"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, January 7, 2011

Senator Grassley Issues Report - Some Very Good News for Those Calling for Transparency and Accountability

In 2007, Senator Charles Grassley, head of the Senate Finance Committee, opened an investigation into six "televangelist" ministries over matters of finances, taxes, gifts, housing allowances, etc.

Well, yesterday Grassley issued a "staff memo" and other documents from his committee that summarize their findings thus far.

Don't be fooled by the headlines that oversimplify, and seem to minimize the importance of Grassley's work, or give the appearance that this issue is "over". For instance, from the first line of the Associated Press story:

"A senator's investigation of televangelists has wrapped up after more than three years with no penalties for pastors who refused to cooperate and no definitive findings of wrongdoing."

But this is not the story, and the story is not completed! Keep reading! The bigger story behind the story, if you read the reports and the documentation that Grassley's team put together, is that the Senate Finance Committee has essentially told the religious community that there are major problems with how religious organizations (especially large churches and ministries) are handling their finances - they discuss parsonage allowances, private jets, and million dollar homes, compensation to pastors relatives, lack of proper board oversight, etc.

And the message from Grassley's committee to mega churches and televangelists should be loud and clear: the religious community had better clean up their act else the government will do it for them - through revisions in the tax code.

Sometimes this is how change occurs in American politics - the federal government perceives an injustice or misbehavior by an industry, the government investigates, finds problems to be rectified, and they may give the industry a chance to make changes themselves, to self-regulate BEFORE Congress gets involved. Grassley's team DID investigate, and they absolutely did not like what they saw, and they didn't like the response from most of the "Grassley 6" who did not comply with subpoenas for information. So Grassley has been communicating with the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) to spearhead this effort of self-regulation before tax-code changes are made.

But we know that televangelists will not, nor will mega churches, ever decide to make changes towards financial accountability and transparency. It is not going to happen for to do that would create financial disaster in their "industry". The government absolutely will have to get involved in changing IRS tax codes. But the process is starting, and that is good news.

I intend to write more on this in the coming days but wanted to give you some links if you're interested to read for yourself what is behind the story that is actually GOOD NEWS for those of us calling for financial transparency in our churches.

Staff Memo to Grassley - THIS IS THE "REPORT" - 60 pages, pdf format

Grassley's Press Release - at bottom are links to the Staff Memo, and other documentation

Associated Press News Story

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's go after TD Jakes. Let's subpoena Creflo Dollar. Let's hold Congressional hearings on Kenneth Copeland.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

What about Ben Laden? What about al qaeda? What about unemployment and 2 wars overseas?

What's next...Senate hearings about the WMU? Investigations into the effectiveness of GA's and RA's?

WHAT???

If people are stupid enough to give money to Benny Hinn, let em!

Senator Grassley is trying to make a name for himself....why not take a good look Senator at some of the Mosques in our Nation...there is some 'dynamite' there!!!

Arce said...

Tax Deductibility of Donations is a Privilege!

The issue is that churches can accept donations and provide a tax deduction for the donors. There are restrictions on all non-profits that have that privilege, including reasonable compensation for employees, a non-compensated board, good board oversight of the senior staff, and so forth. The abuses of the mega-church pastors are FAR outside of those restrictions, which exist to ensure that the entity is operating as a charity and not as a shell for enriching the operator thereof.

Anonymous said...

Highest CEO Salary: Zarin Mehta, New York Philharmonic

Compensation (2008): $2,649,540

2nd Highest Salary: Glenn D. Lowry, The Museum of Modern Art

Compensation (2008): $2,447,882

3rd Highest Salary: Donald Johnson, Evans Scholars Foundation

Compensation (2008): $2,049,976


The Senator will not go after these Charities...It is not as sexy as Benny Hinn!

IT IS POLITICS PEOPLE!!!

DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!

Anonymous said...

Yea and if people are STUPID enough to give money to Mac and Jeffress, LET EM! Golddiggers in th box!

The Greenhouse Effect said...

I also fear that eventually the financial abuses of the mega churches will become so clear, that even the blind will recognize them for what they are, and we will have a mass exodus from the churches. Our chuches will end up like the churches in Europe. They will be converted to pubs, bars, dance halls, liquor stores ....
We need to take back our chuches and get them out of the hands of these people that simply lust after money, power and prestige.

Where is the storehouse?

Anonymous said...

We need to take back our chuches and get them out of the hands of these people that simply lust after money, power and prestige.

Amen Greenhouse, with gods help these new age church leaders will flee while being exposed. His helpers will come when god is ready!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - I have posted a few interesting articles to Twitter, if interested, see the Twitter sidebar at right. I'll share more articles on Twitter as they come out.

