Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian’s Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
MARK DRISCOLL: ANOTHER MEGA-CHURCH PASTOR IS ACCUSED OF STEALING MILLIONS IN TITHES; posted 3-1-16
Lawsuit: Controversial Pastor Ran Mars Hill Megachurch like a Crime Syndicate
1111A new lawsuit seeks to find out what Mark Driscoll did with millions in tithes to Seattle’s now-shuttered Mars Hill megachurch.
Just when controversial pastor Mark Driscoll was hoping to make a new start, former members of his old stomping grounds at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church have filed a lawsuit alleging Driscoll and his chief elder ran the now-shuttered megachurch like an organized crime syndicate, in which church members became unwitting participants.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Western District of Washington U.S. District Court in Seattle under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law originally created for prosecution of Mafia figures.
Former members have been threatening to file such a lawsuit for months to find out just where the members’ tithes—some $30 million yearly, according to church reports—actually went.
Mars Hill closed its doors in 2014, following a number of scandals involving allegations of Driscoll’s bullying and spiritual abuse of members and church leaders, misogyny, and homophobia espoused on a church message board, plagiarism, and misuse of church funds—which this lawsuit seeks to redress. Since its closure, the details of the organization’s dissolution have been opaque, with little public accounting, and a group of remaining leaders who have refused to comment on who gets what from the failed enterprise that not so long ago passed the collection plate around to more than 12,000 visitors every week at 15 satellite campuses.
According to the complaint, ex-pastor Mark Driscoll, and general manager and then-executive elder John Sutton Turner, allegedly defrauded Washington churchgoers Brian and Connie Jacobsen and Ryan and Arica Kildea, along with thousands of other individuals who tithed at Mars Hill, by soliciting donations for one purpose, then using them for unauthorized ones. The Jacobsens say they gave over $90,000 to the church from 2008 to 2014 while the Kildeas report over $2,700 from 2011-2013.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Brian Fahling, declined to comment, but emailed a statement that read in part, “Driscoll and Turner engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity so deeply embedded, pervasive and continuous, that it was effectively institutionalized as a business practice, thereby corrupting the very mission Plaintiffs and other donors believed they were supporting.”
Elder Dave Bruskas, Mars Hill CFO Kerry Dodd, several corporations believed to hold some profits from Driscoll’s book Real Marriage, and a supposed financial standards watchdog—the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability—are all named as co-conspirators in the complaint.
Among the fraudulent spending alleged in the complaint—which includes accusations of mail and wire fraud—is the $210,000 the church supposedly spent to buy a place for Driscoll’s 2012 book on The New York Times’ and other best-sellers’ lists by using a list-fixing company called Result Source. (These allegations were first reported by World Magazine.) It’s unclear where the money from book sales went, though Driscoll has said he put 100 percent of the profits back into Mars Hill.
“This scheme has been fairly described as a ‘scam,’ and resulted in personal inurement to Driscoll and Turner,” the complaint states.
Also at issue are millions donated by church members who were told offerings went to missions in Ethiopia and India through the church’s “Global Fund.” In reality, those tithes appear to have stayed right at home. To “woo new donors,” the complaints says, Driscoll “intentionally deceived all potential donors by marketing Global Fund as a fund for international missions, when, in fact, they intended to use the majority of the donations for domestic expansion of MHC.”
The complaint cites an internal memo in which Mars Hill allegedly outlines the benefits of the Global Fund, from which a percentage would be designated for “highly visible, marketable projects.”
“Besides the obvious gain of increased funding,” the memo states, according to the complaint, “for a relatively low cost (e.g. $10K/month), supporting a few missionaries and benevolence projects would serve to deflect criticism, increase goodwill, and create opportunities to influence and learn from other ministries.”
Church leaders have previously apologized for the “confusion” over the Global Fund, a repository that by 2014 was taking in a self-reported $300,000 a month, some $10 million total, according to the complaint. At the time the allegations over the funds surfaced, the leaders said they never meant to mislead the church’s followers about where the money was going.
Additionally, nearly $3 million for an outdoor “Jesus Festival”—a revival with outdoor baptisms—never came to be and funds allocated to specific campuses allegedly ended up in the general fund.
“Because of those concerns, they came to the conclusion they were unable, in good conscience, to continue to donate to MHC, or to continue to serve in the church.” And so they quit the church.
Driscoll followed their lead, resigning in October 2014, and two weeks later, the church was no more. Driscoll now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and plans to start a new church there.
An email to Driscoll requesting comment was not returned.
CITY HARVEST, SINGAPORE, CHURCH LEADERS JAILED FOR STEALING $35 MILLION (US), November 20, 2015
NO TITHES, NO FUNERAL
This article was first brought to my attention by pimpreachers.com who then was able to get Fox 26 Factor in Houston, Texas to cover the story.
Pastor Walter F. Houston of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in the Houston, Texas area refused to perform funeral services for one of his church members. She had been a very-long-time member of his church and had never been a member of any other church. She was 93 and had been in a coma for several months. Before that she had been unable to attend church for several years.
The pastor refused to perform her funeral because she had not kept up regular financial support to his church. His defense was similar to “They could have sent a dollar over here to keep her membership active.”
PAY TITHES BEFORE REPAY $278,000 FRAUD THEFT
FARMINGTON — A 60-year-old man told a judge he plans to continue paying his church tithing even though he owes thousands of dollars to fraud victims.
