Skip to comments.Members 'brainwashed' by mega-church into donating thousands
Posted on 10/22/2019 1:17:52 PM PDT by Gamecock
He's the flashy church leader who takes money for miracles and is living a million-dollar lifestyle thanks to the tax-free donations from his thousands of believers. Phil Pringle rose from humble garbage collector to leader of C3 Church one of the biggest churches you've probably never heard of, and the focus of a two-part exclusive investigation by A Current Affair. Its target is God's hipsters - a following of young faithful hooked on Instagram. Over three decades Phil Pringle has built an empire including around 400 churches world-wide, and the church claims more than 100,000 members. And for a man of God, Phil Pringle is incredibly rich. He drives a luxury car and owns a palatial clifftop mansion overlooking the beach at Sydney's Mona Vale. It comes complete with an infinity pool and cost him $3.4 million seven years ago - it's now valued well above $4 million.
He also enjoys skippering yachts in exotic destinations around the world. His message seems to be less about repenting your sins and more about building your finances. "Go make millions and give it to the House of God ... Amen!" Phil Pringle preaches at one conference, recorded and published online. In another clip, the leader of C3 Americas Jurgen Matthesius is also captured giving the hard sell to parishioners.
"God is brilliant with ledgers. God is the most perfect accountant, he knows everything you give and he makes sure it comes back to you with interest," he said. Another deputy and leader of C3, John Pearce, is even more blunt about how God's blessings work.
"Some of you are going to walk into heaven and God is going to go 'massive mansion over there for you' like what's that for? He'll go, well you were part of C3 powerhouse," he said. In a special investigation, former members reveal the extent of the pressure put on followers, starting with tithing a term that requires you to donate 10 per cent of your pre-tax salary. "The first 10 per cent of whatever they earn. So if you're on $100,000 that's $10,000 that you're giving per annum to them," former C3 Church member, Aaron said. When asked by A Current Affair Reporter Dan Nolan about tithing, Phil Pringle said tithing is optional, but on C3's website, it's made clear that even if you are in "significant debt", your regular tithe is still expected.
The preachers claim this is okay because if you give money to C3, God will bless you with more money in return.
"They would describe giving as like a seed," Aaron said. "You not only give once, you've got to continue to give, which is like your watering of the seed and then it will grow and then eventually you'll get this big blessing and this good stuff will happen to you." It's claimed by giving, followers can be blessed with 'miracles' - curing the sick and exorcising demons.
"In one offering, $50,000, $100,000, a million dollars in some cases, just at the drop of a hat like that," Aaron said. The most recent information lodged on Australia's charity register reveals the total revenue declared by all C3 churches in Australia is $40 million annually - less than half of Hillsong Church's $103 million, but growing fast. Most of that revenue was from donations and everything is tax-free. C3 Church Sydney Limited, a company that Phil Pringle is a director of has total assets of $46 million. That includes 11 church locations, including the sprawling C3 Headquarters at Oxford Falls.
Kerri Ferguson was a member of Christian City Church before it became C3. "They call it a free will gift or free will giving, that simply isn't true. You're brainwashed into giving this kind of money," she said. She says even when she was raising five kids on her own, the pressure to tithe remained. "There were nights in our house when my children did not have food. And I never got any assistance whatsoever from anybody," she said.
Chris Rosebrough is from Fighting For The Faith, a podcast dedicated to exposing prosperity preachers like Phil Pringle. "They're playing on people's greed, playing on people's needs and basically exploiting them," he said. The Christian pastor has analysed C3 Church and Pringle for years. "Stories like these they are intended to bring large amounts of money, and convince somebody that God wants them to empty their savings account," he said.
At the recent C3 Australia Conference at the Gold Coast, a speech about giving was streamed online before being removed the next day. In the clip, worshipers are directed to the portable eftpos machines before stories of healing take centre stage. One man, who happens to be the son of another C3 Pastor John Pearce, claims Phil Pringle cured him of his epilepsy last year. Another man seeks a cure for his gut health. And then there are 'miracle offerings', encouraging believers to donate a one-off hefty amount for a special need in their life - often to have children. "They would portray it in this way of do this and you get this back, kind of thing. So whether that's new job, new house, new car, is it kids for some people?" Aaron said.
Chris Rosebrough, a devoted Christian, says the church's teachings don't align with the bible. "The gifts of God are not for sale. Gifts of God are received as gifts, they are given freely by God, they cannot be purchased," he said. Phil Pringle denied preaching about miracle offerings when approach by A Current Affair, saying, "well we certainly haven't preached that." But audio recordings, since deleted offline, capture Phil Pringle explaining how "miracle offerings" work. "It's a miracle because as you bring an offering to the Lord and stretch yourself into a zone you've never been before you're going to find yourself, God stretching his resources to you," he said. "I believe there's a person here today who can give $1 million. In fact I believe there's two people who could do that." Statement from C3 Church: C3 Church has robust governance policies in place regarding remuneration of Pastors which extends to the remuneration of Ps Phil Pringle. All remuneration is set by an independent board of Directors and the quantum is benchmarked to organisations of a comparable size in the Education sector. C3 Church complies with the disclosure guidelines articulated by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Ps Pringle confirms he fully complies with all his taxation obligations.
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I treat church like I treat political parties. Not a dime.
When we were kids, my siblings and I used to ask my parents why we couldnt just watch mass on TV instead of going to church. Now I just watch the Righteous Gemstones on Sunday instead.
If Phil Pringle were living here in the US he would no doubt be a Democrat member of Congress because he already has the gift for political graft down pat!
My pastor deserves a salary that will provide a roof over his head and food on the table for him, his wife and his kids.
We need to pay the power and water.
He doesn’t need a yacht.
Not expecting pastors and preachers to live a miserly poor lifestyle but cmon why all the extravagant, uber materialistic emphasis? Its not a good witness to the matters of Christianity.
Boy does nine.com.au need a proofreader !
Exactly right. Chris Rosebroughs Fighting for the Faith videos on YouTube are awesome. He absolutely dismantles many of the current word of faith and seeker-sensitive churches and pastors, and does so the way were supposed to as Christians: by meticulously comparing what they say to the Bible. Spoiler alert: they generally dont pass muster. Chris Rosebrough also has a video on tithing that is hands down the best explanation Ive ever heard of how it no longer applies, and explains what the New Testament has to say about giving (essentially, as you said, that we are to be generous and we should make sure our pastor doesnt go hungry, but how much or what percentage is totally up to us). The tithe was strictly a tax to support the Levite temple priests. They were under a theocracy at that time, and the tithe was a tax. None of that applies now.
Similar to Jim and Tammy Faker?
Sorry, I just no longer feel sorry for these people. The reason they give is so that God will give back to them. Rather selfish motive. As for the "pastor", I suspect he has received his reward.
Quite frankly I would rather have a small room in God's house in heaven than a massion in hell.
Most of these are not Christian in any recognizable fashion they are hucksters selling their own brand of snake oil. Compare to Christian doctrine you will find little in common.
Dont be fooled. This is about using this pastoral abuse case to come after all churches and destroy them thru taxation.
I think he owns a J Boat
Cheap for a sailboat honestly
Its no Swan or Hinckley
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