2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Monday, December 30, 2013

"In What Room Did Your Father Molest Your Sister?" What Sort of Depraved Mind Asks Such a Question? Why Tim Rogers, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Course!

Last night Ergun Caner had a Twitter Q&A session, where he invited people to ask him anything on Twitter, and he would reply.

As you might expect, Tim Rogers, pictured at left, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist in Indian Trail, North Carolina was there to defend Ergun Caner from those who used the Q&A invitation from Caner to ask him about his lies and refusal to repent.

And Rogers was in rare form, using his standard tactic of defending Caner by attacking James White.

But this time Rogers has gone off the rails, using a tragedy in James White's family involving allegations of molestation of White's sister by their father when James was a young boy. Whatever the truth is in THAT situation in James White's family, it has absolutely nothing to do with Ergun Caner using the events of 9/11 to begin deceiving people about where he was raised and his prowess as a trained terrorist who converted to Christianity just before he strapped a bomb to his back.

Look at this Tweet from Tim Rogers, a supposed "man of God", Southern Baptist pastor, in which Rogers is almost making light of and poking fun at the tragedy in James White's family, calling James White "Jimmy" and asking him about the room in which his sister was molested:

And this was just one of many Tweets Rogers posted about the molestation charges in White's family. Go to Rogers' Tweet feed and see if for yourself. He continues to make charges that James White has committed a crime, that he covers for pedophiles.

There you have it, folks. If you needed any further evidence that Ergun Caner and his vocal defenders and his silent supporters will stop at absolutely nothing to prop Caner up to avoid the embarrassment that Caner's decade of deceit is to the likes of Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson and Jack Graham, you now have it.

Thank you, Tim Rogers, for showing the darkness of your heart in this and other Tweets in the past 24 hours.

I'm sure Tim's church members are proud of his defense of the deceiver Ergun Caner, and how he has asked the most sickening of questions to poke fun at the tragedy in White's family. And to make unfounded criminal allegations against James White.

As one commenter or Twitter said today, the train wreck known as "Ergun Caner" is gaining speed, and when it finally derails the mess it will make in the SBC and the embarrassment it will bring to many who have supported him will be spectacular.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Watchdog

Merry Christmas to Watchdog readers!

Below is a repost of the WD poem from 2009. I did a remix of it a few years ago, below is the original.

Looking forward to 2014, the 8th year of the Watchdog watching pastors and churches and giving commentary and analysis. I suppose my tagline should be "gathering, condensing, and analyzing shameless nuttery from the SBC and mega church worlds... so you don't have to."

 And while some accuse me of only seeing the negative in pastors and churches: it is not true. While shameless nuttery is the focus of my writing on this blog, I have had good experiences in 2013 with several pastors - even a mega church pastor - that has shown kindness and grace to me and my family, and who refuses to beat the sheep like so many other pastors over tithing and instead teaches people to be generous givers. So these pastors are out there, but the Watchdog will keep watching and writing about the others in 2014.

'Twas the Sunday Before Christmas

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas
and all through God's church
"Not a churchman is tithing!"
Yelled the preacher from his perch

So the plates were all passed
down each row with great care,
In hopes that the peeps
Would put their 10% there.

The preacher told them 
how dare they not tithe,
Our country's safety at stake, 
Else God's wrath would arrive.

Mama in her new dress, 
and me in my tie,
I saw that plate coming, 
with a tear in my eye.

I took out my envelope, 
with my measly 9 percent
knowing I was "sinning", 
but had just paid my rent.

Here came the plate, 
Put my envelope upside down,
tried to fake a tithing smile, 
but wore a 9 percent frown.

Off Deacons, Off Trustees, 
please count all the dough
See if there is enough, 
for our mega preacher TV show.

The mega church preacher 
climbed up into his place
Said our tithe to his church, 
was required for grace.

He told of his trip to New York, 
how he was doing God's will,
and that we as God's people 
needed to pay for the bill.

He invited us with him, 
on a Holy Land Trip,
or to sail down the Danube, 
on a luxury ship.

He had a broad face 
and a little round belly,
That shook when he yelled, 
like a bowlful of jelly.

He pulled off his glasses 
and gave a jerk of his head,
Soon gave me to know 
I had something to dread;

He spoke not from the Word, 
and went straight to his work,
Began to tell the non-tither, 
how he was a jerk,

He was dressed all in finery, 
even cufflinks of gold,
He took out his Bible 
and yelled to the fold:

"Now please get out your bibles, 
you stupid sheep,
You're holding your tithe back, 
you're being way too cheap,

You owe me ten - 
not nine, not eight,
And we'll spend it as we please, 
you dare not designate."

We thought from our Bibles 
he would be sure to show,
How point-one times the gross, 
is the exact amount we owe.

But ne'er did he exegete 
this demand placed on us,
he just told us to fork it over, 
no need to discuss.

He said if we didn't agree, 
to "Take it up wit da book",
But he didn't tell me where, 
I should start to look.

The white-haired man to my left 
held on to his wallet
His trip to church today 
he was sure to regret.

"I didn't know it", whispered, 
the old man with sweat on his brow,
Then the preacher yelled, 
"HA, well you know it NOW."

I told the old man, 
after the show,
"Don't worry its not what you give, 
but rather its Who you know."

"The message this Christmas, sir, 
is God sent his Son,
He's after our hearts first, 
Not a wallet, not one."

"Baby Jesus came into the world, 
to show us the way,
Not to tell us what percent 
to the pastor we must pay."

The old man grinned, 
and nodded his head with a smile,
"I knew that, and 
I'll see you all in a little while."

"See, at Christmas time, 
I've blessed kids with gifts each year,
And not once did I demand 
a tithe in exchange for my cheer."

"I find it quite odd, 
these men demand cash as they do,
When God gives His love freely, 
to me and to you."

But I heard him exclaim, 
ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, 
and to all a good-night."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jack Graham Explains How to Have Your Best Christmas: Shun Church Critics, Especially Those "Watchdoggers"

At left is Jack Graham, pastor of the mega church Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

Being the loving, caring pastor that he is, Pastor Jack delivered a sermon on December 8th explaining how his church members can have their best Christmas ever.

