Update: Senator Grassley versus the TV Evangelists

Today was the deadline for a selected group of TV ministries to turn over financial information as demanded by Senator Charles Grassley. As we could have predicted, so far:

Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer turned in everything before it was due. Paula White responded, but then went silent, no one has a clue what she is up to. Benny Hinn stalled. And Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar have stonewalled.

It’s certainly an interesting situation for anyone in the faith-based or non-profit media world. On the one hand, Grassley has done some real good investigating other non-profits like The Red Cross or United Way and uncovered abuses in some cases. His focus in the past has been the lifestyles the leaders of these organizations lead – especially in light of the fact that their organizations are built on donated money, given to help the public good.

And when it comes to the bigger picture of TV ministries as a whole, there are certainly serious abuses. If you’ve read this blog much then you know we try to call these people to a higher standard and cut out the “Jesus Junk” that pervades this arena. Do some TV evangelists need to be investigated? Absolutely.

But on the other hand, alarm bells go off when any politician targets a select religious group for an across the board “investigation.” As I’ve said before – what if he had targeted the top Muslim groups? The public would have been outraged. Besides, the IRS has very strict regulations for non-profits, churches, and religious organizations. Some have said that he’s investigating these groups because the IRS doesn’t cover them closely enough. But if that’s the case, why isn’t he investigating the IRS? If they’re not doing their job, it would appear they need to be looked into.

So there are certainly interesting reasons on both sides of the case. According to the media, a written response from Eddie Long’s attorney says Grassley’s request is informal, and that it “clearly disregards the privacy protections of the Church under law and appears to cross the line of Constitutional guarantees for churches.”

Dollar is stonewalling and waiting for a subpoena, which is interesting because subpoenaed records cannot be made open to the public, so Dollar keeps his information out of the public eye.

Joyce Meyer has taken the opposite approach. She says that the ministry embraces “… this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability.”

Grassley said he is not interested in doctrine. He wants to make sure media ministries are not abusing their tax-exempt status. He believes he has a right to review records because when non-profits get tax breaks, the general public has to pick up the financial slack.

What do you think? Stonewall? Or Comply? Or tell him to investigate the IRS?

This entry was posted on Friday, December 7th, 2007 at 6:57 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • http://www.knightopia.com/journal Steve K.

    They should all comply, IMHO. Stonewalling just adds another smear on the face of evangelical Christianity in this country, as far as I'm concerned.

  • http://lunarskeletons.blogspot.com Oengus Moonbones

    I suspect there's more to the story than meets the eye, and there are overlapping agendas involved. For, going by some news stories, this Ole Anthony seems to claim that he was a major instigator behind the Grassley Investigation getting started. Yet the news media is odly silent about Anthony's own peculiar background.

  • Debra

    If they have nothing to hide, then they should have no problem in cooperating with Senator Grassley, but I have a gut feeling they have a lot to hide, and they know it, Jesus is turning over the tables in what is being called His house of worship, and He is using Senator Grassley, a Christian himself to do it, I welcome this investigation, it is long overdue!

  • Greg

    Do you really want the scandal plagued Congress involved in regulating anyone? These are the same people that cannot balance a budget, send taxes through the roof, send our jobs to China and India, cannot control the border issues, prefer for our petrodollars to go to Venezuela and Saudi dictators instead of drilling for the billions of barrels of oil off the East Coast that could provide tax for the Government,jobs for Americans without dealing with repressive dictators. Need I remind you of the 90000 dollars found in a freezer of a Southern State Congressman, and then there is the current situation with an Idaho Senator,not to mention the resignation of a Florida Congressman over his bad behavior. Congress cannot get its own act together.  They mess up everything they get their hands on. and that will include religion.  Over the recent decades Washington politicians have given us : Watergate, Iran-Contra, Chappaquiddick, The Monica Lewinsky Scandal, Whitewater, and countless other scandals.   If there are any issues that need to be dealt with regarding the evangelists, The IRS, donors of ministries (and their respective denominations , if any) and the Boards of the ministries are the proper ones to bring about any change.  Remember, Congress now has a cool 14 percent approval rating, far below TV Evangelists, Bail Bondsmen, Used Car Salesman and a host of other professions.

  • Pierre

    It is the Job of the IRS to check on these organizations. Senator Grassley should quit his job and work for the IRS.

    If Senator Grassley wants to protect the Tax payers, he should clean up Congress first. We see billions of pork and other waists paid by taxpayers every year. These media evangelists are pocket change in comparaison to Congress.

    Most people can see who to trust on Christian TV. If someone is looking for a cheap way to Heaven and think that by sending money, it will bring them salvation, it is not the job of Congress to police that. In the same way over 90 millions people gamble in this country. Religious freedom has its price.

  • mark deckard

    There seems to be a lot of fear in here based on the slippery slope we think this investigation has begun.

    But wasn't it God who said that if we suffer for doing good it is commendable, but if we suffer for doing wrong, we get no commendation. Elsewhere we are reminded that the powers that be are ordained of God and that they do not carry the sword for nothing but to strike terror into the heart of them that do wickedly.

    God is on the throne and He seems to have lifted his hand and is allowing judgement to begin at the house of God. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken until only that which is of God remains. Lets commit ourselves and our ministries to God and continue in love and good works. Let us judge ourselves and examine our hearts and our practices. If we dont God may allow judgement to come from the world. If we are in line with God's heart and his character His favor will carry us through, yes?

