He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves. -Mark 11:17 NLT
It is my belief that the “Evangelical Industrial Complex” has long ago sold their ethical inheritance for a mess of pottage. Many churches and their celebrity leaders are all about the money. A recent government giveaway program titled “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP) has many of the celebrity charlatans rushing like hungry hogs to feed at the government trough.
The Paycheck Protection Program is an opportunity for churches (among others) to obtain free taxpayer money, thinly disguised as “loans.” These loans have an interest rate of 1%, but payments are deferred for six months. And most of these loans will be “forgiven,” meaning the recipient will not have to repay the “loan.” It sounds like all you have to do to qualify for loan forgiveness is to keep your employees on the payroll and do not cut their pay.
As you can see below, Tommy Hill, the Director of Finance for Sovereign Grace Churches, makes it obvious that they have no intention of repaying the loan. Hill then states, “I understand that there are some who still question the wisdom of whether to receive financial aid from the government at all.”
That’s right, Tommy. There still remains a few churches in the Sovereign Grace Denomination whose leaders are ethical. Hard to believe, I know.
As you can see below, at least three Sovereign Grace Churches have taken taxpayers’ money. Of course, C.J. Mahaney wallowed up to the government trough, as did Mark Prater, the man who replaced Mr. Humility as the Executive Director of the shrinking denomination. Tommy Hill’s church also got their handout.
Not surprisingly, Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church also was happy to take taxpayer’s money. Dever totally shut down his church during the pandemic, not even holding an on-line church service. Apparently Dever could find no biblical example of the early church using on-line technology to hold a church worship service. Who knew? I would guess donations took a hit, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, in this case using the heathen taxpayer’s money to keep the Capitol Hill coffers full.
Next, we see Ligon Duncan was happy to take $1-2 million from the hard-working taxpayers. That’s some major jack. I think Ligon could probably fund the 2022 T4G conference singlehandedly with his free government money!
J.D. Greear, not about to be outdone by a Presbyterian, came away from the government trough with $2-5 million dollars. One would have thought that with all that money he could have paid for a more thorough investigation of the fake Dr. Loritts prior to hiring the man in June, but on the other hand, receiving a cash influx of $5 million might cause a guy not to really care what the nattering nabobs of negativism (bloggers) have to say about a hypocritical hiring.
Although there are many other churches I could add to my list, I will end with pastor Ryan Fullerton of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. A strong supporter of C.J. Mahaney until he realized Mahaney could no longer help him in his quest to become a celebrity conference speaker, the Canadien-born pastor was happy to take up to $1 million from United States taxpayers.
Dots appear to connect on the abuse payment side as well:
“As the church again reckoned with its longtime crisis, abuse reports tripled during the year ending June 2019 to a total of nearly 4,500 nationally. Meanwhile, dioceses and religious orders shelled out $282 million that year — up from $106 million just five years earlier. Most of that went to settlements, in addition to legal fees and support for offending clergy.
“Loan recipients included about 40 dioceses that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years paying victims through compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings. AP’s review found that these dioceses were approved for about $200 million, though the value is likely much higher.
“One was the New York Archdiocese. As a successful battle to lift the statute of limitations on the filing of child sexual abuse lawsuits gathered steam, Cardinal Timothy Dolan established a victim compensation fund in 2016. Since then, other dioceses have established similar funds, which offer victims relatively quick settlements while dissuading them from filing lawsuits.
“Spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said the archdiocese simply wanted to be “treated equally and fairly under the law.” When asked about the waiver from the 500-employee cap that religious organizations received, Zwilling deferred to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.A spokesperson for the bishops’ conference acknowledged its officials lobbied for the paycheck program, but said the organization wasn’t tracking what dioceses and Catholic agencies received.
“These loans are an essential lifeline to help faith-based organizations to stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi said in a written statement. According to AP’s data analysis, the church and all its organizations reported retaining at least 407,900 jobs with the money they were awarded.”
