Matthew (6:24) says that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” but we have recently seen ministers who seem focused on the latter than the former in their personal matters like St. Louis Pastor Alois Bell who scratched out a 18 percent tip for a large party and wrote in a “0” next to “I give God 10% why do you get 18.” The waitress was later fired from Applebee’s after Bell complained about her going public with the slight. Rev. Bell was widely ridiculed as a craven hypocrite. However, she could apparently open a new ministry of the “Good Work of Mammon” Church with Australian Rev. Terry McAuliffe, of St Paul’s Anglican Church. A couple, Clyde and Lesley Bevan, own the Friends Restaurant and dropped a $6500 gold and diamond bracelet in the carpark. It was missing for months. They were delighted when a new “friend” called to report that he picked up the bracelet until he told them that he wanted half the value if they wanted it back. Rev. McAuliffe insists that it is just a case of mammon from heaven: “I have been given a gift fallen from the sky.”
The bracelet with 16 diamonds was a birthday gift for Lesley.
The clergyman spotted a security code on the bracelet and learned of the owners’ identity. However, he decided to have the bracelet appraised.
McAuliffe is relying on the Criminal and Found Property Disposal Act 2006 which states that finders can keep unclaimed lost property after two months. Thus, his position is that he can keep it all legally but I felt it would be best to get it back to them. They can get it back for 50 per cent.” So he told them to put in for an insurance payment and give him half of the money.
After registering the find with the police, McAuliffe contacted the couple in an email and wrote: “As you have thus lost ownership of the bracelet, you have a valid claim against your insurer for its insured value. On the basis that equality is equity, I would be prepared to sell it to you for 50 per cent of its insured value.”
That is a novel claim. I am not familiar with the insurance laws of Australia but some folks would view it as fraud to claim the full value of a lost item and then get the item back in addition to 50 percent of its value. Likewise, the good reverend would be dividing up the proceeds in the exchange.
Rev. McAuliffe however insists that this appears God’s work . . . and he is just cashing in: “I have been given a gift fallen from the sky. What do I do with my gift? That’s up to me to decide. I’m just offering to share the windfall.”
That seems a lot like profiting on the misfortune of others. Perhaps a review of Luke’s The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward is worth reviewing:
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Of course, no one offered Luke a diamond bracelet.