Life Church only received $5 – $10 million in taxpayer PPP funding

Earlier today, the federal government threw journalists, activists and propagandists a little bone and released the names of every entity that received an SBA Paycheck Protection Program “loan” in excess of $150,000.

Like any hardworking person looking for social media likes and attention, I quickly scrolled through the list to see what interesting / outrageous / funny things I could find. This is one made me literally LOL:

Yep! Life Church was able to secure between $5-million and $10-million in what will likely be a forgivable government loan to pay 451(!) employees, and a few other expenses, for a few months. Following that math, it would lead me to believe that LifeChurch.TV brings-in (at least) anywhere from $30-million to $60-million dollars in tax-free revenue each year. Nod your head with me if you now think you’re working in the wrong industry.

Although pointing out the hypocrisy of #WWJD megachurches – and how they always seem to worship the almighty dollar more than the actually almighty Himself – has been a hobby of mine dating back to when I was a smart-ass student at PC West High School in the 1990s, thus explaining why I wasn’t very popular in high school, I’m willing to cut LifeChurch.TV.INFO.NET a little bit of slack on this one.

This isn’t just because TLO was the recipient of a much much much much much smaller PPP loan that we needed to make it through the pandemic, but…

1. Life Church operates more like a business than a true non-profit. Even though the church – like a lot of US corporations – doesn’t pay any income taxes, it would be wrong to not allow them to rip off taxpayers during a global crisis like everyone else.

2. Pastor Craig’s designer denim is expensive! Seriously, you don’t expect Craig to walk out on stage wearing a pair of ill-fitting Lee’s, do you? In fact, I believe it’s in Luke where Jesus said “Blessed are those who wear the darkest and shiniest of all denims, for they truly knoweth my word’s meanings.”

3. They’re not the only megachurch to gobble up funds:

Life Church’s biggest rival – Crossings Church –  got between $2-million to $5-million. In fact, a quick review of the database shows that at least 100 Oklahoma entities with “church” in their name show up on the list. I would tell you more about that list and those churches, but performing the search on my computer locked up Excel.

Anyway, I’m going to restart my computer and go through the list of 13,000+ business again. I tweeted about a few more that caught my eye, but we’ll have a more thorough report later this week.

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65 Responses

  1. The difference between a megachurch and a country club is simple. One has a golf course and one doesn’t. I suspect many of the megachurches have a better bar.

    1. Or at the very least a better coffee bar

      1. This revelation made me sad. My church doesn’t pay income tax yet received a 10 million dollar loan? .seems unethical to me.

        1. They also gave away millions helping our neighbors. Including $6 million to help 4000 families pay off medical bills. They are doing good things.

  2. They deserve it. Theirs is the biggest cross on I-35!

    1. That cross was built when the original church was built. It was called MetroChurch , pastored by Richard and Marilyn Hogue. They had his and hers luxury cars and lived quite well. Things went well til they tried to start a church in California and did some investments in cattle . Something he did was illegal. Did time. Now he works in much humbler church settings.

  3. What a crock of shit! Crowe & Dunlevy right under them? Hell, where’s Chesapeake ?? And they’re worried about checks going to dead social security residents. What a f***ing waste! 121 days!!

  4. Wonder if any mosques got free money? Kinda doubt it.

    1. Jim, re: mosques

      3 businesses with the word mosque in their name received PPP loans in the U.S.

      42 businesses with the word synagogue.

      7,009 businesses with the word church.

      For every Jewish person in America, there are 48 Christians. For every business with the word “synagogue” that received a PPP loan, 166 businesses with the word “church” did as well.

      For every Muslim person in America, there are 70 Christians. For every business with the word “mosque” that received a PPP loan, 2,336 businesses with the word “church” did as well.

      1. Tax exempt churches receiving free money from the taxpayer???

  5. I will say that Crossings has donated many funds to schools and has taken part in philanthropy in other areas. Not sure about Life Church.

    1. Wouldn’t it be nice if schools were sufficiently funded by the state so that they need not rely on donations from the likes of Crossings?

      1. Schools applied for these funds/loans as well. You are correct in that schools should be much better funded because they educate and care for our most valuable resources!

    2. As a former member of Life Church I will say that they provide tremendous outreach and support in all the communities they serve, as well as to international causes like Samaritan’s purse. They also created the You Version digital bible app and give away all the content for free, it’s been downloaded into numerous languages and downloaded almost 500 million times. Additionally, they create all kinds of other resource materials that they provide for free to hundreds if not thousands of churches across the world. My new church in Texas uses their children’s materials every Sunday.

      1. And how does this justify a tax-exempt “religious” organization taking money from the Federal Government (yes, taking, as this so-called loan will be forgiven?

      2. Samaritan’s Purse? Isn’t that the hateful Franklin Graham’s organization?

        1. Yes,He and that Osteen Fraud are both getting Rich from it

      3. Exactly zero of the “contributions” you mention justify the cash-grab by Craig Groeschel and his cabal of crows that will take food and other resources from the table of those who need it the most. I can guarantee you that nobody struggling to keep their business open and pay their employees gives a single flying fuck about Life Church’s digital bible or free church resources. You should be deeply ashamed for defending this garbage.

    3. Life.Church is abundantly generous to the community and nonprofits.

      1. So they will be using taxpayer money now to make their donations?

        Sorry. This use of PPP funds still smells bad.

    4. Churches should not be donating to school and schools should not be donating to churches. The separation of church and state is enshrined in our constitution for a reason( to preserve our constitution against the churches takeover of our government). When the framers of our Constitution were considering what it (our country)should look like, they looked at the failed governments ( theiocracies) before and how religious wars ( over centuries) played an important part in there demise.The churches enjoy tax exempt ( non profit organization) status and should not get any monetary help from the federal government nor should the government accept monetary from churches.

      1. So under your logic, should churches be barred from donating to federal relief efforts for disasters? If a tornado blows through a town, should churches be banned from offering support or use their sites and resources to provide relief until the federal government leaves?

        Separation of Church and State means that the government can’t promote or show favoritism to one belief over another. It does not mean that church and state can’t acknowledge the existence of each other. The founders wanted a society where neither government nor religion would tread on the other, not one where they could never interact.

  6. Could you please put the link up to the business that got PPP?

    1. Try this:

  7. If ANY company should KNOW how to manage their money… it should be a non-profit. Screw the masses. What the hell would Jesus do? Asking for a friend.

  8. Capitalism defined as red in tooth and claw mode.

    Consider acceptance of the hallowed with the legions denied unemployment funds. Fair and egalitarian society–Imagine That.

  9. This doesn’t seem right. But the 451 (!) employees who won’t be laid off need to pay the rent like everyone else.

    Still, I hear faint echos of people claiming that the secular government is hostile to religion.

    Churches will regret taking this filthy government money. Wait and see. And it won’t take long.

    1. I’m not so sure they’ll regret anything. They have superstitious legislators and judges working overtime to fund tax money earmarked for education into their indoctrination centers.

  10. This is pretty funny because I remember when wife church started as a Bible study group I was a part of it in the 90s and I also went to BC West high school so this is pretty fucking funny to me to see how it has evolved and the definition of what a mega churches if you see a ATM in a church you were run I don’t understand why people haven’t fucking gotten that yet excuse my French but people need to pull their heads out of there you know what I can get it together this is crazy!! Thank you so much for your post .

  11. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:18–25).

    And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:13–15).

    I shur wished I had me more money! Secretary-woman, get on the communicatin’ DE-vice and arrange fur us to have lots more money! That’s right, from the guv-mint! Also, do you remember where I parked my Ferrari? (Pastor Craig, 2020)

    1. You do know that “the eye of a needle” is a location in the Middle East that has a narrow entrance, right? God blesses those who use their wealth for the good of the kingdom. King Cyrus was a great example of how God used a wealthy king to help and influence others.

      1. Nope, not true. This myth has been promulgated for ages but there was no Eye of the Needle gate in Jerusalem, or anywhere else. Do a little research that doesn’t involve just overtly Christian sites. This is just a way for people with money to wriggle out of the burden that that Bible verse puts on them.

      2. Nope. When will American Christians start caring as much about actually following the teachings of Jesus instead of just appearing like they do? Jesus said to sell your possessions and give them to the poor. The first Christian community was socialist. Christianity has always been twisted to reflect the economic system of the time. We currently have monopoly capitalism so American Christianity is highly individualistic and is based on a gospel of prosperity. It’s okay to worship a Jesus who says that amassing wealth is a good thing, it’s just not the Jesus of the Christian scriptures. It’d be far easier to just admit that people like Craig use the Gospel for personal gain rather than do the mental gymnastics required to try to justify it.

      3. No, that’s false. Someone has been telling you stories and nonsense.

    2. Some will dig through the Old Law looking for passages supposedly condemning homosexuality, but ignore passages from the New Law like those quoted above. And always first in line at the trough.

