>The Financial Troubles of the Crystal Cathedral

>In a previous post I reported that the Crystal Cathedral had filed for bankruptcy. Now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that relatives of Robert H. Schuller, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral, and other insiders have received more than $1.8 million in the year preceding the church’s bankruptcy filing last October.

Below is an excerpt of the article published by the Los Angeles Times:

Financial documents filed Wednesday in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy case show generous compensation paid to insiders and family members of founding minister Robert H. Schuller in the year before the Garden Grove-based mega-church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

During the same period, revenue plummeted, and church employees and vendors — from choral members to the livestock company that provided animals for its elaborate productions — were laid off or went without pay.

The church paid out more than $1.8 million to 23 insiders and members of Schuller’s family in the 12 months leading up to the Oct. 18 bankruptcy filing, according to the financial statements. That sum included $832,490 in tax-exempt housing allowances given to eight people and payments to all five of Schuller’s children and their spouses.

Read the article in its entirety here.

The bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral in itself was a tragic event. However, the extravagant expenditure of the money given to support the various ministries of the church is unforgivable. The profligate use of the Lord’s money to support relatives and friends is an abuse of the trust of those who gave their money to support the Lord’s work.

Mega-churches can do a lot of good in reaching people for Christ, but the wealth they accumulate at times may provide an opportunity for corruption to infiltrate into the life and ministry of the church. This embarrassing situation with Crystal Cathedral shames the work of Christ in the world. What happened there is one of the reasons the church is losing its influence in American society.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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