By Todd Strandberg

If you asked 100 people whom they thought was the most evil man who ever lived, the majority of them would give the title to Adolf Hitler. The one-time dictator of Germany earned the distinction by being history's most documented despot.

Hitler is the one who started World War II - the most costly war in human history, which left 60 million people dead. He also implemented the Holocaust - the systematic persecution and genocide of the Jews and other groups he deemed "racially inferior" or "undesirable."

All evil springs from a revolt against God. Satan is the leader of this rebellion. Hitler sought to destroy the Jews because the devil knows that redemption history works around the Jews. If he could eliminate the Jews, then the plan of God could be derailed.

The next most recognized evil man is Joseph Stalin. At one point, he was the head of the largest dictatorship in history. While Hitler let other people do his dirty work, Stalin was directly involved in the death of millions of people.

How To Get To the Top of the Evil List

The most shocking examples of evil are always attacks against the most innocent members of society. It is always an outrage to hear of children being molested, elderly ladies being mugged and the mentally handicapped being abused.

God is the most powerful being in the universe. He is also the most innocent, being completely free from sin. Anyone who attacks the Lord is committing the most evil act possible.

Someone can wallow in the pig sty of lust, greed, and debauchery and be evil. But until they pick up a lump of mud and fling it at the Creator, they have not truly been to the dark side. Why else would it be so common for people to use the Lord's name as a curse word?

Satan loves to use men who claim to represent God as vehicles for defaming the Lord. Because the devil knows how holy God is, he may be hesitant to defame the Lord on a personal level. I don't recall anywhere in the Bible where a demonic being attacks God directly. The devil leaves this task up to man. It is like the old saying, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

James Eugene Ewing

I recently discovered a man who has excelled in defaming the Lord. Over a 40-year period, he has rubbed mud in God's face, and he has helped prevent millions of people from finding eternal redemption. His name is James Eugene Ewing.

Unless you found his page by doing a Google search for "James Eugene Ewing," I'm sure you have never heard of this man. You would have a better chance of catching Santa Claus coming down the chimney than you would of finding footage of Mr. Ewing. He is the type of person who likes to hide in the shadows.

According to statements from his own ministry, Ewing was born in Texas in 1933, the son of south Texas sharecroppers. He served four years in the Air Force, claiming through his magazine that "many soldiers gave their lives to Christ with Bro. Ewing kneeling by their side in airplanes, in barracks or anyplace." After his stint in the military, he chartered Camp Meetings Revivals in the Dallas area.

Ewing's tent-revival crusades were focused on healing and liberation. A full-page ad in the 1963 Tulsa World announced a "Deliverance revival: Gene Ewing coming under one of the world's largest tents."

Despite having little formal education, Ewing managed to build a massive direct-mail empire from his mansion in Los Angeles. All his ministry mail is directed to a Tulsa post office box. Ewing's computerized mailing operation, Saint Matthew's Churches, mails more than 1 million scam letters per month, many to low-income, uneducated people, while Ewing lives in a $2.2 million, 6,400-square-foot home above Beverly Hills and drives a small fleet of luxury cars.

The Germination of Seed Faith

If you watch much Christian television programming, you may have heard a preacher talking about the "seed faith" principle. This modern movement can be traced back to a meeting that Ewing had with Oral Roberts.

In 1968, donations to Roberts' ministry had plummeted after Roberts alienated many of his supporters by joining the United Methodist Church. To raise money, Roberts decided to sell the ministry's corporate airplane.

Ewing came to see Oral about buying the plane. When he arrived at the ministry headquarters, he had something to sell to Roberts. The first thing out his mouth was, "Oral, you are in trouble, and I can help you." And did he ever.

According to Wayne Robinson, then the vice president of public affairs for the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, "Gene laid out one of the most sophisticated fund-raising campaigns I had ever seen. He said, 'Oral, I want you to write your supporters and tell them you are going in the prayer tower, and you are going to read their prayer requests and pray over them.' He stayed there three days. I forget how many hundred thousands of letters we had, but it was huge."

The core of Ewing's advice to Roberts was the seed-faith philosophy. "You give to the ministry, and God will reward you with a financial blessing."

By the following year, income to Roberts' ministry had doubled, going from $6 million to $12 million. Roberts was so happy with Ewing's guidance that he gave him the plane.

"God's Ghostwriter"

Just by helping with Oral Roberts' ministry, Ewing could be regarded as the father of the modern-day 'seed-faith' concept. Many preachers joined the health-and-wealth gospel bandwagon by emulating old Oral.

Unfortunately, Ewing did not stop the Roberts. Once word got about his magic touch, several other ministers sought his services. T.L. Osborn ran into Ewing at an airport and hired him to direct his fundraising.

"We were down to counting pencils and paper clips until Gene came along," boasted Osborn.

Ewing's flair for effective, dramatic direct-mail appeals won him jobs writing for evangelists including Robert Tilton, Rex Humbard and "Rev. Ike." In many cases, the letters were identical but contained different signatures.