“ Not surprisingly, Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church also was happy to take taxpayer’s money.“
Is the tenth mark of a healthy church enmeshing with the state and taking six to seven-figure loans — and/or angling for “forgiveness” of those loans?
I expect these churches now to be fully in support of taxpayer-funded welfare for the sick and the poor.
Haha, what am I saying?
While I agree that the examples noted are odious especially when considering the animosity shown towards government of all kinds by these Evangelical leaders, one has to remember the purpose of the PPP program. It was designed very quickly to protect workers’ paychecks and keep people employed. Employers of almost all kinds were welcome (except those engaged in any illegal activities) and the program was structured to help mostly those in the bottom 80% of income strata. It was vectored through employers as a way of motivating them to keep workers on the payroll. Church employees should benefit too along with other non-profit workers regardless of advocacy or affiliation.
All that noted, while many of these Evangelicals are not engaged in illegal activities, they have consistently created rackets for hoovering up the contributions of the innocent and abused and recycling them into larger programs and their own pockets. Evangelicals have really pioneered and perfected religious entrepreneurship and put Indian gurus and Shiite clerics to shame. In the US today, this has become a massive racket… one trip through cable television channels will convince one that “freedom of religion” has been used for the most odious of theologies and beliefs. As long as the suckers keep coming and paying, it moves right along, interrupted by regular scandals. It’s a feature of our modern times.
Tax-free status is effectively a public subsidy of churches. An 80-acre seminary campus sits near my home. That prime real estate would generate a lot of tax revenue if it had housing and businesses instead of sweeping lawns and so on.
In exchange for tax-free status, it would be better for churches to refrain from receiving tax money. Yet we are in unprecedented times, so I can see a case for accepting funds so that a church can keep a few people on the payroll. That stabilizes the local economy.
Fundagelical churches, though, will want to receive government money while also ranting that government money corrupts people. They will claim to be at least as deserving as the corner bar. It’s a false argument, because the bar pays taxes.
(I checked. My church did not receive this money. Neither did the seminary.)
Ayn Rand got herself on Medicare and collected Social Security when she qualified.
Justifying herself with a Totally Utterly Objectivist rationale.
Meh. The Salvation Army probably serves as many, if not more people in various ways, and it did not receive PPP. And, if I remember correctly, all of the Salvation Army workers serve on a volunteer basis.
Well, you got me curious, and I discovered that the tradition continues.
THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE: THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF OBJECTIVISM
Headless Unicorn Guy,
Of course she did…. look at the personal behavior of most political/religious blowhards!
For all the ways Robert Jeffress decries welfare programs, he shamelessly took $2,000,00-$5,00000 of government money.
the hypocrisy is through the roof.
Salvation Army top officials are paid/compensated with the head couple (Walter Roberts and wife, I think the Salvation Army treats married couples as a unit and expect both to work) reportedly getting $126,920 a decade ago (note this is total compensation not salary alone). As a religious group they aren’t required to file a 990. They also hire people for specialist positions (e.g., keeping their computers running).
I’m a bit concerned about religious groups benefiting especially since most successfully try to avoid paying for unemployment insurance (or equivalent) for the same employees (only Oregon requires it). Perhaps the money would be better going straight to the employee.
Mahaney, Dever, Duncan, Greear, Fullerton, et al. are adamant about the separation of church & state until the state is dolling out money! Their hypocrisy is great. In the New Testament, churches helped churches in times of hardship & wealthy Christian helped poor Christians (cf. Acts 2 & 4, 2 Cor 8-9). Not Caesar! They sold extra houses & property. In our day, that can translate into liquidating savings or investments, selling big homes & buying small homes, or cutting your salary as a celebrity pastor & giving it to your staff. These men are rich. It is no hardship for them.
I have three megachurches within two miles of my house.
Hillsong Phoenix got $350,000-$1 million.
Central Christian Church got $1-2 million.
Living Word Bible Church got $350,000-$1 million.
All of these places have very large campuses, ALL of which are off the tax rolls in Maricopa County. I live in a townhouse, and my tax burden isn’t large, but I pay MORE than these behemoths combined.
