Just last month I wrote about the "gospel of easy money," and in that post were a few links to stories of pastors living unusually lavish lifestyles. If you read that post, and easily discerned my contempt for such behavior, you'd expect that similar stories immediately grab my attention. Stories like this one from WFAA News 8 in Dallas/Fort Worth:
Not long ago, the Fellowship Church in Grapevine was one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation.
Its pastor, Ed Young, was making national headlines by encouraging married couples to have more sex.
But since that time, sources say membership has waned and some say Pastor Young may have lost his way -- putting himself and secrecy over God. ...
One former staff member who says he was close to Young but wishes not to be identified, described it this way: "The lack of accountability. The lavish lifestyle that keeps increasing, while the attendance keeps decreasing."
I'm not used to reporters passing along passed judgment about someone's relationship with God, but maybe the reporting backs it up.
Maybe. There's definitely a lot in there. FAA reports about a private jet that appears to be in Young's name (not clear on that) and was quickly taken to the Bahamas after he took possession of it.
But it's not just the jet and the international travel the Young keeps out of sight.
News 8 has also learned that Young's 10,000 square foot, $1.5 million estate on Lake Grapevine is not listed on the tax rolls in his name, but rather in the name of "Palometa Revocable Trust."
Records show that Young was paid $240,000 a year as a parsonage allowance; that's in addition what sources say is a $1 million yearly pastor's salary.
What's not clear, though, is the credibility of WFAA's sources. They are (gulp) anonymous former confidantes of Young. That's a red flag. And it's unclear how much the reporter relied on them for the details of this story. It looks like a lot. Another red flag. And a hint that someone else needs to pick this story up and see where it leads.
Young responded on his blog with a post titled "No Secrets." He then did more than just baldly deny the allegations by talking about it at church, in the above video. But It's hard to know how Young could sincerely deny the allegations of the WFAA report because he claims he didn't watch it. And I've written about enough pro athletes to believe that a high-profile pastor might, by personal rule, tune out the good and the bad coverage about himself.
But the WFAA report is too flippantly dismissed for my comfort. No one really seems to be addresses the specifics of the story, or breaking down the substance of the evidence. I'm not supposing the allegations are true, but all I've seen has been strategic redirecting. Certainly, this story could use a few more passes from a few more reporters.
Is anybody out there?
The only other coverage of seen of this was a Christian Post article relaying Young's defense and the disbelief of his supporters. I know the Dallas Morning News' religion coverage has been eviscerated since the paper wrote about Young encouraging married couples to have sex daily, but didn't this pop up on their screen? Not even after the WFAA report? And where's the Fort Worth Star-Telegram?