Gary G. Thomson, of Layton, appeared before Judge David Hamilton on Wednesday in 2nd District Court for a hearing to review restitution he still needs to pay for pleading guilty to three second-degree felonies.
Thomson said he was unable to pay the monthly court-ordered payment the last two months because his income was less than anticipated.
Thomson had submitted a financial report to the judge that showed he was paying tithing to his church. Hamilton asked if he could pay the restitution instead.
“I am not going to not pay my tithing,” Thomson said.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Nathan Lyon said the victims are still out of money.
Thomson said he was paying his tithing to maintain his “good standing” in his church and so he could continue to receive rent assistance .
Hamilton ordered Thomson to bring a letter from his ecclesiastical leader concerning the tithing to the next hearing scheduled for Dec. 17.
Hamilton also asked Thomson about his employment.
Thomson said, “My hands are tied. I cannot even get a job as a felon.”
Hamilton told Thomson he has been on probation for 31 months and still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars plus interest to his victims.
Hamilton suggested that Thomson contact his probation officer, who would have a list of employers who hire felons.
“Mr. Thomson, I have to say, I am a bit disturbed by your attitude today,” Hamilton said.
There was no mention in the court hearing what church Thomson attends.
According to court documents, Thomson was charged in 2011 with 10 fraud-related charges. In April 2012, Thomson entered guilty pleas to one count of pattern of unlawful activity, one count of communications fraud and one count of issuing a bad check, all second-degree felonies. He was sentenced to serve 180 days in the Davis County Jail, to complete 200 hours of community service and to serve probation with Adult Probation & Parole until May 16, 2017.
Thomson was also ordered to pay $278,500 including interest in restitution to eight people. The restitution was ordered to be paid in monthly installments of $500, according to the court website.
The probation and jail sentences were in lieu of three sentences of 1 to 15 years at the Utah State Prison.
According to court documents filed in 2011, Thomson is accused of taking money from several people in Davis County stating it was a loan for his business and promising to pay them back at a high interest rate. The incidents occurred in 2008 to 2011. Those people tried several times, unsuccessfully, to collect the money they loaned to Thomson for his business.
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wealthy Nigerians, Pastors Spend $225 million on Private Jets
May. 17 2011 – 12:32 pm | 0 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments
By MFONOBONG NSEHE, FORBES MAGAZINE
Nigerian pastor and private jet owner David Oyedepo. (Image via Wikipedia)
A few wealthy Nigerians spent at least $225 million acquiring private jets between March 2010 and March 2011, a Nigerian newspaper reported on Monday.
According to the report published by the Punch Newspaper, a couple of the acquisitions were made by billionaires Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga. Last year, Dangote acquired a US$45 million Bombardier jet as a gift to himself on his 53rd birthday, while Mike Adenuga purchased a Bombardier Global Express XRS. Both Dangote and Adenuga own at least two private planes each.
Apart from wealthy business tycoons, Nigerian clergymen and spiritual leaders are also joining the very elite league of jet owners.
In March this year, David Oyedepo, a Nigerian cleric generally believed to be Africa’s wealthiest gospel preacher, acquired a Gulfstream V jet for US$30 million. Oyedepo, who presides over the Winners Chapel, one of Africa’s largest churches, now owns a private collection of four aircraft. In addition to his latest acquisition, he previously owned two Gulfstream planes and a Bombardier Challenger Aircraft. He is also reportedly creating a private hanger to accommodate his flying toys.
Oyedepo is not the only Nigerian clergyman to own a jet. Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the revered overseer of Nigeria’s largest congregation, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, is also a proud jet owner. In March 2009, the great man of God spent $30 million on a Gulfstream jet amidst widespread criticism. Pastor Sam Adeyemi, another cleric and founder of the Daystar Christian center, a flourishing Pentecostal congregation which repeatedly preaches financial prosperity, is also a jet owner.
It’s not cheap to own a private jet. On average, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain a personal plane. The majority of Nigerians frown at such flagrant displays of opulence, particularly on the path of their clergymen, given that 60% of Nigerians still live below the poverty line.
Paradoxically, the same people who complain about the extravagant lifestyles of their spiritual leaders are the same ones who finance it. Every Sunday, swarms of worshipers rush to the church to give away their hard-earned money to the pastors’ coffers in the form of tithes, offerings and special gifts with the deluded hope of multiplied financial blessings in return. For many, this is but a pipe dream. Deep down, the pastors smile; they’ve got just the perfect suckers.
- Parker, Another Tithing Abuse Story
Published with Permission, 5-5-2011
Dear Brother Kelly,
I’d like to thank you for your work helping believers escape the bondage of tithing and the Old Testament Law.
My wife and I suffered under that bondage for 15 years until I finally took the initiative to research the claims of tithe-teachers myself. I came to the Lord when I was 21, started attending an Assemblies of God Church, and faithfully gave 10% of my gross income to that church regardless of whether I could afford it or not. Unable to afford it because my wife and I were raising 4 young children on a meager income, we started to accumulate a lot of credit card debt. We approached our Pastor at the time who told us we had to tithe, but that the church couldn’t help us out financially. We continued like this for years eventually ending up with over $30,000 in credit card debt, mostly from buying groceries.
