by lyle e davis
The young people of today have missed out on a wonderfully exciting era . . . it was known as radio.
Kinda like tv but with no pictures.
I grew up and worked in that era, as a broadcaster . . . if you can call it work. Actually, I got paid rather well for having a great time, doing what I wanted to do . . . doing something I would probably have done for free had they not insisted that I take the long green.
During that era lots of strange things took place.
I remember driving around at night, trying to find the best reception area . . . I would sometimes be able to find "The Grand Ol' Opry" on the radio dial. Fact is, I fell in love with June Carter way before she ever even thought of becoming June Carter Cash.
Most nights I could get that radio station out of Del Rio, Texas, home of Wolfman Jack. Other nights I could pickup Cleveland, Ohio . . . Chicago, Illinois . . . and a fair amount of static.
One name in particular comes scrambling across my memory grid. The Reverend Ike.
Reverend Ike was a black preacher . . . a snake oil salesman of the first order. He could get a crowd caught up in emotion so heavy they would swing and sway and holler into the sky . . beseeching or thanking the Lord for His blessings . . . and they couldn't reach for their wallets and purses fast enough to reward the Right Reverend Ike for his bringing them to the Lord.
"Tell us, sister . . . tell us about your original Reverend Ike Prayer Cloth and what it has meant to you!"
"Oh, Reverend Ike! I had me an itch! Yassah! It was a mean itch, too. I couldn't get rid of it nohow! Then I sends away for my Reverend Ike Prayer Cloth and when it arrived in de mail I just swooshed it all over my body . . . and Reverend Ike?"
"Yes, yes, Sister. . . tell it like it is!"
"The Itch be gone, Reverend Ike! The Itch be gone!"
(Hearty applause from the audience . . . lots of "Hallelujah's" . . . and "Praise Jesus!" The majestic organ plays inspiring music in time and tune with the audience mood).
"The sister done sent Reverend Ike a Free Will Love Offering and we were moved to send her a Reverend Ike Prayer Cloth . . . and it be gone! Praise Jesus!"
"It was a mean Itch, too, Reverend Ike!"
"It was a mean itch . . and it be gone! Thanks to the Reverend Ike prayer cloth . . . just like the sister say!"
. . . . and so it went.
These memories came back to me about 4:30am - one of those nights when I awakened and couldn't get back to sleep so I just let the mind explore the memory grid.
I jumped out of bed and Googled for the Reverend Ike. Surely he must be dead, I thought. Those radio programs were over 50 years ago.
Nope. He's still with us:
Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter, better known to millions as Reverend Ike, “The Success and Prosperity Preacher,” has been Minister, Teacher, Motivator, Evangelist, Counselor, and Pastor to millions of people, for over 50 years.
Reverend Ike's ministry reached its peak in the mid 1970s, when his weekly radio sermons were carried by hundreds of stations across the United States. He is still active as of 2006, with a presence on the Internet and a syndicated television program.
He has stated that he owns a fleet of Rolls-Royces (a different color for every day of the week, appointed in mink), diamond rings, expensive suits, and multiple mansions - far from hiding his wealth, Reverend Ike makes it a point of his preaching. His theology centers around the "Science of Living" and "Thinkonomics," his own version of economics based on the premise that poverty, a lack of luck, poor health, etc., are the result of incorrect attitudes, a lack of confidence, a lack of faith and a failure to get in touch with the "presence of God within each of us." "Unlearning" these attitudes, according to Reverend Ike, leads to wealth and health and his own flamboyant prosperity, and that of some of his followers is, he claims, evidence of this. (His television programs, for instance, used to include the "Blessing of the Cadillacs," where prosperous congregants were invited to drive their luxury cars past the church's doors for his laying on of hands.)
His mail ministry has long included an ever-changing variety of items: miracle prayer cloths, lucky coins, prosperity bracelets and the like, each said to help the user tap into his or her own inner divine power (Reverend Ike suggested, for instance, that the prayer cloth be used to rub lottery tickets or horsetrack betting slips). His latest offerings are "Musivation Ringtones," ringtones for cell-phones he says will motivate followers towards prosperity and success.
