Jesus for Sale

Meet the real Rex Humbard, the father of televised religious fraud.

Rex Humbard Get religion!

It was the moment Rex Humbard had been waiting for — his final day of judgment, the moment he'd come face to face with the Lord he'd so passionately invoked for more than 60 years.

Since 1953, Humbard had appeared on television sets throughout the world, reaching more than 25 million viewers on over 2,000 stations in 92 languages. Always sporting a perfectly tailored three-piece suit and a well-coiffed do, he challenged faithful viewers, with his gap-toothed southern drawl, to consider their own day of divine scrutiny. How would they secure their place in heaven?

Now, at the age of 88, it was Humbard's turn to find out.

It was a balmy Friday in September. Humbard lay in his Florida nursing-home bed and announced, before slipping into death, that it was time. "He was ready," says Alma Robinson, a close friend. "It was his time to go home."

A week later, Humbard's body was returned to Akron, where he invented televangelism 54 years earlier.

More than 600 people attended his funeral, held under a billowing white tent in Stan Hywet Hall's meadow. Between sermons from televangelist Goliaths like Benny Hinn and Inspiration Network chairman David Cerullo, the air swelled with Humbard's favorite gospel hymns, from "Swing Down Chariot" to his ministry's theme song, "I Am Loved." "There wasn't a dry eye in the place," Robinson says.

As Rex's brother-in-law, the Reverend Wayne Jones, spoke, amens were hollered and arms were stretched to the air, palming the invisible. "Rex wasn't a complicated man," Jones said. "He simply loved people, and he wanted everybody to have that more abundant life that God wants them to have. Rex was a soul winner. The scripture says, 'He that winneth souls is wise.' Rex Humbard was one of the wisest men I've known, because his focus was on winning souls."

The media echoed that same touching sentiment. The Dayton Daily News noted that he "had come closer than any other human being in history . . . to preaching the Gospel in all the world." The Washington Post and The New York Times cited a 1999 U.S. News & World Report article that deemed Humbard one of the greatest architects of 20th-century America. Everyone recalled that he was Elvis' favorite preacher and officiated at the King's funeral in 1977. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial made sure to set Humbard apart from more controversial televangelists by extolling the fact that he "steered clear of political involvement."

Perhaps it was out of respect for the dead. Perhaps the papers feared a backlash from evangelical readers. Everyone seemed quick to lionize a great, fallen religious leader. But it was revisionist history at its best.

Though no one can argue the influence Humbard had on the world, his life can be reduced to little more than that of a business-savvy preacher, a man who elevated old-school religious fraud to shamelessly profitable heights, pioneering televangelism as a way to separate his flock from its money.

Here's the other story of Reverend Rex Humbard.

Long before Ernest Angley's bad toupee and Tammy Faye Bakker's puppet shows, evangelism was alive and well. For Humbard, it was a family business.

The son of a traveling evangelist, Humbard spent much of his life on the road. He pitched revival tents on dusty lots across the Bible Belt, acting as his father's business manager, co-host, and second in ecclesiastical command, living off the generosity of those touched by their fiery performances.

By his own admission, he always thought big, especially when it came to Jesus.

Once, while working in South Bend, Indiana, Humbard watched as Barnum & Bailey rolled into town. Inspired by the spectacle, Humbard gave his family's transient chapel a makeover, buying a $21,000 circus tent and dubbing their show the "Gospel Big Top."

"Now God finally had a tent as big as the Ringling Brothers," he wrote in his 1975 autobiography, To Tell the World. "And even bigger, really, because this Gospel Big Top would give people, instead of temporary entertainment, the key to eternal salvation."

Humbard also adopted the theatrical faith healing of preachers like Oral Roberts, who filled donation baskets by claiming to rid people of ailments that modern medicine couldn't cure.

"It was all carnival scams," says James Randi, author of The Faith Healers and a leading expert on the tricks of the trade. "My former manager worked for Roberts when he was 14 years old, touring around the country as one of his plants. He was paid to walk up to the altar in a pair of crutches and then run down the aisle, all straightened out. It was an absolute racket."

Humbard's Pentecostal performances were just as dramatic. As he zigzagged across the country, he steadily packed his canvas walls with promises of healing and salvation in "Jesus' love." But nothing compared to the crowds in Akron.

