PHOENIX -- In the soaring sanctuary of the Phoenix First Assembly Church here, television evangelist Joyce Meyer recently assured 6,500 evangelical Christians that the money they were dropping into her collection buckets would feed the poor, educate the ignorant and minister to the willing.
"I'm not buying clothes or a car or a house with your money," she thundered. "You don't have to worry about us taking it and living a high lifestyle."
But that is what the 63-year-old Ms. Meyer has been doing, insists Howard J. "Rusty" Leonard, who has dug up property-tax records and church financial reports. They show Ms. Meyer's ministry has bought five houses, a private jet worth $6.5 million and expensive artwork for her, her ministry and her family to use.
Using his own money and working from a suburban office park outside Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Leonard is out to make his organization, Wall Watchers, into an investment guide for the religious. Unlike other nonprofits, which must file tax returns, churches aren't required to report how much they receive, whom they get it from and how they spend it. Mr. Leonard reasons that if the faithful were more careful, the money would be better spent.
"If donors would stop being so dumb and start thinking like investors, then there wouldn't be so much fraud and misuse," he insists.
October 30, 2006
Insert Your Own Derisive Headline Here
In a front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal, we learn something interesting about Joyce Meyer, an annoying woman with way too much testosterone: