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Secret Service agents seize thousands of Ray Comfort's Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts

Monday, June 5, 2006 | Tag Cloud

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

DENTON, TEXAS (ANS) -- Secret Service agents recently showed up at the office of Great News Network in Dallas, Texas and demanded their entire stock of $1 million dollar gospel tracts that are produced by Ray Comfort's ministry, Living Waters. The tracts are used by Ray Comfort and his co-host Kirk Cameron and have been promoted on their national television program.

Reports were that the Secret Service was also going to pay a visit to Comfort's national offices in Bellflower, California and confiscate their entire stock. Apparently someone in North Carolina took one of the $1 million dollar tracts to a bank and tried to deposit it into their account, says a report from Christian Worldview Network.

Secret Service agents yesterday threatened evangelist Comfort with arrest for counterfeiting and seized 8,300 gospel tracts designed as "million-dollar bills."

Three Secret Service agents visited the Great News Network offices about 1 p.m. on June 2 asking staffer Tim Crawford if he was responsible for printing "the million-dollar bills," according to a WorldNetDaily.com report.

The conservative internet news service says Crawford suggested they talk to his boss, Darrel Rudus, the founder of the organization that trains evangelists from around the country in the techniques of witnessing their faith.

By telephone, Rudus offered his opinion that it was impossible to counterfeit something that wasn't real -- a $1 million bill, the WND report says.

The agents explained that a woman in North Carolina had attempted to deposit one of the million-dollar bills in her bank account. The address of the Great News Network was on the back, and the Secret Service went into action. WordlNet Daily says.

Rudus also explained that his organization had not designed the tracts. They are the work of the Living Waters Ministry of Ray Comfort in Southern California, which distributes millions of them a year.

The news report said that before he got off the phone, Rudus was convinced the agents were going to drop their demand for the Great News Network's tracts.

But later, he said, the agents again demanded them from Crawford, threatening him with arrest for "concealing evidence." Rather than face arrest, Crawford turned over the approximately 8,300 million-dollar tracts the group had stored. The agents left a receipt and their business cards.

Ray Comfort (left) with actor Kirk Cameron with whom he presents the Way of the Master television program

Comfort told WND he was stunned by the action of the Secret Service and expects agents to visit his California offices soon. He said he has no plans to abandon the use of the tracts, which are among the most popular of the many his organization distributes. Living Waters is known for its television program, "The Way of the Master," and an association with actor Kirk Cameron.

"I'm not going to stop printing them," Comfort said. "How can you possibly counterfeit something that is not real -- a $1 million bill?"

One side of the tract is designed like an imaginary $1 million bill. The other side has the gospel message written around the border. It also includes this message: "The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? Here's a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain? Jesus said, "Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart." Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That's not God's will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself -- 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.' Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you ev erlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it."

The tracts are also clearly marked on the front: "This bill is not legal tender."

Rudus says he won't be deterred from distributing the tracts in the future.

"Show me the law we're breaking," he told WND. "How can you counterfeit bills that do not exist?"

Rudus suspects the unknown lady in North Carolina didn't actually try to deposit the tract into her bank account.

"People drop these tracts for others to see and read," he explained. "That's the purpose of it. I have no way of knowing, but if I were going to guess, I would suggest this person just included the tract along with a deposit and someone got offended."

On hearing the news of the seizure, Ray Comfort alerted Brannon Howse, President of Worldview Weekend and Christian Worldview Network of the Secret Service action.

Howse runs Worldview Weekend Conferences across the country featuring Comfort and his friend, actor Kirk Cameron. Howse urged Comfort to call their mutual friend, Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association and AFA Center for Law and Policy. After Howse and Comfort contacted Wildmon, AFA's lead trial attorney took the case.

Ray Comfort told Christian Worldview Network: "People love this gospel tract. It's my personal favorite because it makes people laugh, and the reason they laugh is because they know that there's no such thing as a million dollar bill.

"When it comes to producing counterfeit money, there must be intent to defraud. This wasn't produced with the intent to buy anything, or to get change…it was produced as a gospel tract. That's its sole intent.

