A “Christian” pastor from a mega-church in North Carolina has an excessively large salary and excessively large trappings, courtesy of his congregation. 35-year old Pastor Steven Furtick, of Elevation Church, has defended his lifestyle before, saying his 16,000 square foot home is a “gift from God,” according to The Raw Story. Now he says that disclosing his salary goes against the commandments of Christ. He sat down for an interview with WCCB-TV, where he said:
So to go on record and say here’s how much money we’ve given and here’s what we do with our finances, to me, that would be the most arrogant thing I could do and it would rob me of the blessings of what Jesus said, which is that when you give, you don’t get up and tell everyone how much you’ve given.
Oh please. Flaunting your wealth with a huge house, valued at over $1 million (even though the church insists that he only paid $325,000 for it) is not arrogant? Living in a small, humble home in an average neighborhood, and using all that money you get from your church for charitable purposes, is truly not arrogant. Even if he refuses to disclose how much he makes, Furtick is the epitome of arrogance.
The Raw Story reports that he teaches the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which says, more or less, that what you give to your church (pastor, leader, whomever) will be visited back on you many times over. Many a lying televangelist has gotten rich from the prosperity gospel, because they deceive people into thinking that their god will bless them mightily, and make them rich, if they help make someone else rich. It’s nothing less than fraud.
The financials of the church itself are in the millions. They took in more than $33 million last year, and only gave ten percent or so on outreach activities. They have over $13 million in cash assets. It sounds an awful lot like this church is being run like a for-profit business, with its “CEO,” or, in this case, pastor, raking it in.
This could be seen as an abuse of the tax-exempt status that churches currently enjoy. Especially since they’re sitting on over $13 million, when they could be more Christlike and spread that money around to some good causes. Their facilities have also cost millions. Perhaps churches that bring in a certain amount, or sit on a certain amount, should pay hefty taxes.
What, exactly, is Christian about any of this?
The prosperity gospel is not about helping people, it’s not about bringing people to Christ, and it’s not about teaching them to walk with their god. It’s about greed, plain and simple. Furtick likely knows what kind of backlash he’d receive if he disclosed his salary, and is hiding behind the Bible to avoid doing so.
Watch his comments below, via WCCB-TV:
Featured image via screen capture from embedded video