Irish Prosperity Gospel Church Collapses Under €18 Million Debt
An Irish church that encouraged followers to tithe more by preaching the prosperity gospel has collapsed.
The Independent reports that Victory Christian Fellowship trustees are "reeling" after they blocked the Bank of Scotland from repossessing church property, prompting a contempt-of-court order that almost sent them to jail.
Victory Christian's dramatic downfall began last year, when the church lost its tax-exempt status because it engaged in too many commercial activities. "The decision sparked the Bank of Scotland to appoint a receiver over its loans of €18million," according to the Sunday World.
When receivers went in to take charge of the Victory Christian's three main properties last week, however, they found themselves blocked by church members and staff "staging a sit-in." That led a judge to hold pastors Brendan and Sheila Hade, as well as trustee Gerry Byrne, in contempt of court—an order that could have sent the church leaders to jail, if it weren't for a last-minute agreement to hand over the properties after all.
But Sunday World also reports that the church, "which took one tenth of its followers' wages, was run like a personal bank for its pastors (including the Hades and Byrne)." The tithes from church members, which amassed more than 1 million Euros each year, directly benefitted the Hades.
CT previously has covered the topic of prosperity gospel teaching, including the Lausanne Theology Working Group's 2009 statement on the "unbiblical notion that spiritual welfare can be measure in terms of material welfare."