More than three years ago, we posted about David E. Taylor of Joshua Media Ministries International in Michigan because he had revealed himself to be a cartoonish version of a grift-happy pastor. Imagine a church leader taking the congregation’s money for personal gain and then exaggerating it to the breaking point. That was David E. Taylor.
He was in the news after video of a deposition he gave to a lawyer became public. The deposition was to respond to charges of financial corruption. And during the back and forth, there were so many jaw-dropping moments. Like when he claimed not to recognize someone’s name… even though he had listed that name as a dependent on his tax returns.
There was also a $2.8 million property he had listed as an asset on the church’s tax forms… but he later slipped up and called it his “home.” Then he claimed he didn’t know the place’s address. (Because how could anyone remember the address of a multi-million dollar building you also live in?)
Then there were the church’s luxury cars, including a BMW and Mercedes, that were reserved for “high profile guests,” and the thousands of dollars of church money Taylor spent on high-end clothing because they “have a better TV appearance.”
How did the church get all this money? As you might guess, it involved convincing members to hand it all over to them in the name of God. One woman gave $1.2 million — which included her cashed-out 401K — and was left practically homeless while Taylor got richer.
You would think a guy like that would lay low for a while after being exposed for the con artist he is, but he only got worse. In fact, earlier this month, Colin Maloney of the Michigan-based News-Herald published a long piece alleging that Taylor had turned JMMI into a “slave labor cult.”
Other former members accused the organization of taking advantage of individuals with a desire to serve the Lord by having them solicit donations, which were then used to enrich church leaders. A renowned gospel recording artist alleged that David E. Taylor, JMMI’s minister and her former boyfriend, repeatedly violated his duties as a man of the cloth by having sexual relations with more than 40 women, many of them in his ministry.
According to one of the women who used to be in a relationship with Taylor,
“He preys on women,” she said. “He does not honor women. Women are just a vagina.”
How’s that for a church slogan…
That woman, gospel singer Vicki Yohe, also said she wanted to go public with her claims about his philandering, but he convinced her not to do it:
“He told me if I went public, I would get cancer,” she said. “He puts all these curses on people. … When you first get with him, he asks you for naked pictures, inappropriate pictures. … If you even think about getting mad or you want to break up, (or) if you expose him, he’s going to send those pictures out.”
Revenge porn is illegal in Michigan.
With some of the church members he wasn’t sleeping with, he convinced them to perform free labor by working as fundraisers.
[Chris Sorensen] would later learn of the inner workings of a ministry machine that he said was focused on bringing in as much money as possible. He said JMMI, which, according to tax records, brings in millions of dollars in donations every year, developed email and phone call solicitation scripts for members to follow, sending out thousands of messages each day in an effort to hit certain benchmarks.
“Every single staff member had a $500 per day quota you had to meet in donations, or $20,000 collectively,” Sorensen said.
“You pretty much work every single day. You might have had one day off a month. I remember I would want so, so much for a day off, and just week after week would pass and I just never got the day off. So you’re always sleep deprived; you never can catch up on sleep.”
Sorenson also said church members slept in the building, some on air mattresses and others on “blankets on top of plywood.” The industrial building had no actual beds or showers.
The newspaper tried repeatedly to speak with Taylor for the article. No requests were returned. And because JMMI is a church and they can keep financial and other kinds of information hidden from public view, much of this could remain unknown.
(Thanks to Andrew for the link)