August 22, 2011; Source: Catholic News Agency | Michael Voris is the head of St. Michael’s Media, a conservative Catholic nonprofit media organization based in Ferndale, Michigan. This week, Voris has been dealing with the fallout from an August 17 Catholic News Agency (CNA) story detailing record-keeping problems and questionable online writings of a key staff member.
According to CNA, an official of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs confirmed that St. Michael’s Media hadn’t filed anything with the state for two years and was “no longer registered and in good standing with the State of Michigan.” Voris said last week that he had “no idea” that his organization lacked the proper authorizations. As of last week, St. Michael’s Media was still marketing itself on its website as a 501(c)(3) soliciting tax-deductible donations through PayPal.
In addition, CNA discovered last week that a St. Michael’s Media staffer, Simon Rafe, had written a sexually explicit adult role-playing game called Castle Dracula and that Rafe had used St. Michael’s Media’s address to register domain names for his Dracula game.
Sign up for our free newsletters
Subscribe to NPQ's newsletters to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
Since the original CNA article about Voris’s paperwork oversights and Rafe’s writings, Voris has acknowledged that he “did a poor job and allowed things to get sloppy” in allowing the nonprofit status of St. Michael’s Media to lapse and he has restricted Rafe’s role in the organization. At the same time, he slapped critics for attacking him during last week’s World Youth Day religious conference in Spain, a “hectic time for production” for his organization. He challenged his “enemies” to “confront us like a man, not some sniveling school girls who resort to tattle tales and smear campaigns.”
According to the gospels of Luke, Matthew and Mark, Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” If Voris wants to receive a tax exemption and solicit tax-deductible charitable contributions, St. Michael’s Media might want to render unto the state of Michigan the organization’s nonprofit paperwork. The rules of nonprofit reporting, transparency, and governance apply to Voris’s operations just like any other 501(c)(3).—Rick Cohen