There were many times during those years that I questioned whether Christians needed to tithe, but would always run into opposition from my wife, friends, and pastors. Several of our closest friends were Word of Faith people who operated under the fear that if they didn’t tithe, they’d be cursed.
I used to work a job in a paper mill that required me to work 6 or usually 7 days a week, so I rarely felt I had time to study God’s Word. In the long run, it cost me dearly. Eventually though, I grew disgusted with what I saw as abuse in the church as I listened to pastors preach to poor people that, regardless of their circumstances, still needed to tithe. After all, they’d say, “who knows what kind of trouble you’re saving yourself by tithing. Quit now and your life will really get tough.”
After months of careful study, compiling my notes into a book and practicing what my arguments would be, I felt confident enough to share with my wife, friends, and pastors what I had learned regarding tithing. My wife eagerly listened and eventually saw the light. Most of my friends were so fearful of not tithing that they wouldn’t see the light unless their properly ordained pastor told them they didn’t have to tithe. Most disappointing of all was the response I received from almost every pastor I spoke with—5 of them absolutely refused to discuss the issue or even look at my copious notes. Over the years, only 1 pastor of a very small fellowship read what became my book and changed his mind about tithing.
This has been a very discouraging battle for me. Prior to becoming a Christian, I was a devout Roman Catholic. You can imagine the turmoil I endured as I explained to my parents that I was leaving the Catholic Church to attend a Protestant Church. They were heartbroken and even considered not attending my protestant wedding because their Priest told them it would be a sin for them to set foot in my church. I had to leave Catholicism though. I had always questioned authority and had I not I’d still be Catholic today. This is why I have a hard time with the people I know not wanting to question tithing. Many of these friends came out of Catholicism as I had, but it’s as though, once they became protestant, they quit questioning everything. They’ll believe anything their pastor tells them.
Your Fellow laborer in Christ,
P.S. I love your book.
HORROR STORY FROM USA UPPER MIDWEST
April 21, 2011: My name is … and I am writing from …. Have been researching tithing and am convinced that I have been deceived. I should have read the bible more rather than listen to the ministers.
Have been a Christian since … and have been tithing for over 20 years and my life is shattered. Thought I was cursed if I did not tithe 10% of my gross and that I was robbing God.
They said at church that God works on the multiplication principle. To be a member of the church I was expected to tithe and not tell anyone they did not have to tithe. If anyone told others they did not have to tithe they were asked to leave the church. And I was to be in subjection to the authorities over me.
Used to really “feel” like I had an umbrella of protection over me when I would tithe. Cannot go on feelings. Galatians said Jesus took all curses. Today I just keep telling myself that it is the Blood of the Lamb that covers me.
Today everything in my life is gone and I am freaking out that all these years I have been supporting some sort of magical system and have brought a curse on myself by tithing.
I do not know what to do now. My … career is shattered, pension gone, savings gone, and out of work for almost .. Years and on the edge of losing my home. I am … years old, a woman alone, and have worked and supported myself forever, and grew up in poverty. I cannot even come up with words to explain what I feel or think.
I have been a teacher for .. years and now have nothing to show for my entire life of work. Can’t even believe that this has happened to me.
I withdrew my membership form a nondenominational “charismatic” church …. after realizing that I have been caught up in the “experience” of it all. I lived in sheer utter terror for the past year thinking that God will get me because I don’t give money. I just quit tithing and figured that if God was going to send down lightening and strike my life so be it.
I would rather be dead than life like this for the rest of my life. Have spent half my life as a Christian and have basically worked myself to death to give money to a church and lived in fear and poverty.
I just do not even want to ever go back into a church. It all seems like witchcraft and demonic spirits. I do not even know why I am writing you. Your writings have helped me and I just want to live in the truth and do it God’s way.
The money is gone. Thousands and thousands for years and years. Thinking God wants souls and we are to serve God and He would somehow multiply it all like the loaves and fishes and that I have treasures in heaven and am rich toward God.
How do I now access this treasure I have in heaven. How do I ever recover?
Maybe this financial train wreck I am in is because I have been supporting something that is demonic. I feel like my mind has been raped and I do not even trust my own thoughts anymore.
Maybe you could pray for me or something. Feel like I have been in a cult and brainwashed. How long will this take before I can ever be normal? It seems like all I think about now is that I am robbing from God because I am not tithing and that God will nor protect or provide. I need a miracle from God.
Anyway, thanks for your writings.
PASTOR ENOCH ADEBOYE
REFUSES TO MARRY OR ORDAIN NON-TITHERS
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Members of the fastest growing church in Africa, The Redeemed Christian Church of God are in shock as their respected General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has decreed that defaulters in the payment of tithe would no longer enjoy their marriage being blessed by the church. It was gathered that during the last Holy Ghost convention that held between August 9 -15, 2010, at the Redeemed camp, Pastor Adeboye had a private meeting with his senior pastors where he told them to inform their parish members that henceforth, anybody who does not pay his or her tithe is not faithful and as such will not get any assistance from the church. Furthermore, he stated that it will be a major criterion for ordaining pastors. If you want to be ordained as a pastor and you default in this area you will be disqualified. This includes deacons and deaconesses. Also if you want to get married in the church, your tithe record will be the deciding factor. Parish members were informed that from their head assemblies, they will send their tithe envelopes for upward review at the headquarters. Pastor Adeboye said this new rule will show the members obedience to the church and to God.
