February 7, 2005

Prayer Rug From Heck

So, I got this prayer rug in the mail the other day.

Yeah. Well, it was sent “to resident” but I still feel it was personally meant for me.

It came in an envelope with all sorts of instructions and blessings and pictures of people who have benefited from the POWA OF THE PRAYER RUG. I won’t bore you with all the details, but basically if I pray on the rug, Jesus’ eyes will stare into my soul and I will win one of the fabulous prizes listed on the information. You can actually check off the prize you want. I can pray for such things as:

  • “A Better Job”
  • “A New Car”
  • “A Money Blessing”
  • “My Soul”
  • “Confusion In My Home”

The first few are attractive, but I’m really curious about the confusion one. Is it for confusion or agin it? I ain’t praying for that until I get more details.

The rug is about 11” by 17” and you can see the full surface of it in the upper right corner of this post. It would have a delightful “Shroud of Turin”-esque feel to it if it weren’t for the garish purple hue they’ve used. This violet visage is clearly only going to bolster the opinion of those who believe Jesus was some kind of visiting alien.

On the back of the rug, a shortened version of the instructions is printed:

“This Prayer Rug is Soaked with the Power of Prayer for you. Use it immediately, then please return it with your Prayer Needs Checked on our letter to you. It must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing after you use it. Prayer works. Expect God’s blessing.”

“Soaked” is a good way to put it, as anyone who falls for this scam is sure to get soaked. There is a postage-paid envelope for returning the prayer rug so that it can be passed on to the next hapless victim friend-in-need. You send it back with money, of course.

But what impressed me was this little trick. Printed in the whitespace at the bottom of the rug, some text instructs and informs us:

“Look into Jesus’ Eyes you will see they are closed. But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes. Then go and be alone and kneel on this Rug of Faith or touch it to both knees. Then please check your needs on our letter to you. Please return this Prayer Rug. Do not keep it.”

Could this rug truly look into my soul??! I had to know. Details follow in the extended entry…

I stared and stared at the purple Jesus face for a good few seconds. The longer I stared, the more Purple Jesus seemed to be sleeping. He was ignoring me so that he could take a nap on my time. Look, I was singled out to receive this prayer rug, you’d think I deserved a minute or two of attention. No?

Apparently not. As I stared at Purple Jesus, I came to an important realization. This was not the actual Jesus Christ Jesus. This was some imitation Jesus. And a poor imitation to be sure, because I’m pretty sure the Bible does not mention “purple” when describing the savior. I may have missed a passage or two, but I think that a verse like:

2 Corinthians 4:6 (Purple Version)

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Big Honkin’ Purple face of Jesus Christ.

…would stand out.

No, I checked the searchable Bible, and the only reference to “purple” is for yarn. No purple face of Jesus.

This epiphany made me a little bit angry. Now, I’m none too religious and I’m plenty irreverent. But a lot of people I like are serious about their religion and sincere. It’s pretty low to take advantage of that enthusiasm and belief to scam people out of their money.

Awash with anger, I turned back at the Purple Jesus, prepared to rebuke him. And then a startling thing happened. Purple Jesus was more powerful than I had expected, and he absorbed my anger, directing it back at me.

He came awake with red laser eyes. He immediately launched into a hideous chant, which we captured in an animated gif, but which was unrecordable by any known human technology. The words of the chant stunned me as he tried to soak me with the power of evil prayer!

I dodged left as a bolt of Purple Prayer narrowly missed me, hitting the ceiling and soaking a spot there with evil purpleness. We’d later discover that most cleansers were ineffective against this stain, although Simple Green did make it a little more blurry than before.

I struggled to get him back into the envelope, folding carefully so that his evil eye beams were turned inward like some Violet Self-Examination of Conscience. Thus contained, Purple Jesus is apparently harmless. We are pondering what to do with the envelope. “Burn it” is the first option that leaps to mind, but we are open to suggestions.

The words of the chant have already slipped from my mind with the ephemeral nature of a dream. Reading the lips of the animated gif, it might be something like “Ba-ba Baaaaaa-ba.” Could be “Robber Baaaa-ron.” I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have narrowly escaped the Cult of the Purple Jesus. What I wonder is why some Christians are so worried about what they see as attacks on the sanctity of marriage when scammers are apparently rampant in creating Purple Jesuses and such (who knows, maybe there are Red, Orange and Green Jesuses out there as well. Even a Plaid Jesus?) to bilk people of their cash.

Seems to me like that ought to be a higher priority. Using Jesus like that. Maybe religious chicanery is protected speech.

Thus ends my cautionary tale. If you meet the Purple Jesus on the road, kill him.

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Posted by James at February 7, 2005 8:08 AM
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I would trash it. Certainly do not send it back. These people are making money illicitly, if the rugs don't come back they have to buy more rugs.

Or, carefully dissect it into bits of fuzz and send it back as a big enevelope full of evil purple fluff.

Or cut off a piece and scorch it, then send it back with an angry letter saying that you were injured while using the Prayer Rug(tm) because God fired a bolt of lightning at it while you were praying. Inform them that they will be hearing from your lawyer.

