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True Evil = Those That Swindle Good Hardworking People in the Name of God
( The Fabricated Belief System of Christianity Blends Seamlessly with the Shenanigans of its High Priests. )

Religious Realities you won't Learn in Bible Study or Sunday School

Not gay!
news flashDing Dong The Gay is Gone! The Wicked Gay is Gone! - Congratulations Teddy Boy!

Denver Post - "The Rev.Ted Haggard emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is "completely heterosexual" and told an oversight board that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser." (The gay hooker he'd been bangin' and methin' around with the last three years.) "According to disgraced pastor's overseers revealing details about Haggard"

Perhaps you may remember Reverend Ted Haggard as the fundamentalist "pastor poster child" Christian minister who was forced to resign from his position as president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, and pastor of a the New Life Church.

Amen Bruddah! Can I get a HooYah Hallelujah for intensive Christian counseling! Seems in only three short weeks, ole Ted is completely cured of his hump-a-homo-methitis! No more rootin' meth tootin' man love sessions for this once powerful chap who regularly persecuted homosexuality. (Or was that homosexreality?)

In 2005, Ted was listed by Time magazine as one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America. He's a firm supporter of George Duhbya, and is credited with rallying evangelicals behind Bush during the 2004 election. Its reported that the Tedster consults with Bush or his advisers every Monday and no pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism. (Yikes!)

He can now join the distinguished ranks of such notables as Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and countless Roman Catholic priests that got nabbed with their Holier than thou fingers in Satan's cookie jar of demonic lust monsters.


guiltyThe Devil Made Me Do It!

In 1987 Jim Bakker resigned from the lucrative PTL enterprise after Jessica Hahn, his former secretary and extra-marital love muffin, threatened to talk about the $265,000 hush money she'd previously been paid.

According to Hahn, Bakker and fellow Evangelist John Wesley Fletcher, took turns in slipping her their God rockets of everlasting love.

Bakker later asked a PTL staffer, who'd also been join in, "Did you get her too?"

Bakker pioneered televangelism back in the 60s, working with Pat Robertson to expand his fledgling Christian Broadcasting Network. Bakker's PTL Club (Praise The Lord) was the prototype for Robertson's 700 Club.

Bakker was convicted on federal indictments for fraud, tax evasion, and racketeering in 1989. He served four years of a 45-year prison sentence before returning to the Christian star circuit under the patronage of Billy Graham. He still owes in excess of $3 million dollars in back taxes and has spent the last decade dodging numerous lawsuits by former PTL Club members.

His life of swinging debauchery and gross financial malfeasance prompted Jerry Falwell to refer to him as "the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in two thousand years of church history". And he should know. Yet Bakker still runs the Jim Bakker Ministries - a show that airs throughout Jeezuzland's nether regions on the Christian Television Network.

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guiltyAt Least My Ho's are Female!!

During the 1980s, Swaggart was raking in access of $150 million a year from his 'Assembly of God' ministry. This moral paragon of virtue denounced Jim Bakker as "a cancer on the body of Christ" after Bakker was busted.

But, dang the bad luck anyhow. Shortly there after, Swaggart himself got caught red handed sorta speak, with a hooker at a Travel Inn in Metairie, Louisiana.

Swaggart blamed his libidinous indiscretion on "demons" and went on TV to say sorry and assure his flock that he was now demon-free.

But, dang the bad luck anyhow, three years later, Swaggart was pulled over for speeding with another hooker riding shotgun. His 'parishioners' asked that he step down as pastor as he was starting to make them look stupid and foolish. (imagine that)

But, dang the bad luck anyhow, it was not until the California Highway Patrol pulled him over for driving on the wrong side of the road with another prostitute passenger in 1995 that he finally complied with their wishes. Swaggart is still raking in the mammon with the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries - his gift to amnesiac Christians and unfussy moral guidance seekers everywhere.

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Guilty Reverend LonnieBaptist Reverend Seeks A Hummer -

You may recall Rev. Lonnie W. Latham, the Oklahoma Baptist minister who loudly advocated against and constantly condemmed gay marriage. He claimed that that God instructed him to reach out to the gay community and help them to reject their "sinful, destructive lifestyle".

That is, right up until his arrest last year for for offering an undercover cop a blowjob. OOPs!

Today, Latham's lawyer asked for the case to be thrown out, citing Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark SCOTUS decision that legalized consensual homosex nationwide.

Oh. My.. The... Frickin'.... Irony.....

Timmy Haye Tim Le Haye - Christian Zionist and creationist - is author of a series of apocalyptic fiction called "Left Behind". He pulls out all the stops to "foretell" how unrepentant sinners, fornicators, Muslims and idolaters will suffer agonizing torments for not accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Here's some quotes made while commenting on his book:
  • "I think God has chosen to use this as a tool. The tribulation period is seven years, and when the signing of the covenant occurs, people who know the Bible and take it literally will know that, seven years later, Christ is going to come in His power and glory. The unsaved people will be cast into utter darkness forever."

  • "It's going to be used in the last days to get people to come against Christ, and that's the issue: they come against the Lord Jesus Christ. And in this new book, we show Christ coming to settle that big issue. And part of my vision is to do dynamic videos for kids. That's why I write, with help, children's books, like the Left Behind Kids."

  • "I can't tell you what a thrill it is to walk into a Costco and see our books and other Christian books in the secular stores. You have to take Bible prophecy literally, just like everything else in the Bible. It's the lie of evolution that all man are just evolved and that they're all equal, and that all creatures are equal. The book of Revelation says that we no longer need the sun or the moon, for Christ is the light of the world."

Jesus Camp They Cry, Pray to Bush and Wash out the Devil - Welcome to Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp, Devils Lake, North Dakota. For purpose's of Training Holy Warriors at the ripe young age of 4 to 16, these type of Pentecostal ran summer camps are springing up all over the country. For a rather exorbitant fee and/or donation, these nice folks will train your "tomorrow's Army of God" kids with a thrilling fun fest agenda of politics, religion and child indoctrination.

