A three-year investigation into financial improprieties at six Christian ministries whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles has concluded with the formation of an independent commission to look into the lack of accountability by tax-exempt religious groups.
The investigation report
issued this week details the ministries’ luxury homes and cars, trips on private jets and expensive gifts, including two Rolls Royces that a third party reported was given to the Dollars as a gift from the church.
Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences.
Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.
A Kenneth Copeland Ministry jet
worth $3.6 million has been denied tax-exempt status by the Tarrant Appraisal District, setting the stage for a battle that could require the minister to reveal his salary if he wants the jet to be tax-free.
Compensation paid Copeland and other members of his family has been the source of a U.S. senator’s inquiry
, but the televangelist has been unwilling
to disclose the information publicly.
If the ministry gives the compensation information to the appraisal district, it would be open to public disclosure, Law said.
The so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel
‘ — which claims that God wants you to be rich (but only after you give money to televangelists) — appears to work for a select group of people: relatives of the televangelists who came up with the ‘Blab-it-and-grab-it’ ploy.
Popular televangelist Kenneth Copeland is considered by many Christians to be a heretic. A key promoter of the so-called Word-Faith movement, which teaches that you can speak things into existence, and if you are sick it is because you don’t have enough faith.
Such faith is preferably expressed by sending money to teachers like Copeland. But Copeland does not have enough faith to allow a full investigation of his financial dealings.
Media-based televangelists benefiting from tax code exemptions are warned — Sen. Chuck Grassley is a terrier-like congressional inquisitor with time and a big stick on his side.
“I am not threatening them, at this point,” the Iowa Republican said.
Mr Copeland certainly practises what he preaches. According to a report into the pentecostal charismatics, commissioned by the Senate, the ministry built Mr Copeland and his wife Gloria a mansion “the size of an hotel” and enabled him to acquire a $20 million ( £10 million) Cessna Citation to help him to spread the word of God across the US.
“There’s a lot of doctrine that teaches that you’re not a good Christian unless you’re poor. But that’s not our doctrine, that’s not what we believe,” the younger Copeland told KTVT-TV.
North Texas preacher Kenneth Copeland is leading a counterattack against the U.S. senator who is investigating alleged lavish spending by six high-profile televangelists.
As the Televangelist Kenneth Copeland continues to defy a Senate Finance investigation, internal ministry documents shed new light on how Copeland runs his $100 million church.
“Copeland is trying to create the impression that he is being cooperative, when in fact he failed to comply with 25 of the 42 requests for information from Sen. Grassley. Now, he wants the IRS to continue the investigation, but only because IRS investigations are confidential. Copeland doesn’t want the public or his donors to see what he’s been doing, and that’s alarming. It screams that he his hiding something from KCM donors and the public.”
Dallas tax attorney Charles Blau said the church’s strategy could fail if the Senate committee subpoenas the Copeland ministry. “The church is saying this is a First Amendment religious issue and a Senate committee does not have a right to this financial information. I think they’re probably going to loose that argument. There are limits on non-reporting of financial information,” Blau said.
Television ministers Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar again have declined to answer questions sparked by news coverage of lavish lifestyles, according to a U.S. senator pushing the investigation.
A senator’s investigation into spending and oversight at six “prosperity gospel” ministries has hit a roadblock with a minister intensifying his efforts to fight the inquiry, but made progress on Monday when another turned over documents.
Is the “Prosperity Gospel” facing a recession? With donations dwindling, Mac Hammond, the high-flying pastor of Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, says his private jet is for sale.
Last fall, Mike Huckabee taped an appearance on Kenneth Copeland’s popular television show. The theme: “Integrity of Character.” Now some are raising issue with Huckabee’s character, principally his judgment. [video]
Last November, Sen. Charles Grassley launched a public investigation into the ministries of six top televangelists who attract thousands of followers and collect hundreds of millions of dollars around the world. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian takes a hard look at one target: Kenneth Copeland, the so-called “godfather” of “prosperity gospel.” [video]
A Christian nonprofit said a Texas evangelist targeted by a Senate investigation turned a national ministers’ gathering last week into a fundraising opportunity for Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.
Only two of six Christian ministries under scrutiny for allegations of opulent spending turned over documents to a Senate panel by a Thursday deadline, with others either fighting the request or asking for more time.