Archive for category Religion

I HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU…. about water

Here’s how Reverend Peter Popoff opened his first letter to me when I asked for a sample of his ‘miracle’ spring water:

‘Emma our prayer center received your phone call and I have been praying on you behalf non-stop ever since the operator gave me your name. Emma …, did I spell that correctly? When you called perhaps you thought it was by accident… I feel that A HIGHER POWER directed you to call. I HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU… SO PLEASE READ ON.

The opening line incorrectly states that I called a prayer center. (click to expand)

This apparently personal opening from ‘Petey’ was only slightly damaged by the assertion that I had called – I hadn’t, I’d actually filled out an email request form…

Still, nevermind, I’m sure Petey gets a lot of mail so we’ll let that one slide. After all, the letter does have lots of seemingly handwritten annotations – those must have taken him a long time. At least, that’s what I thought… until I received a second identical letter with the exact same ‘handwriting’ printed on it. Nevermind, Petey must be very, very busy.

Identical ‘handwritten’ additions to the Miracle Water letter (click to expand)

 

As you can see the letter is quite a tough read as it, like all of the letters I have received from him, is a complete horror show of CAPITALISATION and random bold text, but essentially the letter says that:

  1. I am going through some unspecified difficulty (money and/or health and/or relationships);

  2. God wants to help me with that;

  3. All I have to do is anoint myself with the miracle water;

  4. Send the empty packet back with my name on to Petey to show i’d done it;

  5. Oh and also send a £25 ‘seed gift’ to show my faith:

‘I am asking you to plant a a(his typo) Holy Consecrated Seed for a Great Harvest Offering of £25.00. NO, I don’t want you to send £45 or £105…No, SEND EXACTLY £25.00.

It is absolutely vital that I send this ‘seed’ money. This language conjures up the amusing image of Petey planning to literally plant this ‘seed’ in order to grow money trees for God to reward me with. Or, more realistically, an image of him planting seeds in order to grow  a tree-worth of paper to turn into lengthy and aggressively persistent letters requesting money to send to vulnerable and desperate people…It’s almost… almost, like Petey-the-Proven-Pretender is up to his old tricks again…

No way! I hear you uncritically cry. Surely no one would be so brazen?! Petey is a reformed man of God as can be seen by the many biblical quote smattered through each letter. Indeed he justifies this particular request for money using Luke 6:38:

‘According to St Luke 6:38… you MUST QUALIFY YOURSELF for a Supernatural Blessing… Yes, this this harvest of a great INCOME…’

There are also constant references to obedience – and speedy obedience at that:

After you use the Miracle Spring Water exactly as I direct take the small sticker and write your name on it and put it on the empty container. When I get it back I’ll know that you have acted in faith and followed the instructions of the man of God.’

Petey insists that I need to comply with his instructions as soon as possible so God can help me with the unspecified problem I have… and Petey speaks from experience:

‘..I have PERSONALLY overcome some of the same challenges you are now facing in my own life.’

Presumably a reference to his little earpiece faux pas…

The other really weird thing about the letter was the sheer volume of stuff it contained. The Miracle Water letter consists of a 4-page (pink, double-sided) letter, plus a second envelope containing the water itself as well as another 4 page note, which also had with it a sticker to attach to the empty water packet, and then a self-addressed pre-paid envelope in order to send the whole lot back to Petey (or at least to the PO Box address for Peter Popoff Ministries Ltd – which is PPM Ltd, PO Box 6279, London, W1A 6DN if you feel like sending him any correspondence).

Another thing about the composition of the letters is the sheer volume of them that Petey sends after a single prayer request. While I was still considering my first water letter with befuddled disbelief I received 3 more letters! This was without any response from me to the first one. Each of the letters were as voluminous as the first. These letters, however, didn’t contain water – they contained various other miracle items and… more requests for money.

