The Glory Has Departed


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Friday, March 3, 2017

Arkansas Times - "A Smell Arising from Ecclesia"



 Oren Paris III posed with Heide and Ted Cruz.
Quote from Mrs. Oren Paris III:
I remember Oren sharing with me how the love of Jesus shone through Heidi as she told of her prayer to God whether she should do this for Ted (leave her job and dive into a campaign) or not. The Lord spoke to her and said, "No you should not do it for Ted. You should do it for Me, for my glory." That meeting lasted more than 7 hours and was filled with Senator Cruz and Heidi (daughter and granddaughter of missionaries) sharing their hearts, answering questions, and joining in prayer for revival in our nation.
GJ - But Ted is Canadian-born and not qualified, eh?


Ecclesia College, enmeshed in an alleged kickback scheme involving its president Oren Paris III, former state Sen. Jon Woods and Randell Shelton Jr., a friend of both Paris and Woods, posted this letter on its Facebook page last night. (Board member Joseph Wood is the Republican county judge of Washington County.)

The Patheos blog notes that the college's board of regents include such notables as Pat Boone, David Barton and Eric Metaxas.

There's been a smell arising from Ecclesia ever since a state audit raised questions about money funneled to it and other recipients through the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District at the insistence of area legislators. Virtually every legislator in that part of the state pushed money to Ecclesia and others elsewhere, notably Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, also tried to pitch in state taxpayer money to the Bible college, with an enrollment of perhaps 200 supported by federal money funneled through a work-study program for which only Ecclesia qualifies in Arkansas. Jon Woods tried to pump millions in state money to the college through separate legislation. He once tried to make the college beneficiary of new tax money from the medical marijuana amendment.

What did all the Ecclesia supporters in the legislature get from Woods in return for their participation in a scheme that, an indictment says, enriched Woods, former Rep. Micah Neal and the college president? Perhaps nothing more than gratitude and a prayer. Perhaps only that "ethics" amendment Woods fathered that extended term limits and opened the door for huge pay raises for legislators. That's pretty tangible thanks. Maybe it's only that the people at Ecclesia are such good, conservative Christians. Federal prosecutors unearthed that talking point provided by President Paris as Woods was rounding up state tax dollars for the school.

Much more is to be known about Ecclesia land dealings, too. And there are some strings to be pursued in other business relationships involving the trio indicted yesterday. The Paris name turns up, for example, in some enterprises related to Randell Shelton, whose close friendship with Jon Woods is also part of the story. Each served as the other's best man.