Here is Pastor Jack's advice:

"There's lots of bloggers and watchdoggers who love to attack pastors and churches...maybe people you hang out with who love to attack churches and be negative about the church. My advice to you if you want to be happy in life is to get as far away as possible from those people. They're only going to drag you down....Instead, get around people who say something like this: 'Isn't it great what God is doing in our church?'"

Here is a 3-minute excerpt from Pastor Jack's December 8th sermon:

Ah yes, one of the keys to having your best Christmas EVER is to determine in your heart that you're going to shun those who might criticize your church or your pastor.

Most pastors don't stand in their pulpit and say these kinds of things. To Pastor Jack's credit, at least he wasn't too angry about it.

But why would Jack Graham want to use his pulpit to tell his church members to not read blogs, to basically shun all people who criticize the church or pastors? Because it was a blogger who helped begin the process of calling Graham's church to explain why they failed to report pedophile John Langworthy to police, resulting in the pedophile moving to Mississippi where he molested more children.

Amy Smith is probably one of the "bloggers" that Graham would tell people to shun and stay away from. As I wrote back in 2011 in my article "In the Langworthy/Prestonwood Story, Bloggers Once Again Show They are Sorely Needed to Get Truth Out" I wrote:

"With the help of the New BBC Open Forum blog recently, former Prestonwood Baptist staffer Amy Smith was able to get the attention of folks in Langworthy's new church and community. Finally as word spread among the people at Langworthy's church, and they did Internet searches that landed them on the New BBC Open Forum post here, they realized they may have a pedophile in their midst. Their church leadership began an investigation, and then Brett Shipp became involved. Brett covered the story because of the connection of Langworthy to Prestonwood, and their apparent failure to report Langworthy's crimes to the police back in 1989 and instead let him slip away to another church."
Yes, those darned "bloggers and watchdoggers". They dare to criticize Jack Graham's church for not reporting a pedophile which resulted in John Langworthy continuing his abuse at another church.

So Prestonwood Baptist members: don't listen to your Man of God on this issue. He is one of the many mega church pastors and their minions who view bloggers as a problem. You should know that the New BBC Open Forum blog I mentioned above that helped bust one of your former pedophile ministers was one of the blogs that Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Detective Robbie Hinson subpoenaed (click here to see the subpoena for yourself) back in 2008 when he investigated my blog to uncover my identity (which resulted in a first amendment lawsuit ultimately settled out of court) - all while Hinson was on the discipline committee of his megachurch which sought my identity. Detective and Discipline Committee Member Hinson for good measure also subpoenaed Tiffany Croft's blog - a blog that actually assisted our State Attorney's office in gathering information from fearful Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist church members who reported Darrell Gilyard's (pictured at right) sexual abuses.
And don't forget about Prestonwood's treatment of Chris Tynes, another critic worthy of shunning in the wacky world of Pastor Jack: don't call the cops on the pedophile, but call the cops on the guy demanding answers about the pedophile. And one more reason Pastor Jack doesn't like Watchdoggers: we were quick to point out that Pastor Jack was one of those pastors who got duped by Ergun Caner right after 9/11 and allowed Caner to use the Prestonwood pulpit to create his new "former terrorist" image.

But hey, Prestonwood members, perhaps Jack's advice will indeed give you the best Christmas ever, and help you live a happy life: see no evil, hear no evil - and certainly speak no evil. As one friend said recently: if your pastor publicly declares that you shouldn't listen to this or to that person and tells you to shun a person - that should trigger a red flag to cause you to consider that this person is on to something, and schedule a lunch date with them immediately.

Or at least cause you to visit their blogsite every week or so.

Merry Christmas to you, Jack Graham, and thanks for sending me more readership from your church.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Video of Ergun Caner Getting the Call to Brewton Parker!!

Well WD readers, our old friend, the "DrErgunCaner" video spoofer is back. Below is a just-released YouTube video of Ergun Caner getting the call from Brewton Parker Trustee "Bucky" Kennedy, offering the BP presidency to Ergun. You'll get to see what the next phone call was that Ergun made after Bucky called. Hilarious stuff.

This is ground-breaking video. You've heard hot-shot pastors say "God called me" to their church, that it wasn't the job, the city, the six figure salary, or a land gift or other perks and jobs for family members. It was "God called them". Well, here you get to see how it actually works, when God actually makes the call. 

Seriously though, the Ergun Caner debacle has reached such a ridiculous stage - the denials and the defenses and the lawsuits with more to come I'm sure - that all that is left is to make the points through parody. As Rush Limbaugh has said many times, sometimes the only way to illustrate absurdity is by being absurd.

And by the way, the video below is a spoof of this real Ergun Caner video.

Welcome back, Fake Ergun Caner, after a 2-year hiatus. Thanks for helping us make the point about how ridiculous this all is, and giving us a laugh or two.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"From the Dog House to the Blog House" - The (Embellished) Life Story of Willie Vincenzo Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog, aka "FBC Jax Watchdog"

Finally, the day has come for the Watchdog to tell his story.....it's what you've been waiting for in the soon released memoirs of the Watchdog:

"From the Dog House to the Blog House" by Willie Vincenzo Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog, aka "The Hitman"

subtitled "A Former Devout Sicilian Catholic Mafia member Becomes a Warrior Southern Baptist"

Watchdog readers have long thought that the Watchdog was just some boring, run-of-the-mill, trespassed church member gone bad.  Oh, but you haven't heard the REAL Watchdog story! His name might be just FBC Jax Watchdog, but his birth name is Willie Vincenzo Nazzareno Antonio Watchdog, and he was born and raised as a strict Sicilian Catholic mafia gangster who became a Baptist as a teenager.

And it's all coming out in his new book, and will be retold (embellished) as he tours the world preaching about his old days as a devout teenage mafia gangster raised in a Catholic household and sharing his expertise on all things Catholic and mafia. And oh, can he spin a yarn!

Buy his book and you can meet the real Willie Vincenzo Watchdog, aka "The Hitman". You will laugh, you will cry, you will open your wallet as you read about his life. Willie Vincenzo Watchdog will at long last tell the compelling story of how he was raised a devout Sicilian Catholic by a strict Catholic father, and was disowned when he became a Baptist blogger at the age of somewhere between 13 and 17.

