Tribalism and affinity scams

Tribalism and affinity scams May 1, 2012

Here’s another downside to evangelical tribalism: It makes evangelicals more prone to being suckered by affinity scams.

Two brothers ran a phony $6 million securities offering and Ponzi scheme that preyed on evangelical Christians tied to a private school, according to federal prosecutors.

The SEC sued Usee Inc. and brothers Terry Wiese, 64, of Little Elm, Texas, and Scott Wiese, 48, of Temecula, Calif., and three relief defendants.

The Wieses pumped Usee as a Dallas-area Voice over Internet Protocol company, the SEC says, and took money from 80 investors by promising returns of up to 1,000 percent in the first year.

“The Wieses solicited investments from their friends and families, nearly half of whom are teachers, staff, and parents of students at a Dallas-area Christian private school where Terry Wiese’s wife works,” the SEC says in its complaint.

Of course, if the Securities & Exchange Commission went after every group of evangelicals who fleeced money out of their fellow believers by making impossible promises of imaginary benefits, then the SEC would also have to bring charges against the Family Research Council, the Christian Broadcasting Network, American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family,  Concerned Women for America, Discovery Institute …

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Worlds collide: Yesterday I linked to an interview with the great biologist E.O. Wilson in which he quoted fundamentalist evangelist Billy Sunday admiringly.

Today, evangelical blogger Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like highlights a science video about ants by Wilson’s colleague Bert Holldobler, reveling in the complexity of nature.

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James Fallows: “Even Jimmy Carter

In response to Mitt Romney’s dismissive sneer that “even Jimmy Carter would have given that order” for the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed, James Fallows sticks up for the 39th president:

1) Jimmy Carter is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent ten years in the uniformed service of his country.  …

2) Jimmy Carter did indeed make a gutsy go/no-go call. It turned out to be a tactical, strategic, and political disaster. … And it was a daring call — a choice in favor of a risky possible solution to a festering problem, knowing that if it went wrong there would be bad consequences all around, including for Carter himself. So if you say “even Jimmy Carter” to mean “even a wimp,” as Romney clearly did, you’re showing that you don’t know the first thing about the choice he really made.

In response to Romney’s attempt to make Carter a synonym for “wimpy” I would add:

3) As “a young U.S. Naval officer working at the dawn of the nuclear age with the U.S. atomic submarine program, Carter was physically lowered into a damaged nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, Canada, and exposed to levels of radiation unthinkable today after an accident.”

4) In 1958, “Jimmy was approached by one of the prominent businessmen asking him to join the White Citizens’ Council. And he told him that it only cost five dollars to join, and that he would be glad to pay his dues. And I think Jimmy told him he could flush his money down the john. But anyway Jimmy refused to do that and we lost some customers.”

5) 500,000 houses.

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