Thursday, October 29, 2015

"When Did the Church Turn Into Amway?" by Steven Kozar

     

(Here's a link to Steve's update to this post on his current blog.)

True Story

      In the 1990's my wife and I had three young children and we were in financial trouble; my income as an artist was very inconsistent. We were invited to become Amway distributors by a family member who knew we were the kind of "go-getters" who could really "make things happen." 

      I was very skeptical at first, but I eventually gave in to the promise of "multiple streams of residual income." In the late 1990's we heard (and fell for) "The Dream Destiny Thingy." This is years before it crept into (and devoured) much of the church. It's a bunch of assumptions that go something like this: "God brought you here today for a reason; it's not an accident that you're in this meeting today. The reason you're struggling financially is because you don't have a dream-it's not because you don't have money! Once you have a big enough dream, the money will follow. Amway is just the business vehicle; this is really about changing people's lives by getting them to pursue their dreams." They would pray in the meetings like this: "Thank you God that you've given each of us the ability to dream. Help us to chase our dreams, discover our destiny and make a real difference in people's lives. In Jesus name, Amen." We were taught about the power of using the right words to speak things into existence. We had to be positive-all the time-because being negative would attract negative results.

       Large Amway conventions are the ultimate gig for motivational speakers and other performers, and most of the really big guns were there, helping to prop up the illusion that Amway was a great opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and stick to it. Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, John Maxwell and other big name speakers have all done the Amway gig; people would even write books praising the Amway opportunity because they knew thousands of distributors would buy them; it was a built-in audience of niche consumers. I tried not to notice how none of these people making money by praising Amway actually joined up and became Amway distributors themselves.

     But the best speakers in the Amway business weren't the "professional" speakers, they were the "regular folks" who worked hard and had made it to the level of Diamond (or higher). These "regular folks" would convince the socks off of anyone that you could make it happen! "You just need to buy into the system and do everything your leaders tell you to do-your success is guaranteed!" "If you're dream is big enough, the facts don't count!" The most convincing Diamond speakers would come from another organization and speak at your meeting to help you grow your business. "Wow, these people are so nice and giving of their time" you would think. Plus, they would always start by praising your leaders and telling you how lucky you were to have the leadership that you had in your own organization. 

     Eventually I learned that all of these diamond (and above) speakers were getting giant speaking fees. They weren't giving their time, they were selling their time. If you were getting $10,000 for an hour and a half speech, do you think you could praise whoever was writing your check? On top of the very convincing speakers, they had amazing videos with powerful music and emotionally charged stories to tear at your heartstrings. The use of multimedia was incredibly effective-especially in a stadium full of like-minded people who all believed. We were even told that if you went to the next big meeting it "would really build up your belief." A more honest way of saying it would be "if you go to this big meeting you'll be convinced to stick around long enough for us to make money off of you for a little while longer, because you'll be emotionally convinced that this business is great!"


This Isn't a Dream, It's a Nightmare!

     In short, we spent 4 years trying to build an Amway business and lost $40,000 in the process. We did everything we were supposed to do-everything! I know all about mind control techniques because I experienced them first hand. I know what it's like to be emotionally manipulated because I experienced it first hand. I know about turning the Christian faith into a vehicle that promises to make your dreams come true because I experienced it first hand. On top of all that, we started going to a large "positive confession" charismatic church as a result of this new outlook on our faith. We prayed and prayed and prayed... and prayed: "God please help us build this great business so we can be financially free and help others..." 

     But God didn't answer. We had to figure out the hard way that we were being scammed. You see, in most Amway businesses, all of the emphasis is on "the system," which had 3 components (called "tools"): Books, CDs and Functions. We would buy and read the positive self-help type books (a new one every month); we would buy and listen to a motivational CD every week (or more if you were really committed like us); and we would buy a ticket to a different function every single month. No matter what. This is how they could build such large and compliant organizations. This is simply a type of thought-control. Some of the teaching was actually decent business/success type material, but overall, the system kept people in the business and in the dark. Sure there were always people quitting, but there were always new people to replace the quitters. And there was tremendous profit to be made on each and every book, CD and ticket; that's where the upline distributors were making most of their money. It was all in secret and a lot of it was cash under the table, so these hucksters weren't even paying tax on all their income. After the internet became popular, Amway's seedy underbelly was much easier to discover, so it has never gotten back to it's original multi-billion dollar American heyday (much of Amway's growth has been in foreign countries in the past 15 years).

