There is a story and poll up on TheBlaze that is getting a lot of attention because it asks if it is “okay” for pastors to purchase “extravagant homes.” When Stu took the poll on radio this morning, he found himself stunned by the results. TheBlaze readers overwhelming responded - by a 72% to 28% margin (at the time) - that it is NOT okay for pastors to live in over-the-top homes.
“I was part of that 28%” that supported a pastor’s right to own and live in any home he chooses, Glenn admitted.
This story and the accompanying poll revolve around a story out of North Carolina, in which Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C. has sparked controversy over a new 16,000-square-foot home he is building with his wife, Holly. The home has been so divisive, Furtick spent 10 minutes of his Sunday sermon defending his right to own the home and thanking God for his blessings.
WCNC-TV reported that the home has 7 1/2 bathrooms and that the contract value of the house is $1.4 million. In addition, the land was $325,000. In sum, the home will cost about $1.7 million.
While Furtick didn’t apologize, he did tell the congregation he was sorry that they were forced to have “uncomfortable conversations” in recent days and told the congregation that he has always worked hard to protect Elevation’s reputation.
No church money has been used to build the home. While Furtick is spending his own money from book sales, Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation, a group that examines religious fraud, says there are still some ethics issues at play.
Glenn was most surprised by TheBlaze poll results because of the fact that Furtick was using money he earned through book sales to purchase this home.
“So here's the thing. Would I have a problem with Stu, if Stu wanted to become some famous author? Would I have a problem if that's what he was doing in his spare time, writing a book in his spare time and he became famous and made a lot of money off of that book? No. It would be great for the company,” Glenn said. “And the same thing with the church… I don't think there's a problem with this at all. He's earning his money and they're saying, ‘Well, how much of that did he spend church time on?’ What are you talking about? Did he do his job? Were you happy with him before the house? Did he do his job? If he did his job, are we into Marxism here? Are we into the collective?”
“Now, if you don't want your pastor to have a 16,000 square foot home, then don't you dare say you want one, because if he can't have one, you shouldn't have one either… If you suddenly hit the lottery, if you have an idea for a book, it should all go to the poor, right,” Glenn asked. “He is no different than you. So is TheBlaze audience honestly telling me, this audience, that 70% doesn't want a 16,000 square foot home? Doesn't want to live in a nice mansion that they designed? A house they really love? 70% of this audience is telling me that?”
It remains to be seen what the final outcome of the poll on TheBlaze will be. You can weigh in with your opinion by taking the poll HERE. Ultimately, Glenn, Pat, and Stu agree that the pastor is entitled to do what he wishes with his own money, just as his parishioners are free to find another church if they are unhappy with his actions.
“That's surprising from our audience. You see the same themes run through politics all the time. People are people. Pastors are people,” Stu said. “Do people like big houses? Sure, but if he's making his money because people like what he's saying and he's selling books, he's selling books, taking some of that money, building a house, and giving money to the poor. I don't see what the problem with that is at all. It's unrelated to his ministry, unless he's lying to you.”
“If he's that successful that means people want the hear what he has to say. That makes your church more powerful, bringing more people into it, and you collect more for the poor that way,” Glenn concluded. “I mean it's Marxism. Stop it. Stop it.”