  • http://www.inthatdayteachings.com Robert Winkler Burke

     Of Eloi, Morlocks and Iconoclasts In 1895 H. G. Wells published a blockbuster book called The Tithe Machine.  In it, a time traveler goes to the year 2008 whereupon he finds two subspecies of humans called Eloi and Morlocks.  The Eloi are frail, unintelligent, have high-pitched and soft voices, live without physical quarrels or mental conflict, suffer from lower opinions of themselves than warranted, display sexual dimorphism among their breed and are incapable of intellectual curiosity.  The Morlocks are strong, unintelligent, have affected and loud voices, live without physical quarrels or mental conflict, suffer from higher opinions of themselves than warranted, display sexual appetites beyond scandalous and are incapable of intellectual curiosity.  Both species are distinctly sub-human in that they have no desire or ability to manifest much in the way of good.  Our time traveler discovers to his shock Eloi work to be the flock of the Morlocks, who receive more than ten percent of the Eloi’s income.  The iconoclast time traveler attempts to understand how such a hell on earth has been created.  He observes a tithe-cult-apartheid has been built around video distribution of money-demanding Morlock messages.  Thus the bondage suffered by the Eloi at the hands of the Morlocks is suppressed into virtual video silence.  The time traveler encourages self-critique as a solution to the symbiotic status-quo stranglehold the Eloi and Morlocks had devolved into, but instead he is dispatched into a “first fruits” meal at a celebration of continued promissory pledge-bonding, something called a “Praise-a-thon.”  [rwb – Hoping Wells forgives me!] http://www.inthatdayteachings.com

  • AmeriKan, aka Phil

    "Judgement at the house of God"….hardly.  This is blatant persecution by the secularists and religionists.  Read Greg's post, again, he has given the true, accurate perspective.

    "Judgement begins at the house of God," is exactly that…it does not come from the world but rather from within the body (of Christ).  The world does not know how to judge us…they have no standard other than their own.  Our standard is God and His righteous Word which is what will judge us…"the judgement seat of Christ."

  • E. MARTINEZ

    WHY IS SOMEONE NOT INVESTIGATING OLE ANTHONY.. THERE ARE MILLIONNAIRE MENTORS IN SOCIETY WHO AT THIS POINT IN TIME HAVE TO PROVE NOTHING TO ANYONE… BUT ! THEY ARE BUSY TRYING TO DO POSITIVE THINGS FOR THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM… THEN HERE COME PAUPER ANTHONY AND HIS GREATEST DESIRE IN LIFE IS TO BE ABLE TO SIT BACK WITH FEET PROPPED ON DESK AND BRAG ABOUT PULLING DOWN A PASTOR.. AND THE BIGGER THE BETTER… HIS EGO IS SO DAMAGED BY HIS OWN LIFE THAT HE DOESN'T FEEL LIKE HIS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING IF HE IS NOT DESTROYING SOMEONE ELSE'S.. GET THIS !!!! HE IS SO PIOUS HE HAS TAKEN A VOW OF POVERTY!!!..SHOW ME THAT SCRIPTURE IN THE BIBLE… WHO IS HE IMPRESSING ?? ONLY HIMSELF !!!!..AND HE HATES ANYONE WHO HAS MORE OR IS MORE THAN HE IS… HE HATES SUCCESS IN ANY FORM.. FROM HIS OWN PULPIT WITH HIS TINY GROUP OF ATTENDEE'S , MAYBE 50 TO 100 HE BEATS THEM DOWN WITH COMMENTS LIKE THIS ! " YOU SHOULD SEE YOURSELVES ! YOU LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF PEOPLE THAT HAS BEEN CHEWING ON SOMEONE'S MINSTRAL RAG " I S THAT UPLIFTING OR WHAT ??? WOULD YOU GO TO HIS CULT MEETINGS. AND HE DARES TO PUT HIMSELF ABOVE ANYONE ELSE ??? ONE OF THESE DAYS , GOD WILL TURN HIM EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE. WAIT AND SEE… RAG TAG DOES NOT EVEN COME CLOSE TO DESCRIBING SOMEONE WHO HATES SUCCESS FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN HIMSELF… GRASSLEY SURELY HAS MORE SENSE THAN TO LISTEN AT THIS NOTHING PEOPLE HATER… BUT THEN I GREW UP IN THE BAPTIST CHURCH AND I KNOW WHAT HIS REAL BEEF IS…IT IS THE PENTECOSTALISM WITHIN THESE CHURCHES..HERE WE GO AGAIN.!!.. IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE LIKE ME THEN YOU NEED TO BE PUT OUT OF BUSINESS OR LIFE. SENATOR GRASSLEY MADE A COMMENT THAT JESUS RODE A DONKEY INTO TOWN. WELL GUESS WHAT SENATOR !! MAY I INFORM YOU THAT LIMO'S, JETS NOR TAXI'S OR CADDIES OR BENTLEY'S OR ANY OTHER FANCY CARS WERE PART OF SOCIETY IN THE TIME JESUS WAS ON THE EARTH…. BUT READ ABOUT THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE DONKEY.. HE COULD NOT HAVE EVER BEEN RIDDEN BEFORE… AND IF YOU LOVE DONKEYS AS TRANSPORTATION FOR THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE WHY IN THE HECK DO YOU GO IN STYLE WHERE EVER YOU GO ? TRYING TO BE BIGGER THAN GOD MAYBE??. AND ALSO TELL ME THIS ! ARE YOU WILLING TO MAKE JESUS THE LORD OF YOU LIFE AND GOD YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IF HE DAMANDS THAT YOU NEVER HAVE ANYTHING OTHER THAN BARE NECCESSITIES IF EVEN THAT ???? I THINK YOU WOULD FIND EITHER SOMEONE OR SOME THING OTHER THAN GOD TO SERVE IF YOU REALLY BELIEVED THAT…HOW MANY PEOPLE SENATOR HAVE YOU LED TO GOD ??? WHEN YOU HAVE MATCHED THE NUMBER THAT ALL THE TELEVAGELISTS HAVE TO THEIR CREDIT , THEN AND ONLY THEN DO YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO INVESTIGATE THEM… IF YOU HOUSE COSTS OVER $100,000 DOLLARS THEN YOU NEED TO GET RID OF IT TO SERVE THE GOD THAT YOU THINK WANTS YOU TO HAVE NOTHING… WHY ARE YOU NOT CONCENTRATING ON THE CORRUPT SENATORS THAT EXIST AT THIS MOMENT ! A BRIDGE TO NOWHERE..???? WHYARE YOU NOT INVESTIGATING THE PORK BARRELS THAT ARE ROLLING AROUND ??? MAYBE SOME OF IT WILL BE GOING INTO YOUR POCKET??? LIKE OLE ANTHONY ! NO ONE BUT YOU DESERVES ANYTHING… JUST DO THE ABOVE AND YOU WILL MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR ALL THE TAX PAYERS.. AND GOD WON'T BE GOING AFTER YOU WHEN HE GOES AFTER OLE ANTHONY…..

