Senate Probes Six Televangelists' Finances

MJMANDALAY

Registered User
Jan 26, 2005
13,145
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#1
(Nov. 6) - CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.

Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by Dec. 6.

According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: "We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax." The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization's website.

In a statement, Benny Hinn's spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, said the ministry was in the process of determining the best course of action in response to the Senate investigation. "World Healing Center Church complies with the laws that govern church and non-profit organizations and will continue to do so," Torossian wrote.

In a statement to CBS News, Creflo Dollar called his ministry an "open book" and said he would comply with any "valid request" from Grassley. But he noted that the inquiry raised questions that could "affect the privacy of every community church in America."

The other three ministries did not respond to requests for comment from CBS News on Monday.

Because they have tax status as churches, the ministries do not have to file IRS 990 forms like other non-profit organizations - leaving much financial information largely behind closed doors.

The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. "We've been working with them for two years," Anthony told CBS News. "We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen."

Anthony said after twenty years of working with media organizations to expose televangelists, he saw little reform. He says that's why he turned to another tactic, going straight to Grassley. He is confident that Grassley's inquiry will be different, "What we hope is that this will lead to reform in religious nonprofits."

The structure of many televangelist organizations - in which the leadership is often concentrated in one person or one family - has itself been the target of criticism. "Churches like these are ruled as a dictatorship," says Rod Pitzer, who directs research at Ministry Watch in North Carolina, which provides advice for donors to Christian organizations.

Pitzer welcomes the Senate committee investigation. Ministries lacking accountability, he says, "give a black eye to churches and Christians who are trying to do things in the right manner."




EVERY religious organization should be taxed just like a company, and they all should have to pay property tax. That includes the Catholic Church.
 

TheDrip

I'm bi-winning.
Jan 9, 2006
5,051
3
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#2
EVERY religious organization should be taxed just like a company, and they all should have to pay property tax. That includes the Catholic Church.
QFT.


On another note, it shouldn't come as a surprise that televangelist = theif. I'm more surprised that this took so long.
 

LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005
141,477
49,799
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#3
[Typical CE Whiner] Why aren't they looking over the funds of Muslims. [/Typical CE Whiner]
 

Xyn

3 letters, 0 meaning
Mar 3, 2005
3,753
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#4
EVERY religious organization should be taxed just like a company, and they all should have to pay property tax. That includes the Catholic Church.
Exactly right. Hell, I'd be in favor of rewriting the whole freedom of religion thing. We absolutely should be able to believe and practice any religion we want, but any other group of people should have the same freedom to do and think what they want.

If you can smoke a joint cuase of your religion, someone else should be able to becuase they just feel like it.

All or nothing. No special treatment for the crazies :action-sm
 

gleet

What's black and white and red all over?
Jul 24, 2005
22,543
13,852
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Idaho
#5
Creflo Dollar?
 

THE FEZ MAN

as a matter of fact i dont have 5$
Aug 23, 2002
41,784
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#6
god loves you more if you send them money......
 

Vyce

Light-skinned, with no Negro dialect.
Feb 11, 2006
8,171
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Washington D.C.
#10
[Typical CE Whiner] Why aren't they looking over the funds of Muslims. [/Typical CE Whiner]
A serious reply to your sarcastic remark:

They are.

And there's been a lot of bitching about it. Even when there has been documented evidence of the money being funneled to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
 

Deadbent

You can go fuck.
Aug 19, 2005
13,047
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Chicago, IL. Southside, stupid.
#11
A little role reversal for the ministers?

Evangelists normally have behavior to probe a lot of child assholes.
Now we have childish behaving assholes doing the probing to the evangelists?...


What the F?
 

MJMANDALAY

Registered User
Jan 26, 2005
13,145
1
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#12
Televangelists Spurning Probe
Thursday, Dec. 06, 2007 By AP

A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers' salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned

Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year.

A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.

Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he "can't be impressed" by the argument from some of the preachers that the IRS already monitors them, because his past inquiries have unearthed information that the IRS never knew.

All the ministries preach a form of Word of Faith theology, known as prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants believers to reap material rewards for their faith.

Grassley has insisted his investigation "has nothing to do with church doctrine" and is strictly concerned with making sure nonprofit groups are following the law. However, several religious liberty watchdogs have said the scope of the inquiry is too broad and warned that it could be unconstitutional.

Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Hinn, said in a statement that the preacher "plans to facilitate a response to Senator Grassley's inquiry by Jan. 30th, and likewise notified the senator's office of this intent on Nov. 20th." Torossian said Hinn is "in full compliance with government agencies duly authorized to oversee churches and charitable organizations."

Torossian would not elaborate.

The other televangelists have been noncommittal in their public comments, but some have voiced strong objections that echo Dollar's.

The other ministries targeted in the inquiry are Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga.; Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, Fla.; and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas.

Refusals to turn over the information could lead to a court fight, giving a judge the authority to decide whether the committee is entitled to all the information it requested. "Hopefully these organizations will work with us," said Grassley, who has been investigating nonprofit compliance with IRS rules for years. "I don't think I've had to issue a single subpoena in the five years that I've been trying to get cooperation from organizations."
 

Vyce

Light-skinned, with no Negro dialect.
Feb 11, 2006
8,171
10
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Washington D.C.
#14
What a shock, Benny Hinn. One of THE biggest grifters out there.
 

TheDrip

I'm bi-winning.
Jan 9, 2006
5,051
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#15
This is maddening. How can they just tell congress to go fuck themselves until they feel like talking?

Then again, I bet they show up on quite a few "big donor" lists.
 

weakside

He was stupid. I was lucky. I will visit him soon.
Dec 9, 2004
3,871
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California
#16
As much as I can’t stand religion, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for some sap that sends their money to a televangelist and expects that it actually is going to be used for “good”.
 

weakside

He was stupid. I was lucky. I will visit him soon.
Dec 9, 2004
3,871
0
0
California
#17
QFT.


On another note, it shouldn't come as a surprise that televangelist = theif. I'm more surprised that this took so long.
I'm not. Religious crazies + votes = ignore