After watching the documentary of the same name, I was literally sick to my stomach. Witnessing a 5 year old proclaim Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour with a stern look on his face made it clear that they're outright brainwashing these kids. At least the Camp is at one with the Pope on the abortion issue. Three inch fetus dolls are used as "prayer tools"!

The Great Decider Favorite Quotes from Bush Lord, The Mighty Decider

"You see, the ... thing is what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." - G8 Summit 17 July 2006

"Listen, I want to thank leaders of the-in the faith-faith-based and community-based community for being here." - Washington, D.C., Sept. 6, 2005.

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." ~ George W. Bush, 2004-07-16, to a group of Amish he met with privately. First reported in the local papers, including the Intelligencer Journal and the Lancaster New Era.

"I am carrying out divine commands." ~ George W. Bush In front of the astonished Canadian prime minister Paul Martin - Reported in The Toronto Globe and Mail

Thanks - George Bush resume Top | Home

news flashProphet of Profit Pat Robertson Speaks with God!

The Reverend Pat Robertson is a major kingpin in the Christian theocratic political movement. He's not just your run of the mill snake juggling tongues babbling southern buffanted preacher, either. No sir, Robertson personally speaks with God on a regular basis and is intimately connected to some of Washington's biggest power players. Should he have won his presidential bid, we'd all be moving to Canada. He's not only powerful, he's also a very rich man. (Him and the Lord). Were he to die today, Rev Pat's estimated worth lies somewhere between 250 million and a billion dollars. (ThankYa Jeeezus!)

A televangelist known for making controversial comments such as assasianting foreign leaders and blaming "sinful" jazz music for Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans - Holy Moly Prophet Pat is at it again. This time claiming God told him that a major terrorist attack in 2007, possibly nuclear (God wasn't clear)- would result in "mass killing."

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" - Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department.

The Lord speaks to me

Prophet for profit Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide."

The preacher demanded partial credit for predicting a possible tsunami last year, citing spring rains that drenched New England, so don't rush to judge this latest epiphany.

Robertson suggested in January 2006 that God punished then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a stroke for ceding Israeli-controlled land to the Palestinians.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war . We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. " - Prophet Robertson, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

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 Florida Republican Congressman Busted for Mouth-on-Dick Disease

Yet another sleazy closeted Republican operative has busted into the news this week, this time the newly elected head of the Young Republican National Federation, 33-year-old Glenn Murphy Jr.

Murphy, who was elected last month after a six-month campaign for the position, resigned unexpectedly in an e-mail to his supporters a few days ago. The smarmy text informed his "dearest friends" that he'd had a "crazy weekend" trying whether to decide if he should accept a "life altering" business contract that obliged him to step down from the position he had so recently won.

"I spent the majority of my weekend shaking with anxious indecision," he wrote. "I didn't want to disappoint people. I didn't want people to be angry. But I prayed with my family and we determined that I have to take this opportunity for my long-term security."

What Mr. Murphy didn't mention was that he was very likely about to be charged with criminal deviate conduct, a class B felony, after allegedly forcing oral sex on another man who was asleep at the time.

According to a police report, Murphy, the victim, and the victim's sister had crashed at the sister's house after a drunken Young Republican party on July 28 in Indiana. The victim awoke to find Murphy "holding my dick with one hand and sucking my dick with his mouth." The man shoved Murphy aside, asking, "what the hell are you doing?" Murphy said nothing and the victim grabbed his clothes and left.

According to the report, Murphy later called the man and wanted to explain things. Murphy claimed he had found himself on the floor by the victim's bed, and that the victim had started to run his fingers through Murphy's hair while still asleep. Murphy, in turn, responded by caressing the unconscious man's leg, and well, one thing led to another! The victim, who did not accept Murphy's implausible scenario, told police that Murphy called him several times begging him not to report the matter. Murphy then hired a lawyer, Larry Wilder, who visited the victim to see if the situation could be "resolved."

It couldn't.

Making matters even more interesting is a police report from the same location, Clark County Indiana, from nearly a decade ago. Back in 1998, a different victim told police he had been sleeping, "when an acquaintance he had just met, Glen Murphy [sic], awoke him while doing oral sex on him while he was asleep." The victim said he shoved Murphy backwards, "jumped up and ran to the restroom where he attempted to clean himself off." The victim's girlfriend was in the same room at the same time and woke when her boyfriend started yelling. She told police she saw Murphy extricate himself from under the covers and run out of the room.

I'm assuming no charges were filed, since Murphy went on to found the Clark County Young Republicans that same year. He served two terms as the chairman of the Indiana Young Republicans and was Clark County's GOP chairman since 2001.

As for his national goals, he told the press last month that his goal was to double the membership of the Young Republican National Federation by November 2008. "I will essentially be the mouthpiece and effective leader for the tens of thousands of Young Republicans, 18 to 40 across the country," he said.

But will they be awake at the time?

Bob Allen: Blacks Made Me Do It
Speaking of closeted Republicans behaving badly-an increasingly vast subject area-have you heard how Florida state representative Bob Allen explained away his rendezvous with an undercover cop in the men's room of a Titusville public park the other day? You recall that Allen walked in and out of the facilities at Veteran's Memorial Park several times, drawing the attention of some undercover cops who were on the lookout for a burglar. Finally, one of the cops went into the men's room and sure enough, back popped Allen, who looked into the officer's stall and said "hi."
I won't dig up the police report from the other week, but suffice to say that Allen, a married father of two girls, agreed to pay $20 if he could perform oral sex on the officer in a remote part of the park.

Now, Allen claims he was intimidated by the officer, "a pretty stocky black guy," and scared of the "other black guys around in the park." Afraid he was "about to become a statistic," Allen told police he came up with the solicitation scheme in order to get away. "I certainly wasn't there to have sex with anyone and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it," Allen blustered insanely.