The Reverend Mrs. Eula M. Dent Eikerenkoetter (“Rev. Mrs. Ike”), B.A., M.A., D.Sc.L., his wife, serves as Senior Co-Pastor, and his son, The Right Reverend Xavier Frederick Eikerenkoetter (“Rev. Ike’s Son”), B.A., M.Sc.L, D.Sc.L., is his "Bishop Coadjutor."
”I love money and money loves me.”
"The lack of money is the root of all evil."
"The Bible says that Jesus rode on a borrowed ass. But I would rather ride in a Rolls Royce than to ride somebody's ass!"
"Be proud of the way I look, because you spend $1,000 a week to buy my clothes."
"The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them."
From Reverend Ike's voice mail message that he sold to his followers:
1. "Money is wonderful!" 2. "Calling money!"
From 1967 and 1968 AM radio broadcasts, heard on XERF, Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico:
1. "They [sic] ain't no doctor like doctor Jesus." 2. "You can't lose with the stuff I use."
One of the more interesting writers that covered the Reverend Ike is Ken Miller. Only slightly satirical Miller turns to the narrative form to us through an encounter with the Right Reverend Ike:
Now, I know many of you would call Reverend Ike a con artist, but that's only because you don't believe in the power he has to make money. Well, he has that power and it can work for you. . . all you need is faith and $20.
We first became aware of Reverend Frederick "Ike" Eikerenkootter when we stopped a videotape we were watching and he appeared on the channel the VCR was tuned to. He was raving like a lunatic, throwing around these cheap, nylon bracelets, and blessing them. A message on the screen said you could call a toll free number and get one of these "Prayer Bracelets" absolutely free. I'm always one for free stuff, so I called and tried to find out more about Rev. Ike. The lady answering the phone couldn't give me any information and asked for my address, which I gave her, as well as my phone number, which I didn't give her.
A few weeks later, an envelope arrived with the prayer bracelet. According to the form letter, "The Spirit" had told Reverend Ike to send me the bracelet, and there were several pages urging me to wear it that very night and return it before sundown the next day. Apparently "The Spirit" is not infallible as the letter repeatedly referred to me as "Sister Miller." It was very slick, with pseudo-hand written messages urging me to do this immediately. It said I "MUST put a FAITH, LOVE and OBEDIENCE DONATION of $15 or MORE in it for the Church Ministry" when I sent back the bracelet. "GIVING is the door through which you RECEIVE so, do not send back this Prayer Bracelet without enclosing the Faith, Love and Obedience Donation. -- That would SHUT the DOOR on your Blessings."
The testimonial page had letters from people who had received the prayer bracelet, returned it with "BIG DONATIONS" (one lady borrowing $50 to send to Ike) and had won the lottery, banished their health problems, settled court cases for big bucks, had court cases against them dropped and had cured them and their children of drug addiction. Hallelujah!
There's even a section where you can check off what you want to be blessed with, from "Closer walk with God" to "Food on the Table." Under "Special Help With," one can select from Alcoholism, Mental Oppression, Bad Luck, Bad Habits, Witchcraft or Past Due Bills. In the "Healing From" section, you can choose from Alzheimer's, Crying Spells, Paralysis, Cancer, Deafness, Diabetes and the all-purpose "Being Crippled." Is there no problem Reverend Ike can't solve? If you feel that you have asked for too many blessings for only $15, there's a box you can check that says "I AM SENDING MORE for MORE BLESSINGS."
And this was all sent in an envelope with "non-profit organization" postage of 13¢. Even the Business Reply Envelope urged you to use a stamp to save Reverend Ike the cost of postage.
Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical and didn't send any money.
A few weeks later, another envelope arrived. This one proclaimed "I am loaning you this POWERFUL thing - - - Overnight Only!
Opening the envelope reveals that this "thing" is a small glow-in-the-dark cross. This isn't just any glow-in-the-dark cross, though, it's the POWER OF GOD CROSS! The letter begins, "Dear Brother Miller [apparently The Spirit told Reverend Ike about his gender mistake], I am holding this POWER OF GOD CROSS in my left hand while writing you this letter. Somebody will type this letter to you for me when I finish writing it." To prove that this assertion is true, the picture below appears three times in the six-page very slick direct-mail letter.