"Besides, any bank teller or shop assistant who is duped into giving change on a million dollar bill shouldn't be behind a counter."

Comfort sent out an e-mail alert to his e-mail list telling his thousands of supporters and customers: "Today (Friday, June 2) the Secret Service seized a large supply of our Million Dollar Bill tracts from The Great News Network in Texas. They told them that someone in North Carolina tried to deposit one in their bank, and that if they didn't give up their supply, they would arrest them. Then they said they are going to seize our supply in California. If you want Million Dollar bill tracts, you had better order them pronto."

CWN was told by Living Waters' customer service manager that their website was being bombarded with orders after they sent out the e-mail alert.

Brian Fahling, Senior Trial Attorney of the AFA Center for Law & Policy who is now representing Comfort and his ministry told CWN: "I am more than a little amazed that the Secret Service has chosen to harass Ray Comfort because of his $1 million dollar gospel tracts.

"It is abundantly clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense that the 'bills' are not made with an intent to defraud, but rather, they are distributed with the intent to reveal the Truth (the Gospel message is written around the border on the back of the bill). No thinking person could believe the bills are real. If the Secret Service does not cease from this intrusion upon the free speech rights and free exercise rights of Ray Comfort and others, that agency will be explaining its outrageous conduct to a federal judge."

Fahling added: "Apparently some cognitively challenged individual in North Carolina attempted to deposit one of the 'bills' into his account and the Secret Service decided that was enough for them to treat the bills as counterfeit. By that type of reasoning, if someone should attempt to deposit Monopoly money in a bank, the Secret Service could seize all the monopoly money held by Americans. Surely the Secret Service has more important things to do. "

Comfort was encouraged by his legal counsel not to give the Secret Service his stock of the $1 million dollar tracts if they showed up at his office in California without a federal warrant.

"The thinking is that if the agents show a judge a copy of the $1 million dollar tract that he would laugh till he cried and then after catching his breath he would thank the agents for the good laugh and then ask them to stop wasting his time," the CWN report says.

Here's the text on the back that should give a clue that it's not Government issued: "The million-dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it. www.livingwaters.com."

The front of the bill says "This note is not legal tender" as well as "Thou Shalt Not Steal," the words "Department of Eternal Affairs" and the web site www.WayOfTheMasterRadio.com, along with a picture of Grover Cleveland--a President who has never been on any bill.

ANS asked Comfort how he came up with the idea for the Million Dollar Bill tract and who designed it for him?

"We already had a number of tracts that used money as an attention-getter. Years ago, when someone sent me a novelty million dollar bill I decided to have my graphic artists create our own. It has improved graphically over the years to a point where people regularly ask for more."

Among the comments Comfort has received is this one from a storeowner: "I love these tracts, I put these on the counter in my store and customers ask if they can have some free money? Of course I agree and happily hand one over. I also like to go into a store or a fast food restaurant and then tuck one between the newspapers or things in front of the register. People grab it thinking they found a million dollars instead I pray a seed has been planted."

Another person told Comfort: "A waitress asked me if I was the one that gave her this tract a few months ago. She said she still has it and it was obvious to me that the Holy Spirit has been tugging at her heart. Please pray for her."

A student who contacted Comfort said: "People love this tract! Last night I was going up the elevator in my dorm room, and I had the Millions in my front shirt pocket. The other four people there all thought it was neat, and said they wished they were real! One said that it looked real, except for the 'writing on the back.' "

If charges are pressed and he is taken to court, Comfort said: "We will fight any charges in court, because you can't counterfeit (copy) something that doesn't exist. "

What can American Christians do to help Comfort in this case?

"Christians in our country can help by praying for us and by fulfilling the Great Commission. According to the recently promoted Dr. Bill Bright, only 2 percent of Americans in the U.S. regularly share their faith with others. That's tragic. So many of us have a fear of rejection or we don't know what to say. The Million Dollar Bill tract deals with both of those concerns."

Log-on to http://www.livingwaters.com for more details.

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Americas » Secret Service agents seize thousands of Ray Comfort's Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts