O Come All Ye Tasteless: the Prayer Palace Mothership Connection
Just whose plastic palms have been getting watered? That's one of the questions being asked as the Star continues its investigative series into the doings at the Prayer Palace on Finch West:
A Toronto mega church whose spending practices were questioned in a recent Star investigation has hired a public relations firm specializing in "crisis communication" and launched an internal financial probe, a spokesman said yesterday.
The audit launch comes one week after the Star published a story on the Prayer Palace as part of an ongoing investigation into Canadian charities. With a 3,000-member congregation, the Prayer Palace is one of the largest churches in Canada, but spends only a small fraction of its income on charitable work. Instead, some of the charity's most highly touted programs are paid for by many of the church's working class members, whose lifestyles stand in sharp contrast to those led by church leaders.
Head pastor Paul Melnichuk and his twin sons, junior pastors Tom and Tim Melnichuk, each own multi-million dollar estates north of the city, they share a waterfront vacation villa in Florida and drive luxurious cars, including Porsches, a Lexus, a Mercedes-Benz and BMWs. The pastors have refused repeated requests for comment. Reporters were told that written questions submitted to the pastors via the church regarding their properties and other possessions were "not related to charities."
No further explanation was given.
I'm shocked. Truly.
The Star's digging isn't going down so well with some of the hardcore parishioners:
"You have touched God's anointed! Be careful! Be careful that you don't drop dead one of these days," shouted one caller who identified himself as Roger.
Other callers said that to ignore their warnings would be to invite tragedy into reporters' lives, including leprosy and possible physical harm.
One caller issued a death threat; another called a reporter a "Mormon ... a racist."