An Oklahoma pastor who met multiple times with Donald Trump reportedly used a “church” — without a congregation or services — to evade thousands of dollars in property taxes.
According to Clifton Adcock of The Frontier, a Tulsa-based investigative journalism outlet, Jesse Leon Rodgers, the head of Gateway Ministries in Tulsa, hasn’t run any services for more than five years. But the claim that he runs a church has allowed him to skip out on real estate tax liabilities while engaging in unlawful political conduct.
Although state and federal records show Gateway Ministries, Inc., is classified as a church, the organization has entered into a compact with a conservative Oklahoma political action committee to endorse and donate to political candidates in the 2020 elections, according to the head of the political action committee.
Federal law prohibits churches and charities from engaging in electioneering and political campaigns, and doing so can jeopardize their tax-exempt status with the IRS, though enforcement of the prohibition on electioneering is often lax, experts say.
Those endorsements are a violation of the Johnson Amendment, which Trump has often said he repealed even though he didn’t.
If that’s not enough, Rodgers also works with a group affiliated with the notorious Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group as well as another group working to create a completely Christian government.
Gateway Ministries is the legal name behind a relatively new group known as City Elders, which was established as a trade name of Gateway’s in June 2018, Secretary of State records show…
City Elders’ executive committee consists of 12 members, including Rodgers, who is listed as the organization’s president, Oklahoma State GOP Chairman David McLain and Tulsa County Election Board Vice Chair George Wiland.
McLain’s position on City Elders’ executive committee was one of several points of contention within the state GOP leadership. Sooner Tea Party founder Al Gerhart has criticized McLain as belonging to a “dominion theology” group. Dominionism is a religious political ideology that advocates total or near-total control of civil government by Christians and guided by biblical principles.
If that doesn’t terrify you, I don’t know what will. When Rodgers looks at Middle Eastern theocracies, he doesn’t see a problem; he finds inspiration. His political power continues to grow through a combination of connections and ass-kissing. When he’s not meeting with Trump, he’s posting photos next to Trump’s portrait.
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