Source: Encomium mag
7-20-2010: JOKE ABOUT THE WIDOW’S MITE: i am a retire widow. Thank you so much for taking on the controversial challenge of tithing. … There is nothing better than laying out the biblical explanation. I was once in church when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to give all that I have. When I looked in my wallet, I had the last $5 that was just in case I needed it until the end of the month. So I gave it. The following Sunday, while the preacher was getting ready to call on the tithing, he specifically mentioned that $5 and said he felt like “some were simply tipping him.” Why I took that personally I will never know, but I was so hurt and angry by it that I left his church. Blessings to you, Judy L.
7-12-2010: I lost my job at the church for not tithing my full 10% for the year. (I was now part of “sin in the camp.”) This was after years of tithing faithfully, years of hard work, and giving offerings WAY above and beyond what was expected. I think our senior pastor got a little nervous when I started researching the tithe. I had been praying for truth, and I believe God showed me what was real and what was false
I was in a minor car accident that was not my fault. … I was told by a so called “pastor” in the church that I was in an accident because I didn’t tithe my full 10%. Can you believe this manipulating, intimidating craziness!?!? … Now I’m realizing what I was a part of was cultic in many ways. I guess I should be thankful that I am out and free. … Shouldn’t there be a law against this garbage?? Thank you for all of your research and writings. Anonymous July 2010
I have been struggling all year to pay bill and keep food on the table. This causes me to suffer from depression, stress and high blood pressure. I had to quit work and go on disability. Money is desperately needed for bills. Last week I received the tax statement from the church. My husbadn has been giving the church over xxx.xx a month which is more than 10% of our income. I just want to sit down and cry all the time while we sink deeper and deeper into debt. F. (on file)
01-28-2010: I have been going through a real heart-searching time. I am 74 and widowed and on a limited income … I have worked out a budget and it is extremely tight. I fear every day because I need a crown on my tooth and a timing belt on my 16 year old car and I won’t be able to pay for those. The most I can give to church is about $25.00 per month. After our church meetings at the end of the year I become very discouraged and think I should just drop out of church. There is so much pressure put on everyone to give 10%. M. (on file)
- Dewey Friedel, Shore Christian Center
Prosperity Church Failure
SHORE CHRISTIAN CENTER, Squankum Rd, Wall, NJ
Edited and greatly reduced by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, January 31, 2010.
On January 30, 2010 APP.com writer Jason Method wrote a continuing article about G. Dewey Friedel, the 60-year-old, pastor of Shore Christian Center in Wall, NJ.
Friedel is a Prosperity Preacher who has built an overpriced and overbudgeted amphitheater-style church which has shrunk from 1200 to 300 members and is being taken over in bankruptcy on February 3, 2010. The church began in 1979. He says that the devil and a “spirit of control” were attacking the church but that great things were coming.
Friedel has already lost his second home in Lee County, Miami, Florida.
He wanted to build his own worldwide network similar to the Trinity Broadcasting Network saying “If we offer what we have, he’s going to do something with it.”
The church was foreclosed on in July because Shore Christian Center could not make payments on its $4.7 million mortgage.
“It is unusual for any church to be foreclosed on, experts say, but there is special irony for a pastor who is an adherent to a strain of Christianity known as the prosperity gospel” says Method.
Friedel’s consistent message over the years has been: God is going to bless believers’ lives with bigger houses, better jobs and more money.
Friedel, who dresses in designer clothes like the leather sport coat he wore one recent Sunday, has seemed to personally enjoy that heavenly blessing for years. He lives in a spacious house, assessed at $747,600, with two driveways and a pool, writes books, appears regularly on national Christian television, and socializes with famous preachers and Major League Baseball players
Until this year, he owned two condos in Florida, before they were both lost to foreclosure.
Church finances fell apart after its adjustable rate mortgage changed from $23,000 to $47,000 a month. Friedel, who declined to be interviewed by communicated via e-mail, has been promising for years that a huge donation is coming through the United Nations, China and Saudi Arabia and that “all participants involved with the U.S. Treasury had to and did pass an FBI and CIA inspection.” He and the church have declined to provide specific information about the deal.
A senior program officer for the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships said that neither that office nor the United Nations Foundation had any involvement with the church.
Friedel’s wife, Ronda, 61, is co-pastor and son Isaac, 25, as assistant pastor.
Nancy Bensing, 59, and her husband have been very active supporters now
say the church has reaped what it has sown. “I’m mad at myself — for buying all that bull-crap all these years.”
A graduate of Oral Roberts University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Friedel had served as a missionary in India and Methodist minister in Avon before taking off to start his own church.
In 1999, the church added a 36,000-square-foot multipurpose complex,
Evangelist Oral Roberts visited the church twice. Around 2005, the church appeared to reach its crest of 1200.
With membership high, the church borrowed $4.5 million, refinancing previous debt and spending some for needed renovations on the original building. “We are not too small to accomplish this forty million dollar project.”
Friedel was willing to borrow money on his own properties as well.
The Friedels refinanced their Wall home for $720,000, with a notation that the maximum balance secured by the mortgage could be as high as $900,000, land records show. They had has purchased the home for $550,000 in 1998. They also refinanced their condo in Lee County, Florida, for $548,000, land records show. Later, in 2007, they refinanced their Aventura, Florida, condo for $354,975.