  • john feaster

    I agree with Greg and Pierre

  • james

    just mind your business. senator grassley needs to ask the irs to do their job properly. if there are any loophole then he needs to let them no. then he should back off. nonsense

  • Mark Stuart Ph.D.

    I think Grassley is out to lunch. It is interesting to me how a US senator can have well over 6 plush offices, live in a mansion in an exclusive gated community on a 165,000 per year salary. Talk about living high on the backs of the poor. Someone ought to investigate Grassley….oh yes..I forgot abortion is ok too…so long as an MD is committing the murder…right? These ministries have done more good for the lost and hurting on accident than all of their critics have done on purpose.

    Please…I think the ministries ought to file a class action against Grassley and his crownies. Has anyone seen this Ole Anderson reprobate talk? Give me a break!

     

    lololol…

     

  • Joe

    Greg, you must be a "ditto-head" too! My sentiments, exactly! The Lord didn't leave his church orphaned. He sent us the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and convict us among other things. Any reproof or correction should originate from within the Body of Christ, and not the "world" system. If Jesus is returning for a church that is spotless and without blemish, then the days of Ananias and Sapphira aren't far off from their return.

  • http://www.freegoodnews.com Bernie of FreeGoodNews.com

    I think Christians need to cheer on Sen. Grassley… we need televangelist reform.

    I just released a salary survey for Christian execs, see it here:
    http://www.freegoodnews.com/2008/01/2008-salary-rev.html

    …Bernie

  • Gary MacDougall

    If Grassley doesn't keep them honest who will?

    r they honest?They are fleecing the sheeple for their own lusts and coveteousness. They are as Paul says "dogs, wolves in sheeps clothing, false prophets, deceivers".They have a multilevel organization called PIMPWAY with kenneth at the top, then his front line of WOFers and then millions of sucker downlines who feed their lusts and greed. They preach another gospel to Pauls and Paul said if an angel from heaven or any man preach another gospel than his, thegospel of Christ, then let him be accursed.These televangelists will crash..just like the Baakers, Swaggart, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, Weekes etc.

  • Gary MacDougall

    Praise God for Ole!

    At least someone is doing something to stop the sheeple from being fleeced.

    But even Grassley said himself ,it wasn't Ole that prompted the investigation but thousands of people complaining to him of the deception and scamming tactics of the six ministries involved. Praise God for Grassley too.The teles (PIMPS) won't keep themselves honest so who will keep them accountable?

  • janice seibert

     senator grassley is a joke. he should be investagating the crooked ohio judicial symstem try me i can prove that lawyers, judges the disciplinary council, the bar association and etc. commited forgery, fraud, conspiracy changed legal documents lied to me lied on me and froze my case to hide their crimes so criminals are running the ohio judicial systum i have all the evidence to prove my alligaions and no one to present it to because as i said the ohio judicial system does exactly what they want and cover up for each other.thats why the u.s. is going to hell in a hand basket.and i"ll tell you another thing i have voted every election since i was of legal age but i wont vote this election or ever again because it doesnt matter who gets elected nothing will change because its all about money and power. i always heard that the legal system was crooked but didnt believe it until what happen to me. like i said i was an innocent citizen who has always respected and obeyed the law. i will still obey the law but i have no respect for any of the so called law their a big big joke. but it isn"t funny.he also would have his hands full investagating right where he works. but no he has to investagate the ministers maybe some people are afraid that the ministers are making more money than they are.you think.

