[Fleming Island, FL] Call it the case of the father, the son and the unholy ghost.
Things seem to be rapidly falling apart for the Neals and their Baptist empire on Fleming Island. The scandal-ridden father and son preacher team had the world by the collection plate with a college, an academy, teaching and speaking engagements and a flock of followers that protected Tom and his son Greg as if they were actual deities.
But they aren’t – deities pay their bills and don’t videotape members of their church undressing and lie to cover up the crime, as Sunshine Slate reported on last month.
Now comes the the legal eventuality of bank foreclosure on their church property, as prescribed in court documents obtained by Sunshine Slate. Since entering bankruptcy protection, the Neals paid their $22,000 in August, but have failed to pay the latest lump sum due, as required in the agreement.
A $30,000 payment was due on Sept. 1 with a seven-day grace period given. Provided court documents reveal that the payment was not received by the property title holder, First Bank. Now the bank wants its property back and has filed the necessary paperwork to take control.
Why can’t Berean Baptist pay its bills? If widely distributed figures are to be believed, the church brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars each month, although there appears to be a downward spiral in effect with donations and tithes dropping as much as ten percent from a year ago.
Snapshot of the Berean Baptist website. Are they really advancing the cause?
Could it be because the true believers aren’t buying into the Neal’s song and dance anymore? Could it be that when faced with police reports, witness statements, videotape proof and State’s Attorney opinions, Tom and Greg Neal continue to lie and deceive the very people who have trusted them for so many years?
And why does the recently updated church website suddenly not include a picture of Pastor Greg Neal (on his page like his father’s), the man who videotaped the women undressing? If he is truly innocent, why would you hide his photo?
Blogs are a buzz with anxious anticipation of the Neal’s comeuppance after years of alleged strong-arm tactics and lies that kept his once mighty congregation of followers in line.
“I heard church members and deacons threatening physical violence to those who dare mess with their preacher,” says one blog entry. Witness statements from police reports back up these accusations.
“This tape was supposedly recorded 10 years ago,” typed the blog commenter and church member. “He may very well be a changed man, but that doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for his actions. … The biggest problem I have is the cover up.”
Would you send you kid to a “college” run by a guy who videotaped women undressing in his office?
In fact, after Sunshine Slate wrote the story exposing the Neals for what they really are, an aggressive emailer who was obviously a supporter of the Neals or the church called this publication’s journalistic integrity – and the integrity of the police, the State’s Attorney and that of witness William Cochran – into question.
When hard-pressed for proof of their accusations, however, they shriveled up and went away. Kind of like the Neal’s Berean Baptist dynasty, apparently.
I think this blog entry says it all:
“If you look around you noticed the Cochrans are no longer at church. They were escorted off property. Anytime you say something that ticks Preacher off, it’s his right to have you leave the church. There’s some debate over whether of not Bro. Cochran was dismissed as a Deacon or if he resigned. According to church bylaws and the Bible, the members voted him in, and members have to vote him out. I remember voting him in, I did not vote him out. Nothing was ever discussed with us about the issue. Bro. Stanley just let us know that the church had a “bowel movement”. Wow! I love The Cochrans, I thought The church loved them too. What a way to talk about a FAITHFUL, TITHING BROTHER IN CHRIST. According to Preacher, we’re at war with him. Apparently Bro. Cochran has been stealing from the church, and he threatened to kill members of the Neal family!”
Does this sound like the typical goings-on at your neighborhood church? Good Christians deserve better than the Neals. Stay tuned for more on this story.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Images: Berean Baptist website Resources: Berean Bankruptcy Agreement (via Scribd), Berean Baptist Blogspot