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Television network A&E recently aired a short-lived series called 8 Minutes, in which a host attempted to save prostitutes by giving them resources to give up their job and find more rewarding work to feed themselves and their families. The only problem is that the prostitutes say they never actually got any of the promised resources. Oh, and they say the show misrepresented them, claiming that some of them were “trafficked” when in fact they were happy with their freely chosen profession (let’s leave aside for the moment the issue of how free a choice like that may be).
This isn’t altogether surprising when you know anything about how reality television is made, but it gets especially obvious when you realize that the star of the show was Kevin Brown, a pastor who has made a living “rescuing” women in the sex industry by pretending to be a john and then witnessing to them in seedy motel rooms.
Brown appears to be following in a long line of good-hearted theists who want to help people but unfortunately believe that the best or only way to do that is to let the person in question know about the existence of God. Much like organizations like World Mission raising money to send 2,000 Bibles to Nepal following the devastating earthquake, or Scientologists sending Scientologists to Haiti in the wake of that earthquake several years ago, Brown has mixed his religion with his charity and mistaken one for the other.
On a side note, there was a recent story making the rounds about the Gideons shipping thousands of Bible to Nepal. That didn’t happen and was actually just a very believable story from a satirical news site.
Often, these religious people do come bearing some kind of actual aid as well, which makes it hard to criticize since every bit of food, water, and medicine can help in a tragedy. But when the proselytizing becomes the primary focus, as with Brown, you can end up leaving the tragic victims you’re trying to help in a worse place than when they started, as with the prostitutes who stopped hooking and are now struggling to pay rent.
If you then combine that misguided religious fervor with the all-consuming ratings push of the average basic cable network, you end up with a superstorm of bullshit aimed to take out people in need.