Monthly Archives: November 2007

Pastors under investigation – Are mega churches cheating the system?

 

 With Atlanta quickly becoming a megachurch Mecca, it’s not surprising that two of the six preachers under Senate investigation are from Atlanta. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants to look into their finances because of the extravagant lifestyles they lead. The lifestyle alone couldn’t possibly be the only basis for this type of investigation. The real issue is tax evasion. Are pastors using the tax protection given to churches by the government to finance their personal lifestyles?

When you look at pastors such as Bishop Long, who was a successful businessman before he took over leadership at New Birth, how do you determine where his lifestyle crosses the line? A Bentley and a private jet may seem “extravagant” to someone working a regular job, but to say Donald Trump, maybe not. Extravagance is relative.

I remember reading an article on Bishop Long about a year ago, where again, his lifestyle was under the microscope. The article had a negative spin and talked about the money he was making, the car he was driving, the home in which he lived. At the bottom of the article (the part that most people don’t read), it explained how most of the money he made was from speaking engagements outside of the church, the car he drove was on loan from a Bentley dealership and the house he lived in didn’t belong to him. So while on the surface people equated his lifestyle with the money he was getting directly from the church, it wasn’t so.

My issue with the investigation is who determines how much is enough? We don’t have a problem with actors making $1 million dollars per episode for what they do. We don’t have a problem with rappers raking in $1 million for a concert. So is it necessarily wrong for a pastor to make that kind of money? I say no. If a church with 1,000 members can afford to pay their pastor a nice salary, what would you expect from a congregation of 25,000?

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Preachers under investigation

What in the world is going on? A senator in Iowa is calling for an investigation into the finances of six pastors, one of which is Bishop Eddie L. Long, senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist church in Lithonia.

Although I don’t attend New Birth, I often times find myself defending the church. New Birth is VERY active in the community, and much of the work is never printed in major newspapers or broadcast on the television. People are unaware of the resources available at the church to anyone who is interested. You don’t have to be a member. They are also unaware of the support the church gives to those in need. But whenever the issue of money in church comes up, people think something unethical is going on.

Let’s be honest people, ministry is not free. It takes money to run a ministry, and even more to run a successful one. I’m sure New Birth has to write a check to Georgia Power every month, just like the rest of us. And I’m sure its a tidy sum.

My big question is why do so many people have a problem with megachurches and the men who lead them? What is the issue? Why these six? All pastors should be watching this case closely, because whatever happens, the results are going to affect alot of other ministries.

Hair-raising Information

This issue we featured hair salon owner Marion Summers, who is one of only a few black hair distributors in Georgia. This story led to us watching Black Hair; The Korean Takeover of the Black Haircare Industry. It’s a documentary by white filmmaker Aron Ranen. It turns out that Koreans dominate the black hair industry. And when I say dominate, It’s a ridiculously high number like 98 percent.

Now I have no problem with someone having an entrepreneurial spirit and being successful at whatever they do, but this is not the case. Koreans have systematically blocked Blacks out of the industry. The Korean distributors won’t even sell to Black-Owned Beauty supply stores. Some even ask if you’re Korean or Black before they will do business with you.

But where does the responsibility lie? Is it with the Koreans for pushing blacks out of the business? Is it with the black salon owners? consumers? No matter which side of the debate you fall, it’s still a very interesting phenomenon. Here’s a clip to give you an example of what’s really going on.