It's not clear in his account why Allen was roaming the park at 3:30 in the afternoon. Nor did he explain why he entered the men's room three times, let alone why he initiated a conversation with the frightening black dude in the next stall. And in a new detail, the Sun Sentinel reports that when Allen was taken under arrest, he asked "if it would help" that he was a state representative. The answer was no..


Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID): Another Busted Gay Closeted Republican ...

Stridently anti-gay Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig was revealed today to have been arrested on June 11th for lewd public conduct in the men's restroom of Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Craig pled guilty on August 8th.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men's public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon. Craig's arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

From the police report filed by plainclothes officer Dave Karsina, via TPM Election Central:
Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia's and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

"My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall," Karsnia stated in his report. "From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me."

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

"I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, 'fidget' with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes. At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area," the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that "I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider."

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

"With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, 'No!' I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. ... Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn't want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom."

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig "either disagreed with me or 'didn't recall' the events as they happened," the report states.

Craig stated "that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine," the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

"It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper," the arresting officer said in the report.


Just A Couple More Religious Related Events in History

So far, the top evangelists, their shows, and the best estimates of their yearly grosses rank like this:

Garner Ted Armstrong (The World Tomorrow) - $175 million
Benny Hine Ministries $175 million - $215 million
Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association - $160 million
Pat Robertson (700 Club and Christian Network) - $370.000 million
Jim Bakker (PTL Club and Network) - $51 million
Jerry Falwell (Old-Time Gospel Hour) - $146 million
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - $140 million
Rex Humbard (Cathedral of Tomorrow) - $125 million
Jimmy Swaggart(Camp Meeting Hour) - $20 million
Robert Schuller (Hour of Power) - $116 million
James Robison (Man with a Message) - $115 million
"Rev. Ike" Eikerenkoetter (United Church) - $60-150 million
Ernest Angley (Grace Cathedral) - (secret)

Reach Deep Into Your Pocket for the Lord! -- and its Tax Free, Cha-Ching!

The modern day preacher

A young Californian, Timothy Goodwin of Long Beach, was paralyzed in a car wreck that wasn't his fault. That was his first tragedy. His second was religious. He later filed a fraud suit in Auglaize County Court in Ohio, telling this pathetic story:

He was convinced by leaders of "The Way" Bible society, a talking-in-tongues outfit, that his paralysis would be cured in a year if he moved to the sect's headquarters in Ohio and donated large sums from his accident settlement. He gave $210,000 -- and later paid $10,000 more for a Cadillac for a Way leader, and $11,000 for a BMW auto for another Way chief, and $13,000 for extraneous gifts requested by Way officials. The healing didn't work, and Goodwin felt "took."

After he sued, The Way countersued him for slander. The case was settled out of court in secret, and the quadriplegic moved back to California. Goodwin's attorney, Craig Spangenberg of Cleveland, told me that the sect refunded all of Goodwin's money on the condition that he never discuss the matter. "He has kept his promise," Spangenberg said. "Tim's a decent young man. He didn't want people to know he had been such a fool."

Another vein of the gold mine was worked by Bishop John W. Barber of Alabama, a dazzler who wore white tuxedos and drove luxury cars. He persuaded believers to buy $1,000 bonds in his Apostolic Faith Church of God Live Forever, Inc. Oldsters paid $100 down and sent installments to the Christian Credit Corporation of Nashville. His operation spread over eight states and then abruptly folded, and Barber moved to North Carolina. Lawyer Henry Haile of Nashville was appointed U.S. receiver. Haile told me:

"It's unbelievable. He sold $1.5 million in worthless bonds and also borrowed from 20 banks, but I can't imagine why anyone trusted him. He testified under oath he didn't file income tax returns for six years; yet he always had a new Lincoln and a big home."

Among Barber's victims were members of Highway Church of Christ at Marion, S.C., who lost $57,000. Their pastor, Raymond Davis, told me: "He sounded like an angel of the Lord, and my people thought he was rich. He told us the bonds would be worth twice what we paid for them. We trusted him to open us a bank account at Huntsville, and we sent our money to it. Later I flew to Huntsville, and there wasn't a dime left." Highway Church filed a fraud suit.

The Ernest Angley television miracle crusade, The Way International, and the Apostolic Faith Church of God Live Forever, Inc., are three eddies in the much-publicized gospel flood swirling over America.

Old-time magical religion has become our chief cultural phenomenon as we enter the 1980s. Celebrity evangelists in lavish hairdos have won followings that alarm mainline churches. The Gallup Poll says 45 million Americans now consider themselves "born again," and they shell out enough money to support a booming fundamentalist industry. Sales of gospel books, magazines and records have soared to $1 billion a year. A million families have removed their children from public schools and pay for them to attend 5,000 new evangelical schools. A consortium of born-again businessmen has joined with the Campus Crusade for Christ to raise $1 billion for the world's biggest advertising campaign to prepare everyone for the Second Coming.

Revival tents of yesteryear are forgotten relics. Now the action is in astrodomes and multi-million-dollar gospel television studios. Four fundamentalist "networks" keep broadcast dishes aimed at fixed-orbit satellites, bouncing programs over the continent 24 hours a day. Competing evangelists buy $600 million worth of radio and television time a year, paid for by their followers. At last count, the United States had 1,400 all-gospel radio stations and about 30 gospel television stations, some operated by born-again folk, some run by shrewd businessmen who know where the money is.

The boom has political power. Coalitions are trying to mobilize fundamentalists into the nation's strongest voter bloc to pass "moral" laws and elect "moral" candidates. In March, Anita Bryant and revivalist Jerry Falwell launched a "Clean Up America" drive against pornography, abortion and homosexuals.

