(Photo: Reuters / Alex Gallardo)
Founder Robert Schuller’s financial scandal now clouding Crystal Cathedral’s bankruptcy woes is giving Christianity a bad rep, says Craig Huey, a Christian politician and activist.
Recent allegations of the founding family’s misappropriation of church funds have worsened the situation at the Garden Grove megachurch, which was already struggling to meet a $50 million debt by the end of October or face closure.
Creditors overseeing Crystal Cathedral’s bankruptcy case filed a lawsuit against the Schullers and other church administrators on Sept. 30 for drawing money from the ministry’s endowment fund to cover their own salaries.
Court documents released by The Los Angeles Times earlier this week revealed that Schuller and his relatives borrowed about $10 million from the fund between 2002 and 2009, during the height of the megachurch’s financial demise.
The lawsuit was spurred by the family’s request to be paid at the same time as other creditors after the sale of the cathedral – even though the family should be the last to receive money based on the bankruptcy case.
About 400 creditors filed the suit against the administrators for that reason, the Times reported.
Denying all accusations, however, the Schullers maintain that the suit is unfounded and continue to declare innocence.
Schuller told the Times, “This lawsuit makes serious and untrue allegations regarding myself and my family. It is unfortunate that I will have to defend this lawsuit only to prove what is true.”
Despite the Schullers’ claims, some are beginning to cast doubt on the founding family’s purportedly faultless behavior.
Huey, of the Election Forum, told OneNewsNow, “What’s apparent here is that the leadership may have ignored what needed to be done in cutting expenses and went on living with the lifestyle that they had done when there was plenty of money around.”
He called the scandal a distraction from the message of the Gospel.
“Here is a church that the world looks at, and it really kind of paints a bad picture of the church, and it paints a bad picture to some of Christianity,” he added.
Denying all accusations and continuing to move forward, the Schullers are hoping to do all that they can to save the church.
A recent Miracle Faith Offering drive, aiming to raise the $50 million owed, yielded insubstantial funds however, with only $4,737 collected, The Orange County Register reported.
Crystal Cathedral representative Marc Winthrop told The Register that more funds were accumulated and another progress report would be released soon.
If funds cannot be collected by Oct. 24, the board of creditors responsible for facilitating payment of the debts will reportedly hold a vote to decide on selling the property.
A few buyers are currently interested in the land, including The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, Chapman University, Hobby Lobby and My Father’s House International Church in Norco, Calif.
At the moment, the diocese is offering the highest bid at $53.6 million.