Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: "Thieves: One Dirty Pastor and the Man Who Robbed Him"

By Doug Andrew

I just read a book called "Thieves: One Dirty Pastor and the Man Who Robbed Him" by Trey Smith which, if true, has exposed televangelist Mike Murdock as a lying, cheating, philandering, greedy, con man who cares no more for the people who give into his ministry than for a bug he may have unknowingly stepped on on the way to work.

I am so grateful to God that this book came out, and I pray that all of the other so-called Christian leaders who are fleecing the sheep for their own wealth (such as TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, Ken and Gloria Copeland, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar (seriously, Dollar), Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Paula White, etc.) that they would be exposed just as he has been. Several of the above mentioned were just subjected to a senate investigation so hopefully more information will turn up soon to expose them for what they really are. Jesus once said, "Freely give for freely ye have received." These people don't know the meaning of that saying, that's for sure, because you can't get anything from them without money, and even then, you don't receive anything anyway.

This book exposing Mike Murdock (MM) was riveting, even though the lion-share of the story covered the author's own downward spiral into drugs and thievery, before and after his robbery of MM's mansion. As Trey lays out his own story, interweaving it with MM's, you keep feeling redemption for Trey is right around the bend, but each time the opportunity presents itself, he is pulled from redemption's grasp and back into the mire. The opportunities for redemption happen throughout the book, but as with most books, certain problems cannot be resolved too soon, the solutions must be reserved for the end of the story. Such is the case here.

As portrayed by Trey, his redemptions were almost always snatched by his friends who pried it from his grip with temptations to do drugs and party. Trey seemed never to be the instigator of these wrongs, only the not-so-innocent bystander, and part of you wonders while reading if this was always true. In the end you want to take him at his word, but you can't shake the taste in your mouth that since he's telling the story, things might be being told from a self-favoring perspective.

Nevertheless, if it's true he was nearly always the tempted rather than the tempter, since writing the book he surely learned that life is truly about those you allow in it, and even more so about by whom you allow yourself to be led. Are you led by the Spirit of God, or by peer-pressure from friends with devilish intents who shouldn't even be in your life? In Trey's case, all his friends at the least smoked pot and drank loads of alcohol, and at worst partook of crystal meth and heroin, not to mention they seemed on a daily basis to figure out ways to break the law and poke their fingers in the eyes of law-enforcement, ultimately bringing the heat down upon them at every turn, and causing Trey to lose whatever good, productive elements of his life that were there.

But aside from Trey's personal foibles, and at the heart of the story, was Trey stealing Mike Murdock's (MM's) safe, a safe he thought was loaded with millions in cash which was stored in his electronically locked closet in the inner sanctum of his "Hacienda del Paz," MM's gigantic mansion in the town of Argyle, just outside of Denton and north of Dallas, TX, a mansion that was also the home to MM's exotic foxes, llamas, and even a lion.

This closet, which incidentally was the size of most small apartments, contained much of Mike Murdock's precious things, such as rare coins and stamps, diamond and gold jewelry and watches, and other valuables. The book reveals there was so much of this treasure that Trey and his best friend Jason, who was MM's adopted son and the reason Trey had access to the house, were able to break into the room and take some of it each week to pawn without MM even noticing. They in turn used this money to buy drugs and go out to night clubs. Wealth acquired through evil being spent on evil. Makes sense.

Here was the next bombshell, though MM didn't notice the lost valuables, he would notice is if the boys ever disturbed his giant stash of porn which he also kept in that same room. That's right, you read correctly: his giant stash of porn.

As the boys continuously accessed the fortune in this room they couldn't help but notice the safe and wonder what it contained. Surely what was inside made the stash outside of it seem small in comparision and by the time the robbery occurs, you're pretty curious what's in there, too. I won't spoil that for you, you'll have to read it to find out.

Perhaps more damning is the fact that early in the book it is revealed that throughout his ministry, MM had a number of, what's the right word? Let's say "sexual partners for hire." He would pick beautiful women in their mid-twenties to work for him at his offices, wearing conservative dresses and playing the part of sweet Christian girls at the office by day, but at night they would come out to the hacienda to "minister" to him in carnal sense. They were basically whores for hire.

