Feb 032015
A portion of the 2013 IRS Form 990 for Raul Ries's "ministry". According to IRS docs, Ries's household has taken home more than $1,300,000 of the money collected "for Jesus" and "ministry" from 2011-2013.

A portion of the 2013 IRS Form 990 for Raul Ries’s “ministry”. According to IRS docs, Ries’s household has taken home more than $1,300,000 of the money collected “for Jesus” and “ministry” from 2011-2013.

“Give your money to Jesus! Give your money to the work of the Lord!” the preacher bellows with passion and emphasis.

We’ve all been there, sat through the subtle and not-so-subtle appeals for money to fund the “ministry” of Jesus…and the particular Pastor and Church has this or that “need” and we are blessed to be giving our hard-earned money to them because that’s what Jesus wants you to do…to build his Kingdom and give to “his” work…which so happens to be that particular Pastor and his particular “non-profit” church corporation.

OK, fine and well…but, what happens when the Pastor is taking home over $500,000 per year of the Jesus Money?

While in many cases this may be technically “legal”…is it Moral? Is it “right” and “righteous”? Or, is it corrupt and evil and criminal from a Moral perspective?

It has come to the attention of CalvaryChapelAbuse.com that Raul Ries and his personal household take in an alarming $500,000 plus per year from his “ministry”…to the tune of over $1,300,000 from 2011-2013.

IRS form 990’s were obtained by CalvaryChapelAbuse.com and a portion is posted in this article to validate the claims.

Raul Ries isn’t the only Christian mega-celebrity to get rich from “ministry”…sources inside Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale report that Bob Coy’s salary and compensation package exceeded $500,000 per year and sources allege that Greg Laurie makes more money from Jesus than either Pastor. Even the squeaky clean Franklin Graham is tainted by the revelation of his over $1,000,000 salary from two Christian charities he “served”…so-much-so that the disclosure shamed him into cutting one of the enormous salaries…now he makes about $450,000 per year from Jesus.

According to recent studies and CNN Money, you are in the Top one percent of all American incomes if you make over $389,000 per year (averaged across the United States).  In rich states like California and Florida that number is $433,000 and $367,000 respectively. Where does $500,000 per year put your household? You are in Elite air…and that doesn’t even take into consideration the tax-free nature of this income which boosts the Real Income a lot higher.

In all of the cases reported above, only Franklin Graham is fairly transparent about how much Jesus Money he takes for his “service” to the Lord. In most cases, the mega-pastors’ mega-salaries are carefully hidden from the public eye and you have to work very hard to get the information.

Where is the line folks? Is this what Jesus and ministry is all about?

When your Pastor makes more than 99.5% of the rest of the Population…and asks you for your money…should you know? Should we care?


 Posted by at 4:14 pm
Nov 132014
Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery...both ex Calvary Chapel Pastors...take some shots...literally and metaphorically...at Religion, Politics and Culture.

Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery…both ex Calvary Chapel Pastors…take some shots…literally and metaphorically…at Religion, Politics and Culture.

Former Calvary Chapel Pastors Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery launched a new podcast aptly titled “Drunk Ex Pastors.”

As the title suggests in a provocatively blunt manner…these guys take some shots and then discuss tame subjects like Religion, Politics, Culture…you know, non-controversial things like that.

While I am politically much more conservative than the pair…I do appreciate their willingness to explore the boundaries in what is a witty, often irreverent yet intelligent manner. I don’t always agree…rarely politically…though I often agree with regards to their more liberal approach to Theology/Religion…but I always laugh and they cause me to think through my particular positions.

The podcast is not for those who are easily offended or stumbled by non-political correctness, so be warned :-)

In the episode linked below, Drunk Ex Pastors discuss…among other things…Calvary Chapel.


 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Nov 112014
Volunteer leader at Calvary Chapel West Grove arrested for sexually abusing a teen girl...unlike past bad examples within Calvary Chapel...the senior pastor at this CC franchise reported immediately.

Volunteer leader at Calvary Chapel West Grove arrested for sexually abusing a teen girl…unlike past bad examples within Calvary Chapel…the senior pastor at this CC franchise reported immediately.

Vincent Daniel Lavello, a 50-year-old Calvary Chapel West Grove volunteer church leader, was arrested and charged with one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child at least 10 years younger than the defendant and six felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, according to Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

According to police reports, the victim is a 14-year-old girl.

