A faith healer has been accused of "exploiting" people's anxiety about the coronavirus crisis by selling a "plague protection kit" for £91 [about US $113].

Bishop Climate Wiseman, head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell, south London, has promised his followers the small bottle of oil and piece of red yarn will protect them from Covid-19.

In a blog post, Bishop Wiseman claimed his concoction of cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet yarn acts as "an invisible barrier to the powers of darkness".

He wrote: "It is by faith that you can be saved from the coronavirus pandemic by covering yourself with the divine plague protection oil and wearing the scarlet yarn on your body.

"That is why I want to encourage you, if you haven't done so already, to get your divine plague protection kit today!"

There's more at the link.

I have a suggestion to deal with all such charlatans.  Make sure they have an ample supply of the snake oil they're selling.  Given that, make them work as orderlies, in close contact with the sick, in emergency rooms and COVID-19 treatment facilities, without personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, etc., for a minimum of two weeks.  They're not allowed to leave under any circumstances - they work, eat, sleep and live there 24/7 until the two weeks are up.  Their only protection against infection will be their particular brand of fake faith and whatever it is they're selling.

At the end of that time, they go into strict quarantine for another two weeks, to give any infection time to show itself.  After that, if they're still healthy, they'll be allowed to go on their way.  If their concoctions protect them against the coronavirus, all well and good.  If they don't, it's their fault, and their claims will have been proven to be false.  What's more, they get no treatment for COVID-19 if they catch it - only the "protection" offered by their snake oil.  That'll prove its efficacy (or otherwise) the hard way.

Of course, if they object, and refuse to do this, that'll be prima facie evidence that their claims are false.  After all, if they aren't prepared to put their money where their mouth is (or their body where their faith claims to be), why should we?  They can then be prosecuted for fraud, bilking, or whatever comes to mind.

As a man of faith and former pastor, it's profoundly offensive to me to see such charlatans making money out of this tragedy.  I think this suggestion would separate the wheat from the chaff with a vengeance.  What say you, readers?



libertyman said...

I believe Lenny Bruce said "any priest with more than one suit of clothes was a hustler"

STxAR said...

There was a "ministry" back in the late 70's out of Tulsa that got my address. He would bless a handkerchief like the Apostle Paul did. Some one had one they showed me. It was a thin paper towel with some design inked on it. I don't remember what he charged for it, but it was a wonder. It healed, sealed, protected and etc....

I saw the ministry 'campus' once. It was huge. Religious hucksters are all around, have been since Acts, will be thru the end of time. P.T. Barnum was correct. Add a powerful motivator like fear, and it's easy pickins.

John Prigent said...

I used to think that the US was the home of snake oil salesmen and TV 'preachers'. But it seems that any 'religion' is infested with them nowadays. Which is why I firmly believe that no religion, whether or not fake, should be allowed to accept money (or benefits in kind) for its proponents, publicists or preachers. Compel them to do actual work for a living, like Paul/Saul in Rome or the Rabbi Hillel who's renowned for his refusal to discuss a question of faith until he'd finished the job he was being paid for.

milton f said...

Nope. Hucksters gonna huckster and suckers gonna suck.

milton f said...

When you suggest "make" them do this or that, you are making a claim against their time,against their liberty and against any shred of dignity that might or might not exist. You are claiming to have power over them.

In choosing not to respect the dignity of every human being, hucksters included, you demonstrate the same non-virtues present in most of the Ruling Class.

Don't go there.

Peter said...

@ milton f:

Sorry, but I don't agree. They are claiming to have a sure-fire prevention and/or cure that is unknown to medical science. They want money for it. Therefore, let them prove its efficacy, the hard way, before they're allowed to sell it. Let them demonstrate truth in advertising!

Duke of URL VFM#391 said...

"Bishop Climate Wiseman"??? Are you serious? That's really his name?

Scott said...


Roy said...

"What say you, readers?"
"Sorry, but I don't agree. They are claiming to have a sure-fire prevention and/or cure that is unknown to medical science."

I'm sorry, but *you* are wrong. Using your definition, just about any religious practice can be ruled as "...unknown to medical science." Where do you think that will lead given all of the anti-religion zealots in our society today.

And your admonition to: "...MAKE them work as orderlies, in close contact with the sick, in emergency rooms and COVID-19 treatment facilities, without personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, etc., for a minimum of two weeks...",

Without having previously been convicted of a crime, that, right there, is the very definition of involuntary servitude, i.e. slavery.

Here is a direct quote from your just previous post: "The threat to our republic from authoritarian overreach is just as deadly, in its own way, as COVID-19."

So, which is it Peter, authoritarian overreach, or people spending THEIR OWN money on what they choose regardless of what you or I think about it. Can *I* be made to do your bidding because I, just today, wrote a check to my own church to help the staff get through this time? I mean, after all, religion is just "snake oil", right? (If you don't believe that attitude exists, then just ask all of the anti-religion zealots that are likely to come out of the woodwork with this comment alone.)

Now, if you want to take that preacher to court and charge him with a crime, fraud for example, then go right ahead. If you get a conviction then there you go. (But I think your recommended sentence could possibly come under the definition of "cruel and unusual".)

However, I would caution you that once that door is opened, you might not like the precedent it sets.

Sanders said...

Welcome back to the Dark Ages. Maybe humanity never really left?

selsey.steve said...

That's not all that 'Prophet' 'Dr.' Bishop Climate Wiseman is selling. Have a look at this:
His claims for his Plague Oil are now under active investigation.

Wayne said...

Sentence structure, Peter. I think you meant “man of faith and former pastor” not of faith.

Peter said...

@Wayne: Er . . . oops! Fixed it. Thanks.