So here we have this guy who comes on television in the name of Jesus every single day around the entire world, who never fails to beg for money as he persuades his gullible viewers to ever give more to his ministry (he literally tells them they're giving to God), the man who is said to have written over 100 books and 5000 songs for the Lord, and, according to Trey's account, not caring in the least if the people who gave money are helped by his ministry, here he is living a life of sin so deranged that he is basically a mobster, thief and a pimp dressed as a pastor, and who uses the money he's collected to finance his own extravagant life (including a luxury jet) and that of his many mistresses.

And yet just today, nearly two weeks after the January 28, 2011 release of Trey's book, MM was still all over the INSP network asking for yet more money. I had to email INSP and express my misgivings over that fact. I also called his ministry line and spoke to the lady answering and basically asked her how she could still work there. I hope it hit home and that she will leave ASAP.

But the INSP network has been thick-as-thieves (forgive the pun) with MM so surely they are just as deep into the greed sin as MM. The only reason they would take him off the air, in all probability, is if the story becomes big enough to paint the network in a bad light. But it would have get big enough for them to lose viewers (read: donators).

MM has continuously appeared on other networks as well, including TBN and Daystar, especially during their fundraising extravaganzas, so let's see what they do as well. The irony is that TBN's Paul Crouch settled out of court over an accusation by an alleged gay lover, and Daystar's Marcus Lamb's just recently admitted to an affair with his own employee mistress, one which he said ended a few years ago. So MM is only joining those two in being outed and yet still being on tv. Since they have their own networks they can just PR spin their way out of it anyway, as long as the viewers are not interested enough in doing their own research and holding these people accountable by not pouring their money into their coffers any longer. But those who give to them are caught in greed's trap as well. They're mostly poor and they just want to be rich. They're forgetting Jesus' wonderful words, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things shall be added unto you."

MM's best defense, As Trey pointed out in the last chapter, is for MM to paint Trey as the thief he's admitted to being, and as such, as a liar as well, for MM to say that all of this is an intricate fabrication to make Trey rich and to bring him notoriety and fame through outing MM.

But now that the story is out, it's possible more corroborators will surface to confirm Trey's story and thus MM may find himself no longer the inpsirational television wisdom/prosperity guru he's portrayed to be, but a man exposed for the lying cheat he really is.

One final point of interest for me is Jason Murdock, MM's adopted son. What will he do? Trey's book was not flattering in the least of Jason and his outlandish, fiendish, evil behavior. By the end of the book Jason is portrayed cussing out his mother, the only real ally he has in his life, and calling her worthless, as well as threatening to pin crimes on Trey for which Trey did not commit. You feel as if Jason is almost more of a scumbag than MM himself. In this case, if Trey's side of the story is true, the apple, even though it was adopted, doesn't fall too far from the tree.

But you know what? Repentence may still be found for MM, for Jason, for all of them. Trey Smith, who seems to have repented, is living proof that no matter how far we get we are not beyond the love of God. As long as we are still alive we can humble ourselves and repent. I just hope this is a wake up call for MM and that he does so soon, before it's too late.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few weeks. This book is impossible to put down and very well written, though more graphic in many parts than many Christians may be accustomed. As mentioned earlier, for most of the the hope for redemption for Trey's life dangles before you and is only considered at the very end of the book. I had hoped to hear a lot more about what Trey learned from it all. But as far as MM is concerned, if all "Thieves" readers devour it in one sitting, as I have, and are lead to blog and tell others about it, this story is sure to blow up in Mike Murdock's face like Mount St. Helen's circa 1980, as well as to send tremors racing through the entire Christian television community, because all who associated with MM are guilty as well by that association, because they're all fleecing the sheep together.

1 Peter tells us that judgement must begin at the house of God. Praise God, that in this case, judgment is being rendered so that those who are misrepresenting Christ may learn not to do so.

If you would like to read the book yourself, you may find it at