The Cash-and-Carry Christians

November 13, 2007

The idea of a televangelist named Rev. Dollar sounds too good to be true — like something dreamed up by Nathanael West, or Tom Wolfe.

But not only is Creflo A. Dollar of World Changers Church a bona fide prophet of the Gospel of Gimme Mine, he’s also one of six professional Bible-bangers asked to submit records of salaries, expense accounts and big-ticket purchases to a Senate committee. Other preachers contacted by the committee include Paula and Randy White, pastors of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla., who’ve been asked to document “any tax-exempt cosmetic surgery”; and Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries from Fenton, Mo., who apparently claimed tax-exempt status for the purchase of a $23,000 “commode with marble top.”

“They are taking market principles, setting themselves up as corporations, and yet they don’t want to be taxed — they don’t want to have accountability,” said Fredrick Harris, a professor of political science at Columbia University. “They are blurring the line between profit and nonprofit.”

Though most nonprofits have to file IRS 990 forms detailing salary and expenses, religious organizations are exempt. The Internal Revenue Service requires that ministers’ compensation be “reasonable” — that pastors do not gain excessive compensation from tax-exempt work.

Mega-church followers say those who criticize their pastors’ perks do not understand their symbolic value.

“Yes, a minister turns heads when he drives a Bentley,” said Democratic state Rep. Randal Mangham, a member of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., one of the ministries being investigated. “But that’s good. It’s important for kids to see you don’t have to sell drugs to drive a nice car.”

Connie Cotton, 41, a longtime member of World Changers, said, “We give to our pastor because he’s a true man of God. He needs a jet to go around the world and preach the Gospel.”

Poor old Jesus, riding a mule into Jerusalem — nowadays he’d fly a liturgical Lear jet, no doubt.

Rev. Dollar is defying the Senate committee, but something tells me it won’t be too long before we start hearing about the successors of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker. After all, when the world is full of sheep, it’s only natural for the shepherds to shear them.  


2 Responses to “The Cash-and-Carry Christians”

  1. Caveat Says:

    I agree, you don’t have to sell ‘drugs’ to have a nice car. You can run a con game and evade taxes instead.

    At least the drug dealers give people something for their money.

  2. BoycottTBN Says:

    I agree with Caveat….I have more respect for the drug dealers, at least they don’t use God as their means to con innocent people out of their money. I am glad the government stepped in, it is about time these big mega-ministries were held accountable. They are nothing to do with God because they twist scripture and preach the prosperity gospel which is a LIE!!

    “Send me $1000 and God’ gonna cure your sick child.” or “send me $1000 and God’s gonna give you a miracle.”

    IT IS A LIE…A CON GAME…A SHAM!! Go Uncle Sam…go!!
    Take them down and hold them accountable!

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