ESPN’s, Outside the Lines, has published a fasinating article about prosperity preachers Randy and Paula White and their relationship with professional athletes.
You might remember the Whites from a couple years back. They (and five other ministries) were sent a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley requesting their financial records. Grassley was concerned the ministers were benefiting personally from their nonprofit organizations. The whites, and most of the others, refused to provide the information.
The article (and the below related video) points out that if a prosperity/tithing preacher can snag a professional athlete, they bring in a lot of money. Some preachers, including Randy White, have gone out of their way to pursue them. From my mega-church days, I can tell you it is like fishing, you keep the small fish to feed your family, but you can expand your television ministry if you catch a big fish.
On a side-note: I met Paula White several years ago at a book signing. She was stunningly pretty and very tiny. I immediately thought she looked like a Gelfling (Dark Crystal reference). She also looked so shot up with Botox that it helped solidify her Muppet likeness. Oh well, sorry for the digression.
Outside the Lines also produced a video about the same topic. It starts with my fellow Atlantan, Creflo Dollar. I am particularly interested in Dollar because his church is made up a few thousand members who used to be members of the church I attended.
Creflo snagged a very big fish in Evander Holyfield. Holyfield has given Dollar’s church over 20 million dollars! This helped pay for the church’s two jets and Dollar’s Rolls-Royce.
Holyfield, who is having some money problems, might soon face foreclosure on his Atlanta mansion. However, he is so deceived, he would still tithe before he made a house payment. Why? Because God will provide for him. So, why is he losing his house?
Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Kurt Warner, is also interviewed in the video. He is a member of Joyce Meyer’s church, and sits on her board of directors. Warner defends Meyer’s lavish financial compensation by comparing her to the CEOs of fortune 500 companies. After all, they manage a similar amount of money. The big difference Kurt doesn’t seem to realize, is that unlike corporations, CHURCHES DON’T PAY TAXES!
Here’s the video:
Let me make myself clear. I have no problem with people getting paid for what they do. If someone owns a company that nets several million dollars a year, and they decide to pay themselves a few million, no problem. Their company will also pay several million dollars in taxes. This is not true with churches. They pay zero federal taxes!
Not only are churches tax-exempt, many ministers opt out of paying Social Security. The IRS considers ministers to be self-employed. However, if they fill out IRS Form 4361, and claim they have a religious opposition to accepting public insurance benefits, they are exempted from the 15.3% normally due.
Can you imagine the retirement money you could earn if you had the option of privately investing the 15% the government takes for Social Security (7.5% from you, and 7.5% from your employer)? I would gladly opt out if I had the choice.