- The art of the Con
International Christian Relief
One would certainly think that any charity with this kind of
moniker had to be doing all the right things. At the head of the Charity was
a fire and brimstone preacher by the name of Carl McIntire. In the early 1970s
when McIntire was ruling the roost, he had somehow gloomed onto a national religious
radio show that seemed to be playing to every right-wing, gun touting, red neck
in the country. While many of his followers and his radio network may not have
been aware of it at the time, Carl had been formally defrocked by the Presbyterian
high command and held no religious credentials whatsoever.
This temporary setback seemed not to matter to
McIntireâ€™s or his congregation in Collingswood, New Jersey at all. He renamed
his pulpit the Bible Christian Church and set up a college to educate the young
people in his flock next door. It soon came to New Jerseyâ€™s educational authorities
that nothing much of benefit was being taught there and a lot of harm was coming
to the young people who were being immersed in gunk of the worst kind. State
officials withdraw whatever accreditation the college had and attempted on numerous
occasions to have the supposed institution of higher learning banned from the
state. McIntire along with his staff of lawyers fought the state tooth and nail
until another problem erupted from a different front.
Apparently, McIntireâ€™s church had been part of the American
Council of Christian Churches until it had strayed. Furthermore, there was a
substantial amount of money that had been given to the Bible Christian Church
in its former incarnation that had not properly been accounted for. Moreover,
it seemed to be the American Councilâ€™s contention that McIntire had diverted
both the funds belonging to the Council and those belonging to his own church
to a resort complex that was being constructed in close proximity to Cape Kennedy,
However, that wasnâ€™t the only place that money was
going. It turned out that the International Christian Relief which was a sister
organization to Bible Christian Church was sending the charity money that they
collected from their own parishioners along with funds from tens of thousands
of radio converts to the Republic of Biafra. It turns out that the Ibo children
and their parents were starving in that country because of the horrendous war
with neighboring Nigeria that was being fought there. Unless money for food
could be filtered into the country immediately, McIntire, reported that the
loss of human life would be catastrophic. If nothing else, McIntire was a great
media performer and had his listeners in tears.
The money began pouring in by the bucketful and McIntire, true
to his word sent the funds of his benefactors directly to Africa. However, it
seems his heart may not have been where he had said it was. Instead of going
to food for the Iboâ€™s in Biafra, it went to the Nigerians that were massacring
them. However, in spite of McIntireâ€™s constant haranguing for more money for
this mystical cause, the war was just about over before the big money even arrived.
It turns out that the United States Government had just banned
any products that contained cyclamates, which were believed to contain cancer
causing agents, from sale in this country. McIntire, seeing an opportunity went
to the two largest producers of the cyclamate infested products, Carnation Co.
and Bristol-Myers and told them of the wonderful work his church was doing.
He carefully explained that while their products were going to rot in the American
warehouse that they were stored in, they could be donated to his Charity, International
Christian Relief and they could deduct the value of everything that they were,
in the alternative going to have bury or sink. Moreover, while his Church had
literally nothing left of its good name, they were still an acceptable charity
and they would write the companies a nice letter confirming their receipt of
this product on their stationary.
The goods were delivered to the warehouse that McIntire
had indicated and the church now had $24 million dollars at retail of materials
that were more likely than not to cause cancer on their hands. They were not
concerned about the fact that anyone ingesting the stuff could eventually get
cancer, they were concerned now in how to turn the $24 million minus warehousing
costs into a tidy profit. The Church in its wisdom contacted their friends in
the Nigerian Army and told them about the wondrous products that they had obtained
from blue chip American manufactures. The church would supply the entire load
for $3.1 million dollars. The Nigerian Army would be getting what was mostly
sarcoma laced diet milkshakes (Carnation Slender and Metrical) for about 15
cents on the dollar.
However, the warehouse expense, which was a tidy
$250,000, had to be dealt with before the atomic milkshakes could be shipped.
However, the church and their affiliates dealt with that matter in their usual
precision-like fashion. An Official of American Express was approached about
loaning the money for the warehouse payment against the Nigerian Armyâ€™s purchase
order. The American Express Official determined after less than careful consideration
that merchandise condemned by the United States Government was hardly deemed
to be satisfactory collateral by American Express, however, perhaps if church
officials could sweeten the pot a bit and come with some additional collateral,
any additional collateral, it would probably work. The American Express official was quietly
paid for his efforts and some phony stock was literally rented from the mob
and the deal went through.
Of course, the American Express official had made
the loan knowing full well the announcement that had previously been made by
the Securities and Exchange Commission that AFCA was one of the companies that
had been placed on a black list by the American Government because of the fact
that securities were being sold to Americans in spite of the fact that they
had violated American laws by not having them registered. It shows you that
a little sweetener can go along way when Ibo children are starving to death
in Africa. Gold Bless those folks at American Express.
When American Express were not promptly repaid their
loan plus the substantial interest they had charged they order the collateral
liquidated. When that turned out to be impossible, they fired their employee
and called the cops. “Police descended from everywhere - Canada, London, Switzerland,
Interpol, and the SEC.” All of the players had disappeared after the Nigerian check
was cashed. American Express was stiffed for a good part of their money when
nobody in the police or anywhere else could find a thing in the world about
AFCA. McIntire, on the few occasions that he is seen in public will no longer
talk about anything, forget about religion or starving Ibos. The Nigerian Army
downed their milkshakes and years later have begun to pay for the experience.
It would seem that good time was had by all.