Pastor James Edward Smith II is the" third generation preacher" at New Jerusalem Baptist Church. However, to foster his dependence on drugs, the pastor allegedly sold the church for $600K and was arrested by the authorities.

Conviction of Pastor James Edward Smith II

According to a press release issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Pastor James Edward Smith II, 49, was arrested and charged with participating in an organized scheme to defraud, unlawful filing of false document records against grand theft of a firearm, real or personal property, grand theft, fraud, criminal use of personal identification information, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and violation of probation, the Christianity Post reported.

Investigators say they started looking into the case of Pastor Smith in April of last year after members of the church complained that he had "fraudulently gained control over the church and church funds." Later on, it came to light that the pastor filed a forged quit claim deed, which enabled him to acquire complete control of the church property. He reportedly sold the property for $600,000 and used the money to finance his drug addiction. Pastor Smith was charged with grand theft and fraud by the Broward County Sheriff's Office in association with "worthless checks totaling more than $1,600 written on the church's bank account."

A report from the Miami Held stated that after charging Pastor Smith with multiple charges, as of Wednesday, Mar. 1, he remained convicted on a bail of $50,000. As mentioned, Pastor Smith was a native of South Florida and served as the minister of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach. During his ministry, he served as a guide and counselor to young men who did not have fathers in their homes.

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Corruption in Pastors

According to the Journal of Extreme Anthropology, following reports in the media of fraud committed by pastors against members of their congregations, it is common for the general public to accuse ministers of being corrupt. The accusations appear to increase in frequency and severity in direct proportion to the widening divide between pastors and the general population. Fraud is one of the options for survival within a capitalist and neoliberal market, which subjectivities seek to exploit. It is especially true in the circumstances with limited economic possibilities and an apparent absence of viable alternatives, such as the situation in Nigeria today.

Moreover, these prevalent accusations demonstrate the perceived risks associated with conspicuous consumption and its entanglement with allegations of corruption by showing how conspicuous consumption can lead to greedy desires for revenues, fraud, and luxurious pleasures. Born-again Christians are increasingly scrutinizing the practices of this emerging elite, observing the origins and destinations of their consumptions, how they are made collectively acceptable, and how some are motivated by a deviant lack of morals. It is in addition to the accusation directed at so-called "fake" pastors by outside commentators. Nevertheless, the pastors considered "corrupt" do not consume lavishly within their numerous networks. Instead, they are the ones who fail to distribute their benefits to the larger religious community, thereby failing to turn their immense wealth, even if it was obtained through God's blessings, into an example of "public virtue."

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