First, forgive the length of this, but I wanted to post it all which includes Lee Grady’s editorial (Lee Grady from Charisma Mag.) and the letter from Paul Crouch Jr. …who has more or less taken over the running and operation of the TBN network. This was sent out tonight from Jackie Alnor at Apostasy Alert:
*Opinions are welcome here or I’m sure they would be welcomed at the link she provided at Charisma Mag. forum.
Paul Crouch Jr. has written a letter of rebuke to Charisma’s Lee Grady for his honest editorial on the government investigation into crooked televangelists. Here is the editorial, followed by Crouch’s letter. And here’s a link to the forum so that perhaps you all can chime in.
Integrity, Accountability and the Grassley Investigation
By J. Lee Grady
Six charismatic ministries are under the microscope as a U.S. Senate committee scrutinizes their spending practices. Is this from the devil—or God?
Depending on how you look at it, Sen. Charles Grassley is either a crusader for righteousness or a devil with horns.
Some Christians feared he was the latter this week when the Iowa lawmaker, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, announced that he has launched an extensive investigation into the spending practices of six prominent charismatic ministries. As soon as news of the probe broke on Tuesday, I started getting calls from people who are worried that Grassley is plotting to take away the tax-exempt status of all evangelical churches in America.
I have been assured by one of Grassley’s top associates that he does not have a hidden agenda, and he is not conspiring to deny anybody of religious freedom. What the senator does want is assurance that these six organizations are not taking money that was donated to charity and misusing it to buy mansions, plastic surgeries and other lavish perks.
In letters that were made public on Tuesday, Grassley told Kenneth and Gloria Copeland; David and Joyce Meyer; Randy and Paula White; Creflo and Taffi Dollar; Eddie Long; and Benny Hinn that they have four weeks to send him a boatload of paperwork to prove they are in compliance with U.S. tax laws.
Grassley has been applauded in the past for blowing the whistle on financial abuses among secular nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross. Now, because of complaints he has received from the public, the senator is turning his attention to these six ministries, demanding that they send him receipts for expensive purchases, minutes from board meetings, audited financial records and detailed compensation figures, among other documents.
Each of the ministries received a letter asking about specific expenditures or questionable practices. Among Grassley’s requests:
** A receipt for the Bentley convertible that Florida-based television preacher Paula White reportedly gave to Texas pastor T.D. Jakes
** Information from Bible teacher Joyce Meyer about expensive furnishings in her Missouri headquarters—including a $30,000 malachite table, a $23,000 toilet with a marble lid and a $19,000 pair of Dresden vases
** Paperwork explaining how Benny Hinn’s ministry purchased his $3 million home in Dana Point, Calif.
** Receipts and other records explaining how Eddie Long paid for his $1.4 million estate on 20 acres in suburban Atlanta
** Records about vacation trips to Hawaii and Fiji that Kenneth and Gloria Copeland took using their ministry plane
** Clarification from Atlanta faith preacher Creflo Dollar about his role in raising a hefty portion of a $2 million gift donated to Kenneth Copeland.
We charismatics certainly are in an awkward spot these days. At the same time that Oral Roberts University (ORU) is under the microscope for alleged financial mismanagement, some of the biggest names in our movement are now accused of bending tax rules and spending God’s money on themselves.
I am not going to rush to judgment in this case. I know that Meyer pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into missionary outreach projects in many parts of the world, and the IRS recently notified her that Joyce Meyer Ministries is operating in compliance with tax rules. Hopefully her answers to Grassley’s questions will satisfy the Senate committee so she can continue her programs without interruption.
At the same time I can’t understand how some preachers can take their offerings with a straight face. How can anyone, for example, think that it is a wise use of God’s money to pay $10,000 a night for a hotel room on the way home from a foreign ministry trip?
Something needs to be said. Questions need to be asked. That’s why I refuse to demonize Grassley for launching this probe.
What is unfortunate about this investigation is that it had to be initiated by someone in the federal government. The Christian public should have demanded a higher level of accountability a long time ago. Why have we been silent when we know certain ministries are operating without a proper board of directors or without any accountability?
I’ve been praying about all the uncomfortable shaking that is taking place in the church today—from the embarrassing moral failures to the cavalier ministry divorces to the ORU scandal—and I sense that God is the one who is orchestrating these events.
I believe He is raising His holy plumb line over the church today. He is demanding that we come in line with His higher ways. He is decreeing: “I will have a holy people. I will expose greed, arrogance, larceny and corruption, and I will correct theological error that has led My people into materialism, selfishness and idolatry. The process will be painful, but in the end My people will be purified.”
I hope every one of these ministries can prove they’ve done nothing wrong. But if God wants to use a senator to help the American church clean up its act, then I say bring on the reformation.