This is my thing–this was a pure giveaway to religious organizations. I’m an ardent church-state separationist* and I don’t believe my tax dollars should be directly funding religious institutions. I am of the belief that PPP relief to religious organizations, particularly since it wasn’t evenly distributed, is a violation of the First Amendment.
I would have MUCH rather seen another round of stimulus payments gone out to Americans in general rather than money go out to groups that were able to get their loan papers in quickly, knew someone, worked with a bank that they had a relationship with and the bank had not gone through its allocated pot of money already, etc., etc. The paycheck protection plan should have benefited the people who were getting the paychecks, NOT their employers.
(And I’m not even going to get started on the technical issues involved with stimulus payments, loan programs and PPP from a financial institution side. Just that the stimulus payments were “easiest” because that’s how most people receive their tax refunds and the mechanism was well-established and in place. The issue was the sheer number of payments that needed to be processed in a relatively short period of time, and that was doable.)
Mark Dever double dipped. Even though 9 Marks claims to be exempt from filing Form 990 because they erroneously claim to be an integrated auxiliary of CHBC, that didn’t stop both from going to the trough.
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain, prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say,when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” Jeremiah 8:10-12
Ligon Duncan is not the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Jackson anymore, so he would not have been involved with securing funds for that church. If RTS received funds, that would be another story. Did they?
I’m not sure what the issue is here besides churches borrowing money and intending not to pay it off. That is wrong. Dever’s hypocrisy for borrowing money but not holding church services because “it’s not in the Bible” is also bizarre. But in the US tax code, religious organizations are non-profit corporations, so they are “entitled” to assistance as well.
Good catch, Dale. You are correct, both Capitol Hill Baptist Church and 9Marx have taken taxpayer’s money.
Fisher – Jeremiah 8:10-12 is an excellent verse for this group of con-men.
“…this group of con-men.”
so, what is “con-man”?
“a man who cheats or tricks someone by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true.”
i think the professional christians mentioned here (and others not mentioned) fit this definition. with one exception:
i don’t think they realize they are cheating and tricking.
when i observe the evangelical industrial complex, what i find so striking is that the religion is built on methods and terminology that are fads that took.
–pretty much like (and i’m dating myself, here) when everyone said “rad” and “radical”.
–when backpacks carrying books were meant to be worn *only* on one shoulder
(of course the exact opposite is true — it just didn’t have the right look)
–the recipe i found in my grandmothers very old Betty Crocker cookbook for “Braised Lettuce”. (cook all the crunchy goodness out of it, and a good deal of the nutrients, too. what a good idea.)
i observe pastors employing many manipulative tactics and double standards. i find it breathtaking.
A good portion of them are good people who would never dream of being manipulative, and believe that double standards are wrong.
nevertheless, manipulation just “is”, regardless of intent. (same with double standards)
as anyone who has been manipulated to their own disadvantage and harm can attest.
‘manipulative tactics’ and double standards are simply the contents of the textbook series ‘How To Be A Pastor’.
“…this group of con-men.”
a “con-man”: a man who cheats or tricks someone by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true.
i think the professional christians mentioned here (and others not mentioned) do not realize they are manipulating people to believe something that is not completely true. or perhaps not true at all.
i don’t think they themselves realize that they have been hornswoggled to believe a carefully engineered fad.
again, fads that took can include doctrine.
who knows exactly why some fads take, and some fads don’t.
however, i think we can say that fads with a strategic marketing campaign have a good chance of taking.
they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
i reckon some doctrines are simply fads that took because of saavy marketing and people of influence.
(and because of gullible people trained to turn off first common sense, intuition, then finally critical thinking altogether. through campaigns of scare tactics by those with power.)
so, perhaps we can that some amongst “this group of con-men” are unwitting con-men.
