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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long's Empire

Earlier today I ran a post on the tax advantages that the US government gives to churches and pastors. It results in a subsidizing of these religious institutions. Where is the outcry? Have you even heard any politicians mention this? Aside from Senator Grassley , I haven't.

Bishop Eddie Long has recently been in the news regarding the allegation of sexual abuse. While all the current focus is on these allegations, someone needs to look into his financial empire. It turns out that Bishop Long has an empire that is much bigger than just his church of 25,000 members. He also has an organization called, The Father's House, in which churches and pastors agree to submit to his authority and pay him their tithes.

Rachel Tabachnick recently wrote: Long claims spiritual authority over more than his New Birth mega-church in Lithonia, Georgia. He is the 'apostolic authority' over churches in The Father's House network, including 79 churches in Georgia alone and a total of approximately 275 in 38 states.

According to the  The Father's House website: The Father's House is a ministry that is intended for Senior Pastors who are led to submit themselves under the spiritual covering and apostolic authority of Bishop Eddie L. Long.

Tabachnick explains: This model requires tithing (payment of ten percent) into the leader's network. The website for Long's The Father's House network list the benefits and responsibilities of "covering" provided by Long.

Long is something of a Pope over these churches. Notice the outfits used when he recently ordained another Bishop in his organization.

What Long has going here is something of a pyramid scheme. Churches tithe up the ladder. Apostle John Kelly explains the principle in the book The New Apostolic Churches (ed. Peter Wagner):
If they [Pastors] tithe to their local church, they are tithing back into their own paychecks...

...Many pastors will declare they have a covering, but the question is, do they tithe to that covering? By tracking the tithe, we can literally track the order in the house of God.

Our local churches also tithe, but they tithe for a different purpose. Instead of tithing to their spiritual covering, they tithe to the network for global impact and a global harvest.

Apostle Kelly is the founder of International Christian Wealth Builders Foundation . According to Tabachnick, this organization
works to prepare for the 'great wealth transfer' prophesied by the movement and to aid in the "advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth." This is not redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Dominionists are diehard free marketers who rave against the country's supposed decline into Marxism. Wishful progressives have described the charitable and faith-based work of some dominionists as a return of the social gospel, but these dominionist forcefully reject any association with the social gospel, describing it as socialism. The wealth redistribution that they are referring to is a future windfall that will go from the ungodly to the godly, a belief that the New Apostolics share with many prosperity doctrine or Word of Faith preachers.

When will people wake up and demand that these religious institutions pay taxes!


  1. Rachel's article was very informative. It does look like multi-level marketing with downlines or a ponzi scheme or something.

    I visited a Catholic service for the first time recently and was struck by the "authority" feeling it gave me. Kinda creeped me out. But I guess this is the same thing. The congregation sees the guy upfront as an authority with great power. And, like with Pastor Long, if he's at the top (like the Pope) nobody's gonna do anything to him regardless.

    Plus the pastors under him don't want to rock the boat, so they don't do anything either, or they'd be disobedient or something.

    So the congregations are just there to believe it all and supply the money. You'd wish they would stop doing that, but if they see the leaders as they do, what would make them stop giving?

    In thinking through my own question, I remember researching MLM's a long time ago. I know why people don't stop giving. Because there's always "the carrot" in front of them, which is that they just need to INVEST more in "their business" and lots of money, etc. will be coming their way soon. Hope springs eternal.

    Plus, while you're waiting for all the goodies to finally come to you, you have the excitement of the meetings, being part of something "exciting," etc.

  2. Lynn,

    You are precisely correct. These "prosperity gospel" churches are built on greed. People give, not because they want to help others necessarily, but in order to get more back. They are told from the pulpit or the TV screen that if they "sow the seed" in faith, God will send them an abundant harvest and they will get back far more than they give. If anyone besides a preacher or a church made this claim, they would be hauled into court for fraud. I think the pastors should be as well. I personally don't think that preachers should be allowed to make these claims on TV. It is fraudulent.