Just when you thought that the depths of ?evangelical ministries and churches? seeking after filthy lucre and the ?mammon of unrighteousness? could not get any more ostentatious?we?re hit with the recent LA Times articles on the financial excesses of the Trinity Broadcasting Network?the world?s largest evangelical programming network!
Nothing like having the ?world? hang out your dirty underwear for all to see and scorn. WHY IS IT THAT THE WORLD MUST SIT AS JUDGE AND JURY TO PRONOUNCE OUR INTENTIONS ARE WRETCHEDLY DEFILED BY THE GOD OF MAMMON? The Bible declares: ?For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?? (I Peter 4:17)
JOHN REVEALS WHAT GOD IS AFTER TODAY!
Now, you thought that Jesus tossed out the ?money changers? from the Temple in Jerusalem just prior to His crucifixion?and, actually, you?re right. Shortly after His ?Triumphal Entry? into Jerusalem (Matthew 21), He entered the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13) and declared while overturning the tables of the money changers, that they had made it a ?den of thieves.? Then, he visited Bethany (Matthew 21:17); gave parables and the ?Olivet Discourse? (Matthew 21:28-25:46); and then the Passover and the ultimate crucifixion?all within a matter of days (Matthew 26:1-27:56)!
So, how is it that in John?s Gospel (at the very beginning of His three-plus-years? ministry), immediately following the account of His first miracle at the ?Wedding of Cana of Galilee,? John records: ?He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple . . . poured out the changers? money and overturned the tables . . . and He said to those who sold doves, ?Take these things away! Do not make My Father?s house a house of merchandise!? (John 2:15-16)?
The Crouch's Vatican II
Trinity Christian Center International, located in Costa Mesa, Orange County, California, with its elaborate sets, and adjacent gated development in which Trinity Broadcasting Network owns 11 homes, along with residences in Texas, Tennessee and Ohio?along with extravagant homes owned by the Crouches in nearby Newport Beach (adjacent photo recently on the market for $8 million), demonstrates, according to the ?Gospel of Prosperity? God?s blessing upon TBN?s ministry.
PLEADING OR PREYING UPON THE PEOPLE OF GOD
The LA Times article revealed an amazing amalgamation of unprecedented wealth heaped up by the Crouches?the likes of which staggers the imagination of, I am sure, even one Donald Trump. No, it?s not akin to a Bill Gates?but given time, look out!
Paul Crouch peers into the camera and proclaims the need for $8 million in order to spread the Good News throughout the Indian subcontinent. Viewers were/are encouraged to give $1,000 each as a pledge?even if they don?t have it to give?but to take a ?step of faith?* and make the pledge for the ?Lord would repay them many times over!? (*Note: Quote marks are derived from the LA Times series.)
The outrageous appeal for such funds for the ?spread of the Gospel in India? upon some 8,700 television stations was not a matter of ?additional funding needs? because: ?TBN was not short on cash. In fact, it could have paid for the India expansion out of the interest on its investment portfolio. But at TBN, the appeals for money never stop?nor does the flow of contributions.
Did somebody say ?success?? Well, if you think success can be compared to the likes of Ted Turner, listen to how the world compares such ?success? ?
?Much as Ted Turner did for TV news, the Crouches have created a global infrastructure for religious broadcasting. But that is just one element in their success. Another is a doctrine called the ?prosperity gospel,? which promises worshipers that God will shower them with material blessings if they sacrifice to spread His Word.?
But ?success? has its downside:
?The network, little known outside fundamentalist Christian circles, was buffeted by unwanted publicity last week, when The Times reported that Crouch had paid a former employee $425,000 to keep silent about an alleged homosexual tryst.
?WHEN YOU GIVE TO GOD . . . YOU?RE SIMPLY LOANING TO THE LORD AND HE GIVES IT RIGHT ON BACK!?
TBN has no advertising?yet it generates more than $170 million a year in revenues?its viewers contribute two-thirds of that money! Do you want to know what you?re paying for? Take a gander:
?Paul, 70, collects a $403,700 salary as TBN?s chairman and president; Jan, 67, is paid $361,000 as vice president and director of programming. Those are the highest salaries paid by any of the 12 major religious nonprofits whose finances are tracked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.?