I think some of those believe the lie that bigger is always better and you have to keep getting bigger and bigger. I am thinking of one pastor in particular, that I have known personally, who I believe wants to have good intentions, but has bought into the lie that bigger is better. His church has friendly, good people, but they focus so much on bringing people in that they pretty much just demand from them without giving much back once they are members. Volunteer for this! Greet new people! Give up your service time in the nursery and children’s church so we can have more new people.
People weren’t being fed there. Join and you were reduced to a pair of hands.
I know people that tried to talk to the pastoral staff about it and got “It’s all about the mission to reach out!”. But church shouldn’t just be that or your members can’t handle the load.
Moreover, it wasn’t really “reaching out”. It was all about bringing people in, not going out to them and serving them where they were at. But members knew that they were bringing people in and putting on a big show for nothing behind the curtain.
I am deeply troubled and disappointed in these so-called leaders. I am baffled at the downright in-your-face hypocrisy. I am so glad I got out of my former 9 Marks church. I knew something wasn’t right and chose to leave. How can you be part of these organizations led by con-men? I am baffled.
Ding, ding, ding. It’s particularly a problem for the American church. We do like big things here and conflate size with success. Maybe it’s just a human problem.
In his book Why People Believe weird Things, skeptic Michael Shermer (after several run-ins with Objectivists) called Objectivism “The Most Unlikeliest Cult of All” and named Rand as a “Cult Leader” if not Cult Deity.
i.e. Butts in Seats forking over Tithes Tithes Tithes.
Isn’t that the Life Philosophy of a Cancer tumor?
Always Be Growing, Always Be Spreading?
In the old movie Heaven Can Wait, when the main character (a dead gangster in coal-shoveling Hell) first meets an incognito Satan, he immediately pegs him as “Oh. A Con Man.”
How can they when They KNOW They Can Do No Wrong?
Wow. Thank you.
Pardon my playing advocatus diaboli, but I’ve done something like that. Stir-fried lettuce is super yummy. Betty Crocker, though, could wring the personality out of anything. 😉
“do not realize they are manipulating people to believe something that is not completely true. or perhaps not true at all.”
to clarify: i’m thinking male headship, church discipline…
and any number of things christian leaders rigidly deem “this interpretation is the only biblical one”.
growing up in church, i am amazed at how narrow & specific everything has come to be defined now, across the board. how fundamentalism has spread and is growing everywhere in christian culture (like the vinca in my backyard planted by someone else 20 years ago).
it’s like a contest to see who can come up with the next thing to break down into prescriptive detail, and call it sin if you don’t do it.
well, i think they hit the insight and inspiration wall years ago. to keep themselves marketable, all that’s left is to make things up.
it wasn’t this way in the past.
Depending on location and facilities, stir-frying veggies (in the tropics) can be necessary to kill off bacteria & critters. A college professor died from eating salads in SE Asia, in a cosmopolitan city.
That being said, elastigirl’s comment about churches & fads is on point.
Sure do wish we could be so over fads:
– worship performances on stages that look like Las Vegas
– preacher boys that emulate Hollywood
– breathy drug-induced musical riffs that sound like breathy drug-induced musical riffs
– cool youth pastors that are dangerous and really not cool at all
– signing one’s life away on a church covenant
– mega this & that for mega bucks for mega-leaders
– conferences addressing topics (i.e., CSA) where talk is cheap & nothing is done
Trends with value:
– a church database with offenders/predators of public record (no witch hunt needed)
– independent investigations, for real
For me, I think the amount of money being requested is the issue. Millions of dollars for one church??? It is almost breathtaking. The face of the church is changing. I decided to downsize in my church life so I would feel like I actually know people: my pastors, the members, the DCE, etc.
It does border on the obscene. If you need millions of dollars, maybe your church is too large.
It might help to know that these huge churches may get a lot of press, but they represent a minority of congregations. At least as of 2010, more than 3/4 of US churches have fewer than 1,000 members, and more than 1/2 have fewer than 500 or so.
Exactly… Money corrupts… And, Evangelicals and fundamentalist are so quick to attack the “secular humanist/liberal/( some other negative name); yet they sure come to suck at the teat!