Here are some excerpts from the soon released classic - edited by Watchdog's good friend E. Michael Caner - telling the unique story of Watchdog:

"Vincenzo Antonio Watchdog was born in Norway, but was raised in Europe, Beirut, and Turkey (along the Danube River), before emigrating to Columbus, Ohio, with his Sicilian Italian Catholic Mafia boss father at the age of 12 or 13 or 14 or thereabouts. He risked it all, tearing off his strict Catholic altar boy clothing to come to America and don his Baptist tie and coat."

Hear the Watchdog "The Hitman" describe his very troubled upbringing in his own words:

"Let me tell you something, I submit to you that I was raised in the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra until the age of 15 or 16 or 17 or so, when I came to America....and let me tell you something, I was raised to do the very things that were portrayed in the Godfather I, II, III, and a few of the things in 'Goodfellas' - especially the scene of the guy in the trunk. But when I came to America, I realized I didn't need to kill people anymore."

Hear how Willie Watchdog had to bear the brunt of jokes and ridicule and scorn for his Italian Sicilian Mafia upbringing:

"When I first went to church, I wasn't called 'Dago', or 'Mary worshipper', 'popeblower, 'Mackerel Snapper', or 'Al Pacino'....I got plenty of that OUTSIDE the church....they didn't care that I spoke Italian and was a killer. Oh yes, I said my Hail Marys 5 times a day in the bathroom - that's how devout I was."

And his Sicilian Italian upbringing that led him to think that Americans wanted to kill him:

"Yes, in my upbringing in Europe, Beirut, Turkey, and other mostly Italian countries, I was taught that you Americans hated me for being a Catholic. Did I say I was trained to do that which was done in Godfather I, II, and III, and some of what was done in 'Goodfellas' - especially the scene with the guy in the trunk?"

And about receiving his calling to become a Baptist blogger:

"It was shortly after I became a Baptist, though my English was still poor, though I could not speak as clearly as others, I surrendered to the ministry. I was being called by Gawd to blog - it happened during a trip on a camel up the side of a mountain in Sicily - and I knew God had called me. My brother and sister, if you are in this room, within the sound of my voice, I tell you that though I was in the Mafia, you are at war as well. Because though you are at war with God, God wants to win you, not kill you."

Wow!! What a conversion story Watchdog has to tell! You will agree, Watchdog is a true WARRIOR!!!!

So put in your advance order for the story of the Watchdog...time is short!

Stay tuned for Watchdog's upcoming books, after his star rises:

"Unveiling Catholicism: An Insider's Look at Catholicism"

"Unveiling Cosa Nostra: An Insider's Look at the Mafia"

"Unveiling False Biographies"

"Unveiling the Unveiling: An Insider's Look at Unveiling things that Need to be Unveiled"

"Veiling Your Biography: An Insider's Look at Writing a Fancy Biography to Get Good Speaking Gigs and Book Deals."

"The Art of Speaking Jibberish"

"How to Fit Your Fibs to Your Audience"

"The Rise and Fall of  Ex-Satanist Mike Warnke: Lessons on How Not to Embellish One's Testimony"

"Satellite Dish Hats, Curtain Rods, and Shoes that Match their Cars - A Humorous Look at the African American Worship Experience"
[click here for context]

"More than a Pope: An Insider's Response to Catholic Beliefs"

"Mafia Jihad: Two Former Mafia Members (Watchdog and Brother Marmaduke) Look at the Crusades and Killing in the Name of Gotti"

"Why Baptist Churches Die - 101 Ways You Stupid Sheep Mess Up a Pastor's Ministry" - Written with Watchdog's Good Friend

"Out of the Sicilian Shadows: Leading Catholic Women out of the Doghouse"

Also, if you want to join Willie Vincenzo Nazzareno Watchdog on a trip to the Holy Land, including a tour of his homeland in Turkey, Norway, Italy (Sicily), and a brief "cruise down the Danube" and other areas where Watchdog was raised, STAY TUNED! Coming in April 2014!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caner 2007 GBC Convention Sermon: Some Irony, Some Hypocrisy, Some Prophecy - And Yes, Some Baloney

I thought it fitting now that the Georgia Baptists have hired Ergun Caner as one of their college's presidents to go back to the last time Ergun Caner addressed the Georgia Baptist pastors and take a listen. Afterall, these pastors and their congregants will now be helping to pay Caner's salary - and maybe his legal fees - so let's go back and hear what Caner had to say to his Georgia brethren.

I dug back into the Watchdog archives and have found the sermon Ergun Caner delivered at the 2007 Georgia Baptist Evangelism Conference on September 7, 2007.

But give Caner his props - it was a real humdinger of a sermon. He he had them rolling in the aisles, and he had them amening and hootin' and hollerin'. Caner's sermon that day was a prime example of why Caner is such a popular circuit speaker.

However, in the 6 years that have transpired since he delivered it - four parts of his sermon are worth noting given recent events. There was some irony, some hypocrisy, a little bit of prophecy, and as in most Caner sermons, there was a serving of baloney.

Let's take them one by one. We shall start with the prophecy.

Prophecy: Caner warned the pastors about the bloggers "attacking" pastors.

In a bit of prophecy and foreshadowing, Caner warned about the dangers of bloggers "sowing seeds of discord among the brethren". In September 2007 when this sermon was delievered, this blog had just begun a few weeks prior, and there were several other bloggers out there such as the NewBBCOpenForum, Saving Bellevue, and another one dedicated to Two Rivers Baptist in Nashville. Caner was one of the first to be out front warning of the "evils" of bloggers. He even made a reference to bloggers in their parents' basement.

Here is an excerpt from the 51:15 mark of the sermon:
"Everybody in our church is demanding their rights and believe that their opinion is worth hearing, and they BLOG US TO DEATH. Now you need to listen to me. I've got a blog, and many of you do too. But there are those that have become infected with this narcissism. They've developed this focus on their own opinion and thus they have a spirit of dissension. They sow seeds of discord among the brethren." (51:15 mark)
Who knew when these words were uttered that it would be Caner himself who had the most to lose by those nosy and "narcissistic" bloggers? Perhaps Caner saw the day coming where HE would have his fibs posted on these same blogs and thus he decided to take a pre-emptive strike. Imagine Caner's horror when he realized that ordinary, non-ordained Christians obtained some measure of power through the blogosphere to disclose and discuss the misdeeds of pastors.