  • Jim Davis MBA

    No doubt you will be praising the anti-christ as well…are you a tither?

     Obviously not.

     lol… 

     

     

  • Jim Davis MBA

    Grassley is a phony. He claims to be a Christian yet is a high ranking free mason. Why doesn't he investigate Billy Graham? Or some other prominent Baptist leader? Grassley will be out of office soon…thats a guarantee.  I’m not even a Copeland or Creflo follower and know that this is a crock.

  • edster

    It really amazes me at all these blogs, not one refers to a single verse in the bible. We are so quick to judge others but we have all fallen short of the glory of God. How is it that the ones who think that senator grassley is doing the right thing, has probably never read the bible or understands what is written. God will be the ultimate judge for it is written "much is given and much will be required". so all these tv evangelists will be required to give accountability for all they have done. It is also written "Judge not lest you be judged". I do not want to be the one who has passed judgement on anyone, this is not our responsibility, this is God's. Unfortunately most christians either do not understand the bible or are taught that you should be poor and sick and in constant fear. Yet when I read the bible I get a different perspective and opinion. For it is Written " give and it shall be given, pressed down, shaken together, running over shall men give unto your busom" now this does not sound like I am suppose to be poor. It is also written " by his stripes you are healed" this also does not sound like I am suppose to be sick. It is also written " yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall FEAR no evil" this also does not sound like i should be afraid. So tell me what bible do you read and how do you interperet it to mean everyone should be poor,sick,afraid. what part of the bible does it say we should judge. We are suppose to live by faith. for it is written " you cannot please God without Faith" now what is faith. It is written "Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen" where is everyones faith. It also is written " you will know my sheep by their fruit " It sure seems that these tv evangelists produce fruit since they are growing in numbers probably daily. If these tv evangelists are doing contrary to the word of god then don't you think God can take care of them. Do we serve a God without any power, a God who is so small he has to have our government get involved in stopping them. Wow how small are your brains to beleive that your God is so weak. I know I serve the most powerful God in the universe and he does not need anyone  in the government or outside such as ole anthony to fight his battles, my God is more than capable of bringing down the house of the wicked. So all I can say is have a little more faith in the god you serve.  

  • Bart Breen

    I think there is plenty of Scripture alluded to throughout this blog.

    What I find interesting is the person attempting to to claim the "judge not" verse quotes it out of context and then proceeds to judge everyone posting on this blog …..

  • edster

    brother bart, how is it you are so far from truth. the correct context of the verse is luke 6 verse 37 judge not, and you will not be judged. condemn not, and you will not be condemned. I was suggesting that if you are a true beleiver in christ and you hold to his truths then have a little more faith in the god you serve. If you are going to accuse anyone of doing something wrong do your homework and be able to use the word of god to back up what you say. In your first blog you said and I Quote Televangelists are easy targets right now and frankly as a community they deserve it on many levels. If these televangelists are teaching  contrary to the word of god and you have first hand knowledge of it then share your knowledge in the scriptures and back up what you say is true in the scriptures. That's what I meant when i said no one eluded to scripture. I beleive you can find everything in the scripture that can exonerate you or convict you. sorry if you misunderstood my forst blog on the subject.

  • AmeriKan

    Edster…..Your use of scripture to support your claims are sound and produce the best argument on the Grassley issue I have read so far on this particular blog.  Thankyou for rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

  • Bart Breen

    1.  Quoting a verse is not putting it in context.  The use of that particular verse to suggest that Christians are not to discern or assess the conduct of other Christians is grossly out of context and a complete copout that prays upon the ignorance of many who unfortunately accept that idea and then fail to address issues and allow in many cases, sin to continue in the camp.

    2,  Televangelists are easy targets because of the conduct of several of them, particularly some of thise targetted by the Grassley investigation although certainly not just them, with regard to their finances.  To the extent that that stems from their teaching it's an issue.  I think a great deal of it has to do with simple, baseline human behavior and greed.

    3.  I understood your first blog on the subject quite well I believe, just as I understand your second one and simply disagree with your approach and use of the scripture to obfuscate the issue.

  • edster

    brother bart on the contrary once again you do not understand my blog. if you think that you have the right to discern and assess the conduct of another christian that has done you no harm then you are judging. But if you have personal knowledge of a brother that has sinned against you then you have the scripture in Matt. chapter 18 verses 15 – 17. if your brother sins against you go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. if he listens then you have won your brother over. but if he will not listen, take one or two others along,so that every matter may be estabilished by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, if he refuses to listen to the church treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. No where does it allude to tell it to the government. I dont beleive you ever gave one cent to any of these evangelists, therefore thay have done you no harm. I seek the advice of the holy spirit on every matter of my life. I never gave to any ministry without first seeking the guidance of the holy spirit and the holy spirit has never let me down. I truly beleive in the scriptures and it has always steered me in the right direction and kept my foot from being snared. Scriptures never obfuscate the issue they bring light on the issues. i pray thta the holy spirit might soften your heart a bit and open up your eyes to the true light. Your brother in christ

  • Bart Breen

    Edster,

    Where to start.

    1.  I attended Oral Roberts University and my degree carries the name of a televangelist.

    2.  I and my family have contributed over many years to many different ministries as offerings above and beyond where our primary giving goes which is the local church.