Director of Christian Education?
No it wasn’t.
In the town of my childhood, the Jews lit their Shabbat candles just like in the opening scenes of Schindler’s List, Catholics went to Mass, Lutherans did their version, and that was that.
They didn’t fret and fume about it, they just did it, and then went about their real world lives and did he best they could.
Yep- sorry for using insider lingo!!!
I thought you might be starting a campus fellowship at the Delhi College of Engineering. 😉
Our region was the same, but most folks were convinced that their ways were best… because otherwise why bother?
It was a matter of emphasis, though. About half of my family talked about what we believe, and why. The other half did go on at length about the terrible beliefs of others, and what terrible people those others were.
The hypocrisy gets me, too. Dever and Jeffress have both gone on about the separation of church and state in public, but they were sure quick to rush out and get some taxpayer money when they thought they could.
“Stir-fried lettuce is super yummy.”
but is it crunchy.
Only if you add stir-fried gravel. 🙂
Seriously, it’s comparable to raw vs cooked spinach. Just two different states.
Yes, the amount reflects the change. Perhaps if the churches were still small enough that the faces up front still knew each face in the pew well, the pew peons could be expected to rally around and support their “friends” and “family” rather than mere staff. But now the masks have fallen, haven’t they? And now everyone knows the truth: these big churches and parishes are really businesses and corporations with the appearance of churches. Did these large churches have no contingency funds to pay their staff for a few months?
I truly wonder how the average non-believing taxpayer thinks about this. Yes, it is legal because the churches are non-profits just like other non-profits. But are they really the same? Small, tax-paying businesses have no recourse to donors when this all settles out. I wonder how they feel if they did not get a forgivable loan, or if it was insufficient. This does not reflect well on the name of Christ, IMO.
i’m starting out tangential, here. but i’ll dovetail it around to be on topic.
speaking of Betty Crocker, she is “the brainchild of an advertising campaign”.
“She had answers to the questions that plagued so many home cooks’ questions …Betty was there to answer all of these questions and more.”
i believe Jesus Christ of Nazareth was and is a living human being.
I believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah (not that i fully understand all that means – and neither does anyone else).
I believe that Jesus Christ is God in human form.
i believe that christian powerbrokers have turned Jesus Christ of Nazareth into “the brainchild of an advertising campaign”.
…i believe that christian powerbrokers have turned Jesus Christ of Nazareth into “the brainchild of an advertising campaign”.
equating their biblical interpretation of any writer of content in the bible (which sometimes equate to their social & political agendas) with “the words of Jesus” and “Jesus’ command”.
coming up with answers to the questions that plagued so many <church giving units and potential giving units> …<Jesus> was there to answer all of these questions and more
i don’t think Jesus ever intended to answer all of life’s questions. the synoptic gospels certainly don’t provide these answers. neither do any of the other ‘books’ in the bible.
a composite look at it all yields information that is illuminating and helpful. but it doesn’t “answer all these questions and more.”
i think the only way to come up with the answers to all these problems is through conjecture and sheer contrivance. imaginative manufacturing.
(and now for that dovetail maneuver)
christian powerbrokers (and leaders in their sway, whom we can call ‘minipowerbrokers’) contrive a way to answer the question of job security for themselves by making all of these things (which are in direction contradiction to each other),
*separation of church and state
*taking huge government handouts funded by taxpayers
*taking the public’s money but refusing to be accountable to the public that funded them by refusing to make their finances transparent
(actually, i don’t even think they’ve thought that far.
“Money money money!….we’ll take it!!!” But the biblical justification for it is coming.)
***Blast from the Past Sidebar***
I see Mark Dever was at West Coast flagship 9Marksist church Hinson Baptist (Portland, Oregon) yesterday:
Well here’s that church’s conservative pastor in the 1920s promoting the preaching of Amy Lee Stockton:
“John Marvin Dean, president of the Western Baptist seminary and pastor of the Hinson Memorial Baptist church at Portland will exchange pulpits with Dr. C. L. Trawin, pastor of the First Baptist church of Eugene both morning and evening on Sunday, Jan. 20.
