Ed Young and his trustees were caught with their pants down, and they handled it wrong, ensuring further scrutiny. They gave non-answers, and played the victim.
Ironically, on the same day that the WFAA report was broadcast in Dallas, here in Jacksonville another local TV news reporter did an expose' on a Jacksonville organization.
Our local electrical utility, JEA, was caught with their pants down, too.
But oh, how different was the response of JEA's leadership and that of Fellowship Church.
I'm quite certain no one out of Jacksonville is interested in reading about the JEA scandal, but it was the lead story on the February 4th news, and here's the skinny: seems a number of electrical repair work crews who immediately upon receiving their work orders for the day would drive their JEA trucks out of the JEA lot and down the road for an early morning breakfast on the clock. And some of the crews would park their trucks and sleep for hours at a certain dead-end road doing zero work. Not just once in a while, but almost every single day during the three-month long investigation.
Crews not working, but crews feasting and napping on the clock.
And the news reporter filmed it and documented it for three months, and caught JEA with their pants down.
JEA is accountable to the people of Jacksonville as they are at least partially owned by the city. And people in Jacksonville are not happy with rising electrical rates, so they are not happy to hear that their money is being wasted by having work crews eating breakfast and lunch, and taking naps with their money.
How did JEA respond when caught with their pants down? The contrasts between JEA and Fellowship Church, both of whom were caught in a scandal - is striking. Ed Young was found to be living high on the hog and leasing a luxury private jet to the tune of millions of dollars, while JEA crews were found to be eating and sleeping instead of maintaining our electrical infrastructure.
Very embarrassing for both organizations.
But John Pitre, the JEA manager responsible for the work done by these crews, faced the music. He actually talked to the reporter ON CAMERA. He looked nervous. He didn't deliver a prepared speech with make-up like Ed Young. Pitre looked like a deer caught in the headlights at times. But to his credit, he gave answers and expressed regret. He didn't refuse to talk to the reporter like Ed Young. He didn't tell JEA customers that he refuses to watch the TV report. No, the man sat down with the reporter, watched the filmed footage of his crews slacking off, and said this, on the record:
"Perception-wise it's very bad...if I saw something like that I'd be angry too. I myself I take the trust of the community and citizens seriously and if I saw something like this going on I'd probably do the same thing and report it...as my position here, now that I know about it, I'll do what I can to investigate this and deal with it appropriately."
What a contrast. Subsequent to the initial report JEA announced they were launching an investigation into the employees involved, and some received discipline. And JEA answered all questions about this scandal, and other follow-up issues like overtime pay.
If JEA took the approach that Ed Young and Fellowship Church did, they would have employed the following tactics:
- Pitre would have not talked to the reporter, and the JEA would have held a press conference to say that Pitre still has not, and never will, watch the news report.
- Pitre would have said that he has in impeccable reputation, and that God in fact called him into the power business and that his ultimate authority is God, and therefore everyone can dismiss the news report since he will give an account to God on how JEA's money is spent;
- Pitre would have flown in two board members from other utilities, to talk about what a Godly man Pitre is, how wonderful his wife and kids are, and that if there was even a "whiff of a impropriety" they have better things to do and wouldn't be board members of JEA.
- Pitre would have said that we should all pray for those people behind the report (like the reporters, the camera men, the irate JEA customers), that they would get right with God.
- Pitre would have announced that this report was an attack not just on him, but on JEA, and all of JEA's customers.
But Pitre didn't, and JEA handled this scandal by being open, honest, and transparent. They never attacked the messenger, instead they dealt with the facts presented to them.
Some may say there is no comparison: one is a church, and one is a power company. But both of these organizations are accountable to their communities. JEA's public trust is obvious. But FC is supposed to be a church that proclaims the gospel and people in the community don't expect them to operate for the personal benefit of the pastor. So they, too, are accountable to Dallas/Fort Worth citizens in that regard.
This is why these so many of these mega church CEO pastors are such a detriment to the gospel. They think they're God's gift to Christendom, when actually it is their lifestyle and humongous egos that turns the world off to their Christianity. And when the world sees church members lap it up and give the Ed Young's of the world a standing ovation for their non-answers to scandal, they realize whatever religion THAT is, its not for them. The non-Christians refuse to drink any Kool Aid that would cause them to have to fork money over to Ed Young's church and then give him a standing O when its found out that he used some of it to lease an 8 million dollar jet.
Pretty sad day when our government and quasi-government agencies are the ones setting the example for the church, instead of the other way around.
As my friend General Larry Platt says:
"Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground."