Yesterday while I was driving home, I got a call from a phone number I didn’t recognize. Caller ID told me that the number, 425-448-5215, was from Kirkland WA, so there was a chance it was a call I wanted and I answered. I was greeted by this recording:
Hello, this is the Hope and Prayer Center Ministry, calling today to see if you need urgent prayer. If you would like to have someone from our center pray for you please press one. If you would like to no longer hear from this place, press 3.
Hmmm, I thought to myself. Do I need urgent prayer? A quick glance around the car made me doubt that I did. I had apple slices and a half-full venti iced tea from Starbucks, so my nutritional needs were met. It was a sunny beautiful evening so I was able to have the window down as I poked along in traffic, and my car has heated seats so my back felt nice. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t have minded being able to part the traffic the way Moses parted the Red Sea (totally had to check Google to make sure I was right about it being Moses who did that) so that I could drive straight home instead of being tailgated by some angry soccer mom in a Toyota Sienna. That would’ve been cool. But, is that a misuse of an offer of urgent prayers? I suspected that indeed it was.
I am far from a religious person. I don’t care if other people want to pray or believe in that kind of stuff, but it’s just not for me. Over the years,expressing this view has led to people I don’t particularly like anyway informing me that they will pray for me to have a change of heart so that I will think like them, even though I’m perfectly fine with thinking the way I already do. I supposed that maybe the Hope and Prayer Center Ministry would think I need urgent prayers to soften my cold godless heart so that I can accept their lord and savior before I meet an untimely death, especially since there was every possibility that the car in front of me could check up and I could then be run over by the soccer mom in the Sienna when she didn’t have time to stop due to being about six millimeters from my rear bumper. But, because it was an automated call instead of a live person, I could not ask them if they sensed that I was both a heathen and in mortal danger and if that was what prompted them to call me for a last-ditch effort to save my soul.
Then I began to wonder if the call was even really from the Hope and Prayer Center Ministry, because if it truly was, why would their opt-out message say “If you no longer want to hear from this place, press 3” instead of something like “To decline this offer of urgent prayers and instead go straight to hell, press 3”? Like, at least drive home what the consequences will be if I don’t press 1!
Admittedly, I forgot about the call pretty quickly once it ended and I resumed listening to podcasts for the remainder of my drive, but I remembered today when I checked my phone’s call log after noticing that I had a missed call (it was not from anyone else who wanted to pray for me). I googled 425-448-5215 and found that the Hope and Prayer Center Ministry is actually a big ol’ scam (gasp!! God, how could you allow this??) and if you press 1, you then start getting subsequent calls asking for donations to the prayer center. There are even pending lawsuits against the leader of the organization, a dude named Prophet Manasseh Jordan. I looked him up on Facebook and found that he has a nice little flock of sheep that seems to be comprised of Trump supporters who love Jesus and can’t spell. The comments on his posts are a mix of people who love his messages and people who are pissed off that they keep getting phone calls and emails hitting them up for money, and I actually think those people are the dumbest of all for actually thinking to themselves, Yes sirree, I do need me some urgent prayers! and pressing 1 and then being shocked when the whole thing is just a way to then hit them up for money. I would really love to know if they are the same people who stuff that collection basket full of crisp bills every Sunday, or tithe 10% of their income to their churches, because I’m betting they are and I find it hilarious that they see no difference between hitting people up for money in a building and hitting them up for it on the phone. It all buys you into heaven the same, doesn’t it?
I did press 3 so I wouldn’t hear from “this place” again, and I blocked the phone number for good measure to ward off any subsequent offers for the finest prayers money can buy. And if my views on organized religion have pissed you off just know that you can call the Hope and Prayer Center Ministry and they’ll pray for me for the low introductory price of $147.