“The best way to honor your pastor is cold hard cash in the palm of the pastor’s hand.’ ” The Czerwinskis contend that Friedel was not joking. Meanwhile, Stephen Czerwinski said, the church never reported to members or leaders what it was doing with the donations. “You never saw the budget,” he said. “You never saw how much (Friedel) was paid. You were told to have faith. . . . You were told you could ask (about salaries) privately, but anyone who did was reprimanded for not having faith.”
The church has long required that congregants who want to become members must pledge to give 10 percent of their income to the church, a practice known as tithing.
The current elders confirm that the church does not share financial data with the congregation, which has no say on the church budget.
Elder Joseph Raspanti of Brielle said any member was always free to raise questions, but he also believes that objecting to decisions would display a lack of faith. “When you give to the church, you give what you believe belongs to God. To give it, and then say, “I don’t like the way it’s being used.’ That’s not tithing,” Raspanti said.
According to a 2005 financial statement obtained by the Asbury Park Press, the church spent $974,280 on salaries for its church and school staff of 39. The church also spent $106,178 in “casual labor,” $182,834 for housing allowances, and $154,446 for travel, meal and lodging of guests [$3000 per week].
At the end of the year, after bringing in $2.6 million in revenue, the church finished $221,302 in the red.
Church officials have declined to discuss specific salaries.
Rick Davis tells the story of retrieving a dropped wallet and discovering that it had been dropped by the king of Saudi Arabia who is has been about to financially help the church with millions in donation since 2007.
Friedel passed out bonus checks to leaders in anticipation of the donation arriving. On January 1st, 2008 the youth leader received a bonus check for $12,000 but never cashed it and was asked to return it but refused.
Joseph Lane, an elder and church attorney, said he has seen the contract.
On Easter Sunday in 2009, Friedel promised the church a season of abundance. “Hear me now,” Friedel said. “You are about to flourish and be on the receiving end of something that is happening as an undercurrent in this world. We’ve been meeting with government officials from all over the world.”
On Nov. 8, more than three months since the congregation had lost ownership of its sanctuary and facilities, Friedel alluded to the pending donation again and promised the church would embark on the big building program.
Tithing Insurance: If you lose something or hve something stolen at church and waive the deductible, you can collect $750.00 tithe insurance.
Louisville, Kentucky — Southern Indiana
Christian-only insurance benefits hit snag in Kentucky
Anthony Baize of Sellersburg, Ind., was shopping for a homeowner’s policy in 2006 when he saw an interesting offer from GuideOne Mutual Insurance Co. nefits and discounts for “churchgoers.”
Nick Valenzuela was looking for renter’s insurance for his Louisville apartment when he saw the same “FaithGuard” deal offering $750 in “tithe” insurance for policyholders who are disabled, and waiving the deductible for property lost or stolen at church.
But the policies didn’t seem right to Baize, an atheist, or to Valenzuela, an agnostic, because the benefits the and its agents advertized are available only to Christian churchgoers, according to court records.
They filed complaints with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and later the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging discrimination based on religion by the West Des Moines, Iowa, company and two agencies that sell its policies in Louisville and Lexington.
On Sept. 18, the U.S. Justice Department announced a settlement in which GuideOne, Young Insurance Agency of Louisville and Lee Insurance Agency of Lexington agreed to pay $45,000 in civil penalties — plus $29,500 to Baize, Valenzuela and to the Lexington Fair Housing Council, which investigated their complaints.
The settlement, which must be approved by the court, also requires GuideOne, which marketed the FaithGuard endorsement in at least 18 other states, to stop the policy anywhere in the United States and to train agents on their responsibilities under the U.S. Fair Housing Act, which the Justice Department had accused the company of violating.
“All individuals have the right to secure homeowners and renters insurance without regard to their religious beliefs,” Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a prepared statement.
Melany Stonewall, a spokeswoman for GuideOne confirmed that the company had settled the suit and will phase out the coverage in homeowners and renters policies by mid-2010. She said it disputed that its coverage was discriminatory or violated federal law.
African women prostitute themselves to afford ‘tithes’
May 5, 2009
(3RD PARAGRAPH ONLY)
People are now paying for prayers; paying for praising and worshiping their heavenly Father. No wonder ladies are going into fornication and/or prostitution in order to pay their tithes and offerings, some of which are up to eight (if not more), alongside forceful vows and other levies. In the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, there are divisions: Yoruba caucus, Igbo caucus, Delta/Edo caucus, etc; everybody fighting for his selfish interest; not the preaching of the gospel of salvation, which our Lord Jesus Christ upheld.
MISSIONARIES REFUSE TO BAPTIZE NON-TITHER WHO FULLY SUPPORTS SIX ORPHANS
December 17, 2008
I flipped my lid when I read this today. I told the pastor that he should go to hell. Forgive me if you disagree but I am serious. They thought that they had consigned Pablo to hell because he could not tithe and they would not baptize him. The following is a small portion of the blog.