Or perhaps Caner's words above were just a divine prophetic moment, now revealed by God on my blog. Or is that just me being narcissistic?

Irony:  Caner warned about the evils of Christian lawsuits.
"Everybody is obsessed with their rights. You know why we know this? Because everbody is suing everybody else. We're a litigious society, aren't we? Everybody's got a right to sue!! I got a right to get me some cheese!!! I'm gonna get me some cheddar!!! I'm gonna get me my money!!  Why? Because it can't be my fault! It's not my fault, I'm a victim...if I'm a victim, I'm not culpable. If I'm not culpable, I'm not responsible. If I'm not responsible, it's not sin. So what we do instead of bowing our knee in repentance, is we demand our rights. And it has infected the church." (50:10 mark)
I guess Ergun Caner had a change in heart on lawsuits replacing repentance and responsibility and culpability. 

Baloney: Caner claimed to debate various groups, and that they are available online.
"You can get everyone one of my - I have two rules when I debate. Number one, no money. You know why? Because they say we're always after money. And I work for Jerry Falwell. Right? The second rule is no Christian can ask me a question. No money, you can download all my debates. I debate the gay church, I've debated B'Hai, Buddhists, Shintos, Orasthean (?), Muslims." (48:45 mark)
So here it is, unmistakable - Caner is claiming not to have had informal debates, as in one-on-one conversations. But these would have been recorded, uploaded, available for downloading, debates with multiple religious groups.

Where are these formal debates? Did they ever occur? Was this just a simple "misstatement"? He thought he had debated but forgot that they hadn't occurred yet?  He had a few dates wrong? Or was he purposely misleading the Georgia pastors about his debating prowess? I think we know the answer.

Hypocrisy:  Caner claims his debates are free, offered online, and would not want any money for them.

The rest of the quote from above:
"The second rule is no Christian can ask me a question. No money, you can download all my debates. I debate the gay church, I've debated Baha'i, Buddhists, Shintos, Orasthean (?), Muslims. You get 'em all. They're free, they will always be free. Why? Because I like a good debate, and I like the church in culture."
That is great! He doesn't want to charge for his recorded debates, and he claims to want them available to everyone everywhere, available for downloading on the Internet. Thus, he wants them to have as wide of dissemination as possible, unhindered by the need to pay for them. He throws in the point that he is already being paid a salary so why try to charge more money.

If he claimed in 2007 that he wants his debates to be spread via the Internet unhindered, why would he object to sermons? Why would he object to his excellent speech given to the Marines in 2005  being posted on the Internet? And more importantly: why would he now claim that he wants compensation from Jon Autry and Jason Smathers for doing what he said he himself does or rather claims to do: puts his debates online for free for anyone to download?

So there you have it. Something for everyone.

And I'll leave you with one other quote from the Georgia Baptist Evangelism Conference of 2007, that only Ergun Caner gets a pass on:

"I don't think the Tele-Tubbies are gay. I think Barney [the dinosaur] is queer." (48:45 mark)

And did the Georgia boys ever yuck it up over that one.

And listen to the sermon for yourself right here:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from the Watchdog - And Update on Ergun Caner Lawsuits

Happy Thanksgiving from the Watchdog! Hope all of my readers enjoy some turkey and stuffing and football, but don't overdo it! You'll regret it tomorrow!

I'm thankful today for the many faithful readers of this blog, now starting its 7th year. And I am very thankful for the many friends I've made along the way. And thankful for no door knocks on Thanksgiving Eve this year!

While I'm getting ready to feast on a turkey bone, I did want to give an important update on the Ergun Caner lawsuits that broke yesterday on Jason Smathers' blog here. As most of you know, earlier this year Ergun Caner did file a lawsuit against pastor Jason Smathers, and Liberty University grad Jonathan Autry for copyright infringement related to their posting of the most damning video of Ergun Caner speaking to the U.S. Marines in 2007.

It seems there is finally some movement in the case, as some court filings have been made by the defense. Please take time to read Jonathan Autry's pleading with the court. If you've followed the Ergun Caner case over the past three years, and wonder what kind of "Man of God" could mislead congregations for an entire decade, read this filing and things about Ergun Caner will make sense - in a sick sort of way. Read it. Carefully. It is disturbing. I have embedded the document below, or you can hyperlink to it here.

Jonathan and Jason have very different legal representation. Because of the significant first amendment and "Freedom of Information Act" implications of Smathers' case, he is being represented by Kel McClanahan of the National Security Counselors just outside of Washington, DC. Jonathan on the other hand, can't afford legal representation and his younger brother is defending him.

Kel McClanahan's brief to the court to support their motion to dismiss Caner's lawsuit is also interesting reading. It is one thing to read some blogger like myself popping off about Caner's deceptions. It is another thing altogether to read a long court filing written by a great legal mind, summarizing many of the events we have blogged about since the transformation of Butch Caner into Ergun Mehmet Giovonni Caner on 9/11 - it is carefully footnoted and detailed, arguing to the court the merit-less claims of Caner's copyright assertions. I have also embedded this court filing below as well.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ten Commandments of When It May Be Time to Stop Giving Money to Your Mega Church

Readers - last month the Wartburg Watch posted an excellent article that included some basic rules or principles of when it is time for Christians to stop giving money to their local church. Their article was posted in the context of the Steven Furtick mansion story, but I am going to summarize these principles and add a few more of my own to make what I will call "The Ten Commandments of When It May Be Time to Stop Giving Money to Your Mega Church."

I know many of you right now are rolling your eyes. You're saying "There he goes again - telling people to not give to the church." No, that is not what I'm saying. If you are a member of a church, you SHOULD support it financially. However, if you're a member of a mega church and you see some of the following trends in YOUR church, perhaps God wants you to start using your money to make an impact in other areas. Perhaps God wants you to start channeling your resources into organizations that are more in line with the values of your Christian faith. Maybe God wants you to support your church at a lower financial commitment to free up money for you to give to other organizations.

Here is what the Dee and Deb at the Wartburg Watch said as they laid out their principles of when it is time to stop giving to your church:

"Are you, church contributor, vaguely discontented by what your money actually supports? Do you ever wonder if your money supports anything of eternal value? If you are a member of a church with a well paid pastor, and you see any of the following, maybe you should consider giving your money elsewhere."

