Reverend Ike is Dead
Even so, I’m betting that he’s the only guy in history who will
figure out a way to take it with him.
The Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter, known as Rev. Ike to a legion of followers here and across the nation to whom he preached the blessings of prosperity while making millions from their donations, has died. He was 74.
A family spokesman said he died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital, two years after he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered.
Rev. Ike’s ministry reached its peak in the mid-1970s, when his sermons were carried on 1,770 radio stations to an audience estimated at 2.5 million.
He also preached his philosophy of self-empowerment on television and the Internet, in books and magazines, and on audiotapes and videotapes.
From the stage of the former Loews movie theater on 175th St. in Washington Heights, which he restored and transformed into his United Church Science of Living Institute, Rev. Ike would tell thousands of parishioners “this is the do-it-yourself church. The only savior in this philosophy is God in you.”
He then would exhort the believers to “close your eyes and see green … money up to your armpits, a roomful of money, and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool.”
As payback for spiritual inspiration, Rev. Ike asked for cash donations from the faithful – preferably in bills not coins. “Change makes your minister nervous in the service,” he would say.
A lot of these guys, if you think back, reached their peak in the ’70s and ’80s. Yet just when I think they are, figuratively speaking, going to die off, a new crop of them, and a new crop of followers, comes along.