On September 25th, 2014, multi-award winning “gospel” artist Shirley Caesar posted a video on her Facebook fan page, asking supporters to help her pay off the mortgage on her church-building, Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A little over a year ago, on December 12th, 2013, the same request was made on Shirley Caesar’s Facebook Fan page.
When the request was initially made on December 12th, 2013, many Shirley Caesar fans did not believe that it was her. They thought that Shirley Caesar had more integrity and dignity than that and would not use social media to financially solicit people. Many of them assumed that it was a scam artist impersonating Shirley Caesar under a fake page in an attempt to defraud people of their money. However, Shirley Caesar’s team confirmed that it was not a fake page, and that the post came straight from her office. Read the comments in the image below.
It’s interesting that when the initial request was made, before everyone knew that it was Shirley Caesar’s official Facebook fan page, many people believed that the post was a scam. They were cautious and wary of sending money, and rightfully so. Some of them were even warning others not to donate money to what might be a fraud.
But once Shirley Caesar’s fans knew that the post came from her office, especially after Mrs. Caesar herself appeared on video, her fans went from being cautious and wary — to being gung-ho in support of the mortgage burning, promising to send money, and jumping on anyone who questioned or criticized Shirley Caesar.
Why the sudden change of mind? Why did so many Shirley Caesar fans flip flop from being against it to being all for it? What made them switch from being cautious and refusing to send any money, to supporting a questionable fundraiser and attacking anyone who took issue with it?
Respecter of persons and idolatry.
It’s no secret that respecter of persons is a big problem in churchianity. The more famous, rich and talented you are, the more credibility you have and the better you are treated by professing Christians. It’s sad and shameful, but true.
If an unknown person asked professing Christians to help them pay off their mortgage, it would more than likely be seen as a scam and they wouldn’t receive very much support. But if a rich and famous ‘pastor’ asked professing Christians to help pay off the mortgage on a church-building, it would be seen as legitimate — even with very little to no documentation or financial transparency — and thousands of professing Christians would rush to donate believing that they were doing the will of God.
This is respecter of persons and idolatry (man-worship).
Are You A “Platinum Sower” Or A “Wood Sower”?
On the Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church website under “events”, it says:
“Mortgage Burning Campaign
10/13/2014Pastor Shirley Caesar and the Mt Calvary Word of Faith Church Family Invite you to be a part of The Mt Calvary Word of Faith Church Mortgage Burning Campaign.
Become a Sower:
__Platinum Sower: $10,000
__Gold Sower: $5,000
__Silver Sower: $2,500
__Bronze Sower: $1,000
__Iron Sower: $500
__Copper Sower: $250
__Brass Sower: $100
__Nickel Sower: $50
__Wood Sower: $________
Whatever you can give to be a part of this Mortgage Burning Campaign will be appreciated and The Lord Jesus Christ will bless you!! You can make your pledge gift offering on the website under Online Giving by clicking on Building Fund. More details and events will follow.”
As you can see, Shirley Caesar has different levels of sowers based on the amount of the donation.
Ten thousand dollars is a “Platinum Sower.” Five thousand dollars is a “Gold Sower.” Two thousand five-hundred dollars is a “Silver Sower” and so on and so forth.
Many of us know that platinum is more valuable than gold, gold is more valuable than silver, silver is more valuable than bronze, with wood being the least valuable on the list. What type of message does this send? The more money you give, the more valuable your donation? There are different levels of “sowers” based on how much money you donate? Can anyone show me in Scripture where Jesus or the apostles placed people on different levels based on how much money they gave?
If the dollar amount doesn’t matter to Shirley Caesar and “whatever you give will be appreciated”, then what is the purpose in creating a hierarchy of sowers based on the amount of the donation? I fail to see the heart of God and the teaching of Jesus anywhere in this.
In fact, in Luke 21:1-4, “Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow throw in two small copper coins worth a penny. He said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than them all. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had to live on.”
Based on Shirley Caesar’s ‘sower hierarchy’, the poor widow was a “Wood Sower.” But in the eyes of Jesus’, the poor widow was the biggest giver. She received greater recognition than the title “Platinum Sower” — her offering was recorded in the Gospels for people all over the world to read about from generation to generation.
Man tends to look at the dollar amount, but the Lord looks within our heart.
Shirley Caesar’s hierarchy of sowers is the complete total opposite of Jesus’ perspective on giving. It elevates those who give more, and belittles those who give less. It also appeals to a person’s pride and selfish ambition by motivating them to reach for a higher level of “sower” by giving more money. The Lord looks at our motives when we give, and if we’re giving a certain amount to take pride in the fact that we’re a “Platinum Sower” or “Gold Sower”, we’re not giving for the right reasons out of the right motives. God loves a cheerful giver — not a prideful giver.
Why Is A Multimillionaire Begging People Who Have Less Money Than Her?
This is probably the most obvious question that many people have.
Shirley Caesar has a net worth of $16 million dollars. So why is she asking people, many of whom are probably living from check to check, to help her pay off the mortgage on a church-building?
She claims that the mortgage is a “burden” on her. Well, if the mortgage is a “burden” on her and she’s worth $16 million dollars, then it’s even more of a burden on those who are living from check to check and struggling to afford food, running water, electricity, gas, health care, day care bills, and pay their own mortgage or rent.
Shirley Caesar claims that she cannot pay off the mortgage by herself. Unless the debt exceeds her net worth, that’s not true.
A multimillionaire does not need to ask people with less money for anything. The audacity of shifting the “burden” onto the very people who bought her albums and made her a multimillionaire is cold-blooded, oppressive, and exploitative.
How Much Is The Debt?
