Pharyngula

Minnesota has its own Christian ministry scandal, but it probably won’t get that much national attention, since there’s no sex and it’s just the usual “minister fleeces flock” story. Mac Hammond runs one of those mega-scam mega-churches in a Minneapolis suburb, where he preaches and practices his Prosperity Gospel. It’s a story to make an atheist or a Christian retch.

“Noah was the first investment banker,” he said at the start of one recent sermon, which was filled with folksy charm, biblical references and business jargon. “He was buying stock when the rest of the world was liquidating.”

He’s a smug little bastard, too.

He got one of many laughs when he said the Star Tribune story had “left out” his two motorcycles. He also quipped that his Porsche has been “an expensive ministry tool” because a State Patrol officer who gave him one of four speeding tickets he has gotten in it went through church membership classes. He said he buys expensive clothes because “if I look decent, I preach better, so I’m really doing it for you, amen.”

He’s in trouble right now because he has been using his church for political purposes (to promote Michele Bachmann, of course, who else?) and he’s been skimming the cream off the church to hand him sweetheart loans for his personal real estate games and for his own plane. Jesus really wants him to have that plane. Here’s hoping there’s enough dirt on him to shut this con artist down.

There’s also a little tidbit to completely sour you on “Christian” charity:

The congregation was presented with the annual report, which said the church had $34 million in gross revenues last year and gave $3 million to charitable causes and evangelism.

There’s much more—Jeff Fecke and Andy Birkey have been covering this story well over at Minnesota Monitor.

Comments

  1. #1 plunge
    February 12, 2007

    Once again, don’t blame Michele Bachmann on anyone else’s than the DLC’s own choice to run Patty Wetterling against her.

  2. #2 fontor
    February 12, 2007

    Three million for charitable causes and evangelism. Nice.

    Sort of like saying I spent $50,000 last year on child support and hookers.

  3. #3 Jeff Fecke
    February 12, 2007

    When you realize that in the past fifteen years the church has bought Hammond three houses, two airplanes, several cars including a Lexus and a Porsche, plus multiple millions of dollars a year in salary and other compensation, that $3 million doesn’t look that impressive.

    But Mac’s a Prosperity Theology guy, so he says that’s just his due for having God love him so much. After all, Jesus loves the rich, that’s why they’re rich. And if you think that runs afoul of Matthew 19, well, you just don’t want to believe hard enough.

  4. #4 Collin Tierney
    February 12, 2007

    PZ: “He’s in trouble right now because he has been using his church for political purposes (to promote Michele Bachmann, of course, who else?)”

    The worst part is that Hammond isn’t even in the same district as Bachmann, and he said that he would VOTE for her.

  5. #5 John
    February 12, 2007

    Macs rule!

  6. #6 J-Dog
    February 12, 2007

    Very Impressive! I think I could live on @ $30 mil or so too, Praise Jeebus! I believe I am feeling it! Please send the entire contents of your checking and savings accounts to me, Pastor I. M. Rich II.

  7. #7 BlueIndependent
    February 12, 2007

    Where do these people come from? Seriously…

    And what set of parents produces such a disreputable social disrupter as that?

  8. #8 Anton Mates
    February 13, 2007

    “Noah was the first investment banker,” he said at the start of one recent sermon, which was filled with folksy charm, biblical references and business jargon. “He was buying stock when the rest of the world was liquidating.”

    The death by drowning of all terrestrial life on Earth was hilarious!!

  9. #9 reason
    February 13, 2007

    I just wonder about the parishoners. Wow how gullable can you get? Didn’t Phil Collins ever play in Minnesota?

  10. #10 mark
    February 13, 2007

    I’ve mentioned the chain-letter scam from St. Matthew’s Churches and compared that group to the flamboyant Rev. Ike. In a way, Rev. Ike and Mac Hammond are more honest than Benny Hinn and so many others that hold the Bible in one hand and someone’s wallet in the other.