Posted by: Chuck S. at February 7, 2005 10:49 AM

I always make sure to send back postage paid envelopes (usually empty sometimes with a nasty note, I somehow got on a list for President Dumbass and got a nice "autographed" photo of Laura and him which I drew horns and a Hitler moustace on and sent back) you should at least make them pay the 20 cents or whatever the postage costs.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at February 7, 2005 11:06 AM

Maybe we could send it back with some of those thousand-dollar checks you get in the mail. The kind that are a loan if you endorse them. Fight scam with scam.

BTW, Chuck, it's a paper purple prayer rug.

Posted by: Maggie at February 7, 2005 11:34 AM

Yes, I guess I failed to mention that the rug is made of the sort of paper that these mass mailings are usually made of.

I like Maggie's suggestion. Send them back a different scam.

Or, perhaps I could hold on to the rug and send them back a ransom note. I could give them geocoordinates and instruct them to leave $1,000 in 20 dollar bills in a rubbermaid container at the indicated location -- soaked with the power of prayer, of course.

Posted by: James at February 7, 2005 11:48 AM

Hee hee. I favor the scam with the scam idea. Definitely make them pay the postage. I think if more people did this, they might start to reconsider their tactics.

Ah, who am I kidding? There are far too many idiots out there who respond to this type of tactic for them to ever stop.

A paper rug? Seriously? That has to rank pretty high on the lame-o-meter. Perhaps you should send evil Jesus back and tell them that they have angered Jesus.

Posted by: briwei at February 7, 2005 1:17 PM

Maggie had told me about the rug, but she didn't tell me it was paper. Nor that it was such a convincing shade of purple.

I've been getting some religious junk mail lately... perhaps my own prayer rug is on the way.

I would like A Better Job but I am confused as to why I should send the rug back to the church with money. Supposedly, the reason is so that the rug can be forwarded to another home in need of a blessing. Why not cut out the middleman and do that myself? Then I can take my savings to the store and buy some Money-House-Blessing incense or prayer candle.

Posted by: Julie at February 7, 2005 1:33 PM

I blogged about a different purple Jesus a week ago. See the above link

Posted by: Mathias at February 7, 2005 3:03 PM

sorry here is the link Purple Seiu Jesus

Posted by: Mathias at February 7, 2005 3:05 PM

I got one of these too... we sent it back with some tortilla chips and raisins hoping that the person who gets it might have a snack, or that they might pass it along to someone who needs a snack.

Posted by: tracy at February 7, 2005 7:39 PM

I, too, have been blessed. But mine is more of a faded purple Jesus than a screaming purple Jesus. I saw the letter and hoped beyond hope that I had gotten one. Lynnea and Maya had no idea why I was so excited. "It's screaming purple Jesus!" I explained.

M wanted to know what he wanted. And then she complained "His eyes aren't open." We are trying to decide what to send back.

Posted by: briwei at February 8, 2005 1:25 AM

You're kidding, Brian. You just got one too?

Either this mailing is wider than wide (with an expense to match) or they are singling out coastal atheists and Jews.

Amazing. I almost feel like your family and ours are in some special club now.

Posted by: James at February 8, 2005 2:13 AM

Well, I was a little offended when I read that they're targeting "mainly the hardcore true believers who're poor, uneducated, and most vulnerable to promises of a financial reward for a demonstration of faith." (That's from StupidEvilBastard's website.)

But if you got one too, Brian, I feel a little better. They must be getting desperate.

Watch out for the laser eyes. We've called three cleaning companies in the area and as soon as they see the stain, they cross themselves, throw holy water on their steam cleaners, and run.

Posted by: Maggie at February 8, 2005 7:03 AM

LOL! I used James' fold him in on himself trick. He's been rendered harmless and put into an envelope until I can find another marketer to send him to.

We are a special club. We're the Screemin' Purples!

Posted by: briwei at February 8, 2005 2:23 PM

“Look into Jesus’ Eyes you will see they are closed. But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes."

So, did this thing come with a black light and/or a bag of weed?

Posted by: Patti M. at February 11, 2005 11:38 AM

No. It's energized by the pure purple power of prayer. You're soaking in it! Drugs would be redundant.

Posted by: James at February 11, 2005 12:20 PM

I like the idea of combatting a scam with a scam too.

But I might take it a step farther:

I might send back a letter saying that I want to send them $10,000 from my trust fund along with the rug because I'm just certain they're doing good work in the world.

But I'd add that I can't because before my parents passed on, they became concerned with my involvement in cults and made it a requirement that I come up with $1,000 in cash before I can withdraw any funds from the trust.

I'd beg them to send me the money so I can return the rug and get all my prayers answered.

I'd make it sincere, with plenty of typos, and tell them to hurry, because I want to return the rug so they can help others...


