Police are reportedly investigating Illinois megachurch founder James MacDonald after allegations that he sought murder-for-hire surfaced.
What are the details?
MacDonald, founder of Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois, reportedly sought a hitman to commit murder.
According to the Christian Post, the allegations were first brought to light by independent journalist Julie Roys, who cited allegations from Chicago-area radio personality Mancow Muller and Emmanuel Bucur, who is a deacon at the church as well as a former friend and bodyguard of MacDonald.
Wilmette Deputy Police Chief Pat Collins told the outlet Monday, "A subject came in and filed a report and we are doing an investigation based on that report."
The outlet reported that MacDonald allegedly asked Muller twice in 2018 if he knew of a hitman for hire. Muller said he thought MacDonald was kidding at first but later discovered through further conversation that the megachurch pastor was "really serious," according to the Roys.
Roys also wrote that Bucur said in 2015, MacDonald asked him to kill his former son-in-law, Tony Groves, and even offered to help dispose of Groves' body. Bucur said that he didn't initially report the incident because he didn't take him very seriously at first. Bucur said that MacDonald asked him "take Tony out" while on a motorcycle trip in Kentucky.
When Bucur reportedly said, "Are you asking me what I think you're asking me?"
MacDonald purportedly said answered in the affirmative and said that, as a former combat Marine veteran, Bucur shouldn't have much trouble with the request.
Burcur reportedly fired back, "Absolutely not! We're not having this conversation and we're not talking about this ever again."
Muller told the outlet that he filed a report with authorities and is in fear of being targeted. Bucur also reportedly filed a report on the alleged incident.
According to the Post, "under Illinois law, a person who requests or encourages someone to murder another person is guilty of solicitation of murder, which is a Class X felony, which comes with a 15-30 years prison sentence."
You can read Roys' full report here.
MacDonald has not publicly commented on the developing story.
MacDonald was fired from the church in February after "engaging in conduct … contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church."
According to Christianity Today, the church's elders determined that MacDonald would be removed from his position of senior pastor "following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion."
"This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors," the elders said in a statement.
In January, MacDonald took an "indefinite sabbatical" from the church following allegations of misconduct and church mismanagement. MacDonald and the church sued critics in October — including Roys, who reported on the church — for publishing what the church said were lies about the church's financial security and money management. You can read more on the suit here.
Muller previously wrote of his concerns over the church's financial management in a January op-ed.
He wrote, "Pray for those of us who donate 10 percent of our income and would like to know where the money really goes. Pray for those outside the faith who will never come to salvation because of how this appears to them. For a great many, it's time for the cult of personality of James MacDonald at Harvest chapter to close and the actual Bible to be opened again."