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.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday reinstated televangelist Frederick Price
‘s defamation lawsuit
claiming ABC’s “20/20” news program used a fictionalized sermon portraying himself as a wealthy braggart out of context.
The clip ABC aired of the prosperity preacher
it aired was actually a sermon on greed in which the preacher slips into the role of a fictional character who is wealthy but unhappy.
The so-called prosperity gospel preached by Benny Hinn does not work
for the controversial evangelist.
Hinn has posted
a plea for $2 million in donations
on his website.
The televangelist says he accumulated the deficit in the past few months because offerings at some international appearances did not cover expenses.
Here’s how the prosperity scam is sold
: God wants you to be rich (and/or healthy), but He can not bless you unless you first send money to whichever televangelist or teacher tells you about this scheme.
Such donations are often referred to as “seed-faith offerings”
— which is why Benny Hinn is asking you to “sow the best seed you can, as quickly as you can.”
Our advice: If the prosperity gospel works as advertised, folks like Hinn should be sending you and me money
so that God can bless him.
We’re not holding our breath. [See also: Hinn and money
To its supporters, who include some of the country’s most powerful people, Rhema is a welcome coming together of two of South Africa’s favourite pastimes, conspicuous consumption and Christianity.
To its critics it’s a prosperity cult
Trinity Foundation, an evangelical watchdog led by Ole Anthony has been investigating evangelist Jesse Duplantis.
Investigator Pete Evans says ‘Donors expect the money they donate to the church to go to the poor and needy. Not to build mansions for the pastor.” Duplantis is building a mansion, owned by the ministry, that has 35-thousand square feet of covered space.
Despite the economic downturn, the prosperity gospel
remains alive and well. Pastors like Cowan or televangelists like the Rev. Creflo Dollar
and the Rev. Kenneth Copeland
continue to promise that financial blessings will follow donations to their ministries.
But it faces a challenge from a new austerity gospel, which says God blesses those who work hard, save their money and pay off their debts.
America’s mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they would be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated—one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now.
Known as the prosperity gospel
, and claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk-taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble. And one year into the worst downturn since the Depression, it’s still going strong.
In the same issue of The Atlantic
: Lead us not into debt
: Finance guru Dave Ramsey wins followers with a simple message: find God and lose your credit cards.
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.
Has the so-called Prosperity gospel
turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis?
While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom.
Benny Hinn preaches a version of the prosperity gospel, which holds that God wants his followers to have financial wealth. To become prosperous, one must give money to God, who returns it multiplied.
If this scam worked as advertised, Benny Hinn and others like him would be giving you
“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.
Nearly two-dozen conservative Christian leaders have signed a letter to the Senate Finance Committee questioning an investigation into six large ministries that preach a gospel of prosperity.
Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual power. Prosperity pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes have become the most popular preachers in the black church. They’ve also become brands. They’ve built megachurches and business empires with the prosperity message.
Cindy Fleenor believed the prosperity teachers. But when she sent them money, the promised returns did not materialize. Some of the con artists who commit this fraud have now come under scrutiny.
Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, capped a two-year investigation on Monday by requesting financial records from six top televangelists to see whether they are helping others – or themselves. [video]
PASTOR MOSES SOLOMON MALE is Executive Director or Arising for Christ ministry. An ardent critic of the widespread prosperity gospel where pastors ‘sell’ prayers for numerous needs, Male tells RICHARD M. KAVUMA why he wants a judicial probe into born-again churches.
Was Jesus rich? The question matters to preachers and evangelists who want you to buy into their prosperity gospel.
Recently, Time magazine explored the popularity of prosperity theology, a movement that goes by various other names, too: word of faith, health and wealth or name it and claim it. I have more than a passing interest in this theology. I hold it partly responsible for my wife’s death.
Editor’s note: The following is a summary of this week’s Time magazine cover story. (Time.com) — In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.” In support of this prediction, he contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of […]