Phone-Spam Evangelism

On Friday afternoon, I got a call on my cell phone from an 800 number I didn't recognize. I let it go to voicemail, and I'm glad I did, because that means I had a recording of this wonderfully bizarre call so I could transcribe and share it with you:

God bless you, this is [unintelligible, but sounds like "Tom from NASA"]. I'm calling you because I know that you are going through one of the most toughest times of your life [sic], and this is why I'm calling you because prayer does bring answers, prayer does bring change. I want you to call this number so you can be a part of my prayer club and so I can begin to start interceding for your life. Watch, just in a matter of moments, how your life will change when you have people around the world praying for you. Call this number now if you're truly ready for your miracle: [number omitted]. Again, that number is [number omitted]. I want you to enter into the prayer closet because your life will be changed. Again, that number is [number omitted]. See you there. God bless you!

[in a very different voice:] To be removed from our list, please call [number omitted].

I had to laugh at this, since I'm not, in fact, going through "one of the most toughest times of my life". If anything, I'd say my life right now is as good as it's ever been. Obviously, this is an example of how religious evangelists seek out and target the depressed and the emotionally vulnerable, who are least likely to apply rational skepticism to any offer that seems to promise hope.

On the basis of that comment, and on the fact that I don't give out my cell number, I suspected this was a mass spam delivered by an autodialer. I searched on the number that had called me, and sure enough, found many other people complaining about it. My parents told me they had gotten the same call as well, as did some friends on Twitter.

A little more searching brought me to "Manasseh Jordan Ministries", the group apparently responsible for the call, which explains the garbled introduction that I thought was saying "NASA". I assume, if I had called them back to join their prayer circle, I would soon have been treated to a flood of entreaties for money. Even more presumptuous, though, was sending out a mass, unsolicited phone message and then asking people to "unsubscribe" if they don't want future calls. I think not; their number is going straight onto my block list.

Anyone else out there who's gotten this call? I'm curious to know just how widespread it is.

Image credit: Arnold Gatilao, released under CC BY 2.0 license

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