The reason Senators are required to disclose gifts is obvious - accountability. If a Senator receives a gift and reports it, his voting record can be examined by his constituents to ensure that he has not provided political favors in return for the gift. So its a serious matter when a Senator fails to disclose $250,000 in gifts from a corporation that did benefit from Stevens' actions as a Senator.
Our society does not like it when people in positions of power and public trust use their position to enrich themselves and their family. And they REALLY don't like it when they use their power to benefit the giver of the gift.
Mac Brunson is a man in a position of power. He is the pastor of one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Christians trust him as the "man of God" and above criticism and scrutiny, thereby increasing his power since this trust results in little disclosure of financial matters to his congregation such as his pastor salary and benefits and salary, and benefits of family members. He even can use believers' Bibles to preach to them that God says they need to give his church more money; all tax-free revenue to the church. Point is: Mac Brunson has LOTS of power.
We would therefore expect him not to use his position as pastor to accept large gifts, if for no other reason than just the appearance of impropriety. And certainly we would expect him NOT to engage in official actions as pastor that would give any appearance of him using his position to return favors to the giver of such gifts.
Yet this is precisely what has happened at our church. And no one seems to care, save for a few recalcitrant bloggers. And I won't let it go. In light of his continued abusive preaching, and his recent display of arrogance in coldly DEMANDING that we fork over $1 million cash in two weeks' time for neglected repairs of our facilities, when we as a congregation DID meet our budget while Mac spent our money on non-budget special projects - this arrogance further demands disclosure and explanation of his gift of 2 1/2 years ago. Maybe a loving, humble man we might let bygones be bygones - but its clear now that he needs a check on his power.
I'll rehash it: Mac Brunson accepted a land gift in 2006 that at the time was valued at $250,000 (how ironic) from a wealthy developer in our city named J.D. Collins - JUST THREE WEEKS AFTER BRUNSON BEGAN HIS PASTORATE. Thus it was not a gift based on years of friendship and trust. It was a gift from a man who barely knew Mac Brunson. It is reasonable to assume that the gift was given to Brunson solely based on his position and nothing else. I wonder why MAC got the gift, and not say, John Blount. Or Calvin Carr. Or anyone else. It was given to the new pastor, the man coming in who just so happens to have the most power. I find no fault in J.D. Collins - he can give gifts to whomever he chooses. He has a long record of donating money to people in positions of power and is free to do so. But it was not a gift Mac had to accept. To use a favorite Mac-ism: "See also David Tarkington" (and see Mac's own book).
If that was not bad enough, Mac then took an unprecedented action that gave the appearance of using his position to return a huge favor to the giver of the gift. I'm not saying it was "quid pro quo", but the unprecedented nature of this action gave the appearance of such. On March 16, 2008, Mac aired a testimony/infomercial highlighting "Collins Builders", a home construction company owned by the sons of J.D. Collins. The professionally produced testimony/infomercial, complete with on-the-job clips of their office and job sites - showed how the owners of the company made the bold and courageous decision to close their business on Sunday out of their Christian convictions. It is not uncommon for us to show testimonies at church. But Mac aired this one RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS SERMON - actually at the climax of his sermon. Right after discussing Jesus trusting God in the garden, Mac aired this professionally produced testimony to show how the Collins' trusted God in their business decision. Then Mac asks us if we trust God enough to start a school and satellite ministry. As far as I know, never in the history of our church has a pastor aired a testimony highlighting a members' business during the sacred preaching hour. This ensured of course that the video would be shown the following week on TV in the local market when Mac's sermon would be aired. You can listen to the audio of the sermon excerpt containing the commercial here.
Why did Mac choose THIS business to highlight in the middle of his sermon? Why not one of the many other businesses in our church that trust God? Why THIS one? I don't know. But the fact that his dad gave Mac a $250,000 gift gives the appearance that it was a returned favor for his land gift.
This concerns me. It should concern others in our church, especially in light of recent developments at our church. In addition to how little financial information concerning the spending of our offerings is shared with us, we now know how the Brunson regime is now involved in "raising funds" through marketing of the church. The prostituting of our pastor's conference this year and next year through selling of advertising space, and even selling platform time (did you ever think you would see the day when people could BUY time on the platform in our santuary? That day is here my friends) - this tells me that Team Brunson is very congnizant of the power of promotions and Christian "testimonies" in the sanctuary - to the point that Brunson now brazenly SELLS them. But Mac delivered a huge gift to the Collins - for free.
So our justice system works. Senator Ted Stevens' will likely go to jail. His greed did him in.
Ted Stevens should have read Mac's most recent book where Mac says:
"Guard against greed. It will do you in."