The Really Big Business of Bethel Church: Part 3 – Known for Its Generosity

As I’ve previously written, Bethel Church Redding has 11,000 regular attenders, $60 million in annual income, two primary charismatic leaders, 800 full- and part-time employees, and an often-verbalized goal to be known for its generosity.

And if generosity is defined as “a readiness to give more than expected”, Bethel seems to be excelling at its goal. When Redding’s Carr Fire hit, Bethel reached out to its international donor base, pulling in more than $1.5 million in donations; money which it then began giving away, $1000 at a time, to families whose primary residence was destroyed by the fire. It continues to spend on Carr Fire relief efforts through its Forestry project which serves residents, usually free of charge, by providing brush removal services sometimes worth thousands of dollars per property.

Bethel Church’s City Project Team volunteers give many hours to Redding trails and waterways. Photo by Randall Smith.

Bethel’s hundreds of students volunteer almost 35,000 hours every year to the parks and public lands of Redding as part of their ministry school curriculum, a donation of time worth more than $400,000 annually. Bethel hosts an annual backpack giveaway for community kids. It serves breakfast to the homeless each Sunday morning on site.

And there’s more. Bethel senior leadership has recently agreed to share giving habits that it has not previously revealed to the press, according to Aaron Tesauro, Bethel Church Communications Director. Namely, that Bethel sets aside 10% of the income it receives from attender tithes and gives that money back to the community. Although the income it receives through tithes is less than half of Bethel’s overall income, it’s still more than $21 million, resulting in a tithe back to the community of more than $2.1 million annually.

Recipients of these funds, according to Mr. Tesauro, include the City of Redding, the Good News Rescue Mission, Northern Valley Catholic Social Service (NVCSS), Teen Challenge, the Shasta Family YMCA, Redding Parks and Trails Foundation (for the Pickleball Expansion Project), the Active 20-30 Club (as a sponsor of the Sundial Film Festival) and the Wintu Tribe of Northern California, among others.

Bethel also contributed $450,000, and significant staff time, to help the City of Redding successfully negotiate the new Redding to Los Angeles daily flight, a flight which benefits the community as well as its staff, students and visitors (which are multitude.) In fact, Bethel’s approximately 50 annual conferences and events have made Redding somewhat of an international destination. It estimates their visitor flow at 25,000 individuals per year, with most staying an average of 3-5 days, offering a very significant boost to the Redding tourism industry.

And while the rumors circulating that Bethel offers small business loans to members are not true, they do encourage what it refers to as a “dream culture”, encouraging attendees that “anything is possible” and to “go after your dreams.” Many small businesses have resulted, which, depending on your perspective, are a boon to (or the bane of ) our local economy.

But like all successful multi-level marketing organizations, Bethel Church provides the biggest payoff to those on the top, maintaining its organizational vitality by continuing to attract those on the periphery through its glossy benefits and giveaways. Meanwhile, it’s the middle many, the workhorses of the movement, who often benefit astonishingly little from the church’s success.

In contrast with its stated goal of generosity, and its track record of giving to the community, Bethel is not known for taking good care of its people. In fact, multiple employees have contacted me to ask me to consider writing about salaries and benefits at the church, in the hopes of creating change in this area.

Salaries are low at Bethel Church, likely for one central reason: supply. There are far more people who want to work at Bethel Church than there are positions open at any given time, meaning the organization can pay its people very little, while continuing to retain and/or attract staff. After all, Bethel church makes millions, gives away millions, attracts 50,000 visitors every year, and runs one of the largest Christian independent music labels in the United States. Bethel Church is evangelical Disneyland. It may not be an obvious career builder, but for many Christians it’s the experience of a lifetime.

And just like Disneyland, there is carefully hidden workplace dissatisfaction. I did not ask Bethel Church about salaries. The issue gets pretty personal, pretty fast, and the church has employees to protect, so I highly doubt they’d give me any specifics. Instead, I got information from a source who approached me after reading several of my articles, a former employee who wishes to remain anonymous. This individual informed me that while salaries vary from department to department, many employees at Bethel Church earn minimum wage, or very little more. Other than revival pastors, per my source, most Bethel staff are hourly employees, not on salary. Raises are 1-2%, annually, which, for a high level manager, making $22/hour at Bethel, would be between .22 cents and .44 cents an hour. An exception, per my source, is the Bethel Music Department, which pays significantly higher wages. For example, while Bethel Church may pay personal assistants between $12-$14/hour, Bethel Music personal assistants might make $25/hour.

