Friday, November 28, 2008

Rev. Armstrong's Outreach Opportunity

As my dear old colleague and friend Rev. Wango Nimblenuts mentioned in the comments on my previous post, The Doubtfully Reverend Don Armstrong has just been raided by more than 20 police in a raid which saw computers and financial records seized as part of the on-going investigation into little Donny’s creative usage of parish resources.

Now I’ve never made any secret of my admiration for a man who’s displayed some of the most innovative Christian financial acumen since Robert Schuller discovered how to join the words “crystal” and “cathedral”, but on this occasion I simply can’t hide my disappointment at the lack of imagination my fellow Conservatives are showing in their responses to this unfortunate incident.

Over at Viagraville the general strategy has been to claim it’s all the work of an evil conspiracy: while the Liberals commenting at Stand Firm show a touching naivety that a crueller man than me would find side-splitting, they also exemplify their kind’s utter refusal to engage in the most important task of all: EVANGELISM!!!

Here at St. Onuphrius’ the early days of my Ministry saw us raided countless times – but because the matter was handled appropriately - as an evangelical opportunity – everything was soon swept under the carpet where it belongs. How my heart wishes that lesser Christian leaders than myself might learn to similarly seize what are in reality golden opportunities to creatively spin a little good publicity!

The first thing Rev. Armstrong should have done was to make a public statement - from the street corner if necessary – claiming that was actually taking place was a local Police outreach service. He should then have announced a spectacular number of conversions to Jesus among the local constabulary, featuring a few lurid conversion stories concerning some of the better known (and preferably Baptist or Roman) Officers, in which lavish praise is heaped upon these men and the sincerity of their new-found faith.

By doing this one’s critics are effectively silenced from the start: anytime the raid is mentioned you can easily take the moral high-ground and accuse the speaker of slandering a mighty move of God – it wasn’t a raid but an outbreak of revival. In the process remember to never be shy about reminding naysayers of what happens to those who dare blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. At the same time you can be confident the Police won’t speak out to correctt you: no cop worth his doughnuts is going to stand up and say “No, I wasn’t repenting of all the evil in my life”; they’ll keep close-mouthed about the whole thing for fear of what you might say next.

Then the next step is to generously reward those officers who participated in the investigation, and the golden rule at this point is a simple one: don’t be stingy. Fr. Don is alleged to have snaffled over $400,000: in a case like this a responsible GAFCON leader should have squirreled away at least 10% for just such an occasion as this. After all, every business has its overheads, and effective Ministry involves paying the relevant commissions. $40,000 split between the 20 police would have made a nice little pre-Christmas bonus for each of them, and with a haul like that Fr. Armstrong could have easily afforded to throw in a few lap-dancers serving drinks and canap├ęs to the investigators. Then he’d have only needed to capture proceedings on a few hidden cameras and the hearts, souls and other less honourable organs of the boys in blue would be his – why do you think I have so many senior police in my own congregation? My preaching’s undoubtedly good – but not that good. Or for that matter, why do you think we don’t hear more about these sorts of scandals occurring in Nigeria, Uganda or Sydney? Hmmm?

I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Christian. I realize that you may find my thoughts anathema, which is your right, I tell you with total candor that I am unabashedly pro IRS..particularly in little thi gs less they seek somethi g larger. I contributed the following to the discussion at that fine
upstanding site Stand Firm which you have so cruelly denigrated and malligned. It was in response to a comment made by one of Stand Firm's most frequent and virtuous contributors
#83 athan-asi-us I am indeec aware that such benefits are provided to university personnel as well as clergy family.  My point is, unless its a scholarship open to a class of people and an arm’s length transaction, it’s a taxable benefit as compensation.  If Armstrong+ reported the funds as compensation on his return, it’s probably fine, but if he didn’t, well, I’m glad I am not he. 

Second, if the “complainer” on Armstrong+s “dipping into "scholarship funds” saw his dipping as compensation which was simply not reported to the vestry or larger church and only known by the wardens, that’s a church PR transparency issue as well as a tax issue depending on how the “scholarship” was structured.  This is a matter between Armstrong+ and the IRS. 

But it does bring up an important issue, if a “scholarship program” is to be developed at an institution, what are the IRS restrictions on its development administration and grants policy as well as the states.  If Grace St. Stephens has a scholarship, are all children of parishioners eligible recipients?  Is the decision made by a committee with no member having a vested interest in the outcome etc.  But, if the “scholarship” is to a dependent of a church staff member...well, that’s an issue.  The “complainer” whose kid may have gotten one of the scholarships has a real point and Grace’s 501c3 status may be at risk unless the transaction was totally arms-length.  In addition, if Armstrong’s “compensation” was being funded out of the scholarship fund, as if it were the salary budget line, those who had contributed to it might be justifiably miffed.
In any event, if a church is going to sponsor a scholarship fund, it needs to address how they must be structured to insure that the funds are not taxable to the recipients and that the donations it
receives are properly administered, e.g. eligible class of recipients, advertised, no undue influence on the distribution committee etc.) I’d find a good church accountant or non-profit tax consultant before moving an inch in this direction.
[95] Posted by EmilyH on 11-28-2008 at 05:39 AM •

I, of course realize as a good GAFCON rector, you have found a creative way around the obnoxious interventions by the folks from 1040ville. Would you, for appropriate compensation of course, share your thoughts. EmilyH

MadPriest said...

You state that the good father's church is down some $400000. If this is the case, surely his church can expect some sort of government bail out here. Father Don hasn't half-inched this money. At most, he is guilty of unwise speculation in an unfavourable financial climate and nobody has ever lost their job over that - have they?

Anonymous said...

As an addendum, I note Armstrong+ has clearly failed the prime directive of your GAFCON membership. "Thou shalt not get caught" He is clearly unworthy of such company as yourself.

June Butler said...

Fr Christian, if I were not convinced of your inherent goodness and nobility, I might begin to wonder if there could be a touch of manipulation and deviousness in your operations. Perish the thought! I know that you are chosen by the almighty to put us all on the straight path to the proper practice of our Christian values.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that one must be fully aware of the deviousness of degenerate preachers in order to stop the corruption and manipulation...I thank you Fr. Dr. Wizard Christian Troll for having the integrity to remain unspoiled in the face of knowing what´s what and what isn´t what...a more vulnerable person wouldn´t have a chance in Morgan Hill or beyond.

Carlotta Charmermuey Cortez-Sobel

Anonymous said...

The part of this decaying saga that truly startles me is how come old, stickyfigertips didn´t just keep playing along...why would a fraudmeister be so stupid as to make trouble unless there is no longer a healthy brain left in that oversized head...I´d love to have seen the line being crossed from rationalized thieving to outright outragious grandstanding and defending greed...many diseases are progressive and this emotionally tainted tribute to deceit takes one of the cakes...of course Orombi comes to mind as he is willing to instigate witch hunts in Uganda to cover up his blatant bigotry.

Very truly yours,

Innocent Tristander