OC Weekly broke the story here: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/11/vincent_daniel_lavello_calvary_chapel_child_sex.php

According to the OC Weekly report, it was Lavello’s wife who first became aware of the alleged sexual abuses and then she went to the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor and reported her allegations, including “inappropriate text messages.”

The article states that the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor immediately contacted the police.

CalvaryChapelAbuse.com contacted lead pastor Brad Young. He confirmed that he did report the matter to authorities right away and did not try to handle it in-house. When asked if his Calvary Chapel franchise had Child Protection Policies in place, his reply was “of course we do” but he was hesitant to discuss the matter further stating he wasn’t excited about another article coming out about this situation.

If you have any information about Vincent Lavello you are asked to contact Garden Grove Police Detective Dave Young at 714.741.5836 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Kelly Core at 714.347.8794.

CalvaryChapelAbuse.com Commentary and Opinion:

Terrible tragedy, too common among church “leaders” and volunteers…we see this happen far too frequently in Calvary Chapel as well as other Church Organizations like the Roman Catholic Church and even institutions like Penn State University.

The message here is: It’s not a matter of “if” there are criminals and sexual abusers in our midst in the halls of church “leadership”…it is “when” will they offend…and is that church and the rest of the leadership there doing the best they can to protect kids from these predators.

In this case, from initial reports, it looks like Calvary Chapel West Grove and their pastor did what they should…they reported to the police right away. This is in stark contrast to the Elizabeth Ayub statutory rape by then Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastor John Flores….where leadership there, according to inside sources, first wanted to handle the crime in-house and send the teen girl to the Calvary Chapel castle in Austria and make things go away. This example of immediate reporting is also contrasted by reports from the victims’ family that Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia was made aware that an employ of his was molesting his two step-daughters. According to the victims and family, Grenier told them not to go to police and attempted to handle the matter in-house…which is against the laws of mandatory reporting by clergy. Fortunately, the mother eventually reported to police, the step-father copped to the molestations and the family was able to make eventual amends. The family reports that Calvary Chapel Pastor Grenier essentially kicked them out of church for not submitting to his authority on the matter by going to police.

Good job Calvary Chapel West Grove for immediately reporting the sexual crime. Unfortunately, the mindset in many Calvary Chapels is still to handle things in-house and to not immediately report, which is now a crime due to Mandatory Reporting laws. It is my opinion that Pastors like Grenier and others tried to cover up the scandal because they believe it would affect the reputation of their church and attendance and giving if it was found out that such a crime occurred at the hands of one of their leaders, staff, volunteers or pastors. Could it also be that pastors who don’t report are themselves guilty of abuse? Either way, it is very wrong.

Again, I call on the Calvary Chapel Association, the Body that hands out the official “Affiliation” to Calvary Chapel Pastors to use the name and logo rights owned and controlled by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Chuck Smith’s Estate…to implement Mandatory Child Protection Policies as By-Laws in prospective Calvary Chapel franchises/affiliates. Why is this not required? Why does Calvary Chapel continue to leave it to the individual franchise holders to make up their own rules with regards to Child Protection Policies…yet requires the same franchisees to sign off on other rules regarding doctrinal agreement, agreement to follow the rules of the Calvary Chapel Distinctives, etc?

Good examples are out there. Calvary Chapel Boise, for instance, has solid Child Protection Policies in place and maintains and executes a policy of reporting alleged abuses immediately to the authorities. Calvary Chapel Boise also background checks all volunteers, employs, pastors, leaders etc. screening for child abuse, sexual abuse, felonies etc. I have had a lengthy discussion with Pastor Bob Caldwell about what he would do in the case of a report/allegation/accusation of Child Abuse at his Calvary Chapel franchise…he told me he would take the matter seriously and would report immediately to local authorities and not try to handle such a matter in-house…no matter who was accused.

Pastor Young did the right thing by immediately reporting. I understand his hesitance and not wanting to discuss the matter and draw more attention to a bad situation…however, the story needs to be told and lessons need to be learned. This stuff does happen and, unfortunately, other CC Pastors have a history of doing the wrong thing when it does happen. Pastors, like it or not, you are on the front lines of this stuff. Most folks will seek YOU out as their pastor first, instead of the authorities. It is your job to have a plan of how to deal with these matters and to deal with them lawfully and correctly.

