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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Piety of Ray - A Little Web Sleuthing

In the Thought of the Day thread on Monday Ray said
"how do you know that we didn't sell everything we had, came the the U.S., and gave to the poor?" I feel that Ray is trying to imply that he came to the US to lead a humble life giving to the poor. Good question Ray, how do we know? Considering this is the man who also vouched for Kent Hovind's integrity (Comfort vs. Barrier Debate) I thought I would do a little investigating.

Turns out, Living Waters Ministries is a 501(3)c nonprofit organization. One of the things about these organizations is that they must annually file form 990 and form 1203 with the IRS. These forms are subject to public examination. Form 990 for any nonprofit organization is very easy to obtain from guidestar.org after freely registering. To save you all the trouble of running over there and registering and searching I've uploaded the documents to megaupload for distribution. [2006 - 2005 - 2004] Unfortunately, requests for form 1203 must be snail mailed and I'll let you know if there is anything juicy in it once I get mine. I found form 990 to be very informative, though, and will attempt to give a quick rundown of it. (For a handy guide on making your own interpretation visit)

Living Water's Finances 2006
For 2006 Living Waters Publications sold 4.5 million dollars worth of merchandise that only cost the organization 1.9 million (a 137% markup). Living waters also took in $736,472 in donations. This gave the org a net revenue of 3.3 million to be added to the 1.4 million it had in the bank at the beginning of the year.
The expenditures for 2006 list fund raising receiving 1.2%, program services receiving 24.5%, and managerial and general receiving 74.1% of the 3 million spent. IMHO, if you are running a nonprofit and only 24% of your expenditures are going to the programs and services the org was created to address, and 74% are going to Managerial and General expenses, you're doin' it wrong.

Ray (and Kirk's) Compensation for 04, 05, and 06
Ray's compensation from living waters has increased as the org's monies have increased. In 2004, when the org had only $300 on the books, Ray took no money. This inclines me to believe that Ray also has other methods of income that are not affiliated with Living Waters. Book sales and speaking engagements perhaps? Can't say for sure, but I can speculate.
In 2005, when LW took in 2.4 million, Ray's compensation jumped up to $50,000.
In 2006 Ray was compensated with $119,784. 120k!! I am working my ass off in college to become a chemical engineer. The average salary for a 20 yr veteran chem. eng. is only 100k. I can't believe that some mustached schmuck, hocking bible tracts marked up 137%, is earning more than I prospectively ever will.
Year 2006 also marked the first appearance of Camrolio Productions Inc, which received 119k for its "professional talent services". Googling their name only returned two Kirk Cameron sites on which he listed Camrolio to be his agent. I wouldn't be suprised if hes also their only client.
Of course we can't say definitively that the compensation that Comfort and Cameron recieved weren't then given to charity after being in their hands. I would find this peculiar though. Why would you remove money from a nonprofit organization, have income taxes applied to it, and then donate it to charity. To me this is implausible and counterproductive. Plus, we can find out some things about Ray's assets. Form 990 listed Rays address, which means we can find stuff out about

Ray's Domicile
Ray lives in Bellflower, CA, a suburb of LA. By visiting LA's county assessor website I found out that Ray's house has been valued at a quarter of a million dollars. Additionally, I visited the LA Times real estate section and looked at some of the going rates for houses in his neighborhood. Even if he doesn't own the best house in town, he certainly lives in a nice neighborhood. I can only wonder, as I sit in my shabby 1 room apartment, where a man owning a 250k dollar 4 bedroom house can get the gall to act as though he is suffering for his faith.

With regards to Ray's charitableness, I think we can all agree


*Edit - Upon further investigation I've discovered that Ray's speaking requirements to be
"• We do not charge a fee, but a "love offering" is requested
• The church must allow Living Waters to set-up a book table
• Two round-trip airline tickets from LAX (preferably a direct flight--this is very important)
• Hotel accommodations for two people (one room, two beds)
• If you want to schedule Ray, then there must be a minimum of 1000 people in attendance. (To schedule another staff member there need only be 200 people in attendance.)"
WTF is a "Love Offering"?

58 comments:

  1. I am.....in love with you.

    Great post, great work.

    Amazing what you can find out about people.

