Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) the top ranking GOP member on the Senate Finance Committee said that he is investigating the finances of six well-known TV ministers.
Who’s on the list and why?
Here’s some information from The Guardian:
- Creflo and Taffi Dollar
- Joyce and David Meyer
- Benny Hinn
- Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
- Bishop Eddie Long
- Randy and Paula White
Grassley’s letter asks for records on private planes, board makeup, compensation and donations and “love offerings” to visiting ministers.
… quizzed about receiving donations of money and jewelry and the handling of cash from overseas crusades. They also were asked about expenditures at ministry headquarters, including a $30,000 conference table and a $23,000 “commode with marble top.”
… asked about use of a private jet, a home in Dana Point, Calif. and “layover trips” while traveling on ministry business.
Questions were raised about the transfer of church assets to a for-profit company, Security Patrol Inc., a $1 million loan from Gloria Copeland to the group, and a “personal gift” of more than $2 million given to Kenneth Copeland to mark the ministry’s 40th anniversary.
… questioned about his salary, a $1.4 million real estate transaction and whether he, and not the board, holds sole authority over the organization.
… asked about home purchases in San Antonio, Texas, Malibu, Calif., and New York, credit card charges for clothing and cosmetic surgery and the reported purchase of a Bentley convertible as a gift for Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent Texas preacher and televangelist.
To add insult to injury, The Guardian reports that “[Benny] Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar all sit on the board of regents for Oral Roberts University, which is mired in a financial scandal of its own.”
These letters aren’t subpoenas. They don’t even require a response.
So why are these pastors targeted?
They are high-profile. They preach the prosperity gospel. And people keep their eyes on them…
As Suzanne Sataline of The Wall Street Journal writes:
Mr. Grassley said his investigation was prompted by complaints from watchdog groups and others that the ministers live in multimillion-dollar homes, travel on private jets and engage in profit-making ventures from their ministries. He said the complaints raised suspicions, “but I would not make a final judgment until I get the story from the ministries.”
Ministers who espouse prosperity theology promote themselves as conduits for God’s blessings, saying that believers will reap benefits as long as they give generously to the ministries. Most evangelical ministers urge believers to donate, but don’t link donations to earthly wealth.
Good for the senator for staying on top of the matter.
It’ll be interesting if the probes reveal anything…
(Thanks to Maria for the link!)