Saturday, March 24, 2007

Big Eyes and Small Camels!

Last night on 20/20, I watched a Christian ministry state that there are certain ministries that are less than forthcoming about their finances. As that was no shock to me, I watched it anyway. And I learned that the major names in evangelicalism are living very questionable lives in regards to their finances.

Now, lest any one think I am an ignoramus about the religious right, let me assure you that I am not. I spent thirteen years in that camp, finally walking away when it became apparent to me that I had been deceived, or lied to, or at least led along in the same delusion that so many "believers" lived in.

I attended, and taught in, a ministry training school. I was an up-and-comer in our local apostolic church system. Along the way I read the Bible cover to cover 5 times. I also memorized, with a good friend, the Pauline epistles of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. We could recite them verbatim back to back. I still own my Zondervan Comparative Study Bible, which includes the King James version, the New American Standard, Amplified, and New International version. And I now refer to them as charis-maniac funny-mentalists.

Two things struck me last night watching that show. The first was the list on the Ministry Watch list that stated which organizations had absolutely secretive finances, and the major folk that were written about in The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right. My guess is that it was coincidental.

Ministry Watch is a group that was started by a Christian who worked on Wall Street. He devotes his energy now to developing integrity among these large evangelical organizations that have budgets in the hundreds of millions, and no accountability for it. I'm glad to see that it is getting exposure, and so far those on the Ministry watch list have responded to his efforts as "attacks from Satan" as Trinity Broadcast Network's Jan and Paul Crouch say it.

The other thing that struck me was the lavish life style that the leaders of the fundie right live. Not one, but two or more multi-million dollar mansions. Private jets. Luxury automobiles. The clothes to match their trappings. vacations worthy of such opulence. In fact, Ministry watch chose to expose Kenneth Copeland, who beseeched followers to fund a new jet to be used exclusively for the gospel. That exclusive use included a trip to Australia for a conference. The flight plan though included not one, not two, but three multi-day layovers in tropical paradises along the way. And not for evangelical business. One layover was needed for "food and rest."

Remember, these huge organizations operate tax free. The rest of us subsidize the land they sit on and don't pay taxes for. And whatever other loopholes they have for tax free church business is something that has made several of these people multi-millionaires. Benny Hinn for example, gets paid a half to a million a year as a salary. I have a problem with this. And so do they.

To quote their leader, " And again I say to you (note the emphasis), it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Some guy named Matthew allegedly recorded these words that these evangelicals claim are the inerrant word of God.

So do these people a favor, contact your state and national representatives in Congress, and ask that all tax subsidizing of all religions be immediately revoked, that these men may stand a chance of entering the kingdom of their God.


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