Tuesday, May 20, 2008

JPUSA Gets The Last Word In

We posted a photo over the weekend of the window at the JPUSA-owned building on Wilson where campaign posters had been displayed for years. This display, which was noted by many in the community, has the potential to endanger JPUSA's standing with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. Our item noted that the campaign posters were apparently removed sometime during the past week.

This is what JPUSA has placed in the window where the election posters used to be. It's got it all: taxes, pagans abusing Christian charity, a nice sense of martyrdom. We guess we're supposed to feel chastened. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Update: A reader pointed out this website, with resources from people who have since left Jesus People USA. Be sure to check out the Rick Ross website. It includes Tribune stories and comments from former members and people involved with the "Wellness Retreat," which helps those who have been "spiritually abused."

WWJD? Our guess is, not be snarky about having to comply with the laws of the land.


  1. A final word from IrishPirate on the responsibility of Christians to obey the law assuming that law isn't outrageous or flatly immoral or evil. I hardly think IRS rules are outrageous.

    Actually it from Jesus, but compared to that modern day philosopher, Jon Trott, what did the Christ know anyway.

    "Render unto Caesar…” is a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels. Jesus gives this answer to the question of whether it is lawful for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar. The full sentence this phrase comes from is “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

    "Here endeth the lesson". Malone: "The Untouchables".

    This all amuses me. I'm guessing finally the IRS moved on the Jesus People over the signs. "How sweet it is." Jackie Gleason.

  2. I think the IRS rules are grossly outrageous.

  3. actually in Jesus' day, the church was the government. people who brought loving donations to the temple for the poor and needy were met there by corrupt profiteers who had found a way (by being a friend and supporter of the politicians no doubt) to be allowed to distribute those donations on behalf of the people who gave them, for a small (or maybe larger) fee of course. jesus turned the tables on them (literally) and called them a brood of vipers.

    the early christian church probably elimited that corrupt middleman completely who was making a tidy profit from those generous donations.

    do you think Jesus would have something to say about how money flows through an organization which collects government funds to distribute them to the poor in today's society? do you think jesus would have somthing to say about who donates what political campign funds and puts up electioneering posters?

    just think of the IRS as that safeguard in our society. the media and the community are another.

  4. Maybe JPUSA should trust God and only rely on donations from Christians so that they can continue their charitable work. Why take money from heathens?

  5. Question to any tax lawyers: is this political speech prohibited by the IRS? Or is it just speech?

  6. They say, "The pagans say those things" about the "Christian" Jesus People?

    I say them too and I'm a Christian, my daddy's a church elder, my brother's a church deacon, we all went to private Christian colleges. My uncle's on the national Synod. I attended church 6 times a week in my youth.

    Do Jesus People truly think they can condesend and play Holier-Than-Thou with the rest of the Christians in the neighborhood? Because, that's not what Christians do.

  7. Charities, educational institutions and religious organizations, including churches, are among tax-exempt organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. They are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.

    These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fund raising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that, directly or indirectly, may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate. Activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria also violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3).

    There are a lot of websites that spell out the specifics, including the IRS's site. The above is from OMB, a government watchdog group's page.

    The Ban on Election Intervention: What Charities Should Know

    I'm not a tax lawyer, but I work for them. This is what they steered me to.

  8. So the current statement on the window is protected free speech and one might assume that someone acknowledged that the political candidate posters were prohibited?

  9. The statement currently on the window is absolutely protected free speech. Nothing political about it.

    In my opinion, it's just a final nyah-nyah from JPUSA blaming "the pagans" for not giving them credit for all the good they do, and when you're that good, who needs to follow the tax code? Since Jon Trott calls people like me -- i.e., those who believe JPUSA should be held accountable for their promises -- "haters," I could hardly expect them to take down the political posters without a final word on the subject.

    And that word (not Word) is in their window.