    And stick to your engineering, if you can get into a good firm and you get your P.Eng you can stand to make quite a bit. Or at least Electrical Engineers do around my area. =)

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  2. Way to go! It's your first post isn't it? We all have been talking about doing this for a while, so it's nice to see someone actually devote the time to do it (though, you kind of stole my idea for my 100th blog post :P)

    I like the comment he makes further down too:

    "Chris...You life in a bubble. Travel the world. You don't know what "poor" is."

    By the look of his income and the photos of his house, Ray obviously doesn't know what poor is either.

    Enter his address on Google Maps and have a look around. Heh.

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  3. Geez, Maragon, you're easy. What if I just beat Ray up? And throw in an ass whipping for Terry Burton?


    But nice work, Ace.

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  4. Oh, have you tried to post all of this over at Comfort's blog? I wonder if it would get through?

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  5. "Geez, Maragon, you're easy."

    Just talk nerdy to me. ^_-



    "Oh, have you tried to post all of this over at Comfort's blog? I wonder if it would get through?"

    I once insinuated that Ray made an asston of cash and lived nicely - didn't get through moderation.

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  6. Not only is Ray paying himself 120K, he's paying someone named Daniel Comfort 90K.

    His son?

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  7. Wikipedia says he has a son named Daniel.

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  8. Thank you all for your nice comments. I did want my initial posting at Raytractors to be impressive.

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  9. Well, I'm going to try to post this over there. I would suggest as many of us as possible try to post it over there. Over and over again, if need be. I wonder what Danny boy gets 90 large per year for?

    Maybe, Maragon, just maybe, it was "asston" that kept it from being posted:-)?

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  10. "Maybe, Maragon, just maybe, it was "asston" that kept it from being posted:-)?"

    Well I didn't say "asston" when I was trying to get it posted. I'm not quite *that* stupid.

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  11. Maragon: Well, my first thoughts would have been either a shitload of money, or more money than you can shake a fucking stick at.

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  12. Another great 990 to look at is Answer's in Genesis. Ken Ham is paying himself 200k. At least most of his expenditures are going to program services though. Discovery institute is also on guidestar. I can't wait until Living Waters 2007 statement is online but since their 06 statment wasn't scanned till Sept. 4 we may have to wait a month or so.

    @disco
    I remember reading your post and wondering what in the hell I could do as just another internet surfing boob. When I read that post by Ray it finally dawned on me that if Ray universally eschews from making political endorsements, that he must be a nonprofit. Which took me to wikipedia which led me to the IRS...

    I do actually feel sorry for the people who are duped into donating to his organization. Only a 25 cents for every dollar they donate is actually going to what they think it is. Its just more of the deception that Ray has mastered. Wait a second, "Way of the Master"... perhaps Ray has been a poe all along.

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  13. @ Maragon
    imho, if Ray is paying Dan 90k a year as "secretary" I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that he was the one that was actually handling Ray's blog

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  14. "I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that he was the one that was actually handling Ray's blog"

    I hope that sort of stupidity isn't hereditary.

    *Prays to Darwin to have natural selection kick in.*

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  15. hehehe
    We should start addressing all our comments over their to Dan instead of Ray, just to see how its taken.

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  16. Awesome post!
    Ray earns 19 times more than me...
    In one of the Ray Comfort audios, someone on the street brought up the "give up your possessions and follow me" bible verse. His interpretation _seemed_ to be give up your possessions was a "one time" kinda thing, that he had already done. "Read Out of The Comfort Zone!"

    I seem to remember a post on another web-site about how much money Ray charges for speaking. And all the conditions he requires. Does anyone remember this and have a link? It might make a good companion piece to this.

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  17. Great work, Ace, congratulations!

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  18. My atheist group is trying to get Ray Comfort to come to the area for, hopefully, a debate. It's still in the very early stages, but if I get more information, I'll post whatever requirements he gives us.

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  19. Crap,
    I'm in the wrong business. I need to ask Ray to be my mentor. Really.

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  20. Good detective work!

    "Ray eschews from making political endorsements"

    That may well be the case, but we already know that he has boasted of his friendship with far right kooks like Jack Chick and he let a very telling comment through from the founder of "Conservapedia" that was offering a deal for mutual benefit. Presumably any open political donations would have to be declared, but I wonder if he's donating to any far right lobby groups?