Other gospel big guns summoned 200,000 born-again believers to the April "Washington for Jesus" demonstration to back "pro-God" legislation. Evangelist Pat Robertson declared: "We have enough votes to run the country. And when the people say, 'We've had enough,' we are going to take over." Anti-abortion groups defeated U.S. senators Dick Clark of Iowa and Thomas McIntyre of New Hampshire, and have targeted others for elimination. And fundamentalist uprisings against "ungodly" textbooks have forced several school systems around the United States to change books.

The gospel boom is under intense study by pundits. Author Jeremy Rifkin says it's "the single most important cultural force in American life" and might lead to fascism. Some sociologists think it's a backlash to the radicalism of the 1960s. Some say it's a breakaway from insipid conventional churches. Some say it's a search for security as the economy worsens. Some say it's part of the "me generation," in which people focus on themselves.

But one aspect has hardly been mentioned: rip-off. Part of the billion-dollar industry is cunning fraud, or bald opportunism, or exploitation of the superstitious, or tyrannical misuse of donated money by weirdo leaders. In my job as newspaperman and religion writer, I've covered the territory for 20 years and watched it grow.

While the born-again bandwagon gathered momentum through the 1970s, gospel scams and abuses surfaced with increasing frequency. In the past two years, they've become an epidemic. For instance:

-- Dapper Oklahoma evangelist James Roy Whitby was known in the gospel world for saving Anita Bryant when she was a Tulsa schoolgirl. In 1978 he was convicted of swindling an 83-year-old religious widow out of $25,000. In 1979 he was charged with selling $4 million in worthless Gospel Outreach bonds. Accused with him the second time were three convicted swindlers, including the Rev. Tillman Sherron Jackson of Los Angeles, who had previously bilked the born-again in the Baptist Foundation of America -- a $26 million fraud that caused a congressional probe in 1973. In the widow case, Whitby's appeals ran out in 1980, and he's in prison. The Gospel Outreach case ended in acquittals, but U.S. attorney John Osgood took it philosophically. "Their kind usually show up again," he told me.

-- America's all-time champion evangelist was Garner Ted Armstrong, whose national broadcasts drew $75 million a year to the Worldwide Church of God run by Garner and his father, Herbert W. Armstrong. (That's double the amount collected by Billy Graham.) Money poured in from followers, many of whom met in secret groups and donated 30 percent of their incomes. Garner lived like a maharaja in a California mansion with his own private jet, elegant sports cars -- and, allegedly, female believers in bed. Trouble hit in 1976 when some members published a protest. They accused Garner of sex and Herbert of self-enrichment. Chess champion Bobby Fischer said the elder Armstrong had used "mind control" to take nearly $100,000 from him. In 1978 the father fired the son, who started a new television religion.

In 1979 the California attorney general filed a receivership suit accusing Herbert and treasurer Stanley Rader of "pilfering" at least $1 million a year for themselves. Gold bullion owned by the sect was reported missing. Financial records indicated that Herbert and Rader each got salaries of $200,000 plus fabulous expense accounts. Garner accused Rader of taking $700,000 from the church in one year. Garner's sister said Rader had three homes, a horse stable, a Maserati, a Mercedes and a limousine. On June 2 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the attorney general's right to investigate the church. Meanwhile, little is left of perhaps $1 billion of believers' money that was squandered over the years.

-- Handsome, tuxedo-clad, faith healer LeRoy Jenkins of South Carolina grossed $3 million a year by selling miracle water and prayer cloths and healing T-shirts to believers who watched him on 67 television stations. He made an emergency appeal for $300,000 to pay church debts and then bought himself a $250,000 home two weeks later. He heavily insured a vacant cathedral just before it was hit by a mysterious explosion.

In 1979 Jenkins was sentenced to a 12-year prison term for conspiring to (1) burn the home of a state trooper who had given his daughter a speeding ticket, (2) burn the home of a creditor, and (3) mug a newspaperman who had exposed his money abuses and drug arrests. Evidence came from a police undercover agent in the evangelist's staff. (The reporter, Rick Ricks, told me that police had warned him in advance he was to be "set up" by an anonymous telephone offer of information; so when the call came, he didn't go to meet the informant.) After Jenkins entered a South Carolina state prison, his staff distributed rerun tapes of his "Revival of America" show. For several months in 1979, the preacher still looked out of television screens around the United States and begged "love offerings," although he actually was in a cell.

-- The Justice Department filed suit in March to force the PTL ("Praise the Lord") Club of Charlotte, N.C., to open its books on $51 million it grossed last year. The suit said the FCC wants to know whether the gospel television show broadcast "fraudulent and misleading" appeals by begging money for overseas missions but spending it on overhead. During a 1978 crisis, PTL leader Jim Bakker announced that he and his singer wife were "giving every penny of our life savings to PTL," but they soon bought a $24,000 houseboat, and their salaries and benefits rose to $90,000 a year. Because of PTL's enormous cash intake, a Charlotte radio station mockingly advertised a "Pass the Loot" Club.

(PTL attracts all varieties of fundamentalists because the show's superslick production conveys clean-cut, happy, old-time faith. But I spent a week at PTL's $20 million national headquarters last year and saw bizarreness not revealed on-camera. A worship leader gave incantations to "bind demons" and bind a "prince" devil in charge of Charlotte. She also sang in the unknown tongue and distributed written incantations to exorcise demons through miracle anointing oil. A distraught young man leaped down a stairway beside me, yelling "I'm Jesus Christ!")

-- The Rev. Hakeem Abdul Rasheed (alias Clifford Jones) and a young woman aide were convicted of mail fraud in California in February 1980. They had operated a $20-million-a-year church in an Oakland movie theater. Members who donated $500 became "ministers of increase." Then, periodically, the pastor called them forward to receive $2,000 "increases from God," while the congregation cheered. Bigger gifts drew bigger returns. Spreading excitement caused joiners to donate as much as $30,000 each. The church collected up to $350,000 a night. Rasheed-Jones had ankle-length mink coats, diamonds, a $100,000 Rolls-Royce, and a million-dollar yacht. His downfall came after he reported to police that four armed robbers took more than $300,000 from him aboard his 100-foot boat, and detectives began wondering why a minister had so much money. It turned out that his church was a "Ponzi scheme," using new donations to pay former donors.