I don’t see any financial documentation of the total amount of debt posted anywhere. Why would anyone with common sense and an ounce of discernment feel comfortable and confident donating to pay off an unknown amount of debt?
It seems to me that if someone is soliciting donations from the public to help pay off a mortgage, then he or she would provide the public with financial documentation showing the total amount of debt.
It’s pretty bold, and also hypocritical, for religious leaders to ask people to help them pay off the mortgage on a church-building or any other expense, and provide no financial documentation whatsosever.
I know from personal experience that when people go to local churches for financial assistance, they have to provide financial documentation as evidence of their urgent need(s). Yet when some religious leaders have a so-called “need” or want, they expect people to send them money even though they don’t provide any financial documentation to the people they are asking.
Fair is fair. Financial accountability and financial transparency are a two-way street. If a leader or religious organization requires people to provide financial documentation before they decide to help them, then that same leader or religious organization should provide financial documentation before anyone decides to help them.
Without financial documentation of the total amount of debt, how will people know for certain how much the debt is? How will they know when or if the debt has been paid off? Are they just suppose to give in ignorance and take Shirley Caesar’s word for it because they like her music? Where is the financial transparency?
The Mysterious Building Fund
In the “black community”, there’s a saying that “You know you grew up in a black church when there’s been a building fund for twenty years and the building still isn’t paid off.”
This saying might make some of us laugh, but all jokes aside we know that this is a real issue in some churches today.
Take for example Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church. On the official website under “Online Giving”, there’s a donation button for the building fund.
My question is, how long has Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church had this building fund? What year did it begin? How much money has been collected so far and where is the financial documentation?
In the 2013 fiscal year, how much money went towards the building fund? How much money went towards personnel expenses, administration expenses, facilities/occupancy expenses, programs expenses, discipleship, charity and local/global missions? Financial documentation of these expenditures would reveal how donations are spent, whether the bulk of donations are spent on what matters most to God, and whether donations are being allocated responsibly.
Once again, without any meaningful financial transparency, I don’t see how anyone with common sense and an ounce of discernment would feel comfortable and confident forking over their hard-earned money. There are just too many unanswered questions about the building fund. How do people know that the money they donated towards the building fund wasn’t mismanaged and spent on other things?
“God Gave Me A Vision To Buy A Bigger Building“
“Caesar also feels she has a calling to the elderly and would like to use 46 acres of land that she has for a family life, senior, and activity center. Although there is no funding currently in place, Caesar has no doubt the project, titled Calvary City , will become a reality. “The Lord gave me this vision and it will come into fruition in my lifetime. God’s going to do this.” (September 2005, Boom Magazine)
So we’re suppose to believe that God gave Shirley Caesar a vision to buy a bigger building (a 1,500-seat facility) , 46 acres of land, a family life center, and a senior and activity center. . . even though the current building is in debt?
Some people would say that Shirley Caesar is “walking by faith” or “believing the vision God has given her”, even though God’s word cautions us against going into debt and overextending ourselves financially.
If you had trouble paying off the mortgage on one property, would you make plans to build a larger more expensive property? I wouldn’t.
In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus said, “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’”
In this passage, the Lord was talking about the cost of being His disciple. However, it also provides practical wisdom that we shouldn’t commit ourselves to something without counting the cost first. Otherwise, we may find that we have overextended ourselves and don’t have the resources to complete the task. This definitely seems to be the case with Shirley Caesar and her dream project “Calvary City.”
Being that Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church has an outstanding debt, then why devote resources to an even bigger and more expensive property when the current building isn’t paid off? Why not hold off on thinking about a new facility and pay off the old one first?
Saints, don’t be fooled every time a religious leader says, “God showed me” “The Holy Spirit told me” or “God gave me a vision to do this or that” — especially if they’re asking you for MONEY.
We have to use common sense and discernment. Just because someone says that God gave them a vision doesn’t mean that He actually did — even if it’s someone you love and respect. These four words “God-gave-me-a-vision” don’t override the word of God which cautions against debt and tells us to count the cost.
If God truly gave the ‘vision’ for the first building, then He would have provided for it and there would not be an outstanding debt.
I believe that many religious organizations are in debt and going into foreclosure, because they overextended themselves financially, did not count the cost first, and were not led by the Lord when they made themselves slaves to lenders (banks) trying to obtain properties that they couldn’t afford.
With all of these church-buildings shutting down each year, I believe the Lord is speaking to His people loud and clear, but many are not listening. Maybe He didn’t give them the “vision” to take out loans and go into debt for church properties. Maybe, just maybe it’s the lusts of the flesh, religious empire-building, greed, or zeal (to “build something greater for God”) without knowledge.
Don’t Send Shirley Caesar A Dime. She & Her Rich Friends Can Pay It Off With No Problem
If you were a multimillionaire, and you were close friends with other multimillionaires (and even billionaires), would you be on Facebook asking random people (many of whom are probably poor or below the poverty line) to help you pay off a mortgage? I wouldn’t.
IF, and I mean IF the debt exceeds Shirley Caesar’s net worth, all she has to do is ask her multimillionaire and billionaire friends to chip in and it would be no burden for them to help pay it off.
T.D. Jakes for starters, is a multi-millionaire. I’m sure he can afford to help.
Oprah Winfrey is worth $2.9 billion.
Many other “gospel” and “inspirational” artists are multimillionaires.
Why burden people who are struggling financially with paying off the debt on a building that no one lives in (including God) when Shirley Caesar and her wealthy friends could pay it off with ease and still live comfortably?
I know that many people love Shirley Caesar and consider her the fairy godmother of “gospel” music, but she does not get a free pass on this. It is wrong on multiple levels, and I really wish that people would use more discernment and common sense before they give away their hard earned money.