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Ligonier Ministries Still Paying RC Sproul Jr Big Money

On December 12, 2016 Ligonier Ministries posted an announcement that RC Sproul Jr had resigned from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College. Ligonier was anything but forthcoming in saying he'd resigned "for personal reasons." Ligonier's Facebook announcement wasn't the least bit candid about it either.

Initially many Ligonier supporters and RC Jr well-wishers speculated the reason he'd resigned had something to do with RC Jr's 2015 Ashley Madison account scandal. Ligonier made no effort to correct those false assumptions. They left their supporters in the dark. Even on a practical level coverups are seldom a good idea. But coverups are especially stupid for donor-funded ministries. Indeed, Ligonier's plans to keep it hush-hush quickly evaporated.

The week following Ligonier's announcement the Christian press reported RC Jr had been arrested on November 29 for drunk driving This looked especially bad not only because of his exceedingly drunken condition (.175 BAC) but because he had two of his minor children in the car. Ligonier's coverup of the matter didn't help their reputation either. RC Jr pled not guilty but ultimately negotiated a plea bargain in which he pled guilty to one of four counts against him. He avoided the expense of a criminal trial he was bound to lose, as well as the 7 years of prison time and $21,000 in fines he was facing. But his plea deal forever marked him as a felon.

Ligonier Ministries has a long history of nepotism and rewarding family members with lavish salaries they never earned. Worse yet they reward family members for conduct which should be disciplined. There is no better example than RC Sproul Jr.

We were the first to expose that RC Sproul Jr's suspension from Ligonier Ministries over his Ashley Madison debacle wasn't punishment but a reward disguised as "discipline." RC Sproul Jr was suspended for a year with pay, all at the expense of Ligonier Ministry donors. Ligonier quietly reinstated him July 1, 2016. RC Jr's drunk driving arrest came barely five months thereafter.

When RC Sproul Jr resigned "for personal reasons" we publicly speculated that he'd soon receive a severance package, and very likely a substantial one. With the release of Ligonier's 2016 tax returns one year later our suspicions were again proven valid.

Ligonier Ministries failed to disclose any details in their tax returns of what RC Jr's severance payment(s) amounted to, and as the law requires they do. Were the payment a modest one there would be no logical reason to conceal or evade reporting it. One is left to assume RC Jr's severance payment was quite substantial, likely in the six-figures.

We've also speculated in prior articles that Ligonier Ministries would continue throwing its donor money at RC Sproul Jr long after his resignation, but that they'd probably wait a year for the dust to settle so as to not precipitate another Sproul family scandal. For example we speculated Ligonier would hire RC Sproul Jr as an independent contractor to the tune of six-figures, but that they'd do so on the down-low. With the release of Ligonier Ministries' 2018 tax returns our suspicions have, once again, proven valid.

Ligonier Ministries' 2018 990 tax returns show that Ligonier paid RC Sproul Jr $106,017.00 in "Royalties a." This appears to be a not-so clever way of disguising that the vast majority of the figure has nothing to do with royalties. Even prior to his scandals RC Sproul Jr has never received but scant royalties from Ligonier, and with his later scandals his book sales have diminished all the more:
2011: $1976
2012: $1959
2013: unreported
2014: $1,635
2015: $1,809
2016: $1380

With his drunk driving conviction RC Sproul Jr's book sales suffered a dramatic decline and his royalties along with it. In 2017 RC Sproul Jr received only $728 in "accrued royalties."

It would appear the vast majority of the $106,017 paid to RC Jr in 2018 were independent contractor payments which Ligonier Ministries has very creatively conflated with "royalty" payments. It would seem Ligonier may be desirous of concealing all this from their donors. 

Why would Ligonier do this? For one thing disclosure might create yet another Ligonier scandal, such as the one they created over their lawsuit against "Frank Vance." Also, it's unlikely that RC Jr can substantiate over $100K in actual expended labor. Working that hard and putting in those kind of hours would be inconsistent with his work ethic. If RC Jr did perform $100K worth of actual labor and services he'd be able to readily document it, just as every one of Ligonier's other independent contractors has, no doubt, done.

There is even the possibility that Ligonier Ministries has committed tax fraud by concealing and misreporting independent contractor payments as "royalties." We hope that's not the case, or if it is the case that it was done unintentionally. However, after reviewing it a CPA friend told us, "At the very least it's highly irregular."

We're the first to admit there might be an innocent explanation for at least a portion of this. For example the "royalties" being reported might have been royalties due and owing to RC Sproul Sr that RC Sproul Jr received in 2018 as part of an inheritance. Vesta Sproul was also paid royalties in 2018. Intellectual property rights can be bequested via will or trust. If that's the case here then our CPA friend informs us Ligonier still didn't report it correctly. Furthermore, there is still the matter of RC Jr's independent contractor compensation. Why is it being conflated with royalties? Again, this is highly irregular and potentially intended to conceal wrongdoing.

This all raises some important questions:
  • What specific documented tasks is RC Sproul Jr performing as an independent contractor for Ligonier Ministries?
  • What is the hourly rate or fee schedule that RC Sproul Jr charges Ligonier Ministries?
  • How many hours has RC Sproul Jr actually worked for Ligonier Ministries?
  • Has RC Sproul Jr submitted detailed and itemized invoices to Ligonier Ministries as the law requires and as Ligonier Ministries' other independent contractors do?
  • Are RC Jr's invoices available to Ligonier Ministry donors for review?
  • Is RC Sproul Jr performing services for Ligonier Ministries that even remotely approaches the dollar value of his invoices or is this just another RC Jr scam?
  • For how many more years will RC Sproul Jr enjoy the largesse that comes from his family connections and nepotism?  
  • How long will Ligonier donors be saddled with financially supporting RC Sproul Jr's gravy train?

This post first appeared on Spinderella Sproul: Lessons In Spin With Spinmeist, please read the originial post: here

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Ligonier Ministries Still Paying RC Sproul Jr Big Money


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