Somehow I have finagled an partial transcript from the hearings being held in Washington by Iowa’s senior senator, Charles Grassley. In case you haven’t been keeping up, “Mr. 99 Counties” is leading an inquiry into a number of obscenely wealthy televangelists and mega-church preachers.
In the interest of the separation of church and state churches are generally exempt from paying federal taxes as non-profit organizations. When ministers not only wear Rolex watches and custom tailored suits, but own their own Leer jets, Bentleys and multiple mansions, one has to wonder whether or not their churches are genuinely non-profit.
Here is a snippet of the transcripts that I have attained and present here in exclusive coverage. I believe that in this portion, Sen. Grassley is interviewing an expert in the origins and original intentions of the religion, which the “Grassley Six” pastors under investigation claim to represent:
Grassley: Uh, Mr. Heyzoos Uhfnazareth? Is it?
Christ: Yeshua, it’s Aramaic. Nazareth is the town my family was from. Many Greeks and Romans of my day used “Khristos” as a sort of surname for me. It’s really more of a title. I imagine you read an Anglicized version of first name and mistook it for Spanish. We Palestinians hare have a rather ruddy complexion so that westerners mistake us for being Hispanic. It happens a lot.
Grassley: Uh, yes, well, sorry, Mr. uh, “Khristamos,” Arab/Greek/Palestinian sumthinorother, yes, okay, alright then, Um, uh Mr. “Khirstamas,” and uh, am I to understand that you are a Doctor of Rabbinical er, uh Theological, Doctrinal studies or such?
Christ: You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Grassley: And um, is it the general position of this religion which these preachers claim to represent that its pastor require multiple homes? For instance, a villa in Florida, a penthouse in Manhattan and a getaway somewhere in the islands?
Christ: Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.
Grassley: Really? That seems different that the way some of these preachers are living. Uh, and um, how about these pastors talking about God wanting their followers to be really blessed with lots of riches? Does your religion really teach that God’s gonna make people rich if they give all their money to one of these preachers?
Christ: I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, , it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Grassley: So, if I understand you, Rev. Khristmas, uh, you’re saying actually, that your religion warns people against getting too wrapped-up in earthly wealth or material possessions. Is that it?
Christ: Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Grassley: Well, hmmm, that certainly doesn’t square with what I’ve been hearing form these Gucci wearing clergy have been teaching.
Christ: There are false prophets among the people… They will secretly introduce destructive heresies…bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
Grassley: Why do you think they’re misrepresenting the true teachings of your faith anyway?
Christ: In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them.
Grassley: Well, I for one am pretty put out by how they’re duping folks into giving up their hard earned savings, just so these fat cats can live high on the hog. Why do you think people keep listening to them?
Christ: Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. These false preachers seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!
Grassley: Well, I don’t know what to say sir. Should they be prosecuted? Should they lose their tax exemptions? If they do, it may reek havoc on our long established protections for religion under our laws.
Christ: Blackest darkness is reserved for them… By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people… They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and Money.
References: Matt 8:20, Matt 19: 23-24, Luke 6:24, 2 Pet 2, 2 Tim 4:3-4, Matt 6:24
See also Des Moines Register story