  11. #11 Flex
    February 13, 2007

    Ya know,

    This is a little off topic, but is part of the problem that the parishoners aren’t really paying attention to the addition?

    I mean, the average parishioner might contribute, say, $20/week. Which may not appear to be a lot of money to them. Well, that’s $1000/year per parishioner. Not including the few parishioners who make larger deposits. They say there are almost 10,000 members of this church, meaning that of the $34 million in revenues, $10 million of it is directly from the slobs giving $20/week. Assume that the parishoners give $60/week on average (which is conceivable) and all the income is explained.

    Obviously my numbers are only examples, but it illustrates the point. Small donations by a large number of people quickly add up to huge amounts of money. If you can get 2,000 people to give you $1 each week (or 400 to give you $5/wk), that’s $100,000/yr income.

    I can imagine that some churches, particularly the more recent ones, may not have worked out ways to spend the money given to them by their parishoners. The parishoners feel that giving money to their church is helping other people around the world, it makes them feel good. But if there is no established process to perform charity work, the money will just build up, creating a temptation.

    Not that some slimeballs haven’t noticed the easy picking from religion and are milking it for all it’s worth. Nor is religion alone in attracting slimeballs.

  12. #12 Kevin
    February 13, 2007

    Similar story about people using religion to scam people out of money. It involves a Canadian religious TV network and it’s dubious fundraising practices. The network pleaded with viewers to liquidate their RRSP’s (retirement savings plan)to donate, saying that Jesus would want them to. They also praised one viewer as an example after he charged $5,000 to his credit card as a donation even though he had no money.

    Thankfully, the usually useless CRTC (our FCC) is talking about taking away their license for these practices.

  13. #13 gordonsowner
    February 13, 2007

    There may be no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is ‘Mammon’ in ‘Mac Hammond.’

  14. #14 slavdude
    February 13, 2007
  15. #15 Loren Petrich
    February 13, 2007

    Yes, “prosperity theology”, like the Prayer of Jabez business.

    And the theology of the Rev. Creflo Dollar, as explained in this article: “Was Jesus rich?”:

    He sees a baby born into wealth because the kings visiting him gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. He sees a Messiah with so much money that he needed an accountant to track it. He sees a Saviour who wore clothes so expensive that the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for them.

    “He was rich, he was whole, and I use those words interchangeably.”

  16. #16 Kevin C
    January 16, 2009

    It’s the duty of the faithful to police their church. If Hammond is a crook (evidence suggests he is) then those that give him money are his willing victims. The Vatican has been fleecing it’s flock for a millenia and Al Gore is currently getting rich peddling hysteria. Get with it people, there are crooks all over so the anti-religious should get off of their high horses. If you want to give your money in taxes so government fat cats can have new limos every year or your tithes so Hammond can wear Brooks Bros or the Pope can have a fairy castle to live in, that’s your business. Separation of church and state should extend to the pagans that worship rocks and trees and the unions that preach politics and then we’d have equity. Oh, and professor, you shouldn’t be allowed to preach politics from the classroom lecturn either, hypocrit!

  17. #17 melior
    January 16, 2009

    The Vatican has been fleecing it’s flock for a millenia and Al Gore is currently getting rich peddling hysteria.

    It’s pretty clear indication of Flat Earth Society membership when one is literally unable to distinguish any difference between conclusions backed by the entirety of cumulative scientific research and those drawn by anonymous sheepherders thousands of years ago.

  18. #18 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 16, 2009

    Kevin C, it would be nice if you knew what the fuck you were talking and not speaking out of you ass. First, why are you assuming that any of us consider Al Gore a figure to follow? Second, the person who runs this blog is an atheist, not a pagan. There is no worshiping of anything. Third, this is a blog, not a classroom. Forth, why are you being a coward and sticking this at the end of a two year old thread.

    Kevin C, the definition of a cowardly dumbass.

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