Apr 19, 2012

Beware of Spiritual Leaders in Orange Jumpsuits

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

You can put religious abusers in prison but you just can't shut them up!!!

Child molester and polygamist Warren Jeffs recently had his phone privileges restored so that he can continue to inspire his flock with "divine revelations." He had previously lost that right amid charges that he flouted rules confining his phone calls to a list of approved family members by being put on speaker phone to address his congregation directly. Despite his incarceration Jeffs seems to be finding ways to call the shots, punishing over a thousand church members by taking away their church-going privileges and even possibly taking away their wives and children.

With or without his phone privileges, Jeffs is getting his message out, having mass mailed a real barn burner to political leaders.

“Let all peoples bow the knee, confessing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Jehovah Christ Ahman Holy Lord over all peoples. Amen,” he wrote.

The revelation, dated March 17, promised floods, winds, earthquakes, disease and other destruction if people refused to repent.

Well, that's a pretty safe bet, considering that those are things are always happening somewhere in the world. What really would have been cool is if all those world leaders had dropped to their knees at the appointed time and all disease and natural disasters had stopped. Then I might have been impressed.

Also making crazy, unprovable promises from the inside of a cell is James Arthur Ray. A tip of the hat to Connie Joy who is still receiving email pitches from the incarcerated sweat lodge killer. And it's the same old snake-oil.

Pitchman James Arthur Ray, imprisoned for the deaths of three people at a sweat-lodge ceremony, is selling a 14-CD set by email that he promises "will literally reprogram your mind for success."

I'm certainly no fan of the Think and Grow Rich canon. I don't believe in panaceas. But even if I did, I wouldn't be taking advice on how to think my way to success from someone who law of attracted himself a gruesome death scene and a homicide conviction.

Like Jeffs, Ray is constrained from preaching and pitching directly but, also like Jeffs, he still has minions to do the heavy lifting for him.

Ray could not have sent the email himself because he doesn't have Internet access, Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said.

However, there's nothing to prevent him from having associates on the outside send emails on his behalf, Lamoreaux said.

Adding to the dark hilarity of an incarcerated, broke, wealth guru hawking a success program from behind bars is his partner in crime Kevin Trudeau. Yes, that's right. The CD program Ray is selling is Trudeau's "Your Wish is Your Command." Cosmic Connie has some of the latest on Trudeau, who is no stranger to prison walls himself. As per the whirling muse, Trudeau's latest gambit is something called GIN (Global Information Network) events.

Get it? GIN, jinn, djinn, genie... "your wish is" blah, blah, blah. It's more of the "law of attraction is just like a genie" absurdity from The Secret. It's like these people are deliberately trying to drive me batshit. There oughta be a law against such flagrant abuses of metaphor. (It doesn't help that I was recently thumbing through my collection of Matt Taibbi's take-downs of Tom Friedman. See here, here, here, aaaand here.) Anyway, my deconstruction of the genie as symbol of the universe giving you everything you want thing is here.

Here is Trudeau explaining his latest wishes as horses vehicle. I didn't get far before my gorge started to rise and I had to stop. But the unintentional humor is worth a peek.

Only a few minutes into this pretend interview, Trudeau makes a joke about a certain self-help author who wrote a book on how to be rich when he was bankrupt. He made his money by writing about making money. See? it's funny. Those who can do and those who can't teach, I guess. (Unless you're Trudeau. He actually knows what he's talking about because he's made money using these incredible law of attraction techniques.) But a bankrupt guy telling people how to become millionaires... ridiculous. Yet, somehow, Trudeau misses the obvious irony of a couple of convicted felons telling people how to law of attract themselves everything they wish for. And one of them is still behind bars! If Trudeau really wanted to write from experience it would be a tutorial on how to land yourself in a federal penitentiary... and how to be successfully sued by the FTC. It's an impressive resume.

Trudeau's activities have been the subject of both criminal and civil action. He was convicted of larceny and credit card fraud in the early 1990s, and in 1998 he was sued by U.S. Federal Trade Commission for making false or misleading claims in his infomercials promoting his book,'The Weight-Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About. In 2004, he settled that action, by agreeing to pay a $500,000 fine and consenting to a lifetime ban on promoting products other than his books via infomercials. [1] On Nov. 29, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $37.6 million fine levied against him for violating that 2004 settlement. Additionally, the appellate court upheld the requirement that he post a $2 million bond before engaging in future infomercial advertising, [2][3]

Now, don't get me wrong. Being in jail doesn't make you a bad person. There are people who are convicted unfairly. (Ahem.) There are prisoners of conscience. And there are certainly people who pay their debt to society and emerge as better people. What marks people like Warren Jeffs, James Ray, and Kevin Trudeau, is that they remain totally unrepentant and continue to see themselves as victims. Everything I do wrong is someone else's fault is indicative of sociopathy. Selling people the keys to success when your own pursuit of same has gotten you locked up, is a little like saying, "Hey, you gonna believe me or your lyin' eyes." It's not teaching. It's pathology.

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