In order to solve problems that The Spirit told Ike I was having, I was supposed to take this cross and put it on wood near where I sleep "OVERNIGHT ONLY" because "This CROSS OF POWER belongs to God's Church Ministry. Do not keep it and rob God." My not sending it back was not only holding up my blessings, but holding up other people's blessings too. "In the morning, wrap a $20.00 or more Faith and Love Donation around the Cross and send it back to me in the morning [kind of redundant--you ought to get The Spirit to do some proofreading, Ike], but no later than 3:59 PM tomorrow for the Church Ministry.
"Borrow the money to give if you have to. DON'T TELL ANYBODY WHAT YOU ARE DOING" (in case some relatively sane person in your family tries to stop you). "A lady had a hundred dollars she was hiding. The spirit told her to wrap it around this cross and send it back to me the next day. She did, and before sundown on Friday, she had TWENTY HUNDRED-DOLLAR BILLS in her hand."
This goes on for six pages--people who borrowed money to send to Ike and were rewarded with thousands of dollars, as well as people the cross is supposed to go to after I'm done with it and the terrible things they are enduring, including "a mother of three little children in the hospital needs it for healing, so she can go home to her family. A lady in Florida needs it for healing--the doctor just told her she has cancer."
Heaven help us all! So much responsibility resting on one plastic cross! "THE CROSS IS THE POWER OF GOD," Rev. Ike quotes from the Bible. It's very sad that the all-powerful Spirit would give Reverend Ike information about all this suffering, but only one cross to save all these people. As it turns out, Ike must have more than a couple of these crosses because he sent me the same mailing the next week--with another plastic cross.
I was still skeptical about Reverend Ike at this point, I mean, how could one not be? Then the money seeds came.
"Before you read any further, look at the MONEYSHEET with the holes in it for your fingers," the letter says. "Take that sheet and put your fingers through the holes, all around that money. Stand in front of the mirror and see how it looks to hold all that money in your hand right there in Yardley [you gotta love direct mail marketing]. Doesn't that feel good?"
I shuffled through the many sheets of paper and found the MONEYSHEET...
Well, I put my fingers through those holes and looked at that big wad of bills in the mirror, and LORD! I was seized up by The Spirit and knew that I could have that big wad of bills for real! AMEN!
"You can have that much money, and much, much more! You can have whatever you want. How? By Faith in the God-in-you. . . By 'planting MONEY SEEDS.'"
The last sheet in the package was made of three of these "Money Seeds". You only have to think about what you want, write it on the seed, sign on the line that states, "I am EXCITED!" and send it to Ike with a real $20 bill once a week for three weeks, and you'll get what you want! Salvation on the installment plan. Of course, you had to send money because "When you give you prove God." Otherwise, how would God know that you really wanted His gifts?
Before planting money with Reverend Ike, I did a little research about him. Turns out he's been at this sort of thing for 30 years. Ike's generally credited with changing the face of T.V. evangelism to what it is today. Far from being evasive about how much money he makes, he openly brags about having sixteen Rolls Royces, wears $1000 suits and diamond rings on both hands and enjoys luxury homes on each coast. His income is estimated at $6 to $15 million a year (that's an estimate because he asks for all of his donations in cash, and this figure probably doesn't include his relatively recent forays into direct mail.) Well, a guy with that much money has to know something about making it, right?
Just to make sure, I gave his most recent mailing to the lady at my post office. I told her that maybe the Postal Inspector needs to get some of that old time religion.
You can write to Rev. Ike at PO Box 9000, Boston, MA 02205-9933. Make sure to ask for the Miracle Money Book. You can also see him live every Sunday at 2:45 PM at the United Church Center, 4140 Broadway at 175th St. in New York City.
"Be proud of the way I look, because you spend $1,000 a week to buy my clothes."
More Reverend Ike Quotes:
"The LACK of money is the root of all evil."
"Forget about the pie in the sky, get yours here and now."
"Everything is a condition of the mind."
"If it's that difficult for a rich man to get into heaven, think how terrible it must be for a poor man to get in. He doesn't even have a bribe for the gatekeeper."