Here we go:

1. Stop giving if you cannot find out your pastor's salary and compensation package.  I've been saying this for six years. Complete transparency is essential. Most mega churches go to great lengths to keep salaries of the top dog ministers a dark secret, and for good reason. They know that if the average church member knew of the compensation packages of the pastor and his family, they would be so disgusted that many would stop giving altogether.

2. Stop giving if your well paid pastor lives better than most of the congregationAs Dee and Deb said:  "Drive by his house. See what kind of car he drives. See what kind of vacation he takes. Think about it."  Of course, if he lives in a gated community it might be hard to drive by it, but you can look it up on Google maps and you can look it up on the property appraiser's website. Don't be ignorant on how well your Man of God lives using the money church members give for God's work.

3. Stop giving if your pastor regularly complains about how hard his job is. I am sick of hearing mega church pastors complain about how hard their job is, and making statements like "you should try having my job for a day"....and you see them living a jet-setting lifestyle, and operating their church as a family business. If he complains about his job publicly to the congregation, you can bet he is going to be lobbying the trustees privately for even more mega-money to make his ministry more tolerable.

4. Stop giving when your money goes to more buildings, expensive equipment, and well-off pastors. If you see the money going to expand the church into other locations when the current location is at a fraction of capacity - at the same time they are ruthlessly firing underpaid faithful ministers - it might be time to reconsider your financial commitment to your church. Remember, giving to your church is NOT giving to God. Your mega church is a 501(c)3 religious business - you might be closer giving to God by giving to the Red Cross than to your church if they are using the money unwisely.

5. Stop giving money if your well paid pastor writes books on church time and then gets all of the proceeds. Many mega church celebrity pastors get paid to prepare their sermons as the most important aspect of their job - then they turn around and turn these sermons into books for which the profits go straight to the pastor and not the church.

6. Stop giving if your well paid pastor is double and triple dipping. Is your pastor constantly traveling during the week to speak and conferences and retreats? Does he regularly take time off to lead trips to Israel or luxury cruises? Does your pastor use church resources like the church website and church media resources to promote trips and cruises "with the pastor"?

7. Stop giving if your pastor operates the church as a family business, regularly hiring and promoting family members. Nepotism is rampant in almost every mega church in Jacksonville. Nepotism hurts an organization in the long run - especially those periods when there are staff reductions and the faithful, qualified long-time staff members get the boot while the pastor's family members get a pass and maybe a promotion.

8. Stop giving if your church has developed a culture of silencing or shaming questioners.  If leadership of your church expects people to just be sheep and blindly follow and fund the pastor's "vision" - you might want to close your pocketbook. You might see regular church members telling other people on social media to not talk openly about the problems of the church, or accusing those discussing their concerns as spreading "gossip", "innuendo", and "vitriol". Ignore them. Discuss the issues on social media. And use your checkbook to speak - it is the loudest voice you have, and the one that the leadership of church is most concerned about.

9. Stop giving if your pastor routinely tells you that you are obligated to "tithe to the storehouse" to receive God's blessings and avoid God's cursings. This is a recent phenomena in evangelicalism - trying to fool Christians into thinking they must fork over at least 10% of all their income to redeem their money, that God will "rebuke the devourer" if you give 10%. The reality is the New Testament calls Christians to give generously and cheerfully. You are free to give according to your conscience - and you are free NOT to give to your church but to other causes that are consistent with your Christian beliefs.

10. Stop giving if your church is super-focused on expanding their territory into wealthy areas of the city, and under-focused on helping the poor and needy in your city. Most - not all - mega churches have almost zero interest in helping the poor in their cities, but are interested in making land purchases and renovating their auditoriums and tapping markets of the wealthy.

Maybe you have a number 11. or 12. that you would like to add - if so I want to hear from you. Maybe you are a member of a church that exhibits some of these traits and you want to discuss it here. Maybe these don't characterize your church and you want to tell us about it. Chime in.

I'll leave you with a quote from Dee and Deb:

"How about rescue missions that reach out to the unloved? There are ministries that look after persecuted people groups or victims of human trafficking. I bet each of you know quite a few. I know such ministries would be thrilled with your donation and you might feel like your have done something worthwhile and eternal. Your money would actually do more good with these groups than the purchase of one more Bose speaker for Sunday morning."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is Ergun Caner the Next President of the Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon, GA?

Mark Lamprecht who blogs at the "Here I Blog" site, has posted an article this morning about the possibility of Dr. Ergun Caner being a candidate for the presidency of the Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist Convention-affiliated college located in Mount Vernon of rural southeast Georgia. Mark received a call from a concerned parent of a BP student about the Ergun Caner rumor, and Mark's blog post describes his unsuccessful attempts to get an answer from a BP media relations person yesterday regarding Caner.

Brewton-Parker has an enrollment of around 1000 students as of 2007, with an endowment of around $13 million. It does receive funding from both the SBC-affiliated Georgia Baptist Convention, and from the Georgia Baptist Foundation. As Bob Allen reported here, last year Brewton-Parker was placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Perhaps the trustees are looking at the success of Emir Caner at Truett-McConnell and think their own Caner might be a solution to their problems. But I find it hard to believe that a SACS-accredited school that is currently on SACS accreditation probation (with possible loss of accreditation in June 2014) would look to a man with Ergun Caner's past deceptions - most notably his gross "performance" at the 2007 training session of U.S. Marines that has led to Caner's copyright infringement lawsuit against Jason Smathers -  as the man to lead the institution. And I'm certain that the many female and minority students at Brewton-Parker would not appreciate Caner's past use of ethnic and racial stereotypes from the pulpit.

Mark Lemprecht and all Georgia Southern Baptists whose money helps support Brewton-Parker - are right to be upset and I hope they let the trustees at the college know of their concern over the possibility of an Ergun Caner presidency at Brewton-Parker.

If you would like to express your concerns in advance of any possible announcement on Caner, click here to get the email addresses of the school's administrators. I'm sure they would be happy to pass your concerns on to the Board of Trustees and the search committee.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nothing Like the Pious to Tell You They Are Praying for You, the Lowly Tax Collectors and Critical Bloggers

"The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18:11-14
Daniel Darling, the "Vice President of Communications" of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission posted an article this week entitled "Five People We Should Pray About, Even Though We Don't Want To".

