Does Shasta County Have A Spiritual Problem, Or Is It Just Me?

God

To cut to the chase for a second, I’ll admit I do indeed have a spiritual problem and I go about solving it in my own personal ways, one of which involves curling myself into a tight little ball and begging for mercy from … whoever’s out there in the universe listening.

Occasionally, I get answers. Since I couldn’t solve the problem on my own, I imagine the answers couldn’t possibly be coming from me, but I suppose some people would say they come from my subconscious, even though I believe God is speaking to me. It’s nothing worth fighting over. It works for me, sometimes.

Which brings us to the Bethel Church, headquartered right here in Shasta County. I’ll be honest, I was out of the county for a number of years before Bethel became a world-famous and somewhat controversial religion. In fact, I drove up to their compound the other day for the first time. With all the flags from different nations—North Korea’s displayed prominently in front—it looked liked the United Nations of Christianity.

This was the day before Good Friday, and as I slowly trolled through the parking lot, I swear to God, most of the dudes going out of the various ministries on this scraggly hilltop were sporting beards just like Jesus. Which to me says they’re taking their studies seriously.

My own homegrown spirituality works so well I could really care less what the folks at Bethel get up to except for the fact that for the past several months, Bethel the organization has been trying to give—not loan!–hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Redding Police Department, and judging by social media and local news comment sections, about half of Shasta County is vehemently against it.

It does indeed seem we are in a spiritual, not to mention constitutional, pickle.

Living as I do in the foothills 30 miles east of Redding, my only connection to the riffraff running the streets down there is the occasional broken down junkie camped out on the corner, curled up in his own tight little ball, ready to spring at passersby. Sometimes I answer their prayers, sometimes I don’t.

I remember one story a vagrant told me. He was balling his eyes out – his wife had left him and taken their child – and he had nowhere to go.

“What about the Mission?” I said, which was right up the street.

“They’ve got rules,” he said. Like no opiates. LOL, I did, on the inside.

I knew the dude wasn’t faking it – he really was crying – but I found it hard to feel sorry for him. The Mission was right up the street. All he had to do was crawl over there and confess.

Anyway, Bethel doesn’t take people like that, according to this story I read in Christianity Today. The newly sober junkie is apparently not ready for the charismatic gift that is about to be bestowed upon him or her at Bethel. Which seems like a pretty good policy, if you ask me. It would be silly to give miracles away.

So what I gathered from Christianity Today was that there’s a major division between Orthodox, Catholic, Protestants, Evangelicals and Charismatic creeds such as Bethel. The difference all boils down to one thing: Does God do his work here on earth, or do you have to wait for heaven for that?

These Bethel people—well, I have to say, so far I haven’t met any of them. I live in the mountains. They don’t come up here. I hear they’re very nice. I hope some of them are reading this story.

But Bethel the Christian organization donating money to our allegedly secular local government is a different story. At least, as far as I can tell on social media. I’m pretty sure most of the people commenting are Christians, and it’s pretty clear to me that some Christians are different than others.

The constitutionality of Bethel Church giving the city of Redding or Shasta County money is a mystery to me. I’m no lawyer, and frankly, when my favorite lawyer, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, recently rhapsodized about the resurrection, I had to check myself. I know this is Easter, but do I have to believe Jesus literally came back, or is this some sort of metaphysical metaphor I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around yet?

The Redding City Council will be taking up Bethel’s offer this Tuesday night. What’s the worst thing that could happen if the council takes the money? Well, assuming it’s true the city doesn’t have to pay the money back and there are no strings attached (how Christian can you get?) I think we can expect an increasing influx of people who believe God does his work right here on earth, through miracles.

In other words, instead of building cars or rocket ships, Shasta County’s main industry will be harvesting souls. Think about it. If you were in your 20s or 30s and someone told you God’s power could be at your fingertips for the low, low price of $5000 and nine months of training, would you buy it?

Sure you would.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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98 Responses

  1. Tom O'Mara says:

    Although the Constitution does not have a “freedom to donate” clause, perhaps this can fall under “pursuit of happiness” (I realize this is from the Declaration of Independence). I know RPD needs the money, so perhaps someone can explain what the problem is, as I don’t see any quid pro quo.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      My experience is most charity always comes with strings attached, even if it’s not in the fine print.

    • Christian Gardinier says:

      Freedom to donate? No problem. Tell the City what to spend it on? Problem. The Bethel Org Leadership has no problem endorsing Trump and Alt Right Political agenda so when I hear they want to fund the police, I personally get nervous. The place is ROLLING in the dough. I would love to have someone audit their books! You know, if super rich mega churches like Bethel Redding would pay taxes like most people do, the communities that support the infrastructure and services we provide the church, and communities would have more money to fund services to all.

       

  2. cheyenne says:

    Like you RV, I knew Bethel was in Redding when I lived there but it seems they gained their, do I dare say “Supernatural Feeling” after I left so I can’t really relate to them.  But growing up in Salt Lake City I know how it is living in an area that is dominated by a religion that many others call a cult.  Guess what, the world didn’t implode.

    I think the present times, everywhere, requires the reading of a 120 year old poem written by an Englishman.  “IF”, by Rudyard Kipling.

     

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Interesting comparison to SLC, I grew up in Southern Idaho where the Mormon influence was pretty heavy. That meant totally first rate K-12 education. When I moved to eastern Washington as a sophomore, the education level was noticeably lower. I have no idea if that still holds today.

  3. Common Sense says:

    I am no Christian Scholar…..but I believe Jesus message was Love Everyone?….all the people I have met over the years that attend Bethel have been very pleasant….very positive….and seem genuinely happy with their lives…and their Beliefs. No, I don’t go there….I tend to be bothered by Traditional Religions…..I do believe if I am correct that at least one of the city council members attends Bethel?

    I am a firm believer in Separation of Church and State…….and its kind of Ironic that the City Government Officials won’t consider the Millions of Dollars that legal Cannabis would bring into the fund yearly but are considering taking money from a Church???…..I guess God’s Money is much better than a Stoners?

    The “Traditional” Churches and people are very much against Bethel…..that is quite obvious……and their numbers in Traditional Churches are down!….So hate the enemy….the “Cult” as they call it……when the truth is…..Bethel must be offering something that people want….or their Numbers could not be going UP!

    So you can sit with your 12′ Satellite Dish in the back yard……talking about how great a job Trump is doing….and Blast Bethel every chance you get…..OR…… you can get rid of that old dish and get yourself some direct TV or Dish Network……and realize when your Medicare and SS get gutted….that it wasn’t Obama that did that!

