Posted Nov. 19, 2007 – Mingled in with all the recent news about mega-minister millionaires is an oft-forgotten message about how even the mighty must bow humbly before the Lord. Take the latest reminder that he – or she, in this case – “who is first shall be last.” High-profile, self-proclaimed prophetess, Juanita Bynum, is tardy, again, on her property taxes for her sprawling $4.5 million estate in south Georgia.
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The Ware County Tax Assessor’s Office says that the 48-year-old TV preacher owes a juicy $31,869.39, which was due last Wednesday, on the Waycross , Ga. property. The skipped payment marks the second time in two months that she has missed the tax deadline on the luscious 30-acre, lake-view, crib, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. As BET.com reported last month, Steve Barnard, the county’s tax chief, has threatened to auction off Bynum’s property if she does not make good on her agreement to make timely payments. The tax office did get a check a month ago for $33,000 in mid-October – but it was from her church, not Bynum’s personal account, Barnard says.
Bynum says her estate was purchased as the seat of Juanita Bynum Ministries and the Mt. Olive Country Spa for Christian women who need a place to ponder, pray and be pampered. By missing her Wednesday deadline, Bynum was hit with $318 in late fee for November; another $3,186 will be added on in penalties if it goes 90 days without being paid, the Journal-Constitution reported. The minister’s publicist, Amy Malone, said she didn’t realize the taxes were late again.
Bynum is featured on the cover of the December and January editions of Essence magazine’s two-part special. In the cover story interview in the first installment, Bynum says that she cried for two days after she lost her home and husband. The once powerful pastor, who had built an enviable empire among televangelists, recently filed for divorce from her husband of five years, Thomas W. Weeks III, who is also a minister. In late August, he was charged with aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and simple battery following an altercation with his estranged wife in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel. Their wedding, which cost more than $1 million and featured a 7.76-carat diamond, was televised and featured in Ebony magazine.
But Bynum’s troubles are not the first by a Black celebrity preacher to make the news in recent days; they’re not even the first among Georgia Black celebrity preachers. For nearly two weeks, fellow Atlanta-area mega-church pastors Creflo Dollar and Bishop Eddie Long, both African Americans, have made headlines after being targeted by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa , who wants to take a look at their finances after getting tips about their extravagant lifestyles. Dollar, pastor of World Changers International Church , acknowledged last week that his church raked in some $69 million in contributions last year. He noted, however, that his gleaming Rolls-Royce, gorgeous tailor-made suits and otherwise lavish lifestyle has nothing to do with the money plated by his parishioners. Others targeted by Grassley are Pastor Bishop Eddie Long, whose humongous New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is also in Georgia; Texans Tofik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn, and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland; David and Joyce Meyer of Missouri; and Randy and Paula White of Florida. Neither Hinn, the Copelands nor the Meyers are Black.
In a separate issue involving another Georgia pastor, Jeff Witcher, who heads the 1,500-member mostly White Alpharetta First Baptist Church near Atlanta , is on administrative leave with pay after being charged with simple assault and obstruction of a 911 call following an altercation with his wife last week.
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