What can we expect of a theocracy? One thing is for sure: you won’t be able to criticize the church or church leadership. Here’s an example from Florida.
Mac Brunson is the pastor of one of those awful megachurches, an organization that has been growing fast and sucking up lots of money for expansion. A member of his flock who was a bit concerned at the direction the church was taking set up a blog, FBC Jax Watchdog, and anonymously expressed dismay at the way the church was being run.
I saw possible abuses at our church shortly after our new pastor arrived, regarding acceptance of a $307,000 land gift just three weeks after he arrived – even though his own Pastor’s Guidebook cautions pastors against accepting large gifts! I watched as we spent $100,000 to renovate 3600+ square feet of our newly constructed children’s building to provide the pastor and his wife and secretary luxury office suites. I saw the preacher vacate the pulpit unannounced, I heard him say he took several Sunday nights off because he had to finish a book manuscript. I saw us spending money on the A-Group, a church marketing consultant and promotions firms. The head of this firm, Maurilio Amorim, came to be involved in personnel decisions at FBC Jax the first year of Mac’s tenure, at a church and city that he knew nothing about. I saw us develop promotions plans to “raise revenue” at our pastors conference through charging for advertising and selling “promotions packages”.
The pastor also gets a salary of $300,000. The universe is always telling me I went into the wrong line of work.
Simple public criticism — it’s a good thing. As you might guess, though, Pastor Brunson did not appreciate the inquiries into his cash flow (which, as we all know, is the principle purpose of a church), and hired a private investigator to find out who this critic might be. This is where it gets ugly. The blog did not post anything illegal, was not doing anything but documenting problems in the church, but the investigator successfully got a subpoena and compelled Google to release the identity of the blogger. The blogger is now banned from the church (which, to my mind, is a net positive), and his name has been exposed.
What is most troubling is that the investigator was able to get a subpoena and expose the identity of an anonymous blogger on the sole grounds that a disgustingly rich pastor was annoyed by him — not by citing any actionable behavior. You might want to think about this if you’re on google/blogspot and think that your anonymity is safe. It apparently doesn’t take much effort to crack open google and fish your name out of it…perhaps only a local judge with sympathies for some religious goofball who doesn’t like you.
Oh, wait, actually…what’s most troubling is the pastor’s salary. And he claims “he is one of the lowest-paid mega-church pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention”. Gee, so all I have to do is start lying for Jesus and maybe I can make those kinds of wages? I guess a biblical piece of silver has been inflated to be worth about $10,000.
The only good news here is that Pastor Mac Brunson’s high-handed behavior should focus a little more scrutiny on his money-making enterprise. Could we please start taxing the churches?
(via Daily Kos)