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Carlton Funderburke, the pastor of Church at the Well in Kansas City, Missouri, told his congregation in a now-viral sermon from August 7 that he was disgusted with them because they weren’t giving him enough cash to let him buy everything he wanted… including a luxury watch.

The church even removed the sermon from their social media outlets, but not before Kansas City Discover on TikTok took a video grab.

See, that’s how I know you’re still poor, broke, busted, and disgusted—because of how you been honoring me!

I’m not worth your McDonald’s money? I’m not worth your Red Lobster money? I ain’t worth your St. John Knits? Y’all can’t afford it, no how. I ain’t worth your Louis Vuitton? I ain’t worth your Prada? I’m not worth your Gucci?

… 

You can buy a Movado watch in Sam’s [Club]. And y’all know I asked for one last year. Here it is, the whole way in August. I still ain’t got it! Y’all ain’t sayin’ nothing. Let me kick down the door and talk to my cheap sons and daughters. I don’t wanna hear no more excuses about what y’all can’t afford. You can’t afford it because you don’t see the value here!

You would think a preacher with a camera in his face would realize he’s being recorded…

In any case, the implication is clear: If the church members valued God, and by extension, their pastor, they would be giving him enough money to buy fancy clothes and a fancy luxury watch and, uh, fancy Happy Meals… and whatever else he needs to make it to the PreachersNSneakers Instagram page.

He’s not even hiding the grift. He doesn’t want money to help the congregation, or to renovate the church, or to spread the Gospel, or to donate to charity. He wants money for purely selfish reasons. Like Jesus said. Somewhere, I’m sure.

Whatever his rationale, the online backlash was severe enough that Funderburke issued a formal apology (that looks more like a hostage video):

“Though there is context behind the content of the clip, no context will suffice to explain the hurt and anguish caused by my words. I’ve spoken to those I am accountable to and have received their correction and instruction,” he said. “I have also privately apologized to our church, who has extended their love and support to me.”

If there’s context that makes it all make sense, then the church should repost that entire sermon. But they won’t. Because there’s no context that makes all this better.

What surprises me about the backlash is how people are treating Funderburke like he’s a unique case. He’s not! Other Christian pastors are notorious grifters, too! They’re just better at hiding their true intentions under Christian camouflage. Even scamvangelist Kenneth Copeland buys his jets by telling people they’re planting “seed money.” It’s never about him; it’s about the ministry.

Funderburke made a rookie mistake. Which is surprising since his bio says he’s been in the ministry since he was 17. He apologized for getting caught. If he actually wants to change his image, though, he’ll need to do a lot more to convince people he’s in the pulpit because he cares about others more than himself.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.