WASHINGTON, DC--God's in Our Pocket (GOP), an evangelical ministry specifically focused on wealthy and influential Americans, is singing its own praises in a new promotional campaign.
The ministry has no official members list, and describes itself not as a church, but as "a fellowship of leaders, inspired by God's Word". In the past, speakers have included a virtual roll call of the Triple-Axel Commission, the Builder-burglar Group and the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Society. Contributors span the strategic industries of energy, defense, computers and cash crops.
Current GOP leader Bob Crow said, "The poor are not the only game in town. We find the rich have religious needs too, and we're here to meet them."
The needs of the rich go beyond traditional religion, he says, and include such non-traditional services as providing international business contacts, exerting influence on the US and foreign governments regarding trade and investment opportunities, influencing lawmakers to obtain a favorable environmental and labor regulatory environment, and integrating former Soviet block countries into the Western economy.
"We consider ourselves a 'one-stop-shop', combining both earthly and heavenly rewards. We're a total solution provider," said Crow.
While those involved in the GOP are mostly of the Baptist denomination, Jews and Catholics are welcomed, provided they sign a "loyalty contract" by which they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and swear to secrecy regarding the group's financial dealings.
The shadowy ministry, hoping to boost its image after a critical book came out last month, has begun a "faith friends" program to reach out to under-developed countries, particularly those with authoritarian governments and wide gaps in income.
Jan Margaret, Outreach Program Coordinator for South and Southwest Asia said, "People in countries with big wealth gaps often start agitating for unions and land reform. We have found that our "clown therapy" program helps distract them from such sinful thoughts, while our "Manna Crumbs" food-share program forces them to publicly state how grateful they are to us and to their local bosses. We get it all on film-it makes for very good press."
The ministry plans a "hug and smile" campaign next month to deal with mass starvation in Africa in a partnership with coffee and cotton exporting firms in the region.
"The dying appreciate a hug and smile more than you can imagine. You can see the gratitude in their hollowed recessed eyes," said Margaret.
Every dying child will also receive a free Bible so that they can receive their rewards in Heaven rather than in this life, while those who become active in proselytizing activities may receive a free chicken and the newly released appropriate technology manual "Living on one egg a day-and loving it."
Besides diet tips such as details on the nutritive superiority of modern infant formulas to outdated breast-feeding, the book teaches the poor to save fuel by purchasing a solar food cooker for 57 dollars. Sponsoring US industries can receive a carbon credit for the calculated estimated reduction in use of cooking fuel. While admitting that 57 dollars may be steep for the truly poor, Margaret noted, "They could always sell the eggs to make money."
The GOP does not offer any charity programs in the US, noting that the US is "twice-blessed" in that everyone here has food aplenty, and that the capitalist system has ensured that the US will dominate the world economy for generations to come.
"Anyway, people should work for a living, not become dependent on handouts," Crow said.
Donations can be made through the President's Faith-based Initiatives Office, to the GOP organizing staff at their newly-built 12-story office building on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC, or, Crow said, "You can just give your donations to me."