First, there are the delusions of grandeur that come at a cost to the congregation. Both couples counted on the strength of people's faith and their willingness to trust their religious leaders to do their best to live moral and ethical lives. Second, both couples benefited materially from those faithful -- who, in the case of LOVCOGIC, were willing enough to believe that their charismatic pastor had indeed effected a miracle -- that somehow, just in the nick of time, when the coffers were completely empty, God blessed them with more money to continue construction of their beautiful new church. That the money arrived via fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, and not by divine dispensation I doubt ever occured to anyone in the congregation. Certainly there were suspicions, but when voiced, rapidly and thoroughly squelched by Pastor and Mother Hayes.
So, on the backs of the faithful and the tax payers, here is what Squarebanks' own Bakker-esque couple achieved:
- a Mercedes and a Jaguar (admittedly used), because a former mayor "deserves a mayor car"*,
- a Rolex for him, gold and diamond jewelry for her,
- clothes, manicures, trips, geegaws for them and their family that yearly outstripped by several orders of magnitude their mad money budget allowed by annual earnings and savings,
- a plasma TV,
- an ornamental lighthouse (with operational light and fog horn) in front of
- a new 1/2 million dollar house, trading up from their more modest home of roughly two decades,
- a new truck,
- a 21,000 square foot church complete with the James C. Hayes Fellowship Hall,
- a church sound and projection system a la the megachurches,
- a $2K fountain out front same church, and
- enough musical instruments to back up the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
It's never good to sit at the ringside of someone's trainwreck, even a trainwreck of their own making. This was a church built by family -- the father of Mother Hayes, and it had and probably still has a devoted and solid congregation. Not only does the congregation suffer from the fallout of the transgressions of its leaders, but so does a wholly unrelated entity.
Because the collateral damage in this little PTL scandal was Love In the Name of Christ, or Love, Inc... a small social services organization that does a lot of good in this community. It has suffered from the similarity in names (which the fly on the wall is not wholly unconvinced was coincidental) -- as many who were unaware that there were two different "Loves" assumed Love Inc. was the one under investigation by the FBI.
Pride goeth before a fall... an axiom Pastor and Mother Hayes would have done well to have remembered.
* Jim Hayes, during testimony