Dear Charisma Forum readers. The following letter from Paul Crouch Jr. of the Trinity Broadcasting System arrived tonight. I am interested in your reaction to his comments. He is responding to my column about the Grassley investigation. —Lee Grady
November 12, 2007
An open letter to Charisma Magazine, J. Lee Grady and the body of Christ as a whole:
After finally getting over my shock at J. Lee Grady’s editorial from a few months ago titled, “Christian TV Needs an Extreme Makeover,” I see that Mr. Grady is once again heading into treacherous waters. His recent editorial about U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s call for an investigation of the finances of several prominent television ministries is something that could not only harm the church as we know it today, but the body of Christ as a whole.
On the surface, the Senate Finance Committee’s investigation (and let’s call it by its real intent: an inquisition) headed up by Senator Grassley might sound logical, and to some Christians maybe even a good idea. But the long term effects of this investigation could be devastating. Put aside your personal opinions about any of the six ministries being targeted, and forget how you feel about Christian television as a whole. The much bigger questions we should all be asking are: Do we want the government deciding anything when it comes to the faith we all hold dear? Should government be allowed to dictate what kind a car a minister can drive, or how large a house is permissible and even how much a minister may receive as a salary? Do we want to establish another Church of England, or was that why our forefathers came to this nation in the first place? Separation of church and state is a foundational principle guaranteed in our Constitution, and Mr. Grady’s editorial seems to be ignorant of that fact!
Also, let’s look at the “source” of Senator Grassley’s information. Ole Anthony, head of the Trinity Foundation, has been around for over twenty years as a self-proclaimed “reformer of the church” and “watchdog for the body of Christ.” Well, it doesn’t take more than one or two Google searches to find out that Ole Anthony’s claim to being the watchdog of Christian ministries is a little like the “fox guarding the chicken coop,” and brings to mind Matthew 7:3 where Christ said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Read a book by Wendy Duncan called, I Can’t Hear God Anymore. Enough said….) Why Ole mainly focuses in on “televangelism” is interesting to me, and obviously the senator is playing right into his hands. Why aren’t other faiths or, for that matter, other 501(c) (3) nonprofit organizations being questioned? What about the Catholic church, Jewish organizations, or even the Muslims? You get my point.
Martin Luther brought reformation to the church in 1517 with his “95 Theses” nailed to the Wittenberg door, but his actions were directed at the church itself and not with the prevailing government of the day! The body of Christ and God himself will deal with anyone not doing the right thing or compromising any ministry. We don’t need the government to step in and regulate anything when it comes to our faith or the church.
Scripture gives us the criteria by which we may judge fellow Believers. The Bible says in Matthew 7:20, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Are none of these ministries “bearing fruit?” I submit that the true test of a ministry can be determined by asking these questions: Are people getting saved, lives being touched and faith restored? Is the Word being communicated? How many suicides have been prevented? How many people have been delivered from drugs or alcohol and how many children put up for adoption as opposed to abortion? Are other benevolent works taking place such as feeding programs, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless? How many people have been guided off of welfare rolls? Or how many people will not be returning to jail and, instead, become positive influences on society, because of their faith? Case in point: Just this past week, a viewer called our prayer lines to report that she was about to commit suicide, but then saw Bishop Eddie Long—one of the ministries targeted by Senator Grassley—preach a message that literally saved her life and brought her to faith in Jesus. Mr. Grady didn’t bother to mention any of the good works these ministries are doing. So how much is a soul worth? Maybe we should direct some of these questions back on Senator Grassley and demand his responses by December 6th!
When it comes to “accountability,” I also take issue with Mr. Grady. Whether you agree with the philosophy or theology of anyone in the pulpit or on Christian TV is not the point. It doesn’t matter if they preach the prosperity Gospel and live in mansions, or the poverty Gospel and are all beggars. We must keep the government OUT of the church, or everything our founding fathers fought for is lost! The concept that God would use a senator to “bring on a reformation,” as Mr. Grady proclaims, is scary and ignorant of the facts. We are dealing with spiritual warfare here, and we must fight back. None of these ministries are required by law to do anything in response to Senator Grassley’s investigation, and I hope they don’t. All of us in the ministry answer to the IRS, franchise tax boards, county taxing authorities, etc., and that is sufficient oversight. I don’t care if Benny Hinn flies in a private plane, or if Creflo Dollar drives a Bentley. That’s between them and God. We as Christians are required to give—it’s an intrinsic part of our faith. God gave his best to redeem our souls, his only Son, and we are to do the same.
I leave you with a quote from Martin Niemoeller who was a prominent German pastor put in a concentration camp by the Nazis in 1937: “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
Need I say more?
Paul F. Crouch, Jr.
Chief of Staff
Trinity Broadcasting Network