Based on these salaries, many Bethel employees with families qualify for both Medi-Cal and SNAP (food stamps), among other low income benefits. And this is probably good, because benefits are also a significant problem for Bethel Church employees. A review of a Bethel job posting highlights what it considers benefits, a list that made me laugh out loud the first time I read it: free lunch twice a month, an ibethel.org email address, free attendance at select conferences, a 20% discount at its own Bethel Church bookstore, and the “opportunity to work with some of the most passionate lovers of Jesus in the world!” are among the best benefits it offers. (My source tells me it’s actually free lunch once a month and the food always runs out early, but the Jesus lovers are definitely there.) More crucially, health benefits are expensive, with poor coverage, per multiple sources who’ve spoken to me about this in the past.

But employees, who now sign a non-disclosure agreement before leaving the organization, per my source, are frequently reminded that they are honored to be on staff, serving the nations and participating in bringing “heaven to earth”. After all, many thousands of people have given up everything to come to Bethel.

And come they do. First Year Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students, coming from all over the world, pay more than $5000/year to attend school. And, as mentioned above, this attendance includes providing weekly volunteer services to the community, meaning that Bethel’s generous community service is provided through the mandatory efforts of students who pay tuition for the privilege of this kind of volunteerism.

Second and third year students continue to stretch their wings into increasingly higher levels of pay-to-work for Bethel privileges, with third-year students paying between $600 and $900 to work for an individual staff member, or even someone loosely connected to the church, for an academic year. Sidebar: This arrangement is not a paid internship or an unpaid internship. It’s an “intern must pay” for the internship. Which is probably why Bethel Church no longer calls the program an internship.

 

As one can imagine, even more students than staff likely qualify for public assistance of all kinds. And those who don’t are often stretched thin by expenses and by donating to others more in need at the church. Nevertheless, in my experience, most continue to give to the church, having been taught the value of generosity and the importance of tithing to produce favorable financial outcomes in your life. After all, as part of the “culture of honor” at Bethel Church, we speak well of those around us and invest into others.

It takes participants some time to realize that the “culture of honor” flows mostly upward.

This is demonstrated by the stark contrast between the sacrifices made by many employees and attendees, and the fancy cars driven by Bethel senior leaders, sometimes easily identifiable by the license plates that carry their names. My source tells me that only the CFO knows the salaries of senior leaders, so it’s impossible to know whether their financial bounty comes from the church itself or the books they sell and their private speaking engagements through their church network. I didn’t ask.

Bill and Beni Johnson, and Kris and Kathy Vallotton are Bethel Church’s senior leaders. Photo: bethel.com

But in light of all this, I’ve often wondered what the net cost to federal, state and local governments the really big business of Bethel Church really is. How might moving their habits of generosity toward their employees have the potential to revolutionize the local economy and increase their ability to “impact the city of Redding”? And wouldn’t cultivating a habit of generosity toward Bethel’s staff be an important aspect of the culture of honor?

If Bethel Church has the networks and connections to raise more than $140 million for a new building, just imagine what it could do financially for its families on staff, should its leaders feel so led.

Editor’s note: Annelise Pierce is a graduate of Bethel’s ministry school and a former member of Bethel Church.

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
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51 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I am breaking my promise to not post on comments but I had to respond to this salary non-transparence.
    Go to Transparent California and see wages and pensions of all California public employees. Just google in my name in Shasta Public Schools and see what I, as well as others, receive. From a low level custodian, like I, or top officials their wages and pensions are available for all to see. Many of us would be eligible for snap or other programs.
    I would think Bethel, with their take over of many former public sites, they should be required to do the same.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Bruce. Great thoughts. Since they file as a tax exempt church rather than a nonprofit, transparency is not required. Transparency does always seem to increase trust though. Thanks for your service to our schools.

  2. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Very insightful article, and I love the humor (although Bethel’s take-over of the City is anything BUT humorous).

    Whatever labor Bethel provides to the community is certainly not “free” if students who pay $5,000.00 a year are required to provide that labor (which I believe is less concern for the community on Bethel’s part than a public relations gimmick that costs Bethel nothing).

