Ministry Abuses

Religious huckstering is very profitable.  If in doubt, just ask Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland, Randy and Paula White, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollars, Glenn Lee Beck, Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller, Jan and Paul Crouch, or numerous other televangelist “ministries” that each year chalk up multi-millions in tax-free cash and which they freely dip into for any personal expenditures. 

Religious activists are permitted to live outside the purview of federal tax authorities, and that guarantees the shafting of all tax payers in the name of some self-serving “faith” system.  From that sheltered position the holy schemers are free to intervene in partisan political campaigns while freely living lavish lifestyles.  This applies, for the most part, to the television “ministries” that pander to the stay-at-home armchair worshippers.  For the few persons who may actually be personally familiar with New Testament texts, however, that approach to “ministry” work does not properly reflect what Jesus is alleged to have taught. 

That these televangelists pick and choose the verses that are to be ignored is seen in their lust for money.  You never hear them quote from Mark 6:8 where Jesus sent out his disciples to preach and heal, telling them, “…take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no script, no bread, no money in their purse…”   Or the verses in 1 Timothy 6:10 where it is noted, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…”  It was in 1 Timothy also (chapter 3, verse 3) that cautioned those who preach were to be, “…not greedy of filthy lucre…”  And then there is Hebrews 13:5, which says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…”

Among the goodies that the tax exempt loophole allows faith systems is that ministry executives may freely take “housing allowances.”  That these “housing allowances” too often pay for palatial homes, multi-million dollar condos, beach houses, etc., is indulged in while the “ministers” laugh up their sleeves at their gullible “sheep.”   It is common for such ministry set-ups to include family members and friends as “staffers,” so that they may all luxuriate under the big non-profit umbrella.

This is adequate reason for all faith systems to be required to file the same detailed annual information return that any other nonprofit organizations must file (Form 990).  Simply saying that they “work for the Lord” is not enough to avoid their obligation to the democratic government that permits them to exist.  Even Jesus, whom they mockingly claim to represent, was clear about that: “…Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 11:17).  In other words, the advice of Jesus is that his representatives are to understand that proper spiritual conduct depends upon church and state being honored separately: for  although both concern man’s conduct, man’s accepted forms of earthly self-government do not prevail in heaven’s diversity and liberty. 

The antidemocratic criminality that is being indulged in in the U.S. today in the name of self-serving ministries has evolved into the corruption of government that we have witnessed since the Religious Right took over the Republican Party in 1996.  Thus today we have Republican Congressmen such as Charles Grassley of Iowa actually recommending that an independent commission—led by an evangelical agency—study church tax issues.  (That commission would be the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Winchester, Virginia-based agency.)  Included in Grassley’s recommendation was the proposal to repeal the ban on churches being actively involved in political campaigns!  Church-based politicking anchored in tax-exempt security is not democratic, and it also runs counter to the teachings of the man whom they claim to represent. 

There is today a renewed push by the Religious Right leaders in the U.S. to scrap the constitutional restriction on religious politicking, or at least undermine it.  The undemocratic aim of these holy conspirators is to establish a voting bloc for fundamentalists whose idea of heaven on Earth is a theocracy.

The extreme Religious Right deceitfully present themselves as “renewed in Christ,” but they seem totally unfamiliar with their savior’s teachings.  In the earliest books of Christianity (Matthew and Mark), followers are counseled to  “…seek the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and to share compassionately.  Trying  to take over a government, therefore, is not a “Christian value.”  But today in the U.S. the self-interest of the fundamentalists is on display in their grasping for political power, and they are doing it using tax-free money.  The democratic structure of the U.S. is being threatened by an internal movement that masks itself with a pretense of piety and spiritual “guidance.”

Fortunately, the founding fathers of our democratic form of government were spiritually wise and knew that genuine faith is not a predatory fixation.

8 Responses to “Ministry Abuses”

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