-- The Rev. Robert Carr of Durham, N.C., was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April for taking paychecks, food stamps, and welfare checks from members of his Church of God and True Holiness. He and other church leaders kept believers like slaves in a dormitory, forced them to work in a poultry plant, and pocketed their earnings. Carr's daughter and son-in-law also got prison terms, and a fourth church official is a fugitive. U.S. attorney H.M. Michaux Jr., told me that Carr was arrested by state police, but the case was turned over to him for prosecution under a federal slavery law.

-- Bethesda Christian Center at Wenatchee, Wash. -- a gospel church, radio station, school, magazine publishing house, college, and gasoline station -- was jolted in January 1980, when more than $1 million was reported missing and administrator James Eyre was jailed on embezzlement charges. About $340,000 that members lent to the church has vanished, authorities said. So has nearly $1 million that members put into deals such as diamond investments.

-- American Consumer Inc. was indicted on 1,000 counts of mail fraud for selling the "Cross of Lourdes" at $15.95 each, falsely claiming that the crosses had been dipped in France's miracle pool and blessed by the pope in Rome. The company was fined $25,000 in 1979 in U.S. District Court at Philadelphia and ordered to refund $103,000 to buyers.

-- Frost Brothers Gospel Quartet of Columbus, Ohio, launched Consumer Companies of America, a 20-state chain. Born-again families who paid $534 for orders of merchandise were entitled to enlist others and collect commissions on their orders. When enough were signed up, CCA was to build discount stores and give each member a share of the earnings. Evangelist Bob Harrington, "the chaplain of Bourbon Street," boosted the plan, saying, "God wants his people to succeed... and I thank God I'm identified with CCA." (I interviewed several CCA leaders -- ex-gospel singers in flashy suits and high-rise hairdos.) The Frost Brothers lived like kings. President Alvin Frost bought a $1 million mansion. But they were convicted of stock violations, sued for fraud, slapped with a $370,000 tax lien, and charged with running a pyramid scheme. CCA collapsed in 1979 with losses for all.

-- The Rev. Jerry Duckett of Williamson Church of God in West Virginia was indicted last February on charges of stealing $40,000 from his church's building fund. (His denominational superior swore out the embezzlement warrant and then was chagrined when I made the theft public.) Earlier, Duckett was fined $100 for pulling a pistol on a service station aftendant who wouldn't put leaded gasoline into his unleaded-only car.

-- Before the Rev. Jim Jones went entirely nuts, his People's Temple was a money machine. He required members to give 40 percent of their income and sign over their homes, insurance policies, savings accounts, welfare checks, and Social Security checks. To hook the credulous, he staged cancer cures, dramatically seizing the ill, who were stooges in disguise, and pulling out tumors -- chicken gizzards. While his Temple still was in San Francisco, two disillusioned members, Al and Jeanie Mills, led defectors in leaking to New West magazine that Jones's cures were fake and he was milking followers. After Jones moved to Guyana -- and led 900 believers in the cyanide horror that stunned the world -- troves of money were found. More than $7 million was discovered in two Panama banks, $3 million was in Guyana banks, and $200,000 was in other Caribbean banks, while $700,000 cash and $2 million in real estate were still in California.

In 1978 Al and Jeanie Mills started a refugee center for Jonestown survivors, amid reports that Jones had left behind a "hit squad" to kill defectors. In 1979 the Millses published a book about the minister's abuses. On Feb. 26, 1980, the couple and their 15-year-old daughter were executed by being shot in the head.

-- The Rev. Roland Gray of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago was convicted in 1979 of theft, fraud and corspiracy. He reported his income was only $20 a week so he could falsely collect $43,000 in welfare checks and food stamps -- while he concealed that he had $46,000 in cash, several luxury automobiles, expensive furs, and three homes. He also engaged in insurance fraud, collecting $56,000 from 73 bogus insurance claims. He's serving two years in prison.

-- Marjoe Gortner, an aging boy evangelist, confessed in 1972 that his exuberant revivals were a moneymaking fraud, carefully rehearsed and timed to suck big offerings from the yokels. He said his parents pocketed $3 million from his boyhood tours. To expose the racket, Gortner made a documentary movie of himself milking congregations and gleefully counting piles of money in motel rooms, whooping, "Thank you, Jesus!" Gortner went on to be an actor, and fundamentalism went on unfazed.

-- At the start of the 1970s, America's top faith-healer was pugnacious A.A. Allen, who toured the land with his miracle tent. He displayed jars of small embalmed bodies he said were demons he had removed from the ill. Some observers said they were frogs. A California newspaper said he should be prosecuted for running a racket. Time magazine said he grossed $2.7 million a year plus personal "love offerings." Allen vanished during a tour, then rejoined it at Wheeling, W.Va., then vanished again. He was found dead in a San Francisco hotel room, with $2,300 in his pocket. Cause of death: acute alcoholism. (Gortner said that Allen once advised him how to know when a revival is finished and it's time to move to the next city: "When you can turn people on their head and shake them and no money falls out, then you know God's saying 'Move on, son.'")

-- The Rev. DeVernon LeGrand, who headed St. John's Pentecostal Church of Our Lord in Brooklyn, recruited many teenage "nuns" who solicited money for his church. In 1975 the pastor, age 50, was convicted of raping one of the 17-year-old nuns. In 1976 the bodies of two more of the girls were found in a pond at LeGrand's farm in the Catskills. He and a son were convicted of murdering them. In 1977 the pastor was found guilty of murdering his former wives, who died in 1963 and 1970. He's serving life in prison.

