Hurray for Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee for opening an investigation of six televangelists for possible financial misconduct. Grassley is going to try to find whether these "ministries" have been improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to support their leader's lavish lifestyles.
Its quite easy for these televangelists to ignore requests from their contributors to see detailed financial information...let's see how well they ignore Senator Grassley. I doubt Paige Patterson will be calling him a "recalcitrant" and accusing him of attacking "the men of God". No doubt these televangelists have their lawyers ready to put roadblocks in front of Grassley to hide the truth from him too; but it won't work.
The six televangelists are (no surprise): Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn (not Bennie!), Paula White, and Eddie Long.
Its just a matter of time before the government starts looking at the tax-exempt status of mega-churches also who are clearly using money from their congregants to enrich the pastor and his family...and the pastors use their brand name that is built through the church ministry to sell books and tapes and further build their financial empire...all the while hiding the detailed financial information from the members on salaries and gifts and perks.
Way to go Senator Grassley - we'll be watching as you hopefully expose these millionaire charletons for who they are! But don't stop at the televangelists...there are plenty of mega church pastors operating in similar fashion that you ought to take a look at. Imagine the shake-up among mega churches if Senator Grassley announced they were going to investigate one of the big-name pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention - pick one that lives in a multi-million dollar home, has family on staff with no official ministry responsibilities, and accepts six-figure "gifts".
Click here to read the story. You'll see the story references a man named Ole Anthony who has a ministry called "Trinity Foundation" which describes itself as: "...a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse." To go to Mr. Anthony's website click here and read some interesting (and disturbing) articles on these televangelists. Another interesting site to visit is Ministry Watch based in North Carolina which provides information to donors of Christian ministries.
Update: Click here to see a CBS interview with Ole Anthony as he describes these ministries and the lack of accountability they have in how the donations are spent. He says near the end of the interview that he doesn't have much of a problem with local churches where there is accountability to the board of deacons or elders...but the question that members of churches like FBC Jax should ask: what official group of members in our church has REAL oversight responsibility of what goes on in our church? To what men is the pastor accountable? Before you piously answer that last question with a "Why he's accountable only to God!" answer, consider this question: if we ever have a pastor who is doing bad things, who would be responsible for calling him out and putting a stop to it? Stated another way, how would we avoid a repeat of the Trinity Baptist Church diaster where there was no pastor oversight and accountability and gross sin went on and on for years? Its not the deacons, we know that. Is it the FBC Jax Board of Directors appointed by the pastor? Just some food for thought.