The Evangelical Industrial Complex has copied many of the very things that have "worked" so well in Amway:
*Tell people that Christianity is all about getting your Dreams and realizing your Destiny. Check.
*Tell people that having lots of money is a good thing that God wants for you (so you can help others, of course). Check.
*Tell people to only listen to positive messages about success and prosperity. Check.
*Tell people that they can speak things into existence because words have power. Check.
*People continually quitting and leaving, but they get replaced by new and different people just as fast. Check.
*Get people to "experience life change" by learning self-help and relationship-building techniques. Check.
*The guy up on the stage is making money off the people in the seats. Check.
*The guy on the stage is promising you things you'll never actually get (in the name of God). Check.
*After you don't get what you were promised you're told to have more faith and try harder (and buy the latest book). Check.
*The visiting speaker (pastor) praises the local leader (pastor) and gets a fat speaking fee (plus sells his books in the lobby). Check. (helpful tip: It's not a speaker fee if it comes from a free-will offering)
*Use music, lights and multimedia/video to emotionally manipulate like-minded people who desperately want to believe. Check.

Wait a minute, is this Amway or a Mega-Church we're talking about?? 

It's the SAME DAMNED (literally) THING!


FYI, Here is an excellent website with details about the Amway tool scam:
https://stoptheamwaytoolscam.wordpress.com/
Also, just to be clear, I have no ill feelings towards those in my upline who were taken in by this "business" -and who probably lost more money than I did. God help us all.  



62 comments:

  1. WOW! Eloquently written and extremely accurate, truthful and verified by ...ME an eye witness! Very scary and SPOT ON!! I feel I just received some closure in my life! Thanks!

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    1. Susan, the closure in your life could be the opening of someone else's eyes so they don't get scammed. Would you like to work with a group of people who are educating others so they don't get scammed by Amway and other MLM scams? Here's a summary of the problem and action you can take to help others not get scammed:

      Amway has 2 major problems, as do most MLMs:

      1. The products are overpriced, which makes them almost impossible to sell to customers and results in Amway being an illegal pyramid, according to the FTC and SEC websites and previous court decisions, and

      2. The Tool Scam is hidden profit for the top level distributors only, and the vast majority of distributors operate at a net loss as a result. This is RICO fraud.

      Read about these and much more at www.StopTheAmwayToolScam.wordpress.com and email stoptheamwaytoolscam@yahoo.com if you want to help shut down Amway and other MLM scams.

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  2. Replies
    1. Steven, see the above message to Susan. The same message applies to you.

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  3. Nailed it! My husband and I often refer to the emergent church as Amway. Both manipulative -- disgusting.

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    1. Charleen, is it disgusting enough to do something about it? See my message above to Susan, the same message applies to you. I hope you join us and take action, rather than merely complain.

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  4. This is so true I went to a Charis NTC and was falling for it until I heard things that I knew went against the Bible Like the Sovereignty of God being a bad doctrine= Andrew Wommacks Faulty Idea or what he Learned from other Word of Faith teachers.

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  5. The Gospel Coalition will tell you they aren't this...but they are. It's a money making, handful of personalities, and book sale promotion racket now pushing the rotten stench social justice theology and of Race-Based theology through Russ Moore, Tim Keller, John Piper and others.

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  6. Question for Alex - Does the Gospel Coalition hold huge conventions? I thought they were a think tank / publishing house?

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  7. Worldwide Dreambuilders, or Britt??

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    1. It was Dexter Yager's group-I don't know what they call it now, but they used the name InterNet Services Corporation (or something like that) back then.

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    2. Dexter Yager, yes - he sponsored Bill Britt, who has (or did have) the largest Amway business in the world.
      I have a very similar story to yours. Brought back lots of bad memories. ;-)

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    3. Steven, who was your upline Diamond within the Yager organization? Dan, would you like to help others NOT have bad memories? If so, read my message to Susan above and act accordingly.