    3.  Media based ministries are not based upon personal relationships and do not allow for personal follow-up.  Try making a phone call, writing and email or sending a letter to a televangelist to resolve a personal issue and see what happens.  I have done it.  I've been put on their mailing list and a generic response sent asking for a contribution.

    4.  Do you believe Jesus was wrong in upbraiding the Pharisees?  The context of a local church based upon personal relationships lends itself very well to Matt 18 and how believers should interact with one another.  The very point of many televnagelists is that they have elevated themselves above the local church and further have failed to institute accountibility internally within their organization. 

    These organizations are products of a media environment and need to be addressed in the same environment in which they operate.  Further, they are not above the law.  What concerns me about the Grassley investigations has very little to do with the 6 major ministries being investigated.  As far as I'm concerned, they are fair game, especially when there is evidence of personal profiteering and opulant life styles based upon what amount to heretical teachings in my book.  What concerns me is that their abuses and the sheep who support them, may result in local churches involved in solid ministry reaching the lost, feeding the poor and ministering in a far more personal and accountable fashion having to bear a greater burden of reporting and possibly losing some of the traditionally protected ministry activities.

    If some think that's a fair trade for Creflo, and Copeland and company to maintain their limos and personal jets in order to preach a gospel based upon sanctified greed then I have to state that's a very different gospel than I read in the words of Christ and I know where my allegience lies when picking between the two.

  • edster

    Brother Bart:

         My arguments are not with where you attended school or what degrees you hold, I'm sure your heavenly father is very proud of you for your achievements.

         I also never said you did not give of tithes or offerings, I simply spoke of the current ministries under attack at this point in time. You see I do not label ministries based on what one has done but on the overall teaching of the message and whether or not it lines up with the word of God.

        persistence will always gain insight and the word of god will always be the way of life for me. At one time though it was far from me and I was the lost sheep that my lord and saviour had to go looking for. And when he found me I would never let him go again. If you wrote letters based on the ones you have wrote here I would not have wrote you back either, not once do you allude to any viable scripture that backs up your overall belief or what belief you actually have. Attending ORU you obviously do not agree with the founding father of that university as the faith message is what built that university.

        However in regards to my belief about Jesus upbraiding the pharisees, I absolutely agree with what he did however he also knew their hearts and minds, are you telling me you know creflo and copleland's heart better than the creator?? Your able to judge them by what you see that they have materialistically, and you are able to judge them because of what they beleive their God can do for them. They have been preaching the same message for 30 + years even before they had any money. They worked for 15 to 16 hours a day reading and praying searching the word and beleiving in the word of god, standing on the word of god, fasting and asking the holy spirit to guide them and show them the wisdom of god, and you want to judge them? How many hours do you seek the wisdom of god and praying in the spirit and fasting so that all the obstacles that are in your way are eliviated. It takes dedication, perserverance, love, peace, forgiveness, to come out with a clean heart.

        On your subject of internal auditing and accountability. If these ministries used a private auditing firm instead of efca, then what have they done wrong. also why do you beleive grassley wants all of the donors information as well. Why should he want or care about who donated to these ministries, and where do you think that information will end up?? Go ahead and shout from the rooftops because what you fear most will end up at your doorstep just as you spoke about.

       It seems that what is being said is its ok for the cruicifying of the 6 as long as the body stays in tact. Now where have we heard that line before, just as the jews before agreed that the death of one would be greater than the death of many. Another one of satans attacks on the body of christ, and I for one will not stand by and do nothing, but will in constant prayer and supplications ask my heavenly father for a favorable outcome on this current satanic attack.

       And as a member of the body of christ you as well ought to pray and stand firm in your faith with the whole body of christ, then to choose to pick off a finger. But that is the one thing the heavenly father gave us is a will of our own to choose the path we will take. We can go the hard way or the right way.

       I believe the body of christ is made up of several parts with the head being our lord and saviour jesus. If we want our Lord and saviour to return to a bride that is mature and ready for the task then, strife and bitterness, envy and greed, and hatred have to stop residing in the body. There is enough of this ugliness in the world.

       Gods grace and love to you bart, your brother in christ.

      

       

  • breaklight

    I am not edster [seriously I am not] but I think I have been here before with Bart on this topic but on a different take in terms of abuse in leadership, yes I agree that there a number of abuses that(really bad ones both of which I have witnessed and in some cases I have experienced but mainly from a financial standpoint)have taken place from ministries (media & non-media related) but it does not give us the right to follow the world and kick our own down. But the reason why I am coming into this is that both of you have made very valid points. I think Bart has made some very valid points on a number of these ministries (and Bart really has something to offer here big time) but I think edster has highlighted a point I made earlier – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never support bitterness, slander and unforgiveness – and many of us have the right to hold on to it but it never pays off short or long term. That said I would like Bart to know that nobody ever gets away with ripping God’s people off – ever and I am a witness to that. But what makes the difference which edster has made very clear and I support edster on this 100% is learning to listen to the Holy Spirit personally – it has made the difference in my life whether in business, my marriage, finances, ministry, just everything. Many Christians do not listen to the Holy Spirit especially in the western world because we think we have degrees (what is a degree in mathematics in relation to size?)of knowledge but we forget that they expire with time – the Holy Spirit does not. Knowledge is limited to the area of expertise so I will be limited to what I know and that is very little if I am humble enough to admit it. Yes many have abused what they call they Holy Spirit working in them and they were (and are still) lying but He is very real and the Word of God makes it very clear what His purpose is here on earth. Even before I became a Christian I knew that I was going to make a lot of money but I always afraid of my emotional life because I was very ruthless in my attitude (I still have streaks of it) but when I became a believer and got baptised in the Holy Spirit that ignited a change (which was 12 years ago) but it has only been in the last 5 years that I have been conscious about Him and the last 3 years that I have been walked in the reality of Him and it has made the difference in ways I cannot imagine. Best way to describe it is like a computer hooked up the Internet – just so much more better!!!! Bart let the Holy Spirit soften your heart (meekness) even as the Lord will use you to restructure leadership in the Body of Christ.