On a sweltering summer day in 1952, the Humbard family pitched their tent on the airport grounds. Before the Sunday sun rose, all 6,000 seats were filled and more people were waiting outside. They stood 25 circles deep around the tent, a total of 18,000 waiting patiently for God's greatest show on Earth. The 36-year-old Humbard had seen nothing like it.

At 7:30 a.m., the Humbard family took the stage. Rex's wife, Maude Aimee, sang tambourine-filled gospel, while he and his father took turns preaching soul-saving and demon-hating. They were joined by Kathryn Kuhlman, a notorious faith healer who claimed to heal everything from paralysis to cancer, but was often dismissed as little more than a magician on the take. For five hours, she preached before the Akron crowd, bringing the tent to a frenzied pitch with promises of divine rejuvenation.

But not everyone appreciated the Humbards' visit. Nearby residents complained about the noise, congestion, and poor sanitation (thanks to a lack of bathroom facilities). They took an instant dislike to the Humbards, dismissing them as little more than hillbilly nonsense.

So did the legendary preacher Dallas Billington, founder of the Akron Baptist Temple. In an Akron Beacon Journal story, Billington threatened to run the family out of town and offered $5,000 to anyone who produced proof of the clan's miraculous healing power. "With one hand, they're going to be rubbing oil on your head with hocus-pocus," Billington said on his weekly radio program, "and with the other, they'll be taking your money out of your pocket."

No one took Billington up on his reward. The Humbards simply responded by leading their followers in a prayer for Billington's soul.

Humbard kept his tent so packed that he extended their original 17-day stay to five weeks. Each time Humbard took the stage, Alma Robinson was in the audience.

She was much like the rest of Humbard's flock. Her parents were homesick southerners who'd moved to Akron to work the city's rubber boom. "My father fell in love with Rex instantly," Robinson says. "There was no one like him. He gave us that old-time, soul-saving gospel preaching that we needed and still need."

As the Humbards prepared to leave, Robinson's parents begged Rex to stay in Akron and start his own church. "Although I was not yet ready to give up traveling with our family's Gospel Big Top, God was building up a powerful attraction between Akron and me, because He had plans for me there," he later wrote.

So Humbard placed the tent in storage and rented the Copley Theater. He and Maude Aimee started doing daily radio broadcasts, which expanded to stations in Pittsburgh and Wheeling. In less than a year, he had outgrown the Copley and moved to the 1,000-seat Ohio Theater, which was renamed Calvary Temple and marked by a 42-foot neon cross.

Then, in the winter of 1953, Humbard had an epiphany.

He watched a crowd of Christmas shoppers gather around O'Neil's department-store window downtown. As they stood in the freezing cold, streetcars rattling loudly behind them, their eyes remained fixed on the flickering television screen. Humbard grasped the medium's power.

"To other people, television is a marvelous invention because it carries big news events, sports, and entertainment," he wrote. "To me, television is a gift from God, given to us so that we can use it to obey His great commandment to go forth into all of the world and preach the gospel."

That's when Humbard gave birth to televangelism.

He soon discovered that getting on television would be no easy task.

Though WAKR accommodated his broadcasts, networks like NBC, CBS, and ABC wanted nothing to do with religious programming for fear of offending their sponsors, who were largely Jewish. Most of the networks had strict policies barring the broadcast of religious services. But Humbard found a loophole.

He got Cleveland's WJW to agree to a weekly gospel-music show featuring Maude Aimee and their children, with Humbard as emcee. As long as he didn't do any preaching, the station didn't have a problem.

For the first few months, Humbard stuck to protocol — until he asked for permission to give a few inspirational talks between songs. The station agreed, but no fire and brimstone.

When letters and calls started pouring in from Humbard's audience, management told Humbard to keep talking.

WJW soon began to air his Sunday services live from Akron. Humbard also started paying stations as far away as Toronto to air his telecasts — a mixture of rootsy song, impassioned sermon, and miraculous healing.

But with each new station came more expenses. Airtime wasn't cheap, and Humbard was beginning to run out of cash. "That was why we started our rallies of television followers," he wrote. "To reap the harvests that had been planted by sowing the seeds of faith on TV."

Humbard and his wife would ask viewers to make donations to keep them on the air. Without their help, God would disappear from His rightful airwaves.

By 1956, Humbard was able to pay his $72,238 annual programming budget from viewer donations. He was also outgrowing the Calvary Temple, where he was preaching five times each Sunday to accommodate the crowds.