Hermana Stacey Jensen
Pablo fell because he cannot commit to pay his tithing. Talk about a shock that we didn’t see coming… he was totally on board when we taught tithing, but it turns out that he’s not after all. It’s not because he doesn’t want to share his money, it’s that he wants to share it his way. When this problem came to light, we also learned that he takes care of 6 abandoned and battered little boys. He buys their clothes, pays for them to go to a psychologist, and for their medicine and all that jazz. He does this with his own money. So the issue is that he doesńt want to pay tithing because he says he wońt be able to keep caring for these 6 little boys. He is all about serving, but he wants to be able to use his tithing in his own foster home project. We told him that Heavenly Father would bless him to be able to pay his tithing and still be able to care for these little boys and left him with the eternal homework to “pray about it.” So his baptismal date fell, but fell hard core because we weren’t able to just take out another date right then for the following weekend, rather his date fell and fell into the “eternal investigador” category where it’s like the group of people that will surely get baptized someday, but not this transfer, not when Íll be able to see it happen.
BLACK SHEEP AFTER READING MY BOOK
David N.; 2-23-08 TITHING ABUSE STORY
I am writing this with a broken heart. I am all alone and all isolated since reading your book (I am not finished yet) and others online. I have tried to talk to people at my church whom I thought were my friends about tithing and financial unaccountability.
This is a Word of Faith church and Kenneth Copeland and his wife are here for a week of meetings.
[The wrong part] I am not doing everything right. I am lashing out, actually reaching out for support and friendship.
I just want to talk to somebody but no leader will talk to me about it. they shut me off and have blacklisted me in the church. I try to talk to my friends but they have to choose carefully whom they will remain loyal to. Everyone is backing away and telling me they are praying for me or think I am in danger or on the wrong road, etc.
I am all alone. My wife is really having a hard time. She is trying to be loyal to me but is in the choir and being fed different things from the other side. It is really touch on her.
I need help. Who can I turn to? I guess I can’t change my church or my friends (who aren’t friends any more or soon won’t be). It doesn’t seem to be an issue where you can agree to disagree or compromise and meet in the middle. It is either their way or the highway and that makes me wrong, immature and a rebel.
MORMON TITHES STOLEN MONEY
Deseret Morning News, Ogden, Utah
Drastically reduced and edited by Russell Kelly.
The abuse here is that tithing is so ingrained that the person wanted to keep God’s blessings so he tithed that which he had stolen.
Ogden Man Charged with Real Estate Fraud
Utah Attorney General filed charges against Val Edmund Southwick for $140 million dollars.
VesCor Capital was a massive Ponzi scheme lasted 17 years before May 2006. New investments were used to pay old real estate investments.
Investigators said Southwick touted himself as a respectable LDS gentleman — a devout Mormon.
He used the money to pay for his personal mortgage, massages, vacation, LDS TITHING, moving costs and attorneys’ fees.
Judy Willingham says:
November 28, 2007, at 11:17 am
I am the Administrative Assistant named in Suzanne Sateline’s report. What she didn’t tell you was that in 1995 I was supporting 3 children on child support only. I had been a stay at home mom for 16 years and had no idea how to even turn on a computer. We went from a 5-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom apartment. My children’s father chose not to be a part of their lives after he remarried, so I was desperate for help. I reached out to my church and was told that I should tithe to get God’s favor. So I did.
When I had trouble paying my bills, I was told I should tithe first. When my electricity was turned off I was told I didn’t have enough faith, or that I had hidden sin. When I asked the church for help, I had to fill out enough papers to choke a horse and made to feel like I was stealing from God. It was the Catholic Church in my area that helped me more times than I can remember. (I’ve never been Catholic).
In 2005 I had a wreck (even though I had been tithing) and was hurt. Two surgeries on my knee made it almost impossible to wear heels,or anything besides tennis shoes, so I quit going to church because it hurt to walk. My car was totaled and I had to buy a new-used car. In buying the car, my first consideration was would I still be able to afford to tithe if I buy this car. I bought a 4-yr old 2001 Suzuki, hoping I would still be able to tithe.
Car payments, on top of tithing just did not work for me. I started missing my tithe payments and eventually quit mailing them in.
Earlier this year, I was crying out to God on my knees, in my bedroom! Begging him to forgive me for not tithing, and for “robbing” him. He led my back to my Bible in Malachi 2-3, Malachi is talking to the PRIESTS of that day who were keeping the best of the tithe. I couldn’t believe I had read those scriptures for years and years and there it was. . .right in front of me.
Then I dug in and started researching and telling my story. At that point I had officially quit tithing in my heart. I wasn’t going to send any more money to the church. A complete stranger read my story on one website and contacted the website owner to send me $500. He just wanted to send me a blessing. . ..I can’t begin to tell you how much of a blessing that was. Then in August I received a financial settlement that had been long overdue. If I had received it before, I would have sent 10% to the church. Also, I recently received a substantial raise at work. And it looks like next month I will finally be able to own my own home. All this AFTER I quit tithing.
May I say too, that I have come to realize that the Prosperity Gospel is a pack of lies, and twisted scripture. Sataline’s report states that Steve Sorensen advocates tithing because then you are under God’s “protection.”
Then please explain this, my best friend was an avid Chirstian woman. She died 5 years ago of cancer. She tithed, gave offerings and I never saw her let that plate go by without putting something extra in it. I literally saw her take the shoes off her feet and give them to someone who needed shoes. She taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and was very active in her cell group. She fought such a hard fight to live. But it wasn’t meant to be. Why? Did she not have enough faith, hidden sin? What would you tell her husband? two young daughters? her parents? Friends?