  • Bart Breen

    Ed,

    If you're going to question someone, as you did, as to their position to offer an evaluation of ministries from a position of familiarity and/or a position of actually having given to ministries, then it seems to me that you should accept the answer without then implying it was inappropriate to answer your question.

    I already probably post too much here and as Phil's blog is not primarily a forum for theological debate, I don't find it for me to be a virtue to delve deeper in this area as I think it would detract from the focus of Phil's blog and so I try to keep my focus on the areas where I feel I have something to contribute.

    If you wish to have a theological debate complete with scriptural references let me know and we can do so off line or on a more appropriate forum.

     Blessings back,

    Bart

  • Bart Breen

    Thanks for the feedback.  I do have to watch myself, as should all believers to avoid becoming cynical and judgemental.  I don't believe that precludes honest evaluation of public ministries and noting where practices or teachings are out of balance. 

    I also believe there are some (not necessarily here) who use the club of spirituality to squelch dissent or questioning of improper practices and so I hope you'll understand if I include that in the mix as well.

    I believe in general, the body of Christ is too tolerant of leadership abuses and financial mismanagement and I believe we have a responsibility before Christ to speak up and point it out.  A great part of the failures that have lead to the Grassley investigations goes beyond the individual ministries involved and is a failure of the body of Christ at large in my opinion.  If we don't address our issues in this manner then we forfeit the right to complain when others with civic responsibility step in, in my opinion.

  • edster

       for all who have been reading our blogs I want everyone to know that I beleive that me and brother bart are being as honest as we can be with each other and I do love my brother with all sincerity. None of my responses were meant for bitterness,strife or hatered toward brother bart. all were meant for the edifying of the spirit for those who would hear.

       I do beleive we both have our vialble points but I truly beleive that as the body of christ we must sometimes look beyond our own faults and stop and analyze what we are truly saying to one another.

       Remember the word says that by our words we will be justified and by our words we will be condemned. We need to build up the body of christ not tear it down. I know there are some of the ministries  that satan infilitrated and the spirit of greed was birthed there, but instead of tearing down the stronghold there we tend to give satan more ammo to get inside a little deeper by what we speak.

      The holy spirit will never give satan a stronghold only we can give that to him. My message was to build up the body of christ instead of tear down the body. Lets all pray and even fast a day to bring down the stronghold that has at this time gripped the body of christ and lets all stand firm in our faith that God will take care of this.

       We all tend to gat a little zealous in our faith, and even if we have vaible points to bring about we should still be careful how we speak them so as not to give satan a foothold.

       Breaklight and amerikan i want to thank you as well as brother bart for your enlightenment on the subject and prayers for the saints. We all deserve to have gods best and I believe we may have opened up some light on this subject.

       Peace and grace to all of you May gods love abound on you all and may his joy fill your life.  Your brother in christ

     

  • victor7

    Maybe some real concerns in the handling of this matter potentially affecting everyone in Christendom:

     

    http://www.southernappeal.org/index.php/archives/2613 and

    NRB – http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=26970 - sent a letter

    The National Religious Broadcasters expressed concern about Grassley's investigation in early December, even though none of the six ministries is an NRB member. NRB President Frank Wright said in a letter to Grassley he was worried about the "broader implications," saying the senator's letter "goes far beyond a mere request for financial records necessary to scrutinize the charitable nature of [an] organization's operations."

    Craig Parshall, NRB's senior vice president and general counsel, criticized Grassley's letter, arguing that "more than three decades ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wisdom of tax exemptions for non-profit religious organizations."

    "The court held that such a framework reinforced the required 'insulating' of church groups from excessive government oversight," Parshall said, "but unfortunately Senator Grassley's overly broad approach utilizes an axe rather than a scalpel in this delicate constitutional area, and also oversteps the IRS audit procedures which are designed for handling these kinds of issues."

    ————————-

    Christianity Today carries similar articles, one entitled "Oversight Overstep." A Baptist Press article registers chill over elements of the “investigation.” There are others, seeing the red flag and awakening to the fact that they have a dog in this race.

    The comment in the NRB letter about Grassley using an axe instead of a scalpel describes his treatment of this. It is unprecedented as many are noting, but I understand this tactic is not new to the senator – hook in with the media and get them to help get the hooks in whomever he is after. Then contact the target after he has laid the mines. Where are the ethics in that? Where is due process?

