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dogemperor [userpic]
Second IRS Violation Filed Against Living Word Christian Center and Pastor Mac Hammond



Feb 08, 2007 -- 9:11 AM CST
Andy Birkey

A Washington, D.C., watchdog group is filing a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against television evangelist Mac Hammond's Brooklyn Park mega-church based on documents obtained by Minnesota Monitor that purport the pastor arranged several lucrative deals with the church.

These documents describe financial agreements in which Hammond bought a plane from the Living Word Christian Center and then leased it and another plane back to the church for almost $900,000 a year and obtained loans –- some of them unsecured –- for $1.9 million.

Church officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment, and Minnesota Monitor could not confirm the authenticity of the documents.

But when shown the documents as part of the reporting for this story, Citizens for Responsibility in Washington (CREW) said it would file a complaint against the church with the IRS.

According to the documents, which involved a loan application in 2003 and contained over 100 pages of pictures and detailed descriptions of the church's land amounts, financial transactions and administrative history, Hammond owns two airplanes, one bought from Living Word for $1.06 million on credit supplied by Living Word. He leases the planes back to the church at a total annual rate of more than $893,000. The church asserts that "the aircraft are important to the efficient management of its ministry at the present time..." Living Word also rents a hangar to store the planes, and it pays for the expenses of the planes as well.

In addition, the church made several loans to Hammond since 2000 totaling at least $1.9 million: two were for the planes, three were unsecured, and one enabled Hammond to purchase a house in Florida.

CREW's complaint alleges that Living Word, since it is a tax-exempt organization, has engaged in improper financial transactions with Hammond. According to the complaint, Hammond is one of seven members of the church's board of directors, making him an "insider" under federal law. CREW asserts that tax law prohibits "insiders" from benefiting from the church.

The complaint further alleges that the leasing arrangement violates federal laws barring favorable financial deals to people in Hammond's position and prohibits using charitable resources to compensate "insiders" for activity not related to the church's tax-exempt purpose.

"Pastor Hammond and the LWCC have shown a disturbing pattern of violating federal tax law, and the IRS has done nothing," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. "The IRS has not hesitated to target liberal organizations. When will enough be enough and the IRS finally step in and investigate a conservative church that has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for federal law?"

This will be the second complaint CREW has filed against the church. In October, CREW alleged that the church violated tax laws when Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., made a campaign speech at a Sunday service and web broadcast. During Hammond's introduction of the candidate, he told the church that he would be voting for Bachmann.

There were two problems with Hammond's endorsement: Hammond did not live in Bachmann's district, and endorsing a candidate from the pulpit violates of IRS rules concerning churches.

The story posted on Minnesota Monitor generated considerable interest in the media, both for the potential tax violations and Bachmann's statements in her speech (saying she's a "fool for Christ"). CREW alleged that Living Word was improperly using its tax-exempt status to influence the outcome of an election. The story was picked up by the local media, the Associated Press, The New York Times and hundreds of blogs.

The IRS has yet to issue a decision on the complaint.

Tim Mooney, senior counsel at CREW, said this second complaint could spell trouble for the church. "It's conceivable that the IRS could revoke Living Word's 501(c)3 status," he said.

Several links in the atricle

Current Mood: pleased
dogemperor [userpic]
More Audio Links

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]1400scale)

Here's Part 3 of the Chip Belet presentation:

And a 45 minute interview with Chris Hedges on Truthdig (also transcripted):

dogemperor [userpic]
Another sad case of religiously motivated child abuse

(This will be posted to DailyKos and Talk2Action later this weekend, but getting this out now)

A trial is presently underway in a case of a Tennessee 8-year-old who appears to be the latest sad case of what I have referred to as "death by chastening rod"--cases where kids are literally beaten to death by dominionist groups which have a strong belief in "deliverance ministry". Sites like Stop The Rod have been bringing a lot of awareness to this, but sadly these cases continue and--all too often--the abuse is not discovered until the kid ends up dead or maimed.

Details behind the cut. Warning to walkaways, victims of child abuse, and especially victims of "deliverance ministry" linked abuse--the below is likely to be triggering.

Articles follow )

Doing a bit of backgrounder research, I found that Remnant Fellowship is apparently a neopentecostal dominionist group founded by Gwen Shamblin--who is most (in)famous for promoting fad "Bible-based" diet programs (specifically the "deliverance ministry"-based "Weigh Down Workshop"). Not only is the group one of the most blatantly dominionist and overtly "Joel's Army" groups I have ever seen, but explicitly states that no other Christian denominations are actually Christian; "Weigh Down Workshop" is essentially a fad diet combined with a heavy emphasis on "name it and claim it" and "deliverance ministry".