-- Bishop Lucius Cartwright and Pastor Albert Hamrick of St. Phillip's Pentecostal Church in Washington, D.C., were sent to jail in 1976 for embezzling $250,000 while administering food stamp distribution. They used the money to buy a car, an ice cream parlor, and a bank building.

-- A white revivalist, the Rev. James Eugene Ewing of Los Angeles, acquired thousands of black followers around the United States through an odd promise: If they sent him monthly donations, God would bless them with Cadillacs, color televisions, Mark IV Continentals, new homes, etc. "God's Gold Book Plan for Financial Blessings," it was called. Those who mailed their Gold Book pledges faithfully could expect "power to get wealth," Ewing said. His monthly newsletter was filled with photos of pledge-payers beaming over new Eldorados or stereos. Followers were also urged to buy "miracle billfolds" and "golden horn-of-plenty neck charms." (An architect friend of mine sent a fake name to Ewing and collected his mailings to pass around the office as funny-sad reading.) The Los Angeles Times said Ewing grossed $4 million a year. Newsweek said he spent only 1 percent of it on charitable work. Even so, his church filed bankruptcy in 1977, and he moved to Atlanta.

-- The Children of God enlisted 5,000 teenagers to testify for Jesus in city streets. Members were required to give the sect all their income for life. New York Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz issued a report in 1974 accusing the group's leaders of fraud, tax evasion and bizarre forced sex.

-- Dr. Billy James Hargis was the king of the anti-Communist preachers after the McCarthy era. He denounced socialism, sex and satanism -- and drew millions from right-wing supporters. He lived in a $500,000 Tulsa mansion, had a farm in the Ozarks, and enjoyed the national spotlight. But he was ruined in 1976 when Time magazine revealed that he sodomized male and female students at his tiny fundamentalist college. (The truth leaked out after Hargis performed a wedding of two students and on their honeymoon each told the other of going to bed with their spiritual leader.)

-- The Rev. Guido John Carcich was convicted in 1978 of embezzling $2.2 million from the Pallottine Fathers in Baltimore. The Catholic group collected $20 million in donations to help "the starving, sick and naked," but only 3 percent of the money reached charitable work. Incoming contributions were handled at a secret warehouse, where Carcich told workers to throw away prayer-request letters unless they contained money. He was sentenced to a year of prison counseling work.

-- Flamboyant "Reverend Ike" Eikerenkoetter of New York wears $1,000 suits, his fingers drip with diamonds, he has 16 Rolls-Royces, and he enjoys luxury homes on both coasts. From his palatial church, a converted Broadway theater, and over 85 radio stations, he tells a million black believers to "do what the rich do: start thinking big." He demands "silent offerings" of paper money and chides his adoring flock: "Be proud of the way I look, because you spend $1,000 a week to buy my clothes." His United Church and Science of Living Institute keeps its income secret, but it has been estimated at $6 to $15 million a year.

Ironically, victims of a gospel rip-off rarely realize that they're victims. They usually stay devoted to their preacher, no matter what, and view all accusations against him as tricks of the devil.

I learned that truth years ago as a cub reporter. A faith healer named Dr. Paul Collett came to Charleston, started a radio revival in an old movie theater, and proclaimed that cancers were dropping onto his stage. He said he turned water into wine and might resurrect the dead if bodies weren't embalmed. I wrote a warning article about his multitudinous collections to "build the biggest tabernacle in West Virginia." But his followers weren't warned. Instead, 40 of them stormed the Charleston Gazette newsroom, looking for me. Luckily, I was out. Dr. Collett later moved away, leaving no tabernacle or residue of the collections. But his adherents didn't complain. They bickered over doctrines and eventually scattered to other churches.

I learned it again in 1973 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and West Virginia Securities Division issued cease-and-desist orders on $12 million worth of gospel bonds sold by TV evangelist Rex Humbard of Akron. The authorities warned that -- despite his $4 million cathedral, $250,000 mansion, private jet, $10 million office tower, church-owned girdle factory, and other holdings -- Humbard lacked enough assets to back up the bonds. I interviewed investors, and they said they'd gladly double the amount "because it's an investment in souls." Humbard begged emergency donations and reaped enough millions to lift the government freezes. (He also sold the unprofitable girdle factory because "panty hose killed us.") In June, Humbard and his sons bought a $650,000 vacation home complex, in addition to their mansions in Akron.

I learned it in 1974 when the Rev. Marvin Horan led an army of Charleston fundamentalists in violent protest against "atheistic" school books. Horan got three years in prison for helping to bomb elementary schools. Trial testimony said he suggested wiring dynamite caps into the gas tanks of cars in which parents were taking their children to school during a boycott. The Ku Klux Klan held a rally for the convicted preacher on the state capitol steps. His followers stuck by him. He's out of prison now and running as a 1980 candidate for school board in Charleston.

While I mixed among crowds at the PTL Club in North Carolina last summer, I talked to supporters of evangelist LeRoy Jenkins, who had just gone to prison across the line in South Carolina. They said cryptically: "Satan attacked his ministry." (I don't know whether they meant that Satan had led Jenkins into sin, or that Satan falsified the arson charges against him.)

Over the years I've covered only one gospel news event in which believers turned against their leader. Radio preacher Charles Meadows testified before the West Virginia legislature in support of the death penalty and ran for the Charleston school board to fight "lewd-minded" sex education. After losing the election, he started his own fundamentalist school. But his flock was stunned when he dumped his wife and departed with a gospel teacher.

