I'm taking a brief break from mulling over future life to point your attention to a new Kansas City Star report alleging that the "good" Rev. Jerry Johnston misused donations. This is the second time The Star has raised serious questions about the use of money by the reigning star of fundamentalist Kansas.
As with the first report, this one gives detail and quotes numerous people with firsthand knowledge of the supposed financial shenanigans.
This new report focuses on his first group, Jerry Johnston Ministries. He ran that from 1979 to the birth of his megachurch, First Family Church, in Overland Park in 1996.
For me the most poignant and frightening part of the story are the quotes from Zoe Raymonde, a former accountant for JJM. She talks about how the ministry had just received a $50,000 check from a corporation. The money was supposed to be used for radio and TV shows for the ministry, but Raymonde says that the Johnstons wanted it for their personal use.
The Star reports, but the emphasis is mine:
Raymonde said when she arrived at work the next morning, co-worker (Kim) Barr told her that Christie Johnston (Johnston's wife) had called and said they were to cut her a check for $50,000.
Raymonde said she called Christie Johnston back and told her she wouldn’t do that. Shortly after that, she said, Jerry Johnston called and demanded that she write a check to Christie Johnston.
“I said, ‘You are nuts. Do you think someone’s not going to notice $50,000 coming in, $50,000 going out?’ ” Raymonde said. “I was told I was listening to the devil, to get down on my knees and start confessing. I was told that I was going to sign that check or basically I was going to hell.
For a few moments I'd like to set aside the immorality of a pastor's family allegedly demanding $50,000 of money from the ministry for their own use. Instead, let's say that there was nothing wrong with Christie Johnston's request.
Even if that were true -- and it isn't close to right -- what is moral - ethical - kind - Christian - commonsense right about turning a dispute over writing a check into damnation? What kind of man, let along pastor, would threaten one of his congregation with hellfire for doing nothing more than disagreeing about writing a check?
If Raymonde is telling the truth, then Johnston is not only a cheat with money, he is also a cheat with religion and a poor excuse for a human being.
The Johnstons deny everything and provide an audit, an affadavit and other statements to prove their innocence.The Star report provides a convincing amount of detail and witnesses.
No matter what happened, one thing is clear: Somebody's lying.