The Most Brazen and Bizarre Swindle

The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to operate on the Fairness Doctine which states that any two-sided issues of public concern deserve a balanced airing. Incredibly, the FCC has ruled that this doctrine does not apply to religious programming. 

With that kind of protection, many radio and TV mercenary preachers can get by with anything...you name it. They are not only a public nuisance, they can scare the socks off of some peaceful believers with their interpretation of the Bible. Few programs are aired to adjust these view, to debate issues, or to admit criticism. 

Years ago, when TV was in its in infancy. Oral Roberts and his shake-down men settled in Spokane for a stay. Roberts’ circus-size tent was full of curiosity seekers, and those expecting magic help. When the show ran its course. I went to see Rev. Ashenbrenner of the St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church. Fie stated, as far as he could tell, a good 10 percent of his congregation contribute to that guy who claimed at that time to have a ‘hot hand' that sometimes glows, (his very own words) and that it was chuck full of the Lord’s healing powers. [*]

Not too long ago an old lady in Spokane was robbing herself poor by sending a lot of her Social Security money to a number of begging media preachers. She also sent for a healing cloth, and some special charged up spiritual oils. A Unitarian friend of hers contacted a minister of her past faith. With the pastor’s visitations, she was rescued from those legalized crooks. All this semi-invalid lady needed was some personal fellowship to bring back her old standard religion. 

There is nothing new about these parasites milking the faithful, and the born-againers dry. Their system of operation is as old as the hills. For example, let’s go back to the era of 1915 when the most brazen and bizarre swindle ever hit Lincoln County. A daring and heartless guy by the name of Peterson set up a boiler room factory in Seattle. At that time, airplanes were just getting to the point of being able to fly. This gave Peterson’s fertile mind an idea. “Why not come out with a perpetual motion machine that would fly by faith?” He then built a model consisting of wheels that sort of balanced themselves on racks: Something like that song, “The big wheel runs by the grace of God and the little wheel runs by faith.” 

The swindler called his gismo “The Peterson Invention.” He claimed he had a hot line to Heaven. . .something like Noah had going with the Lord. The powers above told Peterson to build scads of these no-energy flying machines. Sinless guys were to fly these rigs all over the world to scatter leaflets with messages of salvation. It was supposed to have been the only way to warn all the heathens, and nations with the wrong religion to get on the right track before doomsday. 

Peterson sent salesmen throughout the Big Bend country, and other soft spots. Stock sold with the promise of $50.00 for each buck invested. If you chickened out and wanted your money back, you were condemned of having no faith, and could get in trouble with the Lord. 

Stocks did sell at an embarrassing rate in Lincoln County. Somewhere along the line, Peterson overstepped his built-in religious protection, and the law moved in on him. When they did. Peterson got wind of it, picked up all his ill-gotten money, and beat it to Sweden. 

My Aunt Wilhelmine was born in a log cabin near Edwall. Throughout her teen years she was nurtured on a low key but stable religion. Later, as a matured lady of attractive quality, she moved to Seattle and started running around with the more souped-up religious groups. 

Wilhelmine then met Peterson, and was turned on by his silver tongue. It wasn’t long before she married his son. But when her daddy-in-law set up a hide-a-way camp on foreign soil, it left the family coffers empty. She divorced Junior. Later Wilhelmine married a guy who didn't have much faith, and had to start up from scratch. 

"All Is Fair In Religion" Kik-Backs, page 86

*I removed a short paragraph about Billy Graham. Having been involved in one of his crusades, I felt Walt's criticism, though reasonable, was short-sighted. (PK)

"The Peterson Invention" - I have not been able to find any documentation about this story. (PK)

Walt Kik
"She divorced Junior."
Seattle Daily Times - Nov 11, 1919

Walt Kik

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