Because of my job, religious folks write me letters and phone me. Some recent samples: (1) Bobby Cremeans said she and her husband sent $1,000 to PTL and soon were blessed with an unexpected $710 tax refund and a large profit in a land sale. "We didn't expect anything when we gave the money to PTL -- so I know PTL is of God." (2) Zella Jarrett told me her 28-year-old son was drawn into a Milwaukee Pentecostal sect that controlled his life and took his money. "He earned $6 an hour making sink tops at Lippert Corporation, but they let him keep just enough to get to work. When we sent him checks, the group prayed and the answer always was for him to sign the money over to the church." She said her son "finally escaped" and lives in Virginia but wants his whereabouts kept secret because he fears reprisals. (3) Jim Young told me: "The money my wife and I send for the work of the Lord far exceeds our grocery bill each month, and I am thankful for every penny." He said he supports about 10 television evangelists including Rex Humbard, "who got 554,000 people in Brazil and Chile to accept Jesus Christ. It's the only way we can obey the last commandment Jesus gave" to proselytize the world. (4) Rita Schott said she was "caught up for six years" in a tongue-talking church in which the preacher received such divine prophecies as "five members are going to give $5,000 each." She told me she felt "brainwashed, unreal," but finally broke loose from the group.

An Episcopal priest who does social work in Michigan said that poor families often tell him they send part of their welfare checks to evangelists. "We taxpayers are subsidizing it," he said. "In the old days, people complained about the poor blowing their welfare money on whiskey -- but now it's on evangelists."

Whistle-blowers of the sort who denounced the Armstrongs in the Worldwide Church of God or Timothy Goodwin, who sued The Way, are rare. But a few exist. More consumer lawsuits by disgruntled believers have hit the courts recently. Julie Titchbourne, 21, of Portland, Ore., won a $2 million verdict against the Church of Scientology in 1979. Her suit said the church's claim that it could raise her I.Q. was fraudulent. In February, jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo of Los Angeles sued the church, saying leaders had embezzled $15,000 from him, kidnapped him, and forced him to undergo a $12,000 "life repair course."

Scientology is a controversial religion started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who netted millions from members around the world. He was convicted of fraud by a French court in 1978 but remains at liberty on his oceangoing yacht. His wife and eight of his followers were sentenced to prison last December for conspiring to steal U.S. documents in Washington. A grand jury at Riverside, Calif., is investigating reports that Scientologists obtained millions through fraudulent bank loans. (When I wrote about a West Virginia coal millionaire who gave $110,000 and a farm headquarters to Scientology, the church sent my newspaper a bound, indexed, 52-page "falsehood correction.")

Also, Douglas and Rita Swann of Detroit sued the Christian Science Church last February, saying that two church healers allowed their baby son to die. Their suit doesn't claim malpractice (three other malpractice suits against the Christian Science Church have been lost in recent years) but accuses the two healers of failing to follow proper miracle cure procedures.

Redneck religion has always been part America -- since the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee, since Carry Nation smashed the saloons, since Aimee Semple McPherson was buried with a live telephone in her ornate coffin in case God resurrected her. The United States always had a fringe of scripture literalists obsessed with sin, of one-preacher denominations, of Pentecostals who spout "the tongues," of faith healers who grab the lame, of hillbilly congregations picking up rattlesnakes, of Adventists who periodically announce the end of the world, of sex-haters who burn books and rock albums, of tabernacle-goers who "dance in the spirit" and writhe on the floor, of Bible prophecy fans who think that the Lost Tribes of Israel moved to England and became American settlers.

Why did they cease being a fringe and seize the foreground with such numbers and money? What -- besides changes in the national mood -- caused the billion-dollar gospel boom? Much of it was created by three electronic marvels: (1) superslick videotape production that gives a "class" look to television shows, (2) fixed-orbit satellites that relay broadcasts all over America for pickup by stations and cable systems, (3) computerized fund-raising centers able to receive miliions of letters bearing $10 and $20 checks and to mail back machine-written responses selected by coding and disguised to appear personal.

As television's drawing power grew apparent, a crowd of celebrity preachers took to the air, competing for listener-donors. Today more than 1,000 different gospel shows are bounced off the satellites or distributed by radio tape and videotape to stations and cables. It's a bonanza for the broadcast industry. A typical clear-channel radio station, WWVA of Wheeling, sells $1 million worth of evening half-hours to revivalists annually. Billy Graham pays up to $25,000 per television station per hour for his prime-time crusades.

Listeners foot the bill. Most shows work like this: Watchers are invited to write for a free gift, such as a four-cent "Jesus First" lapel pin. Once a viewer's name and address go into the computer, he gets letters urging him to beome a "faith partner" and send monthly donations. The computer keeps track of big givers and little givers -- and ejects names that don't produce after three mailings. (Some evangelists raise extra money by selling their donor lists to others.) Computers also dispatch monthly newsletters and sometimes choose prewritten replies to viewers who write about spiritual or personal problems.

The more magnetic a revivalist is, the more watcher-supporters he draws, which allows him to buy time on more stations, which draws more donors, which buys more air time, which draws more donors, etc. His operation also can expand by sale of books, records, magazines, gospel novelties, and tape cassettes. A big entrepreneur usually starts his own gospel college and creates an overseas mission.

Established, mainstream denominations worry that one-man television sects are siphoning off members and money that would otherwise go to hometown churches. Dr. Martin Marty, a Lutheran scholar, says the "ruffle-shirted, pink-tuxedoed pitchmen" are formidable rivals, and "the loser is the local church." Presbyterian Survey magazine sneers at "show-biz religion" and "TV salvation for sale" and "the hucksterism of big-time religious broadcasting." Everett Parker, communications chief of the United Church of Christ, says, "They are on television to make money so they can expand their television exposure and make more money."

Paul Stevens, retiring communications director of the Southern Baptist Church, announced last year that he plans to start a committee to force financial disclosure by wealthy "glamour boys of religious broadcasting." Stevens said many Christians feel "a mass revulsion against these charlatans.... Something has to be done. Morally and spiritually, these people are doing wrong.... A man who collects, as one did, $71 million in a year and, as far as we can tell, bought only $10 million worth of [broadcast] time, leaves $61 million unaccounted for." Later Stevens told me he had to postpone his retirement and creation of his committee.