Posted by: P. Dodge at February 12, 2005 12:50 PM

I got one of these about a week ago. I opened it right before I was planning to sleep. Unfortunately their suggestion to sleep with it (under your mattress or pillow) seemed like a really scary proposition, and reminded me of the plot of one too many horror movies I've seen. I quickly put everything back in the envelope, making sure jesus couldn't see a thing of my messy room, and tossed it up on my dresser. I knew it was just a scam, (besides the obvious) because, haha, joke on them, they also sent one to apt 6. Now my building is one of a few in my complex that has no apt 6! So everytime some mass mailing goes out, I end up with my own junk, and everything addressed to the resident at the non-existent apt 6. As for them targeting atheists and Jews, I am neither. I'm not particularly religious but was baptised into my parents faith, (restoration) when I was 8. Poor, that I am, uneducated, maybe, but I consider self-education to pass for something. There is one thing I was that night, although it probably had nothing to do with why I might be targeted in this scam, and that was sleepless, knowing that just across my room, there was an evil purple jesus who could open his eyes at any moment, and take another's money.

Posted by: Anne at February 17, 2005 11:42 PM

Anne, you should count your lucky stars. Few people come so close to mortal danger and survive as you, I , Margaret and Brian have done.

Posted by: James at February 18, 2005 3:32 PM

I have sent my purple jesus out into the world to continue his work. He is tucked snugly in the envelope from the Discover card people. After I got their letter, I realized how unhappy they were and how in need of his power. I hope they appreciate the kindness I have done for them.

Posted by: briwei at February 19, 2005 2:47 PM

Good idea. I am wary of using the "St. Matthew's Churches" envelope to send stuff back to them without alteration, because it has my address on it. So, some editing would have to be in order.

Posted by: James at February 19, 2005 2:59 PM

I'm saving the rug for someone really special. I'm not sure who that is yet, but when that piece of mail comes along, I'll know it's time.

Today I sent Discover my Visa application (with my name ripped off) and vice-versa. I'm adding my new plastic "this is not a credit card" to my little pile that's going to the prayer rug folks, along with an invitation to a car dealership event. Nothing else in the pile yet, I'm trying to be selective. :-)

Posted by: Maggie at February 19, 2005 6:58 PM

Heh. I guess I'm too impatient. I'm sending the prayer rug people a flyer from University of Phoenix. I want them to better themselves. Of course, all the identifying info has been removed. And in the field they left for first and last name, I put Richard Hertz. Juvenile? Yes. That's kind of the point.

Posted by: briwei at February 19, 2005 9:56 PM

I, too, received one of these prayer rugs, and, by the way, Saint Matthew churches are listed as "non-profit". This means they do not have a fee for postage.

Posted by: jess at March 4, 2005 4:44 PM

Nonprofits do pay for postage. It is simply at a lower rate than the rest of us. See: Nonprofit Postage Rates courtesy of the USPS website.

Posted by: James at March 4, 2005 7:29 PM

I have one of those right in front of me...LOL
Anyone want it???? Just send a donation.
Toooo funny.
I really did get one yesterday.

Posted by: Gary at March 6, 2005 1:36 PM

I don't know what all this skepticism is for. I must admit, I was skeptical too, but the letter plainly says that St. Matthew's has been friends of Jesus for 54 years. I don't think Jesus would keep a friend around for half a century if that friend was scamming everyone.

Posted by: Rand at March 8, 2005 12:35 PM

If everyone who reads this would be so kind as to send me $37.45, I will cleanse your soul, and rid the world of all evil!

Posted by: Chippo at March 10, 2005 7:08 AM

My check is on its way.

Posted by: James at March 10, 2005 8:14 AM

Sorry, but I don't think soul cleansing and global evil removal is worth more that $10 per person...

Posted by: briwei at March 10, 2005 5:39 PM

I finally found the perfect item to send back to the prayer rug folks. Today they won a small packet of Heinz Ketchup.

Nobody has yet qualified to receive the prayer rug, however.

Posted by: Maggie at March 11, 2005 10:11 AM

Ah, the Post Office is going to love you, mailing a liquid that will gum up their machinery!

I hope your return address isn't on that envelope!

Posted by: Patti M. at March 11, 2005 11:42 AM

Any idea what you are looking for in a prayer rug recipient?

Posted by: briwei at March 11, 2005 5:24 PM

There's no return address! I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to launch a campaign to save me. The USPS will have noone to love but the dear church of being friends with jesus for 54 years.

Bri -- I really have no idea. I'm hoping that when the right item comes in the mail, I'll just know. You know, like when you meet that special someone. It just feels right.

Posted by: Maggie at March 11, 2005 5:52 PM

Hey, came home to one of these mailings today. I think they have gotten cheap on us, no paper prayer rug alas, just a strip of purple paper that is somehow a magic jesus bookmark or something. Too much BS in all those pages they sent, so I never did finish reading it. Anyway, I'm all for mailing them back all the junk they sent me, plus some. Just an FYI, 4 large washer fit really well in this postage paid by addresse envolope. This thing must be about a pound now. If they feel the need to share this stuff with me, then I'm going to share some of my stuff from home. I figure is this company **err** "church" is making so much money (ie, we are talking millions) that they can pay to bless my washers. Who knows, maybe the next magic jesus item they mail out will be blessed jesus washers. Anyway, make sure you tape the envolope up really well, wouldnt want to anger the USPS.

Posted by: Libby at March 29, 2005 11:27 PM

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