    Also, perhaps we should start calling him "120K Ray"? :-)

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  21. Great post Ray! I mean Ace!

    Seriously good jod. Yeah, that's something apologist always seem not to consider about NPO's - the individuals working for them are still profiting. And not that they shouldn't, but they like to glaze over that fact.

    Maybe I'm wrong but I'm gonna speculate that Ray's house is actually worth more.

    Anyway, nicely done!

    Oh and Ray makes more than me too.

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  22. Rufus - "Geez, Maragon, you're easy."

    Maragon - "Just talk nerdy to me. ^_-"


    Hey Maragon,

    I wish I was an Ion so I could form an exothermic bond with you!

    **NaFa snorts wildly while fixing uber thick coke-bottle glasses**

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  23. JA!
    theace wins the site this month!
    I was always very careful and conservative in my estimates about the revenues and assets such 'non-profit' organizations have. But to go from 300 Dollars to over 3 Million in just a few years - wow.
    The Catholic church has similar data, with about 20% going out and the rest staying in the system.
    If I had 10k a month, even significantly less than that, I'd be handing out bills to needy people. Real bills.

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  24. Maragon said...
    Not only is Ray paying himself 120K, he's paying someone named Daniel Comfort 90K.

    His son?

    ----------

    These "Ministries" for the most part are all family dynasties.

    Joyce Myers, who brings in more money in one hour than Ray does all year, has her husband and kids on her Board of Directors and other staff positions. They are taking in a ton of bucks.

    Her family is rich beyond description and her minions don't seem to mind too much because her message is, essentially, if you send her money, you too will become wealthy and healthy. Talk about a vicious cycle.......

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  25. Nice post Ace.

    It doesn't surprise me one bit that Ray is living quite "comfort"ably, and, as was said in a prior post, that he has made it into a nice little (?) family business. It wouldn't surprise me at all if if his wife (Sue) and his other kids, Jacob and Rachel were on the payroll (or ministry dole)as well.

    I will admit that his $120K per year salary and $250K house are not outrageous, but I would bet dollars to donuts that that is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if it's not, his whole "follow Jesus" message is complete hypocritical horseshit, which merely gets fools to part with their money, so he and his family can live nicely and he can preach his childish crap.

    One thing that I have not been able to find out after doing some web searching, is -

    What is Ray's educational background?

    I haven't even been able to determine if he has a high school diploma. Just that he started as associate pastor at a church in (get this-) Christchurch, New Zealand, his hometown.

    Maybe he has something about it in his autobiography, but I absolutely will not spend a penny to buy it. Maybe if I can get it through my library I will flip through it to find out.

    Bottom Line- Comfort is nothing more than a carnival huckster, selling his snake oil way to heaven.

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  26. Sorry, folks - I cracked and posted at Ray's. In response to :

    "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

    I replied :

    Apparently it will profit him about $120,000 a year and $90,000 for his son ... :-)

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  27. You're bang on right about Living Waters having an abysmal ratio of administrative expensive versus program costs. Generally for a organization such as that you wouldn't want to see more than 30% or 40% going toward administrative expenses.

    Maybe Ray should take a look at The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a church-state separation group, for an example on how to run a non-profit. For the 2006 financial year, only 10.2% of their revenue was spent on administrative costs, and had 88.6% going toward program and service expenses!

    Freedom From Religion data from charitynavigator.org

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  28. I see the post got pulled then.

    Church of no surprises!

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  29. A quick google leads to a dating site called "loveoffering.com" - I didn't try clicking on it ... :-)

    I suspect a "love offering" is a cash in hand donation from the collection plate. Does it get declared for tax purposes, I wonder?

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  30. I had posted the following comment there, but it didn't get through... surprise, surprise:

    --------

    Does owning a home worth a quarter million and an income of over $100k qualify as gaining enough to lose your soul, or does the gain have to actually be the whole world?

    Just wondering.

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  31. Rufus,

    I posted to the same thread this morning,inquiring politely as to why your post was pulled.

    Surprisingly enough, my post was censored. Imagine that. c^_^ɔ

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  32. Ha Ha! It got through, on at least one thread (I posted it at two or three). At least one person noticed it, "Mike and Lizette" mentioned.