So Humbard decided to build the world's first megachurch. At the time, evangelicals tended to condemn the sort of opulence embraced by Catholics and other heretics. Not Humbard. He felt called to build God's greatest castle yet. "Who should think bigger than God?" he wrote.

He'd need at least 5,000 seats to accommodate his parish, as well as a room fit for television broadcasts. He wanted a domed, circular structure "as a symbol of the world that the televangelism ministry of this church would reach." He would call it the Cathedral of Tomorrow. And he knew exactly how to pay for it.

Humbard took to the pulpit, begging feverishly for donations. This is for God's rightful place on Earth, he reminded the faithful, who were desperate to ensure their own place in heaven.

The cash poured in. Humbard promised that their donations would be the seeds from which greater things would grow, whether that was to be healed from illness or come into great fortune.

"This seed-based theology is the oldest heresy in the church," says Ole Anthony, founder of the Trinity Foundation, a Christian organization dedicated to exposing religious fraud. "The Catholics did it with indulgences. It's based on the scripture that God will give you ten- or a hundredfold back on your seed. Rex simply took that idea and said that any investment in his ministry was that seed. He started that."

In his autobiography, Humbard recalls Granny Peck, an elderly farmer's wife and longtime follower. He knew that she'd come into some money after selling off the farm. He called to ask for her help. She gave him $25,000.

He also began selling bonds to parishioners and investors to build the Cathedral.

He hired a Chicago architectural firm to draw plans for a $2.5 million church in Cuyahoga Falls that would seat 5,400 and would include a 168-foot stage. But as soon as he broke ground, he met with skepticism from outsiders.

Rumors began to swirl that Humbard was using his ministry to enrich himself. People complained that his well-tailored suits made him look more like a junior executive than a man of God. They scrutinized his collection of sporty Chevy Bel Airs and his wife's elegant wardrobe.

Newspapers were dumbfounded by his congregation's $100,000 operating budget, "the largest of any similar church organization in the country," the Beacon claimed.

Humbard defended his family's posh dress as a result of having to appear on television. He claimed that a generous supporter lent him the cars at no cost. The year before, he'd filed a tax return claiming just $8,000 in income — money that had come through "love offerings" collected from his congregation. He claimed that he never took a penny from television and radio donations — all went to keeping his ministry on the air. Reporters had no way to verify his claims, as churches are not required to report financial information to the public or the IRS.

In 1958, the Cathedral of Tomorrow officially opened its doors, with 60,000 people attending the church's grand opening. It was like nothing they'd ever seen.

A 220-foot dome capped the Cathedral's sleek granite walls. The main room boasted teardrop chandeliers, thousands of colored lights, and the largest indoor cross in the world. The stage was dressed with bistro-style lighting and a crushed-velvet curtain. Other amenities included an elaborate office suite, private prayer rooms, and a nursing home with 200 beds.

But Humbard didn't have the money to pay architects or contractors. They sued, scaring off investors, who began to demand early repayment of their bonds.

Humbard was also struggling to keep up with the cost of his growing television broadcasts, now aired on over 100 stations nationwide. Banks refused to give him loans, believing religion a bad investment. The Beacon predicted his demise.

Then, in 1963, Humbard claimed God sent him an angel. Weirdly enough, that messenger looked exactly like Jimmy Hoffa.

Despite warnings from colleagues that accepting a loan from Hoffa would come with heaps of bad publicity, Humbard agreed to meet with the infamous Teamsters boss and Mafia ally. "I'll take a mortgage from anybody," he said to a friend.

The two men met at a swank hotel in Chicago a few days later. "Meeting Jimmy Hoffa was a memorable experience," Humbard wrote. "I have never talked with anybody who has a quicker and more penetrating intelligence, or more easy poise and assurance, than this two-fisted truck driver."

By the end of their meeting, Hoffa handed Humbard a $1.2 million loan from the Teamsters' pension fund. "I've watched your programs on television," Hoffa said. "I want you to know that I feel this is the finest investment we've ever made."

Four years later, Hoffa was convicted of attempting to bribe a juror and was sentenced to 15 years. But his imprisonment didn't deter Humbard, whose loans from the corrupt Teamsters would eventually total $5.5 million. He proudly noted that he never once missed a loan payment — failing to mention that this was due to the generosity of his supporters, who disapproved of dealings with mobsters.