    Not everyone likes progress…..but we are here to learn and grow and love…..and if your Religion asks you to Hate anyone…..you might need a new one!

    Bethel is here to stay….and will continue growing……Cannabis is here to stay….like it or not…….things change……and sometimes people don’t…….

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Not sure how Bethel feels about the cannabis. Anyone out there know?

      • cheyenne says:

        RV, regarding Bethel and marijuana.  After reading the testimonials on Bethel’s website I get the distinct feeling that the Bethelites, for lack of a better word, believe in the healing power of God with no mention of MJ.  That would seem to put them in line with other churches and not be labeled as a cult.  But just like there are “Jack Mormons” who enjoy alcohol I am sure there are “Jack Bethelites” that enjoy MJ.

        • Rod says:

          I’m gonna quote you on that Cheyenne.

          “Jack Bethelites who enjoy MJ”, sounds entirely true.  Which begs the follow-up question……What’s the official dogma?

          • cheyenne says:

            When I grew up in Salt Lake Mormons who attended church services as devout Mormons but outside church pursued unchurchy deeds, alcohol was one, were called “Jack Mormons”.  Why I don’t know but I took the liberty of assigning “Jack” to Bethelites that don’t follow blindly the healing power of God but also throw in the healing of Cannabis.

    • cheyenne says:

      Here in Wyoming they are not gutting Medicare and SS.  Church membership is up and during the last election season a few churches had tables set up during church services for people to sign petitions to put MMJ on the ballot.  That MMJ failed to get on the ballot, 70% of Wyomingites were in favor of it, was because of NORML ineptness.  The state NORML wanted MMJ but the national MORML wanted recreational MJ and pushed for it resulting in neither MMJ or MJ getting on the ballot.  23 of 25 Cheyenne churches, including the Muslim church, supported gay rights.  Churches are the main support for the homeless, turning spare cottages into homeless student housing, feeding the daily meals to the homeless and poor.  Churches fund many programs at other groups.  Regardless of some atheist attitudes, which is okay not everybody is religious, churches are here to stay.  Churches change all the time.  The Mormon Church of today is far different than the fifties.  Salt Lake City elected a gay mayor and Utah elected an African American to Congress, neither of which would have been possible in the fifties.  Churches are not going away they are just not the same churches of our forefathers.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        I get the impression that the non-Bethel Christians in Shasta County, especially the evangelicals, are down on the demon weed, associating it will all manner of evils. But it’s encouraging that one commenter has noted that Bethel provides security for beer festivals. It would be interesting to know their perspective on cannabis, since they hold so much sway, allegedly.

        • Carter Slade says:

          The question regarding Bethel’s perspective on cannabis could hold somewhat of a dark secret.  Maybe several. Hell, we might get a whole new city of Redding slogan out of this before all is said n done – Sway Does Pay

          Lets say, just for poops n giggles, someone stands up at the upcoming council meeting  and proposes- “Instead of “we the community” making ourselves look like desperate dummies, our local government appear to be grossly incompetent and to avoid possible legal pushback on the – can you even do this legally front by accepting this obviously strange “gift loan” offer, why don’t we follow Lake Shasta City’s lead and investigate the viability of either a few medical cannabis dispensaries or perhaps , again like Lake Shasta City, at least consider a few regulated Prop 64 businesses? Perhaps a little of both?  After all, as it stands now, it’s already legal to grow cannabis within the city limits right?  Wouldn’t we as a community project a better image and perhaps even feel better about ourselves individually if we were to create our own financial strategy as to providing our public safety?

          Now here comes the slippery slope. What if Councilwoman Winter’s position/vote is – “No dispensaries, no Prop 64 businesses, I recommend we go with the Bethel offer…”

          At this point someone else in the audience could certainly inquire as to – First-Is her (Winter) position/vote based on what she believes to be best for the community or does her vote reflect her position as an Elder in the same church that is offering the gift loan…? Second – What is Bethel’s perspective on cannabis and if  it is in fact considered to be out of line with Bethel beliefs, would that be Bethel Elder/Councilwoman Winter’s  reason for not considering the dispensaries and Prop 64 businesses which could result in denying our community a possible means to securing vital public safety?

          As far as Councilwoman Winter throwing down with the old reliable recusal, it may be to late.  She’s on record admitting to helping broker the Bethel offer. That’s like her saying – I opened the barn door but I wasn’t the one who told the horses to leave…

          “I’god Woodrow, sometimes this town irritates me to no end…” A.M.

           

           

      • Larretronix says:

        I knew one of the former officers at Wyoming’s NORML here in Jackson. She tried her best to at least MMJ on the ballot here, but ended up failing to do so. Very sad there. And as for Bethel, they are coming to visit here in Jackson Hole in September for a conference down in Rafter J. It’s pretty huge for us since we over in this part of Wyoming are drawing from the inspiration of Bethel as well.

  4. kerr, david says:

    I wish one of our local journalists would report a study of the economic impact of Bethel.  Is the church or members buying up houses to rent to students?  How much money does the church contribute to the local economy?  What are the costs to the economy for the church/school?  Both direct and indirect effects should be considered.

    Bethel does not seem to have an incentive to care about the local economy.  From the limited information in the paper, it seems they are an asset.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Well David Kerr, I’ll tell you one thing. After reading Christianity Today and visiting the Bethel site, which in addition to a huge paved parking lot around the complex includes an enormous overflow parking lot outside the entrance, it’s pretty clear traffic has been impacted substantially. Where exactly all the Bethelites work I have no clue. Is it a set up like the Moonies, where they run carpet cleaning services and the like on the cheap? The thing about a real financial investigation is that it takes a lot of time and money, which kind of makes it out of bounds for the freelancer. So it’s up to the local daily!

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      That kind of in-depth local investigative reporting is largely dead, David.

      Years ago the Record Searchlight ran a series of stories comparing Redding with Flagstaff, AZ.  Two similarly sized cities with histories of reliance on resource-extraction economies, distant from big cities, with Interstate highways running through them.  And yet Flagstaff was perennially prosperous, whereas Redding perennially suffered from economic ups-and-downs, with mostly downs compared with the rest of prosperous California.

      The bottom-line explanation:  Flagstaff has University of Northern Arizona, which not only provided numerous good-paying jobs, but also attracted and spawned businesses that provided good-paying jobs.  Redding had/has a community college and a struggling Bible school that runs a diploma mill on the side.