Who are the "five people" that Daniel says "...are the sinners Christ most likely would have sought out to save, the people we should, at the very least, pray for"? Who are the worst of the sinners, that even professional Christians like Daniel don't want to stoop so low as to pray for them? Well, included in the list of five are "highly critical bloggers and commentators". Yours truly - and all you critical commentators - we're number 3 on their list.

This church actually took the article and made it one of their banner scrolls this week so their pious folk would know who the five worst sinners are and who are in need of their urgent prayers.

Why do "highly critical bloggers" need the prayers of the pious religious folks? Well, according to Daniel we are:

"..angry, self justified people"

"..people God wants to rescue from themselves..."

"..using the Internet for vile purposes..."

Well, Daniel, sorry to tell you, but most "highly critical bloggers" as you call them are not like the "ruthless Ninevites" as you make reference to. We are Christians, we are following God's will for our lives.We are daring to call out the wickedness in the modern church that has been overrun by professional religious men who have turned the church into a money-making bonanza, some making it a family business.

We don't need God to rescue us from ourselves - we are working hard to help people be rescued from lying pastors who twist scripture and use Jesus to build religious empires and enrich themselves.

So Daniel, thank you for your prayers for us lowly sinners that most Christians today by your own admission don't even think we're worth praying for. And those of you who have been called at your church to pray for the five people you don't want to pray for, thank you, but you might best use your prayers to pray for the pastors about whom we write - and pray for yourselves, that your own eyes will be opened.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What it Looks Like When an SBC Mega Church Pastor Shakes Down His Congregation - Steve Gaines Strikes Again

Leave it to Steve Gaines to once again preach a whopper of a tithing sermon in this season of tithing madness.

His sermon on November 3rd, 2013 really was a shake down. Merriam-Webseter defines "shake down" as:

"The act of taking something (such as money) from someone by using threats or deception."

Gaines uses both threats AND deception in this sermon to try to convince his members they must give more to the church, else bad things might happen to them for "robbing God".

Gaines uses Malachi 3 to tell Christians at his church that the thought of "robbing God" scares him - with the obvious implication that those who don't tithe should be scared not to give 10% to his church. Watch the video.

I sure wish more Christians would wake up and see how terrible this is for a supposed "Man of God" to try to deceive people who really do believe the Bible, who really do look at him as a man sent to help them understand the Bible. He infers something bad will happen if they don't tithe, that they can't be intimate with God, and they can't fully worship God - unless they begin giving 10%. These preachers want to tell us that God loves us, and God forgives and forgets our sins - but that he also will work with "the devourer" to hurt us if we don't give 10% to the preacher's church. Which is it? They want us to believe God is some sort of mafia boss that collects on what he is owed. They make the gospel into "bad news".

Gaines then goes into great detail to brag about how HE has tithed every bit of his income his entire life, since he was cutting yards in Dyersburg, Tennessee as a little boy. If only the people would be as holy as Steve, they too could be as blessed as he is. Show us the tax returns, Steve.

And so ironic really: that of ALL the people in the building that morning who might possibly be "robbing God", it would be Steve himself. I mean if the people are giving money to the church, because it is God's money to do God's will - who is the one in the building who is taking most of it for himself to spend as he wishes? It is Steve himself who is taking hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to live a rather lavish lifestyle.

Lastly, Steve throws out this humdinger:

"If you can't trust God with 10% of your money, are you really going to tell me that you can you trust him with your soul?"

So you might not even be capable of being a Christian, of trusting God for salvation, unless you give 10%. That is spiritual abuse. It is a shake down.

People of Bellevue Baptist Church, I'm sorry that this preacher does this to you in your own church. I know that for several decades you had Adrian Rogers as your preacher, and now you have to put up with this nonsense.

But let me ask this question to you folks at Bellevue:

"If you can't trust Steve Gaines to be truthful regarding your finances, how can you trust him regarding matters of your soul?"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Steven Furtick's Brother Goes into Attack Mode: Calls WCNC Reporter Stuart Watson a "Two-Bit Hack", "Coward", and "Half the Man" Furtick Is

Sad to watch this unfold, but Steven Furtick's brother Matt Furtick has gone on the offensive to defend his brother, using his Twitter account to make terrible accusations against WCNC reporter Stuart Watson.

Here is a sampling of the many bullying Tweet's Matt Furtick has posted since Stuart Watson's expose on the finances of Steven Furtick and Elevation Church began on October 22nd. By the way, WCNC aired the fourth part of Watson's pieces, exposing some of the contents of a confidential Elevation Church financial report.

Yes, attacking the manhood of Stuart Watson. How Christ-like of Brother Matt.

Just a tad bit aggressive, almost threatening. Matt, Stuart is an Emmy-award winning reporter, and I don't think your biased view of him carries much weight.

Oh yes, the old "coward" accusation. I heard that so often back in 2007 and 2008 - along with "man up". 

Steven Furtick's wife Holly sent a "Reply" Tweet to Matt's Oct 23 11:40 pm Tweet:

Again, that is Holly's October 24th reply to Matt's October 23rd Tweet calling Stuart Watson's report a "joke", a biased piece with "no factual information". After Holly seemed to publicly endorse Matt's characterizations, he then became more aggressive on successive days in attacking Stuart Watson on Twitter.

Matt Furtick describes himself as not being "affiliated" with Elevation, but says that he does attend when he is in town. Perhaps he helped Steven write the "Hey Haters" script?

I certainly understand Matt wanting to defend his brother, but this is just over the top to accuse a reputable reporter like Stuart Watson of being a "hack" and a "coward" - even questioning his manhood. 

But this is standard fare when a person dares to ask questions about the finances of a mega church and the pastor.

As you would expect from Stuart Watson - who by the way has won three Emmy's for his investigative reporting along with three Peabody awards - he is taking the high road. In Stuart's Twitter feed I see only one direct response to the bullying of Matt Furtick:

Stuart, thanks for showing the grace and kindness that Jesus would show to those who are attacking him. You are the Christ-like example. Not the pastor and his brother, sad to say.

