The full story is available at: WFAA Channel 8 News.
The conspiracy minded among you, knowing what I blogged about yesterday, are going to think that I have sources at WFAA tipping me off about their stories. The rest of you will realize that I'm not nearly that important or well-connected.
But it just so happens that on the day I opine about intellectual property, our local DFW news station runs an investigative exposé about rock-star-preacher phenom Ed Young Jr. Although the bulk of the story has more to do with his $8.4 million private jet about which staff members are allegedly lying to the congregation and Jr's alleged $1.24 million annual compensation package, there is a section of the video which deals with the concept of intellectual property as it applies to preachers.
Of course, it would be irresponsible for me to link in this video while ignoring the main thrust of the story. I'll be glad to opine thusly:
I do not believe that it is inherently immoral for a pastor to fly around in a private jet, although I doubt that it is wise for a pastor to live so far above the means of those in his flock. I'll concede that most of the ways for a pastor to live in that kind of opulence are situations fraught with temptation to sin that few people could overcome. Nevertheless, I ought to remember that my salary (approximately 1/20 of Jr's) appears luxurious and ostentatious to every pastor for whom I have preached in Cuba. Some humility on my part is called for here.
I'm not clear enough in my own understanding of a theology of intellectual property (see immediately previous post) to have any strong foundation for weighing in on the appropriateness of Jr's turning church work product into personal largesse. He did write the sermons, after all (if you can call it creative genius to conclude that standing by a bed and talking about taking sex to a "whole 'nuther level" will attract the curious). I'm betting that the vast preponderance of his church members are OK with Jr's selling his sermons and "expertise" online for tidy sums.
What does seem clearly worthy of rebuke, if true, is the allegation that the staff has been hiding from the congregation a corporate jet that the congregation has purchased and which furtively has been employed to take Jr's family to the Bahamas and to Mexico/Belize. Ed is (in)famous for having attacked congregationalism, alleging that every time the congregation votes they make the wrong decision. I'm betting that they would have disagreed with his situation on this one, too, had they known about it (presuming that the allegations are true, which they might not be).
My congregation knows my salary to the penny. They know what I get for mileage and expenses. They can come in, sit down, and peruse the checkbook itself (and we have no credit cards or any other way for church money to be expended). We have utter, 100% transparency. I'm a fan of that.
As far as our financial dealings with the church go, the church ought to be fully in the know. A pastor ought to be playing the role of Peter, not the role of Ananias.