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Thread: Today, @readfrontier published a story about a Tulsa "church" that has no congregation and no house of worship, but was used to allow the org's president/pastor to avoid thousands of $ in property taxes, & to work with and #Oklahoma political action committee...
The "church," Gateway Ministries, once had a congregation in Ada, from 2000 to 2014, when the church's president/pastor Jesse Leon Rodgers dissolved the congregation and moved to Tulsa five years ago. The church's equipment was sold by Rodgers at a yard sale...
...and the church, controlled by Rodgers, purchased a 4,200 sq. ft. house in Tulsa. Rodgers is the state head of @FRCdc's Watchmen on the Wall ministry, which is a nationwide network of pastors.
Prior to forming Gateway Ministries, Rodgers was driven out as pastor of a separate Ada church. That situation involved a lawsuit by church elders, allegations of wiretaps on the church phone, chains & locks on the church doors & a physical retaking of the church by the elders
After moving to Tulsa, Rodgers, through Gateway Ministries, began to involve itself in politics and hosted speaking events by the likes of @SenatorLankford, @ScottPruittOK, @repkevinhern and @RepMullin.
How influential was Rodgers and Gateway Ministries? Well, here he is with @realDonaldTrump, who he said he met with several times in Trump Tower as part of @FRCdc
The message being spread by Rodgers and Gateway Ministries (through various trade names, most prominently one called City Elders) was that Christians have a "divine right" to hold positions in civil government and govern according to their interpretation of biblical principles...
Members of the City Elders executive committee include @officialOKGOP chairman @McLainforSenate and Tulsa County Election Board vice-chairman George Wiland.
What are some of the "biblical principles" Rodgers hoped to see initiated by government? Here's a sample:
Thus far, the City Elders group has chapters in 40 of Oklahoma's 77 counties and members include pastors, legislators, judges, district attorneys, mayors, county commissioners, school superintendents, university presidents, and more.
You'll probably want to read the full story here: readfrontier.org/stories/guardi…
Rodgers and City Elders/Gateway Ministries also recently entered into a compact with the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee and the two groups have been strategizing about endorsements, donations, etc. on #2020Election
Of course, @IRStaxpros and federal law prohibit churches and charities from engaging in electioneering and campaigns. However, experts say, enforcement of that prohibition has been, to put it mildly, fairly lax. Read more about that here: readfrontier.org/stories/guardi…
In reporting this story, I tried numerous times by phone, email and in person to have Pastor Rodgers sit down and go over some of this stuff with me. He declined, and when I walked up to him at a City Elders meeting in Tulsa last week, he threatened to have me removed by security
Rodgers did tell me in a brief phone conversation that Gateway Ministries is a 501(c)(3) religious org, rather than a church. However, he would not provide the org's Form 990s when I requested them, though such organizations are required to do so.
The documents submitted to the Tulsa County Assessors' Office by Rodgers seeking a parsonage property tax exemption for his houses (IRS det. letter, church bylaws, etc.) were all generated prior to the church leaving Ada in 2014.
Not to belabor the point, but the "Mr. Buttegg" being referred to by Pastor Rodgers is @PeteButtigieg
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