Anyone who has spent more than a few seconds on my site
knows where I stand on religion. My anti-theist stance is quite clearly proclaimed everywhere here, from the scarlet A
and Random Evil Scripture block to the various books I've read, even those of faith have no trouble figuring out my views.
I have my email address easily accessible in the footer, available for anyone to contact me if desired, and I do get some genuine and interesting emails from time to time.
I also get signed up for religious mailing lists and newsletters. Most are reasonable enough to require an email confirmation, but a large number appear to let someone use my email address to sign me up without my confirmation or consent.
Not really a big deal, but as a result, I get to see some interesting emails. Religious spam is often disguised as traditional theistic solicitations, but I cannot help but recognize how many features of spam some of these possess.
One arrived today from Open Doors
, a Christian group which focuses on helping persecuted Christians worldwide (side note -- notice how these US Christian groups are only ever interested in two things outside of the US: converting unbelievers (missionary work) and helping persecuted Christians -- why not anyone being persecuted? Why not concentrated on bringing help to anyone being tortured, starved, killed, or imprisoned for any reason? Why do they have to be Christian?). Here's a look at the email:
Simple enough, right? Ignoring the fact that I never signed up for anything from Open Doors, the email features an innocent child with a text stating that "over 100 million Christians around the world face physical violence, imprisonment, and even death because they choose to stand firm in their belief in Jesus Christ". Again, ignoring whether this is actually true or not, the email suggests that I offer my prayers. Please, will you pray for me?
Below the image is text that includes a mission statement:
It takes less than 1 minute to log your prayer support. Your participation will help Open Doors meet the goal of mobilizing 100,000 Christians to remember their persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer this year.
Seriously? The goal is to mobilize 100,000 Christians to pray
? How exactly will that help? Christians have been praying for the selfish protection of their own for two thousand years, and yet 100 million Christians are still facing violence due to their beliefs according to the email. What does that say about the power of prayer? How about mobilizing 100,000 people of any belief or non-belief to help anyone who is facing violence, not by asking for prayer, but asking for money, volunteers, education, real help
Worse, just above that statement is an outright lie:
The number one request from these persecuted Christians is for your prayers
I don't even need to look into it to be certain this is an utter lie. It's nonsense. The number one request these miserable people have from those of us reading the email is prayer? Again, bullshit.
So, anyway, I visited the site to see exactly what they had to say, and what do I find but a signup for another newsletter.
And again, all I'm doing is affirming that 'Yes, I will Pray' and signing up for the "Free Frontline Faith" email or snail mail newsletter, which is "filled with news and inspiring true stories of faith from the front lines of Christianity today." Not stories of people helping people (although these may be so, they aren't emphasizing it here), but of 'faith'. Just like the fact that Open Doors only asks me to pray for these poor Christians, not to actually do something to help them out.
Prayer has been shown repeatedly to offer no help for healing the sick
, how could it possibly stop an innocent child from being beheaded or tortured? How does my praying help these persecuted Christians? Why o why can't I just pray for everyone the world over to be safe from harm? Why must it be only for Christians? How exactly does my prayer help this innocent child splashed on my screen? At least the Christian Children's Fund (renamed Child Fund International in April, 2009) asks for money, volunteers, actual assistance!
So why is Open Doors sending me spam requesting only that I pray and sign up for more spam? Let me rephrase the question with a different spam subject: Why is Big Cock Pills, Inc sending me spam requesting only that I want a bigger cock and sign up for more big cock spam? The latter, of course, would not expect you to just want a big cock, it would also offer to sell you the big cock pills, the tangible things (they claim) actually do the trick. Paying for the pills is the tangible action that leads to a bigger cock (praying for a bigger cock has never worked, ask any guy).
Open Doors doesn't even go that far. They just want a prayer... for now. Like all good, long-lasting spam, the money part comes later after it has gotten under your skin or softened your resistence. For now, they just need you to trust them and do something simple which costs you nothing. Big Cock Pills, Inc hasn't got that luxury. Either you'll buy Big Cock Pills or you won't, so they aren't wasting time on you. Open Doors, though, baits the hook with the easy-but-worthless 'Send your Prayer' route, valuable to those of faith and utterly worthless as real action, but I guarantee that down the line, requests for money will come pouring in. They'll know that I've already invested my prayers, my emotions properly tugged, this poor child with one foot inside the jail cell, so throwing a few hundred dollars in will be the least I can do.
I signed up for the email newsletter, just to see what sort of second-level spam and propaganda get sent by Open Door. The prayer bait sure feels like a 'try it free' sort of proposition, so I fully expect to start getting donation requests any moment now.
Reminds me of this excellent pic that has been around for quite some time (and, paraphrased, gave this post its title):
(posted on my blog (modified slightly): davenichols.net