This morning, I was flipping through the channels on the TV in our hospital room and happened upon a televangelist named Todd Coontz. Much to Jen’s chagrin, morbid curiosity compelled me to keep watching for the next fifteen minutes or so.
I don’t have high expectations for prosperity hucksters. But Coontz takes the cake.
Coontz’s schtick is pretty simple. God has given him a “prosperity annointing” and the minions who watch his show can participate in his annointing by sending him money (he calls this “sowing a seed of favor”). In return, he says, God will cause that seed to turn into much favor in your life.
What I think sets Coontz apart is the specificity of what he promises. People who send him money don’t have to sit around waiting for some ill-defined benefit to come their way. No sir. God will actually have people send them money. In other words, those seeds of favor will grow up into favor trees where people start sending you “seeds” of money so they can participate in your favor.
Sound familiar? When people make similar promises without invoking God or holding a Bible, it’s called a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. The few people at the top of the chain are stoked. Those at the bottom, not so much.
Lest you doubt the crassness of his message, consider Coontz’s so-called FedEx miracle. He recounted the story of back when he was some no-name schlub who just watched prosperity teachers on TV. Taking a “step of faith,” he sowed a $1,000 seed into one of their ministries (using his credit card, no less). What happened, you ask? People started FedExing him money! It got so common, he would get the shakes whenever he saw a FedEx truck!! Sadly, I’m not joking.
Not surprisingly, Coontz wanted the people watching the program to experience this kind of miracle by sending him money. He anticipated that an absurdly specific 1,189 people were going to send him a $1,000 seed.
The Hard Sell
At that point, I had pity for the suckers watching the show who actually were about to cut a check to Coontz. For those who were still on the fence, though, he had some further encouragement.
Coontz apparently believes (and probably with good reason) that the people who may be susceptible to his pitch are the same people who buy things from infomercials. The end of nearly every infomercial includes an appeal to ACT NOW! because the next 100 callers will get TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!
Coontz offered similar enticements for those who would act quickly in sowing their $1,000 seeds. For the first time ever (!), he was entering into a “covenant” for (i.e., promising) financial blessings in the next 72 hours! And his “annointing” was experiencing some sort of surge such that they could expect TRIPLE FAVOR!!
Having set out the carrot, Coontz then pulled out the stick for some more motivation. One way people could miss out on the expected blessing? Waiting too long to decide to send him money, of course. Don’t delay EVEN FOR A MOMENT! Quickly, go to the phone and plant your $1,000 seed!
You might think this would be a short-lived scam. What, for example, if some lady sent in her $1,000 seed a few months ago, but her finances continued to decline in the meantime? Not to worry — Coontz had a message for her, too. Those were just “dormant” seeds. Seeds can go dormant, he suggested, by letting logic get in the way of faith. (Don’t trust that brain God gave you! Keep giving me money!! ) Sowing a new $1,000 seed will reactivate those dormant seeds, and you’ll see a sevenfold return!