      I do know this:  A laundry list of local businesses run by Bethelites would be an impressively long list.  Were all of the Bethelites to suddenly depart (one way or the other), the impact would be economically catastrophic.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        I’m not sure what universities there are in Colorado Springs, but I do know it’s some giant headquarters for the evangelicals. I imagine their influence on that city might be similar to what Bethel’s is here. I was going to move there once for a newspaper job, but unfortunately didn’t get the gig.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I was born and raised partly in Colorado, and still consider it “home.”  Colorado Springs is my least favorite city in the state—in large part because of the huge evangelical influence.  There’s a fairly sizable University of Colorado campus there, but Colorado Springs’ famous university is the Air Force Academy.

          • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

            I recalled the heavy military presence after I commented. Yes, USAF academy, NORAD + evangelical zionists who believe in the rapture. What could go wrong?

    • Christian Gardinier says:

      Do churches have to open their books like a 501C3?

  5. Rod says:

    It’s not just you RV.  Shasta does have a spiritual problem, or blessing, depending on your point of view.  We’re rooted right on top of the Lemuria Territory.  I’ve never met a Lemurian who didn’t resent all these new and exciting religious sects.  12,000 BC things were different here in Shasta.  We didn’t pay taxes, earn money or travel Interstate 5.  Health insurance and the son of god was still in the imagination.

    On the other hand, the more religions we have the better.  Nobody is incorrect, everybody can fit in somewhere.  Besides, the business of religious factories employ uncountable hoards of deploreables who might not otherwise be of usefulness.

    So yeah, keep on asking the tough questions Bud, we’ll figure it out.

     

  6. kerr, david says:

    When neoplatonic paganism was in decline, Christianity competed with the cult of Mithra, the cult of Isis, Judaism (which did not seem interested in spreading to the Roman empire), Zoroastrianism, etc.  Christianity prevailed because its morality was attractive.  It took time, but the status of women was better in  Christian morality than the others.  Christians eventually ended slavery and gladiatorial spectacles.

    In John’s gospel, the first person the risen Christ spoke to was his follower Mary.  The story is one of the few examples of humor in scripture.

     

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      LOL Mary thought the risen Jesus was the gardener.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      An alternative hypothesis is that Christianity prevailed because it retained Judaism’s monotheistic insistence that there was just one God and His intolerance of sharing the spotlight, married to an aggressive recruiting agenda, which Judaism lacks (but Islam doesn’t).

      I spent a summer in Japan when I was 19, where I got my first exposure to Buddhism.  While talking to Japanese people about religion, I was asked several times to explain the monotheism of the Holy Trinity.  There are plenty of weak analogies to explain the “3 = 1” concept that I was aware of without having to fall back on Grandma’s “Who are we to question?”  Example: “Light is light.  That is, until you run it through a prism and see different colors associated with different wavelengths….

      Basically, the take-home for me was that the Holy Trinity as monotheism is a tough sell to people who aren’t somehow predisposed toward wanting to believe it—particularly intellectually rigorous, no-nonsense Zen Buddhists (who can be a bit prickly—dicks with limbs, if we’re being honest).

      Back in the day, the Holy Trinity might have been useful in recruiting polytheistic pagans to Christianity.  Throw in miracle-performing saints and good and fallen angels, and you’ve got nominal monotheism that feels a lot like familiar polytheism.

      *I also was asked several times in various discussion what I thought of our use of nuclear weapons on Japan.  I preferred trying to answer the Holy Trinity question, frankly.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        I’m strictly a holy ghost man myself. A deist. Is this all random or is there order in the universe? How do we explain this? There does indeed appear to be physical laws we can define that underly all of this. Who the hell makes those laws? And what about the stuff we can’t define? It’s this the belief in this spirit that drove the so-called progress of Western Civilization, some people like to argue these days.

        But what if it is random?

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          There is the absolutely untestable theory that the universe expands until the inertial force of the Big Bang is overcome by gravity, then contracts back to a unity, then “Big Bangs” again.  It does this over and over and over.  The laws of physics are randomly re-shuffled each time there’s a big bang, based on initial conditions.  This explains the “just so” laws of physics that seem designed to allow for the formation of complex matter.  Those laws are favorable in this version of the universe, but in most, not so.  We think of “laws of physics” as constants of the universe, but they’re only constants of our universe. Another version of this is that we live in a multiverse.  Both versions are related to the anthropic principal—the philosophical notion that observations of the Universe must be compatible with the conscious entity that observes it.

          Another favorite of mine is that we live inside a simulation.  That’s the one favored by Elon Musk, the guy who runs Tesla, Solar City, and Space X.

          • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

            I was on the fence about Musk until I read a recent story about Russia’s most respected rocket scientist, who said that Musk’s quest for a reusable launch vehicle has merit–even though the payload is quite small, by contemporary standards. I personally think reusable rockets are absurd, since they burn through the atmosphere twice! So it just goes to show, the Russians don’t know everything.

            And let’s not even get into Tesla’s total false evaluation.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            The Russians famously have refused to go high tech with their rockets—they still use “big dumb boosters” that burn kerosene.  Russia’s rockets are less complicated than spud guns.  On the plus side, they never explode on the launch pad or during liftoff.

            Space X started out using kerosene engines, but they switched to methane/liquid oxygen, and more recently to monomethyl hydrazine fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.  It make for a big explosion when something goes wrong.  Not sure I’d want to sit on top of one.

      • Virginia says:

        Reading the history book, “Killing the Rising Sun”, would help you learn and understand the reason President Truman ordered the dropping of The Bomb.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I’m well aware of the reasons for dropping A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—primarily the projected costs in American lives of a land invasion of Japan, and secondarily to send a message to the Russians regarding who had a head start in what would soon become the Cold War.

          That didn’t make it easier to talk to Japanese college students about it.  What I had in my hip pocket is that a relative died in the bowels of the USS Arizona in what I didn’t mind calling the “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor, and the Department Chair at the college where my father taught had endured the Bataan Death March and had described it to me, which I in turn described to the Japanese students.

          My argument was basically: I don’t like it that my country is the only country that has used nukes, but we didn’t start the fight, and we had some pretty valid reasons to want to end it by the fastest means available.

          • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

            The only reason we dropped the bomb was to keep the Russians from getting a piece of Japan. It had nothing to do with saving American lives. It was the beginning of “symbolic statements of war.”