Don?t worry; the ?prayer partners? should be delighted to discover other amenities for the gospel include:
?A $7.2-million, 19-seat Canadair Turbojet owned by TBN. Luxury cars . . . 30 ministry-owned homes . . . a pair of Newport Beach mansions, a mountain retreat near Lake Arrowhead and a ranch in Texas.?
Then there?s the happy family:
?Paul Jr., earns $90,800 a year as TBN?s vice president for administration . . . Matthew (another son), has received $32 million from the network since 1999 to produce Christian-themed movies such as ?The Omega Code.??
Wall Watchers, a respected evangelical financial watch dog organization, has been abysmally ineffective in getting the financial contributions faucet turned off for TBN?I mean:
?TBN surpluses average $60 million a year since 1997; list net assets of $583 million, including $238 million in Treasury bonds and other government securities and $31 million in cash, along with 400 employees.
The TBN Building
A June 2, 1998 article by Kim Christensen and Carol McGraw in The Orange County Register was entitled
TBN?s headquarters built on grand scale. It said in part... [All Emphasis Added]
?Trinity Christian City International is a dazzling 65,000-square-foot building that houses a new studio, bookstore and theater, and a richly appointed suite of offices for TBN founder Paul Crouch. It is an office building, but its TV studios are designed to look like the inside of a Gothic cathedral, complete with stained-glass windows and padded pews for the audience.
The building was designed and decorated at the direction of the Crouches, from the main lobby's baroque marble staircase and 15-foot-high, molded polymer statue of Michael the Archangel, to the velvet settees in the executive suite.
When TBN purchased the building for $6 million, it was a drab, brown stucco-and-glass box, the former home of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, and the Crouches planned only minor changes. A new $1 million face was put on the building using an "exterior foam insulation system," Hubble (whose Fort Worth, Texas, construction company put a new facade on the building) said. Balustrades, columns and other architectural features were made from styrofoam, then covered with fiberglass mesh, coated with plaster and painted.
The main fountain in front of the building is used for full-immersion baptisms and is patterned after one in New York's Central Park. It is fed by a small aqueduct the Crouches call "the River of Life." Hubble said it cost about $1 million, and landscaping the property tacked on about $400,000.
Much of the interior features gleaming marble floors and intricately detailed ceilings. The lobby ceiling is covered with 217 hand-painted cherubs, many depicting the faces of TBN employees' children. The cherubs on the lobby ceiling were done by portrait artist Jane Garrison, who spent 10 months on it. She worked atop a scissors lift, a week at a time, eight to 10 hours a day, and then went home to Arkansas to rest before resuming.
"By the end of the week, I kept thinking, 'If I have to climb this ladder and do one more cherub ...,' " she said. "But then I'd get down and think, 'Yes, I'd like to do another.' "
Garrison, who charges $3,000 apiece for full-length portraits at her Fayetteville studio, would not say how much she was paid for her work at TBN.
She also has been commissioned to do other work at the new building, including seven original paintings. Three are ?food-related biblical paintings? for the dining room in the private executive suite, and a Garrison original dominates the center ceiling of the main lobby.
?Jan wanted cherubs and ribbons, and flowers. But Paul wanted more,? she said. ?So we agreed on the Second Coming of Christ. He?s on a white horse. And three warrior angels are with him in the middle.?
Joyce Meyer Ministries bought these 5 homes for Meyer and her family. The Ministry pays all expenses, including landscaping and lawn care, property taxes and rehab work. Meyer, her husband and each of their four married children live in the homes, free of charge.
The ministry's headquarters is a three-story jewel of red brick and emerald-color glass that, from the outside, has the look and feel of a luxury resort hotel. Built two years ago for $20 million, the building and grounds are postcard perfect, from manicured flower beds and walkways to a five-story lighted cross.
The driveway to the office complex is lined on both sides with the flags of dozens of nations reached by the ministry. A large bronze sculpture of the Earth sits atop an open Bible near the parking lot. Just outside the main entrance, a sculpture of an American eagle landing on a tree branch stands near a man-made waterfall. A message in gold letters greets employees and visitors over the front entryway: "Look what the Lord Has Done."
The building is decorated with religious paintings and sculptures, and quality furniture. Much of it, Meyer says, she selected herself.
A Jefferson County assessor's list offers a glimpse into the value of many of the items: a $19,000 pair of Dresden vases, six French crystal vases bought for $18,500, an $8,000 Dresden porcelain depicting the Nativity, two $5,800 curio cabinets, a $5,700 porcelain of the Crucifixion, a pair of German porcelain vases bought for $5,200.
