Kiwis Under Seige

You might have missed it, but apparently New Zealand, the land of Kiwis and Hobbits (and Narnians, I believe), is under siege. That's the word from Bishop Brian Tamaki, whose Destiny Church has spawned a Destiny Party. Tamaki looks quite personable on the church website --but looks like he stepped out of Orwell's 1984 or The Manchurian Candidate on this asite.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Bishop Tamaki's four reasons that New Zealand is under siege are:

  • The Government has "gone evil".
  • There is a "radical homosexual agenda".
  • The media is "modern day witchcraft" and a vehicle for evil ideologies.
  • The retreat of religion in New Zealand.

Apparently, the solution is to have Christians take over.

The Probligo is worried about this.

I would be too.

On a lighter note, I see from the Probligo that criminal masterminds are at work in New Zealand.

Here's Probligo's complete post from August 30:

Three men trying to steal fuel from a Waipukurau farm yesterday ended up setting fire to their own car.

Police said the trio siphoned diesel into a petrol-driven vehicle. When their car would not start, they examined the fuel pipe using a cigarette lighter. Boom, and the car burst into flames.

Senior Sergeant Ross Gilbert said: "Fortunately for them, there is no criminal charge for stupidity."

The men, aged 18 to 19, escaped injury but were charged with theft.


Some Kind of Charity

An ugly story is brewing in Atlanta, where John Blake of the Journal-Constitution reports that Bishop Eddie Long of the 25,000 member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church received more than $3 million dollars in compensation over a 10 year period from a charity he set up to "serve the needy and spread the gospel." Long reportedly got $3.07 million--the rest of the needy got $3.1 million.

According to the Journal Constitution, Long received the following compensation over a four year period from 1997-2000:

•A $1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres
•Use of a $350,000 luxury Bentley automobile.
•More than $1 million in salary, including $494,000 in 2000.

The Journal Constitution also reported that:

Long and his wife, Vanessa, were two of the charity's four board members. The charity gave a third board member, Terrance Thornton, a $160,000 loan in 1999 to buy a home site across the street from Long's house, tax records show.

Long does not come across well in an interview with Blake:

"We're not just a church, we're an international corporation," Long said. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.

"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering."

Long's tax attorney doesn't help his cause. He told the Journal Constitution that the charity was "created for Long to coordinate his charitable activities, including mission trips overseas and donations to churches and orphans."

But later, the charity's compensation committee decided to use some of the charity's assets to pay Long for his work at New Birth to make up for many years when he had been underpaid, Epstein said. Long had told his charity's compensation committee previously that he didn't want to be paid the maximum amount available to him, Epstein said.

"It was appropriate to do something to make a dent in the compensation that the bishop hadn't received," Epstein said.

"Bishop Long has never received the legal amount of compensation he is due by law," said Epstein. A Philadelphia lawyer specializing in church tax law, Epstein is the producer of a video for pastors called "How To Maximize Your Clergy Salary and Benefits Package."

Theses quotes from Long don't help either:

  • "I have great integrity with my congregation," Long said. "I would never take their money and use them to build my own personal happiness."
  • "It's not like I wake up and say, 'I think I want a Bentley' "

  • "I would love to sit with you and walk with you through the Bible to show that Jesus wasn't poor"
  • "I'm not going to apologize for anything. . . ."
Here's another scary quote, from J. Lee Grady of Charisma magazine about the pitfalls that an independent church of any size--from storefront to megachurch--can face when a pastor believes they answer to nobody but God.

Pastors take advantage of a lack of denominational accountability to enrich themselves, said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma, a national magazine that covers charismatic churches. Grady said, however, that he didn't know enough about Long's ministry to comment on it specifically.

"There are many independent churches out there today that are accountable to no one," he said. "Their board structures are controlled by a few insiders and no one can bring correction. That is not healthy. But it will not change as long as the congregations don't demand change."

When the news from New Orleans dies down, this Long story could get very ugly.


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