7On your side: Jesus prayer rug - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Jesus prayer rug

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It's a mailing you may have received -- especially if you've responded to religious mailings before.

It's a so-called church prayer rug with a picture of Jesus on it. His closed eyes seem to open, if you hold it at different angles. Most people probably toss it, but it's harder for others to ignore what seems to be a picture of Jesus.

The church prayer rug seems to prey on people's superstitions, kind of like a chain letter. It warns, "Do not keep the prayer rug" which it says is "soaked with the power of prayer" just for you and must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing.

Executive Director of the SWLA Better Business Bureau, Carmen Million, admits the tone of the mailing is that something bad will happen if you ignore it or toss it.

"Well, it is scary. You think about, if I destroy something that is religious, is it going to come back on me, will this come back to haunt me?," she said.

While the forms inside don't specifically ask for money, it does "welcome" a donation to further God's work, meanwhile urging you to check off the blessings you need. Choices include, "a family member's health, less confusion at home, your children, help stopping a bad habit."

No doubt, most people would likely reap some of the blessings listed, since they are pretty common occurrences in life. Million said a donation will only buy you more junk mail.

"Unfortunately, this particular organization, the Better Business Bureau in Oklahoma has requested information from the organization, and the organization chose not to respond. What that basically means is, we're not able to tell you if it's a charity, where the money's going, who it's going to benefit or what their purpose is, other than to receive money based on people's religious beliefs," Million said.

The company responsible for these mailings used to be tax exempt and showed revenues of more than $26 million dollars in 1999. 

"If you have questions about it you can always check with your local priest or preacher, but these types of companies are preying on your emotions. And we tell people to give with your heart, but to give with your head. So, you really need to think about this and use common sense," Million advised.

For the benefit of those whose curiosity tends to get the best of them, we'll send the company a donation and report back what response we get. If you've received other offers in the mail, by phone or by e-mail, save the communication and contact 7 On Your Side at 337-437-7570. We are looking for people to talk about their experiences and as we can, we'll try to find out what happens when we reply to some of these offers.

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