Fraudulent televangelists

Do fraudulent televangelists believe in god and in Jesus?

I’m sure they do, but the rationalize that to effectively do God’s work, they need a fleet of limousines and whatnot.

I don’t think there would be a single answer to this, since they’re all individuals and we can’t actually know for sure what they’re thinking or believing, but I would suggest two general models may be in play:

-Fraudulent from the very start:
Basically a scam artist that sets out to fleece people; doesn’t believe what he/she is saying, but knows how to play the game and look convincing.

-Sincere at the start, corrupted later:
Starts out as an ordinary pastor in a ‘ministry’ that grows into the public eye; probably believes sincerely and strongly at the start, but as things snowball, money and control over people (i.e. the audience/congregation) corrupt the motives. Belief possibly persists throughout, protected by a layer of denial, but becomes less of a focus as the thing progresses.

(the above of course assumes that sincere belief in a religion isn’t in itself fraudulent)

I’d add 2 more categories :

Sincere and fraudulent, at the same time.
The sort of person who, say, performs fake healing because he feels that they promote faith in god, and that anything is justified if it promotes faith in God. The sort of person who’ll fake miracles because he fears the lack of them will hurt faith in God, and it’s not really fraud because he’s convincing people of the Truth, no matter the method.

Sincere and predatory.
The sort of person who thinks that wealth and success are a sign of God’s favor, and that if something bad happens to you it’s because God doesn’t like you. The sort of person who’ll cheerfully lie, cheat and steal all the while sincerely convinced that it’s perfectly moral because he’s God’s favored.

I’m not sure that your second category is at all common in the wild, but agree in principle that both you have described are possible. The first one is, as I’m sure you know, a variation on the theme of Plato’s Noble Lie.

How do you tell the fraudulent from the legit?

More basic: How can you tell what anyone believes?

If he says he has a special connection to gid, and he needs your money he is a fraud,
One Sunday morn I was flipping through the TV channels and caught a preacher in a really nice red outfit selling blessed rubber bands. Only 25 bucks apiece.

In some cases, there’s fairly straightforward evidence of fraud (e.g. Peter Popoff’s claim to receive by “divine knowledge” information that was actually being relayed to him via radio by his wife and “healings” of people who could walk perfectly well and were placed in wheelchairs to imply otherwise).

Well, there’s also the whole question of how you define ‘fraudulent’ (hence my qualifier in post #3) - I’m sure there are those who would say that religion as a whole is fraudulent, therefore even those sincerely ministering it are still perpetrating fraud.

Although I have never known of anyone performing fake miracles for money, I think I’ve occasionally encountered the mindset you describe, sadly. But in my experience it’s been enormously the exception.

Even so, on 7th March 2007 at 16.00 GMT, I tentatively agreed with something Der Trihs said about religion. Bear ye witness!

It’s a mindset i’ve seen before, but I wouldn’t limit it to televangelists (not that anyone else is either). The belief that it’s ok to lie or conceal (or simply not mention) some things in order to get someone to accept a greater truth seems pretty common to me, albeit in a range of acceptability. After all, how often do campaigning groups send out their position arguments and also say “There are of course arguments to be made against our point”? There’s a difference between not mentioning and actual lying, but I think it’s all part of the same range.

I wouldn’t believe someone who claimed a special connection to gid either. He’s a notorious trickster.

Even I, a fairly hard athiest, believe that 90%+ of the clergy legitimately believe what they are teaching and if it is incorrect, they are unaware of its fraudulent nature, making them pretty much excused for their crimes as far as I am concerned.

It’s not a part if my regular diet, but occasionally I find myself watching one of these critters. As soon as they start babbling about “my ministry” — as almost all of them do — the fraud alarm goes off. Especially since the above phrase is usually coupled with “support” (“I need you to support my ministry with your generous love offerings so I can reach more lost sheep and guide them to The Truth”).

It could be worse. They could be claiming a special connection to git.

I actually don’t think you’re right on the first one, Der Trihs. There are people like that but I think it’s rare for televangelists. At least the particularly bad ones. If they are like that I would say they’re not working to promote faith in God for God’s sake, but they’d lie to promote faith in God in order to promote themselves.
I think I see signs of what you’re talking about in some prominent Christians, but not the televangelists.

Your second one could be combined with Mangetout’s second one. They start out sincere and more or less well-meaning, but become successful and rich. They see this success as a sign of God’s favor and become corrupt.
Unless there are some who start out thinking something like “God wants me to be rich, so I’m going to do that no matter the cost!” Those people are sociopaths and thankfully a minority of the population. I would say it’s unlikely that any major televangelists are like that.

I don’t have data for any of this, I’m just adding my thoughts to the mix.

And honestly, does it really matter if they do or not?

They’re all fraudulent. Some of them just aren’t aware of it. And yes, fraudulent televangelists [can] believe in mythological omnipotent beings.

Fraudulent televangelists.

Isn’t that term redundant?

That’s a little like the old joke:

What’s the difference between Pro Wrestling (or is it Wrasslin?) and TV Evangelism?

Wrasslin’s for real

See, I told ya.