Pastor Maury Davis brings out the most cynical side of my personality. I look at Davis at the perfect con man. He is a convicted murderer who understands the road to privilege is paved by religion. As the cult leader of the Nashville based Cornerstone Mega-Church, he is a wealthy and influential man. But does he deserve it? I don’t think so.
"I did something heinous, not just awful," says Davis, who slit the throat of 54-year-old Jo Ella Liles in broad daylight in a peaceful middle-class Irving neighborhood in 1975. "Unless you go to a Charles Manson level, it's out there."
It comes down to trust. I can forgive a man for murder if he is repentant and serves his time in prison. Trusting him is another matter altogether. My religious friends will tell me I am broken. That I should trust people like Davis. I know better. Trust is hard to earn, but once lost even more difficult to recapture. Simply giving trust to a man because of a religious conversion is too convenient. It rewards the act of becoming a Christian instead of the act of becoming a good man. When becoming a Christian includes taking the helm of a large and powerful church, with the financial rewards of running a wildly successful religious business, one must ask, “Does Maury Davis disserve it?” No. Davis deserves a job cutting the bushes, not leading a church.
In 1975 Maury Davis slit the throat of a 54-year-old Irving Texas woman named Jo Ella Liles. The crime was brutal and senseless. Davis was upset about spilling paint on his boots so somebody had to die. He admitted his guilt but claimed demonic possession during his insanity defense. He did not apologize to the family of his victim.
Prison officials let him out of church on a weekly furlong to attend church services with his family. Davis recognized a scam when he saw one. He stepped up his efforts to convert his fellow inmates. When his 20-year sentence was cut short by prison overcrowding, he tasted freedom as a free man at age 27. He did not pay his debt to society, he benefited from a scam instead. Eight years in no payment for murder.
His only marketable skill was retelling a sanitized version of his prison conversion. I’ve seen it on TV. It makes me wonder aloud about the gullibility of Christians. Um… pass that collection plate please.
Davis became an evangelist. Which is to say, he started selling his testimony for personal profit under the guise of working to convert people for Jesus. He polished his apple, and Cornerstone took a bite. Now Davis is rich, powerful, influential, and still unapologetic. He claims the successful conversion of many people as proof that his slate is clean. Only, he is still a murderer, and a loving mother is still dead. And her son is still bitter. Tell me, who benefited here?