Fundie frauds are feeling the pinch

THE prosperity gospel movement – “you give, we prosper” – has hit hard times in the US, and it’s not entirely the result of the credit crunch.

According to this report, it appears as if it’s finally dawning on the dupes that the only people prospering from the movement are thieving evangelists with dodgy hairstyles, impossibly white gnashers, private jets, trophy wives and tempestuous lifestyles.

'Prosperity' evangelist Benny Hinn. Call him a crook and God'll curse you.

'Prosperity' evangelist Benny 'The Hair' Hinn. Call him a snake oil salesman and he'll bring God's wrath down on on your head!

J Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine said:

I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul. God is shaking us.

Grady predicts the movement will look much different in a few years as it refocuses on evangelism and overcoming what he calls the distraction of :

Materialism, flashy self-promotion, and foolish carnality.

But Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches, is not so certain.

Most clergy who preach a prosperity gospel would interpret for their congregation any conflict, scrutiny, or questioning as an attack of the Devil and proof that they are following God.

The Copelands

The Copelands: No Botox here, then?

• In Fort Worth, Texas, a review board ruled last December that Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ $3.6 million jet did not have tax-exempt status. The ruling came after the ministry, whose 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion, refused to release details of the salaries of Copeland, his wife, and others.

• In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, a sheriff’s deputy served an eviction notice last November at Bishop Thomas Weeks III’s Global Destiny Church.

Bishop Thomas Weeks III, who had a violent scrap with his ex-wife

Bishop Thomas Weeks III, who had a violent scrap with his ex-wife

Court documents indicate the bishop, the ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum, owed half a million dollars in back rent. The church has lost roughly half of its 3,400 members since Weeks and Bynum’s 2007 fight in a hotel parking lot, in which Weeks was accused of pushing, choking, and beating his then-wife.

• In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church – which once attracted 23,000 worshipers – has shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 they were divorcing. The church faces an uncertain future after the Evangelical Christian Credit Union began foreclosure proceedings November 4 and demanded repayment of a $12 million loan on the church’s property.

Randy White in action: 'Right, any other bitch out there wanna call me a blood-sucking swindler?'

Randy White in action: 'Right, any other bitch out there wanna call me a blood-sucking swindler?'

• In suburban Minneapolis last November, Living Word Christian Center pastor Mac Hammond won the first stage of a court battle with the Internal Revenue Service to keep his salary private. Yet in 2008, he was forced to put his private jet up for sale and cut Living Word’s hour-long television show in half to save money amid falling contributions.

Meanwhile, Copeland and the Whites are among six televangelists whose large organizations have been targeted in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into allegations of questionable spending and lax financial accountability. All six preach some form of the prosperity gospel.

Benny Hinn, one of those under investigation, is on record placing a “curse” from God against anyone “who dares to speak a word against this ministry”.  See this BBC report.

7 responses to “Fundie frauds are feeling the pinch”

  1. Angela K says:

    I accept there are possibly a few vulnerable people who get drawn in – or should that be press-ganged – into these ‘churches’ but what about the other millions of gullible imbeciles who fund these churches? Scandal after scandal, yet still these dimwits continue to open their wallets. Peter Gabriel wrote cynically “Invest in the church for your heaven” which I paraphrase as “Invest in my church for my executive jet and plastic surgery”.

  2. newspaniard says:

    All this publicity and yet congregations still willingly cough up the loot. Do they still believe that they are buying their own fluffy cloud in the sky with daily harp instruction thrown in? Amazing.

  3. TONY E says:

    Sadly, history has shown time and again that the weak and gullible get sucked in more during times of financial upheaval. People who have little will still give a large part of their income to the church. The parasites (clothed as ministers)should be giving rather than taking.

  4. Shawn says:

    I love it. Do none of these fools actually read their bible. I mean, surely one of these millions of imbeciles must have noticed that their beloved JC rejected wealth and worldly possessions. Rich men, camels and the eyes of needles, you know. Then again, I guess the personal jetting, mansion living fraudsters gloss over those points and we know the sheep can’t read or think for themselves.

  5. mikespeir says:

    Awww. That’s too bad. Oh, well, I’m sure the Delphic Oracle had to go through this a few thousand years ago. Somehow the world keeps turning.

  6. frankyV says:

    These are just the current lot. The Church of England hasn’t got 5.7bn quid in its bank account just from praying. The RC Church has got its own Bank!! and we have no idea how many billions they’ve got. They all defrauded our ancestors with lying promises of heaven and threats of hell, some of the money got with torture as well. We ought to start a campaign to get our predecessors money back, for helping the poor & sick etc, which is what the churches should be doing with it.

  7. Rozi says:

    Sometimes people just make me feel really depressed. If you need me I’ll be sitting under the duvet with the Doctor Who soundtrack playing and praying the TARDIS will pick me up soon.