    The senator’s high toned statements do not match his low blow actions. If you've got a point, got evidence, then make the point and use the evidence. Instead, he has laid this open to a religiously adverse media and the buffoonery do-nothings delight in. If he has anything like what is claimed over and over, that volkswagon full of stuff, then why haven't the IRS or the Justice Department swooped down on anyone by now?

    I see those refusing to turn over donor lists, etc. on the high ground rather than hiding something, There is something to protect. It’s a pay now or pay later situation with freedoms.

    Thank you.

     

  • Gene Agnew

    It seems that all the Christian religions are missing the mark.  I’ve attended many and not found one that preached the truth only.  It seems to me that they all push their personal agenda and they support it with the term "tithe".  No modern day Christian is under the law of tithing.  Tithing was instituted for the support of the Levitical Preists which no longer exist today.  It was more like a tax on farmed goods for the Jews to pay.  Christianity came into full being after Christ died and the Holy Spirit appeared.  The televangelists of today are, quite simply, after your dollars.  The true church does not appear in a building today.

  • satan

    These are not pastors, they are business men making a fantastic living off the easily dooped.

     

  • Colette

    Joel Osteen has created an image that conflicts the truth of what really goes on behind the scenes of Lakewood church. Many of his own staff don’t even attend church there, that should tell you something.

  • jroc

    These TV evangelist are becoming a major problem for real Christianity and perception…Joel Osteen after hinting that "hinduism" may have an alternate route to heaven and that Jesus is not the only way on CNN is really presenting a bothersome trend. They aren't only affecting perception they are actually changing ideology…this from a very Anti Christian website…even these guys recognize things Christians refuse to acknowledge..

     "For example, Joel Osteen represents a pastor of the largest mega-church in America. Although its members consider themselves Christian, Osteen's church shows no cross or image of Jesus, anywhere. Instead, Osteen preaches a cherry-picked brand of Christianity where he focuses on positive thinking rather than sin. This New-Age kind of Christianity has virtually nothing in common with Old-World Christianity, except carefully picked Bible verses that conform only to Osteen's happy-clappy vision but leave out the hell-and-brimstone verses. Various denominations of watered-down Christianity continue to grow throughout the world that has little to do with traditional Christianity, nor do they agree with their contemporary new-age churches..

    The very fact that most Christians no longer believe in the Biblical age of the universe provides an example of how the world view of this religious belief system has shrunk incredibly over the centuries. Not only do most Christians not believe in a Young Earth…more and more Christians no longer believe in the miracle stories, including walking on water, turning water into wine…"

     

    "

  • Paul B

    Sin is the real problem for Christianity. Always has been and always will be. But concerning your comments about Joel, I was able to go to a service at Lakewood last August. I was very pleased to see that Jesus is very much exalted there. I can't confirm that there wasn't a cross there, but I didn't feel it was missing. My church meets in a movie theater without a cross and we don't have any pictures of Jesus. Does that make us non-Christian ? However we do get people into our service that went to the movie theater, but ended up at a church service. Likewise Joel brings a different style of preaching that is reaching into places his fathers generation wasn't able to go. What's a better message for our today's multi-channel TV culture? "God wants you to reach your full potential" or "You're a sinner and you are going to hell"?

    Now concerning the investigation, we need to be more concerned about the coming "investigation" from God. All Christians need to fear God for the money that they had control of here an earth. I have been involved in Christian media for 17 years, and I believe that I will be held accountable for the money I gave and the money I spent for ministries. A movie that will help keep thing in perspective is at the end of Schlinder's list when he realizes that the possessions he keep could have saved more lives.

    We should be able to freely give to whoever and whatever we like. And ministries should freely give accountability of where the money is being spent. Without government interferance.

    On a side not. If only 20% of Christians tithe, what kinds of problems would we have if all Christians tithed? Would it be worse of better? Reach more or buy more?

    Paul

     

  • jroc

    I don't think the investigation is a good thing for Christians, but prosperity preachers should have been stopped by Christians long ago…

  • AmeriKan, aka Phil

    "Be careful what you pray for.  It may come back to haunt you," for those who think "their way" or "form of Christianity" is the "only way."  What affects Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland will come one day right up to the front door of your house/church and demand the same of you and yours.  What a strange phenomena it is when people begin to pile on the "easy prey" TV preachers and absolutely nothing is said about the megaCatholic church and all their ornate structures, edifices and gaudy millions.    I have no qualms saying I attend and am a member of an Assembly of God church…we have no cross, no dove, no nothing fixed above our "altar."  Oh, we do have a stained glass window…will that count for something. :-)

    I think what is even worse is when we, as "critical thinkers, " in the body of Christ begin to resemble the world in our piranha feeding frenzy capitalizing on the failures or perceived failures of others.  See Gal. 6.1-3 AMP

    Some of the mentioned ministries, we have given to, faithfully, for years.  We have examined their doctrine up close and seen, firsthand, the results and fruit of their ministries.  For now, we and others will continue to support these "pioneers" of the faith and from our perspective will probably increase our giving.

  • Bart

    I see the conflicts and precedents involved here independent of the fact that in general I believe the ministries targetted here likely have legitimate issues to investigate.

    I've spent almost 20 years working at different levels within Churches and denominations and it is my observation that there are practices that go on within Churches, denominations and para-church organizations that are a result of their tax exempt status that wouldn't go on if they were paying taxes, having to file even informational returns or were making the records public with full-disclosure to contributors.