            The A-bombs, contrary to popular myth, did far less damage than its inventors imagined. Fire-bombing civilians, developed by the British and perfected by Americans, and tested on Europe and Japan, is what led to our current political arrangement.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I kinda think that one of the objective of dropping A-bombs on Japan had to do with quickly bringing Japan to its knees, and wasn’t just a symbolic gesture toward the Ruskies.  Japan surrendered one week after Nagasaki—hardly a coincidence.  Saved 100,000 American lives, if you believe the estimates that Nimitz, MacArthur, and the Joint Chiefs were kicking around.

            If you’re saying that the 100k estimate is valid, but it’s not the reason we dropped the Big Ones….yeah well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

  7. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Here is a Yelp review by “Buzz Fledderjohn” of a business owned by Bethelites.  And here is a later review by Buzz of another business owned by Bethelites.  The reviews are really about Bethel’s overall impact on Redding, and the sequence reflects a coming to terms with Bethel’s influence on this town.  (They can also be read as an evolving and softening of Buzz’s bad attitude.)  I happen to know that the second review is the first use of what’s called “The Bethel Effect,” which has gained some wider use, including at Bethel.

    Bottom line for me:  I wish this town had a University of California campus, but we don’t. We have Bethel. Count your blessings—I can’t imagine what this town would be like without all of those young Bethel entrepreneurs and taste-makers.

    I lied.  I can imagine it, and it ain’t pretty.

    I’ve come to know some Bethelites personally—quite a large fraction of the younger crowd I play tennis with are in Redding because of Bethel. A very few of them can be cliquish, but the great majority of them are friendly, smart, fun, energetic, happy, and well-educated.  Other than the occasional “scavenger hunt” come-on (it’s been years—do they still do that?), I have yet to detect a strong tendency toward obtrusive preaching and proselytizing.  If I’m looking for sour doses of self-righteousness, I’ll have to stick with my Baptist relatives.

    As for me, I’ve been a seeker since I was 13 and quit going to our neighborhood Protestant church, tired of hearing “There are some mysteries that we just can’t understand” in response to my questions.  I’ve never stopped studying religion, and the very existence of the universe makes me think there must be some sort of First Cause or Unmoved Mover—though not necessarily one that’s preoccupied with the vanishingly tiny speck that we live on and what will be humanity’s brief stay in the universe, or for that matter preoccupied with anything in the human sense.

    I’m a big fan of a weird HBO series that nobody I know watches—The Leftovers.  The premise is: What happens when 140 million people suddenly and randomly disappear?  (It’s clear from the outset that the big disappearance wasn’t a rapture of “the good” or “the true believers.”)  The people who are left behind are left to chew one big fat existential question: WTF happened/is happening, and why?  I’ll be hugely surprised and disappointed if the series ends with a pat answer.

    • K. Beck says:

      Buzz is assuming those businesses are owned by “Bethelites.” Perhaps they are, but no one seems to KNOW that as a fact. I prefer my reviews to review the food and service. Period. Not so happy when the name of the business is dissed because the reviewer does not like it. Just stick to reviewing the FOOD & SERVICE. Maybe if the reviewer thinks the food it overpriced for the quality of the food or the size of the portions. Otherwise, keep your personal opinions to yourself!

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        You’re the one who assumes too much.  If an owner tells me she’s here in town because of Bethel, or I overhear her talking about it, I’m willing to take her word for it.  We have a person on City Council who is a Bethelite.  I’m not assuming that—she says so right out loud.  I know the people I play tennis with are Bethelites because they say so.  I know of a furniture store, several restaurants, several clothing stores, a florist, a juice bar, a marketing firm, etc.  People converse.  It’s not like it’s a secret society.

  8. Karen C says:

    I have no feeling towards Bethel and know very little about them,  However, I do know what I hear from friends and the chatter in the community.  Bethel, does indeed buy up houses in neighborhoods and numerous students move in.  They do make an impact on the neighborhood, and many do not like it.  Bethel seems a bit secretive in this area.  Good friends of ours who live out in the Hope/Hollow area had a large 5 bedroom home built next to them  It appeared that an elderly couple were the occupants, until the home was built. My friends noticed a lot of cars there all the time and finally found out they had numerous Bethel students coming and going at all hours.  They caused no problems except for the way it was handled.  The elderly couple never let our friends know the students would be moving in, even when asked why such a large home for two seniors.

     

    I feel Bethel should buy a chunk of land, and build apartments for the students, and not impact neighborhoods with lots of cars in front of houses, and parked on streets. One family told me, the house next to them has numerous students, as well.  They leave stuff laying around all the time, and it is visually unpleasing to the neighborhood.

    • Common Sense says:

      Karen just to separate the  Fact from some of your Fiction…..Bethel owns Commerical properties and 1 home in Anderson…..they don’t buy up homes to rent out…..It seems you might be trusting some friends of friends “Opinions” more than the Facts?….

      The people that go to Bethel….the Members….they are the ones that buy up the homes close to Bethel and rent them out…..I think they call that Capitalism?……I have Bethel folks living up and down my street….their lawns are mowed…..they are reasonably quite…..my only complaint would be the cars….plenty of them out front….but you know what……I wouldn’t trade what I have now as Neighbors for much else….. I love your comment about your friends house and them “Coming and going at all hours!” Hillarious……like they are all staggering in at 3am Singing Rap songs and waking up the entire Neighborhood!…..hahahah……you have a Bias…..just admit it……

      So Karen….I have done my homework…..here is a list of their Church Owned Properties……

      1-Caterpillar Road

      1-Collyer Dr

      3-Lake Blvd

      1-College View

      1-Anderson

      Where’s your research and Facts?….or did you hear something different from a friends friend?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Karen, I’ve heard this complaint enough times to know it must be true.

      What if … the influx of Bethel students is pushing the very people they hope to save into hopeless conditions … where they need to be saved?

  9. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I drove for Uber for a few months to finance my recording project, and in that time, I picked up and dropped off at the Bethel campus a number of times. I met people from all over the world, and had a lot of fun conversations. I didn’t learn a lot about their beliefs, but one thing I did come away with was that they don’t adhere to the Calvinist Doctrine. Criticism about their “mystical” practices notwithstanding, that was a plus in my book.

    I’m not immune from the all-too-human tendency to be afraid of what I know nothing about, and that was true of Bethel. I feel better about them now. At least on the surface, they seem to bring more good to the community than bad. To tell the truth, I’d probably still be driving for Uber if it meant transporting only Bethel members. They were nice as hell. (Sorry.)

    The bottom line is I like interacting with Bethel folks.

    But here’s the thing about that: Bethel, the city council, and local law enforcement may have the purest of intentions from the onset, but it’s simply human nature to take care of those who take care of us.