    And as pointed out above, the $1,000 it gave to fire victims (homeowners only) didn’t come from Bethel coffers. Interestingly its public accounting of the money it received (and all it now admits to receiving) stopped very early on in its fund-raising campaign.

    It’s also very true that Bethel’s “culture of honor flows mostly upward”. This is basically a mandate not to question or criticize Bethel leaders.

    Its weekly breakfast for the homeless mainly involves busing the unfortunate residents of the Rescue Mission to two Bethel services each week (with breakfast in between), where Bethel students practice their conversion skills on a captive audience.

    As to the business loans Bethel’s spokesperson denies – in Bethel CEO Bill Johnson’s “Ten Points on Tithing” (link below), he basically states that loans are available through the church (at a whopping 20 percent interest). He also claims that any money received is “for the priests” to do with as they please, and admits that congregants are given no say in how their money is spent.

    https://oslo.church/read/billjohnson-tenpoints-tithing

    • ??Thank you for your awesome and informative reply proving the dishonesty of this cult!

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      I wanted to add that Bethel is very much a right-wing Old Testament church. It’s also virtually a textbook example of a prosperity gospel church, which teaches that the wealthy are being rewarded for their godliness and virtue, while the poor are being punished for living sinful lives.

      As a result Bethel’s leadership does next to nothing that is actually Christ-like for the community. It forced Senior Nutrition’s one-morning-a-month food distributions out of a corner of the Civic parking lot after 33 years in that central location, and tripled the rents for Project Homeless Connect, driving that life-saving event literally out of town.

      It also heavily promoted a program that would bus large numbers of unsightly (and mainly local) homeless people out of its world-wide base of operations using the deceptive example of a teenager who ran away to Haight-Ashbury on a lark to become a Flower Child (glamorized in movies and on TV). Of course she was easily reunited with her worried parents through a bus ticket program, but I’d wager that few – if any – aspiring Flower Children make Redding their destination.

      Even Bethel’s own members and attendees receive little or no actual help from Bethel. It “helps” the rare, ocassional attendee expreiencing a financial crisis by making them wait “several weeks”, then dealing with their problem over the phone (which I think we can safely assume is limited to praying for them – Bethel’s answer to everything).

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Patrecia, Thanks for your thoughts. I was assigned to participate in joining the homeless for breakfast at Bethel for an academic year. I really learned a great deal from the homeless folks I met, but I always felt they were patiently putting up with having to teach me. One of the more humbling aspects of my education at Bethel, really. I refer back to things I learned from those men and women often.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Being homeless is an incredibly stressful and traumatic experience. The homeless generally suffer from severe sleep deprivation, malnutrition, injury from the rampant violence for which they are easy targets, and a whole host of illnesses stemming from constant exposure to the elements, lack of sanitation, and their weakened physical condition. Many already suffered from mental and physical illnesses before they became homeless, which are greatly exacerbated by their homeless condition. People who weren’t mentally ill to begin with often are once they’ve been homeless for even a short time.

        Even if the homeless person is among the small percentage who can fit into the Mission, they are forced to contend with everyone else’s problems in that crowded, dormitory-style environment, and it’s by no means safe – Mission “guests” have been stabbed, beaten, and molested. Add to that the continuous assault with hellfire-and-brimstone punish-the-sinner religion, and this is not a pleasant experience. And if they have any type of serious illness or diability they’re out of luck, because the Mission won’t take them.

        Bethel contributes to local homelessness in a variety of ways – by selfishly monopolizing local housing (particularly on the lower end) and providing no housing for its thousands of supernatural students, with its leader’s frequent demonization of the homeless, and through its bus program (administered by the Mission). I listened to a radio interview awhile back in which it was revealed that homeless people are literally picked up off the streets by police and taken to the Mission, where they are pressured to leave the area under any pretext. One very young man with local roots who had a falling out with his (basically worthless) family was pressured to go to another state just because that’s where an ex-girlfriend now happens to live. Of course that didn’t work out.

        I don’t believe I would describe Bethel as “generous” – their generosity is self-serving, superficial, extremely minimal in any way that counts, and generally doesn’t cost them a thing. They frankly create far more problems for the area than they help to solve.

