Religious letter draws controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Religious letter draws controversy

The letter asks you to stare closely at a picture of Jesus.

When you see the eyes open...JESUS is looking back at you and a blessing is on the way.

Jim Barnwell with Bellevue Baptist Church says, "I recommend people throw it away..!"

Bellevue Baptist Church's Jim Barnwell got one of the letters.

He says the suggestion that you should send back a gift - bears a strong resemblance to a direct mail scheme.

Barnwell continues, "Prayer is not for sale and the Bible doesn't say that anywhere...!"

A group called the Saint Matthew's Churches has mailed out millions of the letters.

Included with the letter are pictures of people who supposedly sent back money and were blessed with everything from improved health, to new jobs, to thousands of dollars in cash.

"Trinity Foundation" has been investigating the letters. By phone from Dallas the founder of the foundation cautioned anyone who might get one.

Barnwell continues, "Well its just garbage, they are designed to toke advantage of the poorest neediest people in our community."

Anthony says the church is based in Tulsa Oklahoma and is headed up by Reverend James Eugene.

Anthony maintains that Reverend Eugene has become rich off the letters. But he says many of the people who sent the church money - now regret that they did.

Barnwell continues, "You name it - they promised healing and didn't get healing, they promised all kinds of wealth and didn't get wealth..."

As for the picture looking back at you -Bellevue's Barnwell calls it an optical illusion - not from God but from from a controversial church with questionable practices.

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