    I’m thinking of a fairly recent case involving a young local man who attended a beer fest. Bethel provided the security. The young man departed the fest, then realized that he’d left something behind. Two large security guys provided by Bethel refused to readmit the young man and his friend. An argument ensued. The security guys beat the crap out of the young, slightly-built young man and his friend, but it was subsequently the young man who faced assault charges.

    At least one of  the security guys was unlicensed. They had both done time in prison, and they were both adept at beating the shit out of people. It appears that they were never at risk of being charged with any crime, although it seems clear that they failed to act with any sort of restraint. At least one of them resorted to headbutting the young man, who stated that he’d never before been in a fight in his life.

    Now, I’m pretty sure that those in authority at Bethel didn’t hire those two thugs while thinking, “Gosh, we really need to hire some guys who are good at beating the shit out of people.” On the contrary, I’m fairly certain that the person or persons who decided to hire those guys felt that they had redeemed themselves in the eyes of the Lord. That said, I’m also fairly certain that those two ex-cons were not thinking about the teachings of Jesus as they beat down a young, slightly-built man.

    If the contribution from Bethel comes to pass, will it become common for Bethel members to get a pass should they commit some transgression? Not necessarily. In any case, it could very well be that more good than bad could come from Bethel’s contribution. Maybe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, the “strings attached.” I’m in no way suggesting that the incident with the Bethel-provided security guys and the young man is commonplace.

    But folks, we really need to think about this proposed contribution.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      When I was in college I worked security at stadium concerts with fellow members of the wrestling team and members of the football team for a couple of summers.  I dealt with a lot of sketchy situations, but it was the two guys I worked for who scared the hell out of me—especially the one who was covered in prison ink.  I remember vividly the time we were arguing with a drunk “outlaw club” biker who had a big folding buck knife strapped to his belt and couldn’t accept that he had to walk all the way back to where he was parked and leave it, or rat-hole it somewhere.  He took it out of the holster and is asking, Why can’t you mothergrabbers just be cool and let me hide it in my pants?  

      Our bosses come cruising by in their golf cart.  While the cart is still rolling the dude with the tats jumps out, sprints about 50 feet, puts his shoulder into the biker, sends him skidding 20 feet across the asphalt, jumps on him, and wrenches the folded knife out of his hand.  The top of the biker’s forearm was skinless from his elbow to his wrist.

      • cheyenne says:

        When I worked at Shasta Union High School District I was the security.  At dances, football games, plays and lunchtime cafeteria.  To say I intervened in difficult situations would be an understatement.  And controlling high school students requires a lot different approach than concert goers, read the education department handbook.  And it was not just students as I had to deal with the denizens of the night, dumpster divers, skunks, opossums and flying critters like bats.  Try getting a dive bombing bat out of the gym, use a straw broom.  But the one I was most anxious about were the ghosts running through the halls of SLC, or NOVA or even back to the days of when it was Shasta.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I was a security guard at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco when I got out of the Navy in the 1980s. I used to go to the 44th floor and throw flaming paper airplanes off the roof. Good times!

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I can’t top flaming paper airplanes from 44 stories in the big city, but I did drop water balloons from the rooftop of the 9-story Steamboat Village Inn, located at the base of the ski area.  It was the tallest building in Steamboat Springs.  We also had lots of ornery fun with bottle rockets, which we bought by the gross across the border in Wyoming.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          When I lived in the Tenderloin, I used to go up on the roof of my apartment building with this tranny friend of mine and throw eggs at the people exiting American Music Hall.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            We were in SF last weekend, and I couldn’t convince my better half to go to the show at Great American Music Hall that I wanted to see (Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express).  She wanted to go to the Tonga Room in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel, have fruity drinks, and dance.  So we went to the Tonga Room, had fruity drinks, and danced.

        • cheyenne says:

          The big border trade now between Wyoming and Colorado is fireworks for pot.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Hal — I share your discomfort at the prospect of Bethel funding positions—any positions—at the City.  I want to believe that the church is just recognizing a need and proposing a remedy, but the proposal violates my position on separation of church and state. It also plows too much fertile ground for cultivating the appearance of conflicts of interest and favoritism—I would be equally skeptical if some big real estate developer decided to fund a couple of RPD positions. (Yeah?  In exchange for what, exactly?) On the other hand, it’s a shame watching downtown Redding circle the drain after such a long period of rejuvenation, so I’ll admit to mixed feelings.

      I blame Redding voters for my cognitive dissonance. Reddingites turned their collective back on funding what’s needed to begin to address our opioid/petty crime epidemic. To thems that voted no on Measure D and are now experiencing searing cases of heartburn over Bethel’s proposal: Good, says I.

  10. KATHLEEN RAVEN SURBAUGH says:

    I guess I missed the punch line of this story.  What does one get for $5k and nine months?

  11. Carolyn Gomes says:

    I’v lived here all my life and had my first experience at Bethel over thirty years ago when Bethel was just a “normal” church. I was drawn to their youth group. I say drawn because several kids in the FCA club in high school attended there. The kindness and love for people without any reason is what made me so drawn to them. Here I am now, over thirty years have passed and I’m still drawn there. I’ve  attended Bethel now for over thirty years and call it  home. The church culture believes to love others extravagantly, just as Christ loves us. We see a need and fill the need. It’s really that simple. It’s not our place to judge, but it is our place to believe that God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Do we mess up and sin? “Yes”. All people sin. Have there been growing pains for our church and community? “Yes”. Did we ask for this? “No”.  Will God be there for us as we try to figure this all out as a community? “Yes”. When you love your community, you support it and that’s really all we’re trying to do. Blessings?

  12. Carter Slade says:

    LOL RV, don’t hide your true feelings. We are a journalistic target risk environment aren’t we?

    That said, I’ll click on the bait because as the Bible says – “And life will be made hard for those who choose to be stupid…” . Not you RV, them…

    Which should be of more concern – The floor is beginning to collapse or the elephant in the room?  The Bethel offer isnt about a particular religion vs another other but let’s admit it,  religion does get Bethel a seat at the free loan money table.  But lest us not forget, David Karesh,  Jim Jones and Jim and Tammy each earned a place at many money tables using religion as their RSVP. Allowed to ponder, we could get fooled or drawn into a religion fact finding mission rather than focusing on the real political meat n taters here…

    First, the elephant in the room is, simply stated, the collective weight of our town council huddled in the middle of the room praying for a financial miracle because Prop D didn’t fly. It isn’t rocket science and the council damn sure didn’t experience a Bethel spiritual intervention. It’s just  simple small town politics – the idea is so ridiculous it just might work…The council is using  post 9-11 fear tactics – Hey, we have to keep you safe in spite of yourselves and we are fresh out of ideas on how to do it...The Bethel church only complicates the matter by brazenly insinuating without having to say it that as a church, their intentions are guaranteed by God himself and should not be questioned. As stated, their intentions and or ideology are not the point here other than a possible conflict of interest in 2 areas – 1) currying city and county favors, a phrase Councilperson Winter has openly denied and 2) the fact that the same Councilperson Winter is admittedly an ELDER in the Bethel church and has already admitted she helped broker the offer. Oh, technically that’s 3 conflicts.