  10. Their unchecked arrogance will lead to their demise.

  11. The JPUSA leaders bristle at following the government's rules, yet create strict rules that their parishioners must follow, lest they face retribution or expulsion. That's classic narcissism, folks.

  12. As long as we're quoting movies:

    "Help! Help! I'm being repressed! Come see the repression inherent in the system."


    This highly un-earth friendly response on the part of JPUSA traverses the immature and lands squarely in the realm of the infantile.

    They knew the rules. They knew they were breaking them, and now they've been called out.

    Suck it up, ya babies.

  13. Last time I checked, we still had a separation b/w church and state... unless Bush has scammed that one out from under us too!

  14. @9:09 .. Bush? really?!


    I guess Dick Cheney and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy are responsible for the overflowing trash cans on Hazel, too.

  15. I just LOVE how they "blame the pagans". What the hell does this mean?! By what stupid decription is this? A Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu? God forbid an atheist? Or anyone that does not give them money and attend thier church.
    It always kills me with laughter when do-gooding-Christians always point the finger of judgement or blame, before they have the time to look into the mirror and see what's in themselves.
    I don't think they have the last say, because if they did it wouldn't read like that!

  16. I have been thinking a lot about this statement on their window. People who are familiar with what I usually post on this blog will know that I am critical of the prevailing "all we need is love" approach to poverty, homelessness and joblessness that we have in Uptown. SO, after thinking it over for a few days, I think what is really bothering me about this statement is that it once again reverts to an "us" vs. "them" stance. Even choosing to quote Peter Maurin reveals how ideologically incoherent their public face to the community is. One has to wonder if there is any coherence behind closed doors...

    There is no doubt that the Jesus People have been in Uptown for a long time. They are a fixture of our community. And, they did shoulder some of our collective responsibility when others in Chicago (i.e., the City government) were unwilling or ill-equipped to shoulder it. However, they have profoundly squandered what should have been a great opportunity to do what other Christians might call "spreading the 'good news'" or "sharing Christs' love." I am not talking about conversion or anything like that (although it may have been an opportunity for them to pursue that goal if they had wanted to) but I am talking about them squandering an opportunity to lead by example. Instead what we have is closed minds and closed doors---an "you are either with us or against us" mentality. When they take this stance, it perpetuates the particular type of "service to the poor" that they specialize in and keeps this neighborhood a place where some of the most troubled members of society are romanticized and fetishized so that there will always be a place for people to come to do "good works." Although it may seem counterintuitive, this kind of set-up is actually very selfish on the part of those doing the "good works" because it ends up creating a situation in which the larger context is ignored, forgotten and excused merely for the convenience of the do-gooders who have set up shop here. In my humble opinion, true Christian outreach for the poor would stretch beyond ward boundaries and wouldn't be afraid to call elected leaders to task when they ignore the plight of the poor or make decisions that will just perpetuate the condition.

    Far from being any kind of radical Utopian movement, JPUSA is far too interested in maintaining the status quo. Thoughtful people should continue to ask themselves---why?

  17. I believe all religions have some elements of truth, and what I know about Jesus is that he had a way of exhibiting compassion to those he challenged, unless their hearts were hardened. I don't sense compassion from JPUSA. I sense all judgment and damnation if you don't agree with them.

    I don't even like referring to them as "Jesus People". I don't see Jesus in them. I know they read this. I just hope they are willing to listen, really listen.

  18. http://jpusainfo.yuku.com is the discussion board for ex-Jpusa's .

    Today, I brought the following threads back to the top on the "Help For Formers" section:

    - CAUTION: JPUSA spin doctors...

    - The Truth about Eric Pement/Wellspring

    - Child Molestation (YOU MUST READ THIS!!!)

    - http://www.exjpusahelp.com

    - Free Speech on JPUSAinfo

    Also, under the "Theology" section, on the "Potential: Commune vs. Community" thread, please read the posts on pages 5-7, dated 3/14/08 until present, by "Neo". He/she is a current member still inside the confines of this cult who is letting the board know about what currently goes on inside.

