Televangelist gives back woman’s cash

Televangelist Peter Popoff‘s ministry has reimbursed a Nanaimo woman after she went public with concerns about the fundraising techniques used by the California-based church.

Josie Gurney, 58, almost threw away the envelope from Vancouver branch of the Word for the World Ministries, thinking it was just another appeal for money from the parent organization.

But she looked inside the envelope and found a cheque for $69.08.

It arrived less than a month after Gurney went public, through the Daily News, with concerns about how Popoff’s ministry raises money, through the sale of ‘holy water’ and other religious artifacts. Each item comes with detailed instructions on how to use the items, and requests for money.

The brief letter said the cheque was to reimburse her for donations she’d made in the past. It said that her name had been added to the no-mail list, and thanked her for her previous support.

“I think it’s pretty funny that he’s sending me money now,” Gurney said. “And more money than I sent him. It’s like he wants me to go away.”

A Word for the World B.C. employee, who asked not to be identified, said the California office told her to send the cheque after she forwarded them a copy of the Daily News article. She said although she’s not a member of the church, she knows it does considerable good work in Third World countries.

Gurney became disillusioned after getting what appeared to be personal letters, written in what she called an increasingly demanding tone, then learned after getting her sister involved that her sister’s letters were identical. The final straw was a television documentary detailing the rise and fall of Popoff’s multimillion-dollar faith healing empire in the 1980s.

Popoff recently resurfaced, and now gets his message out on late-night infomercials.

Gurney said her sister was envious when she learned about Josie’s reimbursement cheque, but it’s not about the money.

“I’m not even going to cash the cheque,” she said. “To me it’s like a payoff and I’m not going to let a $69 cheque change all the things that happened to me. So the cheque is not going to be cashed, for now.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday June 16, 2008.
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