And Steven and Holly - you might want to reign in bro. Matt. He's really going off the deep end on some of his Tweets.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Message from the Pew to the Pulpit: The Expressions of Disgust from Church Member When Lied to About Tithing

In the comment section of the Robert Morris shakedown article a few weeks ago,, a Watchdog commenter posted a very insightful comment. I have copied and pasted it below in its entirety.

Pastors, please read it. I don't endorse everything said, but this comment I think expresses the frustration that many of your church members have when you lie to them and try to convince them that they are some how obligated by God to give 10% minimum of their income to your church as a "first fruits" offering - before even paying for their bills or giving to the poor. They see your efforts as having nothing whatsoever to do with God, but instead as a means of raising funds.

Church members like this one are fed up with it, they see through your tactics, and they see the unbiblical and illogical nature of your argument.

And worst of all, you're driving people away from the faith that you claim God called you to preach about. You've turned the "Good News" into "Terrible News" in your quest to raise revenue for your organization.

So go ahead again this year, pastor, and try to shake down your church members, attempting to convince them that there is an obligation to give 10%, and that blessings await them at the 10% giving level, and that the devourer will eat it if they don't give it, so best to go ahead and just fork it over.

Or try something else this year, pastor. Admit to your congregation that tithing 10% is NOT required. Tell them that the "devourer" is not going to eat their resources. Tell them God is NOT waiting to poke holes in their purses unless they fork over 10%. And tell them to be generous, and to give to the church what they purpose in their heart to give. I think there is a verse that says something close to that.

"Anything I have that could be construed as a blessing from God, is not from any local 501(c)(3)church that I attended. My ability to earn wealth came from the degrees I earned from the University of Florida. They also are a non-profit that raises millions of funds. Yet they never threaten me with words like "curses", or saying I am not a Christian, or telling me "you would not have that job if it were not for us" or "this is where you went to school, you owe us support." No, they simply inform me of all the good they are doing and the needs they have, and I respond out of gratitude and understanding and logic and reason. They raise billions doing it this honest and upfront way!

Who do I owe my ability to earn income from more: my local church I went to once a week for an hour or two, or my university where I invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to earn a degree that gave me job skills to find employment?

And health? My family doctor, or local hospital, don't send me solicitations telling me I owe my health to them, even though logically they could, right? Why would the latest pastor down at the corner church claim I should give to his organization because my health is good. Might my primary care doctor, who actually examines me and prescribes medication and diagnosis based on his earned doctorate, have a greater claim? Of course.

And my children's "blessings" and future? Again, my investment and support in giving them the best education I could, and their years of hard work and academic achievement, isn't that what gives them hope and a future for financial "blessings" in the future? Or is it the pompous ass preacher giving a history lesson once a week that is deserving of monetary donation as a thank-you for my children's success?

Think about it! Who do you call when you are sick? Your doctor? Who do call when your power gets turned off? JEA [power company]. Where do you go when you need money for food, clothing and shelter? Your job.

The church offers history lessons, fables, and TAKES your time and money from your family. It never GIVES YOU any. But it sure does give your pastor, and his wife, and his son, and daughter-in-law lots and lots of money, health care, car, clothing, etc. So yeah, they do owe it all to the church. So they make tithing a priority and tell you to give to their family and business before you give any to your own, or to the poor and needy.

And finally, what about your parents. Was it not THEM, that loved you, sacrificed for you, and provided you with food, clothing, shelter, love, care, teachings on life, etc. Yet they did it not expecting you to give them even one half of one percent of your income for the rest of your life! Honor them with your first fruits if you feel compelled to say thank you to someone or to God. Not the local 501(c)(3) on the corner you just love to attend once a week. I mean, what parent would put that kind of guilt or logic on their children? But we are supposed to believe that is what God wants us to do? Really? Or is it just what the CEO running your church wants so he can have a bigger campus, more staff, or more money?

No wonder Christians are viewed as non-thinking, illogical, gullible human beings."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Problem With Furtick Not That He is Wealthy, But Accumulation of Wealth Occurred BECAUSE He is a Pastor

Over at Pajama Pages, an anonymous commenter "Josh" posted a lengthy comment that was worthy of featuring here. Below is the comment in its entirety, with some highlights by me.

But first a few comments of why I really like Josh's post.

Josh's comments below touch on some of the issues of why this blog began in 2007. I had my own eyes opened up to the same sort of thing: pastors made wealthy simply BECAUSE they are pastors. Pastors who view the church as a business - THEIR business - THEIR FAMILY business. They hire marketing consultants, they use the church resources to build their own brand, to sell their own goods. They view Christians as customers, as impersonal "giving units" who generate revenue for their godly pursuits.

And good people allow it. They defend it. They encourage it. As Josh says, the mentality is that if something is good for the CEO/pastor, it is good for the church. And people who give the money are not allowed to see the details of how it is spent, especially on CEO/pastor compensation. If you scan the early days of this blog, what Josh writes about are concerns I had in my own church, and I couldn't believe that good people in a good church would allow this sort of thing to go on. I figured if more people knew, they would do something. Thus the blog.

I was wrong. And that is why Steven and Perry and Ed will keep on trucking. The consumers are brand loyal. This will be a very minor speed bump for Steven. The only question is: is this business ("church") model sustainable in the long run? As James Duncan wrote yesterday, perhaps not.

Lastly, in a strange way I might give MORE leeway to Steven Furtick and Perry Noble than I would most other celebrity mega church pastors in this: at least Steven built his OWN business ("church") from the ground up, with ZERO members. He just didn't come in behind other pastors and assume the throne and the perks, be anointed the king and get a sweet land deal and immediately build a huge house and put his family on staff and turn the church into his own family business.

Steven has built quite a successful business, and feels he is justified in making lots of money. In his response to the congregation, he emphasized how he started the church with just 4 families.

It is Steven's business, he started it, he is the CEO.

Here is Josh's post:

The problem with Furtick isn’t that he’s rich, or even that he’s a rich pastor. The problem is that he’s rich because he’s a pastor. If professing Christian Steven Furtick started a successfully bakery, retail store or construction company in 2006 that was incredibly successful, so much so that he could buy a 3 million dollar home, few would criticize him for enjoying his earnings. In fact, the world and people in the church generally look favorably on successful Christian businessmen. No one questions how Truett Cathy spends his Chick-fil-a money, for example.