      It goes like this: I know that my God is real because he hates the same people that I hate.

  12. Isn’t it amazing what you can find with a little digging!

  13. Life church has nearly 500 full time employees at their multiple locations around the United States. They were shut down, too, by the government. They also helped thousands of families that work as volunteers at the churches who were out of work and needed help with rent, food and utilities. They are also providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in food for migrant workers in Central America that were unable to find work due to covid. They are also delivering it to remote locations, sometimes by foot. They have a mega mission! These are government loans, and schools and other non profits were also able to apply for it. FYI, I’m pretty sure that Craig’s jeans and tee shirts are a fraction of the cost of most pastors suits. Not that it matters…

    1. Also Craig takes a whole $1 a year salary.

      1. Like Oral Roberts and others before him, the church buys his books from him, then re-sells them. His royalties are impressive! Who needs a salary when you can live like a monarch on book royalties alone?

        Plus, the “$1.00 per year” shtick sound good to people who won’t ask “Then how does he pay his bills?”

        1. You answered your own question. He pays bills with income from book sales, speaking engagements, etc.

          1. He also is an email lover of an oil company and has a 6 figure income from that. His net worth is 4 million

        2. Rental properties is his main source of income. the book sales are, if I remember right, split 50/50 between him and the church. Because as he said there would be no books without the church.

      2. He is not any type good quality person like Trump is. His salary is not where he makes his money. Please don’t be that obtuse to believe so.

    2. Yes, Life.Church does the same things! We are very involved helping our community and children. Involved with other organizations helping poor countries. Pastor Craig & Crossings Pastor are good friends. Love both of these churches!

    3. If their version of god isn’t powerful enough to compel the Faithful to continue donating to support those 500 employees, then it isn’t worth worshiping as a god at all. Lining up with your hand out for a forgivable small business loan at taxpayer expense isn’t a religion, it’s a racket.

  14. Looking forward to Patrick’s posts about the big government bucks raked in by Oklahoma’s “conservative” congressmen. Will voters notice or care? I doubt it.

  15. Was the PPP available to all non-profits? If so, I don’t see why religious organizations shouldn’t be allowed to apply. They still have staffs. People still feed their families working for churches. Yes, large churches can still pull in a lot of money, but I don’t see how they’re functionally different from any other organization. They’re still affected by this pandemic.

    1. I generally agree with your point. But some wealthy for-profit corporations were shamed into giving back their PPP money, even though they were technically entitled to it. It’s unlikely that megachurches will feel any such shame.

      1. I generally think larger businesses shouldn’t have gotten it as they generally should have the resources to weather a storm better than smaller businesses (whether they do or not is entirely up to them), but I do think not-for-profits are a bit of a different beast and should be looked at differently. That’s not to say all should be entitled, but I think it depends on the size of their endowments and how much it’d affect their ability to fulfill their mission.

        This pandemic has affected every sector, and the vast majority of them for the worse. I don’t really think shaming entities for applying for the loan is really prudent without knowing in greater detail the organization’s financial status and obligations. Just because someone works for a church rather than a mortgage broker shouldn’t mean their employer has access to fewer resources so that they can feed their kids.

  16. Even Patrick is thanking God for a story like this to provide more clicks and comments.

    Lifechurch is way too easy of a target for lazy atheists and agnostics to throw stones at. It is amusing sitting on the sidelines over here eating popcorn watching them throw out anecdotal statements claiming they don’t help the community or that they have a slush fund hidden under the cross in Edmond. I’m not an expert on balance sheets but thankfully we have a bunch of subject matter experts that are though. Maybe they were trying to help out some of their staff that are working class individuals that needed help or they would have gone on unemployment. Maybe they thought this would be a way to score more funds to build a new church in another old Walmart. All I know is that there are more entities out there doing the same thing and nobody has yet cried foul individually on them as well.

    1. God’s help isn’t necessary to provide cringe-worthy examples of megachurch hypocrisy and greed. The megachurches do all the work. Nothing to thank God for.

      There’s nothing “lazy” about combing through these masses of data that the government was reluctant to release. (Why reluctant?) It took a lot more work to research and write this article than it did for to write your superficial comment.

      Did you ever consider that there are plenty of Christians who are also critical of what they perceive as megachurches’ abuse of religion for profit? My guess is that the majority of “atheists and agnostics” don’t much care about what megachurches do.