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    4. My Diamond was Dominick Conigulairo (not sure if I'm spelling it correctly) and he was directly sponsored by Dexter Yager. They knew each other from living in Rome New York in the early days. The crazy thing is, Dominick actually sponsored Bill Britt-but he had just gotten started and Dexter took Bill under his wing right away and created a giant business around the world. Dominick was the most loyal guy on earth-he literally would kill for Dexter, I believe. I had two Emeralds in the Detroit area that lead to me in Wisconsin. My actual sponsor was Sue (at the top of the comments) who is my sister-in-law. Btw, I was just looking at stoptheamwaytoolscam and it's really great. For years I used to read the amquix site, but I haven't seen any new information or sites in a long time. Is that site your doing?

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    5. Yes, Dom and Pat: http://www.amwaywiki.com/Coniguliaro%2C_Dominick_%26_Pat I saw them at several major functions. I didn't recall they were Britt's upline, nor did I recall they got caught up in the Quixtar/Team dispute and were terminated (see above link). Can you confirm this? My upline was Don Wilson/Randy Haugen/Bruce Anderson, did you ever come across those guys? Amquix is good for historical information, mine is more up to date, especially section D, which is updated regularly. The other sections are mostly static, with only occasional changes.

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    6. I quit the "business" around 2000, so I had no idea that they were terminated! I actually got a phone call from Dominick about 6 months after we quit and my whole upline was (apparently) falling apart. I found out about the hidden tool scam after I quit and after that call. I left on good terms and never had a clue what was really going on behind the scenes. I heard Wilson and Haugen all the time back then-they were some of Dexter's super stars. I think I heard Anderson, too. I will be keeping up with your blog activity!

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    7. I'm answering this on my mothers account because she showed me this. My name is Izabella Doran and I am an Atheist and a current worldwide dream builder. Although I am not religious I attend all the functions and even the Sunday morning church service at FED. Although I may not agree with the religious beliefs WWDB was founded upon I respect the honesty, integrity, trust, and kindness that comes from the strong morals that WWDB was founded on. Never in my life have I met people that will literally take the time out their day and late evening and drive miles just to help me build my business. I can literally call my upline diamond 4 + times a week and he will take the time to coach me. I know a good business opportunity and good people when I see them. My team is kicking ass and making a name for themselves and I will stand by them ride or die because that is what this business is all about. Sorry that your experience was a negative one but I can't say I can relate in the slightest. Times have changed my friend this isn't the same business that was around 15 years ago.

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    8. It sounds like you are religious, Iracema - Amway and WWDB are your great Gods. This was the mantra 5 10, 15, and 20 years ago, Iracema. "Times have changed"; "it's not the same business it was x number of years ago"; "get in on the ground floor now while it's hot," et cetera. Lies, and more lies, and manipulation upon manipulation. How much money are you making, Iracema? What was your gross and net business income for the current year 2015, and as reported on your tax returns for 2014 and 2013?

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  8. This just confirmed what I already knew. Thank you muchly. [:o)

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  9. Not all churches preach the prosperity Gospel, but almost all Amway groups preach the dream and get rich "gospel." Amway is a scam, as are most MLMs. Forward this information to all non-Amway people you know, so they aren't scammed: http://www.StopTheAmwayToolScam.wordpress.com pic.twitter.com/lqJiD3Zf10 When enough people know, Amway and most MLMs will collapse, and so will the prosperity Gospel churches.

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  10. This is exactly what I experienced a an IBO in the 1990's. Looks like not much changes. The emphasis is on tools because the tools lead to success, but only for the people who sell tools. Luckily, I sensed the scam and snapped out of my Amway trance in less than a year despite being on the verge of going platinum.

    The upline uses clever psychology. They earn your trust by making little agreements such as taxes are too high and you can potentially make more in a business than working a job. When they have your trust, you are told that the system is vital and later, that Amway is about friends and not money.

    It keeps you from wanting to quit, unless you snap out of it on your own.

    Luckily for me, I realized they were lying about not making money on functions. Rock stars make bank n concerts so I knew big money was being made on functions and cds.

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    1. Joecool, do you want to do more than complain and post on an obscure blog? If so, read my message to Susan above and act accordingly.

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    2. Hey! Who you calling obscure?? ;)

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    3. All of us are obscure, that's why I promote working together to change that and get Amway and other MLM scams to collapse by educating the general population as well as local/state/federal governments, media, etc. Would you like to help? The more people we have involved, the less each individual has to do.