Dr. Dean will be here to complete arrangements for evangelistic services, which will be held at the local church for two weeks opening Sunday, Jan. 27. They will be conducted by Miss Amy Lee Stockton, evangelist, and Miss Rita Gould, song leader”
[this is the same Amy Stockton who was a favorite preacher at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in DC in the 1910s-1940s]
“making all of these things (which are in direction contradiction to each other),
*accepting huge sums of money intended for small businesses, while how many mom & pop small businesses got nothing because the money ran out?
*framing it as if the offer of government meant it was the right thing to do to go after it.
*seemingly ignorant of the fact that they could have declined it on grounds of integrity
*seemingly ignorant of the fact that they can voluntarily file a form 990 to make themselves accountable to the people in their neighborhood and town who funded them
*seemingly ignorant of the fact that they can voluntarily pay taxes on the public money they accepted
I’ve long argued for this compromise from taxing churches outright.
The law needs to be changed so that they have to file form 990 just as non-religious non-profits have to.
This is a very good point. Most nonprofits are required to be transparent. Often, these types of churches are not.
Every organization had to apply for Paycheck Protection Program funds. This money did not automatically show up.
The PPP was a cluster. Or a gamble. I can’t go into detail but it was just ugly and I’m only talking about from the tech side. I’d rather have stimulus payments.
Or a church could behave ethically and follow the law. I think that’s Biblical.
Yes, churches do have a duty to identify unjust laws, and to declare “we no longer have 700 wives and 300 concubines per king,” along with, “we no longer have slavery.”
Whew! I feel so freakishly radical after typing that!
“Or a church could behave ethically and follow the law. I think that’s Biblical.”
i questioned one pastor about the ethics of being tax exempt while the surrounding neighborhood pays the shortfall in public services he and the church rely on.
he said, “it’s perfectly legal.” he said it with a smile, which indicated to me a clear conscience.
he missed the point. legal doesn’t necessarily mean ethical.
what if the law if not ethical?
if the law does not require churches to report how they spent the PPP money ( thus no accountability to the public who funded the cause of Jesus Christ or Jehovah or Allah or Buddha), i would say that is an ethical breach.
Well, he’s technically right, but the understanding has morphed beyond recognition.
As I understand it, houses of worship are tax free so that the government cannot meddle in their affairs.
Not so long ago, churches dreaded the possibility of losing their tax-free status. They tried to be good neighbors, community assets.
Now some of them are private fiefdoms. They are actively seeking tax dollars and crying persecution if anyone dares question. I think that under PPP they have to show that they keep people on the payroll. How rigorous that will be, and how much will be disclosed to the public, is beyond my ken.
Like I commented just above, change the law so that they must file form 990 like every other ‘non-profit’.
I still say it’s a reasonable and just alternative to taxing them outright.
In my jurisdiction it was because the churches ran social programs like hospitals. Before the socialization of medicine there was only one government hospital in our city. The others were church run (Roman Catholic & salvation army).
You also get a tax rebate when donating to churches.
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Right now there’s no financial transparency, this way there can be.
No longer will they (the hucksters) be able to say ‘none-o-yer-beeswax’ as to where all the moolah goes.
If folks still want to fork over all their hard earned dinero to the grifters, have at it, it’s a free country.
Probably with matching behind-the-curtain antics on the order of Meet the Feebles.
A couple years ago, a local law firm got disbarred for shady business practices — specifically, an OSHA-compliance extortion racket preying on immigrant-run small businesses. Caused quite a stink, including a local talk-radio station organizing an on the air “street action” inviting all the small business owners who got taken. (A couple hundred, filling the street in front of their office, all in an ugly mood.)
“EVERYTHING WE DID WAS LEGAL!”
And it was, threading loophole after loophole. Couldn’t make any extortion charges stick, but they all got disbarred. The entire law firm.
When Megachurch is too small for Lead Pastor’s ego or lifestyle.