After googling every preacher on TBN, for example “john hagee false teacher” and seeing the over the top lavish lifestyle of greed these pastors live, I got mad. When I gave my money to the different ministries, I wasn’t counting on it going to line the pockets of these mega televangelists. It is obscene.
I sat at my computer and cried my eyes out at watching the videos on www.false-teachers.com. How that must be such dung in the eyes of God. The whole thing was such a shock to me, that it is all such a money scam.
I am so grateful that God cared enough about me to remove me from that apostate church. Now, I firmly believe that God has given Hagee over to a reprobate mind. He obviously believes a lie, given the heresy he’s been saying lately, like “Jesus did not come to be the Messiah” so he can promote his latest book.
I lost friends when I walked away from that church. In a way, I lost my identity since I had been involved in severaly ministries too. I’ve had to re-learn everything about the Bible. My cell leaders, who profess to love me, told me that I had LOST MY SALVATION and CURSED MY CHILDREN because I quit tithing. Then they refused to speak to me about it any more. . ..it was not open for ANY discussion. Just a little cultish wouldn’t you say?
Now, I’m grateful that I’m out. I see the brain-washing I got and wonder how I could have sat there for so long in such a delusion (It must have been the Kool Aid). I have asked God for forgiveness for seeking his hand and not his face, and I have repented for ever going to a place like Cornerstone.
I’ve had people tell me all the good things that Hagee has done in the world. Most churches have done good things. But the greed is more than I can stand. One table in GETV cost more than I make in two years. Why? Because money says your successful? I think not, from what I’ve read, Jesus would have said, “sell it and give it to the poor.”
About 3-4 years ago Hagee has us start paying off the church debt. It was somewhere around $30 million and he said that he “didn’t want to leave the next generation a huge debt.” This new payment was over and above the tithe and offering. Now that the debt is nearly paid, Hagee has bought a private jet. Jets are very expensive to maintain.
In closing, I like Senator Grassley’s analogy of “Jesus rode a humble donkey”, why do these preachers need jets and fancy cars? Jesus could have been carried everywhere in a golden chariot, but he chose to walk or ride a donkey, why should it be different for these preachers? They say they do so much for us but when was the last time you got to speak directly to your pastor? Is he/she covered by body guards (why do you need body guards to go to church?) Is your pastor always off traveling or on speaking engagements?
I still give. I have always loved to give. But now, the poor in my community have my heart. I also give to a hospital that never turns a child away for not being able to pay.
One last question. Where is the faith of the preacher? Why can’t he/she preach the Word correctly that Paul taught us to “give as you purpose in your heart” and “give cheerfully?” Let the people give and let the preacher have faith that God will meet his/her needs.
- S. SENATE INVESTIGATION
Lavish televangelist lifestyles raise eyebrows at Senate Finance Committee
The reportedly extravagant lifestyles of six television evangelists are raising some eyebrows at the Senate Finance Committee, which wants to know if the popular preachers are paying their fair share in taxes.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican, has written letters to the evangelists, asking that they “disclose their assets, spending practices, compensation plans and business arrangements,” according the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Sataline. “The letters aren’t formal subpoenas, and the six aren’t required to reply.”
Although religious organizations themselves are not required to pay federal taxes, any for-profit ventures a church may engage in are not similarly exempt.
“Mr. Grassley said his investigation was prompted by complaints from watchdog groups and others that the ministers live in multimillion-dollar homes, travel on private jets and engage in profit-making ventures from their ministries,” reports the Journal, adding that the senator said he would withhold judgment until he got “the story from the ministries.”
Evangelists receiving letters from Grassley were Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Paula White. Spokespersons for Dollar, Hinn and Meyer all denied any wrongdoing in statements to CBS News.
CBS also reports that Sen. Grassley’s letters were prompted in part by Ole Anthony, an investigator with the Trinity Foundation, a religious watchdog group that probes potential fraud among religious groups.
“We’ve been working with them for two years,” Anthony told CBS. “We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the ministers under scrutiny are all “prosperity theology adherents who preach that wealth is a sign of God’s favor.”
“Ministers who espouse prosperity theology promote themselves as conduits for God’s blessings, saying that believers will reap benefits as long as they give generously to the ministries,” continued the Journal.”Most evangelical ministers urge believers to donate, but don’t link donations to earthly wealth.”
(CBS) This story was written and reported by Laura Strickler of the CBS News Investigative Unit.
CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.
Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.
According to Grassley’s office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.
The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six – Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar – also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.
A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: “We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax.” The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization’s Web site.
In a statement, Benny Hinn’s spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, said the ministry was in the process of determining the best course of action in response to the Senate investigation. “World Healing Center Church complies with the laws that govern church and non-profit organizations and will continue to do so,” Torossian wrote.
In a statement to CBS News, Creflo Dollar called his ministry an “open book” and said he would comply with any “valid request” from Grassley. But he noted that the inquiry raised questions that could “affect the privacy of every community church in America.”
The other three ministries did not respond to requests for comment from CBS News on Monday.
Because they have tax status as churches, the ministries do not have to file IRS 990 forms like other non-profit organizations – leaving much financial information largely behind closed doors.
