The story of Marjoe – sometimes, preachers really are out to fleece the sheep

Marjoe Gortner was a child preacher who earned millions of dollars for his parents, beginning in the late 1940s. After a break from his ‘ministry’, he found himself short of money in his early twenties and so resumed preaching.

Until struck by a crisis of conscience in the late 1960s, Marjoe continued to deceive many in the church and relieve them of their money. He then allowed a documentary film crew unlimited access to his final revival tour, giving them backstage interviews where he explained how he and others deceived the flock. The video below is the resulting must-see documentary, with a startling relevance for today’s church. The film won the 1972 Academy Award for best documentary.

Of course, Christians today would never be so gullible. Would they?

Caution: this documentary contains one brief instance of crude language.

For those without the ability to play Flash content, this documentary is also available on YouTube.

8 thoughts on “The story of Marjoe – sometimes, preachers really are out to fleece the sheep”

  1. Brings back a lot of really bad memories. To answer your question, yes they would. But in the spirit of pachedermism, I won’t name any names or disagree with anything.

  2. Notice how all he does is yell and sing. All emotionalism. No bible teaching whatsoever. All any of these people do at these meetings is make loud noises and dance and sing and repeat the same words over and over – hallelujah! hallelujah!
    just emotionalism and nothing else. Totally empty of anything of substance. brainlessness.
    Nothing biblical. Nothing logical.
    If anyone would be fooled into thinking this has anything whatsoever to do with God, it is amazing to me.

  3. He says at the 41:55 mark, “This is a business”.
    For all the condemnation one might have had for this man and those like him who deliberate to be one thing but in truth, are another, he has the honesty to admit what he is doing. Whereas, in the church today, where books, CDs, registrations fees, seminar fees, conference fees and the accompanying paraphernalia is sold, I have more condemnation for them who do so unwilling to admit that they, too, are using the ministry as a business. Some might imagine, well that can’t include men like ___________(fill in the blank) who charge registration fees, seminar fees and charge for the teaching of the Word of God, even in book form (even if they claim it is because a publisher makes them do it or else they couldn’t get it printed) but I have news, it does. Oh yes, that includes them and they could get it printed, by the way, they just would have to do what ministry does, pay the cost to serve others.

    Great lessons from this video and this is but one of many.

  4. I see this scene played out in different degrees in very many churches today, only they have gotten much more sophisticated. Of course there are all the regular scams being rehearsed on the unsuspecting flock by the normal shysters like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland; and that rat’s-nest at TBN. But, let’s not let the boys and girls in the local mega church off the hook, they have brought money grubbing into the twentyfirst century. They are too smooth to be so superficial; their preferred method is marketing. They are no different than Star Bucks or any other successful business; they chase the dollar and and come away looking like pure driven snow, while capitalizing on the weakness of the flesh. When a church has a business profile, you can be assured that the accountants run the show.

  5. Child “preachers” are merely aping preaching and nothing more. There is no Biblical, exegetial, theological reflection–only rote, aping, memorization. Folks this is NOT preaching. Not Biblical. Not honoring to God or Christianity. This man and his parents are blasphemers of Christ and Christianity.

  6. It’s so sad what his parents did to him. It’s amazing Marjoe is not more cynical with having to grow up that way. It is good that he still has a conscience, at the point of doing this film. But, Marjoe became a man and what he did or didn’t do with Jesus, HE is responsible for. It was a very interesting documentary and should make us all more aware that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing in our midst. And God promises to not let His Word return void (what little of it there was that Marjoe preached.) But God also is not mocked. As someone else commented before, it is just very sad.

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