    Asking if our area has a spiritual problem isn’t the best question. Maybe the question should be – Do we have a local trust problem? A close second would possibly be – Why should we need anyone, Godly or not, to cover the butts of our council…(Insert LOL) RV, I have a suspicion you already knew that…Good topic sir!

     

     

     

    • Carter Slade says:

      **target rich environment…praise the lord & pass the spell check…

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’m curious to see if Winter abstains. She has to, right?

      Thinking about the city council huddled in a room praying for a miracle makes me feel sad!

  13. Frank Treadway says:

    All folks are asking is…”Don’t come up to me in a public place and touch me and say you can heal me because you see a band aid on my arm, especially without my permission.” Students going to Bethel School of Transformation are told to go into the community and heal folks, just like Jesus is said to have done.

    Sorry church leaders, they are not mini Jesus-healers. Only licensed doctors and those practicing medical and mental medicine can do such. Bethel is setting themselves up for a liability suit with all this unwarranted healing-touchy thing.  CoR, take the money and run and have the City Attorney include a clause, No Strings Attached.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      This is interesting Frank. One presumes they’ve been trying to heal these street junkies, yet it’s not working. Or … if you wanted to stretch it, you could say their collective prayers have delivered us a … methadone clinic.

      • DZ says:

        CoR’s SRMC has been having a “Healing Conference” annually for 3-4 yrs now with the next one on May 4-6 2017 @ Holiday Inn. It is about Bill Johnson snd BSSM joining w SRMC to promote healing without surgery yhrough “signs,  wondrrs and miraculous intervention”! There may even be a Protest pending, for Citizens Concerned.  Might want to research- “bethel healing conference 2016-17” please, & ty for your Concerns and Efforts.

  14. A. Jacoby says:

    MAN!!!! . . . . I waded through about two thirds of the posts, then gave up. Information overload, I say!!

    This whole question, and believe me, I DEFEND the right to question . . . anything . . .. but the whole question makes me wonder:  who did a study on Jesus’ miracles? Think about it. Don’t you imagine the merchants and restaurants and 7-11 stores in the nearby towns were upset when Jesus fed 5000 people instead of them going into town to buy food? And what about the wheat fields and hillsides all those people trampled. I wonder if HUD was informed that the farmers needed to be compensated for the damage to their properties.

    Humorous sarcasm aside, I’ve had occasion to AirBnb host several folks from the Bethel School over the past six months. I have found them, without exception, agreeable, even enjoyable, guests in my home. And not one of them has tried to “convert” me. I really think that whatever they re bringing to our economy far outweighs their costs to the economy. I know the folks that stayed with me certainly helped MY economy.

  15. Common Sense says:

    “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous.  If a man really wanted make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be start his own religion”. > L.Ron Hubbard

     

    We are out of the Elections but this is an interesting article….   https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2015/09/20/tax-rules-forbid-churches-endorsing-candidates/#a1e26fe64e7d

    I guess a really good question would be…..does the Gift To the City of Redding for Helping the Police Dept break any rules or laws?…Yes or no…then will it make the church and the I>R>S tangle? That Tax exempt status thing….?

    Julie Winter was presented with a fairly elaborate plan I understand…..of how the City Could say  YES to Prop 64… ( and collect  MILLIONS per year in tax revenues ) but we have never heard anything about that have we?

    I guess Shasta Lake City will be the only ones with roads repaired….plenty of police officers/Sheriff’s Deputies and money to do all kinds of infrastructure repairs, school repairs etc etc…… So based on this….She appears at least not OK with Prop 64….her Church?….I don’t know…..?

     

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Hubbard hated writing for the pulps. It’s down to way less than a penny a day nowadays.

      This writer would love to see the Yes to Prop 64 document allegedly sent to the City Council. Does anyone out there know about this?

      • Common Sense says:

        The Document was sent to Julie Winter……on 11/21/16

        ( Info@julie winter.com).….if after you ask her about it and is she denies receiving it….I can probably get you a copy of it……I think it was just a solution/offered ( on how to generate millions of tax dollars) and not a formal 10 page Proposal from a professional company or anything…… But as Francie has just stated….if you have Ideas Bring Them!

        Would be pretty interesting though to know…..why she has not shared this document with any City Council Members?…..perhaps an internal bias to its contents?

        It’s one thing to not agree with what the document states….but how can you deny that the Millions of Dollars the proposal shows would not help the Community? Is that in the Best Interest of the Community to hide a document outlining how the City could have Millions more?

  16. Larry Winter says:

    GOOD NEWS!  From the last 3 monthly newsletters from Bill Johnson Ministries!

    “Two different students received words of knowledge about someone with a poisonous spider bite. Doubting that they heard correctly, they called it out anyway and a woman came forward who had been bitten twice on her chin. Because of the spider’s poison, she had lost all feeling in her neck and was having trouble swallowing. After prayer, though, all of the symptoms disappeared!”

    ” A woman came forward in response to a word of knowledge about neuropathy. As she was walking to the front, she felt a weight on her jaw and she was suddenly healed from 10 years of TMJ. Laughing from joy and surprise, she then received prayer for the total loss of feeling below her knees. After each prayer, she could feel a little bit more and, after the third prayer, she regained complete feeling in her legs and feet!”

    ” A woman who had been struggling with the symptoms of ovarian cancer received prayer. All of the pain left her body after the prayer, but she still experienced a few of the symptoms. Over the next couple of days, however, all of the symptoms left her body. When she went for her scheduled biopsy, the doctors were confused as to what had happened. They’d been pretty sure she’d had cancer, but could find no trace of it!”