  3. Avatar Tim says:

    A household of 4 making over $150,000 qualifies for public assistance in California – hardly an indication of poverty.

    • Avatar Carla Clark says:

      That income ($150,000) seems high for qualifying for public assistance. What specific types of assistance are you are referring to?

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        In the bill that Gov Newsom signed that gives illegal immigrants full health benefits, it also puts into law a provision that a family of four earning as much as six times the federal poverty level — or more than $150,000 a year — would be eligible for the government help to pay a portion of their monthly health insurance premiums.

    • Avatar annelise says:

      Tim: red herring responses bore me.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Tim,

      Not true. A family of four can only make $2,389 a month – or about $28,000 a year – GROSS income (which is more than what they actually bring home) to qualify for food stamps in California, and I believe other programs are based on the same income levels.

      https://pocketsense.com/much-california-qualify-food-stamps-7758133.html

      • Avatar Tim says:

        Yes true. I wasn’t talking about food stamps and your figures are wrong anyway. For 2019 the SNAP gross annual income limit for a family of 4 in the continental US is $32,640. https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/file/FY19-Income-Eligibility-Standards.pdf

        A family of 4 earning <$33,534 qualifies for Medi-Cal

        A family of 4 earning <$38,625 qualifies for LIHEAP (utility assistance).

        A family of 4 earning <$38,880 automatically qualifies for an "Obama phone" (Lifeline program). You can earn more and still qualify if you have children on WIC, subsidized school lunch, or receive section 8 benefits (meaning Californians earning up to $117,400 income might still qualify for an Obama phone)

        A family of 4 earning <$46,435 qualifies for reduced price school lunches

        A family of 4 with a child under 5 or a pregnancy earning < $47,638 qualifies for WIC

        A family of 4 earning <$51,500 can receive discounted utility rates through CARE.

        A family of 4 earning up to $117,400 can qualify for section 8 housing in California (SF).

        A family of 4 earning up to $154,500 qualifies for Obamacare subsidies.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Tim,

          I don’t know where you’re getting your figures, but according to the official figures below for 2019, a family needs to be “extremely low”, “very low”, or “low” income to qualify for Section 8/HUD housing, which is 30, 60, and 80 percent of the federal poverty level respectively (for a family of 4 the limit on the high end is $25,750, per the link below).

          And why do you keep referring to the program that provides free or low-cost phones to low-income individuals as “Obama phones”? That program originated under Bush II, and the proposal orginated under Reagan. Also, the money for that program doesn’t come from tax dollars, but is funded by telecommunications companies.

          https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/01/2019-00621/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Where in the world did you get that piece of untrue info? And wherever it was, why would you not check facts due to its outlandish claim? Sheesh, Tim, get real for once.

  4. Annelise, thank you for your balanced, smart, fact-based reporting on a subject that’s not easy to cover. I appreciate you.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Annelise, I also appreciate your balanced coverage. I have to say the whole Bethel business model resembles in part the (illegal in most states?) a good ol’ Pyramid Scheme.

  5. Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

    With careful eyes and a Guidestar account, you can scope out affiliate nonprofits that do file 990s.

  6. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I guess I’ll once again play devil’s advocate (:::cough:::) here on behalf of Bethel.

    Really, how do the practices described here differ from most of the other churches in the area, except in that Bethel is really f***ing good at it? Are the other churches in town offering key employees professional salaries and benefits? Do other churches in the area offer proportionally as much of their “take” back to the community in the currencies of services and cash? Is Bethel the only church that holds to at least some harsh Old Testament views on sinful behaviors? Are other churches not striving to grow their flocks? Is Bethel unique in that its leaders live better than most of their median tithers?

    Am I a Bethel apologist? Or am I saying it’s all the same grift? Somewhere in the middle? You decide.

    To me, there’s nothing unique about Bethel—not even their dominion theology—save that they might actually be good enough at this game to succeed in taking Redding over completely.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Steve,

      You answered your own question. What other church admits (per its “Expansion Mandate”) that it plans to make Redding a world-wide example of how to turn an entire city into its version of a theocracy, and is well on its way to positioning itself to do exactly that?

