“Scamming the System”
A pastor is on a train surrounded by pickpockets and petty thieves. “How do you justify stealing?” the pastor asks incredulously. A pickpocket replies, “If people don’t know how to pro- tect their things, they deserve to be parted from them.” He then explains the “clever ways” (scams) by which unexpecting victims are separated from their money and property.
Psychologists call such justifications “rationalization, a very human strategy. Rationalization is the process of explaining away one’s behavior, especially when the behavior is inappropriate, im- moral, or unethical. The question always is, “Are they trying to convince me?” or “Are they try-
ing to convince and excuse themselves?” Rationalization often is self-deception, making us numb to the moral issues we violate.
Recently, our area churches have been targeted by scams. People receive an email from their pastor, directly or through social media. The pastor asks them to donate money (or, better yet, “gift cards”) to help destitute people. There may be the claim (but not always) the church has an emergency fund which the pastor cannot access now … you will be reimbursed. What people don’t realize, is the Pastor’s email address is altered by one number or letter – – it looks convincing! Peo- ple who run scams love the joy of “scamming the system”, the word ‘system’ being used to deper- sonalize the good-hearted souls whom they fleece.
Scam-artists recently targeted our Conference Minister and President, Rev. Gordon Rankin, and a local pastor in the Mount Washington Valley was targeted as well. The losses amount to thousands of dollars!
Jesus speaks of this sin in the Gospel of Mark,
“What Good is there in Gaining the World While Forfeiting your Soul?”
Rev. John Hughes
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Note: the ‘Brown Church’ will never ask for cash or gift cards in this way. We protect all moneys contributed and we are faithful to the “Spirit of the Gift”, making sure all contri- butions targeted are spent only for the purpose stated.