    JPUSA is nothing more than a scam run by a privileged few who cloak their deeds under "religion". They're no better than Warren Jeffs, the fool who used to be in charge of a polygamist Mormon cult but who is now in prison. May JPUSA's leadership suffer the same fate for all of their crimes against humanity.

    It's bad enough what appears on the surface with JPUKA. What lies beneath is much, much worse.

    Mark Scheiderer

  19. markscheiderer@hotmail.com

    and 937-642-7306 (Eastern time zone)is my contact info.

    I posted anonymously yesterday with the info about http://www.exjpusahelp.com

    Mark Scheiderer

    P.S. - Hello Jon Trott and all you con-artists/criminals who run JPUKA! You have sown the wind. You will reap the whirlwind.

  20. I believe the Maurin quote is relevant and thought provoking given the context of this whole window-sign-witch-hunt.

    Now if JPUSA would of had a sign reading "Die yuppie scum" well then I could see them as being a little judgmental (and humorous).

  21. Witch hunt? Oh, please.

    JPUSA applied for the privilege of being a 501(c)(3) corporation. It knew it was agreeing to certain obligations and restrictions when it signed the papers to become one.

    And somewhere along the line, it decided it didn't like those restrictions anymore, so it decided to ignore them.

    It needs to either decide to follow the IRS regulations governing 501(c)(3) corporations, voluntarily give up that designation, or have the IRS remove the designation. After all, it ASKED to become one.

  22. If any of you actually knew who Peter Maurin was, you might understand the quote a little more and also understand that he died in 1949. So the JPUSA folks are not the ones who said this. Give credit where credit is due. They did. Read the entire sign.

    Here is some information on Peter Maurin: http://www.catholicworker.com/maurinjf.htm

    This biography of him also sites another great quote of his:

    People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness' sake. Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum's rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods. Although you may be called bums and panhandlers you are in fact the ambassadors of God. As God's ambassadors you should be given food, clothing and shelter by those who are able to give it.

  23. Joyce, get over yourself.

    It doesn't matter who Peter Maurin was or what he did. What matters is that JPUSA was caught breaking IRS regulations and couldn't leave it alone. Had to use Maurin put a "gotcha!" statement on their window, lest the neighbors and IRS think they were actually obeying. Had to get that last word in!

    Self-righteous condescending attitudes like yours are exactly the reason I left the Evangelical Covenant Church when they aligned with JPUSA. Other churches in Uptown, like UBC, reach out to the community.

    JPUSA condescends and lectures. JPUSA calls new residents "haters." JPUSA circles the wagons and doesn't let the community in.

    ECC -- and thereby JPUSA -- has already lost my loyalty and my contributions. Keep it up, maybe you can alienate the ENTIRE community with your snide comments and superior attitudes.

    Tell me, Joyce, who would Jesus condescend to?

  24. Hmmm...

    actually Jon didn't put that quote up, someone else did though that's probably a mute point.

    i guess it's the perspective thing again, but when i read that quote i saw it as a challenge to the church in general. the government and taxpayers should not need to shoulder the burden of assisting the less fortunate because the church should already be doing it as a service of love.

    whether or not you agree with that sentiment is not really the point, but it doesn't strike me as a snub at JPUSA's neighbors.

    obviously, with the timing and placement, most of you saw it very differently. i'm just not sure that was the intention.

    also, another technicality (which may be mute), i believe JPUSA is mostly under the 501(d) classification. i'm not sure what the differences are, also i'm pretty sure that different aspects of JPUSA's various activities fall under different tax classifications.
    i don't directly deal with that end of things so i don't know the details off the top of my head.

    brian grover

  25. Joyce, I know EXACTLY who Peter Maurin was. Your post sheds further light on what caused me to make the comments I did on this thread.