© 1998 Ken Miller. This article appeared in Shouting at the Postman #30- September, 1998
This writer pretty much sums up the Right Reverend Ike and brought back even more memories. Checking around . . . we managed to find some testimonials and photos:
Sister Henrietta's Testimony
Rev. Ike prayed and saw God give Sister Henrietta TWO BRAND NEW LUNGS, when she was bleeding and dying in the TB hospital, with her old lungs collapsed against her chest. The doctors were amazed and never could understand how she was healed. She kept saying, “REV. IKE PRAYED FOR ME, and GOD GAVE ME TWO NEW LUNGS!” She became a Pentecostal Evangelist, and now preaches like John the Baptist!
“But to whom did God SWEAR that they should NOT enter into his rest; but to them that DID NOT BELIEVE. So take heed that there be NOT in you an evil heart of UNBELIEF.” - Hebrews 3:12
SHE WAS HEALED!
Sister Henrietta wrote to Rev. Ike for prayer, every week from the State TB Hospital. But, finally, it looked hopeless. Both of her her lungs collapsed against her chest, and she was bleeding — hemorrhaging to death!
Her kids brought her home on a weekend pass, put her to bed at home and asked Rev. Ike to come and pray for her in person. That was over 30 years ago. Now, people send for Rev. Ike’s Prayer Cloths, and they are getting the same kind of miracles.
When Rev. Ike got there, he walked into Sister Henrietta’s room where she lay in bed, read a short scripture from the Holy Bible where Jesus healed somebody, and prayed a short prayer, before leaving to go back to the Church for the evening meeting.
Somebody who was there that night came and told Rev. Ike, “You should NOT have left so soon. That woman jumped out of bed, and danced all over that room, shouting, ‘GOD GAVE ME TWO NEW LUNGS’!”
When they took her back to the TB Hospital, she told the doctor, “Rev. Ike prayed for me and God gave me two new lungs!”
Perhaps the doctor thought, “This ‘crazy’ woman went to some ‘crazy’ preacher!” But, after the many X-rays, the doctor may have thought HE was “crazy” one! Henrietta’s two new healthy lungs kept showing up on the new X-rays! He had the previous X-rays for comparison! Many doctors who heard about what happened to Henrietta discussed the case for weeks!
(I bet they did).
Brother and Sister Davis (no relation, so far as I know).
TWO CENTS was all Brother Davis had; he was also out of work when he sent Rev. Ike FOUR PRAYER REQUESTS PLUS a borrowed donation. He got ALL OF THESE PRAYER REQUESTS answered, AND MORE. Even though he was down to only 2 cents, and no job, he BORROWED a donation and sent it with his FOUR PRAYER REQUESTS. He worked with Rev. Ike’s teachings and started giving on a regular basis, but he STARTED FROM ONLY TWO CENTS! He is now a prosperous, successful business man, with a “Miracle Wife!”
People ask, “Rev. Ike, what can your ‘STUFF’ do for somebody down and out?” Well, here is an example. Look at Brother Davis:
His 2 Cents PLUS A Borrowed Donation Are Turning Into Miracles and Millions!
He said, “I was down to TWO CENTS... Laid off my job, and getting only $22.00 a week unemployment. After I wrote Rev. Ike, began giving regularly, and started applying his teachings to my life, here’s what happened with the four Prayer Requests I sent him,” says Brother Davis:
• “I have made hundreds of thousands of dollars — many times over!”
• “I bought several fine houses! Also, I now own several income-producing houses. I just closed a big deal on some more money-making property in Las Vegas.”
• “I bought a wonderful new Mercedes, plus several limousines, which continue to earn money for me and my family!”
• “And here is my very fine wife, that I asked Rev. Ike to pray for me to get!”
His wife gave the following testimony:
“Last year I was diagnosed as having ovarian cancer. But I never did feel like I had it. I never did accept the idea of having cancer. I took the medical treatment anyway, asked Rev. Ike to pray for me, and now I am healed! Thank God!”
As I read all of these stories about Reverend Ike one question kept coming back at me over and over and over again. How in the world could any sane person buy into the Reverend Ike? How could they believe what he had to say? How could they even think about sending this guy money, let alone actually doing it? And as I mulled these thoughts over in my mind, my middle of the night memories that came rushing back to me revealed a Great Big Truth . . .
The Right Reverend Ike is still alive and kicking; still anointing prayer cloths . . . still sending out his healings . . . for a fee. It is said he's a bit lower in profile now . . . a bit quieter . . . born in 1935 he's 72 years old . . . and still alive in resplendent glory.
Praise the Baby Jesus.