Posts Tagged ‘Saddleback Church’

Rick Warren’s tax deductions

January 19, 2009
Saddleback Chur...
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This article surfaced during the links overnight, and I listed it in this morning’s OD Today, but I’d like to return to it now that I’ve had time to look at it a bit more carefully. Jon Wiener reports in The Nation that in 1993 Rick Warren was claiming that his entire salary ($77,663) from Saddleback Church was exempt due to the “parsonage exemption,” which makes a pastor’s housing allowance exempt from income taxes. Never mind

  • The general question of whether income taxes (and income tax exemptions) are moral or ethical
  • The amount Warren was being paid (does your pastor make the equivalent to $77,663 in 1993 dollars?)
  • Any establishment clause issues (Wiener deals with these in the main article)

Claiming a tax exemption for an entire salary stinks. It’s corrupt on its very face, and any pastor who claims his salary is exempt because he’s allowed to exempt his housing allowance should be ashamed of himself. Especially if, as Wiener alleges, Warren’s housing costs were covered by Saddleback Church.

Wiener goes on to say (and this is the main point of his article) that the United States Congress stepped in to give Warren a pass, by passing a law exempting him from back taxes while clarifying that the parsonage exemption should apply only to the fair value of the parsonage in equivalent rent.

The Clergy Housing Allowance Clarification Act of 2002 was approved unanimously by Congress, then signed into law by George W. Bush on May 20, 2002, rendering the IRS case against Warren moot. “I have filed hundreds of briefs in federal courts,” Chemerinsky told me, “and this is the only time that Congress passed a law to make a specific pending case moot.” He added, “It is very rare for Congress to pass a law to make a pending case moot before there was a decision.”

I’ve made every effort to be charitable to Rick Warren on this weblog, especially when ODMs say things I think are unfair or mean-spirited. I still find this troubling.

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OD Today: 19 January 2009 (early edition)

January 19, 2009

Many many links and we try to catch up from a week off. The anti-Obama crowd is stepping up rhetoric ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration (see also the Gene Robinson stories), and accusations against Sovereign Grace Ministries are not going away. Other than that? Emergents and Nazis, but not in the same story.

