You know, some posts almost seem to pull themselves together by themselves. In this case, I was sittin' home doing some serious backsliding on a Sunday (having not been to church in a few despite the end of football season), had a Bossip post on big money Atlanta preacher Creflo Dollar's bling-bling lifestyle marinatin' in my head and just read this morning that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty". After peepin' a few glossys of Creflo's Atlanta crib I got to wonderin' just how well off should church leaders be if they're doing what they're supposed to be doing?...
I know, I know - this is America and capitalism is the flavor we savor up here neighbor but I'm not sure I'm dialed into this whole 'prosperity gospel' concept,which continues to spawn big money 'prosperity preachers' who insist on connecting religious faithfulness (like faithfully tithing 10% of your salary to the church) to material riches. Don't get me wrong, y'all. I'm all for tithing to the church so that the churches can do the work they're designed to do (ministering, community outreach, charitable works, etc.) but I question why the congregations of some churches continue to pony up their hard earned and much needed money (I don't know anyone who wouldn't feel the impact of a 10% salary cut) when they see their church leaders lead such ostentatious lifestyles. I would be more likely to rally behind a church leader who at least put up the appearance that he was in the good fight with me and sacrificing similarly.
I admit that I'm not a follower of the Reverend Creflo Dollar or his World Changers Church International. I also admit that I know that brother Creflo isn't the only preacher 'doin' it real big' but his actual factuals did make me blink - a couple times. According to the New York Times, this is how Creflo is rollin', y'all:
1) Multimillion dollar Atlanta Mansion (paid for by the church)
2) $2.5 million dollar Manhattan apartment (paid for by Creflo)
3) 2 Rolls-Royces (provided by congregation members)
4) Private jets for personal travel
On top of this, brother Dollar collects an annual salary set by the governors of his Atlanta church but brother Dollar didn't feel compelled to reveal it to the Times. He also didn't feel compelled to let the Times look at the church's books (though, presumably, they are freely available to church members). So Creflo's rollin' like this despite being named the #36 most influential Christian (well behind #1 Bishop T.D. Jakes, #8 George W. Bush and #33 Rev. Ted Haggard. Ol boy did place in front of #44 Pope Benedict XVI who's only the leader of the entire Catholic Church so obviously Pope B.'s not too influencial...).
Now brother Creflo did say that he was 'one of the church's biggest givers'. Hmm...let me break that down in slo-mo. First with the cheddar he's hauling in he's 'one' of the biggest givers rather than 'the' biggest giver *and* isn't he just giving back money that the congregation gave to him? So essentially he's recycling someone else's hard earned money. Sounds like a little bamboozling to me.
There's no doubt there are many a church of that width and breadth could help (perhaps a few of those 16 million Americans in 'deep or severe poverity' -- meaning they have an annual income under $5,080 -- for instance). So what if you were 'given' two Rolls-Royces? There's no law that says you have to keep them. One option would be to trade them both in, get a late model Chevy Lumina and use the left over cash to help those in need of both ministering *and* financial support. Now if I saw something like that going on by a few of these 'prosperity preachers' I might decide to shut the hell up about this. Maybe...
Brother Creflo! It's time to break a little more off, homey. Share your blessings.