Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Watchdogs Are Coming After Televangelists

Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley (the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee) has launched an investigation into the finances of six prominent televangelists: 1) Creflo A. Dollar; 2) Paula and Randy White; 3) Benny Hinn; 4) Joyce Meyer; 5) Kenneth and Gloria Copland; and, 6) Bishop Eddie Long. Because these are tax exempt ministries, all contributions must be used for tax exempt purposes. Grassley is investigating whether these ministries are using contributions for personal use, a violation of the tax code. The New York Times story is here.

Following Ben Witherington's advice, I checked out Ministrywatch.org, a reliable Christian watchdog organization that has been featured on 20/20, and so far it has investigated over 400 churches and Christian ministries, providing detailed reports of many. The goal of Ministry Watch is to facilitate "the practical expression of one's stewardship calling by creating an environment that promotes increasing confidence in, and generosity towards, the Lord's causes." Currently on the Donor Alert list are TBN, Benny Hinn ministries, and the Christian Children's Fund. Usually, the common denominators among ministries that make this list include a lack of financial transparency and leadership that is not held accountable. I encourage you to check out Ministrywatch.org.

The irony in all of this is that I am now more compelled to give my money to this watchdog organization than any other ministry it has investigated.

2 comments:

Siege said...

1st dude on the list is named Creflo A. Dollar? Oh yeah, he is stealing money, for sure.

Todd Wold said...

It's about freakin' time.
What would the church do if they stopped giving us a tax exemption? Would we stop being Christians?
Although, I'd bet that it would lead to more crass commercialization of the faith as ministries try to bring in cash to compensate for the hit.