May Calvary Chapel find Accountability Jesus in this important area, Organization wide.

Oct 182014
Mark Driscoll, embattled pastor/founder of Mars Hill church...recently resigned for being a jerk.

Mark Driscoll, embattled pastor/founder of Mars Hill church…recently resigned for being a jerk.

Mark Driscoll, the Mars Hill founder and charismatic alpha male mega-pastor, has resigned his position as lead pastor after a very public battle with former assistants, congregants, elders and large online community of critics.

Here is a link to Driscoll’s mea culpa and resignation letter that first appeared in Religion News Service: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/15/exclusive-mark-driscolls-resignation-letter-to-mars-hill-church/

A lot of critics have been really hard on Driscoll. Here is a key portion of Driscoll’s public response:

“I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry.”–Mark Driscoll.

Driscoll and Mars Hill church had come under fire for reports by many former members, elders, employees who alleged he was basically an asshole and shouldn’t be a pastor. Initially Driscoll and Mars Hill took a stonewall approach and tried to deflect the criticism as largely “anonymous” online complainers who were bitter and disgruntled. That public response prompted a Group to name themselves and it seemed to throw gasoline on an already raging fire.

The Group “Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous” exploded onto Facebook with over 1,200 members…many calling attention to specific allegations of general douchery by Driscoll.

The media has since well-covered the resignation…and many of the Groups that criticized Driscoll have pretty much panned his resignation as insincere and not good enough.

CalvaryChapelAbuse.com Commentary and Opinion:

Critics of Mark Driscoll…what is it exactly that you want from Driscoll and Mars Hill? You want Mars Hill to erect a pyre and burn Driscoll at the stake? You want his body drug through the streets of Seattle? What?

It’s hard to be intellectually honest sometimes because it is always guaranteed to piss someone off.

In this case, the majority of Driscoll’s critics have lost their rational minds.

The man acknowledged specific sins. He resigned. Mars Hill accepted his resignation. I am, frankly, quite shocked by the public apology and the public church discipline…and more shocked that Driscoll fell on his sword and didn’t drag the thing out any further…and over him being a dick no less, not even something as serious as Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Adultery, or Financial Misconduct (though we’ll discuss that one in a bit…something might be a bit off there).

Driscoll didn’t molest or beat any kids, he wasn’t boinking his secretary or make-up artist and while he was/is paid a reportedly big salary/compensation package…there are no allegations of financial malfeasance…except one specific concern we’ll discuss shortly.

If it turns out that Driscoll’s “sin” was him being an asshole…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned. Well done Mark Driscoll. If he stops being an asshole, then he should be allowed to pastor again if he wants to do so. Pretty simple. Good example by Mars Hill and Driscoll of actually dealing with sin in a Church Org…something Calvary Chapel doesn’t nearly do.

Here’s the one caveat to my opinion above: There is a question about money that was donated to a particular mission’s fund that allegedly ended up in the Mars Hill general fund for Driscoll to spend. If that is the case…then big trouble in little China…and all bets are off. If it turns out that money was collected under the guise of “this is for overseas missions!” and then it simply went to pay the bills of Driscoll and Mars Hill…well, then, this scandal takes on a whole new light…and Driscoll’s quick resignation may be a smokescreen to take the heat off of folks digging any further into that one.

After analyzing the macro-Mars Hill/Driscoll scandal…that’s the big red flag. If there is anything more serious than Driscoll simply being an asshole…then that’s the issue they (Mars Hill and Driscoll) are afraid of…because that is the issue that, if true, could be illegal and could have much greater implications than a resignation.

Time will tell…but again, if it proves out that Driscoll’s only sin was being a douche…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned…and if he demonstrates repentance by not being a jerk any longer…then he should be restored…in my opinion.

Calvary Chapel could learn a lesson from Mars Hill. CC has seen resignations…but usually at the point of a metaphorical smoking gun to the head of a Bob Coy or an arrest like Dino Cardelli, Chris Olague, Jimmy Kempner, etc. Guys like Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia make Mark Driscoll look like a choir boy…yet Calvary Chapel stonewalls and even defends their embattled pastor and invites him to their annual official Pastors’ Conference.

