Pastor Bill Keller ministers to the press at the inaugural services of the 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero in September, 2010.

9/11 Christian Center in financial disarray?

An extremist pastor's ground zero church, created as a response to Park51, is now facing a big budget shortfall


Justin Elliott
September 20, 2010 8:40PM (UTC)

We've been keeping a close eye on the 9/11 Christian Church at ground zero, Internet pastor Bill Keller's anti-Muslim, anti-Mormon answer to the planned Park51 Islamic community center.

The church had its inaugural services in a ballroom of the Marriott just south of ground zero on Sept. 5 to a crowd of about 25 people plus 25 journalists. But now the bill for that event is due, and Keller appears to be shifting into crisis mode, making an appeal to the readers of his daily Internet devotional to wire him $34,000 to help him get out of the hole and to ensure the continued operations of the 9/11 Christian Center.

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(Keep in mind here that Keller, who turned to Christianity after being imprisoned for insider trading in the late 1980s, has been involved in schemes in the past to get people to send him jewelry and to make money off of a Birther informercial.)

Here's the emergency appeal that was appended to Keller's daily prayer e-mail on Friday (emphasis ours):

***As we wind down the last 13 days of the month, we still have $35,000 to cover the balance of our September budget, plus it is critical we pay off the last $20,000 of our 2009 shortfall. In addition, we still need to cover the $7,000 for last weeks 9-11 Christian Center operations and the $7,000 for this week and next. So that is $76,000 we need to raise over these last 13 days. I am praying for 4 specific people to step up TODAY to help me cover $34,000 that is critical, and will count on a collection of everyone else giving as they are able to make up the last $42,000. Eveyone can pray, and most everyone can sacrifce something to help me insure these needs are met!

SPECIFICALLY, I AM ASKING GOD TO SEND ME 4 SPECIAL PEOPLE TODAY. FIRST, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO IS ABLE TO WIRE TRANSFER OF FEDEX $15,000 TODAY. THIS COVERS $15,000 OF THAT $20,000 WE STILL OWE FROM 2009 AND NEEDED TO BE PAID LAST FRIDAY. SECOND, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO IS ABLE TO WIRE TRANSFER OR FED EX THE $7,000 FOR THE 9-11 CHRISTIAN CENTER OPERATIONS LAST WEEKEND. THIRD, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO CAN COVER THE LAST $5,000 OF THE $20,000 FROM 2009. FOURTH, I NEED ONE PERSON WHO CAN COVER THE $7,000 FOR THIS WEEKENDS 9-11 CHRISTIAN CENTER OPERATIONS. I HAVE BEEN ON MY KNEES PRAYING TONIGHT FOR THE LORD TO SPEAK TO 4 HEARTS, AND FOR THOSE 4 PEOPLE TO BE OBEDIENT. IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE FOUR, CONTACT ME AT: bkeller@liveprayer.com AND I WILL GET YOU THE BANK WIRE OR FEDEX INFO YOU NEED. THANK YOU!

Reached by Salon, Keller insisted that the church "will keep going until the end of the year." Regarding the fundraising plea, Keller said in an e-mail: "We obviously want to raise the funds for the weekly services above and beyond the monthly budget ... but will move $$ around as we need to cover everything."


Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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