Wescott Christian Center
1615 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205
November 7, 2007
Open letter to ministries having received a Letter of Inquiry from the Senate Finance Committee:
Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself: my name is Pastor Melissa Scott and I am the widow of the late Dr. Gene Scott, Ph.D. I write to you in an earnest and sincere plea to consider this letter as something imperative for all ministers to apprehend – the depth of this inquisition reaches far beyond your ministries. Although we certainly have different theological perspectives, we come from different backgrounds, i.e. denominations, etc; we do have a common denominator that binds us all together: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many ministers will simply not be familiar enough with the fight the late Dr. Gene Scott fought in the fall of 1980. To the onlookers and to those who did not know the full spectrum of what he fought for, he was seen as a hostile voice in the body of Christ. But he was a lone voice crying in the wilderness. The battle that he fought was for the churches, not for himself. Most of you will recall the 1980’s era of “televangelist” scandals. When the Attorney General came asking essentially the same questions that have been asked of you at this time – questions like “Where’s the money going?” or “Who’s giving the money?”, etc., it became apparent to Dr. Scott that certain Constitutional rights were being grossly violated.
Dr. Scott’s plea was for the ‘then’ church world to band together and tell the government that we are not going to be controlled by them like the church and state of England. He sat down and, with the help of two attorneys, penned the Petris Bill in Senator Petris’ office, the conclusion of which was a victory etched in time for the churches in the state of California and perhaps at this time, instrumental to getting the victory on a larger scale.
I have taken the liberty to enclose a copy of the Petris Bill. I am well aware that each ministry would want to conduct itself in the least hostile and most diplomatic manner. However, this inquisition is not being conducted in the name of Christ. Let me share this quote from Martin Niemoeller: “First they came for the communists but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and trade unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
You will most likely be the first six ministries. (Does it not seem strange that six ministries are picked – not five or seven, but six – and that you’re being asked to respond by December 6th?) I am not one to see the devil in everything but I certainly see the spirit of antichrist! Your decision to stand together unified in this matter will certainly dictate the outcome. I am certain that after this there will be another six, and then another six.
I have looked at most of the questions being asked and at this point it is very clear that speculations and/or complaints that have been made with regard to money and monies received, or with regard to your boards or travel are an interesting witch hunt. While we’re all discussing a table or a car purchased, it seems like no one is arguing about the splendor and abundance in which the Pope lives.
If this investigation and “questionnaire” is answered, what is the outcome? Will legislation be passed that says a minister of the Gospel must live in conditions outlined by the state and government? The image that society appreciates is one of the preacher who drives a broken down Chevy, lives in the dilapidated parsonage attached to the church, and keeps the air conditioning and heating off to save money. The questions on the table is not what type of car you drive or the square footage of your house or how much cosmetic surgery you’ve had. The truth is that if your tax-exempt status can be taken away, the government will be sharing in the monies received to your ministry.
The real dilemma is “Will anybody stand up for the rights of the church?” There are so many questions being asked but they are not being asked for public good or benefit. If so, questions in the questionnaire would have included – How many suicides have you prevented? Or, how many marriages have you saved? And how many people have been restored back into society? We may disagree amongst ourselves with regard to what each perceives as right or true doctrinally, however, we can all agree that the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment cover all of us. The ramifications to compliance and response will be detrimental to the body of Christ.
I am praying that your consideration in taking a unified stance against responding or cooperating will be seen and understood as a stand for all churches and ministers in America: protecting our rights and more importantly, insuring the Church of Jesus Christ is protected until He comes.
Pastor Melissa Scott