The case of alleged Ponzi schemester “Sir” Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire, has rocked over 50,000 customers who fear they may fallen victim in what SEC charges is an $8 billion fraud. One of the more interesting bit players to surface is a website called Godtube. Godtube spokesperson Holly Taylor claimed to me her company’s involvement with Stanford has made “zero business and financial impact” on the website’s parent companies, Tangle.com and Big Jump Media, and insisted that one of Godtube’s funders, VCE Capital Partners, purchased only “a nominal amount of shares” with Stanford amounting to 0.5 percent of the company’s total shares.
So the Stanford connection may not doom Godtube. But it reflects the extent to which Stanford’s alleged fraud is so widespread that it touched even a modest online start-up that is emerging as a social networking hub for young evangelicals.
Watch the Godtube prayer against “excessive hugging” and “fondling in the name of Jesus”
Many of Godtube’s users are like 26-year-old Marlon Hines of Farmington Hills, Michigan. When Hines wanted to take his self-authored “prayer against lust” to the public, he chose to post it on Godtube instead of the better-known online video sharing giant YouTube. Tens of millions of users may visit YouTube each month, but its more modestly trafficked, religious spin-off guaranteed Hines something no other website could: an audience of like-minded conservative Christians eager for jeremiads against sexual immorality.
“Oh, lust be rebuked,” Hines bellowed in his Godtube video. “Homosexuality be rebuked. Lesbianism be rebuked in the name of Jesus. Masturbation be rebuked in the name of Jesus. Not even dry humping, lord God! Not even any masturbation of any kind, lord God! Not even fondling in the name of Jesus! Not even excessive hugging, lord God! Not even molestation in the name of Jesus. I cast all of these to hell in the name of Jesus.”
Hines’ video prayer might have been ignored on Youtube, particularly because it contained no images, but on Godtube, the video garnered nearly 2,000 hits, a respectable number for a website visited by only 2 million users a month. By comparison, a trailer posted to Godtube of the wildly popular series “Every Young Man’s Battle” earned 2,500 hits. In that video, self-styled evangelical sex counselor Steve Arterburn appears on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg with a message for the young and tempted. “The loss of life on this battlefield many years ago was tragic, but the number of young men who fall prey to sexual promiscuity, pornography, and even sexual addiction is much greater,” Arteburn declares. “As a young man, you face a battle, but it is a battle that you can win.”
Those who post videos to Godtube can also form individual profiles much like those on popular social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. From there, they can interact with fellow evangelicals, post and comment on photos, and preview music from Christian pop artists featured by Tangle.com’s editorial team. Users can also browse online ministries from around the country, including those that promise “freedom from homosexuality.”
Though Godtube is only connected to Stanford through a third party, VCE Capital, which had listed one of his companies as a limited partner until removing it from its website on February 18, The Business Insider’s John Carney, who first noted the Stanford connection, wrote “the loss of a limited partner, who may have capital committed but not yet contributed, would likely be a blow to any venture capital firm in this environment.” But if the extent of Godtube’s investment with Stanford is no greater than the company has already indicated, the holy war against dry humping and excessive hugging will continue unabated.