Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ethicial questions about another Kansas political pastor

Last year a secular right wing talk radio station dropped a radio program co-hosted by Rev. Terry Fox, a conservative powerhouse pastor. Soon, the church dropped Fox and it turned out that he had spent large sums of the church's money on the radio program without authorization.

Now it seem that another right-wing pastor who played a key role in passing Kansas's anti-gay marriage and civil union bill is in ethical hotwater.

See this AP story in today's Topeka Capital Journal

OVERLAND PARK — Questions about financial accountability at a fast-growing megachurch have prompted a leading Christian radio network to drop Rev. Jerry Johnston’s daily show.

Bott Radio Network, which aired Johnston’s 30-minute program Monday through Friday on KCCV-AM 760, dropped the program Monday.

The move came a day after The Kansas City Star reported that hundreds of people have left Johnston’s First Family Church in Overland Park in recent years because of concerns about a lack of financial accountability.

The church has 4,200 members, a $17 million annual budget and a TV ministry that has gone global, and Johnston has become a leader in speaking out on conservative causes.

Dick Bott, founder and president of the radio network, said he was surprised to learn the First Family Church isn’t a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which sets standards for charities and religious groups.

The KC Star article (registration required) is pretty devastating.

Lavish lifestyles at odds with pastor’s calls for the faithful to sacrifice
Johnston and his family travel abroad, live in big houses and drive church-owned SUVs.
The Kansas City Star

Expensive trips. New homes. An elite credit card.

The lifestyle of the Rev. Jerry Johnston’s family has raised eyebrows among former members of First Family Church.

“Everything is extravagant,” said Melisa Gingrich, who left the church last year. “That’s the way the Johnstons live.”

Johnston and the church board will not reveal his compensation, nor how much he makes from his for-profit corporation that handles his books, videos and speaking engagements.

The Johnstons go on several “Christian tours” each year. Last year, Jerry and Christie Johnston went to Hawaii, the Holy Land and Rome. Last month, the Johnstons spent six days in Hawaii. They plan to visit England in May and Germany in July....

Former members also complain that Johnston’s family members drive expensive sport utility vehicles owned by the church.

And then there’s the black American Express card. Church members said they were surprised when the Johnstons used it to pay for lunch.

Known as the Centurion card, it is offered only to “a small but affluent group of card members for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest,” according to American Express. The annual fee alone is $2,500.

Johnston, however, declined to answer questions about whether he had such a card.

“The credit cards used by Pastor Johnston and the other employees of the church,” his spokesman said, “are a personal matter.”

Rest of the Story about Rev, Terry Fox resignation (September 27, 2006)

Leading Kansas Conservative Pastor Resigns Suddenly (August 07, 2006)

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