Monday, October 21, 2013

Gimme That Old Time, Profitable, Religion

Why didn't some guidance counselor in my past recommend that I attend divinity school? Did they fail to see the potential profit to be found in religion?

Not my Catholic faith, of course. There's too many vows of poverty in Catholicism to turn it into a lucrative field, especially with the new Pope promoting poverty once again. You won't see your average priest driving a Porsche, right?

No, the money is to be found in that old time religion, the hellfire and damnation preaching that brings in the political clout. That's where the real money is.

John Abercrombie is the latest example of the lucrative practice that makes some Chicago-based ministers very weatlhy.

He started out as a simple minister with a simple church in a depressed section of the city. The Apostle of Truth & Deliverance International Ministries attracted a congregation but the Reverend was not satisfied. He could do more than just preach. He could outreach.

His desire to do good for his community drove him to buy some run-down apartment buildings. To be able to get a mortgage takes money, so clearly he was getting ahead thanks to the donations of those he put in the pews at this church.

At some point, he realized that the government was giving away money to those who wanted to help the commuity. In a perfect merging of government and private interests, he too was keen to lift up the people from whom he also sprang. So he applied for the grants and endowments and gifts and freebies that were available. Then he did some clever bookkeeping to move money around and see to it that a good percentage ended up in his pocket.

What better reference did he need than his ministry and the political clout he gained by getting out the vote for those who would use their office to help him in return? No one bothered to check up on his activities. The IRS filed a lien against him for back taxes, but that was not related to the administration of the grant money.

What became of the one million dollars he received?

It wasn't put back into his rental units, many of which were without heat or water because Reverend Abercrombie didn't pay all the bills. Some were rat-infested, some were falling apart. They were slums when he bought them and slums they remained.

His own home, however, reflects his success at using shell companies to move the government largesse between his private accounts and those of his various religion-themed businesses. One of his employees served a couple of years in prison for her role in the scheme, while her boss managed to keep his hands clean and avoid a similar fate.

So clean are his hands that he was not subjected to a background check when the City of Chicago handed him a big check for what was purported to be a job creation project in the Austin neighborhood. Funny thing. The fast food restaurant that Mr. Abercrombie built went bankrupt and closed, leaving employees without their full pay. While he continues to reside in a McMansion in Orland Park. It's a long way away from Austin where he came from, in both distance and racial composition.

If only I had gone to Moody Bible Institute, I could be rich today, my lifestyle funded by the American taxpayer.

But I'd pray for all their souls from the comfort of my well-appointed home. I wouldn't be ungrateful.

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