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The contents of the first letter from Popoff (click to expand)

At the time I didn’t feel I could spare the £25 asked for in the original water letter, but I thought God would understand my circumstances, so I sent back the form back to Petey explaining it all, and enclosed in the envelope some copper coins that I had found so at least I had sown a little ‘seed’ for good measure. I fear that these coins were fairly weighty and may has caused Petey to incur additional postage costs-but I felt I needed to give something back and this was the very least I could do…

Speaking of money (as Petey almost constantly seems to be), for my whole series of posts about Petey’s letters I’m going to keep track of the amount of money he’s asked for using the patented ‘Popoff Plush Pad Pot’ totaliser. Not that I want to suggest that Petey has materialistic rather than spiritual motivations, of course…

Current Popoff Plush Pad Pot Total: £25.00.

So I now had four letters from Petey, and this was just the beginning…

Next time: A veritable slick of grimy-yet-godly Oil.


Potscript: As I mentioned in my first blog my dog Evie is now receiving letters from Petey. She has had three sent to her so far, in just over three weeks. Her Miracle Water letter states a miracle will occur for her on 19th April 2015 as long as she follows Petey’s instructions.

It seems odd that God would concern himself with the financial position of an admittedly-cute canine, but oh well, mysterious ways and all that. Obviously I am far, far too late to be able to use my miracle spring water to heal what ails me as I received my letters a few years ago – but for Evie, there is still hope. Therefore she has followed the instructions in Petey’s missive to the letter. Well, almost. As a dog she doesn’t actually have any money to send Petey… but we’ve managed to work something out, so i’ll keep you updated.

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Evie drinks her ‘Miracle’ water

Evie peruses her Popoff post

Evie peruses her Popoff post

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Peter Popoff – My Persistent Pen Pal

When I think about the great moments in skeptic history a few things spring to mind: the 10:23 campaign; The Australian Skeptics getting the Anti-Vaccination to change their name, getting Derek Acorah to channel the spirit of Kreed Kafer, things like that. Of course no list of great skeptical achievements would be complete without James Randi’s many famous stings, and particularly his investigation of the Reverend Peter Popoff in 1986.

Popoff appeared to be a miraculous faith healer with an accuracy rate that would make some well known stage psychics green with jealousy. Sensing something was afoot, Randi, using a radio scanner, discovered the somewhat un-messianic source of these amazingly accurate addresses and ailments: Popoff’s wife was reading off ‘prayer cards’ the audience had filled in before the show, and was passing the information to the Reverend by wireless earpiece. “Hello Petey can you hear me? If you can’t you’re in trouble”. Oh, for simpler and more innocent times, when stage psychics would use earpieces…

Peter Popoff's Miracle Spring Water

Peter Popoff’s Miracle Spring Water

This expose was shown on national news in the US. You would have thought that he would have retreated into embarrassed and disgraced obscurity. And indeed it was that poor Petey filed for bankruptcy in 1987. Hooray!

Except… except fortune favoured plucky Petey, and after his fall from grace he discovered a real, definitely-genuine miracle. As he has described on his show, he became acquainted with a priest from Pripyat (the town near Chernobyl. Yes that Chernobyl) who had prayed to god after the reactor meltdown and god had answered by turning the water in a lake near town into ‘miracle’ water that was free from radiation, safe to drink and had  healing and other wonderful properties.

So Petey dusted himself down and reinvented himself as a televangelist with TV shows on religious TV channels all over the world including the UK to tell everyone about this ‘miracle’. Now I say TV shows, what I really mean is ‘infomercials’ for this ‘miracle’ spring water which he offers viewers for free! Free! Good old Petey. Giving away his miracles for free. So selfless. So lovely. So not at all a way get around advertising rules because he isn’t technically selling something. Nope.

So of course when I first heard about this miracle water a few years ago I immediately filled out a request form on Petey’s website, and just a few weeks later my water arrived… along with a long, seemingly-personalised letter from the man himself! This sparked off a long and protracted correspondence between myself and Petey (and, more recently, my dog) which i’m going to tell you all about in my next few posts. Stay tuned!

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Christians are as Big a Threat as Climate Change Deniers

Franz Sørensen has claimed that Christians are as big a threat to humanity as climate change deniers.

In a conversation with the Priest-Chieftain last night, the Pagan comedian said: “Christians we might see as people like those who deny global warming.  You might defend their choice to believe that as freedom of speech – but if they are wrong, and people must die in combat to reach Valhalla, it could be disastrous for millions of people.

“Christianity is a threat to the salvation of millions,” he said.  “With no mighty warriors to help him, Odin won’t have a hope at Ragnarök!”

Sørensen told the Priest-Chieftain the viking people had given too much ground to this new fashionable ‘monotheism’.  He said: “There’s too much apologising – making concessions on things like, Thor throwing lightning bolts or Frigg being Odin’s wife.  Don’t give in to them!

“If you believe in the gods all bets are off.  Odin can throw Gungnir and never miss.  There’s a temptation to give a bit of ground to their ‘messiah’.  But if you believe the gods, why shouldn’t there be valkyries?”

“People call it ‘Thursday’ out of a sense of duty, so maybe goðar don’t have to try hard enough.”

Sørensen said that it was no longer fashionable to be a pagan. “In modern civilisation, it’s incredibly cool to be a monotheist.”

Read more at Chortle.co.uk.

Franz Sørensen is currently appearing in Only One God? You’re Kidding Right? at the Oslo Playhouse.

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A List of Skeptical Things…

People are always asking me what skepticism is. As this is a notoriously difficult question to answer accurately in a few words, I tend to mumble something incoherent and run away. The same goes for questions about what happens at Skeptics in The Pub events. Trying to dispel the notion that we simply get together for a few drinks and slag things off is difficult to do in casual conversation. Especially as Skeptics in The Pub does occasionally fit that description. I would rather never have to answer these sorts of questions at all. The problem is that at the same time, I do want to convey to people outside of our strange little world what it is exactly that we do, and why it interests me. Why do I go to skeptical events at all? What first grabbed  me and pulled me into this world that so many of my friends and family think is some kind of science cult for the culturally depressed? Read the rest of this entry »

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God, Japan and the Meaning of Life

The following article previously appeared as a segment on episode #042 of our podcast ‘Skeptics with a K’. Subscribe via iTunes

On Friday 11 March 2011, a dreadful earthquake struck Japan.

The scale of the disaster was shocking and disturbing.  Perhaps equally disturbing, however, were the messages which appeared on Facebook and twitter in the aftermath of the earthquake, suggesting it was ‘payback’ or some kind of karmic reaction to the Japanese alliance with Nazi germany during World War II. Specifically, they claimed, it was due to the unprovoked Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

My initial response to this, and this is meant sincerely, is “fuck you, you obnoxious pig fucker”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Many Faces Of Jesus Christ

Definitely JC

Definitely JC

Here’s a classic staple skeptical game for you – ‘Where’s Jesus this week?‘ People with relatively good memories for this type of inane nonsense – and I assume at least 80% of you readers could well be in that category – may be aware of the fact that the Messiah has been popping up in some pretty unusual places of late. We all remember the classic cheese toastie, but who remembers where he was in 2006? Besides, you know, in the innocent laughter of every child, obviously.

That’s right – a terrier’s arse. The terrier, Angus, played host the the pareidolia-tastic depiction of the deity on his rump 4 years ago, but, it seems, being at the arse-end of a mutt wasn’t all it cracked up to be for our Lord and Saviour, and he’s recently been doing a tour of the kind of locations the Pope can expect to appear at if the UK government decide to withdraw the £100million his visit is purported to cost us. That’s £100million, or 10 years of state-funded homeopathy, if you like to think of it that way. (In other news, the government just cut a scheme which would help pay for the refurbishment of rundown schools in deprived areas. Just sayin’).

So, having put his days as a terrier’s anus well and truly, well, behind him, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear he’s moving up in the world – having been spotted adorning the drainpipe of Coventry couple Alex and Nick Cotton. No, not THE Nick Cotton, aka Nasty Nick Cotton from Eastenders. Although Jesus did like to hang around the worst of us, and from what I remember Nasty Nick was among the worst actors I’ve ever seen. But no, this Nick Cotton lives in Coventry, which might go some way towards explaining why he was in need of a visit from the Son of God. I hear Coventry’s pretty boring, the last thing of note to happen there being a bombing raid from the Lufftewaffe. Read the rest of this entry »

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