The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. “We’ve been working with them for two years,” Anthony told CBS News. “We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen.”
Anthony said after twenty years of working with media organizations to expose televangelists, he saw little reform. He says that’s why he turned to another tactic, going straight to Grassley. He is confident that Grassley’s inquiry will be different, “What we hope is that this will lead to reform in religious nonprofits.”
The structure of many televangelist organizations – in which the leadership is often concentrated in one person or one family – has itself been the target of criticism. “Churches like these are ruled as a dictatorship,” says Rod Pitzer, who directs research at Ministry Watch in North Carolina, which provides advice for donors to Christian organizations.
Pitzer welcomes the Senate committee investigation. Ministries lacking accountability, he says, “give a black eye to churches and Christians who are trying to do things in the right manner.”
By Laura Strickler © MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
IRS has set guidelines
The Internal Revenue Service treats churches generally the same as nonprofit organizations. To keep their tax-exempt status, both are prohibited from making large profits or providing a substantial benefit to for-profit interests.
Churches and nonprofits also are forbidden from attempting to influence legislation or political campaigns.
Most churches fall well within those guidelines, said Michael Broyde, professor at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.
“Churches have nothing to worry about if their expenditures are vaguely reasonable and the standard of living of their pastors is within the norm,” he said.
The “norm” is usually at the discretion of church leaders and depends on the local cost of living and salary range of parishioners and colleagues, Broyde said.
Religious groups might jeopardize their tax-exempt status if they use it to compete with private business or substantially benefit a member of the organization.
Examples of prohibited activities include “payment of dividends, the payment of unreasonable compensation to insiders, and transferring property to insiders for less than fair market value,” according to the IRS.
In October, three former professors at Oral Roberts University filed a wrongful-dismal lawsuit against the school. The suit includes allegations of extravagant spending by the Roberts family. It describes a $39,000 shopping tab at one store for Richard Roberts‘ wife, Lindsay, a $29,411 senior trip to the Bahamas on the university jet for one of the Roberts‘ daughters, and a stable of horses for the Roberts‘ children.
The Associated Press reported that university President Richard Roberts, the son of evangelist Oral Roberts, disputed the allegations of overspending but has taken a leave of absence pending an investigation.
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
12 November 2007
Posted to the web 12 November 2007
Mangoa Mosota, Nairobi
The sprouting of countless charismatic churches in the country has heralded a new breed of church leaders and worshippers with strong faith in the power of miracles.
An increasing number of Kenyans are turning to ‘sowing the seed’ (giving huge sums of money for offering and tithe) at the prompting of church ministers who promise them to expect prosperity.
However, it appears there are ‘men and women of God’ who are out to take advantage of the unwavering faith and ignorance of worshippers. These are people who hide self-interest under the cloak of religion. They quote biblical verses to suit their intentions and convince the congregation of the need to give more in order to receive more.
Indeed, many Kenyans have sad tales to tell after being convinced to ‘sow seeds.’ A woman who only wanted to be identified as Evelyn said last year she sold her property and took a bank loan at the prompting of her pastor.
“He told me to invest in the work of God so that he could miraculously secure me a job within a month. In total, I gave him Sh120,000,” said Evelyn, 35, who is still jobless even after the promise of a miracle.
Evelyn said she realised that the preacher was conning her after she discovered that there were many members of her church who the pastor had promised instant miracles, but are still waiting. Some have been waiting for five years.
“I am distraught and confused. I don’t know whether to sue or confront him in public,” lamented Evelyn.
Stella Wanjiku told Crazy Monday earlier this year that she saw a white man preaching in Spanish on Aga Khan Walk, Nairobi.
“His lunch time sermon was then translated into English and Kiswahili by two other people,” said Wanjiku.
“I was perplexed when he said that he could cure people living with HIV/Aids by just touching them,” said Wanjiku, a secretary with a Nairobi company.
For Jonathan Wambasi last year provided a moment of disbelief when he saw a former schoolmate on TV getting ‘healed’ after suffering a ‘lifelong’ physical disability.
The man on crutches had ‘healed miraculously’ after being prayed for by one of the well-known preachers in Nairobi. “I grew up with the man and he was born without any disability,” Wambasi says.
He met the former schoolmate later on the streets of Nairobi and asked him about the ‘miraculous’ incident.
“Wachana nami. Hapo ndipo nakulia. Usiamini miujiza yote ya kanisa,” Wambasi’s friend retorted (Let me be. That is where I get my daily bread. Do not believe in all church miracles).
From that day, Wambasi has been doubting church ministers who claim to perform miracles.
Many men and women of God have paraded people they claim to have been previously suffering from HIV/Aids, who they claim to have healed. Mid last year, Prophetess Lucy Nduta of Salvation Healing Ministry appeared in a Nairobi court accused of defrauding people living with the scourge.
Many people claimed that they had paid her for the healing. Nduta was charged with obtaining money from HIV/Aids patients in the pretext that he could heal them.
In May, the wife of Kenyan evangelist Gilbert Deya, Mary, was sentenced to two years in jail by a Nairobi court for stealing a child.
Mary claimed that one of her two accomplices had given birth to the child, but the court proved the woman was not the biological mother.
“The actions and claims of miraculous birth deserve no mercy,” said the magistrate who made the ruling.