"Mother Jones" Profiles Christian Oil Prospecting in Israel
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:24:27 AM EST
The latest issue of Mother Jones has an interesting article (subscription only) on attempts by American Christians to find oil in Israel. The author, Mariah Blake, concentrates mainly on Ness Energy, a shell company devised by Hayseed Stephens in 1997:
In late 2002 he told Prophecy Club listeners that "experts from Israel and around the world" had studied his planned drilling site and concluded that "18 to 50 billion barrels of oil" were hidden beneath the surface, reserves worth up to a trillion dollars. "You cannot find such good odds in Vegas, Atlantic City, or anywhere else in the world, even if you are nothing but a gambler."

However, investors discovered that shares could not be re-sold; they watched them rise in value, then fall dramatically. Ness has acquired $10 million, despite not actually digging anywhere. Blake notes that several Ness insiders also have links with a company called Safescript Pharmacies, which had its license revoked by the SEC allegedly "for artificially inflating its stock value through a fraudulent accounting scheme":  the head of Safescript was Stanley Swanson, who was also founding CEO of Ness, while a Safescript consultant was Ivan Webb. Webb was Ness's financial officer and was also involved with a firm called Broadband Wireless that had allegedly cheated investors. Ness, according to the article, purchased $1 million dollars of shares from Safescript which became worthless soon after.

Blake also travelled to Jerusalem to look through Israel's oil register; she says that she discovered that Stephens controlled a second private company, named Hesed, which would receive any profits from drilling undertaken by Ness - leaving Ness investors with nothing. In 2003, Hesed and another firm owned by Stephens were sold to Ness, according to Blake at inflated prices. Stephens died a month later.

Ness, though, is still going, and for a month a businessman named Anthony Allenby was appointed CEO - leading to a raise in stock prices and payouts to executives, but no actual oil. Blake describes Allenby as "British"; he is actually South African, although based in the UK. In the last few months (this isn't in Blake's piece) Allenby has established Allenby-Ness Oil, much to the displeasure of Stephens' son, who has fired off transatlantic legal threats on behalf of Ness Energy to Allenby in Uckfield in East Sussex, where he is associated with an obscure "Churchill and Associates Limited".

Blake's article also draws attention to some other figures who have promised oil bonanzas for Christians but then failed to deliver: Andy Sorelle, who was puffed by Pat Robertson on the 700 Club in the 1980s; Bernard Coffindaffer, "who searched for oil using scriptural clues and a vial of his own blood"; and Covenant Energy, which ended in fraud convictions.

There is also a profile of Zion Oil, whose banner appears often at the head of the WorldNetDaily homepage. I've been following Zion Oil (see here, scroll down to "Oil Prospecting") ever since Hal Lindsey encouraged his readers on WND to buy shares, without disclosing that his cousin Ralph DeVore was a member of the board or that he himself had received a gift of shares worth $337,500 (DeVore's shares are worth $4.9 million; the significance of DeVore was first noticed by me. Blake's article avoids going into DeVore's spat Zion CEO John Brown, which I blogged here). Blake observes that

Unlike Ness, Zion is a legitimate wildcatting venture, with respected geologist on its board of directors.

However:

Zion was never close to striking oil; at its very first stockholders' meeting in June, the firm announced plans to temporarily abandon its only well due to technical problems.

I wrote a piece for Talk to Action about this meeting at the time, where I also explored the religious thinking and strange Biblical exegesis that inspired Zion Oil's founder.

Full reference:

Mariah Blake, `Let there be light crude', Mother Jones January-February 2007: 54-57, 81, 86.

(Hat tip to a reader for bringing this to my attention)




Display:
"Literal" interpretations of the Bible often seem to lead - bad science, and bad business.

Of course even the use of the word "literal" there is suspect, as demonstrated by leading Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman.

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Never mind, of course, that most of Israel is in one of the few parts of the Middle East that is actually geologically unsuited for petroleum...

Of course, that won't stop the usual suspects in the dominionist community from committing Fun With Affinity Fraud.

For those unaware, "Israeli Oil" schemes seem to be one of the new hotnesses in affinity frauds explicitly targeting the dominionist, and in particular the neopentecostal dominionist, community; the Mother Jones article is just one of the first mainstream sources to cover this.  Pat Robertson in particular has been involved in affinity fraud before (namely, the use of the Operation Blessing frontgroup he operates to traffic blood diamonds including transporting mining equipment to blood diamond miners in what was then known as Zaire).

There is truly a dazzling array of various sorts of affinity frauds promoting various schemes in the "Holy Land", or products supposedly originating from the "Holy Land", explicitly targeting the neopente dominionist and "Christian Zionist" communities.  Among them are the "Israeli wildcatter" schemes (such as this); various Ponzi schemes directly referencing investments in Israel; and MLM schemes marketing "Holy Land" products.  

Some particular types of "Holy Land affinity fraud" go to the frankly bizarre (unless you are either a walkaway or have some serious backgrounder in neopente dominionist internal group mythology); these include affinity schemes to raise money for cattle farms in Israel for breeding red heifers to sacrifice in order dedicate the Third Temple (which is promoted especially in neopente dominionist communities, due to the building of the Third Temple and the appearance of a red heifer for same being major "end time" signs)--a rather explosive subject, seeing as the Third Temple would be built on what is known as the Dome of the Rock and one of the holiest sites in Islam.  

A less-explosive (at least in world affairs, if not in the financial sense) scheme which involved funneling massive amounts of out-of-circulation 1-agora pieces out of Israel for distribution in churches as "genuine widow's mites" (this seems to have had its origins with the PTL Club) seems to have been quite widespread in Assemblies of God megachurches throughout the 80s (I have a small hoard of the "late 70s/early 80's" issue 1-agora pieces that the dominionist church I walked away from distributed regularly, as well as a mid-70's 1-agora piece that PTL Club mailed to households in the early 80s).  In both cases, these were given out as rewards for or as encouragement for large "seed faith offerings" above and beyond tithing); I always wondered how much Israel's economy must hurt, until I learned (via hitting Israel's equivalent of the US Mint) that the "Widow's Mites" distributed in these churches were typically out of circulation for years within Israel itself by the time they were distributed Stateside.

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By Chris Rodda (34 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (32 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (32 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (31 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (16 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (14 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (18 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (43 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (24 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (32 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (48 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (29 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (32 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (34 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (24 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (22 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (24 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (33 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (32 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (30 comments)

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