A while back, I wrote about a particularly evil scam being perpetrated in the name of faith and religion (see “Shameless“). The scam works this way: Our friend “Dr.” Coontz appears on television in a prerecorded infomercial-style program, urging you to plant “seed faith” money to help spread the gospel, and in return, you’ll be blessed with an end to your financial problems. But you have to act quickly! The good doctor gives you a specific time frame within which you must call and pledge money, or you will not be eligible for the blessings.
I just received the following rather heartbreaking comment on my blog that explains further how the scam works:
I am one of those naive people that believe that if I gave money ($100), God would get me out of debt and that all the blessings of God would get me out of the mess I was in; unfortunately, 6 hours after I gave $100, I received a telephone call from Dr Todd Coonitz saying that I did not take advantage of $130 seed faith pledge and that I was disobedient to God. I have tried to get my money back, but they refused to give back money donated to Rock Wealth.
I know, many people might say that this person should have known better and shouldn’t have been taken in so easily. But, as I said in my earlier post, this guy is preying on people’s faith, and a lot of people have a great deal of faith, both in God and in religious leaders. Most religious leaders I have known would not betray that kind of trust, but unfortunately many will. (And I will add the same disclaimer I did before: I gave 10%-plus of my gross income to a religion for 40 years, so I’m hardly one to claim a higher moral or intellectual position than my commenter.)
I will give Todd Coontz one thing: he is completely transparent in his goal, which is to collect money from you. He doesn’t make any grand claims of building churches, feeding the hungry, or sheltering the homeless. His only promise is simple: “Send me money, and your financial problems will disappear.”
Now we know what happens when you send him money: he tells you it wasn’t enough, that you didn’t have enough faith, didn’t obey absolutely. (For some reason, I know have that song from The Cure stuck in my head: “Whatever I do is never enough.”) This approach isn’t exclusive to Rock Wealth Ministries (it takes real balls, by the way, to call yourself a “wealth ministry.”) In my religion, if you didn’t get blessings, didn’t receive a witness of the Book of Mormon, or any number of things you didn’t achieve, it was your fault: you didn’t have enough faith, you weren’t diligent enough, you weren’t humble, submissive, and prayerful enough.
And so it is with Todd Coontz. I know it must be a character flaw, but I cannot imagine preying on people like that. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live with myself. But he does, and quite comfortably, so it seems. And I’ll bet he sleeps well at night.
For another update on the good “doctor,” see “Tod’s Triple Favor?“
Just a note for newcomers: I’ve started a new feature called “Ask a Mormon Apostate” for those who want fair and honest answers about Mormonism. If you have a question about Mormonism you’d like answered, please email me at email@example.com with the subject line: “Ask a Mormon Apostate.” Thanks!