New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New BBC Open Forum said...

We need to take back our chuches and get them out of the hands of these people that simply lust after money, power and prestige.

Face it. Your pockets aren't deep enough, you don't have the power or the numbers, and you don't have the prestige. As long as the money keeps rolling in, they'll keep right on rolling. Short of an act of God, nothing will change. The organizations that you're proposing to "take back" aren't churches as much as they are country clubs or social clubs. Other than some land and buildings, what will you have if you're successful?

From the AP article:

But four of the televangelists would not provide full information to Grassley. Some pastors questioned whether Grassley had the authority to conduct the investigation. Others accused him of violating their religious freedom.

Grassley's staff said in the report that they did not issue subpoenas to further the investigation because witnesses feared retaliation if they spoke out publicly and the Finance Committee did not have the time or resources to enforce the subpoenas.


Copeland and his peers have thumbed their noses at Grassley and his committee and will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

And the message from Grassley's committee to mega churches and televangelists should be loud and clear: the religious community had better clean up their act else the government will do it for them - through revisions in the tax code.

I must disagree. Congress can "investigate" all they want (which apparently wasn't much), but they are not going to touch the mythical "separation of church and state." Grassley may have had honorable intentions when he began, but he no doubt quickly learned just what he was up against. As long as James Dobson and his ilk and the ACLJ have such powerful lobbying interests in Washington, it's not going to happen. The religious freedoms they purport to protect likewise protect Copeland, et al.

New BBC Open Forum said...

As long as James Dobson and his ilk and the ACLJ have such powerful lobbying interests in Washington, it's not going to happen.

Google Council for National Policy.

Official Site

Check out the names and bios of some of their members. That's an old list. Several of those people are now deceased. Today the membership list is top secret.

This one caught my eye because of the Bellevue connection.

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum (I'm well to the the right of center), this should make your blood run cold. This secretive organization of rich, powerful people is itself a 501(c)(3). Which I guess means they'll gladly accept your donation, but you are not allowed to know who's among their membership, how they spend those donations, or even where they meet.

Speaking of Grassley, it's interesting to note he was one of 19 senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, most Democrats, who voted to censor the internet via the CIOCA bill.

New BBC Open Forum said...

And that, folks, is the same kind of "money, power, and prestige," not to mention secrecy, that you're up against in our "churches."

Bro./Min Rod H. said...

Dr.Dog it is admirable that Sen.Grassley and men such as yourself are attempting too expose and remedy the corruption in Christendom and our churches.
But since the Bible is True,all of yours and Sen.Grassley and the efforts of many,many others,will in the end eventually prove fultile.

The Bible has predicted over and over there will be an abandoning of saving faith in Jesus Christ[Luke 18-8;2Thes.2:1-3]!!!

Unfortunely it is abundantly clear that we are in the Laodicean age and that people are quickly with "itching ears" abadoning the tenets of true Biblical Christianity and blindly following greddy,unscrupulous men,who believe that "godliness is a source of financial gain"!
Sadly men whose hearts have been "seared with a hot iron"!
Men with no consciences,who are beyond reason and reaching due to their own greed for money and lust for power!
Clearly this is displayed by their lack of self-examination and unwillingness to listen!

But Dr.Dog continue to fight the good fight of faith:For a "few" will listen and heed the warnings!

But also remember that the "many" will reject the truth just as the Lord Jesus stated!!!

Also Happy New Year to you and your family,and to all the blogger!!!

In Love!!!

Anonymous said...

Big Brother is after your CHURCH!

Next up...Preaching against Gay Marriage. Preaching against Abortion. Preaching against Socialism.

THEY ARE COMING TO YOUR CHURCH!!

Investigating what we pay our pastors? HUH?

What about the lobbyist lining Grassley's pocket?

Here's your hero, boys...

"Since January 2005, Grassley's political committees have received about $36,000 from the PACs of the Monsanto, POET LLC, Archer Daniels Midland, the National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. Because senators run for re-election every six years, using data for six-year periods gives a more complete -- and more accurate -- picture of what interests are bankrolling a senator.

Grassley's office told OpenSecrets Blog that campaign contributions from ethanol supporters do not influence the senator's thinking on the issue."

POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK!!!

Anonymous said...

Churches are not under the same legal/financial structure that typical non profits are.

With typical non profit, one must publish the salaries of the top directors and board. The information is made public. Anyone can check on their 990 and see how they are spending their money.

(Donors are not made public)

Churches do not have to do this.

Lynn said...