    Mike and Lizette's Travels and Thoughts said...

    Oh wow, rufus you must be feeling great pride in posting Ray's laundry. To me it shows pettiness on your part. Also what you forget it does take money to run a ministry that is international like Ray's. As for his home, so what about the value! God has blessed him with a roof over his head and likewise God has provided you with yours, as I think about it since you are harping on his position you are exhibiting the 10th commandment Exodus 20:17"(A)You shall not covet your neighbor's house; (B)you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
    August 13, 2008 7:11 AM

    Yes, I do covet, Ray. I wish I had some sheep to fleece.

    And no, I don't think it's as bad, in degree, as the "prosperity preachers" that Ray goes on and on about, but the Comfort clan ain't hurtin', either.

    As for Ray Comfort's educational background, you missed one of Terry Burton's posts; Ray is a college degree person.

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  33. Yeah, Trip, my post was full of "cussing" and incivility, and URLs, and "jesus" and "god". And oh yeah, some facts.

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  34. I noticed that the thread where I posted aceofclubz work, where my post was removed, now has a litttle drawing of a man with a large sack on his back labeled untold wealth. But Ray, we know what you're wealth is; at least some of it. Why was my post removed?

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  35. I'd admit that living in a 250k house and having a 120k salary isn't grossly extravagant. But it surely isn't pious either. Plus there is a litany of ways that Ray could be paying himself that wouldn't have shown up on the 990: bonuses to himself, gifts to his family, gifts from ministries he is chummy with, book sales outside of Living Waters...There really isn't any way for us to pin down exactly what this guy is pulling in a year. We do know its more than 120k though.

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  36. @ Maragon and Dale
    Statement 9 attached at the end of the 06 document lists "compensation paid to related individuals"
    the names listed are:
    Ray, Susan, Dan, Rebekah, and Jacob Comfort
    and Emeal and Racheal Zwayne (Racheal, his daughter, married Emeal)

    So ya this is entirely a family run "nonprofit"

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  37. The guy's name is actually Emeal Zwayne? Come on! Emeal Zwayne?

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  38. aceofclubs,

    Did it say how much they were compensated?

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  39. Emeal is the only one given and he receives 112k. I'm a little confused on how the others are classified. It doesn't appear that they are officers, directors, trustees or key employees since all of those were required on the form. The only category that they could fall under leaving them unlisted would be as employees making less than 50k

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  40. You guys amuse me.

    What if Ray gives alot of his money to charity. Anonymously.
    I bet you couldn't trace it.

    Seriously, why are you guys so worried how much ray gets and how he spends his money.

    Honestly, that's no ones business but his own, and God's.

    I thought this blog was supposed to entertain intelligent discussions.


    In Christian Love,
    Brittany

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  41. Brittany,

    "What if Ray gives alot of his money to charity. Anonymously.
    I bet you couldn't trace it."

    His organization is classified as 'non-profit' - why would he take money out of his non-profit organization, pay taxes on it, and then donate a smaller amount anonymously?

    "Seriously, why are you guys so worried how much ray gets and how he spends his money."

    Because he makes far more than the average person all while having no education, providing no real service and spreading ignorance and lies.

    There are people who spend 8 years in University who will make less money researching a cure for cancer than Ray Comfort makes lying to christians about evolutionary biology.

    "Honestly, that's no ones business but his own, and God's."

    The government disagrees - hence why these forms are public.

    "I thought this blog was supposed to entertain intelligent discussions."

    And I thought Ray was supposed to be a pious servant of your imaginary god. He's SCAMMING you. Is that so hard to understand?

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  42. Brittany: Why does Ray care so much about what Joel Osteen and the other "prosperity preachers" make? How do you and Ray know that they don't give a lot of money to charity, anonymously? Yes, yes, I know. Ray preaches the "true Gospel". Right, Got it.

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  43. Brittany said,


    What if Ray gives alot of his money to charity. Anonymously.
    I bet you couldn't trace it.


    What if he doesn't? What if he really is as dishonest and money-grubbing as we have demonstrated? Has that occurred to you?

    Of course you can't let that occur to you, can you? Because if you admit that we're right about some things, you have to admit that we might be right about other things. Things like God's existence.

