By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Everyone in this room wants to be a millionaire. What sets them apart from the rest of the schlubs who want the Big M is they're attending the Millionaire Mindset Conference in the downtown Dallas Hyatt Regency. They have shelled out between $995 and $9,995 for the privilege of hearing bona fide millionaires -- Christian millionaires -- tell their Horatio Algers.
In order to be a millionaire, you've got to think like a millionaire. And the Mindset Conference can offer that to you. Because once you buy into the conference, you're part of an elite Christian wealth-building force called Advantage Conferences. It's run by a guy from Allen, Texas, named Tim Darnell. Never heard of him? Your loss. Because he's got the tools to make you rich. All you need is a check and what he calls SUB: Sustained Unwavering Belief. It's like the Advantage Conferences web site says: "Doubters, skeptics, low self-image individuals need not apply." It's how AC weeds out people who doubt they can get rich. Since all those low-self-image individuals have been bused back to Loserville, you can be assured that everyone here is a go-getter.
And, as with all things, this is all made possible by the grace of Christ. Today's portion of the conference kicks off with a sermon by Darnell's dad, holder of a Duke doctorate of divinity.
David Darnell starts by recapping yesterday's exploration of Numbers 12. That's where God says he speaks to Moses not in riddles or dreams, but face-to-face and clearly.
"Think about that difference," he says, "between face-to-face and riddles."
And now, it's Matthew 6:5-15. That's where, Darnell says, Jesus introduces the word "hypocrite" into Biblical literature. Hypocrites are actors, showboating their religion, making a big deal of how pious they are.
Darnell puts it this way: "Don't practice your religion to be seen by people."
This is just part of the knowledge you get when you give Advantage Conferences your $10,000. It might be worth it, since it turns out that Jesus was a pretty smart guy, what with warning about hypocrites and all. And that wasn't his only warning. David Darnell didn't discuss it, but if he would've jumped ahead one chapter in Matthew, he could've pointed out something else Jesus said: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Given the histories of Tim Darnell and his current and past business partners, it's a passage that the hundreds of people who have joined Advantage Conferences might have done well to consider.
The first thing you need to know about Timothy Spencer Darnell is that he's not a U.S. citizen. Or at least not when it suits him.
In 2001, three months after a former client sued Darnell, Darnell filed an affidavit in Dallas County Court claiming that he's not a citizen, that the Dallas County Court-at-Law #3 is "an underling corporate fiction of the State of Texas, a corporation and a fiction," and that the court has no jurisdiction over him. Darnell's renunciation of the United States of America was supplemented by supporting affidavits by other Dallas-area noncitizens who claimed that Darnell "cannot receive a fair and impartial trial by jury of his peers by law in County Court-at-Law #3." When contacted by the Houston Press, affiant Mary Lou Starnater declined to say why she filed that affidavit, then hung up. (Darnell's wife's maiden name is Starnater.)
Brett Flagg, the Dallas attorney who represented Darnell's disgruntled client, said his client invested several thousand dollars in a company Darnell ran called Tru Dynamics. Flagg said the affidavit signaled a hard row ahead for his client, who decided to just call it a loss and move on.
Darnell has an entirely different recollection. He says he did not file the affidavit in response to a suit, but as a response to an affidavit filed by someone else that included Darnell's name in all upper-case letters.
Maybe it's best to let Darnell explain in his own words:
"The use of my name in upper-case letters...What that does, when you use uppercase letters, it signifies that you are a state-created entity. In other words...you're not a living human being, you're a corporation. And I was disputing that fact by this affidavit."
Uh, okay. And that stuff about not being a U.S. citizen?
Darnell offers this clear, riddle-free response:
"There is a definition of the United States...the specific definition of that is Washington, D.C. and Guam and some of the holdings of the United States -- I think it's a 17-mile radius, if I remember correctly, around the capital: there's a definition that says that that's what the United States is, and I am clarifying that that is not the case. I do not live there."
Specifically, Darnell lives in Allen, Texas, which has been home base for a multitude of multilevel-marketing companies he's been part of since graduating with a degree in sociology/psychology from Texas Tech in 1980. On the shorter side, with dark-brown hair he wears long in the back, the 52-year-old Darnell has a warm, friendly drawl that no doubt helps sell Advantage Conferences.