Isn't Grassley part of The Family? Fascinating book to read.

Yeah, I think churches are their own category. They get all kinds of breaks and charity has nothing to do with it. I don't think they need to worry about government doing anything to them. They have aligned themselves with God Himself, and will act like it's the end of the world if their tax breaks get taken away. I don't think that will happen. Wouldn't work politically.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Isn't Grassley part of The Family?

Yes, he is. And everything you said is spot on. Nobody is going to take on the "God lobby." It would be a political death sentence.

Anonymous said...

everybody posting a comment here about pastor's salaries should leave their own salary information.

Jon L. Estes said...

Interesting link concerning this topic:

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2011/01/07-3

Jon L. Estes said...

Where does the separation of church and state (for those who interpret it that way) come into play concerning this subject?

It would seem if the gov took away the tax exemption from these ministries, the political platform they would have would not benefit those who voted to take the status away.

Jon L. Estes said...

"everybody posting a comment here about pastor's salaries should leave their own salary information.:"

That would be between the church and their pastor, regardless of what some pastor poster states about this subject.

"And the message from Grassley's committee to mega churches and televangelists should be loud and clear: the religious community had better clean up their act else the government will do it for them - through revisions in the tax code."

Congress can't even straighten up their own mess. They are not transparent, they vote on a trillion dollar health package they have not even read.

If anything it is a power struggle the gov will lose.

Anonymous said...

"everybody posting a comment here about pastor's salaries should leave their own salary information"

Why? I don't live off "donations". Other non profits are required by law to publish their 990's which show how much their top leadership, officers and board are paid. this is so donors can know.

What is interesting is that if churches were required to do the same...make this information public....it would make for very bad PR for what some think is the Body of Christ. Ironic, huh?

Anonymous said...

Oh, some in Congress can definitely use this to change the focus off them. I mean, think of how bad it looks that mega church pastors live like sultans off people. This is the Body of Christ?

then, it is up to real believers to get the word out that this is not what true believers look like.

I think that outing the charlatans will be a good thing even though nothing will change in the law. It is a time we can use to show the difference between sheep and goats. And hopefully, the traditional "office" of pastor will be seen for what it is: Nothing but man centered tradition that has nothing to do with how the Body operates NT style.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is it that believers have to hide when it comes to money in the Body of Christ? Why should how much the church takes in and pays people be such a secret? What are we ashamed of? Why are we afraid of the microscope put on us as a Body of Christ?

Of course, some may find out that there were no paid professional Christians in the NT. They might find out that Paul made tents and was a "giver" instead of a "taker" (Acts 20) and that would be a bit embarassing. Oh and that the leaders were paid with "honor" and not denarius'.

Anonymous said...

"That would be between the church and their pastor, regardless of what some pastor poster states about this subject."

You mean between the "anointed king" and his subjects. :o)

Perhaps it is time the subjects were really educated in what scipture actually says instead of what you tell them it says.

Jon L. Estes said...

" It is a time we can use to show the difference between sheep and goats."

What is it about the salary of a pastor that makes him a goat?

"You mean between the "anointed king" and his subjects. :o)"

Scripture teaches we all are anointed. That was shared earlier with scripture.

"Perhaps it is time the subjects were really educated in what scipture actually says instead of what you tell them it says"

Agreed, many of the subjects (your term, not mine) are clueless to many things the scripture says. The comments from non pastors on this blog confirm that. :o)

Anonymous said...

'Scripture teaches we all are anointed. That was shared earlier with scripture.'

Glad to see you finally get it. You tried to teach the BBCOpen forum bloggers a few years back that the pastor was 'specially anointed' and used king Saul as an example.

You can try to twist that around here but it is on old BBC Open forum threads for all to read if they care to research it. That is, unless you deleted your comments. Something you have been known to do on some blogs.

Anonymous said...

" What is it about the salary of a pastor that makes him a goat?"

Or a wolf or a hirling.

Where do we see paid professional Christians in the NT as in salary? We already know they are "paid" with "honor" not denari.

BTW: A "pastor" NT style is any believer who shepherds another. It is not an "office" as that word was added by the translators laboring under the "anointed king". Office is NOT in the Greek, Jon. Sorry.

Pastor as it is misunderstood througout church history is a man centered tradition. Meant to elevate one over the Body. Of course, insitutional church history is a bloody evil mess of man elevating himself.

Scripture teaches such are AMONG the believers, not over them. Unless of course, you buy the Hebrews 13:17 horrible translation by those laboring under an "anointed king". A better translation is "listen to those who stand before you'...as in a role model of humility and sacrifice. Not an office for professionals living in a protected bubble. Elders would fit this description, too, as in those who are more spiritually mature...the ones who would be the lowliest servants of all.