Yet Humbard simply invoked the rhetoric of the merciful Christian. Who cares if the bosses were robbing union members of their pensions? Jesus forgives.

"Nobody can criticize Jimmy Hoffa in my presence," Humbard wrote the year Hoffa disappeared, slain by Mafia rivals. "I am proud of his friendship with me."

By 1968, things were looking up for Humbard. He'd paid off his angry investors and contractors. And thanks to constant capital from the Teamsters pension fund, his empire grew bigger. He now appeared each Sunday before an international audience of more than 160 million viewers.

Between services at the Cathedral, Humbard, traveling the country in a converted Navy bomber that seated 15 and carried 1,000 pounds of camera and sound equipment, drew crowds usually associated with World Series games. Between 1970 and 1974, more than 646,000 people attended Humbard's televised rallies.

He and Maude Aimee sold their modest home in Cuyahoga Falls and moved into a lavish Akron neighborhood reserved for the city's rubber tycoons such as the Firestones and Seiberlings.

Before each sermon, Humbard carefully outlined where contributions were going. Out-of-town appearances were to raise money for television broadcasts. The Cathedral congregation paid for the church's mortgage. And a separate "love offering" collection went to Humbard. He claimed the latter was just enough to pay everyone on the road $2.50 a day for food. "I practically own McDonald's," he joked.

But there were other investments too.

Humbard began scooping up property and businesses. By 1970, his evangelical conglomerate included a large Akron office building, an advertising agency, Mackinac College in Michigan, a plastic and wire company, a New Jersey electric company, and a factory that made girdles.

The press frequently questioned his purchases, wondering what a man of God was doing buying non-religious assets with church funds. He defended his investments, claiming that they were for God's earthly empire — not his own.

And as if the Cathedral wasn't already grand enough, Humbard decided to make it even more spectacular. He built a lavish restaurant called The Cathedral Buffet. He also got federal funding to erect senior housing.

Then, in 1972, Humbard had his biggest idea yet.

While visiting Canada, he came upon the Calgary Tower in Alberta, standing 626 feet tall and boasting a breathtaking view of the city. "A tower like that will be doing some work for God," Humbard wrote.

He returned to Akron with plans to build a 750-foot tower, replete with a theater, a revolving dining room, and elevators that would carry visitors to the observation deck and "closer to God."

But as Humbard started pouring the cement, the Securities and Exchange Commission came knocking.

They filed suit against Humbard for illegally financing his empire's expansion with $12.5 million unregistered notes and bonds. Since 1952, Humbard had been selling bonds to congregation members and investors without a formal statement of debts, liabilities, or assets. He claimed he had no idea that what he was doing was wrong. "The folks who had lent us money were not investing in a business venture," he wrote. "They were helping us to spread the gospel all over the world."

The feds, of course, weren't buying. He'd have to repay every penny, or they would foreclose on the Cathedral.

Humbard quickly sold off his assets and used $500,000 of his Teamsters money to cover the repayments. But it still wasn't enough.

That's when Humbard pioneered another evangelical breakthrough — begging letters, his greatest moneymaking scheme yet. Thanks to mass mailings of deceptively personalized letters begging for financial assistance, he could now access money en masse, promising contributors miracles in exchange for checks. In just months, he was able to pay off every last one of his Cathedral bonds. "It's a gimmick beyond gimmicks," says Ole Anthony.

Despite his legal troubles, Humbard's ministry continued to grow at an astounding pace. By the mid-1970s, he could be seen on more than 500 stations worldwide. He spent less and less time in Akron, focusing his attention on newer and more desperate audiences in places like Brazil and Korea.

His Akron headquarters became little more than a headquarters for direct-mail solicitation, thanks to the Reverend Gene Ewing.

Like Humbard, Ewing had gotten his start on the revival circuit. But unlike Humbard, he preferred to remain behind the scenes.

In the late 1960s, Ewing helped Oral Roberts save his financially troubled ministry through a letter-writing campaign. Whenever Roberts received a letter from a follower, Ewing suggested that he ask for payment in exchange for his prayers. It would be an investment in better things to come, Roberts assured his supporters.

Within a year, Roberts' income doubled to $12 million. Roberts returned Ewing's favor with a handsome cut. "We call him God's ghostwriter," Anthony says. "He's this hillbilly with a seventh-grade education who can write these sort of down-homey letters and then earn these preachers millions."