The decor includes a $30,000 malachite round table, a $23,000 marble-topped antique commode, a $14,000 custom office bookcase, a $7,000 Stations of the Cross in Dresden porcelain, a $6,300 eagle sculpture on a pedestal, another eagle made of silver bought for $5,000, and numerous paintings purchased for $1,000 to $4,000 each.
InPlainSite Note: The Commode referred to above probably does not refer to a toilet. Commode used to refer to a cabinet, with one or more doors, that served as a washstand with a washbasin and water pitcher, and that also offered an enclosed area below for storing a chamber pot, but in contemporary English usually refers to a low chest of drawers on stubby legs.
Inside Meyer's private office suite sit a conference table and 18 chairs bought for $49,000. The woodwork in the offices of Meyer and her husband cost the ministry $44,000.
In all, assessor's records of the ministry's personal property show that nearly $5.7 million worth of furniture, artwork, glassware, and the latest equipment and machinery fill the 158,000-square-foot building.
As of this summer, the ministry also owned a fleet of vehicles with an estimated value of $440,000. The Jefferson County assessor has been trying to get the complex and its contents added to the tax rolls but has failed. [INDEX]
Stylish Sports Cars and a Plane
Meyer drives the ministry's 2002 Lexus SC sports car with a retractable top, valued at $53,000. Her son Dan, 25, drives the ministry's 2001 Lexus sedan, with a value of $46,000. Meyer's husband drives his Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG sedan. "My husband just likes cars," Meyer said.
The Meyers keep the ministry's Canadair CL-600 Challenger jet, which Joyce Meyer says is worth $10 million, at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield. The ministry employs two full-time pilots to fly the Meyers to conferences around the world.
Meyer calls the plane a "lifesaver" for her and her family. "It enabled us, at our age, to travel literally all over the world and preach the gospel" with better security than that offered on commercial flights, she said.
Security is important to Meyer, who says she has received death threats. She has a division of the ministry dedicated to her safety. Her officers wear pistols; they guard the headquarters' front gate, keeping out anyone but employees and invited guests. The ministry bought a $145,000 house where the security chief lives rent-free to keep him close to the ministry's headquarters. [INDEX]
The Family Compound
The ministry has also bought homes for other key employees.
Since 1999, the ministry has spent at least $4 million on five homes for Meyer and her four children near Interstate 270 and Gravois Road, St. Louis County records show.
Meyer's house, the largest of the five, is a 10,000-square-foot Cape Cod style estate home with a guest house and a garage that can be independently heated and cooled and can hold up to eight cars. The three-acre property has a large fountain, a gazebo, a private putting green, a pool and a poolhouse where the ministry recently added a $10,000 bathroom. See Aerial View of All Five Houses
The ministry pays for utilities, maintenance and landscaping costs at all five homes. It also pays for renovations. The Meyers ordered major rehab work at the ministry's expense right after the ministry bought three of the homes. For example, the ministry bought one home, leveled it and then built a new home on the site to the specifications of Meyer's daughter Sandra and her husband, county records show. Even the property taxes, $15, 629 this year, are paid by the ministry.
Meyer called the homes a "good investment" for the ministry and said the ministry bears the cost of upkeep and maintenance because the family is too busy to take care of such tasks. "It's just too hard to keep up with something like that when you travel as much as we do," Meyer said.
She said that federal tax law allows ministries to buy parsonages for their employees, so the arrangement does not violate any prohibitions against personal benefit. Meyer also said the decision to cluster the families together was a way to build a buffer to better ensure privacy and security.
"We put good people all around us," she said. "Obviously, if I was trying to hide anything or thought I was doing anything wrong, I wouldn't live on the corner of Gravois and 270."
Meyer's "Trusted" Board
For the most part, Meyer can spend the ministry's money any way she sees fit because her board of directors is handpicked. It consists of Meyer, her husband and all four of her children ? all paid workers ? as well as six of Meyer's closest friends. (Ministry officials said that daughter Laura Holtzmann has now resigned; state records still list her on the board.) "Our family is a huge help to us," Meyer said. "We couldn't do this if we didn't have somebody we trusted."
