If you’re reading this, you probably know exactly what I’m going to write about, because if you’re reading this, you are on a computer, and you have an email account, and you receive spam. If you don’t (receive spam), then please, by all means, let me in on your secret.
I receive about 300 junk emails a day. Outlook does a good job of filtering out about 96% of them, but I still need to review my Junk Mail folder to see if some legitimate emails got caught in the net, which they occasionally do. It does reliably filter out all Christian spam, but for some reason today I decided to actually look at some of it. Perhaps there’s a post topic in there somewhere (he thought)?
Most Christian spam that I receive, probably a couple a day, is comprised of come-ons for variations on the theme “Christian Debt Removal”. I clicked on one likely suspect, (the other one I tried simply sent me to a site asking me to insert my email address to “unsubscribe”, apparently from an unidentified site I had previously subscribed to. Yea, right. I was born at night, but not last night. I clicked the exit button.) and found myself on a site that proclaimed “Eliminate 50% of your debt today!”. With a number of Christian icons interspersed through the pages of the site, it appears to be an organization dedicated to helping Christian people who get behind on their debts, primarily those that don’t know how to say no to those ubiquitous credit card solicitations that come in snail mail. If your debt consists of mortgages or car loans, forget it, they can’t help. But if you are overwhelmed by credit cards, unsecured loans or medical bills, they’re on it.
To get your religious sensibilities in the mood, there are quotes from the Bible:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. Romans 13:8
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
which seem to be designed to reinforce the Christian notion that it’s un-Christianlike to even be in debt in the first place.
Even with the biblical quotes, crosses, and doves bearing olive branches, so far I see no real problem with the site, other than the Contact page asking for my name, email address, and phone number. Thankfully, they don’t ask for my Social Security #. I have no plans to give them any information, I’m just looking for something good for this post.
However, at this point, if you’re like me, you ask yourself the question, “Yes, but why Christian debt removal? Why not simply debt removal? ” Call yourself the Acme Debt Removal Company, and get Wiley E. Coyote on the job of helping these people. What makes the prefix “Christian” affixed to the name of the service all that special?
A little digging and voila’, this seems to hint at an answer:
A majority of churches in the U.S. are struggling financially because their members are struggling financially. Titheing (sic) (giving the church 10% of your income each week or month) is done by approximately only 20% of a church’s members. Unfortunately there are very few non-profit organizations available to people who want to get out of debt – but we are one those organizations!
Notice the obvious connection between the second and third sentence? No? Neither did I.
Now this must tug at the sacred heart strings of the intended
victims future clients. Tithing? What does tithing have to do with your debt problems? Well, call me a cynic, but apparently it has a lot to do with why they want to help you retain a larger portion of your net income – so that you’ll be able to tithe. And if you tithe, the church gets —- your money. Better them than those god-forsaken creditors, yessiree. You know, the ones you agreed to repay, in writing, on a stack of Bibles no less, when you bought that waterbed?
You might say to this “Well, they say they are a non-profit organization. Why would they care? They get nothing out of it, don’t they?” Let’s look a little deeper. On the FAQ page they refer to their non-profit status.
Due to the fact that ChristianDebtRemover.org works with non-profit organizations, we do not charge any fees for our services. The debt counseling agency that we refer will provide you with a FREE quote and FREE analysis of your debt situation with NO OBLIGATION.
So it’s not really a non-profit organization after all, it “works” with non-profit organizations who will simply analyze your debt and give you a free quote. (Quick! What’s the most common non-profit organization in the US? Hint: There’s one on every street corner. No fair, you’re an atheist, I’ll go ask a Christian. He’ll be predisposed to screw up a trick question.) But non-Christian services offer the exact same services, and many of them are non-profit. Just Google, and you’ll see. So what’s the big deal about Christian services that do the same thing?
I suspect – nothing. At best, it probably makes Christians feel a little more comfortable when they use the service, knowing they are among their own kind when they slip their money from their wallets. It could be harmless. But if it is a truly neutral designation, then why designate it at all? And why resort to spam to advertise their services? Do they know something I don’t about the gullibility of Christians and their susceptibility to flim-flam schemes? Hmmm.
To be on the safe side, I wouldn’t pick a service just because they use the word “Christian” in their name. As I said, call me cynical, (OK, call me an atheist, too) but it seems to me that it’s nothing but a sham to get Christians to use their service, so that they have more money to give to their church. Your mileage may vary.
Next Week, Christian dating services.
Christian Debt Removal slogan:
Render therefore unto Caesar the cash which is Caesar’s; and unto God, dba/CDR, all the rest.
Interesting post. Maybe I’m just thick, but who exactly is directly benefiting monetarily from this service? Are the churches employing this ‘middle man’ to assist their broke congregation? Or, is the “non-profit” agency a separate subsidiary of the debt counseling agency? Someone is spending money and someone is taking it. Clearly this is not an altruistic endeavor.
No matter what the case, shame on everyone involved right down to the naive consumer falling for the bait of bible verses and Jesus clip art.
Your guess is as good as mine. I would guess the companies who own the credit services, but ultimately, it’s probably just a well placed, yet slimy, marketing choice on their part. I’m sure the fees are no less than other companies not using the Christian ploy, and most likely are higher.
I think it’s kind of despicable to use someone’s religious beliefs in order to sell your services to them, but this is America, and we are a capitalistic country, where all’s fair in love, war and business, subject to SEC regulations, or course. 🙂
But in the end, I don’t know.
Yes, “slimy,” but brilliant at the same time. The comedian, Bill Hicks (deceased) would have had a field day with this marketing ploy. Are you familiar with Bill Hicks? Cynical, angry man but he sure did hit the nail on the head. Check him out some cold, rainy Sunday morning.
My secret–Gmail 🙂
Agreed with blue, Gmail is great for avoiding junk mail. Also make sure your e-mail is quite unique, and not just @hotmail.com. I’ve had my e-mail name for 5-6 years, and only recieved about 2 pieces of junk mail since I gave up hotmail.
But about the post: They’re probably just trying to cash in on Christianity. I’m sure there are plenty of Christians out there who would take one service over the other, merely because it had some religious reference to them. A clever marketing ploy, perhaps?
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I can’t comment on the legitimacy of Christian spam, altho as a born-againer, I might have to agree with the question you asked, “And why resort to spam to advertise their services?”
I can, however, speak to the benefits of tithing. My wife and I have been faithfully tithing now for a few years. I’ve been doing it with my own money years before that. And after all these years I can say this: God has met my/our needs, consistently.
Granted, I manage our money wisely, saving and investing and not spending above our means. But even so, in addition to income taxes we part with an additional ~11% of our income for what we believe are God’s purposes. And we’ve yet to miss the money.
But even as a Christian, I do not trust something or someone just because they label themselves Christian. Or quote Bible verses. Or try to sound “holy” with one phrase or another. Jesus said that you may know a tree by the fruit it bears.
Certainly phonies and hypocrites do nothing to enhance the image of Christians among our enemies and ideological opponents. But the fair-minded will know the difference and discern accordingly, not lumping all of us under one negative umbrella.
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