Moody Bible Obfuscating, 'Using Silence as Defense' Amid Shakeup, Say Former Employee, Sources

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)A view of Moody Bible Institute's historic arch from within the central plaza. Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, 2006. Uploaded to MBI Student network and released into PD on 27 September 2006.

Former Moody Radio host Julie Roys is asserting that despite assurances of no corruption in leadership from Moody Bible Institute, the school continues to obscure the truth.

Roys, who has written extensively on her blog about the ongoing controversy at the Chicago-based college throughout the month of January, wrote on Monday that the school administration's statements about recent events belie what is really occurring.

Last Tuesday, MBI said on its website that "there is no corruption, or any illegal and unethical activity taking place at Moody," and that is was "false" to describe their actions as such. The statement addressed the controversy surrounding the school's decision to give a $500,000 loan in 2009 to now former MBI president Paul Nyquist — who resigned earlier this month — so he could purchase a condo, the questionable use of a luxury suite by Moody trustee and Left Behind fiction series co-author Jerry B. Jenkins, and the doctrinal direction of the institution, among other things.

Yet Roys believes the statement "only further muddied the waters" and has created the illusion that everything thing is fine when in fact significant questions remain.

"The $500,000 loan to former President Paul Nyquist is legally questionable, and certainly ethically wrong. The institute has given no evidence to refute first-hand accounts that Trustee Jerry Jenkins used a Moody-owned apartment as his own," Roys explained.

She continued: "[I]t was my desire from the beginning for MBI to deal with these and other issues internally and then to communicate openly and transparently about them with supporters, alumni, students, and employees. Instead, the MBI board decided to deny many of its problems, though it simultaneously removed the institute's three top officers, leaving many confused."

While MBI insists that Nyquist has been making payments on the loan faithfully, the circumstances of the loan do not comport with the criteria set forth in both federal and Illinois law, Roys went on to say.

The exceptions for these kinds of home loans are to assist someone of modest means, like a poor minister who takes a job with a church or nonprofit group in areas where housing costs are prohibitively expensive. Nyquist's salary package, which was over $300,000 annually, does not meet the standard, especially when the condo he bought was worth twice the median value of homes in the neighborhood, she argued. Such abuse of the statutory exceptions would not pass muster if the IRS ever audited the school and it could place Moody at risk of steep financial penalties and the possible loss of its nonprofit status, she said.

According to tax forms up until 2016, Nyquist has also only made payments on the interest of the loan, not the principal, which matters because "if the principal on a loan to an officer is not paid back, then it 'puts it into the category of self-dealing,'" a nonprofit law expert told Roys.

Regarding Jenkins' use of the luxury apartment that facilities managers said functioned as his "second home," Roys considered the MBI statement revealing because of what it omitted.

Moody maintains that "[c]ontrary to what some have said, the Moody-owned apartment was used by the Institute to host visits to campus by [Jenkins] as well as other Moody staff and guests."

Yet that is not disputed, Roys stressed. The improper use, which she has documented in detail, occurred between 2000 and 2008, not after 2009, until someone blew the whistle. Just one business day after Roys emailed the MBI executives and board members inquiring about Jenkins' use of the suite and the loan to Nyquist, she was told she was being terminated and that someone from MBI would be retrieving her laptop.

"If the institute had nothing to hide, it's odd that it responded in this heavy-handed manner," she said, noting that it is a violation of federal law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to punish whistleblowers in any manner.

"So if Moody wants to claim no wrongdoing, it not only must account for its financial dealings, but also for firing me for threatening to expose them."

Jenkins maintains he has done nothing wrong, writing on his password protected website this month — the exact date of the writing was not given and CP obtained the password to access it — in a post titled "Here are the Facts" that former MBI president Joe Stowell "made very clear that this would not be 'our' apartment, nor should it be considered a quid pro quo, and that scheduling a stay would be done through his assistant or another designate."

Though the Jenkins family kept some clothes and toiletries there, he acknowledged "from day one it was made available to others, as it was intended. I often heard from speakers and guests that they had stayed there. Often when we tried to arrange for it, it had already been reserved for someone else."

When his use of the apartment came under an investigation in 2010, he was surprised to learn that many people thought it was their apartment. One of the women who booked referred to it as "the Jenkins apartment." When the investigation concluded, Jenkins said he received an apology from Nyquist and the board said: "Mr. Jenkins has exhibited no intent to breach his fiduciary duties to the organization or to violate applicable tax law rules."

Sources close to the situation told CP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity that Moody "has a long history of using silence as their defense" to the detriment of the school, adding "and the record needs to be set straight and the truth known." Sources also said that from what they have heard from many alums and donors is that they are more upset about the gradual shift toward theological liberalism than they are about the alleged financial malfeasance.

MBI declined to elaborate more on its statement.

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