Dr. William Fore, assistant general secretary of the National Council of Churches, told me he doesn't think all radio-television evangelists are swindlers -- only some of them. He sent me a paper in which he wrote that most broadcast preachers are dedicated, but "some are in the lunatic fringe.... Some are con artists and manipulators. And a few are just plain crooks and frauds." He said television religion is "great show business, a great audience-grabber, a great moneymaker.... But it's lousy religion."

Even Billy Graham remarked on a national telecast: "Because of the great evangelical awakening in America... there are some charlatans coming along, and the public ought to be informed about them and warned against them." Jimmy Swaggart, an unschooled but shrewd tongue-talker from the Louisiana backwoods, wrote in his autobiography that he "detested the trickery" of "radio evangelists who specialized in selling so-called miracle billfolds, prayer cloths and anointing oil over the airwaves." Today Swaggart sells $30 "Jesus Saves" pen-and-pencil sets on his show.

The suspicions, the talk of charlatans, arise partly from the fact that U.S. evangelists are allowed to keep their finances as secret as they wish. Under federal law, anything that calls itself a church is exempt from taxes and disclosures. (Even a saint might be tempted if he handled secret money every day. A revivalist always begs, "Give to God," but he knows God's name isn't on the bank account; he knows who gets to spend the money.) Michigan has passed a state law requiring churches that solicit from the public to file financial disclosures, as charities do. The Michigan law already has been challenged in court as a violation of freedom of religion. Reader's Digest published an appeal last November for a U.S. law to force disclosure of all church money. it wouldn't harm reputable denominations, the Digest said, but actually "would help them by exposing the spiritual con artists who cast shadows on all religious fund-raising."

Such a disclosure bill was introduced in 1977 by born-again Congressman Mark Hatfield and others, but it failed. In 1979, Billy Graham and three dozen other revivalists launched a voluntary disclosure plan. They created the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which will require members to issue public audits. Revivalists who refuse to join presumably will be stigmatized -- if their followers notice.

The Better Business Bureau, which protects consumers from rip-offs, is doing its bit by citing evangelists who won't open their books. The BBB lists 50 ministries as failing to meet BBB's ethical standards.

The toughest crackdown lately, however, has been by the Federal Communications Commission, the watchdog of the airwaves. The FCC holds that it's against the fraud-by-wire law for a broadcaster to beg money for one purpose and spend it for another. This legal basis is being used in attempts to revoke licenses of some church-owned stations. FCC Chairman Charles Ferris remarked last year:
"They are public trustees. They use a public resource, the airways, and they have an obligation to stay within the perimeters of the law, with respect to the use of these airways, and to serve the public. Where there is fraud with respect to deceit, or improper use of those airways, you know, for fraudulent purposes, our obligation to investigate that and make recommendations as to who the proper licensee should be."

The FCC recently busted the Rev. Eugene Scott of California, who grosses $4 million a year by marathon preaching over three television stations owned by his Faith Center. In 1977 when the license of one station was up for renewal, the FCC asked to see Scott's financial records. He refused, saying the government can't pry inside a church. In 1978 the FCC cited Scott for: (1) refusal to open his books, (2) possible fraud in fund-raising, and (3) failure to serve the public interest. On March 17, FCC administrative judge Edward Luton ruled that Scott's continued refusal to show records had forfeited his right to the television license. An appeal is pending.

Also, California Attorney General George Deukmejian demanded Faith Center's records for an investigation of possible fund misuse. Deukmejian is moving against a few California churches under a state law that requires him to protect donors to charity.
Scott calls the bureaucrats "monkeys" and says that he'll never open his books. "I'm either going to beat the hell out of the FCC or beat them into hell," he declared. His attorney, Andrew Zanger, said the attorney general "isn't even going to get to see a voucher for toilet paper."

In 1973 the FCC defrocked a radio station operated by anti-Communist preacher Carl McIntire on grounds that his programs against American "subversives" were political "hate clubs" violating the fairness doctrine. The aging McIntire, head of multi-million-dollar fundamentalist centers in New Jersey and Florida, was sued in 1979 by a Virginia Beach widow who says he took $100,000 from her. After the Russians invaded Afghanistan, McIntire mailed appeals this year, saying his anti-Red career had been "vindicated." He asked for donations of "$100,000, $25,000 -- I am asking you to answer this letter with as large a gift as possible." He included pre-written wills for supporters to sign, bequeathing their estates to his ministry. (I got one because I'm on Mclntire's mailing list, but I didn't will him my assets.) New Jersey officials said the "mail-a-will" plan probably isn't legal.

Another federal watchdog, the IRS, tries to monitor 800,000 tax-free churches, charities, schools, foundations, hospitals, etc. By law, money of a tax-exempt organization cannot "inure to the benefit of" any leader. Ministers are limited to reasonable salaries, parsonages, and legitimate expenses, according to IRS spokesman Larry Batdorf. I asked him how Rev. Ike Eikerenkoetter can enjoy 16 Rolls-Royces, $1,000 suits, two mansions, diamonds and such luxuries. Batdorf replied that the IRS can't discuss publicly any person's income. "But I'm sure there are abuses," he added.

The IRS sometimes revokes the exemption of a ministry that becomes more profit than prophet. It axed the Rev. Ralph Baney of Kansas City after he spent funds of the Holy Land Christian Approach Mission for a 236-acre luxury estate, a stable of Tennessee walking horses, and a yacht in Florida. However, at the National Information Bureau in New York, a charity data center, director M.C. VanDeWorkeen told me that the mission had reformed under new leadership and now operates reputably.

So far, all the turmoil hasn't fazed America's gospel boom. The evangelical bandwagon continues to roll, spanning all the way from born-again President Carter to Manson cult killers Tex Watson and Susan Atkins, now saved and selling paperbacks about it. And the gospel gold mine continues to produce billion-dollar revenues, with no end in sight.

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