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Luke Torian: Choosing Between God And Mammon

By Greg L | 17 June 2009 | 52nd HOD District | 38 Comments

Crystal Clear Conservative has some pretty stunning insights this evening into the business of Luke Torian, Democratic nominee for the 52nd House of Delegates.  It appears that Torian and his wife may be grabbing a cool $300K salary from their church which may be playing awfully fast and loose with the IRS code.  After Democrats pulled out the long knives on a number of religious leaders who may have engaged in this sort of behavior (perhaps with some justification), I wonder if they’ll be willing to apply the same standard to another church where the leader of that church happens to be one of their nominees.  I’m not holding my breath on that.

This voter inquired about the 990 report, after hearing the claims from some disgruntled members of Torian’s congregation that he is overpaid — allegedly he makes $200,000 and his wife, who serves as the church’s Associate Pastor, is said to pull in $100,000 (which together is surprisingly more than TRIPLE the median household income of those living in the zip code of 22026). Many from within the community report that they have seen Torian driving around in a Hummer and a Lexus, sporting Rolex watches.

Torian refused to provide a copy of the 990 report to the voter, and said, “I don’t care about the IRS.” The voter, then handed Torian a copy of the law, and he still refused to comply with the request.

Torian is required by law immediately to hand over the 990 reports to any member of the public who requests this during regular business hours, as his church is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all non-profits must comply with this request. The information in a church tax return must include unrelated business income and the top five compensated employees of the church.

I get pretty disgusted when supposed men of God start sporting around with Rolex watches and driving Hummers in a fit of conspicuous consumption, and at the same time minister to a community where there are a tremendous number of people suffering terribly due to the economic downturn who are then expected to generously give to support this lavish lifestyle.  On it’s face, if this is the case, it absolutely stinks to high Heaven.  Ministers don’t need to take vows of poverty by any means, but for goodness sakes, flaunting wealth like this in the face of hardship should really cause discomfort in anyone familiar with passages such as James 2:1-7.

The potential violations of the IRS code here are equally troubling, especially when those violations may be connected to someone who might in the future play a role in selecting what laws Virginians are required to adhere to.  The law isn’t “for the little people”, as Leona Hemsley so famously put it, but for everyone, including those people who are deciding what those laws should be.  Anyone who can’t follow the rules clearly shouldn’t have any role whatsoever in deciding what the rules should be.  If this gets confirmed in subsequent investigations, I think violations here would be an automatic disqualifier for anyone seeking elected office.

Crystal Clear concludes with the following, which I heartily endorse:

Pastor Torian owes it to the people of the 52nd District to clear the air on all of this. I call upon Pastor Torian to release immediately any tax records for his church that have been filed over the past year, to disclose his salary and that of his wife as well as any other compensation that they may receive from the church, and to release his most recent personal tax returns. The allegations made by members of his own congregation are troubling. His attitude towards the law that he exhibited before a potential constituent is even more so.

If this information is not accurate, we need to set the record straight as soon as possible.  If it is, the voters need to know what is going on with Luke Torian in order to make an informed decision in November.  Disclosing this information is the only way either of these are possible.

Torian owes it to the voters to do so immediately.

UPDATE: Virtucon jumps on this as well.  Check it out.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a graphic that might just get your kids engaged in the political process:

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  1. Loudoun Insider said on 17 Jun 2009 at 10:51 pm:
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    What a poseur! He’ll probably drop out instead of releasing the records - that $13k or whatever the HOD pays sure doesn’t compare with that pauper pastor salary.

  2. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 6:28 am:
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    You realize of course that a church is exempt from the requirement to complete and file Form 990.

  3. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 8:33 am:
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    A church is not necessarily exempt, especially if it has any unrelated business income in excess of $1,000. Then it must file a variation of the 990 Form. I’d find it hard to believe that a church with a self-described “multi-million dollar facility” doesn’t cross that threshold somehow.

  4. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 8:37 am:
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    The information reported on a Form 990-T involves only the unrelated business income. No other information about the church would be found on 990-T.

  5. There's a Crook in the House of God said on 18 Jun 2009 at 8:59 am:
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    As a ***candidate for public office***, Torian needs to answer the following questions:

    1. How much is he receiving in personal compensation from his church? (That is key to answering whether he is violating the IRS’s inurement prohibition that even churches must abide by.)

    2. Does any other family member of his derive any sort of income from his church?

    3. If his church did not voluntarily file with the IRS as so many others are, why didn’t it?

    4. Does his church cross the unrelated business income threshold and should it be filing a variation of the 990 form?

    5. Is Torian paying self-employment taxes as is required by IRS law?

    The ball is in Torian’s court. He can either come clean and put this behind him or he can obfuscate and make himself look like he has something to hide. Then again, maybe he does.

