Kenneth Copeland challenges probe into televangelist finances

Television ministry challenges probe

Washington, D.C. — A statement Monday from televangelist Kenneth Copeland‘s ministry says it is “simply untrue” that the church has not cooperated with an ongoing investigation by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries, based in Newark, Texas, also said in a lengthy response to the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee that he should go through the Internal Revenue Service to get information on the media ministry’s financial operations.

Any government inquiry into the affairs of a church “raises serious constitutional issues,” and the church “firmly believes that it must be given the protections from disclosure afforded by the federal tax laws” and the IRS, the ministry added.

Grassley sent letters in November to six ministries active on radio, television and the Internet. He was seeking information about possible misuse of donations, based on information from news reports, whistle-blowers and critics.

All the ministries are tax-exempt.

The strongest reaction has come from Copeland, who has vowed he would go to prison before he would comply with a congressional subpoena, should one be issued.

The Copeland ministry said in its statement that in April, it pledged cooperation to the IRS should the agency undertake a tax inquiry of the church.

But Kozeny said the Grassley inquiry is not related to enforcement, which is the job of the IRS, and the IRS is not under any obligation to investigate the Copeland ministry.

– Source: Jane Norman, Television ministry challenges probe, Des Moines Register, USA, July 15, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Press Release by Kenneth Copeland Ministries

NEWARK, Texas, July 14 /Standard Newswire/ — Eagle Mountain International Church/Kenneth Copeland Ministries (the “Church”) has reviewed Senator Grassley’s July 7, 2008, “Memorandum to Reporters and Editors” on the status of the responses and level of cooperation received from the six church ministries who are the subject of the Senator’s investigation that began in November 2007.

The Church’s position continues to be that it has responded to the request of Senator Grassley in good faith and to the greatest extent possible without compromising the privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of association rights and protections afforded to the Church by the United States Constitution and the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”).

As stated in the Church’s letters of December 6, 2007, and March 31, 2008, to Senators Grassley and Baucus, and in discussions with Committee staff members, the Church continues to believe that the most timely and efficient way for the Committee to obtain the requested confidential information — without compromising the universally recognized fundamental constitutional and statutorily based rights of this Church and all religious institutions — is for the IRS to request and obtain the information through a “church tax inquiry” under section 7611 of the Code. At the completion of the 90-day inquiry period provided by section 7611 of the Code, the IRS would have in its possession and available for disclosure to Senator Grassley all of the confidential information, including financial data, Senator Grassley is seeking from the Church.

Through this well-established statutory process, Senator Grassley and his staff could then obtain all of the information they seek through a request made under section 6103 of the Code, which would provide the Church with the confidentiality protections to which it is entitled. Had the Senator pursued this course suggested by the Church back in December, he would have the information he is seeking available to him at this time. The Senator’s suggestion that the Church or its attorneys are being uncooperative or seeking to prolong the process is simply untrue.

Indeed, in an effort to expedite the process, in April the Church took the unprecedented step of pledging its cooperation to the IRS should the IRS undertake a church tax inquiry of the Church. Church and KCM CEO John Copeland said in a statement following his delivery of the letter to IRS offices in Dallas: “We told the IRS that we welcome them to come and make inquiry of us and we will provide answers to the IRS regarding questions that Senator Grassley has. The Church desires to protect its and all other churches’ First Amendment rights, and by this action, we believe we are doing just that.”

The Church respects the oversight role of the Senate Finance Committee and specifically the many efforts of Senator Grassley to provide oversight of tax-exempt organizations. Indeed, the Church has voluntarily adopted and adheres to policies and procedures that the Senator has publicly suggested over the years are appropriate governance practices for tax-exempt organizations.

However, the Church respectfully disagrees with Senator Grassley’s position that churches are no different from any other tax-exempt organization. Any government inquiry into the affairs of a church raises serious constitutional issues that must be carefully balanced against the government’s need to evaluate the effectiveness of the laws of the land. To ensure its constitutional rights are not unnecessarily infringed upon, the Church firmly believes that it must be given the protections from disclosure afforded by the federal tax laws and the benefit of the processes and procedures that apply to inquires of churches made by the IRS. Without such confidentiality and due process of law, the potential exists for the information to be used in an effort to damage or attempt to embarrass the Church, its pastors, and its members. Any such use of the information provided interferes with, and ultimately threatens, the religious liberties of this Church, the thousands of other Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches who preach the “Word of Faith” message, and all other churches — irrespective of their particular doctrine or faith.

– Source: Kenneth Copeland Ministries / Eagle Mountain International Church Responds to Senator Grassley, Eagle Mountain International Church/Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Standard Newswire, July 14, 2008

Money, Money, Money

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, {4} he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions {5} and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. {6} But godliness with contentment is great gain. {7} For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. {8} But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. {9} People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. {10} For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

– Source: The Bible, 1 Timothy 6:3-10 NIV
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday July 15, 2008.
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