Scams involving religion are as old as human history itself, and they are not restricted to any one religion. Christianity has seen many scams throughout her times, be they in the ancient or modern world. Some of the most memorable Christian “scams” have been in modern times with the epidemic of “televangelists,” where predominately Protestant “pastors” will preach questionable messages or claim questionable abilities in exchange for their true god, the almighty dollar.
There are many examples of these. There is Robert Tilton, a.k.a. “the farting preacher” or “Pastor Gas” who bilked his followers out of tens of millions of dollars for decades:
There is the infamous case of Peter Popoff, who scammed also a very large amount of money and was claiming he could hear the voice of God until he was exposed by the atheist James Randi in a sting operation:
There is Leroy Jenkins, who was exposed for fraudulent activities on Inside Edition:
The American scams are bad, the foreign ones can be even worse, especially in Africa. There is the example of the infamous Victor Kanyari, who was exposed for his fraudulent actions by Kenyan TV as just one among many:
While there are many scams involving Christians, do not be misguided into thinking that they are limited to Christians alone, for as I mentioned already, all religions have this. Muslims are no exception, and perhaps one of the most famous Muslim evangelist scammers is a Turk by the name of Adnan Oktar, or by his pen name of “Harun Yahya”.
Oktar has written many books praising Islamic values, the benefits of Islam, why a man should convert to Islam, why Darwin is wrong, and many things that either would seem to express a genuinely held moral position or have something of objective truth contained with him. However, Oktar is not one to practice what he preaches, as having gained a large following of people, he has used that to form his own cult of personality and for those close enough to him, a sex slave cult similar to that which was exposed in Brazil with “John of god.”
Oktar lived a life like that of an Ottoman Sultan, in wealth and splendor paid for by his followers, and has a harem of women he kept as sex slaves who according to former members were forced to serve him half naked, and he sexually abused all of them, including pre-pubescent girls. As far as his practice of Islam is concerned, former members say that they never heard the word “Allah” mentioned in his cult, but only were forced to sing the praises of Oktar:
A former disciple of Adnan Oktar has said the controversial televangelist wanted all his surgically-enhanced female followers to have certain facial and bodily features because of his earlier life experiences in front of shanty night clubs in Ankara.
“This pervert was raised in Ankara. When he was young, he used to hang out in front of shanty night clubs there. The physical appearance of those night club women had stayed in his mind,” Beril Koncagül told daily Hürriyet on Feb. 10.
Oktar, who is also known abroad by his pen name Harun Yahya, hosted talk show programs on his television channel on which he has discussed Islamic values and sometimes danced with young women he called “kittens” and sang with young men, who he called his “lions.”
The cult leader and dozens of his followers were arrested in August 2018 on over 30 charges including establishing a criminal organization, child sexual abuse, sexual intercourse with minors, kidnapping, violating tax law, and violating the anti-terrorism law.
Koncagül (above), who was known in the Turkish media as Oktar’s “favorite kitten,” was among his followers who were released on condition after agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution.
After spending more than nine years at Oktar’s luxurious “den” on an Istanbul hill overlooking the Bosphorus, she said the “kittens” were routinely abused and raped.
“I tried to escape five times but he had 60 armed guards, hundreds of cameras and jammers in that villa. It was impossible to run away,” she told Hürriyet.
There were 17 more sex slaves, she added, who were all ordered to serve Oktar half-naked. “He was beating us, cursing at us, abusing us, forcing us into sexual intercourse. We were forced to call him ‘my love’ whatever he does,” Koncagül added.
When asked why all of Oktar’s female followers looked almost identical in appearance, Koncagül explained that their cosmetic surgeries were designed to give them looks in the mind of Oktar.
“He made us look like those women at shanty night clubs he saw in his youth. There were certain surgeons that worked for him. No woman was allowed to decline this cosmetic surgery,” she added.
Everything in the mansion was designed for Oktar’s comfort, Koncagül said. Two topless women would hold the newspaper that Oktar would read or his telephone when he spoke while another one would put his sock on before heating up his shoes with a blow-dryer.
“He was also abusing children. He was defending that sexual intercourse is allowed after anyone is older than seven years old. He was sexually harassing minors while making them wear miniskirts,” she said.
“He has been sexually impotent since 1998 but he remains as a pervert,” the former disciple added. “He thinks that he is greater than all the prophets but the only times that he talked about religion was when he was on TV. We never heard him mention Allah even once at other times.”
Oktar and more than 160 of his followers remain under arrest, pending trial.
On Oct. 4, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality teams demolished parts of Oktar’s mansion, which had been built without a permit. The mansion was also used as a television set for Oktar’s unusual shows, where he mixed religious sermons with dancing.
In 2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation, arguing that Darwin’s theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism. He has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, his TV channel says on its website, although his critics dismissed him a cult leader who used religion as cover for criminal activities. (source, source)
Thankfully, Oktar has been arrested and is pending his long-awaited trial for his crimes, of which religion has served as his cover for decades.
This is not to say that Islam is right at all. To the contrary, it is to acknowledge a pattern that one sees among Christians but also repeats with Muslims. While Islam is an objectively evil religion, it is this way because of theological reasons. There are many people who are Muslims and believe in Islam because they genuinely believe it to be objectively true and the way that Allah wants to be served. However, there are also people who believe in Islam because they see it as a vehicle for them to get power, just like with Oktar.
For the man who desires power over all with respect to none and will do anything to get it, there is no means unacceptable so long as it realizes his desired end.