Here’s yet another Christian scam, one aided by megachurch preacher “Bishop” Eddie Long (the same guy implicated in a big gay scandal and who was crowned king by a fake Jewish rabbi a few months ago). And it sounds like a lot like those prosperity gospel scams.
Ephren Taylor stepped into the pulpit with the ease of preacher’s son, taking the microphone at the New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the powerful pastor Eddie Long was introducing him to the Sunday morning crowd.
“Everything he says is based on the word of God,” Long pledged to the members of his megachurch. But Taylor wasn’t a visiting minister. He was a financial adviser, one who claimed to have made his first million before he turned 18. And he promised he could do the same for his fellow Christians.
“We’re going to show you how to get wealth and use it for the building of his kingdom,” Taylor shouted to the congregation one morning in 2009. It was all part of what he called his “Building Wealth Tour,” which crisscrossed the country touting his investments and financial advice.
But according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, what Taylor was actually peddling was a giant Ponzi scheme, one aimed to “swindle over $11 million, primarily from African-American churchgoers,” that reached into churches nationwide, from Long’s megachurch in Atlanta to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church congregation in Houston.
But Taylor has disappeared, hiding out from lawsuits, federal charges and angry, mostly African-American, investors in at least 40 states.
Praise the lord and pass your retirement account.