Former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president Johnny Hunt, who’s accused of sexual assault, frequently talks about his humble beginnings.
“I was in poverty, raised on welfare and government projects . . . I don’t ever want to forget where God brought me from,” he mentioned in a sermon this past Sunday.
He owned just one suit when he accepted his first pastorate, he added.
Now Hunt leads a far different lifestyle, records show. Research by Barry Bowen of the Trinity Foundation has revealed that Hunt and his wife own three homes, including a beach house in the Florida panhandle.
Trinity Foundation exists to “expose religious fraud and excess” in order to keep organizations accountable for donor funds. Bowen, a staff investigator with the foundation, told The Roys Report (TRR) that “really expensive homes can show that there are possible examples of excessive compensation.”
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Bowen said he discovered Hunt is one of more than 20 pastors who own a home within a mile of a beach.
Bowen added he is still working through a list of 300 pastors and televangelists to document their property holdings, so the number of pastors with beach houses could rise.
Property records show the Hunts purchased both the beach house and their primary residence in Georgia within the last five years.
The 4,400-square-foot home the Hunts have declared their homestead sits on about three acres in the woods outside Woodstock. It last sold in 2018 for $950,000, Cherokee County property records show. Real estate websites estimate it’s now worth upwards of $1. million.
Hunt and his wife also own a modest single-family home in Woodstock, according to county property records. That’s estimated to be worth around $350,000.
Then in 2020, the Hunts purchased a beach house in the Florida panhandle for $925,000, according to Walton County property records.
A market listing at the time called the 2,288-square-foot beach house one of the area’s most popular rental properties, with a gourmet kitchen and room to sleep up to 13 people. And thanks to skyrocketing Florida home values, it’s now worth an estimated $1.7 million.
It’s unclear whether any of the properties are rented to other people. Hunt did not respond when TRR reached out through his ministry website to ask for comment.
Bowen suggested that pastors may be looking for some privacy by getting second homes out of town.
“But would Jesus do that?” Bowen asked rhetorically. “Would Jesus have three homes? I mean, the Bible says in one place that Jesus had no place to lay his head.”
“And are they really being faithful to God if they’re living in a multimillion-dollar home?” Bowen added.
A quick return to public speaking
Hunt does not have a church pastorate. He was removed as pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church Woodstock, near Atlanta, after allegations came out last May that he had sexually assaulted a woman. Hunt also resigned as a senior vice president of the SBC’s North American Mission Board just before the allegations surfaced.
A blockbuster report exposing sexual abuse and cover-up within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) found the SBC pastor’s wife had made “credible” claims that Hunt had sexually assaulted her.
But last November, about six months after the report’s release, four pastors declared Hunt had completed a restoration process and was fit for ministry again.
Bowen said Hunt likely receives honorarium payments in exchange for his preaching and conference appearances.
“The money could help him afford his lifestyle,” Bowen added, though he doesn’t believe it’s Hunt’s main motivation for embarking on a ministry comeback.
A cached version of Hunt’s website shows his speaking request form listed payee information for honorarium checks and travel expense checks as recently as December.
It’s unclear whether or how much Hunt personally benefits from honorariums. Honorariums were to be made out to Johnny Hunt Ministries, which reported paying Hunt no salary in its newest available federal tax filing.
Hunt’s ministry website also offers numerous materials for purchase, like books, conference recordings, and curriculum packages. The ministry’s tax filing shows the ministry brought in more than $100,000 in income from inventory sales.
It’s unclear what income, if any, Hunt receives in royalties from his materials. His newest book was published through Harvest House Publishers, not Johnny Hunt Ministries.
Correction: This article has been updated to accurately state Hunt’s past role with the North American Mission Board.
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.