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    4. I'm working on 4 different blogs and I'm an artist/painter for a living, so my plate is really really full; but I will stay current with your blog and continue writing on this topic as much as I can. The larger issue of mind control/Stockholm Syndrome is fascinating, yet very dark and scary. What kind of help are you thinking of?

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    5. Tex equals Owner, above. Sorry I missed your last message. Here's a recent victory: http://allmlmfacts.org/2017/04/herbalife-gets-run-out-of-the-great-run/ Basically, people working together with common principles about what is wrong with Amway and other MLM scams.

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  11. Some good points but fabricated as well. I did amway for 6 years and did all the conferences and everything and still never spent half the money this guy talks about. And if you say you never learned anything and completely "lost 40k" then you're lying. You learned something or you wouldn't have done it for 4 years or you are just really really unintelligent. You sound bitter still.

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    1. Not to mention, the sunday services at these conferences where Christ is given all the glory and people are given the chance to be saved. Way more people were saved in these Sunday morning services then in any church I've ever seen.

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    2. Agreed! 180 day satisfaction guaranteed or your money back (You can use the entire product and STILL get your money back for it). If you lose $40,000, you're just stupid. No body takes YOUR credit card out of YOUR wallet to pay for anything. It's all a choice. You are not forced into anything. Writing an article that would be the opposite of this is depressing: "Speak negative into your life, read negative books, don't dream, don't work towards the future, don't make money to help people," it's just stupid. Michael, I agree with you.

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    3. Thank you, Unknown, for demonstrating the kind of inane, vapid and brain-dead thinking that pro-Amway people are capable of, so my readers will run away even faster if they ever get approached by an IBO. There are two, and only two, options in life (according to Amway people): 1. Go Amway!!! Be positive-even when nothing works like you were promised! Pretend you're going to be rich like all the people bragging on stage! Keep putting money into the Amway black hole-it'll pay off if you don't quit! 2. Be negative. Be poor. Don't help people. Be Anti-Amway. Those two options are all you're given in the pretend world of Amway believers. In the real world there are plenty of people living successfully WITHOUT Amway, but you've got to ignore that. In the real world you can help people WITHOUT Amway. In the pretend Amway world you're told to invest in your business, which really means keep buying all the tools, because eventually it will pay off. That's what they teach and they keep teaching-relentlessly. I was doing the very thing they teach by losing money. So you're saying I'm stupid because I did the thing that EVERYONE is taught to do in the Amway business. But when I left behind this deceitful business and stopped buying all the over-priced products and the tools (which have NO return policy) I was being SMART. I stopped losing money the moment I quit-just like all the other people that have quit. The power of mind-control in Amway is gigantic, and it takes a lot of strength to remove yourself from it. You are the one that is still living in denial, and I hope my words annoy you night and day until you get free.

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    4. I forgot to mention that unlike the Amway Corporation I'm allowing people like you to speak freely on my blog. Amway has extremely nasty lawyers who protect and prolong the pretend world of Amway. Amway says it doesn't want you reading "negative" things, but it really just wants to stop you from hearing the truth.

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    5. Michael, I didn't see the part where Steven said he didn't learn anything. Does learning something make it okay for Amway to scam people?

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    6. Michael, are you saying if scam artists have altar calls, then they should be allowed to keep scamming people?

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    7. Unknown, are you aware that the bulk of the $40k he lost was not subject to the 180 day return policy? Or are you stupid?

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  12. Michael Hamilton, you accuse me of fabricating and lying, and then you call me really really unintelligent and bitter. Nice. So the $10,000 per year loss in my Amway "business" wasn't real? Did you do my taxes? I dare you to search the internet and find horror stories about people losing money in Amway; there are people who've lost a lot more money than me-and worse. You seem to be demonstrating the mind-control power that this organization still has over you. Why are you no longer in the business if it's such a good thing? It has been my experience that most of the people who quit will rationalize about the "good things they learned" or talk about "people getting saved" because they don't want to admit that the whole thing was really an expensive embarrassment. One last thing, a conference that rips people off with false promises and then "gives Christ all the glory" is actually just using the name of Christ to manipulate people.

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    1. These scam artists are an insult to Christ, using His name to rip off people. Disgusting.

