Megachurches and ministries—including some rocked by controversy and scandal—are receiving a second round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans.
In January, Harvest Bible Chapel received a $2 million PPP loan. In 2020, the megachurch received more than $2.5 million.
Also in 2020, Harvest gave its disgraced pastor James McDonald over $1.2 million, despite a church audit that found McDonald had misused $3.1 million in church funds for personal use.
Harvest’s Chief Information Officer has also been charged with stealing $262,000 from the church.
In March, Ed Young Jr’s Fellowship Church received $1,520,345, the same amount it received in 2020.
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Recently, Young sold his beach house for a reported $5.5 million. Additionally, over the past 11 years, an employee of Young’s church embezzled over $1 million in church funds.
Loans totaling $1,147,593 have gone to Hillsong Church and its subsidiaries this year. Hillsong has been the target of numerous recent scandals.
Former Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz resigned last November and admitted an adulterous affair. Several Hillsong pastors, including Lentz, have been accused of spending tithe money to support their lavish lifestyles. And Hillsong’s Dallas campus recently closed indefinitely after the misuse of funds became public.
In April, Relentless Church, pastored by televangelist John Gray, received $1,062,500. Last year, the church received $1,250,000 from the government.
Also last year, Gray admitted he was unfaithful to his wife for at least the second time and the church renewed a property dispute with another South Carolina megachurch.
In 2018, Gray purchased his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini. That same year, the Greenville News reported that Gray was living in a $1.8 million home that was bought by Relentless. Church leaders said the Relentless-owned home was needed “to attract a leader of Gray’s caliber.”
The PPP loans were intended to help small businesses and non-profit organizations retain employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet many have gone to large megachurches and Christian ministries.
In December, the Trinity Foundation reported that at least $78.6 million in loans were given to religious TV networks, independent religious TV stations, TV preachers, and churches/media ministries with national TV programs. Trinity added that the total would exceed $82 million if churches with 24/7 streaming channels in the same class as television were included.
The forgivable loans have attracted an alarming number of scammers. Two cases involving religious organizations have received significant media attention.
MinistryWatch reported that ASLAN International, a ministry in Florida, received an $8.4 million loan and then purchased a $3.7 million home. And The Roys Report reported that Maryland pastor Rudolph Brooks Jr. purchased 39 cars after his church received a $1.5 million loan.
So far, $740 billion in PPP loans have been approved by the Small Business Administration.
2021 Paycheck Protection Program Loan Recipients:
Associated Christian Television System – $185,026
Harvest Bible Chapel – $2 million
Total Living International operates Total Living Network – $221,100
The Relentless Church led by televangelist John Gray – $1,062,500
Hillsong NYC LLC – $710, 877
Hillsong Events LLC – $207,919
Hillsong Channel LLC – $228,797
Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association led by televangelist Richard Roberts – $369,235
Churchome led by Pastor Judah Smith – $1,570,313
Fellowship Church led by televangelist Ed Young Jr. – $1,520,345
Barry Bowen is a researcher and writer with Trinity Foundation. Jackson Elliott contributed to this article
20 thoughts on “Megachurches Receive Second Round of PPP Loans”
They wouldn’t have the 1st clue on how to rely on God, and I suppose it’s because He’s on the outside looking in.
+1. If everyone in the church were simply generous toward God, the church wouldn’t need public funding.
Why in God’s name would peoples’ religion be EVER publicly funded??? This is a complete violation of the USA constitution – and is pathetic that people would think otherwise.
PPP “loans” are indeed public funding. These churches applied for, and received, public funds.
As I said…it’s a good gig!
All the fancy, overpriced buildings that we have built for the misplaced ambition of men and their need to be celebrity preachers will soon come to an end.
All your bigger barns
Are not the answer
All your bigger barns
Mega church pastor
All your bigger barns
Will come crumbling down in the end
How ‘bout we set a torch and then
To all your bigger barns
You can drop the “Mega-Church” model on Rick Warrens door step, he IS the man that mainstreamed this unholy, worldly “church”.
In regards to this article, Rick Warren did not take government money, and advised against church’s doing so. “Government shekels leads to government shakles” is how he puts it.
Now do the PPP haul of tax-payer money by the Roman Catholic Church in America. As of February 2021, they’d “… received at least $3 billion from the paycheck program, AP found.” https://apnews.com/article/small-business-public-health-health-coronavirus-pandemic-philanthropy-db3872b0e7885c324592e49f84c9b2f9
You Evangelicals got chicken feed!
(You need a bigger lobby! Remember, Je$u$, Inc., is big business!)
“Church leaders said the Relentless-owned home was needed “to attract a leader of Gray’s caliber.” Perhaps they should rely more on the call of God than money. This is visceral corruption at the highest levels. Not just in the pastor, but in the entire leadership structure.
Bill, I was also puzzled by that comment about attracting someone of “Gray’s caliber.” Maybe they were referring to his low caliber.
Churches: We’re not like other businesses! Don’t tell us what to do!
Also Churches: We’re just like other businesses! Give us money, too!
How else are these “organizations” going to get those expensive, high end wrist watches for their “leadership”.??
The EIC – hard at work
So church is a business now….
The Son of Man had no place to rest His head
I am curious having never applied for a PPP loan myself.
What financial information did the pastor/treasurer of the church write down on the application for assistance from the PPP loan?
How was the amount of the loan determined?
Was the financial information forwarded to the PPP department truthful and honest and not overstated in any way?
Do the church members get to see or receive transparency from their pastor and elders about the circumstances how the PPP loan landed up in the Church coffers?
The applications were made through the church’s bank. The church would have to provide some proof of payroll and utility costs. Not all churches or organizations received the loans requested. Keep in mind the significant income loss many churches faced, since some members were out of work, therefore had less income to tithe.
“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote – where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference – and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”
[Remarks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12, 1960]”
― John F. Kennedy
When the government gives money it can place demands and restrictions on the use of that money. I would not be surprised if the government were to decide that if a church took a PPP loan that they could not refuse to hire someone that did not conform to the religious beliefs. The government now has its foot inside the door of the church.
Tithe money? There’s no such thing.
Now, in regard to donating money to your local church; be intelligent. But don’t be intimidated.
Would like to know more about the $5MM that went to Joyce Meyers Ministries in MO.
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