Board members Roxane and Paul Schermann are such close friends that for more than a decade they lived in the Meyers' home. The ministry employed both of them as high-level managers and in 2001 bought them a $334,000 home. Roxane Schermann no longer works at the ministry; her husband continues as a paid division manager. The Schermanns bought the house at the same price from the ministry in January. Delanie Trusty, the ministry's certified public accountant, also serves as the ministry board's secretary.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
On July 7, 2008 Times Online reported that ?Televangelist Kenneth Copeland refuses to render unto taxman?
?It is not yours, it is God's, and you are not going to get it.? So saith Kenneth Copeland, the television evangelist, when asked to submit his ministry's private financial records to Washington?
With a sizeable share for the Copelands? [Emphasis Added]
Mr Copeland certainly practises what he preaches. According to a report into the pentecostal charismatics, commissioned by the Senate, the ministry built Mr Copeland and his wife Gloria a mansion ?the size of an hotel? .. and enabled him to acquire a $20 million (?10 million) Cessna Citation to help him to spread the word of God across the US.
Speaking to his assembled congregation on the runway by his new aeroplane, Mr Copeland said: ?The Lord spoke to me and said ?you're gonna believe for a Citation 10, right now'.? He also promised that the jet, one of four owned by the Church, ?will never ever be used as for anything other than what is becoming of you Lord Jesus?.
The ministry also owns an airport capable of accepting jet landings, leases land for Mr Copeland's cattle and horses and also leases land to the family so that it can operate oil and gas wells.? [Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...le4281949.ece]
An Associated Press article dated July 26, 2008 says
Copeland?s 1,500-acre campus outside Fort Worth is ?testament to his success?. It includes a church, private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry's aircraft and a $6 million, church-owned mansion.
Newark, Texas - Here in the gentle hills of north Texas, televangelist Kenneth Copeland has built a religious empire teaching that God wants his followers to prosper.
Over the years, a circle of Copeland's relatives and friends have done just that, The Associated Press has found. They include the brother-in-law with a lucrative deal to broker Copeland's television time, the son who acquired church-owned land for his ranching business and saw it more than quadruple in value, and board members who together have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking at church events.
While Copeland insists that his ministry complies with the law, independent tax experts who reviewed information obtained by the AP through interviews, church documents and public records have their doubts. The web of companies and non-profits tied to the televangelist calls the ministry's integrity into question, they say.
"There are far too many relatives here," said Frances Hill, a University of Miami law professor who specializes in nonprofit tax law. "There's too much money sloshing around and too much of it sloshing around with people with overlapping affiliations and allegiances by either blood or friendship or just ties over the years. There are red flags all over these relationships."
Kenneth Copeland Ministries is organized under the tax code as a church, so it gets a layer of privacy not afforded large secular and religious nonprofit groups that must disclose budgets and salaries. Pastors' pay must be "reasonable" under the federal tax code.
Reasonable according to the Copelands is what most of us would consider a very hefty amount, more suitable to the hugely overpaid leeches on Wall Street. But then again what?s the difference? Leeches on Wall Street.. Leeches in the Church.
?Copeland's current salary is not made public by his ministry. However, the church disclosed in a property-tax exemption application that his wages were $364,577 in 1995; Copeland's wife, Gloria, earned $292,593.?
Kenneth Copeland's "18-thousand square foot home valued at $6.3 million" and his "private jets" are just some of the reasons that some three years ago Kenneth Copeland Ministries was included in an an investigation into the finances of six separate ministries in the country. 
And what became of the investigation? It soon became very clear that Copeland's Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC), and three of the other organizations under investigation, did not intend to cooperate in any way with the Committee. On July 7, 2008 Times Online reported that
?Televangelist Kenneth Copeland refuses to render unto taxman?
?It is not yours, it is God's, and you are not going to get it.? So saith Kenneth Copeland, the television evangelist, when asked to submit his ministry's private financial records to Washington? 
In fact some used "strong tactics to prevent former employees from speaking about the organizations, even to Committee staff".
Several former employees of EMIC/KCM indicated that EMIC/KCM used intimidation in an attempt to keep informants from speaking to the Committee. Former employees were sincerely afraid to provide statements for fear of being sued since they signed confidentiality agreements. Employees were contacted by EMIC/KCM attorneys after the initiation of the Committee investigation and reminded that they signed a confidentiality agreement agreeing not to disclose any information concerning EMIC/KCM. 
