Church members have donated thousands of dollars to celebrate their leader, Dr. Joseph White. But now, after hearing of serious allegations of sexual misconduct, a number of followers are asking for their money back.
The fundraising campaign---'50 Is Million'--- was organized to celebrate White's 50 years of service to the church. White is the founder and presiding Bishop of the Columbus-based Church of the Living God International, also called CLGI.
Former CLGI member Timothy Young says he donated nearly $3,000, but he's asking for a refund.
"That was a donation to celebrate him and we can't celebrate him," said Young, who's now living in North Carolina.
Young feels like some other donors who believe Dr. White should no longer be celebrated after serious allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors and young men. White has denied the allegations.
Donors say the church is telling them that church donations can not be refunded. Channel 3 contacted CLGI, asking if it planned to refund any of the money, but so far, the church has not responded.
Young says it would be unacceptable to not refund donations in light of what's happened since the campaign began.
"It completely goes against everything the church has taught us about being, good, decent human beings," he said.
Charity Navigator, a highly-regarded national charity evaluator, advises donors to keep asking questions about how the money is being spent. Shannon McCracken says if the money is not spent in the way it was originally intended for Dr. White, then donors have grounds for a refund.
"There are a lot of conversations that this church is going to have right now. They're in a really difficult position. They're not the first organization to be in this position where their leader is called into question," she said.
"I think it's really a larger code of ethics question, and code of behavior question. A number of us, including Charity Navigator, are putting together more clear guidelines that all organizations should adopt."