Sunday, July 22, 2007


Ethics in Action

Kansas' Rev. Jerry Johnston has a problem. The pastor of First Family Church in Overland Park, one of the fastest growing megachurches in the country, has been playing fast and loose with the congregation's money, according to a story in this morning's Kansas City Star.

There's evidence that Jerry and Christie Johnston's Overland Park house, originally purchased as a parsonage by the ministry, was sold and a lavish new house in upscale Hallbrook Farms was put into the couple's names. A number of other financial irregularities -- all of which amount to treating the ministry's money as his own -- are being investigated by the attorney general's office.

A previous Kansas City Star article reports the Johnston's live lavishly -- the couple live in a $586,400 house, with an in-ground swimming pool and high-tech security system, take expensive vacations several times a year, and drive expensive sport utility vehicles -- despite demanding that church members sacrifice financially for the ministry.

“Maybe we’re going to decide to wear the same pair of pants for a year because we’re going to honor God with our finances and we’re going to get it right,” Johnston says in a sermon titled “God’s Way to Financial Success.”

“Lordship means I seize the moment regardless of the inconvenience,” says Johnston in calling on church members to give 10 percent of their incomes to the church.

The Rev. Johnston is a staunch creationist because he thinks that evolution corrupts morals. His website features a series of "sermonars" with titles such as "Reasons the Bible is Authoritative," "The Truth About Evolution," and "Missing Evidence for Evolution."

Johnston, who used to place the title of "Dr." in front of his name, is well qualified to evaluate the evidence for and against evolution. While he doesn't exactly have the Ph.D. he once used on church stationary -- he never went to college -- he does have a GED and is reportedly working on a BA at a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jerry Falwell gave him an honorary doctorate from Liberty University.

We don't doubt the good reverend when he says that evolution corrupts morals. We just wonder about his excuse.


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