Humbard also decided to enlist Ewing. The letters would begin the same way. "Sister (insert name), I'm facing a financial lion," they said. "Bills . . . are trying to devour this ministry. I now need a miracle for deliverance, but I don't have the money to pay those bills."

Letters were often accompanied by gold coins, prayer rugs, or "anointing oil" that was often just Mazola. Humbard would urge the recipient to make a cross with the oil on any cash they had handy and send the largest bill to him. In return, Humbard promised that they would be rewarded tenfold for their "seed offering."

"It will be a sacrifice," the letters read. "But remember, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessing."

By 1977, his supporters were sending in an average of $1.2 million a month. Within less than a year, Humbard was able to pay off all his investors. He marked the occasion by burning the last note on television "to tell all our critics we didn't go under."

Though Ewing was later busted by the feds for more than $400,000 in back taxes and illegally operating as a "church," Humbard continued his letter campaign without incident.

Soon, Humbard had developed a highly complex system for sending out begging letters. Data-processing expert Bill Forthsythe set up a mainframe computer that stored donor information. A team of writers and phone operators would then keep the information up-to-date with each person's prayer needs and notes on previous correspondence. Millions of people were receiving letters as often as twice a week; Humbard collected roughly $40 million a year.

"They're obscene," Anthony says. "He capitalizes on the isolation of the loneliest and poorest members of our society, promising them magical answers to their fears and needs if only they will demonstrate their faith by sending him money."

News outlets from The Washington Post to Canada's Globe and Mail dismissed them as little more than tasteless religious fraud. One reporter recounted the story of a lonely 60-year-old woman living in a Toronto low-income housing complex. She lived on a fixed income of $500 a month. Nevertheless, she managed to send off $200 of that to Humbard.

"If we would have known that, we would have sent it back to her, believe me," Humbard's son, Rex Jr., told the reporter.

But there were too many similar stories to make Mildred an anomaly. The elderly sent entire pension checks. Third World families sent their food allowance, hoping that Humbard would cure them of ailments or bless them with fortune.

Another reporter told the tale of Arnold Warshawsky, who dropped a $50 check in the mail, bound for his synagogue in Alexandria, Virginia. Instead, it mysteriously ended up in Humbard's coffers.

Warshawsky never received a refund. He did, however, receive plenty of begging letters.

By the early 1980s, public opinion had taken a drastic turn for the worse. A Cathedral poll showed that 80 percent of Greater Akron had a "negative" opinion of the televangelist. His 5,000-plus congregation had been whittled down to hundreds, as he spent most of his time on the road.

There wasn't even a choir.

Critics and followers alike claimed that his fund-raising had done him in. "People just got tired of listening to Rex crying for money," one supporter told the Beacon.

Even Alma Robinson, a parishioner since the tent revivals in 1952, found a new church. "It just wasn't the same without Rex around," she said.

Tired of the negative publicity, Humbard moved to Florida, refusing to reveal how much money he was taking with him.

He officially resigned as the Cathedral's pastor in 1983. The church's board replaced him with several pastors over the years, but each new leader butted heads with the board, which wanted to sell the Cathedral against the congregation's wishes.

Though Humbard had always insisted that the Cathedral belonged to the congregation, the claim turned out to be a hoax. His church was little more than a corporation belonging to a board of seven trustees, including Humbard, who was still president.

The arrangement dated back to April Fools' Day 1977. Humbard quietly incorporated the church as part of the newly founded Rex Humbard Foundation, naming his board of trustees as the only actual church members. He also included a clause that paid for legal insurance to indemnify board members from lawsuits. Some claimed it was simply a ploy to avoid paying creditors, according to a lawsuit filed by Pullman Power Products, which still hadn't been paid for building the Cathedral.

The church was eventually sold to Ernest Angley Ministries in 1989. No one knows where the money went, though Humbard's supporters, who'd long paid his debts, never received a penny. To this day, Rex Humbard Ministries still collects donations.

Fortunately for Humbard, the spotlight would soon be hogged by sexier televangelist scandals — Jim Bakker and his massive swindle involving a Christian resort, Jimmy Swaggart and his dalliances with hookers. Humbard had essentially created his own cover. His techniques had given birth to an even bolder generation of TV preachers, from Pat Robertson to Jerry Falwell, who would take Humbard's principles to more profitable heights.