A true leader would look more like Matthew 5 than what we see (here with you) or in most churches.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, many of the subjects (your term, not mine) are clueless to many things the scripture says. The comments from non pastors on this blog confirm that. :o)

January 8, 2011 10:32 AM

Well Jon, you are PAID to get it right...so what is your excuse? It benefits YOU to get it wrong.

Jon L. Estes said...

episkope - does not simply refer to a overseer but to the office of the overseer.

with office:

1 Tim. 3:1 (NASB) - It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

without office:

1 Tim. 3:1 (NASB) - It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

Which one makes sense? I'll take the first one.

In Hebrews 7:5 - we find the word again and the word elder, overseer are absent.

Romans 12:4 (praxis) speaks of differing offices in the church.

I can't comprehend simply erasing it from scripture.

"A true leader would look more like Matthew 5 than what we see (here with you) or in most churches"

Or like Paul, through the Holy Spirit, who was consistently calling out the church, in his preaching and letters, for living against the ways of God.

"Well Jon, you are PAID to get it right...so what is your excuse? It benefits YOU to get it wrong."

Wrong.

Anonymous said...

"episkope - does not simply refer to a overseer but to the office of the overseer.

with office:

1 Tim. 3:1 (NASB) - It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires"

Nice try, Jon. "Office" is not in the Greek. It was added by translators. I will take the Greek over Jon's biased interpretation that benefits him.

it is simply a function in the body and is NOT static. Elder/Overseer is a spirutally mature believer. Not someone like you. Seminary nor worldly success was not a requirement in the 1st century. :o).

BTW: Would you mind naming all the elders and pastors for evey single Epistle in the NT. I am sure they are listed and the letters even addressed to them since they are so crucial to the Body and must handle all the problems inherent in each letter. Believers simply must have human authorities in the Body since the Holy Spirit is not enough. Or so you would love people to believe.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Congress can't even straighten up their own mess. They are not transparent, they vote on a trillion dollar health package they have not even read.

On that we agree, Jon.

Anonymous said...

You are using the NASB Jon.. Corrupt Bibles (written for profit, the KJV is not copywritten). They say anything you want them to say if you look at enough of them... Ever ask yourself why, we need so many translations? MONEY, pure and simple..people make money off of translations. Yes, for all of you who are afraid to say it.... the King James is the ONLY correct translation...Now all of you go crazy and start tearing apart the KJV. I am personally tired of KJV detractors. Read Rev.22:vs. 18&19...18: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book;" vs.l9 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book". I know, I've heard it all...it's just a translation...nothing is changed...baloney!!!!! The Greek says etc. etc. Study them. No, I mean REALLY study the differences. You will be shocked how the word is changed and corrupted. I have grown very weary of the so called "Greek scholars" that know nothing about the Bible. Maybe God has taken away their spiritual discernment because they have corrupted His word. They have become their own god. The money, fame, pride and ego have become trademarks of their "ministry". So many flaunt their "pastoral authority", they must be held in high esteem. Yet they will say "I serve God". WHEN? Would that be when they sign huge contracts for the money, or jet around the world, or take vacations called mission trips. Maybe when they only visit rich people in hospitals, while the poor are ignored. Just the opposite of what Jesus did. Jesus didn't have much good to say about the rich and the Scribes and Pharisees. But He did about the poor. Enjoy and try to justify your money and your ministries boys, you will have to try one day to justify it to Jesus.

Sorry WD I had to say it. I know you don't like the KJV "controversy" and that is not what the blog., is about etc., But just maybe "messing" with Gods word is WHY the church (not to mention man) is in so much trouble today...after all if you don't like what it says just change it and call it a translation..... One of these days, people will find out God means exactly what He says.

Thanks for printing this...if you do.

P.S. The church of Laodicea is alive and open for business every Sunday! To those preachers that are genuine and to the churches that are genuine...somewhere, you have my prayers that you stay true to the Lord. You will hear..."Well done good and faithful servant".

Anonymous said...

