Illinois’ Harvest Bible Chapel church is in trouble yet again.
This comes after the complete downfall of its founder, Pastor James MacDonald, who was fired last February after details of his extravagant spending, financial mismanagement, and possibly hiring a hitman to murder his son-in-law came to light.
Nearly all of the church’s senior leadership team resigned. Membership has gone down.
Meanwhile, MacDonald (below) is selling his IL home for $1.9 million and allegedly moving to the West Coast.
So with that guy out of the picture, what’s the church’s problem now?
According to reporter Jake Griffin of the Daily Herald, two of the church’s campuses (where services are held) are receiving tax exemptions they don’t deserve, and now officials want them to pay what they owe.
The owners of the Highland Park building that is home to the church’s Deerfield Road campus are already on the hook for more than $500,000 in property taxes after Lake County assessment officials learned the property had erroneously received a tax exemption for the past five years. The tax bill includes three years of back taxes and the amount owed this year, county officials said.
Meanwhile, West Aurora Unit District 129 officials said they are seeking to have the state revoke the tax-exempt status for Harvest Bible Chapel’s Aurora church after learning the owner of the property is a for-profit limited liability corporation that rents the campus to the church.
In English, here’s what’s happening: The Deerfield Road campus used to be a church, and received a tax exemption… but in 2015, a for-profit company bought the building for nearly $5 million. Whatever its relationship now is with Harvest Bible Chapel is irrelevant. On paper, this is a public company, not a private church, and no one has ever said otherwise. Therefore, the owners should be paying property taxes. They haven’t been. Now officials want them to pay up.
The Aurora campus is also owned by a for-profit company. When a local school district rented space in that building a few years ago, they were told they had to pay property taxes. So how come Harvest Bible Chapel, which also rents space in that building for $21,000 a month, doesn’t have to do the same thing? The owners can’t treat the two groups differently. So a lot of people are demanding county officials take action there as well. (Those officials say they can’t because, on paper, the building is a tax-exempt property.)
Even if the details are complicated, the point is clear: The people who run this church have gotten away with breaking the law for years. In one case, they got caught and will have to pay back what they stole. In another, it’ll take a lot more work to bring them to justice.
Whatever the case, these Christians refused to do the right thing on their own. Again. Anyone who belongs to this church and gives money to it is really just supporting a crime syndicate at this point. They don’t think the rules should apply to them. And no one in leadership will apologize, much less admit they screwed over their communities.
This isn’t a problem with one bad apple. The entire orchard is toxic.