      Most people make the mistake of viewing Bethel as just a local church with a large congregation. In actuality it’s a leading force in the international Dominionist movement, with millions of followers, thousands of associated churches and religious organizations, and vast wealth at its disposal. Bethel CEO Bill Johnson’s co-author, close associate, and fellow New Apostolic Reformation “apostle” Lance Wallnau is even a member of Trump’s inner-circle of Dominionist “advisors”.

      Speaking of which – in the short video below (that heads the truly terrifying list of goals these people have for our country), Wallnau talks about “sneaking” into positions of power and influence, and other “stealth” activities:

      https://thechurchoftruth.org/plan-for-christian-domination/

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        “,,,“sneaking” into positions of power and influence”
        You mean like running for office and winning an election fair and square?

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Doug Cook

          Lance Wallnau (who has co-written several books with Bethel CEO Bill Johnson on world religious domination) actually used the words “sneak” and “stealth” in the video above.

          As most of us know, Bethel leaders spend a lot of time pushing their deluded followers to become politically active, and even endorse candidates, in violation of the Johnson Amendment. They claim to have a direct line to “god”, and these people actually believe it. With the thousands of Bethel adherents flooding the area, they should have no trouble putting their candidates over the top (as they did with Mayor Julie Winter).

          And one of the ways Bethel hides its agenda is to make becoming an actual member of the “church” a long, difficult, and expensive process. In that way – as its people infiltrate everything is sight – they can say they aren’t a member of Bethel, if asked.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Steve, the way I see it the the difference is the huge amount of money involved coupled with the scope of their reach into ALL things Redding. With that amount of money their typically comes power and influence such as Bethel’s support of the Brian Dahle (and now his wife’s ) political campaigns. While I don’t think their religious views are unique, the church is unique in (as you yourself say) it’s success in recruiting people to come here. They’re definitely no dummies as far as marketing goes; it’s slick and sophisticated as evidenced by the number of people who come here for Bethel as well as the huge amount of money made from their music label. Actually, come to think if it, that in itself (music label) is unique to any Redding church. Personally I’m not comfortable with any church amassing that amount of money and power here in Redding. Bethel has many supporters here in Redding and your last sentence is exactly what concerns me. Then again I’m admittedly not religious and not conservative and not wanting to support a church which is openly anti-LGBTQ+ and has that amount of money and sway in play in our city.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Candice — All due respect, I think you’re just repeating back what I said. Most Christian churches instruct their followers to go forth and spread the word, both in language and in deed. Christianity is supposed to inform everything that Christians do. I attended a little Dutch Reformed Church of America as a lad—that’s what I was taught.

        The difference is that Bethel is frighteningly effective at getting its followers to follow through on that mandate, 24/7. In my little church (and many others in my decades of observation), religion was a thing you did on Sundays.

        • Avatar Candace C says:

          Steve, yep, I re-read your question and you’re correct about my response. Point taken. Good reminder for me to read more carefully before I reply.

    • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

      I will never, ever forget Bethel’s published article during the Carr Fire. Prophetic Work for Bethel Church and Redding: “Beauty and Bounty from the Ashes.” It was published around August, 2018. I can’t link the article because it has been apparently removed. One of the points of the article was that it would be a positive for the art collection at Shasta State Historic Park to burn, and make way for more contemporary paintings.

      You use the term, “proportionally.” I’m guessing that other area churches don’t have the money that Bethel has. With the resources Bethel has, I think they could easily afford to pay the staff a living wage. When we were evacuated, and our home lost, it was a Baptist church in Redding that opened their doors, when the Shasta College Red Cross Center was closed because they were impacted. There were no hotel rooms available. This church offered the best they had. Without preaching, and with volunteers quietly entering all night long with blanket to cover us. Food on the table. Of course “other churches,” strive to grow their flocks. For me, it’s just that there is more of a sincerity in the grass roots efforts of the Baptist Church that reached out.