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  13. I'm pointing out if you want to slam a company, which you have every right to do Steven Kozar, go ahead and do it. Most people are completely ignorant to how Amway operates and will listen to every word you speak as pure truth when in fact it is not. In your eyes you may think it's true but through my eyes I don't see it the same way. You can make a blanket statement and say every single person involved was ripped off or a huckster stealing your money but I don't believe that. I have enough control over my mind to say yes I will keep pursuing this business or no I will not. That's why I believe you are fabricating b/c I don't believe every dollar I spent was a loss or waste b/c I learned many things that schools and universities never teach their students. And my line of sponsorship loved Christ and showed me how to follow Him more and live for Him more than any pastor or parent or friend has ever been able to sow into my life. They never forced me to do anything. I loved the people that built me up and made me a better person and that's why I don't agree that every dollar was a loss. You don't have to agree with me which is ok but don't be offended by that. I'm sorry you are angry and bitter towards amway. I used to be that way but I realized it was always my choice whether I went to another open meeting or seminar or major conference. It was up to me to buy more cd's, or business support materials. I've come to the place where I wish I'd left sooner than I did but I've also realized holding that bitterness would allow amway to take more years away from my life than they already have. It's not worth it. Again don't take offense. We both have gone through something most people will never understand but when we look at every thing that happened purely through the lenses of money then you will inevitable be angry. God will redeem the time and money you spent suffering through a business that wouldn't grow just as I did. He saw it all man. He knows. Trust Him.

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    1. Have you ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome? Look it up Michael, you have it. In spades.

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  14. Okay, so when 99% of the people lose money with a supposed business opportunity, it's my fault for being "bitter" and "angry" about it, and then "slamming" that company because some people (like Michael Hamilton) don't see it that way (even though they wished they had left sooner). Got it. I stand corrected.

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    1. I love your passion and appreciate your enthusiasm. I wish you nothing but the best Steven. God has an amazing plan for your life.

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    2. "God has an amazing plan for your life." lol don't you realize this is the last place you can preach prosperity gospel

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    3. Notice the disdain that "christian" Amway people have for the things of the Church; i.e., "my line of sponsorship loved Christ and showed me how to follow Him more and live for Him more than any pastor or parent or friend has ever been able to sow into my life" or "way more people were saved in these Sunday morning services then in any church I've ever seen". There is nothing biblical or "christian" about these sentiments. I was saved in spite of Amway, not because of it.

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    4. Michael, you're an idiot. Linda, Michael didn't saying anything about money. Dan, you are on target. Scam artists with an altar call are still scam artists and they will go STRAIGHT to hell.

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    5. Christ said to call no man a fool. Fool and Idiot are interchangeable words.

      T-shirts (and other clothing) are produced in China and Bangladesh for a few pennies. They are shipped to America and sold at Walmart for $8.99, and when they are on sale for $5 we think they are a steal. Same shirt gets an Abercrombie and Fitch logo (or you pick) and is sold in their stores for $22.
      I don't hear anyone screaming about the "scam" of a million other overpriced products.
      Not only that, in a free market, a product is worth what people are willing to pay. Who gets rich off of Walmart sales? Do a couple hundred people in each town make a fortune from Walmart? No. A couple hundred executives in Bentonville, AR get rich from the thousands of Walmart stores around the world. Everyone else just makes a paltry non-living wage. Where is your outrage at this?

      I suspect that whoever created this site is making money from their supposed "outrage".

      I've never been in Amway but my parents were when I was young. I remember the products being very high quality. Most of the cheap products we buy at Walmart have lasting negative effects on us, because they are loaded with chemicals and fillers. Those effects cost ridiculous amounts of money later on because of the medical problems they cause. Where is your outrage at this?

      If big box products were high quality they would command a high price.

      As far as tying this all into the big corporate churches... well, that is another subject in my opinion. Those come with their own set of positives and negatives.

      Of all the things going on in this world that may need to be curtailed, Amway is the least of my concerns.

      I think someone is just full of sour grapes, and wanting to inflict harm on someone else. Hardly a Christian thing to do.

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    6. KP: Your comment is incoherent and contradictory. It makes no sense to complain that the topic of an article isn't the topic you think it should be; this article has nothing to do with Walmart. It makes no sense to accuse me of making money off of this free blog with no advertising. It makes no sense to accuse me of "wanting to inflict harm on someone else" based on nothing. I wrote this article over a year ago. People are still getting scammed by the terrible Amway business and people are still getting scammed by terrible churches. Doing nothing to warn people about these problems is "hardly a Christian thing to do."