     

    Here’s some more “Astonishing Tales that has made Redding Famous”

     

    http://bjm.org/goodnews/

     

    Economics and the “niceness of the victims” (I think of the students as victims) does not excuse a charlatan organization.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Larry, the mainstream Protestant church in which I was raised for a time taught us, in a wholly unenthusiastic and unconvincing way, that the power of prayer could produce miracles. When people got sick, we were supposed to pray for God’s intervention, so we folded our hands and went along.  Bethel’s charlatanry—if that’s what you want to call it—is that they teach sincere belief in miracles, whereas in my church we were mostly skeptical based on the evidence at hand.

      No small part of me admires those who go all-in on a religion—as opposed to just going through the motions, which is how my church always made me feel.  Most of my religious relatives are about as sincere in their beliefs as a trial lawyer in professing his client’s innocence. They love being part of a dominant in-group. They’re conservative Christians because, in their part of Colorado, that’s the winning team. Theology and spirituality are of little interest.

      I’m aware of exactly zero cases of any church saying, “Sorry, but we’re not taking you up on your offer of a tithe. What we’re offering, we’re offering for free.” Maybe that happens, but not in my experience.  If churches are in the business of peddling delusions in exchange for cash, maybe the worst you can say about Bethel is that they’re better at it than most.

      As for the students being victims……I hear your concern.  They’re mostly young and impressionable, for sure.  But they’re young adults, and if they’re spending $5,000 of their money and 9 months of their lives at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry learning how to be nice, hopeful, and helpful in the name of Jesus, there have been far nastier scams out there for damned sure.

      :::coughTrumpUniversitycough::::

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I figure adults have enough free agency to make the decision to go to Bethel without being labeled as victims. Labeling them victims implies coercion, and while there’s definitely an Elmer Gantry element to Bethel, they appear relatively free of scandal, aside from the infamous case of the student who fell off the cliff and had his classmates pray for his resurrection–even though he wasn’t dead.

      People believe all sorts of crazy things–a college-level course in statistics will solve most of it–and I’m not going to knock them for that, unless it knocks up against me. Which is maybe what this Bethel donation to the police department is doing, their beliefs knocking against our secular government belief. The money has to be very tempting to our city elders.

  17. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    I knew it was time to retire when my new superintendent started quoting Bill Johnson and said that G-d sent him to my school district to turn things around.  Turning things around meant for one thing,  phasing out alternative education options for students.

    I’ve investigated several “miracles” that occur at Bethel and while extraordinary, I would have to say that they fall into the realm of great staging.  By the way, I think the music performed at Bethel is phenomenal.  I think the music is a key to the success of this organization.

    I’m enthralled by all the people I’ve met from foreign countries who came to Redding to attend Bethel.  If they can’t  take that same “magic” back to their country when they’ve completed their education,  then what have they gained?  Will they have a skill they can use to make a living?   In particular I worry about young people who have been radica….I mean enraptured  by this religious organization.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Damn, can somebody really walk into an allegedly secular school district and say things like that?

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Oh man, that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

        My daughter’s high school biology teacher taught that the great unifying theory that makes sense of all of biology—Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection—was nonsense.  Darwin’s theory was crap, he said, because it required time scales that were in conflict with the literal interpretation of the Bible (true), and because it violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (absolute rubbish).  When I complained to the school’s administration, I was subject to hand-waving bullshit about academic freedom and balanced presentation of opposing theories—as if Creationism is a valid scientific theory to be taught in a biology class.

        In order to protect someone close to me who doesn’t share my hacked-off feelings about it, I’m not going to go into the overtly religious-based politics of some of our local school district administrations.  Trust me……it’s a thing.

        • Beverly Stafford says:

          My sister-in-law taught high school English and was also the school librarian.  As such, she was a natural resource for books on the shelves of the library along with, of course, those that were mandated by the state.  One parent came to school almost daily complaining about the books and wanted many of them pulled from the shelves on religious grounds.  Even though ADA is paramount in school funding, the principal finally told the mother that perhaps it would be best if she placed her child in a private religious school.

    • Anonymous Heckler says:

      OK, then, who’s the Superintendent and what district?  The people want to know.

  18. Bob says:

    Whenever we give money to an organization and specify how the organization must spend it, we have taken over the priority setting process of the organization.  In city government the setting of priorities must be done by elected officials, not a religious organization.  If you want a religious organization to set the priorities for society, move to Saudi Arabia.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Sharia Bethel?

    • cheyenne says:

      Very good point, Bob.  There are lawsuits filed against education facilities when land was donated for an intended purpose and when that purpose went away the schools tried to sell the land.  It happened here at the University of Wyoming and I believe it also happened there in Viola.  With all the talk of unfunded pensions gifts  of money might not go where they are intended.  In the Arizona Republican they had an article about a public pension that pays out $149 million to management fees a year while the fund returns $59 million a year.  California’s pension liabilities pale in comparison to other states.  What saves California is that they have the huge population to spread the pain around.

    • Rod says:

      I like what you say Bob. Unless…….

      We have Winters and Baugh setting ALL the priorities here in Shasta.  Separating local leadership away from religious zealots has been a thankless duty of mine. I’m stuck on the idea of the harm we try to avoid by being constitutional.  Let’s face it, combining church and state, produces ugly offspring.

      Can the existence of our current unholy Shasta political alliance bear an edible fruit?

      There’s a very powerful reason why our founders wrote the church out of government.  Poison.  Same problem a heroin junkie faces, it’s nice at first but it’ll destroy life and property.  People need legal protection from religion, in person and in government.

      The handout from Bethel to the RPD is a bait. Don’t accept it, it’s illegal on several levels.

       

  19. The Old Pretender says:

    If Bethel wants to contribute to the community, let them relinquish their tax-free status now.  That would allow the city to acquire through taxation what it is now being offered as a gift.  For the government to accept a gift of money from the church seems to be the continuing progression toward the ultimate achievement of the charismatic evangelical goal–control it all.  This is just the latest step in the long slog toward theocracy.

  20. Marc Carter says:

    “If Bethel wants to contribute to the community, let them relinquish their tax-free status now.  That would allow the city to acquire through taxation what it is now being offered as a gift.”  Applause, applause for The Old Pretender

    I Applaud The Old Pretender!

  21. Beverly Stafford says:

    Anyone care to wager how the vote goes tonight?

  22. Diana says:

    I think the constitution is very clear and concise. Separation of church and state. Is Redding going to change its name to City of Bethel?