In fact, the church has an entire webpage dedicated to damage control and spin. The reason for *this* is because damned near every single group that does any sort of research at all on coercive religious groups has noted the org is in essence a Bible-based cult, among them: Rick Ross Institute, Religion News Blog (which notes specifically the spiritually abusive components as well as its criticism of its apologetics; reportedly walkaways from Remnant Fellowship are deemed the "demon seed" (showing it practices "serpent seed" theology) and ex-members are shunned, reportedly the church has attempted SLAPP-style lawsuits against critics (in *exactly* the same fashion as Scientology and Amway have tried to shut down vocal critics by suing them into the poorhouse) and may have engaged in frank vote fraud in local elections), SpiritWatch (the target of the SLAPP by Remnant Fellowship), FACTnet (of note, a person reporting on a Remnant/Weigh Down seminar notes one of the specific seminars is called "Strongholds"--this is a dominion theology term (specifically in claiming that pretty much doing ANYTHING not vetted by the name-it-and-claim-it leader "opens doorways and strongholds for Satan in your life")), and others. In fact, even sites for people wishing to investigate weightloss programs warn that Weigh Down is operated as a recruitmnt front for Remnant Fellowship.

There is also an active walkaway community for Weigh Down/Remnant Fellowship walkaways and survivors, and there is a real risk that this could be one of the few churches actually taken down due to religiously motivated child abuse--court evidence to be presented includes an interview between cult founder Gwen Shamblin and the mother of the murdered child on the effectiveness of "chastening techniques" and which indicates Shamblin herself specifically told the parents of the poor child how to literally beat the hell out of him.

Current Mood: sick
dogemperor [userpic]
Built on Suburban Despair


Found a link to this article on the estimable [info]slactavist's blog (via LJ feed) and I figured it belonged here--the article is somewhat lengthy, but worth the read.

The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet

Millions of Americans live trapped in soulless exurbs which lack any kind of community, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. Without alternatives for their social despair, they flock to demagogues promising revenge and a mythical utopia.

The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future.
This despair crosses economic boundaries, of course, enveloping many in the middle class who live trapped in huge, soulless exurbs where, lacking any form of community rituals or centers, they also feel deeply isolated, vulnerable and lonely. Those in despair are the most easily manipulated by demagogues, who promise a fantastic utopia, whether it is a worker's paradise, fraternite-egalite-liberte, or the second coming of Jesus Christ. Those in despair search desperately for a solution, the warm embrace of a community to replace the one they lost, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, the assurance they are protected, loved and worthwhile.

The entire article can be read here:


Current Music: I Walk on Gilded Splinters - Dr. John
dogemperor [userpic]
*another soapbox moment*

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]deconcentrate)

I was trawling BeliefNet via the linkbar, and I came across this sobering article linked through David Kuo's weblog, about the costs of the "war" in Iraq.

Let's accept the article's conservative average. The war has cost America at least $1 trillion. The amount of money that must be is so large that frankly, I can't begin to picture that kind of money in physical, tangible existence anywhere. This is a ghost figure that has no realistic weight - but it has an effect, and it has cost. The article in question attempts to quantify that cost, and what the effects of the loss of that sum to war expenditures might mean.

Quotes follow behind the cut. )

I'll briefly summarize the more impressive numbers: It takes 32,000 years for a trillion seconds to pass. A trillion dollars could pay every man, woman and child in America roughly $3,000, could cover vaccines and antibiotics for starving, dying children. Could buy them food, shelter, warmth. A trillion dollars could have brought us God knows how many new treatments for cancer - maybe even a cure.

A trillion dollars. That trillion could have been spent saving lives, could have been spent out of love. Instead, it was spent taking lives for the sake of war.

David takes some small solace in knowing that this money never would have gotten to these causes in the first place, even without the war.

I don't.

$1 trillion. A number I can't even begin to conceive of owning, much less spending. In the hands of a President and a Congress that supposedly pays more respect to the Christian faith than any other. And the government used it to murder people. Regardless of one's feelings on the death penalty and on the innocence of a terrorist of any stripe, that money supported a war that killed Iraqi civilians whose only crime happened to be getting caught in the crossfire.

Every so often I hear things that, as a Christian, break my heart and fill me with disgust at the horrible damages Dominionist thinking inflicts on people of all faiths, but rarely if ever are those damages as explicitly illuminated as they are here.

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