Pirates of Privilege
By Walter Rea, ©1984, edited for the web by Kerry Wynne, 2009
Walter Rea, the author of the block-buster anti-Ellen G. White book, The White Lie (1982-1983), found himself in an unusual situation where he could monitor the developing financial corruption of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Davenport Scandal. Then, in an amazing set of circumstances, he found himself in possession of a copy of Dr. Donald Davenport's divorce decree. Dr. Davenport's estranged wife happened to attend the SDA Church Dr. Rea was pastoring at the time, and, seeking his guidance in the matter, she showed him the decree. This legal document provided, among other things, a list of Dr. Davenport's many creditors, which included an astonishing number of Church entities, leaders, and other privileged Adventists, including more than one General Conference president and six union conference presidents. The Church and the Church's leaders who invested with Dr. Davenport lost approximately 77 million dollars—a huge sum of money in the late 1970's and early 1980's—in this Ponzi scandal.
Pirates of Privilege, which reveals the nearly unbelievable details of this sordid chapter in the history of Adventism, was never published. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, when it fired Rea, took away his retirement benefits. Church leaders would like the world to believe the reason for his firing was his exposure of Ellen White's massive plagiarism, but we know now that it was as much for his exposure of SDA corruption as it was for his treatment of Ellen White. He was 60 years of age when his employment with the Church was terminated, and by then he had given many decades of service to the Church. Rea took the Church to court and won back his retirement benefits, but he was forced to agree not to publish Pirates of Privilege to secure that income. Thus, in a very real sense, every penny of retirement benefits Rea has received from the Church in the decades since represents “hush money” paid out to silence the story of Adventist corruption and its scandalous squandering of the Church’s money. Most of the millions of dollars lost by Adventist leaders in the Davenport Scandal came to the Church in the form of tithe money sacrificially given to the Church by Adventist believers who were struggling to get from one paycheck to another. Pirates of Privilege shows Adventist leaders operating as if they do not believe there is a Heaven to win or a Hell to shun, much less than in the Church's own special teachings about the Sabbath, the Investigative Judgment, or the divine inspiration of Ellen White. Whether her writings were inspired by God or not, these leaders repeatedly disregarded her specific counsels in regard to both the handling of the tithe monies and of the Church's investment practices in general.
Pirates of Privilege has been available for many years on the Internet in the form of a document that was produced by scanning a copy of the book's typewritten manuscript with an OCR program. The program used for this purpose did not recognize many of the characters correctly, and most formatting of paragraphs and charts was lost in the process. I was surprised to learn that I could obtain a printed and spiral-bound copy of Dr. Rea’s original typewritten manuscript from Dr. Desmond Ford’s Good News Unlimited ministry in Australia. By comparing the printed copy of the original manuscript with the OCR-scanned electronic copy, I was able to create a WORD file, which is complete. This process, although laborious, took far less time than it would have taken to re-type the entire book.
The printed version of Pirates of Privilege is a facsimile of what represented a rough draft that would have gone through additional revisions before being submitted to a publisher. A final draft was obviously not prepared because the hope of publishing the book was immediately squelched by the court agreement. There were some typographical errors in this rough draft. In most cases I have chosen to correct such errors. Some mistakes may have crept into this restored version due to errors I may have made during the editing process. In a few cases I have provided notes to explain some of editing decisions I have made. Readers may assist in improving the accuracy of this document by sending their suggested corrections to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ---- Kerry Wynne, June 24, 2009.
Category: Online Books
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