21 November, 2006

We Are Rich, Indeed

I am confused. Maybe someone can help me

I was reading an article in Christianity Astray and this seemingly innocent sentence jumped out at me:

... "Warren and his wife, Kay, even donated $2 million to cover a deficit at Purpose Driven and hopefully save a few jobs."

What? They personally had 2 million at their fingertips? Never mind that we all thought Purpose Driven was awash in funds from all the 40 Days of something or other they were peddling all the time.

Why did this jump out at me? Because, all I have heard from Warren supporters is that he reverse tithes 90% of his income and gave back 25 years worth of salary to his church. Did I mention the three foundations they started with all that PDL money?

Are you getting the picture here? You can tithe 90% of your income, give back 25 years worth of salary (110,000 grand a year for a big chunk of that time), start three foundations and STILL have 2 million laying around.

Warren is very proud of these facts as you can see in a small sampling of the media he gave interviews to: Belief net, WaPo, msnbc, usnews.com, Philly Inquirer, San Diego Register, pbs.org. These are just a few links out of many telling us about his "reverse tithing", giving 25 years worth of salary back and the foundations. As I was reading through some of these interviews, I could not help but think of these verses:

Matthew 6
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Substitute 'media' for 'trumpets' and what do you get? (Isn't the media our modern day trumpet) I'll let you decide.

But wait, there is even more. In my search, I kept coming across discussions in the meta about Warren's fight with the IRS to take ALL his ministry housing deduction at $79,000 instead of the $54,000 the IRS was allowing. This was a bit of a shock to me as I had not heard this before.
No wonder ministers love this guy! He took on the IRS, in court, over ministerial housing deductions. Can you believe it?

You can read more about this at Keith Drury's site. I know Keith is honest even if I do not agree with him all the time. I have to add another article from this guy because he is very angry about it and makes some very good points.

I had to laugh reading about this because here is a pastor with 2 million at his fingertips. Yet, he takes the IRS to court to get what he thinks is fair market value for his ministerial housing deduction.

I am as conservative as they come when it is tax paying time... but...these 'celebrity pastors' making six figures and beyond, receiving housing deductions on top of their inflated salaries kind of defeats the purpose of the original reason for this deduction, would you agree?

Warren, and his supporters, have been trying to convince us for years that money means nothing to him. Am I missing something?

The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.


Brandon Giromini said...

If I remember right, I think he talked about this no Charlie Rose or some other talk show recently. He said he fought it for the other pastors out there who were struggling, and not for himself specifically.

Lindon said...

I was talking with a friend of mine today who said one of the pastors at her church does not take the deduction because he thinks it would be unethical considering the reason why the law was enacted in the first place. This guy probably makes 70 or 80 thou a year. That is what I call integrity.

The law was enacted because preachers were paid so poorly back in 1954.

Now think of this, we now have quite a few celebrity preachers living in big fine homes. The IRS says they can take 'fair market value for rental' as the deduction each year. That can add up to quite a nice deduction. I would like to have the same on my modest home!

As a former landlord for many years, I can say it is quite a nice chunk off the bottom line.

From what I understand of his case, he did not win it, but in the meantime, congress changed the deduction so he got what he went for after all.

I still maintain that ministry is fast becoming the new ticket to high income living.