The Trinity Foundation, which is run by Ole Anthony, was the first to dub Ewing as "God's Ghostwriter." Anthony managed to find a single letter that nine different televangelists had claimed as their own. The only difference was the signature.

"We had nine different televangelists essentially sending out the same letter," Anthony said. "He (Ewing) makes most of his money by selling these packages to televangelists."

Never mind the fact that many of the letters speak of revelations that God directed the sender [insert name] to give the recipient. The only name that matters to these hucksters is the one on the seed-faith check.

"Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter" (Isa. 56:11).

A Skunk by Another Name Still Stinks the Same

The most obvious evidence that Ewing is crook at heart is the number of name changes for his ministry. The vast majority of religious organizations stick with the same name; Ewing goes through a new one every few years.

Here are a few examples of ministry names that have been linked to him:

Church of Compassion
Rev. Ewing's Evangelistic Ministries Inc.
Church by Mail Inc.
Church and Bible Study in the Home by Mail
Twentieth Century Advertising Agency
Saint Matthew's Churches

The frequent name change seems to be designed to ditch the IRS. When the Feds begin to investigate one of his corporate entities, he relocates his operations under a new one.

Over the years, the IRS has questioned the legitimacy of many of Ewing's organizations, but has failed to take any action. In one court filing, the IRS argued that funds generated by Church by Mail "inure to the benefit of private individuals." Another IRS brief stated that, "Ewing and McElrath (his partner) sit at the top of a very lucrative set of organizations which they totally control without interference."

The listed address for two of Ewing ministries points to the headquarters of his lawyer, J.C. Joyce. His current ministry, Saint Matthew's Churches, was also incorporated at Joyce's Tulsa law office.

Every Gimmick Under the Sun

When I first came to faith is Jesus Christ, I spent much time listening to Christian radio. Being eager for information, I wrote to all the programs that invited listeners to contact them. Many of the men on these programs were clients of Ewing who sent me an endless series of appeals for money.

Even as a baby Christian, I could tell that these prosperity preachers were wolves in sheep's clothing. Their only purpose in writing me was to get money.

To them, the Bible is just a tool for extracting funds. While Bank jobbers use guns, they utilize Scripture to pull these heists.

Ewing came up with an endless number of gimmicks to be mailed out by ministries. What made them appealing was their context to Bible verses. Some mailings would contain items like prayer cloths, "Jesus eyes" handkerchiefs, fake golden coins, miracle water or oil, communion wafers, a prayer rug made out of paper, and "sackcloth billfolds."

To conceal these letters from family members who might have better financial sense, the recipients were told to open the letters in private and not discuss them with others: "Try to take it to a room or somewhere where you can be alone with the Lord." Other mailings asked for a donation before opening a second letter marked "Personal and private."

One mailing from Ewing included a $10,000 "faith check." The bogus check was from the "Bank of Heaven." Of course, the bank president was God, the Father, the vice president was Jesus, and the secretary and treasurer was The Holy Ghost.

"Place the faith check in your wallet and keep it there until the blessing unfolds," the letter states.

"Whisper the name of Jesus three times as you write your name on the back of your Faith Check."

A lot of Ewing's ideas seem as if they were inspired by a book of witchcraft. The Bible does not tell us to make practice of "repetitious" prayer. The Lord is not like a slot machine; you don't keep blindly pulling His arm until He finally pays off. We receive God's blessing by seeking Him on a personal level.

The Day of Reckoning

I've never been temped to go down the prosperity path. Even as I read of the wealth some of these folks have raked in, and of the luxurious lives they lead, I want nothing to do with it.

No amount of money is enough to make it worth losing your eternal soul. I can't imagine how someone who preys upon the poorest and most desperate people in our society can be regarded as Christian brothers or sisters.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25).

The funny thing about men who are truly evil: They tend to envision themselves in a positive light. Somehow they manage to find a way to view their evil deeds as helping their victims.

I imagine that James Eugene Ewing someday expects the doors of heaven to swing wide open for him. After all, he is the one who brought great hope to people who replied to his prosperity mailings.

The reality is that Ewing has done a huge amount of damage to the Kingdom of God. The teachings that he set in motion decades ago have grown in monstrous organizations. The Trinity Broadcasting Network is a haven for evangelists who have adopted his principles. It reaches tens of millions of people around the globe.

I recently talked to one pastor from Zambia who testified that the prosperity teaching has been very destructive to the church in Africa. He confirmed that many Christians have become inactive in the faith, choosing rather to sit around and listen to American preachers.

If Ewing had any concept of the massive hole he was digging for himself, he probably would have long ago retired from the business. He continues to add to his judgment because he obviously likes swindling people.

In the end, the main anguish of hell for people like Ewing will not be caused when they roast in an eternal flame. Their ultimate pain will be when they realize how easy it would have been to do the right thing. After all, they had the word of truth, they had the ambition, they had the financial resources, and they had the organization--but they did nothing to advance the name of Jesus.

"Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" (Mat. 18:7).