One former employee said, "The Copelands employ guerrilla tactics to keep their employees silent. We are flat out told and threatened that if we talk, God will blight our finances, strike our families down, and pretty much afflict us with everything evil and unholy. Rather, God will allow Satan to do those things to us because we have stepped out from under His umbrella of protection, by "touching God's anointed Prophet". Further, employees are encouraged to shun and treat badly anyone who dares speak out.? 
Speaking of the four organizations that did not cooperate, providing either incomplete responses or none at all, an internal memo says the investigators
"...obtained information about these churches from public sources and third party informants. Informants were either current or former officers, directors, and key employees, current or former members, or watch dog groups. Overviews of each of the four are attached. 
On January 6th, 2011, Senator Grassley issued a press release that summarized his offices findings to date regarding the Senate Finance Committee?s (SFC) investigation of six televangelists. A 28 page report included the following findings. Apparently God's money, as Copeland puts it, includes a sizeable share for the Copelands? [All Emphasis Added
From The Report
An insider states that Kenneth Copeland no longer receives a salary from EMIC budget but it is not known if one is received from KCM. Apparently, despite being the same legal entity, EMIC and KCM have separate operating budgets.
Gloria Copeland's last known salary was $400,000 and that was in the early 2000s. Kenneth and Gloria both receive ?honorariums? when they go to speak at churches, conventions and crusades that are not sponsored by KCM. The normal amount received by each is $10,000 and they at times will also receive a percentage of the offering collected by the sponsoring church or ministry. Kenneth and Gloria also received royalties from their music and books. The figures noted are prior to 2005.
And this is by no means everything.. Read the full report "Senate Finance Committee, Minority Staff Review of Eagle Mountain International Church d/b/a Kenneth Copeland Ministries. (Prepared by Lynda F. Simmons") [Copy and Paste either of these links into your browser]...
The ministry's income is unavailable, but newspaper accounts say the ministry paid $18 million in cash for his new 8,000-seat World Changers Church International on the southern edge of Atlanta. He flies to speaking engagements across the nation and Europe in a $5 million private jet and drives a black Rolls-Royce. and travels in a $5 million private jet. Dollar's ministry became a focus of a court case involving boxer Evander Holyfield in 1999. The lawyer for Holyfield's ex-wife estimated that the fighter gave Dollar's ministry $7 million. Dollar refused to testify in the case. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch. STLtoday.com 11/18/2003)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 5, 2000 says this
The Rev. Creflo Dollar Jr. has unabashedly embraced his name by building a religious empire on the message that his brand of piety leads to prosperity. He drives a black Rolls-Royce, flies to speaking engagements across the nation and Europe in a $5 million private jet and lives in a $1 million home behind iron gates in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood... The World Changers campus sits on a slight hill... Inside the church is a lobby befitting a five-star hotel. Chairs are scattered about on baby blue carpet thick enough to muffle the sound of the stadium-size crowd arriving for a Sunday service... There are no visible traditional Christian symbols - no cross, no image of Jesus, no stained-glass windows...Dollar lives in a $1 million home owned by the church in the Guilford Forest subdivision in southwest Atlanta. World Changers purchased another $1 million home on 27 acres in Fayette County in December. The church has amassed a fortune in real estate, mostly in College Park... As World Changers grew, so did Dollar's emphasis on prosperity. Dollar has no degree in theology. Much of his prosperity message, according to church and his family members, is based on the teachings of friend and spiritual mentor Kenneth Copeland... And a frequent criticism - that the church refuses to help nontithers - isn't true either, Lett said. Tithers simply "have priority," she said. People are not allowed to touch Dollar during services, she said, simply because "the anointing is flowing at that point." She said the church purchased a Rolls-Royce for Dollar's use because "he deserves the best."
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
The good bishop is known as "a strident homophobe"
On August 28, 2005 the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that during the period between 1997 to 2000, Long received more than $3.07 million worth of compensation and benefits from his non-profit charity, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc. [All Emphasis Added]
In 1995, Bishop Eddie Long established a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity to help the needy and spread the gospel. But it was Long, leader of the largest church congregation in Georgia, who became the charity's biggest beneficiary.
The charity, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc., provided him with at least $3.07 million in salary, benefits and the use of property between 1997 and 2000 -- nearly as much as it gave to all other recipients combined during those years, tax records show.