    Separation of Church and State in the US (which interestingly Phil is addressing in another thread and poll) gives the Church tremendous freedom.  That freedom however can be abused.  If the Church as a whole does not regulate itself and address these abuses then in the end I believe those freedoms may indeed be threatened and an investigation such as Grassley's begin to result in a chipping away of those freedoms based upon public pressure if and when some of these abuses are exposed.

    There is an element of precedent here that if allowed to stand may well lead to other politicians targetting other ministries based upon whether or not it will generate favorable publicity for them.  Televangelists are easy targets right now and frankly as a community they deserve it on many levels.

    If I were to give any advice right now, if would be for each of the ministries targetted to work together cooperatively to do the following things:

    1.  Join the ECFA or some other credible organization if they are not members already or examine their adherence to some higher organization's code of ethics and public disclosure standards and immediately make receiving that organizations seal of approval and maintaning it with a good faith effort.

    2.  Immediately have an outside auditing agency appointed to audit their books and make a report available to the leadership with disclosure following addressing any deficiencies.

    3.  Do the two steps above before publically addressing Grassley's call for records and if a principled stand is to be make refusing cooperating, preface all statements with disclosure above of the steps that have been taken, willingness to correct issues but opposition to the direct involvement of a politician who is by-passing the appropriate chain of command in either the courts or the IRS to address these issues and not breach the veil of separation of Church and State.

    4.  Follow through on the commitments made, take responsibility for abuses discovered and maintain the standards and code of ethics adopted moving forward.

    If something like this is not done however, there will be more actions of this nature and what is televangelists now will soon be local churches.

     

  • Phil

    Bart – your last line is exactly right.  Word on the street already is that Grassley is getting ready to do the same with a number of local churches.  It's a slippery slope for sure.  So people out there who are happy these particular ministries are being called on the carpet, should get ready.  I doubt it will stop there.

  • island girl

    I hate seeing the government involved in the church's private reports.

    I hate that there have been so many abuses that they felt forced to.

    The ECFA has tried to become an agency to help safeguard against the abuses, but many mega-organizations have no interest in joining.  Why?  Often it's their policy on the make up of the board (limiting family members and paid employees).

    And since we as the church give to whoever we want regardless of if they are a member of any such organization, why should they join?  Why should they (the mega leaders) be accountable to anyone?

    Well what we are seeing now is the "why".  If we don't bring acountability, Uncle Sam will.  This is just the beginning.

  • AmeriKan, aka Phil

    "Abuses" or is this a 21st century witchhunt and persecution targeting the church beginning with the most visible.  The more Christian organizations do worldwide in ministry (we could make an endless list of what some of these ministries have and are doing), the less "religious" people, the "world," and the devil like it.

    Since we are so concerned about riches and wealth…Abraham, Solomon, David, Esther, Mordecai, Gaius, et al, would probably take exception to our judgments.  And for those of us who are ultra inflamed over the materialism of preachers, heaven is going to be a blinder and a "heart stopper."  When we put this in proper Biblical perspective, how insignificant is our finite thinking.

    I was an elder in a nondenominational church ten years ago…attendance 500, conservatively…some would say more like 700.  As a member of the elder board, we set the senior pastor's salary.  We paid him very generously based on national stats provided to us with similar church size, tithes and offerings and assets.  I am convinced had some members known the senior pastor's financial package, they would have fainted.  Were we a congregation of 20K as some are, the mere size, payroll, expenses and net worth can be staggering to the average person.  It is an expensive "machine" to maintain with the myriads of outreaches that requires much planning, oversite and, yes, legal, financial and spiritual counsel.  I was then and am today, at peace with our prayerful, financial decisions that governed our local church body.

  • Bart

    Financial success is not necessarily spiritual success.

    I've been on Church Boards and Church staffs too of similar and even larger size as well as much smaller. 

    I believe most churches are financially accountable and seek to do the best they can with the resources they have.  There are exceptions.  Not all that is done in the name of Christ is of Christ.

    Where there are larger organizations with more resources there are larger temptations and larger needs for accountibility.

    Like it or not, there have been spectacular falls in this area in recent history.  I remember the impact in giving across the board in the aftermath of the PTL fiasco.  My own parents were among the partners whose lifetime partnerships were abused and misused.  Like it or not, large organizations based upon strong ministry personalities that pack boards with friends and family members are out there and when scandal hits the public relations hit beyond that organization and taint the entire body of Christ.

    I don't like one little bit the government getting involved in investigations of this nature.  I believe if they cross bounds to do this, even when it seems justified, principles are sacrificed and precedents set that lead to abuses down the road.

    However, if we as Christians continue to give to organizations that refuse to set up accountability, and we refuse to regulate ourselves, then we lose a great deal of credibility.  How many times do these painful lessons need to be taught before we learn and act?

  • AmeriKan, aka Phil

    E. Martinez, you may have been shouting (with all CAPS) but that may be just what is needed…shout it from the rooftops or like John the Baptist, “the voice of one shouting/crying in the wilderness.” Too many “crooked paths that need straightening” and too many asleep.

    I totally concur with your “loud preaching.” :-)

  • john feaster

    Martenez, I think you raised some good points. My first reaction was suspicion of Senator Grassley…why is he doing this, really?