  23. Carter Slade says:

    Results just in- Nov 2016, Julie Winter – Bethel Elder gets elected as a Redding Council member and 4&1/2 months later, is involved in successfully brokering a Bethel/Redding free gift loan deal. Welcome aboard Julie, it seems you came along just in time…how convenient. She recused so that just about completes another local small town s-show eh…So, I suppose the newly funded police unit mantra will be – Praise Bethel & pass the ammunition…

  24. Common Sense says:

    I would like to know why Julie has not shared that email or the info in the email that was sent to her with her fellow City Council?…The emailed Idea showed how the city could be receiving Millions per year by enacting prop 64 locally……ahhh….but then that wouldn’t give Bethel and edge now would it?….If Bethel can fund the Police and other things…there would be no Need for the Millions in the emails proposal…..so let God Get the Money to the City of Redding instead of the Cannabis Users!

    I think that may be called Steering?…..you are shown a way for the city to bring in Millions of Tax Dollars…but you don’t like that Idea….it goes against your Religious Beliefs……so you come up Another Proposal that aligns With your Religious Beliefs!…..your own Church funding the police……Brilliant!!!

    I am patiently waiting for R.V to Interview Mrs Winter…..ask about the email…….find out what she says……this should be interesting!

  25. Denise O says:

    Overall, this donation is one answer to the question of where will the money come from. The voters who live here didn’t pass funding by tax. So, oddly, it it even a priority?

    (It is to me, by a long shot. I want my taxes to keep bad people off the streets and maintain those streets.)

    And generous as it is, it will only last so long.

    I have to chime in on behalf of Bethel. A broad thought I have is, what about the draw?  This concept or cosmic event is more than a flash in the pan. It’s persistent at least and the comers keep on coming.

    Whether they are getting fresh recruits every time the soil is turned up or the retention rate to Redding is pretty great, it has turned my head.

    I have yet to set foot on the grounds of Bethel proper, but that is only because I don’t have time. It’s on the list. The wonderful representatives thus far have been my kind of people, happy, kind, helpful, civic minded and in a genuine way. No exceptions.

    I’m glad that Julie Winters is on the City Council. With such a strong presence in our community, Bethel is a force to be reckoned with.

     

     

  26. dawnie marie says:

     
    Does Shasta County Have A Spiritual Problem, Or Is It Just Me?
     

     

    IT IS YOU 

  27. Linda says:

    I am someone who was healed years ago of a terminal illness as a result of the Bethel Ministry. Healing is real folks. I am alive today and working because of Bethel’s teachings on God. Ive been involved there via the internet for 9 years. Some 20,000 people tune in and watch their sermons weekly around the world. I’m now moving to Bethel and I am a small business owner and I hope my taxes and the taxes of others like me will help the town. I have a few thoughts.

    I get it that people feel threatened by Bethel having to big an influence over the city. I can imagine feeling the same if a phenomena like Bethel came to my town and suddenly I felt like they were everywhere and then they are getting involved in the local government. Yes, I’d be nervous, so I can’t blame you at all. I suggest you get to know them so that you might feel less of an us and them type thing. They have a website with lots of information. There is an almost endless log of miracles on there and many people who feel they are healed never report the healing to the church. Most of them logged are reported by students. They have lots of other info on there.

    I have heard that Bethel is one of the larger employers in the area and large employers usually do have influence over a town since they have an influence over the town’s economy.
    Is it realistic to think that such a driving force of the towns economy through the many visitors and students who come and the businesses that are only there because the owners wanted to be near Bethel wouldn’t get some type of influence in the city counsel?

    I wonder if anyone feels they can look to the way that Bethel has run the civic center? Have they done a good job there or have they only booked acts that are true to the their religion/values? Have they kept their word there? I haven’t seen much in the way of real gripes about the church on here except that it is a real annoyance having such a large group of people flood your town. Totally understandable! But would there still be much there if it wasn’t for Bethel being there? If the town is financially in trouble with all these people where would it be without them? I’m not there so I really don’t know what I am talking about.

    I also wonder, assuming the worst that Bethel would have some untoward influence over the police department as a result of their gift, what do you think they might ask the police department to do that you all wouldn’t want the police to do. Bethel wants safe neighborhoods for their students and attendees and visitors. You want the same, right? And if the police give say a Bethel minister a free pass on a speeding ticket, wouldn’t that be kinda run of the mill in a town for the owners of one of the largest employer’s in the town to have such perks, whether they made donations or not. I do see the concerns you put forward as intelligent and reasonable and that this donation would need to be done with transparency and reassurances but it just seems a shame to turn it down. It seems the city really needs money and that this is one of the few venues around to give it.

    As far as the ministry school promising to give you healing powers for 5,000 and 9 months this seems a very biased and cynical view. It’s a school that charges tuition to teach ministry. Part of ministry is praying for people and sometimes when people are prayed for they get healed. No one is being promised any quid pro quo and I find it disingenuous to think that any intelligent person would think oh if I pay 5000 and attend for 9 months I will be able to heal people. People graduate and get jobs as either missionaries or ministers. Some ministers have the giftof healing but if they do that comes through their relationship with God and by his appointing it so. Bethel ‘s school has different tracks. There is the school of worship, the school of arts (writing and other arts) and the school of ministry that teaches traditional ministry coaching, prophecy and more.

    Charismatic churches believe that the gifts of the holy spirit are still available today. That through daily relationship to God we can receive these gifts to be used to serve God’s purposes. This is all biblical new testament stuff. Its just that most churches today have stopped going after the Holy Spirit and so they don’t see these gifts in operation. Those churches sometimes resort to calling Bethel a cult or charlatans because they do not believe that what the bible’s new testament says is real for today and that these gifts are still available.

    As far as Bethel requiring its member’s to tithe 10 percent, all churches ask for a 10 percent tithe and this is biblical. I don’t know if Bethel requires it or encourages it. Every church has an annual day when they exhort their congregation to pledge a tithe amount for the year. This money goes to the operational budget of the church and to charity for the town. It’s what raised this large gift they are offering. All churches give money away and Bethel gives away millions to charities all around the world.

    Anyway, here’s a link for the ministry school if anyone wants to look around at what they are doing. Maybe that will make people feel a bit more comfortable: http://bssm.net/school/introduction/

    Bethel has a huge healing ministry. I know its strange to people that miracles still happen today, but they do. In my own experience, I was healed when I really got it that God loves me and then I loved God. That made my faith for healing grow and my desire to serve him grow. I truly deeply gave him my life. And then I prayed for healing for hours and got healed, alone in my bedroom through the teachings I learned watching Bethel online. They taught me to love God, which is the greatest commandment of all. Now I have this tremendous peace inside and face the world more secure than ever. That is why people are coming to Bethel from all around the world.

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