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  15. What about all the "good" they do? The building of homes for flood victims, etc? The missionaries being supported, etc. I am curious as this is one of the selling points, which I know, I could fall for.

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    1. Al Capone was very popular in the neighborhoods in Chicago where he did good things with the money he acquired from being a mobster. This happens all the time. It's hard to imagine that a company with a "Christian" public image is actually doing things beneath the surface that are bad; that's at least part of the reason why companies do charity projects-to improve their public image.

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    2. God bless you. Well-done Steven.

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    3. Bernie Madoff had lots of philanthropic interests as well, it helped him look like a good guy instead of the scam artist he is.

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    4. Exactly, the "good" is effectively a trick of sleight-of-hand. It is all about misdirection and muddying up the waters in an effort to confuse people and make people see them as "good". This kind of misdirection, to me, is part of what Paul wrote about when he called all our good works filthy rags -- our good works, no matter how altruistic we try to make them seem, still are sinful. For a manipulative company like Amway (which my parents bought into for about 2 months, and then stopped years ago), it is more visible and obvious that the motivation is wrong. Machiavelli's "ends justify the means" (for Amway -- their dirty business practices are OK because they do these "good" things) just plain doesn't work for Christianity. Rather, the "means justify the end", when you think of the "means" as the word & sacraments, and the end is in an eschatological sense.

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  16. Get out of this scam as soon as possible. Don't wait otherwise you will be hurt and blame God. This is man's greed. Either you serve God or mammon. I left such church more than 10 years ago.

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  17. 一群在安利失败的人们,用一竹竿打沉整船人,未免太无知与存恶意。搞清楚是教会传讲安利,还是安利宣扬福音?

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  18. Well we can also say that about most religions, they're all promising a better future whether here or in the afterlife, just as long you believe what they believe. And guess what? they always need your donations.

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    1. There's a huge difference between paying the bills and misleading people. I hope someday you can see the difference.

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  19. I think people are so paranoid about brainwashing they lose objectivity. Each person speaks from his experience, obviously. For some people, amway was a very bad experience, while others found success in there. If someone wants to try amway but is worried about brainwashing rumours, just keep the guard and try to differentiate between facts, opinions, and experiences.

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  20. Amway is just a sales business like any other. The fact that it has been coopted by the prosperity gospel is a reflection on people, not the business.

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    1. Amway is a pyramid scam masquerading as a sales business. The items they sell aren't better than what you can get at stores, aren't filling any particular niche, and cost way more than they are worth. The promise of wealth is based not so much on your own sales, but on getting other people to sell under you who then give you a percentage of the sales. Since you have to buy the items to sell them, and they are priced way too high for their actual value, this is a losing prospect except for those who can get a multitude of others to sell for them, meanwhile, those in the upper echelons of the company get lots of money, as they get their cuts of everyone else's sales.

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  21. WOW!!! You put it right in the money.I fiqure this system long time ago.But people are stupid. They leave these mega-church broker than broke.The only one making millions and laughing all the way to the bank are these crooked pastors. I just don't understand how these crooks are not being taken to jail and throw the key away. lavish living and vacations,cars,mansions. I people are so stupid they keep on giving there hard earned money to these crooks. wake up and smell the coffee and don't take your money from your family and give it to these scammers.

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  22. I just stumbled upon this page, and I do not claim to know anything at all about Amway, but I most comment on your comparison to "the church":

    The church I belong to, a Foursquare Church, does not: "Tell people that Christianity is all about getting your Dreams and realizing your Destiny". Nor does it tell people that *having lots of money is a good thing that God wants for you (so you can help others, of course)", or *to only listen to positive messages about success and prosperity... and I could go on here. I guess I'm just trying to say that not all churches are like what you have experienced, and I'm so sorry that your experience, from what it sounds like, has dissuaded you from any churches (forgive me if I've made too great of an assumption here). Please, if you have been hurt by a church like what you've described, please don't hold that against God, and please don't stop looking for a good church, one in which you will feel God's love.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I truly wish you and your family all the blessings of a wonderful Christmas season!
    Lisa

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