You are using the NASB Jon.. Corrupt Bibles (written for profit, the KJV is not copywritten). They say anything you want them to say if you look at enough of them... Ever ask yourself why, we need so many translations? MONEY, pure and simple..people make money off of translations. Yes, for all of you who are afraid to say it.... the King James is the ONLY correct translation...Now all of you go crazy and start tearing apart the KJV. I am personally tired of KJV detractors. Read Rev.22:vs. 18&19...18: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book;" vs.l9 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book". I know, I've heard it all...it's just a translation...nothing is changed...baloney!!!!! The Greek says etc. etc. Study them. No, I mean REALLY study the differences. You will be shocked how the word is changed and corrupted. I have grown very weary of the so called "Greek scholars" that know nothing about the Bible. Maybe God has taken away their spiritual discernment because they have corrupted His word. They have become their own god. The money, fame, pride and ego have become trademarks of their "ministry". So many flaunt their "pastoral authority", they must be held in high esteem. Yet they will say "I serve God". WHEN? Would that be when they sign huge contracts for the money, or jet around the world, or take vacations called mission trips. Maybe when they only visit rich people in hospitals, while the poor are ignored. Just the opposite of what Jesus did. Jesus didn't have much good to say about the rich and the Scribes and Pharisees. But He did about the poor. Enjoy and try to justify your money and your ministries boys, you will have to try one day to justify it to Jesus.

Sorry WD I had to say it. I know you don't like the KJV "controversy" and that is not what the blog., is about etc., But just maybe "messing" with Gods word is WHY the church (not to mention man) is in so much trouble today...after all if you don't like what it says just change it and call it a translation..... One of these days, people will find out God means exactly what He says.

Thanks for printing this...if you do.

P.S. The church of Laodicea is alive and open for business every Sunday! To those preachers that are genuine and to the churches that are genuine...somewhere, you have my prayers that you stay true to the Lord. You will hear..."Well done good and faithful servant".

Anonymous said...

You are using the NASB Jon.. Corrupt Bibles (written for profit, the KJV is not copywritten). They say anything you want them to say if you look at enough of them... Ever ask yourself why, we need so many translations? MONEY, pure and simple..people make money off of translations. Yes, for all of you who are afraid to say it.... the King James is the ONLY correct translation...Now all of you go crazy and start tearing apart the KJV. I am personally tired of KJV detractors. Read Rev.22:vs. 18&19...18: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book;" vs.l9 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book". I know, I've heard it all...it's just a translation...nothing is changed...baloney!!!!! The Greek says etc. etc. Study them. No, I mean REALLY study the differences. You will be shocked how the word is changed and corrupted. I have grown very weary of the so called "Greek scholars" that know nothing about the Bible. Maybe God has taken away their spiritual discernment because they have corrupted His word. They have become their own god. The money, fame, pride and ego have become trademarks of their "ministry". So many flaunt their "pastoral authority", they must be held in high esteem. Yet they will say "I serve God". WHEN? Would that be when they sign huge contracts for the money, or jet around the world, or take vacations called mission trips. Maybe when they only visit rich people in hospitals, while the poor are ignored. Just the opposite of what Jesus did. Jesus didn't have much good to say about the rich and the Scribes and Pharisees. But He did about the poor. Enjoy and try to justify your money and your ministries boys, you will have to try one day to justify it to Jesus.

Sorry WD I had to say it. I know you don't like the KJV "controversy" and that is not what the blog., is about etc., But just maybe "messing" with Gods word is WHY the church (not to mention man) is in so much trouble today...after all if you don't like what it says just change it and call it a translation..... One of these days, people will find out God means exactly what He says.

Thanks for printing this...if you do.

P.S. The church of Laodicea is alive and open for business every Sunday! To those preachers that are genuine and to the churches that are genuine...somewhere, you have my prayers that you stay true to the Lord. You will hear..."Well done good and faithful servant".

Anonymous said...

"the King James is the ONLY correct translation...Now all of you go crazy and start tearing apart the KJV. I am personally tired of KJV detractors"

You can access the entire preface written by the KJV translators online. I suggest you read it.

I like it but only in the New versoin because it is easier to read that "cometh"...no one talks like that except in Shakespeare plays anymore.

Just a tip: The KJV translators themselves would NOT agree with your premise. But they were smart guys and ADDED the word "office" to the NT concerning functions in the body because they were laboring under a "Divine" king who was the head of the church at the time.

Katie said...

Sorry WD, I don't really want to contribute to a hi-jack, but making false claims about Holy Scripture is a serious issue.

Just to clear up the issue of the KJV copyright...it is still under a Crown copyright in the United Kingdom, where ironically, it was put together by a group of Calvinists. It's also ironic that most of the KJV only crowd (not those who prefer the KJV, but the etremist types) despise Calvinists. This is a simple fact and it can be verified over the net. Even Wiki gets it right. Its copyright is scheduled to expire in 2039. It could however, be extended if the reigning monarch decided to do so.

It has gone out of copyright in the rest of the world. The KJV speaks for itself and it doesn't need to be subjected to things that aren't true.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.