So about a week ago this church sent my apartment a picture in the mail of Jesus. Apparently it's called a Prayer Rug and it comes from some Christian church in Tulsa which is no more credible than your average televangelist.
The prayer rug is a folded up paper that looks like this:
With it comes an attached paper that asks for money in return for blessings:
(click to make larger)
Now I am not joking. I realize I stole these images from another website - but these are exactly what was enclosed in our packet. The idea is that Joe Idiot takes out the Jesus rug and places is down on the ground, kneeling on it and praying while staring into the eyes of Jesus. After a while, if you do this under the right lighting conditions your eyes will focus on the faint discoloration in the shape of an iris in Jesus's eyes and it appears that Christ has opened his eyes to you. It is as if somehow, some miracle has occurred to cause this photo to change and Christ is now listening to you. Naturally the next step here is to send them money, because obviously Christ, who owns our world, needs money if you want him to bless you.
Now what really happens is that if you stare at the dot for long enough it induces fatigue in your eyes and you don't notice the bright colors as well making the already drawn in faint "eyes" of Christ appear to you. In fact, if you scan this image into your computer and mess with the light values it becomes even more apparant.
With dropped light values:
Joe Idiot then fills out this paper and sends it off to Tulsa with a check for X dollars and the scam artists (who may or may not truly believe in this prayer rug) get some money so they can in turn send more prayer rugs to more idiots and in all likelihood take an untaxed cut off for themselves since it is hard work spreading the word of God via mail. Assholes.
There are reasons why so many people dislike organized religion and this is one of them. The religion I somewhat follow, while being far from a scam and in general being a good organization which is responsible with its money, actually does something similar.
I won't go into too much detail as I realize that simply saying this will piss off a lot of people and I will admit that this is quite a stretch, but you are told that you must marry in the temple and do temple work to achieve the ultimate afterlife. To gain entrance to this temple you must, among other things, be a full tithing payer. This means that 10% of your net income must be donated to your church. Now while this money is not used to pay church leaders and is used for construction and maintainence of buildings as well as humanitarian causes, is requiring that you donate 10% of your income in order for the opportunity to be immortalized as a God a very christ-like teaching?
Yeah sure, the prayer rug is a scam where the LDS religion is an organization which helps many people, but the basis of the idea of, "give us money for something in return which you may or may not notice" is the same. I suppose to some people sending money off somewhere with the hope that you'll somehow receive money in return seems like a sound idea. I wear a blue shirt when the Aggies play and I know I'm wrong, but somewhere deep down I think it effects the outcome of the game.
I feel bad for the people who this St. Matthews Church preys upon and takes money from in return for prayer. If you believe in Christ and the power of prayer, why the hell do you need to pay someone to pray for you anyway? Why can't you just pray yourself? In my opinion (though when speaking opinions of a deity who knows what is right) it's more meaningful if it does come from you rather than someone you paid. However using the scam photo that appears like Jesus is staring into your soul really tricks a lot of dumb people, and yes, there are a lot of dumb people in the world. These people are evil and assuming a hell exists, I imagine they'll be sending a lot of packages out once they get there too.
However maybe I'm the dumb person and I am 100% wrong. Maybe had I sent money to the Jesus Rug people instead of laughing when my roommate's girlfriend accidentally tore the poster I would be a millionaire by now. Hell, maybe the Aggies would have beat Kansas State had I worn my hat that day.