It is one of at least 20 nonprofit and for-profit corporations that Long founded after becoming pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987. Long's businesses include a music publishing company and a transportation service.
The charity's compensation to Long over that four-year period included:
> A $1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres in Lithonia.
> Use of a $350,000 luxury Bentley automobile.
> More than $1 million in salary, including $494,000 in 2000.
Additionally, the report said that "Long and his wife, Vanessa, were two of the charity's four board members. The charity gave a third board member, Terrance Thornton, a $160,000 loan in 1999 to buy a home site across the street from Long's house, tax records show." 
A 2010 New York Times piece says..
Bishop Long cuts a flashy figure in Lithonia, the Atlanta suburb where he lives and has built his church. He is often seen in a Bentley attended by bodyguards. He tends to wear clothes that show off his muscular physique. He favors Gucci sunglasses, gold necklaces, diamond bracelets and Rolex watches. He lives in a 5,000-square-foot house with five bedrooms, which he bought for $1.1 million in 2005.
His lavish display of wealth is in keeping with his theology. In his sermons, he often tells his congregation that God wants them to be wealthy and asserts that Jesus was not a poor man. By all accounts, he has been well compensated for his leadership in building New Birth from a church with a few hundred members into the largest congregation in Georgia. His televised sermons reach 170 countries.
In 2005, for instance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published tax records showing that from 1997 to 2000 Bishop Long had accepted $3 million in salary, housing, a car and other perks from a charity he controlled. 
Long's defence of his 'compensation' reeked of superiority.
"We're not just a church, we're an international corporation, " Long said. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.
"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering." 
They also carried a photograph of Eddie Long's million dollar house.
The Sex Scandal
Since this is an article on "lifestyles" of the Tele-evangelists, I guess the following summary from Wikipedia is not out of place.
On September 21 and 22, 2010, Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, and Jamal Parris filed separate lawsuits in DeKalb County Superior Court alleging that Long used his pastoral influence to coerce them into a sexual relationship with him. Flagg's suit says that Long presided over a spiritual "covenant" ceremony between the two of them.
"It was essentially a marriage ceremony, with candles, exchange of jewelry, and biblical quotes," Bernstein said Tuesday. "The bishop [told] him I will always have your back and you will always have mine."
Robinson's suit alleges that "Defendant Long would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship between himself and Plaintiff Robinson." 
The third suit was filed in DeKalb County Superior Court, said a spokeswoman for attorney B.J. Bernstein. 
On September 24, Spencer LeGrande, a member of a New Birth satellite church in Charlotte, North Carolina, filed a similar suit, making him the fourth man to file a lawsuit claiming sexual misconduct by Long. The complaint, filed in DeKalb State Court, comes after three other men filed lawsuits on Tuesday and Wednesday saying they were 17- and 18-year-old members of the church when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.
Hey...it's worse than that. Ordinary troops on the ground are just as bad. About three or four months ago I was in another town about 25 miles from where I live and a new Cadillac Escalade merged in from my right. The first thing I noticed was a Christian fish emblem on the right side of the rear of the vehicle. As it completely merged in front of me I saw a bumper sticker on the left side of the rear. It boldly stated, "This Family Is Blessed"
Blessed indeed. Nearly a billion people on this planet, mostly children, are starving or suffering from the effects of malnutrition and this individual believes that the invisible man in the sky has provided a new Cadillac for his family.
This morning I woke up very early. I have trouble with my sleeping habits and have had it since I worked about 20 years of rotating shift work when I was young. I was surfing across the TV channels and on one religious channel they were holding a large mass in the name of two saints. Bright red and white silk robes with tall hats, jeweled smoke pots, a pipe organ which when measured in decibels could put a wide body jet or a freight train to shame. One of the bishops, cardinals, whatever...had on a gold ring, which the camera man was obviously impressed by that would have measured at least 3/4 inch thick and appeared to be solid gold. I get disgusted with all the pomp and circumstance when I realize that during the last 1700 years the Romans have promoted the Christian myth into a multi billion dollar collection of some of the most precious art on this planet. If the Vatican and all it's holdings were to be sold and a technically sound investment vehicle set up, all of the hundreds of millions who are hungry on this planet could be fed forever. Don't worry...it ain't about to happen.