Church Doctrine! Come On Eddie, I Just Want To See If You Obey The Law! Grassley Spurned By Eddie Long And Others

Well, the deadline came and went and only two of the six ministries provided the data that Senator Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) requested. Joyce Meyer, of Missouri, complied as did Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, of Texas. Atlanta ministers Rev. Creflo Dollar (World Changers Church International) and Eddie Long (New Birth Missionary Baptist Church) failed to provide the financial information Sen. Grassley requested. Both, through their attorneys, said that Senator Grassley had crossed the line and was not entitled to the information.

According to writer Christopher Quinn of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Attorneys for Dollar and Long sent letters in response.

The letter from Dollar’s attorney expresses concern about giving documents to the government, explaining such action could trample on the constitutional rights of people to practice religious beliefs without government interference.

The letter says the six ministries targeted preach the “…’Prosperity Gospel,’ a deeply held religious belief that God’s devout followers and earthly leaders will prosper and be successful in all they do, including in financial matters, as the outward expression of his favor.”

It went on to say, “… we believe that the religious doctrine and practices of a church should not be held out for the world to evaluate as a result of responding to Congressional inquiries.”

It says Grassley should get a subpoena or to refer his request for a review to the Internal Revenue Service.

A written response from 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.”

Mac Hunter, of Atlanta’s Morris, Manning & Martin office, said by phone he believes the letter is a sufficient reply to Grassley’s request.

It’s seems to be an interesting position to take – privacy? Privacy for financial documents that are easily obtained by the IRS? Perhaps I’m missing something (feel free to share with your comments), but if the IRS can get the data, aren’t the folks who refuse to comply bringing on a world of trouble for themselves and the ministries they represent?

Not once in Grassley’s request was there any indication of doctrine or issues with belief. Rather, Grassley’s requests were specific related to financial details of the ministries and how that related to the ministers. Grassley issued a statement:

charles-grassley.jpg

“I have an obligation to protect the integrity of U.S. tax laws,” Grassley said in a written statement. “If tax-exempt organizations, including media-based ministries, thumb their noses at the laws governing their preferential tax treatment, the American public, their contributors and the Internal Revenue Service have a right to know. Considering tax-exempt media-based ministries today are a billion-dollar industry with minimal transparency, it would be irresponsible not to examine this tax-exempt part of our economy.”

Some questions to consider:

  • If you have nothing to hide, why not comply?
  • If the IRS has the right to audit or investigate, why not comply?
  • The issue that Grassley has at the core of his investigation is undue enrichment from the ministry, if you believe that God has blessed and, as a minister, you have not been unduly enriched, why not comply?

Every choice has a consequence. As an ethics speaker, I know, as I’ve suffered the consequences of poor choices. Perhaps those who lead their flocks will “render unto Caesar, what is Caesar’s” and comply. Perhaps, it’s just me, but if the same were asked of Billy Graham, I would bet compliance would be swift knowing that he had nothing to hide.

Comments are welcome!

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4 Responses to Church Doctrine! Come On Eddie, I Just Want To See If You Obey The Law! Grassley Spurned By Eddie Long And Others

  1. Concerned Christian says:

    The privacy issue raised is more for self preservation. If an audit is conducted by the IRS, the details of the audit will remain confidential. Therefore, all violations will remain private and the organization can continue operating without public scrutiny.

  2. mulloverthis says:

    Love your blog and layout! Please visit my blog, mulloverthis.wordpress.com Dec. 2007 archives for another perspective on this issue. Just a few thoughts while I’m on your block though: Grassley DID hint at doctrinal concerns when he stated Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He has a problem with bling bling preachers. I’d be happy to teach him about the complete irrelevance of that statement b/c an analogy is so inappropriate. He, or at least his office, has been bombarded with “evidence” and reports from ministry watchdog groups for years. So, the prosperity gospel preachers are the pin-ups on the dart board for a purposed reason. Also, they must not have too much to hide, because Eddie and Creflo, along with the others have satisfied IRS requirements and AUDITS, Eddie in the recent past. Also, they are challenging the Senator’s request b/c it is not clear that there is any law that obligates them to comply with such a request. That is why the question will go before the court if it boils down to it.
    FOR CONCERNED CHRISTIAN: w/ALL DUE RESPECT, lack of knowledge is what perpetuates erroneous thinking. The IRS has a legal division. People go to jail. Pastors go to jail for tax evasion, embezzelment, etc. They issue liens and seize property. The IRS does not work like that! As a matter of fact, they have specialists that deal with charitable organizations and churches in particular. Why should you or anyone who feels like it have access to every single detail of how their churches run financially? There are plenty of other billion dollar charitable organizations that do not have any of these issues and it is not b/c their CEO’s haven’t amassed personal wealth.

  3. Not Neutral says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how people are always willing to give chime in when ever there is negative press, but asm long as things are on a positive note, you never hear from the people who come out of the wood work to publish commentaries on the many positive things these ministries are doing-unless this is simply a personal attack against the pastor (oh, my)! If people are so eager to have the ministries comply with the Senators request, why don’t they volunteer to show their personal tax returns as a gester of saying “see, its so easy”! Of course the Senate is not bound by any privary regulations, so your returns will be plasterd all over cyber space, of course by “accident.” If there were any real issues, belive you me, the IRS would be right on it as it would justify theirn existence and value to the government. I say let the Senator make his tax records available for non IRS audit!! Of course we all know over half are crooks and the other half don’t fill their taxes on time or pay balances due- ask me how I know! Because I am an IRS auditer!!!!!

  4. TGIF says:

    Not neutral – some great comments. I agree with you – we would probably be surprised (or not) if the Senator was made to publish his records. Despite what we might find as to else he is receiving funds from. There is no evidence of wrong doing by any of the ministries in question. In fact, several of them have recently passed IRS inspection with a clean bill. Grassley is out of control and no telling what he had up his sleeve to do with the information once he got his hands on it.

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