Athletes and Evangelists Cross Paths

ball on top of money

On ESPN, John Barr  did a special on rich athletes who give large sums of the tithe to their churches. The videos of the excerpt and a link to the ESPN article are posted below. First i will get into the dissection of ESPN’s article, and then at the bottom, i want to share a personal testimony about how this topic kind of hits close to home for me.

On ESPN, Randy White, one of the Evangelist vipers, gave an interview and said,

“I still teach biblical principles. I don’t care who you are, I’m gonna teach that you have to be a tither. Once you start becoming a member of this church, you must be a tither”]

So, let’s just say i can get past the point that people believe tithing is a principle. What i can’t get past is the point that you must be a tither in order to join God’s Church; and how you would even consider that a principle let alone biblical? Is the Church a country club, that has membership fees? Did Jesus tell the 12, “If you want to be a part of my little group, then donate a tenth of your fish to me”?

“Several former Without Walls members and staffers, some of them professional athletes, have spoken out against White’s prosperity message, calling it the “gospel of greed” and questioning whether their flamboyant former pastor targeted athletes . . .

A lot of guys are brainwashed,” a former NFL player, who once attended Without Walls, told ESPN on the condition of anonymity. “They’ve been told to honor God, you’ve got to give.”

Dear Mr former NFL player,
You have more friends than you know of if you just come out of the closet and openly warn others about these vipers. Hundred’s of thousands have your back.

Dear Former Without Walls staffers,
We need you to stand up. Where are you? Where is your voice?

Sincerely,
Mr. Ticked off

“I think people feel like you get up to preach for gain,” White said, referring to his wealthy lifestyle. “If I were in the ministry for gain I could make a lot more money outside of the ministry.”

You are a self righteous, pompous, egocentric, narrow-minded, pretentious, conceited, prideful son of satan. How dare you loathe in your millions, and shrug your shoulders as if you could swindle millions more outside of your pathetic organization. If you were swindling money anywhere else besides a church, you would be put in a holding cell right next to the other “Bernard Madoff’s”. So no, you wouldn’t make more anywhere else.

“White entered the church’s VIP waiting room, which is covered with pictures of celebrities, including past and present professional athletes. There’s also a photo of Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson.

“I married them,” White said. “I don’t care how high-profile they may be, how much money they make, at the end of the day, people are people.””

White, you make me vomit! You don’t care about high profile people, and yet your VIP waiting room is stained with the ink from their photos on the wall. Please read on. You have to read this next quote from White, and then read between the lines and see how i explain how conniving this viper is.

“I felt I exploited them,” he said. “Looking back, I know that I did.”

In the early to mid-1990s, White said, he frequently placed the professional athletes in his church on a pedestal, parading them for the benefit of starstruck members. Athletes were given the option of preferential parking, preferred front-row seating and private time with the Whites, something that became increasingly rare for regular church members as the Whites’ collective star rose in the world of Christian televangelism.

“I found out later that they get so much exposure anyway in the community and normal society that when they come to church they certainly don’t want to be highlighted,” White said.

For a minute there you think White is admitting fault and some mistakes and feels guilty about exploiting the athletes, but then you realize what his motivation is. White realizes that he is losing athletes because of his parading practices. He finds out that athletes get all the stardom they want outside of the Church, and that athletes are attracted to the solace not the stardom. Read the next part below to see how Randy White flat out lies about money.

White: “To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever asked an athlete for money,” White said of his relationship with the athletes who attended his church.

When told of White’s comment, the former employee with knowledge of athletes’ donations called White “a liar.”

“Whenever he was talking about money or even with the tithes and offering, they targeted the athletes, because they were sitting right up front,” the former employee said.”

I want to end with this last quote from the article here followed by a personal testimony with a similar mood.

Today, however, most of the big-name athletes are absent from the reserved front-row seats they once occupied as VIP members, and in recent years the church itself has undergone significant upheaval. The Whites divorced in 2007 after 18 years of marriage. Without Walls, according to several former staffers, is mired in debt and bleeding membership. The church recently staved off foreclosure proceedings, and has been the subject of a Senate investigation into its finances. Church leaders have had to contend with the resulting media scrutiny.

With that note, here is a personal testimony of mine. About 2 years ago, I had attended a large church in which 3 NFL stars were active members of. I know that each one tithed. At the time, the church was racking in some pretty nice dough. Originally, the church was renting a small facility, that had low overhead, and small operating costs, then of course the light bulbs turned on and they started dreaming about owning larger and more beautiful facility that they were able to afford at the time. To make a long story short, the church moved into a 15 million dollar facility that made the monthly payments around $70,000. As soon as the church moved in to the new facility, one athlete retired, another one was traded away to another team, and then the other one left.

Talk about having anxiety about your mortgage payments after this all happens in about 6 months time from moving in.

For every service that i attended for the next 6 months, 10 minutes was the average time that was spent talking about tithing or giving. This is not an exaggeration! Sometimes it would be half the service, sometimes most of the service. Other weeks it was tossed out of the lips one or two times like it was a joke, but with that much debt and anxiety, it was no joke. I can not remember a single service where tithing was not mentioned outside of the prayer for an offering.

To make matters worse, 6 out of the 8 church leaders left within a year. I am positive that all the leaders left because they felt this material vision was not from God. In the end, the tone of the “senior pastor” bestowed feelings of betrayal and abandonment.

Since then, the pastor has hired on his 2 sons who were barely out of college to run a large majority of the church. Which, in the long run puts the church in even more jeopardy, because of the lack influence and accountability outside of the family boundary. I guess, after feeling abandoned by the other pastors, the “senior pastor” decided to build a security wall for himself and put his children under his authority, which in turn would not stand up to disagree with him.

I could go on about this and dig more into the ramifications, but i just wanted to share a personal example of the dangers we fall into when we happen to put our security in things or people other than God.

Read the ESPN Article Here.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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2 comments on “Athletes and Evangelists Cross Paths
  1. Woah, I would not have taken it there if I were you, but this is a very good blog post. Maybe you will allow me to post a guest blog to express my thoughts about the other side of this subject.

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