      And, no. I never receive the famous $1,000 dollar from the Bethel Church. And I finally asked, early on. Maybe it was because they could “sense” that it was a test of sorts. To check out their sincerity. The woman on their phone was rude, no kind words. No following through on getting back to me.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Hi Steve (and Dan). I always appreciate a good devils advocate. 🙂 I have questioned through exactly what you ask and I very much appreciate your questions. Certainly, many of Bethel’s perspectives on morality mirror much of the evangelical church. To the extent that we hate them due to their view on the LGBTQ community, for example, we should hate most of the churches in Redding, who would have similar views.
      The wealth of their senior leaders and their views on radical generosity are not mainstream evangelism, however. They want to be “famous for our generosity”, as I often heard from the pulpit. Great goal in my opinion. And I do think their community giving is unusual and differs from most churches, that’s why I recounted examples here. So I would agree with their stated goal of radical generosity, I just think it needs to be genuine and extend to employees as well as the community. It should be a generosity that costs the key leaders something, not just their employees and students. It should also be a generosity that benefits a diverse spectrum of humanity rather than pet projects that back personal beliefs. I could say much more but I still have a bit of writing on this topic that will appear soon and hopefully clarify some of this. Thanks again for your comment.

      • Avatar Anita Brady says:

        Sorry but the $500,000 given to COR for neighborhood policing occurred just before the Bethel Expansion was going to be heard in front of the Planning Commission and then the City Council, DONATIONS LIKE THIS ARE CALLED BRIBES!

        • Avatar Anita Brady says:

          Also, since donations were pouring in from all around the globe to Bethel, it certainly should not be considered “generous” that they in turn passed it to those affected. And it would be even more HONEST if they allowed an audit to track those funds and how they were distributed.

  7. Avatar Dan says:

    Ditto..what Steve said.

  8. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

    2 Thessalonians 2

    Barking like dogs
    Cackling like chickens
    So called “holy laughter”
    “Slaying in the spirit”
    Gold glitter “glory clouds”
    Diamonds on floor / seats
    And Bird feathers falling from ceiling is anything but normal Mr Towers and can only be found at the circus called Bethel

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Chris — I assure you that there are other churches around town that engage in practices that the average rational empiricist finds preposterous. Non-Christians look at your mocking comments and think: Pot…kettle…black.

      One of the more successful Christian churches—with local affiliates—systematically tolerated and covered up kiddy fiddling for centuries. I may think that glitter and feathers blown through the AC system is a laughably obvious deception, but my outrage is measured.

      BTW, your passage from Paul is a pretty good example of why I think Paul spoiled the New Testament. Dude was so “Old T. “ God is going to delude us big time so that he can condemn us? C’mon, Paul.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Steve,

        There’s really no getting around the fact that Bethel (and its many national and international cohorts) have the admitted goal of taking over the “7 Mountains” (government, education, business, the media, the military, other religions, and family life) for their primitive religion – a goal they’ve already gone a ways toward achieving locally. That makes Bethel different – and far more of a threat to the average citizen – than every other local church.

        And Jesus (who overwhelming evidence now suggests didn’t exist except as an ordinary itinerent preacher – if that) was pretty “Old Testament” himself, since he’s credited with saying that he came to fulfill every one of the OT laws and prophecies. His entire life story – down to almost the last detail – was borrowed from gods and religions that pre-date him, which may account for any differences.

  9. Avatar Striker says:

    Bethel is in the business of selling miracle worker tools to their never ending supply of sucker’s.

    A total magical fools cult. Appealing only to the greedy and supper power seekers in he world.

    This will likey, end badly one day.

  10. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Of course part of Bethel is all about the 7 mountain mandate …. Your much to soft Annelise

    Henderson open space was once home to the now burned down Thatcher lumber mill, pond and teepee burner that polluted that area with one of the most toxic chemicals know to man many feet down and Dignity health is gonna have a heck of a time getting work done in that area. Long time residents may remember it ( Doni ? ) as you could easily see it as you drove over Cypress St bridge

    “Redding Bethel Church Members Destroying Known Homeless Camp Areas Henderson Open Space”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoRVPDVqeJQ

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Hi Chris. I have had to laugh at much commentary in social media over the last day that I am “much too soft” or “much too kind” towards Bethel. To me, this is what integrity looks like.
      Where I see Bethel doing good I want to credit them. Where I see them doing harm I want to hold them accountable. As a former member and student I have a unique platform to offer them feedback in the public arena, and I want to do so with respect and fairness, something I hope to offer all my subjects.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        I’m sure you know that Bethel leaders don’t always adhere to the truth, so everything their public relations people say is not necessarily reflective of reality. Per the video I posted earlier, they believe they’re on a Mission from God, that the end justifies the means, and that they are entitled to employ “sneakiness” and “stealth” in the pursuit of their goals.

        Bethel is not really deserving of respect. It’s a prosperity gospel scam of the worst kind (which is basically an extortionist and bribery racket), with Bethel leaders feathering their incredibly comfortable nests on the backs of their struggling congregants. It’s also far more political than the law allows.

        If it truly wants to be “generous”, it could start by paying taxes, which would benefit the area far more than the largely self-serving donations it claims to make.

  11. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    “Bethel Church and Redding Police Join Forces to Destroy Homeless Camps”

    http://reddinghomeless.blogspot.com/2012/07/bethel-church-and-redding-police-join.html

  12. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Annelise, this is the best article you’ve written about Bethel so far, you’re really finding your voice, and it’s wonderful that you’re siding with the working class grunts that make Bethel go, the personal assistants and other staff who pamper the “stars.”

    This article validates something I’ve long sensed: Bethel is a white slavery outfit. 2500 mostly shiny white people every semester, although they’ve been branching out into Asia and Africa, because there’s only so many shiny white suckers in the world.

    Did I say suckers? I did. In addition to ponying up $5000 for BSSM tuition, students are forced to buy Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton’s books. Having perused a dozen of these towers of Babel, I can attest that they are by far the worst-written books I’ve ever read. I’m baffled. I’m also baffled about worship music, but I’m a punk rocker, so whatever. Anyways, the books. It’s like at least $500 worth of books per semester. Good Lord. That’s why hundreds of BSSM students have Go Fund Me accounts.

    Here’s why I say white slavery. You know why the Green New Deal is a Good Deal, especially for virile young men? Consider the alleged $400,000 value of the BSSM students forced to clear weeds annually. In the Green New Deal, this will be an actual job with benefits, subsidized by the billions we’re going to extract from the fossil fuel companies that have killed our planet. The total value of the work to be done in Shasta County can be measured in the billions, over time.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Nice job Annelise! You are one more reason readers should support A News Cafe with their hard-earned dollars.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      R.V., I stand with you on two points:

      1. Chris Vallotton’s writing skills are cringe-worthy AF. The dude is definitely not the heir apparent to the literary genius who wrote Ecclesiastes. (I’m not nearly as familiar with BJ’s writings—I assume it’s similarly reflective of a mediocre education.).

      2. I too find Bethel’s music (and worship music in general) to be unlistenable. I say that while acknowledging that there is plenty of gospel music out there that is truly glorious. But cock-rock and power ballad love songs to Jesus ain’t in that mix.

      I’m comforted by the fact that nobody—myself included—is forced to read Bethel’s books or listen to their music.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        If country music is “three chords and the truth,” then evangelical praise music is perhaps “three chords ad infinitum.” I attended a Pentecostal Easter service with a friend, and the songs that the choir sang were upbeat, happy, and repetitious and repetitious and repetitious.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Thanks R.V. 🙂 When I was a student, books were included in our tuition cost. Created some good demands for those books since they were required reading material. 🙂 Don’t forget many of them are written by ghost writers, so hard to know who to blame for the poor writing.

  13. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Excellent article Annelise. I’m disappointed to learn that Bethel workers are not paid well, but that is true in so many successful businesses in the world. I enjoyed reading all of the responses to your article. The video Patrecia shared was frightening. When I was young I was such a sucker for information delivered in a sincere and resonate voice….or feelings evoked by the sound track in a movie. These are powerful tools that I really believe are part of Bethel’s success as a business. R.V. the worship music is a series of chords…usually in a minor chord. Think “Hallelujah”….that, played behind a somber recitation of Redding winter crops would make me want to weep with joy.

  14. Avatar striker says:

    Maybe, ” if God willing” we will soon be seeing the Johnsons, and Vallottons cruising around Redding in (52) New Rolls Royces and flying around the world in a New 300mil.$ Boeing Jet. Hallelujah !

  15. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    I think this Video and Song by Kim Walker Smith and Jesus Culture featuring the hell on earth homeless shelter known as the downtown Redding underground parking lot is absolutely gorgeous …

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuYYQNVFxGo

  16. Avatar Lethal says:

    Buck Fethel?

  17. Avatar striker says:

    ” The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
    2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12

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