Who is Fred Lee? He is a self-professed multi-millionaire living in a $6 million home in Atlanta, and who has a history of trouble with state mortgage agencies dating all the way back to 2002, as reported back in October by CBS Atlanta (this link has more compelling footage, including ex-employees of Lee). But as reported by CBS Atlanta this week, Fred Lee did not successfully modify any of the Hawkins' church members' mortgages, and many lost their homes and went into bankruptcy. One of the church members interviewed by CBS Atlanta said they trusted Lee because of their pastor's endorsement of him, and because the sales pitch was made at their church.
Now some church members, and apparently federal investigators, want to know if the pastor received any kickbacks from Lee or Matrix Capital. The news report says over 1000 church members forked over $1500 to Matrix Capital - for a whopping $1.5 million total take: definitely gold in them thar mega church pews.
Wendy Saltzman, the CBS Atlanta reporter, said the following near the end of the clip:
Gary Hawkins and his mega church are part of the Georgia Baptist Convention, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. You will recall the GBC issued a proclamation condemning critical bloggers in 2007, and also disfellowshipped several churches for the dastardly deed of hiring a woman pastor. How long will it take the GBC to issue a proclamation against mortgage schemes, or to dis-fellowship Hawkins' church?
But it is all just another sad example of how Christians can be so incredibly gullible, and how mega church members idolize their mega church pastors. And pastors, please take note: you have no business using your church and your position to advertise for outside ventures to your church members. This is why I wrote in 2008 and 2009 about my concerns over what I saw at FBC Jacksonville with the commercialization of the pastor's conference and selling of "promotions packages" and selling "emcee mentions on the platform".