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  44. maragon,

    "His organization is classified as 'non-profit' - why would he take money out of his non-profit organization, pay taxes on it, and then donate a smaller amount anonymously?"

    Because that is what a Chrisitan would do.

    silent dave,

    "Of course you can't let that occur to you, can you? Because if you admit that we're right about some things, you have to admit that we might be right about other things. Things like God's existence."

    You amuse me silent dave. What Ray does with his money is between him and God. If you are right about Ray, then that does not mean that you are right about God's existence.

    That's a weak argument and you know it.

    God exists, and if you truely want to know that he exists then follow His advice:

    If you seek me with all your heart,
    you will find me.

    Deuteronomy 4:29

    I hope you guys have a great day!
    You to rufus.

    In Christian Love,
    Brittany

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  45. Brittany said: "Because that is what a Chrisitan would do."

    No, a CHRISTIAN would make sure the fullest amount goes to charity, not the amount that had a good chunk taken out by taxes. A Christian would not employ his or her family at additional 200K (nepotism anyone), a Christian would not preach piety to poorer people who will give said Christian whatever little money they have just to have it given to the Christian's family.

    Brittany said: Honestly, that's no ones business but his own, and God's.

    And government's, and people's who give him that money thinking it will go to a better cause than supporting his and his family's relatively lavish lifestyle. It's like saying what a launderer does with the laundered money is no one's business but his own, and God's. Well, Ray preaches what happens to "pious" people like that.


    Finally, Deuteronomy 4:30 states "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you,and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons."

    You see, your God's talking to Hebrews' sons, not daughter's Brittany. Maybe women don't count as deserving of your God's love?

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  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. (clears throat) Well, people, you knew this was coming:

    The Prophet's Profit

    My cap, I am now forced to doff it,
    And bite my tongue rather than scoff. It
    Seems Living Waters
    Feeds Ray’s sons and daughters.
    Who knew it would turn such a profit?


    (Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week, remember to tip the waitress!)

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  48. Very nice, as an amateur poet myself I find your both deep and informative.

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  49. To be thorough, we know the comfort family is taking at least 322k from the salaries listed on the form. That could go as high as 522k once you add in the family members that weren't on it.

    And if you think Ray's 250k house was bad you should look up Emeal's...

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  50. @Brittany
    All Ray would have to do is make a slight change to his statement 5 "statement of program service accomplishments." Oh wait, no its there at the bottom. Of the 3 million in expenditures for 2006 we have (drum roll please)

    "Donate property to various charitable organizations and individuals in need.....5,917


    6k!!! That's Fucking it! Some CHARITY organization!! LMAO!!
    THAT'S ONLY .2%!!

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  51. Keep it up, aceofclubz! Great work. I'd like to take out a full page ad in USA Today and put in all of this information. Ray doesn't have the biggest herd, but he sure knows how to fleece the sheep. He's probably just jealous of people like Osteen because they have greater success. Six thousand out of 3 million. Love it.

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  52. I am shocked at this post. Just because Ray Comfort is a Christian doesn't mean he must be poor! Does anyone remember someone named King David? Or maybe king Solomon? I think most of the people posting are #1) Angry at the message Ray Comfort preaches #2) Jealous since they don't make the kind of money that Ray Comfort makes. A 250k house in California is EXTREMELY modest...I don't live in California...I actually live in a much more affordable area....and my home is valued at 600k...Maybe some of you need a new job or career... By the way, I'm 28 years old...Please people, get a grip.

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  53. James, let me get this straight:

    You're not shocked that Ray's "ministry to the children of My Imaginary Friend" is actually a business that supports his own family to the tune of over $300K per year?

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  54. Yes, I am jealous. Jealous that I don't have a flock of sheep to fleece. And I wish that I had a job for which I was paid 120K per year for telling people that if they don't believe what I believe they're going to hell.

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  55. For the record, friends, I'm a strikebreaker. I posted my "Prophet's Profit" limerick over at AC, partly because I didn't expect it to survive moderation but mostly to needle Dumbfort. He responded with a bland "welcome back" message -- posted twice. So he gets points (damn few) for needling back.

    Still can't make links work, so here's the URL:

    http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2008/08/todays-thought-for-thinking-atheist.html/

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Unlike Ray we don't censor our comments, so as long as it's on topic and not spam, fire away.

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