I've used that phrase a number of times around fundies and used it several times over at Ray's when I used to post there. They never seem to get the meaning of it and in light of recent events here with one Mr. Burton, I'd like to shed some light on the meaning of the phrase.
The fundies over at Ray's never seem to understand that when we point out to them that he is making a killing off of them we don't necessarily mean that he is taking money directly out of each and every one of their pockets. Just because Ray doesn't charge for every single item associated with his ministry, doesn't mean that every single item doesn't mean more money in his pocket. It works like this:
Fundies think Ray must be a pretty honest guy because he tells them what they want to hear (a bunch of biblical blah-blah) and reinforces their confirmation biases about the world around them with his persistent parroting of ill conceived 'logic'.
Some of them will buy his products and some of them will just take the free swag and hand it out to their churches and friends, thinking that Da Jeebus is smiling on their soft little heads for doing so. What they don't get is that even if they personally didn't put money in Ray's pocket, by spreading his ministry they inadvertently do so because as a result of them helping to spread his ministry a certain percentage of other people will buy his products and/or disseminate his swag and in this way he makes money off of them indirectly. They think they are helping to spread the word of God, when in all actuality they are just helping to pad Ray's bank account.
So, in effect, they were fleeced once by buying into his lies about science and his illogical arguments, then they were fleeced again by either buying his junk and spreading it, or just passing on the free stuff so that he can make money off of others should they happen to buy products.
And how does this relate to the Terry Burtons of the world? It can be summed up in one sentence: Ray Comfort doesn't give a flying goddamned turd about Terry Burton or anyone else that is infected with fan worship for him or his ministry. That was made pretty evident by his dismissal of Terry in the comments over at Ray's. A certain faction of people who are unstable to begin with become a *wee bit* obsessed over people that they deem to be somehow more worthy that the rest of humanity, be it a religious figure, a celebrity, a love interest, ect. Often they take on the same likes, dislikes and viewpoints of the person they are obsessed with. I think it makes it easier for Terry or anyone in a similar situation as him to demonize other people if he thinks Ray hates them too. However, the darker side is that if the unstable person is ever wronged by their hero/heroine they often lash out at them due to having the only thing they thought was solid in their lives turn on them.
None of the above means that every person who puts themselves out there in the public eye has to cater to every mentally anguished individual that comes along. Actually, to do so would be pretty foolish because it would most likely only feed the fire. But one would think that seeing as how Ray, or someone on his staff, has to look at Terry's comments day after insufferable day, that they could have at least recognized that maybe they should give him more than a casual brush off. I did not expect Ray would give him anything more, but it would seem that anyone with any emotional intelligence at all would be able to comprehend that maybe since the guy drools at your feet continuously, there might be some mental repercussions for him by just dismissing him. And maybe, just maybe, you might want to care about that fact. But Ray has shown repeatedly and continually that the only thing he is interested in is himself.
Dealing with Terry on an individual basis is difficult at best, and he doesn't lend himself to eliciting warm and cuddly feelings in people. I do at least hope, for his sake, that he really does have some family that cares for him and can get him some good quality mental health help. I sense that this may not be the case. I do have a feeling that if someone in his life doesn't intervene that his situation could have a tragic end for himself or for someone else. I really, really hope that never comes to pass.