  6. Chris Royse said on 18 Jun 2009 at 9:07 am:
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    I hope he will clear his name against these accusations. No religious community deserves to have a scandal held over them when all they are simply trying to do is exercise their faith.

  7. Cousin Eddie said on 18 Jun 2009 at 9:22 am:
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    “If only I had back the money that me and Cathrine sent that TV preacher that was screwing the hockey player.”

  8. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:05 am:
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    Cousin Eddie said on 18 Jun 2009 at 9:22 am: Flag comment

    “If only I had back the money that me and Cathrine sent that TV preacher that was screwing the hockey player.”

    Don’t forget Jim Baker and Tammy Faye. They lived life to the fullest (until the chickens came home to roost.)

  9. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:07 am:
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    Then there was the one who cried all the time on TV and loved to visit the “gals.”

  10. Logical Thinker said on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:17 am:
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    Go look at his statement of economic interests filed with the Clerk of the House of Delegates. This document must be made available to anybody on request.

  11. Logical Thinker said on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:34 am:
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    I see at http://www.vpap.org/candidates/profile/home_sei/161769 that the good pastor has managed enough income to own a time share here. Looks like a nice place to get away form the demands of pastoral care.

    Time Share - Condo
    Orange Lake Country Club
    Kissimmee, FL

    Here’s more info: http://www.myresortnetwork.com/Orange-Lake-Country-Club/Kissimmee/Florida/

    He also has debt, beyond a mortgage of $50,000. Bet some nice cars are part of this picture.

    VPAP also shows he has income from both First Mt Zion Baptist Church and Prince William County Public Schools. Not sure what the later is, maybe a family member, but all that is seen here is that the salary is above 10K. His statement of economic interest may have more detail.

  12. Pat.Herve said on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:45 am:
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    Where is the crime here?? The Church can pay that Pastor as much as it wants (I do agree that it seems excessive to me, but then, it is not my Church) - obviously, if the Church wants to pay their Pastor that much, they can.

    If they have to file a Form 990, the Pastor is probably not the correct person to ask for it anyway - one should ask the Church Administrator for it. Although you would think he would be more helpful. His actions do not seem any different from a number of already elected politicians.

    Hopefully, the voters will be educated enough to vote for the correct candidate. There are many local Church’s such as Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church that do not file Form 990.

  13. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 11:07 am:
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    Pat, the crime here is if the compensation is deemed to be excessive by the IRS. That is why it is relevant that the amount of income his family is allegedly receiving from the church is triple for the area.

  14. Johnson said on 18 Jun 2009 at 11:22 am:
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    The guy is obviously a piece of trash and his congregation should remove him.

  15. Pat.Herve said on 18 Jun 2009 at 12:22 pm:
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    Anonymous -

    and what should his salary be??

    I agree, to me, it seems too large, but what would the right salary be? And his family income should not have any bearing on his income (even if it is from the same source).

    Can you point me to the IRS Guideline on what his salary should be?

  16. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 2:55 pm:
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    Pat, that is for the IRS to determine. They’d need to look at what his income from his church is, how much the church is raising, how much the church is spending on charitable endeavors, etc. If people such as yourself think that this seems too large, then it probably falls under the inurement provision. Plus we need to know whether he is paying self-employment taxes.

  17. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 2:57 pm:
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    Could this be about Torian?


    There certainly are enough rumors around town about things of that nature…

  18. Austin Haynes said on 18 Jun 2009 at 3:00 pm:
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    Don’t worry about this! The President will be capping religious leaders salaries next. Rev.Torian will probably be required to spread his wealth also!

  19. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 4:17 pm:
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    501(c)(3)’s are required to have a Board of Directors (BOD). The BoD is responsible for salary. Generally, they consider the salary required to attract and retain the talent they need to manage the non-profit (in this case, a church). In the case of “mega-churches”, we are talking rather complicated management, theatrical, and spiritual gifts which probably dictate a CEO level salary.

    In the end, a church is a business like any other. The larger and more complicated the church, the larger the salary.

    I guess this guy didn’t take the vow of poverty.

  20. Anonymous said on 18 Jun 2009 at 4:27 pm:
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    I don’t think so, Austin. His spiritual father the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would never let The Teleprompter of the United States do that…

  21. Logical Thinker said on 19 Jun 2009 at 6:24 am:
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    Get his statement of economic interests and look at it. Then if you think you need more detail, ask him and his republican opponent to release their taxes on the same day to the press. Pretty simple to me. If there’s no shame in doing the work, then there’s no shame in sharing this information. Unless, well, there is shame…hardly the case here…right?

  22. BothPartiesColludeAgainstUsAndMarketToOurFears said on 19 Jun 2009 at 10:03 am:
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    300 K is a lot for spreading bfairy tales and pretending to be able to talk to God, certainly.

    Jesus must be rolling over in his grave.

  23. Johnson said on 19 Jun 2009 at 11:15 am:
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    We belonged to the Presbyterian Church USA as I was growing up. Our Pastor received housing appropriate for his family’s needs, a car and a salary. The national church provided his retirement plan. His children applied for grants, scholorships, worked and took loans to get through college. Humility is a virtue for people of the cloth.

    Religion and churches should never cross paths with politics. EVER. That’s one of the few things that the French got right.

  24. Logical Thinker said on 19 Jun 2009 at 11:29 am:
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    Jesus is NOT in the grave. He has risen! He is alive!!!

  25. It's just politics said on 21 Jun 2009 at 6:08 am:
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    Jeff Frederick picked Luke Torian as a prospective candidate to run on the GOP ticket OVER top of his wife’s claim to it being her “time to run.”

    Frederick may be young and arrogant but he is NOT stupid.

    Torian made a name for himself when he lead the charge to support the Marriage Amendment in his community. He has the faith and family values to successfully lead his church of 4,000 members.

    The GOP missed out on this one!

  26. I want a free lunch too said on 21 Jun 2009 at 1:30 pm:
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    if he was white and conservative the media would be howling and sniffing all over this one . . . I am starting to look forward to becoming a minority in this county, state, country soon (white male over 40) so I can get some free stuff and job preferences too . . .

  27. Anonymous said on 21 Jun 2009 at 2:49 pm:
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    This has nothing to do with the Marriage Amendment. in the community.

  28. Anonymous said on 21 Jun 2009 at 5:26 pm:
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    I want a free lunch too said on 21 Jun 2009 at 1:30 pm: Flag comment

    if he was white and conservative the media would be howling and sniffing all over this one . . . I am starting to look forward to becoming a minority in this county, state, country soon (white male over 40) so I can get some free stuff and job preferences too . . .

    If Obama gives amnesty to 20-30 million illegals and they start bringing in their relatives, you might get what you wish for!

  29. Bryanna said on 23 Jun 2009 at 7:42 pm:
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    Government doesn’t need to be involved in business. Just like Obama shouldn’t be telling GM and Chrysler who they should hire or fire, or to require salary caps on businesses (unless they take TARP money!)

    It’s not the role of government to dictate to a church the salary or worth of it’s pastor.

    Dr. Torian’s wife is an educator in Prince William schools. These two are quite the power couple in the Dumfries District.

  30. Anonymous said on 24 Jun 2009 at 7:02 pm:
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    The guy is obviously a piece of trash and his congregation should remove him.

  31. Anonymous said on 24 Jun 2009 at 7:22 pm:
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    He is trash and the congregation should let him go.

    If he is so powerful then why is he running and why is he a pastor in a church?

    I feel sorry for the members of that church. The pastor is all about the MONEY AND POWER.

    That is what you said.

    This guy is trash.

  32. Anonymous said on 28 Jun 2009 at 2:14 pm:
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    believe it or not the pastor is thinking only about what goes into his pockets the congregation is pretty damn naive may i say so. i just wish one day they will wake up and find out that the pastor is a crook.

  33. Anonymous said on 7 Jul 2009 at 2:40 pm:
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    Get your facts straight, his wife is not the Associate Pastor of the First Mount Zion Church.

  34. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2009 at 10:43 am:
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    Free lunch

  35. Anonymous said on 9 Jul 2009 at 6:55 pm:
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    I want a free lunch too.

  36. Anonymous said on 14 Jul 2009 at 8:17 pm:
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    I want a free lunch too.


  37. Anonymous said on 26 Jul 2009 at 3:42 pm:
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    I agree with Johnson…. Living above reproach is a noble path.

    I see a few other questions that lots of folk are trouble with:

    1. How does he separate his political pursuits from his religious pursuits ethically? What does the bible say?
    2. In his daily life, when is he a politician and when is he a Pastor? How does he parse his political interests and non-profit church - 501c3 and churches affiliated auxillaries interest -501c3?
    3. I under stand the church - 501c3 must declare to be non partician. If he is a Democrat then how can he be fair and impartial to an independent or republican, etc members in his church and before God?

    It is going to be very interesting how the media and public deals with this.

  38. unbias church member said on 31 Dec 2009 at 3:40 pm:
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    Jealousy is a sin. The people give to the church from their heart. It is the people way of giving back a percentage of what God has blessed them with. Now if the church choose to pay high salaries, I don’t have a problem with that because God knows what my intentions were. I am very pleased with what the church is offering me and my family. So if you don’t have a hummer or a rolex watch maybe it wasn’t meant for you and if Pastor Torian has these items maybe it’s his reward for a job well done.

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