No longer did they need to rely on national networks — they started their own. Paul Crouch started the Trinity Broadcasting Network, while Robertson developed the Christian Broadcast Network and Bakker formed PTL. They made religious television available 24 hours a day, with flashy graphics and programs that appealed to a younger audience.

Suddenly, raising $1.2 million a month was for babies. TBN's monthly fund-raising drives brought in well over $90 million. Even their scandals were bigger and bolder.

In 1988, the IRS investigated 24 televangelists, hoping to strip them of their tax-exempt status on the reasonable suspicion that the money was going to the preachers instead of missionary work. Bakker, a close friend of Humbard, proved the most egregious thief.

When the IRS audited PTL, agents discovered that Bakker was not only paying himself $1.6 million a year; he was also using part of the company's $129 million revenue to pay off his mistress, Jessica Hahn, hoping to keep her quiet about their drug-fueled sexual rendezvous.

Months later, Jimmy Swaggart — who publicly condemned Bakker for his adultery — was busted for courting prostitutes in his spare time.

Scamming old people was one thing — sex was another. Religious television's ratings took a beating.

Humbard managed to go unscathed. His indiscretions seemed to pale in comparison to the new electronic preachers. At least he stole with taste. "Rex, even he was much more gentlemanly than most of these guys are," Anthony says. "He had some sense of decorum."

Today, the Cathedral of Tomorrow — now Ernest Angley's Cathedral — slouches on the corner of State Road, its white exterior coated with decades of soot. It's now more an ironic tourist destination than a revered house of worship.

Across from the parking lot — usually empty save for a few rusted-out Fords — sit the sad remnants of Humbard's uncompleted tower, referred to by locals as Rex's Erection. A constant reminder of Humbard's transgressions, it resembles a smokestack more than a religious monument.

On almost any Friday night, you can find a modest gathering of 200 people in the 5,400-seat room for Angley's faith-healing service. The interior looks like a '70s rec room. The crowd's ashy complexions and constant choir of coughs make it clear that this is a final and desperate option for many.

After a bit of singing, accompanied by the synthetic pulse of an electric piano, Angley invites the crowd to the altar, where he promises to end their pain.

He is a cartoonish specimen, his munchkin face slathered with makeup, his toupee resembling an expired woodland creature. The seams of his corset show through his polyester suit, as his cologne wafts through the room like bad incense.

For the line of sick and sorrowful, this man is their last hope. He receives them onstage, allowing some to tell their sad stories, from terminal cancer and sciatic pain to drug and alcohol abuse. One by one, Angley grabs their foreheads, mumbles something under his breath, and then screams what sounds like "Bay-bay!" Worshipers pass out into the arms of his bodyguards, cloths placed over their, incurable heads.

Many of them will return the following week, when their pain does not disappear.

At first glance, this poorly attended magic show seems to be all that's left of Humbard's great 20th-century legacy. But across town, in an industrial park in Bath, one can find his truest influence still flourishing.

There are no crosses or pulpits to be found there. It's just a call center, where cubicle rats on headphones harass millions of dollars from American households for Christian ministries, Republican campaigns, and blue-chip corporations.

This is InfoCision headquarters — the world's second-largest telemarketing firm. The company recently made headlines for donating $21 million to the construction of Akron University's new football stadium.

But few people know the true story of InfoCision's birth. It's Humbard's last great work.

In 1982, Gary Taylor, the Cathedral's marketing director, founded InfoCision. His first client was Rex Humbard, for whom Taylor managed every aspect of his telefund-raising. And in 1985, even as Humbard's ministry was collapsing, InfoCision earned more than $1.5 million, only to double its sales a year later.

Now, InfoCision boasts 32 call centers and more than 4,000 employees. Last year, the company generated $154 million in sales, mostly through religious organizations. Even after the Do Not Call Registry was enacted, InfoCision prospered, opening 10 new call centers within a year — thanks to a loophole that exempts ministries.

"It's an absolute racket," says James Randi, an expert on trickery in the faith-healing trade. "Someone in the government should come out against this, but they won't. That's political suicide. Anyone who comes out against religion is politically doomed. And these guys feed off that fact."

It's the kind of political protection that mortgage and oil companies wish they could buy, yet the business of God carries far more clout. Whether He appreciates that fact, only Humbard knows.

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