It's a slow news day in the Christian world. Almost everything today is debates and statements, with little actual news. Not that Weblog's complaining; it's nice to have a break.
The top story today is Morris Cerullo's federal grand-jury indictment on three counts of filing false income tax returns. The indictment claims that the television evangelist failed to report more than $550,000 in income over three years, beginning in 1998.
It's not the first time Cerullo has had legal troubles over income; he was sued twice in 2000 by employees who said they were punished for raising questions about fundraising. The more prominent of these came from John Paul Warren, who said he was fired for confronting Cerullo about "unethical and fraudulent fund raising techniques."
A California appeals court in December 2001 said that the courts could not get involved in the case since it involved employment at a religious organization, and that state involvement would violate both the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. (The Supreme Court in 2002 decided not to hear an appeal.)
Cerullo, a leader in the word-faith movement, is certainly an interesting figure. He says he converted to Christianity by a woman who worked at the New Jersey orphanage where he grew up. The twist: it was an Orthodox Jewish orphanage, and the woman was fired for giving him a New Testament. Cerullo says he ran away from the home at 14, sought the woman out, was given a home with her brother, and became a healing evangelist at 25. (This from Randy Balmer's Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism.)
Though he has largely conducted his healing revivals in South America, Cerullo has in recent years turned his eye to the Middle East, preaching in Qatar, ...1
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