      We expect for-profit entities to game the system. They are in business to make a… profit! So please pardon anyone who thinks that churches should maybe conform to a higher standard. How naive!

      1. The only person that is naive is the one that doesn’t think everyone is out to game the system in some shape, form, or fashion.

        As far as for writing the article, Patrick didn’t go full Woodward and Bernstein on this. The data about who received funds was already being passed around on twitter early yesterday. He picked up on it, took the file, opened it in excel, filtered for “church”, lit a doobie, and wrote a few words based on what he saw in the file for LifeChurch. He wasn’t scrounging the treasury office looking for leads on this wearing a fedora like you’re imagining.

        If there is factual information about a specific organization (Christian or otherwise) that is responsible for wrongdoing, then I’m all for calling this out which may or may not be the case with this instance. But saying, “oh all those LifeChurch people are terrible, I was cut off by one in traffic once” is ridiculous anecdotal trash. You also can’t classify all Christians based on one anecdote either.

        1. Everyone? Even Lifechurch is out to game the system? That’s the point.

          It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

    2. So the whole point of your comment was to say that “all I know is that there are more entities out there doing the same thing and nobody has yet cried foul individually on them as well?”

      The fact that you’re casting your atheist and agnostic strawmen as lazy is supremely ironic. FOH with with your whataboutism.

  17. Good thing they didn’t have 50 more employees, because > 500 means it’s not a “small” business anymore. But there are lots of ways to get around who counts as an employee these days.

    1. I bet the team that bedazzles little crosses on the back pockets of Craig’s jeans are 1099.

  18. I saw that the Ayn Rand foundation got a govt hand out too. Churches that pay no taxes, wow.

    This is a country that can’t afford universal healthcare, even adequate virus tests or protection for the hospital workers. In a pandemic BTW. People facing eviction, food lines.

    1. Even the Ayn Rand Foundation? Wow…

  19. The early bird catches the wiener. Lots of jealous, butthurt people wish they’d applied, but that was too much trouble.

    Wear your masks, normanite sheep.

    —and that silly creature who represents ward 6 in OKC. Holy fuck. Smh

  20. Formerly attended this church, volunteered at this church! Shocked and appalled!!! They donated money all over Oklahoma in June to the tune of around a million +….could they not have used THAT to pay their staff or idk PAY OFF THE LOAN??

  21. But also let’s remember the church profits off the people. There are 34 in the country alone…..and the over 50,000+ people that worship also tithe to the church…….The church gives back to the community using the tithes that church goers give. These tithes then go towards funds for financial assistance, crisis assistance….they help people and give right back, they also continue to build and grow so they can continue their work.

    Life.Church CREATED a software that allows the broadcasting to be done from remote locations, very expensive stuff (paid for by tithes) when this pandemic hit and quarantine/stay at home orders took place Life.Church made that software available to ANYONE AND EVERYONE for FREE! Of course we all know not everything is free….somebody had to pay for it….so Life.Church took the bill on that as well.

    Yes that’s ALOT of money but also you must remember….they give right back to the people….they pay their employees even when the church wasn’t operating due to the pandemic and I believe that even though my dad couldn’t physically be at work….as everyone should cause life is a fucking struggle sometimes.

    I don’t claim any religion so please understand I’m not coming at this from a fogged POV but from a factual standpoint on what it is they do….who cares about Craig’s jeans lol.

    Also, I mean this post with my upmost respect as well. Not trying to start anything here.

  22. Guess only Satanists, atheists and pedophiles can have money. Life church has donated more than $2 million dollars to local food banks, hospitals and other organizations during Covid as well as helping local churches get online so their members can congregate at home during this “pandemic”. Not to mention the many hours of time that church staff and members have freely donated to help make our neighbors lives better. So instead of judging another person’s heart, maybe you should ask… What have I done?

  23. Have you thought for one second how much of that money was spent on charitable work? Did see what Samaratin’s purse did in Central Park? Guess who donates millions to that. This post is ignorant . What is wrong with the church making sure they are able to pay their employees , just like anyone else had the right to do? Why don’t you write about something of substance instead of trying to blackball a church that does more for humanity than your ignorant column with every even be capable of dreaming about.

  24. Here is my take on the same matter. I am the executive director of the Center for Religion in Public Life at Phillips Theological Seminary.

  25. So, because they work for a church, the employees don’t deserve to have their paychecks protected during a pandemic? Just making sure I understand what you are saying.

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