The problem is that Furtick and others got their money by turning the church into a business. Pastors like Furtick are obsessed with business leadership because they fashion themselves as the CEO and identify more with celebrity CEOs like Steve Jobs than with non-celebrity pastors. Decisions are made by the CEO to build the brand, to create a larger customer base, to increase the giving margin, and to expand into new opportunities. Church personnel decisions are made in the same way. Is the youth pastor growing the youth brand? Is the worship pastor stylish enough? While such decisions are constrained at some point by biblical considerations…they aren’t going to hire a guy who publicly rejects the bible…the biblical standards of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 aren’t really considerations. 

This creates two problems, though. One, churches aren’t businesses and aren’t supposed to be run as such. There is nothing wrong with Macy’s developing a non-fraudulent pricing and promotional strategy designed to extricate consumers with as many spending dollars as possible. Macy’s should offer products and services designed to produce high margin income. But churches aren’t businesses. The pastor shouldn’t spend time developing (or more likely purchasing from consultants) “offering talks,” or message series, or coaching services, or conferences with a goal of increasing the church’s income. The church shouldn’t be selling books and tshirts and lattes and bibles or anything else. God’s house is not a house of merchandise!

So when the Furticks of the Christian world stand up and talk about money (and they talk about money a lot!) it sounds a lot like Macy’s running television commercials for their two-day after Thanksgiving sale. When they preach on tithing (a subject on which bible believing Christians can easily disagree), it sounds self-serving because it is self-serving. Is it Furtick the preacher of God’s word talking, or Furtick the CEO of Elevation Church, Inc. talking? Nothing has changed in two thousand years. A pastor cannot serve two masters.

The second problem is the conflict of interest between the company (the church) and the CEO (the pastor.) Former GM CEO Charles Wilson reputedly once claimed that “What’s good for GM is good for the country.” (A misquote, but that’s not the point here.) Celebrity CEO Pastors seem to believe that what’s good for the Lead Pastor is good for the church. That’s why they freely write and promote books on “church time” and bring in other celebrity CEO pastors to “teach” (with undisclosed and sizable speaking fees). Does Furtick invite Craig Groeshel to teach for $____ because Groeshel brought in Furtick to teach at Lifechurhc for $_____? No one knows because it’s all a big, big secret. Is the five week sermon series on “Sun Stand Still Prayers” for the edification of the church, or to promote the CEO’s new book, which is conveniently for sale in the church bookstore. Building the CEO’s profile will help him sell books, increase his demand as a guest speaker, and feed his ego. But does it benefit the church? None of your business.

The clear conflict of interest is exacerbated by an utter lack of accountability. Sure, if Furtick gets caught sleeping with his cute personal assistant (which has happened in at least two smaller CEO-style churches I’m aware of), he couldn’t salvage his position. But no one from inside his inner circle is going to question his business dealings, his use of church time to work on and promote his books, his purchase of his own and friends books by the church, his speaking fee at churches with mutual relationships, or his promotional choice of message series. Anyone from the inside who did ask such impertinent questions would suddenly find themselves on the outs, and in a personality driven organization, loss of access to the leader is a dire sanction. Outsiders in the media or blog may ask questions, but they won’t get answers. And the rank and file members will stay on and keep giving.

Josh is so right: outsiders in the media or blog may ask questions, but they won't get answers.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Steven Furtick Has a "Walter White" Problem: What Do I Do With this Boatload of Cash?

Readers, if you want to read the most important article written so far analyzing the Steven Furtick mansion issue, please read the analysis of Dr. James Duncan at his Pajama Pages blog.

Duncan explains what Steven's root problem is regarding his money: he has a "Walter White" problem. Walter White is the main character of the hit TV series "Breaking Bad" who had gained so much money from his side business, but yet he really couldn't spend it for fear of the source and magnitude of his fortune would become known. Get the picture? Read this article, it is masterful.

You might say who is James Duncan? Well, James is a blogger who dared to write some articles that were mildly critical of Perry Noble and NewSpring church about 4 or 5 years ago. His family then suffered much at the hands of Noble's minions who sought to harass and harm Duncan, including the disruption of an adoption an attempts to get Duncan fired from his position at Anderson University - and it led to a lawsuit settled earlier this year.

Duncan probably more than any other person has experienced the ugliness of the cult-like mentality that exists in churches like Furtick's and Noble's, where followers view critics as the enemy. They view themselves as God's agents to protect "God's man", and Noble's preaching during this period against bloggers fueled his followers actions against Dr. Duncan. Like me, he has gone through the grueling process of suing a mega church, and the legal discovery process that ensues. Like me, Duncan has sat down face to face with these men and their minions, and watched them answer questions posed by their lawyer. What you see on the platform ain't what you see of these people in real life - both Duncan and myself can attest to that.

And Duncan did prevail, choosing to settle out of court for an undisclosed amount of money for the very real damage done to he and his family.

Duncan is an excellent writer - he is a professor of Communications at Anderson University, and he knows what he is talking about in these matters. And he has more to add to the Furtick saga, so stay tuned to his blog.

Read his Furtick analysis - and his conclusions at the end are some that I really hadn't considered before: the likely outcome of all this money being dumped in the laps of these seeker-friendly celebrity pastors.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Caner - Before and After 9/11 Shots

Below are two pictures of Ergun Caner, courtesy of the Twitterer @caner_repent.

At left is "Butch Caner", or "E. Michael Caner", before the tragedy of 9/11.

At right is the transformed Caner, who now goes by "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner".

Before 9/11 I never saw the George Costanza look-alike on the mega church circuit. He was not famous. He was just a guy who grew up in Ohio from three years of age and became a preacher.

Just a few weeks after 9/11, my former pastor Jerry Vines brought the new version - not Costanza, but the new "former terrorist" version - into my church, and told us he was trained in Islamic Jihad, and he said:  "until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September".

And the trained terrorist said it with an accent and rolled r's. And he told us he couldn't speak good English in high school.

We were tricked. Bamboozled. We were preyed on, out of our fear from the events of 9/11, we wanted proof that our faith was real, that our faith COULD protect us, that it could change even one of those evil terrorists. And our pastor obliged, and presented what we so much wanted.

But it wasn't real at all. It was fake and contrived, right there on the platform of our church.

And thus was born "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner".

The more time passes, the more sickening and surreal it all seems.