  1. Religious Right Watch alerts on Blogs for Life, also notes an article about Rick Warren at The Nation accusing him of tax fraud. “The facts were simple: in 1993 Warren deducted $77,663, his entire Saddleback Church salary that year, as a housing expense–and paid no taxes at all on that salary.”
  2. Chris Rosebrough connects the Emerging Church to John Shelby Spong. Rosebrough spent most of last week and a couple of days before that on this topic, both at his weblog and on his podcast. I will put together a summary if I have time. “The Emergents claim that they are a ‘third way’ or a synthesis and middle ground between liberalism and conservatism. Yet, they are coming to the same conclusions as “modern” liberals. The Emergent movement is nothing more than a Post-Modern form of Liberalism.”
  3. Chris Rosebrough calls out Rick Warren for making a passing reference to Hitler Youth (and devotees of Mao Zedong) as an example of dedication to a cause. I can’t agree with Rosebrough’s parsing of Jesus’s message (I don’t see the dichotomy between meeting felt needs and making disciples that Rosebrough sees), and I don’t agree with Rosebrough’s parsing of what Warren says, but I have to agree that modern Christians need to get as far away from Nazi narratives and imagery as possible. Not only that, but it reminds me of repeated references to exactly the same language used by e.g. Doug Coe (of The Family) fame, as cited by Jeff Sharlet in his book The Family. Note that Warren does not actually praise the Nazis (YouTube). “Lifting up Nazi passion and commitment and asking Christians to have that same passion and commitment is not just tacky, it is out right creepy. Is Warren building an army?”
  4. Robin Brace takes on the question of whether Christians need to observe the Sabbath. “The common Seventh Day Adventist error is in failing to notice the difference between the original institution of something and the point at which a particular divine prescription comes into effect.”
  5. Thomas Heringer interpolates some comments from Barack Obama, returns to the common theme that Obama is preparing the United States for a place in a global government. “If what is meant in the bold type, that Obama means for those of us who still believe the Bible should give it up to a global ideal, then I have a problem with it.” There are really two strands here that are fairly common among conservative Christians with an ODM bent: Christianity as a religion among other religions, and global government. These are related ideas but they’re not really the same.
  6. Russell Moore hates Sanctity of Life Sunday. “I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness. … I’m reminded that there are children, maybe even blocks from my pulpit, who’ll be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes before nightfall. I’m reminded that there are elderly men and women languishing away in loneliness, their lives pronounced to be a waste.”
  7. Kris at Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivors picks up the question of whether SGM pastors bug their offices and meeting rooms. “And then someone sent me a snippet of an email that had been received from someone … who reported positively ”knowing” that some of the things shared here on this site were inaccurate, because he’d had access to the “transcripts of conversations” between the SGM member and his/her SGM pastors, and the SGM member sharing his/her story on this blog had relayed false information, based upon a comparison with the “transcript” to which this SGM staff person had access.”
  8. Christine at Talk Wisdom picks up the “Obama is a one-worlder” theme again.
  9. Miriam Franklin offers a recap post on Chuck Pierce and his complete line of Christian charm bracelets, complete with pictures. “It ain’t just the merchandising and false prophecy that is wrong in this case. This is pretty blatant stuff – are “Christians” really so naive as to be taken in by it? And are they really so superstitious?  I guess so, as Chuck’s ministry has brought out more than one range of this type of jewellery.”
  10. Phil Perkins announces a series in which he will be taking on Frank Turk regarding usage of gender in Bible translations.
  11. Miriam Franklin parses an upcoming New Ecstatics meeting including John Crowder. “John Crowder is also known to dress sometimes in brown monk’s habits, use the Latin Vulgate, quote Catholic mystics and heretics, and use Gregorian monk chants as background music to his videos. As well as to heavily promote ecumenicism.”
  12. Timmy Brister parses Gene Robinson’s theology. “nothing is said of the nature of this god, and nothing is asked in reference of him doing what only a god could do.  The prayer is fundamentally ethical, not theological.”
  13. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway offers an omnibus post on press coverage of tomorrow’s inauguration. Have I said lately how much I love MZH? Catch her also, occasionally, on Issues, etc.
  14. Rick Frueh warns against interpreting contemporary events in the light of eschatology. “Let me say that any nation has the right and responsibility to protect its citizens, however that is not the concern of the church neither is it our message.”
  15. Ingrid Schlueter comments on Gene Robinson. “Fox Religion Correspondent, Lauren Green, has a column on sodomite rebel, Rev. Gene Robinson, who is scheduled to pray at an Inaugural prayer event. Robinson, who lives with his gay lover, is just “horrified” over aggressively Christian prayers. Yeah, Gene, well, some of us are “horrified” at what passes for Christian clergy these days.”
  16. Sharon Lindbloom parses a recent sermon by Thomas Monson. “Amazingly, Thomas Monson took the clear and powerful Word of God — a revelation wherein God declared His divine initiative in blessing His people — and misapplied it to teach his followers that God’s blessings are bestowed according to human attainment.”
  17. Ingrid Schlueter takes up the story of Edward Purvis, who defrauded Christian investors in Arizona and twelve other states by promising them big bucks for funding a ministry. “It takes two sides to make a fraudulent financial scheme work—a criminal or criminals on the one side and greedy, simple-minded people on the other.” I for one applaud Schlueter’s focus on profiteering in Christianity, and look forward to her bringing up the topic the next time she welcomes an author who visits Crosstalk to push a book.
  18. Stephen Shields at Next Wave gives a history of the Emerging/Emergent Church, with quotes from all the usual suspects. Thanks to Jonathan Dodson.
  19. Ingrid Schlueter pulls an Obama two-fer: following Concerned Women for America in calling Barack Obama the most virulent pro-abortion President, and joining Joseph Farah in praying Obama fails. “Joseph Farah, I, and millions of other believers are praying for the failure of Barack Obama in his attempts to widen access to child-killing in abortion clinics, grant full legitimacy to homosexual relationships through civil unions, and establish a socialist economic system in this country.”
  20. Michael Newnham calls out C. J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, particularly for suggesting that he/they are apostles. “we can assume that the “apostles” are going to stonewall the situation unless forced by bad publicity to do otherwise. Side note here…when your church is run by men who call themselves “apostles”…run.”

OT Today: 23 December 2008

December 23, 2008

Here are the online discernment links for December 23, 2008:

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