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The mystery behind the Mike Lindell foundation's miraculous funding of the evangelical movement

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One of a series about the Fellowship Foundation, the secretive religious group that runs the National Prayer Breakfast and is popularly known as The Family. This series is based on Family documents obtained by TYT, including lists of breakfast guests and who invited them.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell started his charity, the Lindell Foundation, in 2012, to help addicts and substance abusers.

It was dissolved and then born again in 2013. It relaunched in 2015. In January 2018, Lindell told Don Imus that he was getting ready to start to launch and in October 2018 told Laura Loomer, "We're not completely launched."

This week, Lindell told TYT he hasn't done anything with the Lindell Foundation in four years. The Lindell Foundation URL redirects to his personal site. But tax records show it was still taking in money -- and distributing it to evangelical causes -- as of 2019, its most recent filing.

As TYT reported, insiders from The Family have been involved with the Lindell Foundation since 2016, the year Lindell attended his first National Prayer Breakfast. As his connections with The Family deepened that year, traditional lines between Lindell's politics, religion, commerce, and philanthropy began to fade.

Related story: How Mike Lindell Found Jesus Christ…and Donald Trump

Against internal advice, Lindell turned MyPillow explicitly political. He began to see his company as a platform to do what he believed to be God's work -- including supporting Donald Trump. Then, after Trump won, Lindell writes,

"I began to understand what God might intend for the 'platform' He had provided, and that the Lindell Foundation and our focus on helping people might be a vessel for that. Throughout 2016, I had asked myself why a guy like me would be invited to participate in high-profile, nationally watched events. Now I was beginning to think that maybe God had opened those doors in order to expand whatever good the Lindell Foundation might do."

Tax filings show that, after The Family got involved with the Lindell Foundation, the charity's focus shifted from addiction toward evangelism. When Imus asked him in 2018 about helping addicts, Lindell responded, "No, no. That was originally what I was gonna do."

(Lindell has maintained some focus on addiction elsewhere. Another philanthropy, the Lindell Recovery Network, allows addicts to view videos pertinent to both their age and substance use.)

In Lindell's media appearances, however, the Lindell Foundation has provided him with valuable publicity. Christian actor Stephen Baldwin got Lindell an award for the Lindell Foundation's work.

Related story: Stephen Baldwin's Other Family

Lindell tells interviewers he's put $6 million of his own money into the foundation, to cover overhead, so that every dime donated goes to the beneficiaries. In 2017, Lindell's niece told the city of Chaska, MN, MyPillow's headquarters, that the foundation had committed $2 million for housing.

But Lindell Foundation filings show no sign of any such expenditure. And the charity's total revenues since it was formed add up to only $2.6 million, well below the $6 million Lindell says he donated. Its total expenses, including employee salaries, grants, and charitable distributions, total only $2.6 million.

In 2017, the charity reported having 12 employees -- but only disclosed $201,211 in salaries and compensation. Subtracting the $55,385 paid to its president, that would leave the remaining 11 staffers making an average salary of $13,257.

Lindell has said he wanted donors to select their recipients. In 2018, Lindell told Imus, "You're gonna go on [the site] and you're basically gonna be able to pick your need, like pick your square. You'll hear a story about........

© Salon

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