Ironically, Grenier is accused of something similar to the allegations of Driscoll’s bait-and-switch. A separate Reaching Youth non-profit entity was set up by Grenier and Calvary Chapel.  A prominent area home builder, Andy Mangano, gave a large one million dollar donation to the separate charity…and got a headline in the Fresno Bee for it. According to former staff, board member and bookkeepers of Calvary Chapel…a huge portion of the Reaching Youth monies…estimated to be in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars…ended up in Bob Grenier’s general fund at Calvary Chapel Visalia…where he compensated his household to the tune of over $150,000 per year in salary/perks/benefits. Nice trick. An inside source also alleged that Matt Bixler’s law firm that handled the very precarious transaction was quite nervous about it…which in my opinion is very telling that it stinks to high heaven.

We’ll see what happens with the allegations about Driscoll’s money issue and I’ll change my opinion about his coming clean and resigning if it turns out it was just a strategy to deflect attention from a much more serious issue.

Note to Driscoll and Mars Hill…instead of doing what the bible tells you, maybe you should consider pulling a page from Calvary Chapel’s and Bob Grenier’s book and simply sue everyone in sight to try and shut them up. That seems to be a better worldly strategy to silence critics and protect an abusive pastor. Your bad. Maybe next time.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Oct 142014
bob coy tiger woods

Bob Coy pictured in a youtube video where he ironically addressed the Tiger Woods’ affair. Sources provide an update on the Coy situation to CCAbuse.

More news out about Bob Coy, the embattled long-time charismatic mega-church pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

Coy was forced to resign his position as CCFTL lead pastor after multiple affairs came to light in a very public scandal that garnered international attention earlier this year (a story that first broke on this blog).

Sources confirm that CCFTL is still on the hook for Coy’s massive salary and compensation package that “exceeds” $500,000 per year in total compensation. We will feature a story about the salary/compensation issue soon.

Coy’s wife and daughter have moved to California and his son is away as a college freshman at Liberty University, according to sources. The family is not together, which indicates a separation between Bob and Diane.

According to sources, the Coy’s Florida home is empty and for sale.

Multiple sources inside and outside of Calvary Chapel confirm that Coy completed a rehab program to treat sexual addiction. CalvaryChapelAbuse.com was emailed by several people claiming they saw Bob Coy at a Coy family-owned beach condo as recent as several weeks after the scandal first broke.

Now that Coy has completed his rehab, he is reportedly “under the leadership” of another Calvary Chapel pastor.

“Bob has left for Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he will be living as a part of the Calvary Chapel community there under the leadership of Pastor Frank Ramseur,” said a CCFTL insider in an email to CalvaryChapelAbuse.com.

Back at CCFTL, change is coming slowly, but a change in mindset is underway. There appears to be two distinct Camps…an old guard of Coy loyalists that seem to be comfortable with the status quo of the Moses Model style of Calvary Chapel leadership…and those who have been fighting for more transparency, more accountability and a shared leadership construct that de-emphasizes a mega-church pastor-led dynamic.

“…there is continued concern raised by some about a cover-up, a lack of transparency on the Bob questions, and a lack of change in the Board or Senior Leadership,” said a source. “Steps toward greater integrity and a dismantling of the Moses Model are underway but real change is not strongly apparent.”

CalvaryChapelAbuse.com Commentary and Opinion:

Let’s hope that real changes are underway at CCFTL and let’s hope the Camp at CCFTL that is pushing for more transparency and more accountability wins out. The Bob Coy story can be redemptive if the church and leadership learn some lessons and example a public repentance in how they do things. We wish the best for Coy and his family…and for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. We’ve all sinned, some of us as bad or worse than Coy. The greater sin in this situation would be for the church to double-down on mistakes from the past and repeat them again in the future. The world is watching…and the goal for CCFTL leadership should be integrity and righteousness and setting a course that honors Jesus…not simply rebuilding a mega-church and trying to find a way to bring a popular pastor back to the pulpit.

Regarding the $500,000 compensation package…that is a very concerning issue…one we’ll explore in depth. The justification for such a large salary is due to the higher salaries and compensation of big-name pastor friends of Coy like Greg Laurie, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll and others…also very concerning. Since when did the Gospel get so expensive? Since when did “Serving Jesus!” become a career and make people rich? Since when did Calvary Chapel and the evangelical church at large sell its soul to the devil of wealth and self-profit?

What are your thoughts on the Coy situation? We want to hear from you.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm